EFL WATCH: FOUR UNMISSABLE GAMES FROM THE EFL THIS WEEKEND
The Championship – Brentford vs Blackburn Rovers (5th December – KO 3pm)
After a slight struggle at the start of the season, Brentford are quietly putting together a run of form which has them two points off league leaders Norwich. The main catalyst for this is the form of big-money signing Ivan Toney, who has 13 goals in the league, since his arrival from League One Peterborough. Currently eight games unbeaten, with four wins and four draws, Thomas Frank will want his side to turn some of those stalemates into victories and right their promotion wrongs from last season.
While Ivan Toney has been impressive this season, there is one player with more goals than him in the Championship and that is Blackburn Rovers striker, Adam Armstrong. The former Newcastle man has 14 goals in 15 league games and is one of the reasons for Blackburn’s unbeaten run. Tony Mowbray’s team are currently six games unbeaten and coming off the back of three straight victories.
With the likes of Ivan Toney and Bryan Mbeumo on one team, and Adam Armstrong and Harvey Elliott on the other, there is no doubt that we will see some mesmerising football from two sides with a lot confidence considering their current form.
League One – Portsmouth vs Peterborough United (5th December – KO 3pm)
Portsmouth have been plagued by inconsistency, which their latest run of games shows. After a good point away at Plymouth, Pompey hammered Crewe 4-1 at Fratton Park before welcoming Oxford, who then held them to a 1-1 draw. Kenny Jackett’s side took their frustration out on National League side Kings Lynn by beating them 6-1 but were beaten away at Blackpool 1-0. Trading wins, losses and draws will not help Portsmouth, who will be looking to Marcus Harness and Ronan Curtis to spearhead a run that could see them threaten the automatic promotion spots.
After a strong start, Peterborough have struggled as of late. Two straight losses to Crewe and Blackpool were excused as a blip after a 1-0 win against Plymouth, but the shock defeat to semi-professional outfit Chorley in the FA Cup and the league defeat to AFC Wimbledon showed the cracks in the Peterborough side and will have Darren Ferguson wondering what’s gone wrong for the Posh. Ferguson may want his side to do more with the ball as they have dominated possession in their last two games but came out of both on the losing side.
With these two sides coming off losses, you have to feel Ferguson’s side will be more desperate to get out of their slump, but going to Fratton Park and trying to get three points isn’t easy and Jackett’s team will be wanting to prove that to the Posh.
League Two – Cheltenham Town vs Exeter City (5th December – KO 3pm)
Sitting second in League Two, Cheltenham have recovered from their defeat by Oldham in resounding fashion, going seven unbeaten in all competitions, with the picks of those being the 2-1 win away at Carlisle or last weekend’s 2-1 win against Crewe in the FA Cup. Michael Duff has got his team playing as expected, with his 3-5-2 shape working to a tee and they will look to continue this run as they look to overtake league leaders Newport County.
Exeter City have also recovered well from a defeat to Oldham, after the Latics ended their 15-game unbeaten run, by winning their next three games and scoring 13 goals. The Grecians have put together some fantastic attacking football this season and are currently the top scorers in the EFL, with 30 goals in the league. The likes of Matt Jay and Ryan Bowman, have caught the eye in recent weeks, but it is hard to look past Joel Randall in Exeter’s side as the youngster has been on fire so far this season, sitting on eight goals in all competitions, all from the left-wing.
Two of the best young managers in England square off, but only one can prevail and Michael Duff will be wanting to welcome fans back to the Jonny Rocks Stadium with three points, but former Cheltenham defender Matt Taylor will want to haunt his former club by taking all three points back to St James Park.
WILDCARD – Rochdale vs Lincoln City (5th December – KO 3pm)
Rochdale have performed as expected so far this season, as Brian Barry-Murphy’s side is in 18th, three points away from the relegation zone. Having gone six games without a win, Rochdale got back to winning ways by thrashing Plymouth Argyle 4-0 at Home Park, which is a seriously impressive performance. With both strikers Jake Beesley and Stephen Humphrys getting on the score sheet, Barry-Murphy will be hoping to use that as a catalyst for a run to distance themselves from the playoffs.
It will not be easy though, as they welcome second-place Lincoln City to the Crown Oil Arena as they hope to continue their automatic promotion push. With two wins out of their last three, Michael Appleton has got Lincoln back on form after some blips in previous weeks. Lincoln have goals all over the pitch, with top scorer being midfielder Jorge Grant on nine goals and the second top goal scorer being center-back Lewis Montsma on seven.
In an affair that is promising goals, Barry-Murphy will want his side to take confidence from their last game and upset promotion challenging Lincoln, who will be looking to keep up with league leaders Hull City.