Reassessing the EFL Outright Markets Ahead of October International Break

TractorBoys

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As we head into this season’s second international break, most teams in the Football League obviously have a much clearer idea about what constitutes realistic expectations for the end of the campaign. This is also the ideal chance for bettors to take stock of the season so far. There are enough matches gone to allow for more informed predictions, but enough matches remain for there still to be plenty of value in the markets.

Championship

The Championship is renowned for its competitive nature, although the last few seasons have seen the title winner finish a comfortable margin clear of third place. However, this year there is no clear candidate for a runaway leader to ruin all the excitement. After 11 games, just four points separate first from tenth – this promises to be one of the most "Championshippy" seasons yet.

The tightness in the table does mean a side can quickly fall away after a few poor results, so it is important to find a balance between early-season form and its potential longevity. When you’re talking about consistency over an entire season, Nottingham Forest may not traditionally be the first team to come to mind.


However, just one league defeat so far puts them in the conversation for the title, priced up at 16/1 in the Betway outright market as of 7th October. A 1-0 win at Swansea, a 2-1 win at Fulham and a 1-1 draw at Leeds demonstrate a handy ability to take points back from their rivals' backyards. There’s been no playoff appearance since 2010/11, but a low-key ninth place last season showed that new boss Sabri Lamouchi would have plenty of talent to work with. So far, Lamouchi is making that talent work.

League One

While Ipswich were among the pre-season title favourites, there was a degree of scepticism over how quickly they would take to third-tier football. As it turns out, the answer was ‘instantly’. The Tractor Boys hit the ground running and have showed no signs of slowing down. Ipswich fans will find it refreshing to be able to say such positive things without being accused of delusional bias – it’s been a while.

With eleven matches gone, Paul Lambert’s table-topping side are the only unbeaten team in the EFL and are separated from third-placed Fleetwood by seven points. It perhaps would be delusional to suggest an invincible season awaits, but there currently appears to be a gulf in class that makes the title market worth ignoring. The top-six market may prove more fruitful.

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https://www.facebook.com/lincolncityfc/photos/a.415678861289/10156230972766290

The departure of the Cowley brothers has boosted Lincoln’s price, while the 6-0 defeat at home to Oxford also helped. However, it may be premature to write off their chances under new boss Michael Appleton. He guided Oxford to promotion from League Two, before securing an 8th-placed finish in the following campaign. As the stats at Transfermarkt show, Appleton left Oxford after three seasons with an admirable rate of 1.61 points-per-game. At 11/2 in some places to make the top six, Appleton and Lincoln could thrive with the reduction of pressure.

League Two

Few people would have had Crewe and Cheltenham among the League Two front-runners at this stage, but the two are sitting pretty in fourth and fifth respectively. Less surprising is the top three: Forest Green, Exeter and Newport. Exeter lost in two consecutive playoff finals before finishing ninth last year, with the other two both finishing in the top seven.

Despite topping the table and being unbeaten in their last six, Forest Green are still some bookies’ seventh-favourite to claim promotion. The Home/Away breakdown from Flashscore’s for last season shows how Rovers’ away record was only surpassed by Lincoln, with both sides racking up a mighty 12 wins on the road. That bodes well for Forest Green’s chances to go one better this season and seal promotion.

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https://www.facebook.com/OfficialGTFC/photos/a.611298325588356/2685636241487877

With seventh place being enough to seal a spot in the playoffs, the markets duly reflect that lots of teams still have a great chance of winding up in the hunt for promotion. Those that perhaps offer a hint of value include Mansfield, languishing in 19th but probably too good to stay there for much longer. Grimsby are also underrated in a quietly impressive ninth. That the BBC called it a ‘humbling’ in their report of the Mariners’ 3-1 win at Exeter indicates that it isn't just bookies underrating Michael Jolley’s side.

Of course, it will be business as usual for many EFL sides during this international break, with Exeter vs Forest Green set to be an intriguing battle between two of the League Two title-chasers. I wouldn’t want to predict the outcome of that match, but one thing is for certain – Ipswich’s unbeaten league record will survive another weekend.
 
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