EFL Betting Tips: Southampton to return to winning ways

By Matthew O'Regan

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23 February 2024

This weekend's EFL slate sees us look at two Championship matches in which the home sides are expected to dominate, before dropping down to a low-scoring affair in League One. Finally, League Two provides us with an excellent value selection in a promotion tussle.

Southampton vs Millwall

Kick Off: 15:00

Two teams with contrasting fortunes so far this season face off on the south coast in the Championship. Promotion-chasing Southampton host relegation-threatened Millwall at St Mary’s, with Saints hoping to recover from a recent blip to further challenge Leeds and Ipswich in a mammoth promotion battle.

Russell Martin’s side went an incredible 25 games unbeaten, before losing 3-1 at Bristol City. This was followed up by a 0-2 win at West Brom, before being shocked 1-2 at home to Hull.

However, Saints are still in a strong position, just two points off Ipswich in third and Leeds in second. 

Fans at St Mary’s have been treated so far, with Southampton recording 35 points in 16 home games, scoring 40 goals in the process. The form of Adam Armstrong has been crucial, with the 27-year-old scoring 16 goals this season – ranking him third top scorer in the league as he hunts down the golden boot. 

Their visitors have endured a torrid season after just missing out on the playoffs last season. A poor start to the season saw Gary Rowett dismissed, with Joe Edwards appointed as manager. 

The appointment of the 37-year-old was seen as an ambitious and brave decision, with Edwards having been manager of the Chelsea u18 and u23 sides, as well as the England u20 caretaker manager. However, it was a risk that didn’t pay off, as Millwall seemed too big for a first job and he was duly sacked on Wednesday evening after a run of eight games in a row, with the only point coming at home to Preston.

There are rumours of a return for Neil Harris, but it is likely to be a caretaker manager in charge for the journey to Southampton. A tough afternoon awaits for whoever is in the Lions dugout so don’t be surprised to see a comfortable win for the hosts.

Prediction: Southampton -1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.00

Sunderland vs Swansea

Kick off: 15:00

Sunderland are another team who are heading into this weekend without a permanent manager, after the controversial Michael Beale was dismissed after just four wins from 12 matches.

In 16 league games at the Stadium Of Light, the Black Cats have scored 2+ in 9/16, accumulating an average of 1.56 xG per game. While the appointment of Michael Beale has seriously derailed their season, Sunderland are still within touching distance of the playoffs – just seven points off Hull in sixth.

Their recruitment has centred around young, unearthed gems and they will only get better as the season progress, with a big push needed to make the playoffs.

Swansea are the side to make the long journey north on Saturday. Luke Williams is just over a month into his tenure and has endured a tough start thus far. The 42-year-old has won just one of his seven league games, although he has had to face all of the top four in this run.

However, things don’t get much easier for Williams, as he now faces a trip to 10th place Sunderland. The former Notts County manager favours an attacking philosophy – a style of play that saw the Magpies promoted from the National League, before leaving them on the cusp of the playoffs.

However, this attack-first mentality has its drawbacks. In his seven league games in charge in Wales, Swansea have conceded 15 goals, conceding 2+ in five of these. The exceptions were a gritty, well deserved win over Hull and a 1-0 win over a Plymouth side who have only scored more than once on the road on two occasions. 

In 16 away games this season, Swansea have conceded 29 goals, conceding two or more in nine of these.

Prediction: Sunderland over 1.5 goals @ 1.82

Port Vale vs Lincoln

Kick Off: 15:00

Port Vale are deep in a relegation battle, and have turned to the highly popular Darren Moore to turn their fortunes around. The Valiants currently sit two points off safety- but their two games in hand on Charlton will offer them some hope. 

However, Vale are without a win in eight league games, losing six of these. Perhaps the most damning indictment of their struggles came against fellow relegation threatened Cheltenham, with Darren Moore’s side throwing away a lead twice. With back-to-back games at Vale Park in the space of four days, Port Vale will be hoping to climb nearer to safety but face a tough challenge against Lincoln.

Since arriving at the Imps, Michael Skubala has made his side hard to beat, with Lincoln currently seven games unbeaten, conceding just three goals in the process. 

Games involving Lincoln have been very low-scoring for an average of just over two goals a game. The return of the prolific Joe Taylor from a loan spell at Colchester is only going to bolster a stuttering attack, and Lincoln look a nice price to extend their unbeaten run and pile more misery on Port Vale. 

Prediction: Lincoln City Draw No Bet @ 1.93

Notts County vs Crewe

Kick Off: 15:00

League 2 has been chaotic this year, with just three points separating Walsall in 16th and Harrogate in 7th. With so many teams battling for potentially just one playoff spot, each week gets more and more unpredictable.

In the upper half of this chasing pack is Notts County – the club that epitomises unpredictably. After coming second in the greatest National League title race of all time, the Magpies currently sit 10th in the league, 11 points behind Saturday’s visitors.

After the departure of Luke Williams to Swansea, Wealdstone manager Stuart Maynard was appointed as his replacement. Thus far, County have lost three, drawn one and won one of his five games in charge. 

His immediate priority will be to improve a defence that has conceded 59 league goals and seven in his reign so far. 

Crewe are the visitors on Saturday. Alex have arguably been the surprise package thus far and are just one point off automatic promotion and four off the title. Lee Bell has done a remarkable job at Gresty Road and is surely a shoo-in for manager of the year. 

A run of just one defeat in ten games has consolidated their playoff ambitions. This run has also seen Crewe keep five clean sheets, with Ed Turns and Mickey Demetriou forming a formidable partnership. 

With a rock-solid defence, creativity and guile in midfield and two powerful workhorses up-front, Crewe have the makings of a great team. Add the threat from set pieces that has seen centre half Demetriou score seven goals – then Crewe can be a match for anyone – especially a defensively fragile Notts County. 

Crewe are six places and 11 points ahead of Notts County and prevent an excellent price to avoid defeat.

Prediction: Crewe double chance @ 1.85

Recommended Bets:

Back Southampton to beat Millwall with a -1.5 Handicap @ 2.00
Back Sunderland to score over 1.5 goals vs Swansea @ 1.82

Back Lincoln draw no bet vs Port Vale @ 1.93
Back Crewe double chance vs Notts County @ 1.85

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