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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Best bets in Saturday's EFL matches

Birmingham can stick the boot into Rotherham

Birmingham could be celebrating
1 of 1

3pm Saturday

Birmingham v Rotherham
Birmingham are the EFL's unrivalled draw specialists, sharing the points in eight of 11 league games this season, but they look solid favourites to defeat Rotherham at St Andrew's to end their long wait for a first home win.

It has been a hugely frustrating two months for Garry Monk's side, who have not been fairly rewarded for a series of decent performances.

Early in the season they lacked a clinical touch in front of goal but that has started to change with strikers Che Adams and Lukas Jutkiewicz showing signs of improvement.

Adams popped up with two goals at Leeds a fortnight ago, helping Birmingham to a 2-1 victory, and Jutkiewicz was the hero last weekend as the Blues came from two goals behind to draw 2-2 at home to Ipswich.

Neither was on target at Brentford in midweek but Birmingham earned a well-deserved 1-1 draw and held on for the last 25 minutes with ten men after the harsh dismissal of midfielder Maikel Kieftenbeld.

An appeal against the red card has been upheld, so Birmingham go into battle with the same group of players and should be confident of netting a victory.

Rotherham dug out a 0-0 draw at home to Bristol City on Wednesday despite an injury crisis which led them to naming just five substitutes.

They have a fuller squad this week with Kyle Vassell and Richie Towell hoping to recovery from injuries but they are stretched at the back with central defenders Clark Robertson, Sean Raggett and Richard Wood injured.

The international break cannot come quick enough for Paul Warne's patched-up squad, They are likely to suffer seventh successive away defeat, maintaining their unwanted status as the only second-tier club without an away point.

Recommendation
Birmingham
3pts 4-6 general


Swansea v Ipswich
Swansea are making quiet but steady progress under Graham Potter and should be confident of overcoming Ipswich in Wales.

Given the high turnover of players at Swansea, there was a risk they they could make a slow start and get sucked into a relegation scrap, as happened to Sunderland and Hull last term.

But Potter's players have been competitive in all of their matches and recent performances have been encouraging.

Swansea swept aside QPR 3-0 at the Liberty Stadium last Saturday and they were the better side in a 0-0 draw at Wigan on Tuesday, winning the shot count 17 to ten.

Injuries were hampering Potters' plans earlier in the campaign but the squad has looked a lot stronger over the last fortnight with midfielders Jay Fulton, Leroy Fer, Tom Carroll and Bersant Celina recovering from injuries.

Swansea are getter close to their full-strength team – only Wilfried Bony and Jefferson Montero are ruled out this weekend – and that is bad news for Ipswich, who are the only winless team in the division.

Ipswich gambled on two fronts this summer. They replaced seasoned second-tier manager Mick McCarthy with a lower-league boss in Paul Hurst and their seven permanent signings all came from lower divisions too.

It is little wonder that they have lacked quality and their dreadful start is set to continue.

Recommendation
Swansea
3pts 5-6 bet365, Betway

Bet on these games at Soccerbase.com


Bradford v Sunderland
Sunderland are not having everything their own way in Sky Bet League One but have been in the top four since August and can stay there by beating Bradford at Valley Parade.

The Black Cats have one of the biggest budgets in the division and their squad strength has come in handy because of a spate of injuries.

However, they have some key men back this weekend – George Honeyman is free from injury and Lee Cattermole back after suspension – and they should have too much quality and experience for their struggling hosts.

Bradford nicked a 1-0 win at Wimbledon on Tuesday despite losing the shot count 15-10 but it came at a cost with midfielder Jim O'Brien, one of their few experienced players, hobbling off with a first-half injury.

David Hopkin's young side are showing plenty of fight but they face a tough battle to stay out of the bottom four.

Recommendation
Sunderland
2pts 19-20 general


Yeovil v Exeter
Exeter have gone from strength to strength despite the summer departure of long-term manager Paul Tisdale and they look worthy favourites to beat Yeovil at Huish Park.

A sizeable travelling contingent will make the 55-mile trip and they should enjoy the occasion because Exeter should have too much quality for their injury-ravaged hosts.

Yeovil started the season with a string of impressive results but since last month's 6-0 win at Newport they have taken only one point from a possible 12.

Eight Glovers players missed the 3-1 loss at Colchester on Tuesday and only centre-back Gary Warren has a chance of returning to the fray for this game.

Recommendation
Exeter
2pts 6-4 Ladbrokes, Sky Bet


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Yeovil started the season with a string of impressive results but since their 6-0 win at Newport they have taken only one point from a possible 12
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