This week’s EFL preview focuses on those teams riding high at the top of their divisions, some of which have a stern test this weekend, we outline below how those matches may pan out and whether the teams on top, will stay on top.
Bournemouth v Huddersfield
After 13 games played, the Cherries sit top of the Championship by 6 points and are unbeaten this season. Scott Parker’s team’s most notable achievement is the lack of goals conceded, just 8 so far in 21/22, including just 1 goal in the last 400 minutes of football. This is despite selling first-choice goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to Arsenal and playing Mark Travers who previously had only played 8 matches for the club since sigining in 2016.
Bournemouth provide an attacking threat in addition to their solid defence however. Our one-to-watch Dominic Solanke, looks to be finally fulfilling his potential, netting eight goals this term, over a third of his team’s total haul. Notable contributions on this front too have come from Philip Billing, four goals from central-midfield, Ryan Christie and young talent Jaidon Anthony, who have seven assists between them.
Huddersfield have surprised many with their league position thus far, lying in sixth place currently. The Terriers appear to have put their early season stutters behind them, havinhg defeated high-flying Blackburn and Hull in the past month. Like Bournemouth, Town are built with a strong defensive core. Recent performances by Lewis O’Brien, Tom Lees and 18-year-old sensation Levi Colwill have prevented a goal in the past 300 minutes. Sorba Thomas, newly-promoted to the Welsh Senior squad, offers the teams most potent attacking threat with seven assists in the current season.
This will be a tight game, concerns abound as to whether, despite recent performance Bournemouth can maintain their form. Both defences are solid however the attacking threat of Solanke and Billing should see the Cherries through this one.
Verdict: Bournemouth 1-0 Huddersfield
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals @ 4/5
Morecambe v Plymouth
With the form of certains teams falling away in recent weeks and International breaks affecting others, League One has a slightly different feel about it. Plymouth, unbeaten in 13, lead the pack, although they have played a couple of games more than many of their rivals. The Pilgrims are an interesting team in that they are fourth in the league for goals scored, and an incredible third in the league for goals conceded, as such they are equally adept at both ends of the pitch. They are also a team who like to get the job done early, in fact they have scored first in nine of their games this season, mainly through top scorer Ryan Hardie or fellow centre-forward Luke Jephcott, our one-to-watch in this game. Jephcott scored 14 goals in an 18 goal period last season, attracting interest from a string of Championship clubs, and though he has been more of a provider this term he is primed for another scoring run.
The home team, Morecambe, are heavily reliant on an individual goalscorer to win matches this season. Cole Stockton, has the remarkable distinction of scoring 10 of his 16 shots on target in the league this season, and is by far the most efficient marksmen in Europe this season. Despite their goalscoring ability, it is their defence that has routinely let them down and led to their lowly 18th place in the league, they conceded 12 goals in their last four games.
I think Plymouth will have the firepower to over-run Morecambe in this fixture, although i don’t think anyone can keep Cole Stockton quiet and he should nick a consolation goal.
Verdict: Morecambe 1-3 Plymouth
Best Bet: Plymouth to win and both teams to score: 3/1
Extra Bet: Stockton, Jephcott and Hardie Goalscorer Treble: 16/1
Forest Green v Salford
Forest Green have achieved a remarkable feat so far this season, transition from a long-term, relatively successful manager without a drop in performance or results. Rob Edward’s team sit on top of League Two by four points ahead of this clash against a team who are routinely considered title challengers.
And yet, their opponents Salford find themselves in 15th place following a string of inconsistent performances that have seen them lose matches against lower-table opposition in Walsall, Carlisle, and Crawley. Despite their record, The Reds actually have a pretty good defence, but it’s their inability to score that has cost them dearly this season. No player has managed to score more than twice, and their ability to convert Shots on Target is much lower than the majority of teams in League Two. All-in-all, a frustrating season so far.
By comparison, the key to Rovers success has been the form of our original League Two one-to-watch for 20/21, Jamille Matt, who has netted seven goals this season, as has his strike partner Matt Stevens. Stevens’ background might be one of my favourite in the league, as until as recently 2013 he was an amateur boxer who twice held the GB Schools title, and remained undefeated throughout his amateur career.
This shapes up to be a routine win for Forest Green who should continue their march to the League 1 title. Given the goal-shy nature of this Salford team, I can see a clean sheet on the cards also.
Verdict: Forest Green 2-0 Salford
Best Bet: Forest Green Rovers to win: 19/20
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