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Sky Bet League 1 Betting Preview
Sheffield United go into the 2014/15 Sky Bet League 1 campaign as 5/1 title favourites with the sponsors.
After the sacking of David Weir after the early stages of last season, Nigel Clough oversaw the difficult process of getting United back on track.
Still sitting near the foot of the table at the start of February, the Blades then hit top gear in a big way, including a brilliant FA Cup run to the semi-finals at Wembley, and just came up short in a late push for the play-offs.
The loss of Harry Maguire to Hull is a blow but Clough has made a couple of possibly astute signings in Marc McNulty and Chris Basham and will be looking to pick up where he left off.
Preston and Bristol City can’t be split as 8/1 joint second-favourites to claim League 1 glory.
City were another team to get a lift from a managerial switch midway through last season and a lot of credit must go to Steve Cotterill, who took the club away from relegation trouble.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Sam Baldock netted 47 goals between them and the latter is Sky Bet’s 6/1 joint-favourite to be the league’s leading marksman, along with Peterborough’s Britt Assombalonga.
Baldock and Assombalonga shared the prize with 24 goals each last term.
Preston have done well under Simon Grayson and although it was more play-off heartbreak for the Lilywhites when they were put to the sword by Rotherham, the club looks set for another strong showing and, like Bristol City, can be backed at 5/2 to claim promotion to the Championship.
The other sides to miss out in last season’s play-offs were Peterborough and Leyton Orient, who are 11/1 and 12/1 respectively to lift the title.
Losing finalists Orient led the way for the first half of the season only to stumble into third place, but that experience could help them this time around.
Darren Ferguson guided Peterborough to sixth thanks to the firepower of Assombalonga and the recent signing of Erhun Oztumer, who boasts an eye-catching strike-rate for non-league side Dulwich Hamlet, could be an inspired addition.
The next three teams in the outright market are Barnsley (14/1), Doncaster (16/1) and Yeovil (16/1), who are all looking to bounce straight back following relegation.
All three have seen the revolving door spin during the summer and start the new campaign with different line-ups, but Yeovil could be the one to put up the strongest promotion challenge at 5/1.
The four promoted teams are Fleetwood, Scunthorpe, Chesterfield and Rochdale.
Fleetwood are 7/2 for a top-six finish, along with Chesterfield, while Scunthorpe are 9/2 and Rochdale 7/1 in the same market.
The Dale are the shortest of the quartet to head straight back down at odds of 5/2 for relegation.
One side who will be hoping to look up, rather than down, is MK Dons, out to consolidate on last year’s mid-table finish.
The season-long loan of Will Grigg from Brentford is a statement of intent and the 23-year-old Northern Ireland international has gone in at 14/1 to top the goalscoring charts having netted an impressive 20 the season before last at Walsall.
Coventry overcame the handicap of being docked 10 points at the start of last season to finish up four points clear of the drop in 18th and would have been ninth without the penalty.
The sale of leading scorers Callum Wilson and the impressive Franck Moussa could result in a tricky campaign for the Sky Blues, but the likes of Reda Johnson and Danny Pugh have bolstered the ranks and it’s no surprise to see odds of 8/11 for a top-half finish.
Swindon utilised the loan system to full effect and ended up in eighth at the end of last season but there have been fewer additions this summer and Mark Cooper’s men are now odds-against (6/5) to finish in the top dozen.
Walsall and Crawley are both 11/8 in the same market, with Bradford 6/4.
The Bantams drew too many games on their return to the third tier of English football but Phil Parkinson can take heart from their mid-table effort.
Port Vale hadn’t finished in the top 10 of the third tier since just missing out on the play-offs in 2004, but belied expectations when ninth last year.
They are 25/1 for promotion and 100/30 to again finish in the top half this season.
Colchester’s Freddie Sears is a big price at 66/1 in the top scorer market after netting 12 last season but the U’s may find things tough on the whole and are only 4/7 to stay up.
Crewe are also 4/7 to avoid relegation but they’ve had a couple of seasons at this level now and it’s worth noting their Under-21s won the Professional Development League Two title in April.
Steve Davies’ men are 9/2 outsiders to claim a top-half finish, along with Colchester.
Notts County have a whole host of new recruits after just escaping the drop last season and the 15/8 for a top-half slot could look big if the signings gel quickly.
Oldham have become something of a League 1 staple and are 14/1 for promotion. It’s also worth keeping an eye on new forwards William Gros and Amari Morgan-Smith.
Gillingham finished only 17th last season but could have realistic claims of a top-half finish this season after the addition of a few experienced campaigners and they are 5/2 to do just that.
Sky Bet are the Title Sponsor of The Football League. This season, a £250,000 Sky Bet Transfer Fund will go to a Football League club to spend on players in the January 2015 transfer window.
Fans who bet with Sky Bet generate Transfer Fund Tokens and go into a random draw to win a £5,000 prize – and the £250,000 Sky Bet Transfer Fund for their Football League club.
To sign up, go to www.skybet.com/orient and follow the instructions.