Football League Betting Preview & Tips: Swans backed on Boxing Day


FOOTBALL LEAGUE expert Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) reveals his favourite selections from the Boxing Day action in the EFL. 

Middlesbrough vs Rotherham | Saturday 26th December 2020, 15:00

Middlesbrough are averaging 1.61 points per-game across Neil Warnock’s 28 matches in charges (W13-D6-L9). The veteran boss has overseen another remarkable turnaround, guiding the Teessiders from relegation candidates to top-six Championship contenders.

Boro were effective and efficient when overcoming Birmingham 4-1 away last weekend to make it three successive league victories and the Reds have an excellent opportunity to make it four wins on the spin when Rotherham arrive at the Riverside on Boxing Day.

Warnock’s outfit have claimed seven triumphs from 10 home ties this term. The hosts boast the division’s fourth-best defence in terms of chances conceded and Middlesbrough have also started to click in an attacking sense this season. When welcoming bottom-half opposition, Boro have a 100% record (W6-D0-L0), shipping a solitary goal.

In contrast, Rotherham rank second-bottom for Expected Points (xP) and are in the bottom-three for chances created in the Championship. The newly-promoted side have suffered seven losses in 10 road trips, have been beaten in seven of 10 against top-half sides, including five losses from five on their travels.

Exclude the bottom-two and the Millers have ended up empty-handed in 11 of 17 league outings in 2020/21. Paul Warne’s men never lack an ounce of competitive spirit, although Rotherham are lacking a little in both boxes and therefore look likely to come unstuck on Saturday, not to mention the COVID-related issues afflicting the club right now.

Middlesbrough are 3/4 to earn top honours but I’ll take the 19/20 (Betway) on the Reds winning alongside Under 4.5 Goals. None of the duos combined 39 Championship fixtures have featured five or more goals thus far.

Match now postponed.

QPR vs Swansea | Saturday 26th December 2020, 15:00

QPR were incredibly fortunate to escape from Adams Park with a point last weekend with Wycombe spurning numerous opportunities to pinch victory. Failure to secure maximum points has only increased the pressure on Rangers boss Mark Warburton with the R’s managing only four league triumphs this term in 20 encounters.

It’s seven without success for QPR and there are concerns in both boxes. The capital club have rarely looked at ease from a defensive standpoint under Warburton’s tutorship, recording only 13 shutouts in 73 Championship outings, conceding an average of 1.55 goals per-game. Such frailties puts huge emphasis on a functioning attack for success.

Unfortunately, since a raft of influential players left Loftus Road in the summer, Rangers have toiled in the final-third. The West Londoners have scored twice or more on only three occasions in the Championship and exclude results against the bottom-five below QPR, and the Super Hoops have returned only W1-D6-L8, a concerning trend ahead of Swansea’s visit.

The Swans have been superb yet again this season. Steve Cooper continues to regenerate competitive, enterprising and well-drilled teams despite key departures of their own. Built upon a solid and stable backline, the Welsh club have energy, penetration and a forwardline that’s capable of creating and finishing. Only Brentford better City for xG and xG open play.

Swansea’s road record hasn’t been quite as impressive as their Liberty Stadium results, although the guests have posted W7-D3-L1 against bottom-half teams this term. Cooper’s charges have also kept 11 clean sheets in 20, scoring in 16 of those contests and suffering only seven losses in 33 away days under the former England youth team coach.

Should Swansea notch, it’s difficult to see how the high-flyers will lose and so the 8/11 from BetVictor on the visitors in the Draw No Bet market just looks too good to turn down.

Doncaster vs Accrington | Saturday 26th December 2020, 15:00

Doncaster could have gone to the top of the League One table on Tuesday night but fell to a surprise 1-0 home defeat to Shrewsbury. Rovers failed to score for only the second occasion in 17 fixtures but it wasn’t for the will of trying; Darren Moore’s outfit had 14 attempts from inside the penalty area, winning the shot count 19-5 overall.

It was a rare offensive blip from Donny, who are the division’s joint-highest goalscorers and I’d expect the hosts to make their mark again on Boxing Day. In fact, it should be quite an entertaining encounter with visitors Accrington offering plenty themselves in the final-third.

Stanley have scored in all bar three of their 16 matches thus far, including seven of eight away from the Crown Ground. Considering Doncaster have posted only three shutouts across the campaign, leading to 13/18 (72%) successful Both Teams To Score selections, the potential for a repeat is too good to ignore at 17/20 (William Hill) quotes here.

Best Bets

*Middlesbrough vs Rotherham – Middlesbrough to win and Under 4.5 Goals (19/20 Betway)

QPR vs Swansea – Swansea Draw No Bet (8/11 BetVictor)

Doncaster vs Accrington – Both Teams To Score (17/20 William Hill)

*Match now postponed

About Author

The big cheese at WLB. After starting his career in newspaper journalism, Mark soon found his way into the online betting world, forging a career in content, social media and marketing production before setting WeLoveBetting up soon after the 2014 World Cup. With a huge passion for stats, analytics, the EFL and European football, Mark’s other interests include playing rugby, following his beloved QPR and travel.

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