2020/21 League One preview: Best bets for outright markets
We assess the best picks for the 2020/21 League One title, relegation and more ahead of the season getting under way on Saturday.
Oxford to win the title
With Sunderland currently favourites to win League One, despite having finished fifth and eighth in their two seasons at this level, it makes sense to look further down the pack.
Of the rest, it’s Oxford that look the best value pick.
Manager Karl Robinson led them to fourth last season – their highest league finish since the 1998/99 season – and despite losing the play-off final, there’s a lot for them to be excited about.
The U’s were among the best teams in League One last season in terms of xG (experimental361), so the permanent signing of striker Matty Taylor is a definite positive after he bagged 17 in all competitions while on loan last term.
Elsewhere, loan deals for former Barcelona B midfielder Marcus McGuane and ex-Reading and now-Feyenoord man Liam Kelly are positive.
The importance of box-to-box player Cameron Brannagan’s contract extension cannot be understated, either.
In a division that looks noticeably weaker than it did this time a year ago, there is no reason why Oxford should not be aiming high.
Peterborough to be promoted
Peterborough are in great shape for what director of football Barry Fry is calling their ‘revenge season’.
They were irked by the EFL’s decision to decide the league on an unweighted points-per-game system after the 2019/20 campaign was curtailed, missing out on a top-six spot by 0.02 points, despite occupying the final play-off position in March.
And while last season’s Golden Boot winner Ivan Toney has since moved to Brentford, Darren Ferguson done a decent job spending the initial £5m fee they received.
Replacing Toney is Jonson Clarke-Harris, who scored 13 goals in 26 games for Bristol Rovers last season. Alongside Mo Eisa, who netted 16 last term, Peterborough have one of the best forward lines in the division.
Other eye-catching business includes the permanent signing of Sunderland and Portsmouth target Sammie Szmodics, who spent the second half of last season on loan from Bristol City.
Had last season started on 1 January, Posh would have finished second in League One. With an equally-well balanced side this time around, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be shooting for similar heights.
Fleetwood to finish in the top six
For a club of Fleetwood’s size to have managed a top-six finish in two of the last four seasons in League One is impressive.
But that doesn’t mean there is any reason not to get behind them again this term. Instead, Joey Barton’s side should be eyeing up another tilt at the play-offs with the quality at their disposal.
Talented midfielder Callum Camps comes in from Rochdale to join a midfield stacked with quality.
Alongside him are Glenn Whelan, Jordan Rossiter and Paul Coutts, forming an engine room that rivals any other in the division.
Going forward, the Cod Army have nothing to worry about either. Both Paddy Madden and Ched Evans are proven goalscorers at this level, with the former only beaten to last season’s Golden Boot by now-Brentford striker Toney.
With a squad as talented as the one they currently have, a play-off place should be the minimum Fleetwood aim for.
Wigan to be relegated
The future of a football club should be decided on the pitch, but unfortunately that’s not the case for Wigan at the moment.
The Latics finished two points from safety in the Championship last season after they were docked 12 for going into administration, and they come into the new campaign with virtually all of their key players and promising youngsters having been sold in an attempt to raise much-needed funds.
Within their first-team squad, just nine players remain who have played a first-team game for the club, while manager Paul Cook also left his position during the off-season.
With full back Nathan Byrne reportedly next on the list of outgoings, this could be a long season for a troubled club.
#BetYourWay: Peterborough to be promoted, Fleetwood to finish in the top six and Wigan to be relegated
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