There’s another bundle of games in the EFL this week and instead of spending a good 20 minutes looking at all the fixtures and deciding who’ll be who, we feel the best bet is to carry on reading this blog as we’ve studied the form, the head to head records, everything and have managed to narrow it down to five certainties, that will probably, maybe happen this weekend in the Football League…
No confidence, no win, not scoring goals; it’s fair to say Bolton Wanderers’ return to the second tier has been tough to take in the 11 games played so far, with the Trotters rooted to the bottom of the division and already seven points from safety in the Championship. It’s pretty much got to the fabled must win games for the Lancashire side already. And whilst visitors Sheffield Wednesday haven’t started the season as well as many would have expected under Carlos Carvalhal, they know a win will push them to just outside the play-off places, with the Owls still smarting from their impressive Yorkshire derby victory over Leeds United prior to the international break. Garry Hooper bagged a brace that day at Hillsborough, and has three goals in his two games against Bolton in his career – winning both of those games.
Hosts Leeds United will be aiming to bounce back from their defeat against Sheffield Wednesday before the international break as they take on a Reading side who haven’t won any of their last five matches. It could be the perfect time to tackle the Royals on Saturday considering the Whites have lost three of their last four, taking them off the top of the table, but they’re still in the play-off picture at the moment. These two are both locations of high profile music festivals and there promises to be another rocking atmosphere at Elland Road as Leeds look to get back to winning ways. Jordan Obita is out for the season for Reading with a cruciate injury, which won’t help the Berkshire side who are without a win since August 26th.
After years and years of ownership issues and a revolving door of managers – and a relegation to League One thrown in – Charlton Athletic fans will be pleased their side have quietly gone about their business under the radar so far this season, with the South Londoners sitting pretty in the play-off places at the moment and knowing another win could push them closer to the top two even at this early stage of the campaign. Josh Magennis is a striker in form for the hosts, with the Northern Ireland international scoring in three of his side’s four home games this term and seven in 13 for club and country this season. But Karl Robinson’s side come up against a Doncaster side who stuck four past Southend last week in a big victory, so will be hopeful of building on that win.
Northampton let in six at Sixfields against Bristol Rovers last week, so it’s pretty handy for the Cobblers that they’ll welcome an AFC Wimbledon side who have struggled to score in the league this term, finding the net just the three times on home soil, whilst bagging two goals in their six games on the road so far. After winning his first two games in charge of Northampton, the honeymoon period is over for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, but he’ll earmark this clash as one where the three points are very much on offer. This one’s an early six pointer, with both clubs currently in the bottom four, and a win for the hosts will likely lift them out of the relegation places, depending on other results – involving the likes of Oldham and Bury – going for them. We fancy Northampton for this one, particularly considering they’ve never lost to Wimbledon in the 12 meetings.
It’s a bottom vs. top clash down in deepest Devon on Saturday as beleaguered Plymouth Argyle host Shrewsbury Town in League One, with the Shrews the surprise leaders, two points ahead of second placed Wigan Athletic. Home Park has been a happy hunting ground for opposition this season, with Argyle having the worst home record in the division since their promotion to the third tier. Shrewsbury have garnered four wins on the road already this season and another win could well put another nail in Pilgrims boss Derek Adams’ coffin, with pressure mounting on the Scottish boss.
Amazingly, in Southend’s 12 League One games so far this season, three players have scored hat-tricks against them – the latest being from Doncaster’s Ben Whiteman last week. This week sees the Essex side make their way to Wigan to take on Paul Cook’s promotion chasing Latics, who look for an instant return to the Championship this season. The Lancashire side sit in second place at the moment and will see a home tie against the Shrimpers as a perfect opportunity to make it five wins in their last six and four consecutive victories. This fixture back in April 2016 saw the hosts run out 4-1 winners and we reckon the Latics could nab another big victory against the Blues this time around, too.
Notts County have been knocked off their perch recently with a defeat and a draw in their last two matches, which has allowed Exeter City to sneak top spot at the moment, but a home tie against lowly Barnet, who are without a win in their last five games, should be the perfect tonic for the Magpies to get back to winning ways. Barnet don’t travel well having lost half of their six games on the road, whilst Notts are unbeaten on home turf in their half a dozen matches played at Meadow Lane so far. There hasn’t been a draw in the last eight meetings and Notts are unbeaten in their last six home matches against Barnet, winning the last four when the Bees have made their way to Nottingham.
Placing a £10 stake on our seven Hotpicks (Leeds United, Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton Athletic, Wigan Athletic, Northampton Town, Shrewsbury Town and Notts County) returns a very healthy looking £1,770.41*.
*All prices subject to fluctuation. Make sure to check StanJames.com for up to date prices.
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