EFL WEEKEND: It’s full steam ahead in the EFL this week after the FA Cup First Round last weekend. We preview one games from each of the three divisions below, alongside some of our recommended BETDAQ bets.
Middlesborough v Leicester – Saturday 15:00
Middlesbrough prepare to take on their toughest challenge of the season yet as they welcome runaway Championship leaders Leicester City on Saturday. Things were beginning to look rosier for Boro in recently weeks after composing a six game winning streak to rid themselves of a rotten start to the season, but just one point from their last two league fixtures has rather sobered that momentum.
Leicester managed to maintain their grip on the division’s top spot despite falling 1-0 to Leeds last Friday. That was only the Foxes’ second defeat in the league this season, which means that this remains the best ever 15-game start any club has ever made to an Championship season in terms of number of wins. Considering Leicester haven’t lost at the Riverside Stadium in over two decades, you’d be brave to bet against Enzo Maresca’s men here.
Middlesbrough haven’t lost back-to-back home fixtures in the league since April 2022, and the Riverside will undoubtedly create a fiery atmosphere amidst the colder autumnal backdrop. Despite that, Leicester seem to be a cut above the rest of the division at the moment, so we’re not going to turn our nose up at odds of 2.44 for an away win.
Leyton Orient v Oxford United – Saturday 15:00
Leyton Orient are slowly beginning to acclimatise to life in League One after struggling to find their feet in August. Their 0-0 stalemate away at Burton was their third draw on the bounce in the league, but it extends their unbeaten run to five, while the east Londoners have now lost just once in their last nine. A 3-1 win against Carlisle in the FA Cup will also install some confidence into what is an improving side, with Richie Wellens’ men having now opened the scoring in each of their last four home games.
Oxford picked up a much-needed 2-0 win away at Lincoln to end their three-game winless streak in League One – their longest period without a victory all season. The result saw them keep the gap between them and Portsmouth in first to three points in what has been a very encouraging start to the campaign for Liam Manning’s men, particularly given their 19th place finish last season.
Orient are certainly no pushovers at home, having only lost to promotion-chasing Portsmouth and Stevenage in their half-dozen fixtures in front of their own fans. Having said that, Oxford’s record on the road makes ominous viewing for the O’s, having won five of their last six on the road, so we’re backing the visitors at 2.64 to keep up the pressure on Portsmouth.
Crewe Alexandra v Notts County – Saturday 15:00
Crewe Alexandra tightened their grip on the playoff places with a 2-0 victory away at Harrogate in their last League Two game a fortnight ago, avenging their 1-0 loss to runaway leaders Stockport in the preceding midweek. The result means it’s three wins in four for Lee Bell’s side, who have slowly began to climb the table after a very underwhelming start to their second successive season in England’s fourth flight.
Notts County came up short in their highly-anticipated clash against Wrexham last week, with two second half goals in three minutes succumbing the Magpies to a second defeat in three games in front of their home fans, having previous won all of their last five. The 2-0 scoreline also represents the first time Luke Williams’ men have failed to score in a league game since mid-August, so they will need to find their scoring boots against a Crewe side who have kept two clean sheets in their last three games at home.
Notts County seem a little undervalued for victory after what must have been a puncturing defeat to Wrexham in their last game, particularly given that Crewe have won four of their last five games at home. With that in mind, backing the draw at 3.9 seems a reasonable selection.