Cod Army to lay down title credentials with good start
Fleetwood Town v Burton Albion
This time last year I had tipped Burton to win the title, but at 34.033/1, I have left them alone. Gone is Nigel Burton, although the esteem to which he is/was held at the club was only strengthened further as he stepped down to save a number of jobs due to the financial impact of coronavirus. So too several players, taking reduced-terms on contracts to help the Brewers in their hour of need.
As much as I admire the men from the Pirelli, it's hard to fancy them against a team that are excellent at home, and one that made the playoffs. Indeed, the Cod Army are one of my title fancies - and you can click here to read more in my ante-post preview.
Town boss Joey Barton has raided the old Sheffield United cupboard again by signing Mark Duffy, and he showed his quality in the recent Carabao Cup success against Wigan.
They won that game 3-2 and typically had plenty of possession. Burton play that way too, but Fleetwood carry a far greater goal threat with Ched Evans.
Backing the hosts is the sensible play here, and with some terrible prices in terms of value floating around this weekend - especially Sunderland at 1.75/7, the offer of 2.01/1 for a home victory looks reasonable.
KEY OPTA STAT: After losing their first two EFL games at home to Burton, Fleetwood have won each of their last three at Highbury - including a 4-1 triumph last term.
Expect a winning start from Moore's men at Keepmoat
Doncaster Rovers v MK Dons
Darren Moore's Doncaster almost made it to my ante-post list in terms of a top-six finish. That looks realistic on last season's efforts, which is reflected in the 3.711/4 on offer for that particular market.
Rovers only lost four at the Keepmoat last term and scored 30, but could never quite kick on towards those playoff places. However, his knack of getting the best out of Premier League loanees could again be hugely beneficial. Indeed, defender Cameron John has signed from Wolves on a permanent basis
One of the incomings is Arsenal's 19yo forward Tyreece John-Jules; a player who has been in and around PL and Europa League squads with the north Londoners and impressed with his maturity during a short stint on loan at Lincoln last term.
Doncaster have also been linked with West Brom's highly-rated attacker Rayhaan Tulloch, a player Moore knows extremely well from his days at the Hawthorns. I haven't seen Tulloch play, but reports suggest there is a potential star to be discovered.
The hosts looked a bit rusty in their recent Carabao Cup 3-2 defeat to Blackburn, but they took the game to the Championship club in the second half and showed encouraging signs.
Again, we are dealing with a similar sort of price to Fleetwood at 2.01/1, and I will take the odds as MK Dons look short in terms of squad strength.
KEY OPTA STAT: MK Dons have never won an away league game at Doncaster.
Hard to make a case for crisis club Wigan
Ipswich Town v Wigan Athletic
Sunday 13th September, live on Sky Sports Football and Main Event
The Sky cameras are in town for a slightly puzzling choice of match at Portman Road with Ipswich unsurprisingly the strong favourites against a club in turmoil. Wigan's off the field problems have impacted massively over the summer - having lost all of their best players. The likes of Jamal Lowe, Kieffer Moore and Josh Windass have gone.
It leaves us with 1.618/13 on the hosts and 5.04/1 on the visitors. A totally understandable set of numbers, although there could be some reaction to the latter's price following news that John Sherdian has been linked with the Wigan manager's job. He could be confirmed before the weekend.
Ipswich started with a bang in beating Bristol Rovers 3-0 in their recent Carabao Cup fixture, but I'd stress a bit of caution for the Tractor Boys in terms of punting in the early games. They suffered a huge dip towards the back-end of last term, and their football wasn't particularly exciting under Paul Lambert. Summer incomings include veteran Stephen Ward and former Portsmouth striker Oli Hawkins - neither would rank as marquee names.
Town's challenge could well be to keep hold of last term's top-scorer Kayden Jackson - who has been linked with a move to the Championship. He only netted 11 times last term - which gives you an idea of Town's prowess. They only scored 23 goals at home in 2019/20, which was one of the lowest of the top-half teams.
It's obvious to get drawn to bets such as Ipswich to win both halves at 6/4, but the hosts are not as solid as the price suggests. The 6/5 Sportsbook price of 'No' for both teams would be my idea of a bet.
KEY OPTA STATS: Ipswich are unbeaten in their last six against Wigan (W4 D2); winning each of their last two at Portman Road. The Tractor Boys have only lost one of their last 10 opening league games of the season.