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Preview: New Year's Day in the EFL

31 December 2019

A brand new year and a brand new decade begins, but the thrilling action in the EFL remains; here’s what’s to come on New Year’s Day!

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After their dramatic 5-4 win at Birmingham City, league leaders Leeds United head to second-placed West Bromwich Albion, looking to put a three-point gap between the two sides with an all-important victory.

It will not be an easy task for the Whites who have lost four of their last five away games at The Hawthorns, last tasting victory back in the Premier League in August 2002.

This will be the first time since 1970 that Leeds have played their first game of a new decade away from home, they hammered Chelsea 5-0 under Don Revie on that occasion.

Trying to keep pace with the league leaders are Fulham and Brentford. Scott Parker’s side have been impressive in recent weeks, most recently grinding out a solid 1-0 win against Stoke City at Craven Cottage.

The Cottagers are on home soil once again, this time entertaining Reading, who have also had an upturn in fortunes of late. The Royals will be looking for their first win on New Year’s Day since a 6-0 win over West Ham United back in 2007.

The Bees, meanwhile, have risen into fourth place in the league standings over the past few weeks at the expense of Preston North End and Bristol City, both who have had a slight dip in form.

Thomas Frank’s men travel to the aforementioned Bristol City on Wednesday looking to strengthen their place in the Play-Off places, but the Robins have always enjoyed New Year’s Day games at home, having gone unbeaten in their last five outings.

Wigan Athletic prop up the table going into 2020 and will be looking to kick off their revival with three points against Birmingham City.

The Latics are looking to complete a league double over Pep Clotet’s side for the first time in their history, with this being the 12th season competing against one another.

Consolidation would have been the aim for Luton Town at the start of this season, but things have not gone to plan for the Hatters, who find themselves in the relegation zone in the Sky Bet Championship.

A trip to the Den awaits Graeme Jones’ side on New Year’s Day; this will be the first time the two sides have met in league action since March 2008, where they played out a 0-0 draw in Sky Bet League One.

Barnsley occupy the final relegation spot in the Championship, but have been impressive under new manager Gerhard Struber. The Austrian has set about changing the issues that saw Daniel Stendel lose his job in November.

A trip down the M1 to take on Derby County lies ahead for the Tykes - they have only won one of their last 16 away league games against the Rams.


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Wycombe Wanderers tasted defeat at home for the first time this season last time out, with a 4-1 defeat to Coventry City at Adams Park.

The Chairboys are set to turn out on home soil once again as they welcome Paul Lambert’s Ipswich Town who are winless in seven league games, last tasting victory on 5 November against Rochdale.

Oxford United have been the surprise package this season, and what a job Karl Robinson has done at the Kassam Stadium. Coupled with a Carabao Cup Quarter-Final appearance, it has been a season to remember, so far, for the U’s.

A trip to South Yorkshire to take on Doncaster Rovers, who have been less than impressive this season under Darren Moore. Rovers have only won one of their last 12 meeting with Oxford, but the U’s have lost their last three away games on New Year’s Day.

Sticking to South Yorkshire, Rotherham United sit just one point outside of the automatic Play-Off places in Sky Bet League One; the Millers were 3-0 winners against promotion rivals Peterborough United last time out, and will be hoping for a similar scoreline against Blackpool on Wednesday.

Paul Warne’s side are unbeaten in nine league meetings against the Tangerines, winning each of the last three in succession.

Bolton Wanderers head into the New Year bottom of the division, and a win over Burton Albion could see them leapfrog Southend United if the Shrimps fail to record a victory of their own.

Nigel Clough’s side have only lost once on New Year’s Day in the EFL, that coming back in 2013 against York City, while the Trotters have only won one of their last nine games played on the first day of the New Year.

Milton Keynes Dons tasted victory last time out, seeing off high-flying Portsmouth in impressive style at Stadium MK, and with victory over Bristol rovers on Wednesday, it could see them move up to 18th in the league, depending on results elsewhere.

New Gas boss Ben Garner will be hoping his side continue their fantastic run against MK Dons, having won each of their last three league meetings and keeping a clean sheet on each of those occasions. LG1NYDFixtures.png


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Swindon Town’s nine-match unbeaten run in Sky Bet League Two was ended by Port Vale last time out. The league leaders have been in impressive form this season and start the year top by two points.

Plymouth Argyle entertain Richie Wellens’ side, buoyant after a 96th-minute winner against Stevenage at the weekend. This will be the first time the two sides have met on New Year’s Day since 1991, that finishing in a 1-1 draw on that occasion.

Matt Taylor’s Exeter City are hot on the Robins’ tail and are unbeaten in their last seven league games. A tricky trip to Forest Green Rovers awaits the Grecians, with Rovers also in a celebratory mood after their slender victory over Macclesfield Town.

Mark Cooper’s side have failed to score in three of their last four league games against Exeter. 

Crewe Alexandra occupy the final automatic Play-Off spot in League Two and will be hoping to strengthen their hold on third spot with a win over Carlisle United.

The Railwaymen saw off a valiant effort from Scunthorpe United at the weekend, while the Cumbrians got back to winning ways with a 2-1 win over Walsall.

This will be the third time that the two sides will have met on New Year’s Day in the EFL, with Crewe winning the previous two.

As mentioned above, bottom club Stevenage were beaten in the dying seconds of the game by the Pilgrims last time out. Graham Westley’s side travel to Northampton Town looking for their first win in four trips to the Cobblers in the EFL.

Elsewhere, Morecambe head to Bradford City and Macclesfield Town are also on their travels, making the short trip to Vale Park to take on Port Vale.


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