EFL WEEKEND: The EFL returns for its final weekend of action in August, with teams across all three divisions looking to push on from the starts they’ve made to their domestic seasons.
We preview three games below, alongside some of our recommended BETDAQ bets.
Preston v Swansea – Saturday 15:00
Preston North End continued their unbeaten start to the Championship season with a 1-0 win against Sheffield Wednesday last time out, making it two wins and a draw from three games for the Lilywhites. Another win this weekend at Deepdale could be significant, especially as it would take North End to ten points, which would be their best four-game tally to start a Championship campaign since 2008/09.
Swansea won the other meeting between these sides last season, so they can now record consecutive league wins against Preston for the first time since August 2010. Michael Duff’s men will be more focused on getting their first league victory under their new manager after a difficult start to the season, picking up two points from their opening three fixtures, as the last time they failed to win any of their first four league games was back in 2011/12 – their debut season in the Premier League.
Both sides are similarly priced for victory on Saturday afternoon, but Preston look to be in better nick out of the two teams and have lost just one of their last nine league games at Deepdale. Backing Preston at 2.7 is the selection.
Leyton Orient v Cambridge United – Saturday 15:00
Leyton Orient have found it tough adjusting to life in League One so far, picking up just one point from their opening four games and sitting dead last in the standings. On a positive note, that point was gained in their most recent fixture away at Blackpool, so the east Londoners have something to build on as they welcome the division’s early league leaders in what amounts to a top-versus-bottom clash at Brisbane Road.
Cambridge have started their campaign magnificently after finishing 20th in League One last year, winning three of their opening four fixtures (all with 2-0 scorelines) and sitting handsomely at the top of the division alongside four other clubs on nine points. Winning two away games on the bounce was something Mark Bonner’s men couldn’t achieve a single time last term, so the U’s will be encouraged by their early season form.
Orient will start as the market favourites for this one, with home advantage clearly playing a big factor, but we like the look of Cambridge here. The U’s have won each of their last two games against Orient, scoring six goals in the process, and will be high on confidence after such a strong start. Backing Cambridge at a generously-priced 3.0 is the play.
Harrogate v Morecambe – Saturday 15:00
After clinching an impressive victory away at Doncaster in their opening domestic fixture of the season, Harrogate have succumbed to three straight defeats in the league – the first time they’ve suffered that since last October – and find themselves 21st in League Two after four matches. Perhaps most worrying for the Yorkshire side is the calibre of teams they’ve lost to – Forest Green Rovers, Tranmere, and Accrington are hardly sides who will be challenging at the top towards the end of the season, so there’s plenty of work do to for the Sulphurates.
Morecambe’s relegation from League One last season was undoubtedly a sobering blow, but the Shrimps have curiously tasted defeat in just two of their last nine league games stretching back to last campaign, where they managed to string together three wins on the bounce in a late survival surge. They’ve started League Two reasonably by winning two of their opening four fixtures and sitting in seventh, but a 3-0 defeat to Mansfield demonstrates their defence can still unravel when put under serious amounts of pressure.
Harrogate will understand the importance of not losing after an uncertain start to their season, whilst Morecambe will most likely be happy at chipping away at those final playoff positions as they bid to sneak back into League Two, so backing a draw at 3.5 seems a reasonable move.