The Big EFL Preview: Plymouth Argyle underrated for Devon Derby?8 min read
Championship: Sheffield Wednesday v Leeds United
Leeds to win
Garry Monk is something of a pantomime villain with Leeds United fans, but he is doing a good job so far at Sheffield Wednesday.
The Owls are pushing for the Play-Offs and possess a decent spine.
The intelligent Julian Borner has formed a strong centre-back pairing with the athletic Dominic Iorfa. Ball-player Barry Bannan has an understanding with ball-winner Sam Hutchinson and dynamo Massimo Luongo. Meanwhile Steven Fletcher is a key focal point up top.
The question, though, is whether Wednesday can get the better of Leeds United, who are stand-out automatic promotion contenders.
With Kemar Roofe leaving in the summer, they needed another striker to step up and be that player to rotate with Patrick Bamford – Eddie Nketiah fits the bill.
Nketiah was benched yet again this evening. He was introduced in the 77th minute while his side were 1-0 down and scored the equaliser within ten minutes. To put it into perspective, Patrick Bamford, the first choice striker, hasn’t found the net since August. Start him, @LUFC.
— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) October 22, 2019
The Arsenal loanee scored a crucial equalizer in a 1-1 draw at Preston where, once again, Marcelo Bielsa’s side enjoyed the better of the play without quite getting the three points.
A lot of Leeds fans have been calling for Nketiah to start, with Bamford goalless since August, but the 20-year-old does not hold the ball up quite as well as his positional rival, so one can understand why Bielsa has taken the decisions he has.
Shot data suggests Leeds are comfortably the best team in the Championship, so any opportunity to back them for victory at odds-against quotes – 21/20 – should be taken.
Championship: Millwall v Stoke City
Millwall to win 1-0
This will be Gary Rowett’s first game in charge of Millwall – ironically against his most recent previous employers, Stoke City.
Rowett has had 10 months to learn and reflect since his dismissal as Potters boss, which should help him.
The 45-year-old has the mentality to connect with a club like Millwall, but he is also open-minded and will look forward to working with a capable squad; getting the best out of lively attacking midfielder Ben Thompson could be key to his work.
Stoke, meanwhile, lost 1-0 at Sheffield Wednesday – their second loss by that scoreline in four games.
While they were slightly unlucky with one or two refereeing decisions on Tuesday night, they only hit the target once and that will concern manager Nathan Jones.
Two of Millwall’s six home games this season have resulted in a 1-0 win and, in Rowett’s first match in charge, we can expect a defensively resolute display – another one-goal triumph is an intriguing 7/1 poke.
League One: Lincoln City v Bolton Wanderers
Lincoln to win -1 handicap
Lincoln have had a mixed start under Michael Appleton, with four points taken from his first five games in charge.
Appleton will take heart though from the quality and style of chance creation against Sunderland, whom they beat 2-0 in his first home game as boss.
The left-sided partnership of marauding full-back Harry Toffolo and inverted technician Jorge Grant could be a real asset if the latter comes back into the starting XI; Jack Payne is a creative influence and Joe Morrell is a bright, young midfielder, too.
Keith Hill and David Flitcroft are eight games into their tenure in charge of Bolton Wanderers and oversaw their first victory in Tuesday’s 2-0 win at Bristol Rovers.
Because the Trotters signed eight players on deadline day, due to the delays to Sharon Brittan’s takeover deal, they have been effectively having a pre-season while their league campaign has been ongoing on – and this is with a -12 points deduction.
This season is not so much about results, because they are very likely to be relegated – rather, it is about reaching a convincing level of performances and changing the feeling around the club.
Lincoln should win this and are 7/5 to do so by a margin of more than one goal.
League One: Oxford v Rochdale
Rochdale to win +2 handicap
Rochdale are as big as 11/2 to take the three points in this match.
One factor in that price could be the gulf in shot data; Dale’s Expected Goals Ratio (xGR) is 40.92ac2a}.
Creative midfielder Jack Roles, on loan from Tottenham, has been the star for the Yellow and Black Army but Colin Calderwood has also needed to lean on adaptable operators like Luke Hannant, who has the dynamism to slot into any role or system and maintain his usual efficiency.
So as not to write off a newly solidified Northampton side, there could be value in backing Cambridge via the Draw No Bet option at 6/4; the bet will land if we see an away win, while a draw will refund the stake.