Predicting League One: Posh dark horses to chase Sheffield Utd home
With all the clubs bar the top two priced at 12/1 or bigger to land the League One title, the third tier of football is shaping up to be hotly contested division in 2015-16.
Will it be a simple case of the two favourites running away with it? Or will there be a surprise or two?
Here are our predictions for the campaign ahead…
Champions: Sheffield United (9/2)
With Nigel Adkins at the helm, the Blades have the perfect man to lead them up, having taken both Southampton and Scunthorpe into the second tier.
The major arrivals at Bramall Lane have been about quality rather than quantity. Conor Sammon could be dangerous dropping down from the Championship, while Billy Sharp has netted 72 goals in 172 starts in the same league.
If they can improve on their late season form that saw them win just four of their last 15 matches, and with a new man in charge, the Sheffield club can seal promotion at the fifth time of asking.
Runners-Up: Peterborough (5/1 to finish in the top two)
The Posh are certainly dark horses for promotion, but they have brought plenty of goalscoring talent to London Road.
Lee Angol netted 25 times for Boreham Wood in the National League South last year, while Souleymane Coulibaly was joint top-scorer at the 2011 U17 World Cup. Further goals could well come from Joe Gormley who has netted 85 times in 104 appearances in Northern Ireland for Cliftonville.
While they need to push on, with former West Ham man Jack Collison adding extra experience in the middle of the park, Dave Robertson’s side could be underestimated this time round.
It’s been a period of transition for relegated Wigan (9/4) with nine of the 12 players that featured more than 20 times in the league last season moving on to pastures new. Plenty more have come in, but the question remains whether they are any improvement on the side that was relegated, and they could require the play-offs to bounce back.
Doncaster (7/2) will need to improve their home form, but with the experience of Richard Chaplow and the 21-goal striker Andy Williams joining the ranks, it wouldn’t be a shock to see them mount a challenge.
It could be a case of now or never for Bury (4/1), with the Lancashire outfit going hell for leather in the transfer market. The signings of Tom Pope and Leon Clarke will undoubtedly add firepower, but they will likely fall short of the automatic promotion shots.
Barnsley (7/2) are picked to round off the four gunning for Wembley. The signings of Alfie Mawson who was outstanding at Wycombe last season and Marley Watkins who shone at Inverness Caley Thistle can be the difference.
Combining the fact that Colchester (13/10) haven’t been higher than 16th in the past three seasons and the competitive nature of the league, we feel this could be their time to drop into League Two.
Port Vale (13/8) have replaced their three highest goalscorers last season with Ajay Leitch Smith and Uche Ikpeazu, two players who have netted 36 times in 216 career appearances, so the Staffordshire outfit could see lack of goals contribute to their downfall.
It’s hard to know what to expect from Blackpool (2/1), but they could be value for back-to-back relegations. They were down with six matches to go last season, and with wholesale changes once again could continue their turmoil on the pitch as well as off it.
Sorry Spireites fans, but Chesterfield (4/1) look well overpriced for the drop. Under Dean Saunders, a man who has been relegated three times in his last four seasons as a manager, and with key men departing over the summer, their time could be up in the division.
Top Scorer Best Bet: Ian Henderson (14/1)
It’s unsure as to where Henderson will be plying his trade for the majority of the campaign, but at Rochdale last year the 30-year-old blasted his way to 22 goals.
Dale finished 8th in the campaign just gone, but with the likes of Barnsley, a side we think could be challenging for promotion, heavily interested in signing him, it could see the service he receives increase slightly in quality.
Even if his move away from Spotland doesn’t materialise, he looks a big price to top the table.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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