EFL WEEKEND: Our EFL tips return this week after selecting some big winners last weekend. We preview the pick of the action across the three divisions, alongside some of our recommend BETDAQ bets.
Sunderland vs Stoke City – Saturday 15:00
Sunderland succumbed to successive league defeats for the first time since October with a 2-1 loss to Coventry City last week, ending their five-game unbeaten run and somewhat sobering their push for a playoff place finish. The Black Cats now reside five points behind Millwall in sixth but will be encouraged by the fact they won 1-0 in the reverse fixture against Saturday’s opposition in August.
An early Zian Flemming goal was enough to see Millwall edge past Stoke City at the Bet365 stadium last weekend, ending the Potters’ promising recent record in front of their own fans. Alex Neil’s men now lie nine points above the relegation zone, and whilst safety is absolutely no guarantee, one would presume the Potters will have too much about them to secure a sixth successive season in the Championship.
The relative home and away form for each side could be key here. Sunderland are on a strong run in front of their own fans of late, winning three of their last five at the Stadium of Light, whilst Stoke have lost three of their previous four on the road, failing to keep a clean sheet in their last seven. With that in mind, we like the look of the home side’s price, so we’re backing Sunderland at 2.38 to get their playoff ambitions back on track.
Sunderland vs Stoke City markets
Luton Town vs Swansea City – Saturday 15:00
Luton staged a brilliant comeback to draw with fellow promotion hopefuls Millwall on Tuesday and keep hold of their grip on fifth place, but the result means it’s now just one win in five for Rob Edwards’ men. The Hatters will point to an abject home record that has seen them pick up just 23 points from 17 matches in front of their own fans if they are unable to nail down a playoff position this year, even if their away record is the second best in the division.
Swansea slumped to a 1-1 draw at home to 20th placed Rotherham on Monday night, which rather epitomised their season in general – a good first half followed by an immediate setback in the second, and unable to recover effectively. Their away record is perhaps more reason for concern, with just one win in 11 fixtures on the road for the South Wales side and 26 goals conceded on their travels – only four teams have shipped more.
The old cliché of ‘both teams could do with a win’ is probably not applicable here – Luton desperately need three points in order to generate breathing space between them and the chasing pack, whilst Swansea, conversely, seem content in lulling in mid table. Luton moreover won the reverse fixture 2-0, so we’re backing the hosts at 2.06 to get backing to winning ways at home.
Luton Town vs Swansea City markets
Bristol Rovers vs Barnsley – Saturday 15:00
Bristol Rovers recorded their first win in seven games with an impressive 3-0 victory at Oxford United last weekend to climb to 15th in the League One standings. Having failed to register a clean sheet in nine league fixtures, the Pirates have interestingly shut out their opponents in two of their last three games, though their record of 55 goals conceded in 33 matches throughout the season remains the third worst in the division.
Barnsley continue to grow in stature. Last week’s 4-1 demolition of Derby County was their fourth league win on the bounce – just the second time they’ve achieved that all season – and it bumped the south Yorkshire side up to within one point of last week’s opponents with two games in hand. The Tykes have also scored 13 goals in their last four games and will be confident they can net more against a Bristol Rovers side who they have already beaten 3-0 this season.
It’s difficult to look past Barnsley here. Michael Duff’s men have won three of their last four games on the road and have netted the fourth most goals on their travels throughout the division, so we’re backing Barnsley at 2.16 to extend their excellent form.
Bristol Rovers vs Barnsley markets
Leyton Orient vs Swindon Town – Saturday 15:00
Leyton Orient did the rounds with FA Cup quarter-finalists Grimsby Town last weekend, going down 1-0 but fighting back in a game that eventually finished two apiece. Their dismal league run of one win in seven between Boxing Day and the end of January seems to somewhat be behind them, and they can thank Stevenage’s own downturn in form for establishing an 11-point gap at the top of the League Two table.
Swindon recorded successive league victories for the first time since October with a straightforward 3-0 win over Harrogate Town last weekend to keep them within five points of the playoff place. Jody Morris will be especially happy with his side’s first clean sheet since his appointment in late January, particularly as no side have conceded more goals away from home this season in the top 12. Developing his team’s defensive acumen should be the priority for the former Chelsea assistant manager.
Orient seem a tad overvalued here. They may have only drawn the reverse fixture against Saturday’s opposition in August, but Swindon have lost three of their last four away games and continue to look circumspect when their defence is put under pressure. Backing Orient at 2.04 is the play here.
Leyton Orient vs Swindon Town markets