Shrewsbury Town v Burton Albion
Shrewsbury Town have made a competent start to the League One season, but have probably still fallen a little bit below the pre-season optimism that was building at the club. Steve Cotterill has a few injury issues to consider ahead of the game: Elliot Bennett is a doubt despite making his return in the Papa John’s Trophy in midweek, while Daniel Udoh, Aiden O’Brien and Julien Da Costa all remain sidelined. Jordan Shipley is also a doubt, and Christian Saydee’s fitness is a concern, the Bournemouth loanee spent the second half of last season with the Brewers.
For the visitors, Viljami Sinisalo is away on international duty and Ciaran Gilligan is out for up to a month, Deji Oshilaja, Mustapha Carayol and Calum Butcher all face late fitness tests. The Shrews have scored six goals in their last three league games from 3.1 expected goals (xG) for, which is not sustainable. Burton’s spirits will be up after two consecutive wins under Dino Maamria, and Jonny Smith’s return to the squad should see them offer a greater attacking threat at New Meadow. I would not persuade anyone away from getting Burton onside using the double chance market, a low margin game is on the cards.
Derby County v Cheltenham Town
There is a new man in the Derby County dugout. Ahead of the weekend, the Rams confirmed the appointment of Paul Warne, departing Rotherham United along with several of his staff. In a roller coaster six-year period with the Millers, Warne earned promotion out of League One on three separate occasions, and left South Yorkshire with Rotherham sitting in a great position in the early Championship table. Warne inherits a Derby County side that have been near-perfect at Pride Park, winning four out of their five home matches. All nine of the Rams’ league goals in 2022-23 so far have come on home soil.
Cheltenham Town are heading to Pride Park for the first time this weekend, sitting just outside the League One relegation zone on goal difference. Central defender Caleb Taylor, on a season-long loan from West Bromwich Albion, has been an emergent star in the centre of Cheltenham’s backline despite his team’s struggles. The news of Matty Blair’s retirement back on the 12th September impacts Wade Elliott’s right-wing-back options in his 3-4-1-2 formation. Ryan Jackson has featured more recently, and it allows natural forward George Lloyd to be deployed as a frontline partner to Southampton loanee Dan Nlundulu. The Robins have fared well on the road compared to at home, collecting five of their eight total points in away games, albeit all of those points have been collected against teams no higher than 11th in the current table.
Derby County have acquired an exceptional manager in Paul Warne, and optimism around Pride Park should be increased tenfold as a result. Even with Derby possessing League One’s second-worst away record, they still currently find themselves outside of the play-off places by just goal difference. We will have to wait further into the season to see Warne’s impact on Derby County away games, but he begins his Rams tenure at home against a favourable opponent.
Barnsley v Charlton Athletic
The both teams to score bankers head to Oakwell. Charlton have scored in eight of nine so far, conceded in eight of nine also, with their one clean sheet being very fortunate, with both teams to score landing in seven of their nine league encounters. The Addicks have drawn 1-1 four times and lost 3-1 in their last five and may begin looking over their shoulders if they do not pick up a positive result in Yorkshire.
Chuks Aneke and Steven Sessegnon are out for the Addicks, but Mandela Egbo is fit and available while Ryan Inniss is set to return from suspension. Josh Benson and Nicky Cadden are available for selection for the Tykes, but Brad Collins is out with a head injury.
Barnsley have picked up seven points from their last three in the league and have been making some very positive strides under Michael Duff, but it is hard to deny a Charlton forward line that boasts a lot of pace and skill.
It will be interesting to see if Miles Leaburn earns a start after his highlight reel back flick rescued a point at Fleetwood Town last weekend.
Morecambe v Cambridge United
Cambridge have been mightily impressive at the start of this season and they look like a team who may be able to punch above their weight financially, and push for a top half finish this time around. These two sides won promotion from League Two in 2020/21, but the visitors were not involved in a relegation battle like the Shrimps last term.
Morecambe have the worst defence in the division according the underlying numbers, but that did not stop them picking up their first win of the season at Forest Green Rovers last time out. Cole Stockton does not look as motivated after a move away did not materialise this summer, and for that reason it has not been a surprise to see them struggle in the final third. The U’s have plenty of attacking talent to exploit their poor defence, with Mark Bonner having positive selection headaches thanks to the early season performances of: Joe Ironside, Sam Smith, Harvey Knibbs, Shiloh Tracey and more recently Fejiri Okenabirhie.
Even at this stage, this feels like a mid table side heading to one of the worst in the division, but it is not priced up as such, presenting more value with Bonner’s visitors.
Plymouth Argyle v Ipswich Town
Plymouth Argyle welcome the Sky Sports cameras to Home Park for their Sunday lunchtime hosting of Ipswich Town. The Pilgrims picked up a respectable 2-2 draw at Portsmouth last weekend, where Ipswich were pegged back from a commanding two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Sheffield Wednesday last time out.
The way things have gone so far, these two may well be in the automatic promotion picture right up until the end of the campaign with two very exciting young managers in their respective dugouts. The Tractor Boys continue to set higher standards than have been seen in a very long time when it comes to their defensive process in the third tier, they have also increased their attacking threat from last season and looks as safer bet as any in the EFL to secure a top two finish.
Argyle have been very strong at home so far and are yet to concede at Home Park in the league, both sides will probably see a draw as a positive result and could be a little more conservative having conceded two last time out. The visitors may sit back, use their pace on the counter and soak up pressure to maintain their unbeaten record so far.
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