EFL WATCH: 3 LEAGUES 4 GAMES. COULD YOUR TEAM BE OUR WILDCARD?
With the EFL set to continue despite the nationwide lockdown, it is just another busy week for our 72 sides, and here are four games to look out for from another midweek matchday…
THE CHAMPIONSHIP – Brentford vs Swansea City (3rd November – KO 7:45pm)
Last season’s play-off finalists have had a relatively tough start to the season. After losing two-thirds of their front three in Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma, Brentford have started to find their rhythm again. Ivan Toney has replaced the now Aston Villa striker very well, having found the back of the net nine times, making him the top scorer in the Championship. Having only lost one of their last five, a play-off push is very much on the agenda for Thomas Frank’s side.
Swansea will be looking to exact revenge from their play-off semi-final defeat to the Bees and help them on their own title challenge. The closest contenders to runaway leaders Reading, Steve Cooper’s men have had a superb start to the season. Having only lost one game so far this season, Swansea have been hard to break down and clinical in front of goal, making them certified automatic promotion candidates.
In a rematch from last season’s playoff semi-finals, Swansea find themselves in a much stronger situation then the previous year, while Brentford are still looking to find the consistency which had them so close to promotion last season.
LEAGUE ONE – Bristol Rovers vs Peterborough United (3rd November – KO 7:00pm)
After an awfully tough start to his managerial career, Ben Garner has seemingly found his style as Bristol Rovers sit in a solid 13th position. Rovers are currently enjoying a good run, winning two and drawing two of their last five, with a loss to promotion-chasing Hull City which is understandable. Garner’s side have been able to beat the teams below them and while perhaps struggling against playoff-chasing teams, being able to beat the teams around you will certainly set you up to avoid a relegation battle.
Peterborough’s leading goal scorer will be a familiar face to Bristol Rovers fans, with Jonson Clarke-Harris looking to lead Peterborough to another victory and keep Darren Ferguson’s side at the top of the league. Since losing to Sunderland, Peterborough have gone seven unbeaten and have overtaken the likes of Hull and Lincoln to lead the league after nine games. It is not just Clarke-Harris though, as players like Siriki Dembele and Joe Ward making Peterborough one of the most dangerous teams in the league.
It will certainly be interesting to see if Clarke-Harris can haunt his former side and keep Peterborough firing on all cylinders, but can Garner’s Rovers pull off the upset and shock the league.
LEAGUE TWO – Cambridge United vs Salford City (3rd November – KO 7:00pm)
Cambridge have been the league’s surprise package, going from a middling mid table side to a promotion-chasing team. The arrival of Mark Bonner, who did not have much experience, has led the U’s to a fantastic start. With the creativity of Wes Hoolahan and the finishing of Paul Mullin has made Cambridge one of the most exciting attacking teams in the league and has them sat in second place. A 2-1 defeat away to Crawley was not a great result, but they will have a quick turnaround when they host Salford City.
When you sack a manager so early on, as Salford did, you would assume that team has had an awful start, but Salford have not been that bad. They have only lost one game so far this season and while they sit in a disappointing ninth, they certainly have a platform to take them further forward. Since their first defeat two weeks ago, Salford have won two of their last three and will be hoping to get a big win against one of the pacesetters and put them within touching distance of the automatic promotion slots.
Cambridge will be looking to get back to winning ways, but it will certainly not be easy, with Salford possibly eager to impress potential new manager Richie Wellens.
WILDCARD – Charlton Athletic vs Fleetwood Town (3rd November – KO 7:00pm)
The in-form team in League One, Lee Bowyer’s Charlton have been nothing short of excellent since Thomas Sandegaard took over the club. The recently relegated Addicks were expected to challenge, but a lack of funds and uncertainty around the future of the club lowered expectations a lot. However, the takeover has provided a new lease of life to Bowyer as he was able to strengthen his side, which has seen a massive upturn in form.
Inconsistency has plagued Fleetwood so far this season, who have been capable of flat performances against the likes of Rochdale and Accrington, but have also been capable of thrashing at the time league leaders Hull. However, Joey Barton’s side are starting to put a run together, mostly through their disciplined defending, having only conceded one in their last five games. The partnership of Charlie Mulgrew and Callum Connolly have found their feet and that has given Fleetwood a platform to launch them into three straight wins.
Two of the most in-form teams in the EFL meet and it is certainly going to be an interesting game. With both sides being solid at the back, this could be a really intense game with each chance meaning that little bit more.