We all love FA Cup third round weekend, but it’s also nice to get back to the bread and butter of the league. The hectic festive period is already a distant memory. It’s time to lay down a marker ahead of the second half of the season!
In the Championship, leaders Burnley take on Coventry City, Sheffield United play host to Stoke City and Michael Carrick’s in-form Middlesbrough face Gary Rowett’s in-form Millwall.
In League One, two of the top three go head to head as Ipswich Town welcome Plymouth Argyle to Portman Road. Elsewhere, Sheffield Wednesday travel to Wycombe and Darren Ferguson kicks off his fourth spell in charge of Peterborough United with a game against Port Vale.
In League Two, Leyton Orient take on Barrow, Stevenage will be swapping Villa Park for the EnviroVent Stadium in Harrogate and there’s a tasty clash between Stockport County and Northampton Town.
Here are our picks ahead of this weekend’s EFL games:
TNP says: If Sheffield United are going to keep pace with Burnley, then they need to be beating the likes of Stoke at home. The Blades have won three of their last four home games and they’re averaging two points a game at Bramall Lane this season. We also fancy Bristol Rovers to beat Accrington Stanley. Joey Barton’s free-scoring Rovers have won four of their last six league games – including their last two – and they’ll be facing an Accrington side who have won just one of their last 12 league games.
If you’re looking for a bit more value then we’d recommend backing Morecambe to beat Cambridge and Walsall to beat Tranmere. Derek Adams’ Shrimps have won their last three league games, whereas Cambridge have lost their last three and have only won one of their last ten games in League One. Walsall are one of the form sides in League Two. The Saddlers have won four of their last five games; moving them into play-off contention. Tranmere have endured a disappointing season to date and we believe Mike Flynn’s men will pile on the misery on Saturday.
Sam Nombe is enjoying an excellent season for Exeter in League One. Nombe already has 11 league goals to his name; including three in his last two. On Saturday, he’ll be coming up against a Forest Green side who are bottom of the third tier, have lost their last four league games and are conceding just shy of two goals a game in League One this season. We’re also tipping Connor Hall to mark his debut for Colchester with a goal against Rochdale. Matt Bloomfield’s U’s have strengthened significantly in the first couple of weeks of the window and we think Hall will prove to be an invaluable addition for them in both boxes.
We’ve picked plenty of Gillingham’s games to go under 2.5 goals so far this season and, until they get a few more players in, we’re happy to back their relegation six-pointer at home to Keith Curle’s Hartlepool United to go the same way. Finally, the Harrogate Town of last season seem to have returned. Their last six games have produced 24 goals and, although Stevenage games are often low-margin affairs, Steve Evans’ high-flyers have also shown that they’re more than capable of putting teams away.
(Photo Creds – Ben Watts)