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Our best bets for the latest Sky Bet EFL action
Our best bets for the latest Sky Bet EFL action

With winners in previews across the festive period, Tom Carnduff picks out his best bets for the latest Sky Bet EFL action.


Recommended bets

1pt Kamohelo Mokotjo to be shown a card in Birmingham v Brentford at 8/1

1pt Pawel Wszolek to score anytime in QPR v Reading at 4/1

1pt Aden Flint to score anytime in Middlesbrough at 8/1

1pt 40+ Charlton booking points in Barnsley v Charlton at 4/1

For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record


Birmingham v Brentford

Sky Bet Championship, St. Andrews, 1500 GMT

Peter Bankes has shown the cards in the Sky Bet Championship this season
Peter Bankes has shown the cards in the Sky Bet Championship this season

Birmingham hold play-off aspirations following a very strong first-half of the season under Garry Monk, while Brentford's top-six dream has turned into a nightmare as they battle relegation.

The Bees are still waiting for their first win on the road this season and will likely leave empty-handed as they go to Birmingham, who have lost just one home league game this season.

Cards is where the value is in this game given Peter Bankes' appointment to this one, and my eye was caught on the huge 8/1 on offer for Kamohelo Mokotjo to go into the referee's book.

The midfielder may have not been carded yet this season, but it is worth considering that he has only returned to the side in recent weeks following a seven-game absence from the starting XI.

Brentford may not sit high in the disciplinary charts, but there were 12 cards shown in their win over Nottingham Forest when Bankes was in charge, five of which were given to them.

In a game where Birmingham will be on the front foot, they could find themselves adding to their card tally for the season. Given Mokotjo's position in defensive midfield, there is every chance he could overstep the mark and get himself booked.

Best bet: Kamohelo Mokotjo to be shown a card at 8/1

Opta facts

  • Following a run of four straight victories over Brentford, Birmingham City are winless in their last four league games against the Bees, losing three and drawing the reverse fixture earlier this season.
  • Brentford are looking to win three straight away matches at Birmingham in all competitions for the first time since December 1990.
  • Birmingham have lost just one of their last six Championship games (W4 D1 L1) and are looking to win three in a row for the first time since a four-game streak in October.
  • Birmingham have kept a clean sheet in their last two league games – they last recorded three consecutive shutouts in April 2018.
  • Brentford’s Neal Maupay netted his 15th league goal of the season last time out; the last Bees player to score more in a Championship campaign was Andre Gray (17 in 2014-15, incl. play-offs).
  • Brentford have picked up four points from their last two games, as many as they did in their previous 10 combined.

Middlesbrough v Ipswich

Sky Bet Championship, Riverside, 1500 GMT

Aden Flint (left) celebrates after scoring against Sheffield United
Aden Flint (left) celebrates after scoring against Sheffield United

Middlesbrough's recent form has been hugely concerning for the club's fanbase, with just one win in their last seven games seeing them drop down to fifth in the table - nine points adrift of the automatic promotion spots.

They have a great chance to return to winning ways against an Ipswich side who are already facing the prospect of relegation before we've even hit 2019.

The Tractor Boys already need to close a seven-point gap if they are to stay in the division, which is a tough task for a side who have only won two of their 24 games.

We've had a lot of success backing goalscorers in recent weeks, and I'm hopeful of another big-priced one here with Aden Flint available at 8/1 to find the net.

The centre-back has carried an attacking threat throughout the season, despite only scoring once. Flint sits third for shots taken in this Middlesbrough side, beaten only by forwards Britt Assombalonga and Stewart Downing.

We'd expect Boro to be on the front foot throughout this contest given the standard of the opposition. What that should also mean is that they will have plenty of set-piece opportunities, giving Flint chances to add to his tally.

Set-pieces have also proved to be a real problem for Ipswich throughout the season. They have conceded more goals from set-piece situations away from home than any other sided in the division, third overall.

This game presents the perfect opportunity for someone like Flint to strike, and a price of 8/1 is incredibly generous when you consider the above.

Best bet: Aden Flint to score anytime at 8/1

Opta facts

  • Middlesbrough have scored at least two goals in five of their last six league games against Ipswich (12 goals total), winning four and drawing two.
  • Ipswich town last won at the Riverside back in any competition back in August 2010 (D2 L4 since), running out 3-1 winners thanks to goals from Tommy Smith, Tamas Priskin and Jon Stead.
  • Middlesbrough have lost three of their last five games in the Championship (W1 D1) – their previous three defeats in the competition came over a run of 26 games.
  • Ipswich have lost five of their last six away league games, failing to score in each defeat (D1).
  • After keeping 11 clean sheets in their first 17 league games this season, Middlesbrough have registered just one shutout in their last seven.
  • This will be the first ever managerial meeting between Middlesbrough’s Tony Pulis and Ipswich’s Paul Lambert outside of the Premier League; Pulis has only lost one of their previous six encounters (W3 D2).

QPR v Reading

Sky Bet Championship, Loftus Road, 1500 GMT

Pawel Wszolek (right) celebrates after scoring against Middlesbrough
Pawel Wszolek (right) celebrates after scoring against Middlesbrough

I don't think too many people had QPR sitting just two points off the play-off positions with days remaining in 2018, myself included.

Yet Steve McClaren has got his side playing football and winning games, which includes making Loftus Road a fortress.

The R's have the fourth-best home record in the division with five of their last six home games ending in victory.

They are a side who are playing with confidence, and one player in particular who has thrived in the current positive environment is Pawel Wszolek.

I've tipped the winger twice this season to find the net, and on both occasions he has delivered. In a game such as this, I'm more than happy to put my faith in him again.

Wszolek has six goals on his tally this season, contributing a further two assists. His tally looks impressive considering he barely featured in the opening 12 games of the campaign.

His form has been outstanding in recent weeks though. He has scored three goals in his last five, which includes the opening goal in their Boxing Day victory over Ipswich.

At a best-price of 4/1, the value is certainly there in backing him to continue that goalscoring run against a Reading side who will have two first-team players missing through suspension.

Best bet: Pawel Wszolek to score anytime at 4/1

Opta facts

  • Queens Park Rangers have won three of their last four league games against Reading (L1), including a 1-0 victory at the Madejski earlier this season.
  • Reading have only lost three of their last 15 games in all competitions at Loftus Road (W5 D7).
  • QPR have won their last three Championship games – they last won four in a row back in January 2014, a season in which they were promoted via the Championship playoffs.
  • Reading are winless in eight league games, losing four and drawing four. They haven’t suffered three consecutive defeats since the opening three games this term.
  • Pawel Wszolek is the first QPR player to score in three consecutive league appearances at Loftus Road since Tjaronn Chery in April 2016 (5 in a row).
  • Reading’s John Swift has attempted the most shots without scoring a goal in the Championship this season (34 shots).

Barnsley v Charlton

Sky Bet League One, Oakwell, 1500 GMT

Lee Bowyer has had a fine start to management with Charlton
Charlton manager Lee Bowyer

Another game where we are looking for value in cards, with Lee Bowyer's Charlton sitting second for cards shown in Sky Bet League One.

Their 55 yellows and two reds gives them the second-worst disciplinary record in the division, that is only topped by Sunderland and their 41 yellows and five reds.

The avenue to explore here is in Charlton booking points, with two of their last three games seeing them picking up 40 or more.

At a price of 4/1, the value is there in backing them to hit the same target away at a Barnsley side who are yet to be beaten at Oakwell in the league.

The Tykes will expect to see more of the ball and opportunities on goal, which could lead to Charlton committing those fouls as they aim to prevent their third defeat in four away games.

We have seen teams pick up cards when they have played at Oakwell this season. Portsmouth picked up three yellows on their visit two weeks ago and Bradford saw four warnings last month.

Given Charlton's issues with avoiding bookings this season, it's worth betting on the away cards in this one.

Best bets: Charlton to have 40+ booking points at 4/1

Opta facts

  • Charlton will be visiting Oakwell in the league for the first time since August 2013, with the Addicks coming from two goals down to draw 2-2.
  • Barnsley are without a win in their last three home league games against Charlton (D2 L1), including a 6-0 drubbing in April 2013.
  • Barnsley are yet to lose at Oakwell in League One this season (P11 W6 D5 L0), one of three sides yet to lose on home soil in the competition this season (also Luton and Sunderland).
  • Charlton’s 2-1 defeat at Coventry last time out ended their three-game winning streak in League One, last losing back-to-back matches in the division in October.
  • Charlton have scored more goals in the opening 15 minutes of their League One games this season (eight) than any other team.

Odds correct at 1520 GMT (28/12/18)

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Most Read Football

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package1

Saturday's Premier League tips

Mark your card for Saturday's 3pm kick-offs in the Premier League with the best bets, Super 6 predictions and top stats for each game.

Jose Mourinho2

Mourinho aiming for top job

Jose Mourinho insists he is still in the market for a top level job in football, as he defended his time at Manchester United due to what was going on behind the scenes.

The latest done deals and transfer rumours with Sporting Life
3

The Transfer Market: Live

Keep up with all the latest transfer news reports and rumours along with the details of all the done deals and latest betting odds.

Paul Pogba celebrates4

Pogba sets United challenge

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Get all the latest football gossip from the day's back pages5

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