All odds correct at time of writing
1.Watford (away at Blackpool) at 10/11
Whilst you would be forgiven for foreseeing that this Blackpool side would be propping up the Championship table, the reality reads much colder. Five losses and one draw is a nightmare start for The Tangerines whose off-the-field problems have been there for all to see. Jose Riga has remained professional as ever, sticking by his team of underdogs, but something needs to change and quickly. A 0-0 draw to Championship hot-shots Wolves was a decent result but only papered over the gaping cracks.
Watford, on the other hand, have made an excellent start to the Championship this year. The recent glory days of a Deeney – Vydra front two are back and the goals have followed. A 3-0 win at Bolton was followed by a 3-0 loss to Norwich, representing an in-different start to the campaign, but things have been much improved since then and Oscar Garcia’s men were highly unlucky not to get a result against a good Charlton side on Saturday.
2.Bournemouth (vs Leeds) at 8/13
Having conceded a last minute equaliser at home to Rotherham on Saturday, Bournemouth were within seconds of finishing the weekend in 7th place. The Cherries have had a solid start to the season with Callum Wilson proving he is worth every bit of the £3m that the club paid for him. A usually positive Eddie Howe cut a stern face after the match on Saturday however, and told the BBC:
“Today, it was a tight game and we know how Rotherham play but for 89 minutes we answered all those questions. But we switched off, we conceded and it is something we have to work on. I am disappointed with the first-half performance.”
Another strong home performance was this time left with disappointment and Howe knows the importance of putting that right. It’s hard to see his side not get a win from a Leeds team who have picked up just one point from nine on the road.
3.Bristol City (vs Port Vale) at 6/5
Football is no longer a forgiving game and having lost five in a row, Micky Adams is under severe pressure at Vale Park. Adams has rotated 3 out of his 4 strikers, with the exception of star man Tom Elliott and with the club’s lack of goals up-front, it could be argued that he does not yet know his best attacking partnership.
Bristol City, however, are one of the Football League’s in-form sides. Steve Coterill’s men have taken League 1 by storm this season with particularly impressive results against Sheffield United and Doncaster. In Aaron Wilbraham, City have a striker who has reignited his career having left Crystal Palace last season. The 34 year old has scored five goals in six games. New signing Kieran Agard is no stranger to scoring goals in League 1 and managed to get his first for the club on Saturday. With City boasting a decent away record last year, and having won two out of three on the road this year, it’s hard to overlook them against an ailing Vale side.
4.MK Dons (vs Bradford) at Evens
Associate a term with MK Dons in League 1 and ‘there or thereabouts’ is probably the first that comes to mind. Karl Robinson’s men are regular challengers for a play-off spot but have perhaps been off the pace in recent years. Things seem a little different at stadium:MK this season however. The Dons started well in the league, only failing to take all three points against Peterborough and Coventry. A 4-0 win at the hands of Manchester United further buoyed Robinson’s side who went on to beat Crawley and Barnsley. With the likes of Benik Afobe and Dele Alli, MK have two of the best young players and the division and a challenge for the automatics is my no means out of the question.
Meanwhile, they face and in-different Bradford side who, after starting the campaign well, have struggled in recent weeks. Phil Parkinson has a strong first XI but his squad options are limited and may look to strengthen in January. Alan Sheehan and Stephen Darby represent the wing-back positions well, but goals are by no means coming in from all angles and there is a distinct reliance on James Hanson to find the back of the net. Parkinson can take confidence from his side already winning two away matches, but the challenge of going to stadium:MK is perhaps his toughest yet. It would be surprising to see anything other than a home win here.
5.Cambridge (vs Exeter) at 5/6
In looking at Cambridge’s formbook, you may see a few minor inconsistencies. A loss, a draw and a loss was followed up with a win a draw and a win, but importantly for Richard Money’s side, the losses came against two good sides in Portsmouth and Morecambe. Away draws at York and Newport were not to be sniffed at either, leaving a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Carlisle and a 3-2 away win at Dagenham and Redbridge. Money’s main headache is who to play up front, with all four of his main strikers having scored two goals each. A welcome problem for any manager.
Exeter’s season started in the worst possible fashion after a return for a pre-season tour of Brazil resulted in a number of serious illnesses around the camp. That, as well as a transfer embargo has left Paul Tisdale with one of the trickiest jobs in the Football League at the moment. The Grecians are going to have to rely on their home form if they avoid dropping into the Conference and, as a result, it’s hard to in visage them leaving Abbey Stadium with any points.