EFL WEEKEND: The EFL returns this weekend as all three domestic leagues enter the final 10 games of the season. We preview four games below, alongside some of our recommended BETDAQ bets.
QPR vs Watford – Saturday 15:00
QPR really are in freefall. A third successive 3-1 defeat against Rotherham last week – and fifth loss in a row overall – edged the Rs even closer to the relegation zone in 20th position. Gareth Ainsworth’s men have conceded 12 goals in their last four games and are arguably the most out of form side in the division, and need to muster up some sort of unbeaten streak if they are to preserve their position in the Championship for next season.
Watford found themselves managerless yet again after sacking Slaven Bilić after five months, following a run of one win in eight league games. New manager Chris Wilder is no stranger to the high end of the Championship after gaining automatic promotion with Sheffield United in 2019 but will need to address his side’s sub-par away form that has seen them win none of their last four games on the road if they are to really trouble the playoff places.
Betting against QPR just seems to be the way to go at the minute. Watford will likely see an upturn in performances during Wilder’s first few games as manager, so we’re backing the Hornets at 2.5 to push the west Londoners further towards the drop.
Swansea City vs Middlesbrough – Saturday 15:00
Swansea extended their winless run to four games with last weekend’s 1-0 loss to Luton, meaning the Welsh side have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their ten league games in 2023. In similar vein to the aforementioned QPR, the domestic season started brightly for Russell Martin’s men, but a lengthy run of dismal league form has left them looking over their shoulder at the drop zone as the season begins its conclusion.
Middlesbrough endured a tough 2-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion two gameweeks ago but outlined their vast improvement under Michael Carrick by thrashing Reading 5-0 at the Riverside Stadium a week later– their biggest league win of the season so far. Perhaps the outstanding characteristic of Carrick’s imprint on this side has been the sheer volume of goals they’re amassing – with Saturday’s result making it 17 strikes in six games since the beginning of February.
Middlesbrough seem a tad overvalued here given the disparity in form and league position between the two sides – with Swansea languishing in 17th and Boro on the charge in third. It’s always bold predicting away winners in the Championship, but we’re backing Middlesbrough at 2.22 to close the gap on the automatic promotion places.
Swansea City vs Middlesbrough markets
Barnsley vs Plymouth Argyle
Barnsley continued their assault on the League One playoff places with a 3-1 win over Portsmouth that saw the south Yorkshire side leapfrog Derby County into fifth place. The Tykes are now unbeaten in nine league games, winning seven of those, and have tasted victory in each of their last four fixtures in front of their own fans, amassing 12 goals in that timeframe.
Plymouth remain level on points with league leaders Sheffield Wednesday after successive home wins over Charlton and Derby, maintaining a five point cushion between them and the outside of the automatic promotion places. Despite their very real title ambitions, the Pilgrims need to address an underwhelming recent away record that has seen them win just two of their last 10 games on the road – their most recent fixture on the road being a chastening 5-2 loss to Peterborough.
It’s difficult to look past Barnsley here. The retrospective home and away records of each team lines this up as a favourable fixture for the hosts, who are enjoying their best run of domestic form since winning seven on the bounce in the 2020/21 season. Backing the home side at 2.12 is the play for this one.
Barnsley vs Plymouth Argyle markets
Mansfield Town vs Leyton Orient
Mansfield continued their recent resurgence with an impressive 3-1 comeback victory over AFC Wimbledon last weekend, making it four wins in five League Two games. Nigel Clough’s men are now firmly in the running for a playoff place finish, residing only one point below Salford City in seventh but having the luxury of two games in hand on most of their playoff rivals.
Only miracle will prevent Leyton Orient from winning this League Two title, but you get the impression, perhaps understandably given the scale of their lead, that they are rather sleepwalking towards this division victory. Last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Swindon Town made it just two wins in five league games, whilst the east Londoners have won just one of their last seven games on the road.
Orient have certainly had the better season of the two sides, winning 1-0 in the reverse fixture back in August, but Mansfield’s recent form makes them an attractive proposition at their price here. Backing Mansfield at 2.52 is the selection.
Mansfield Town vs Leyton Orient markets