Football League specialist Tom Love (@TomLove_18) provides us with an in-depth ante-post preview of the 2019/2020 League One season and pens his best bets.
2019/2020 League One Season Betting Preview & Tips
League 1 is one of the tougher ones to call this season. Big clubs Sunderland and Portsmouth remain keen contenders after missing out through the play-offs last time. Other teams such as Ipswich, Rotherham and Peterborough are all expected to go well, but it looks like a very tight heat, I'm not expecting a standout side in this league.
It may be a surprise to many but I'm keen on the Gills to see a real upturn in their performances and results this season and although relatively unfancied (hence the 12/1 quote) they have a competitive squad and a manager that has a track record of promotions.
Now I'm not a fan of Steve Evans the person, he's sailed close to the bone on numerous levels given his job role back from his days at Boston. However, it's hard to argue with his records of getting teams up. The colourful character has overseen promotions with Boston, Crawley and Rotherham and he will be looking to add another to his list. By being an unpopular figure among rival football fans he almost always creates an us against the world mentality. If he gets the players in who buy into such a way of thinking then it's a promising cocktail.
Evans has brought in quite a few faces to Priestfield. Jack Bonham has the potential to be one of the best goalkeepers in the division. He was unlucky not to get a decent run of games at Brentford but impressed at Bristol Rovers. Lee Hodson will be a solid player at this level at full back, Alfie shines comes in from the prestigious Southampton youth set up too. In midfield they've brought in Stuart O'Keefe who was playing regular championship and premier league football with Cardiff the other year, Matty Willock also joins and he's an interesting player still with unlocked potential. The imposing figure of Ousseynou Cisse is a classic Evans transfer and he will add defensive resolve and physicality to the midfield.
Going forward they've made some intriguing signings. Beanpole striker Mikael Mandron has been at plenty of clubs but he will be a useful target man you'd imagine, another Mikael has also made a loan move to Kent, Mikael N'djoli that is, he got plenty of minutes for Kilmarnock last season. Mark Marshall has been drafted in from Charlton, one of the most impressive wingers on his day, lives to run at players and get crosses in as swell as cutting in and getting shots off. They all come into a team with impressive duo Brandon Hanlan and Elliot List who have come on leaps and bounds that past year.
It's probably more of a price play than anything but you usually get a good run for your money with Evans' in the promotion market. A safer bet might be backing them at 6/1 for a top 6 finish or 11/8 for a top half finish, maybe if you're putting together an antepost acca the latter could well be of interest.
Shrewsbury came every so close to promotion in the 17/18, long were they top two in fact. Unfortunately for Paul Hurst and his side they fell into the play offs and lost in the final to Rotherham in a tight encounter.
That season came out of the blue with the Shropshire club tipped by many to go down. Last season they reverted somewhat to the mean given their squad but it did include a managerial change and a loss of key players such as Toto N'Siala and Jon Nolan. It was not a huge surprise to see them finishing around mid-table.
Sam Ricketts has had a summer under his belt and he's been busy in the transfer market. Ex-player and Welsh international midfielder Dave Edwards is an eye-catching capture. Aaron Pierre had plenty of suitors in his Wycombe days and is a powerful centre half at a good age. Ethan Ebanks-Landell is a monster of a player and will be a big bonus from set-pieces in both boxes.
What's probably got Shrews fans buzzing is the potential strike partnership of Steve Morison and Fejiri Okenabirhie. Morison will be well known to EFL lovers for his time at Leeds, Norwich and Millwall. He's the ultimate striker to play alongside, his expected assists was right up there in the Championship, it proves that when the ball goes up to him his control and precision in laying on chances for others is a key component of his game. He's got recent previous with league one promotion having helped fire Millwall up in the play off final a few years back against Bradford City. He is probably the most impressive signing in league one in my book and his style will contrast well with former Dagenham and Redbridge attacker Okenabirhie.
Instead of taking Salop to be promoted at 14/1 I'll take a punt on the 18/1 from SkyBet giving them a +22 season handicap start. It's a league that I expect to be right with no real runaway leader. Therefore should the Shrews get top 6 then they should also have a good chance of landing us some handicap money. They could in affect finish mid table and this bet could still win.