EFL League One Season Preview, Tips & Analysis

EFL League One Season Preview, Tips & Analysis

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EFL League One will be ferociously competitive in 2019/20 and fans can look forward to a number of intriguing battles at both ends of the table. Erstwhile Premier League stalwarts Sunderland, Portsmouth and Ipswich will all fancy their chances of vanquishing their rivals and returning to the Championship.

Several smaller clubs have displayed plenty of ambition in the transfer market, while the relegation dogfight should be as intense as ever, so it promises to be a rollercoaster of a campaign. We have analysed the key betting markets ahead of the big kick-off

Top Title Challengers

Sunderland have been installed as the favourites with the best football betting sites to seize the League One title next season. The Black Cats’ 10-year stay in the Premier League ended in unceremonious fashion when they finished bottom of the pile in 2016/17, and they then suffered a second consecutive relegation to land in League One last summer. Stewart Donald took over the club and brought in Jack Ross as manager, and that duo steadied the ship well in 2018/19. Sunderland finished fifth in the table and went to the playoff final, where they fell to a last-minute goal from Charlton.

They have now paid off their debts, cobbled together a highly competitive squad and brought in the once prolific Will Grigg to spearhead their promotion bid in 2019/20. There can be no excuses this time around for a club of Sunderland’s stature. They have the biggest transfer budget and wage bill in the division, and they really should dominate League One and look hard to stop at 7/2 with 888Sport.

Some betting sites have made Portsmouth the second favourites in the football betting, but Ipswich actually look the most likely to derail Sunderland’s title charge. They have signed James Norwood from Tranmere after he banged in 29 League Two goals last term, and that looks like a shrewd signing. The Tractor Boys finished bottom of the Championship last season, but they are blessed with talented players like Alan Judge, Gwion Edwards and Teddy Bishop, so they should be competitive.

The main issue is that they are facing an injury crisis right now. At least 10 players are expected to miss their opener against Burton, and they have just one fit centre-back and no wingers, so a poor start could hamper Ipswich’s ability to beat Sunderland to the title. However, if their odds drift after a few weeks of the season, they could become a very attractive each-way option.

Promotion Candidates

Three teams will be promoted from League One next season – two via the automatic berths and a third through the playoffs. Some punters might like the idea of backing Sunderland at 11/8 with William Hill to go up, but ideally you would hope for more value in a season-long bet. One really intriguing option that stands out in this market is the 10/3 available at Coral on Peterborough to go up. The Posh have persuaded Darren Ferguson to return for a third stint at the club and that looks like a shrewd decision.

Ferguson steered Peterborough to consecutive promotions during his first spell in charge, as they went from League Two to the Championship in rapid fashion. He secured promotion from League One again during his second stint, so he knows how to get the job done in this division. He has already made an impressive signing by bringing George Boyd back to the club, while Siriki Dembele, Mo Eisa, Matt Godden and Ivan Toney provide plenty of options in attack. You could alternatively back Peterborough each-way at 11/1 to win the title with Black Type, meaning you earn a quarter of the odds on the place and still make a considerable profit if they finish second or third. Alternatively, you could back them at 11/4 with William Hill to make the playoffs. Interesting long shots for promotion include Coventry and Shrewsbury.

Relegation Contenders

Bury look all but certain to go down after the newly promoted Shakers ran into financial difficulty, lost their manager and had to release most of their players. They will start the season on -12 points and they are priced at just 1/7 to be relegated. Bolton dropped down to this division from the Championship last season and they too have landed in big trouble off the pitch. Staff remain unpaid, players have refused to train and pre-season friendlies were abandoned due to their financial woes.

A takeover is set to go through soon, but Phil Parkinson would not have much time to put together a makeshift squad before the season begins. Bolton will also start the season on -12 points and that could be extended to -18. They are likely to need at least 62 points in order to beat the drop, and such a tally looks unrealistic right now, so Bolton to go down seems like a sensible call at 4/5 with Betfair. Two more teams will go down and fans of Wycombe and Southend are likely to be feeling somewhat jittery ahead of the new campaign.

Golden Boot Race

Norwood hit 29 goals in League Two last season and the bookmakers expect him to be equally prolific in the third tier of English football. He has been named the clear favourite to finish the season as the division’s top scorer after signing for Ipswich. However, he faces stern competition from several exciting strikers. Only one of the top five scorers from last season remains, and there is a strong chance that John Marquis will move to Championship side Charlton, so the battle for the Golden Boot will be populated by new faces.

Grigg banged in 18 goals for Wigan as they secured promotion from this division in 2017/18, while he also famously put Man City to the sword in the cup. He will now spearhead Sunderland’s attack and he should enjoy strong service from Aiden McGeady and Duncan Warmore at the Stadium of Light, so he looks like an excellent option in this market at 11/1 with BetHard.

Brett Pitman of Portsmouth topped the scoring charts in 2017/18, but he could only manage 11 goals last season, so he would be a risky choice. Toney of Peterborough might make an interesting longer shot, but Grigg looks like the most appealing bet right now after Sunderland spent more than £3 million to sign him from Wigan.

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