The 2021/22 season of English Football League (EFL) One is set to kick off on Saturday, August 7. It will mark the 18th season of the league under its current title and the 30th under the current division format.
EFL League One 2021/22
The 2021/22 season of EFL League One will welcome seven new teams, who will compete for a promotion into the EFL Championship.
Joining the field are four squads, who were promoted from League Two (Cheltenham Town, Cambridge United, Bolton Wanderers, and Morecambe), and three teams who relegated from the Championship in Wycombe Wanderers, Rotherham United, and Sheffield Wednesday.
On the other side, seven sides are no longer in the league. Hully City, Peterborough United, and Blackpool were all promoted into the Championship for the 2021/22 season, whereas Rochdale, Northampton Town, Swindon Town, and Bristol Rovers were all relegated into the fourth division football.
Interestingly, neither of the three teams which joined League One from the Championship are priced as the outright betting favourites to win the league this season. Instead, Sunderland and Ipswich (8.00 at Bet365) are billed as the favourites, followed by Sheffield Wednesday (11.00 at Bet365) in third.
Wycombe Wanderers, who ended the 2020/21 Championship season in 22nd, only one point short of escaping the relegation zone, are priced as the 12th-most likely team to win the league at 21.00 (Bet365), whereas Rotherham United are priced as high as 15.00 to win the league and 8.00 (at Bet365) to earn a direct promotion.
EFL League One is tough to predict, as you could make a solid case for almost any of the 24 teams to finish inside the top-six. That said, we have managed to make some sense of the chaos and came up with four selections for you to look at, in addition to our pick for the league’s top goalscorer.
Promotion Is Expected For A Handful Of Teams
The EFL League One will not have only a couple of teams who should do well. Instead, there are up to eight teams who can definitely chase a direct promotion into the Championship.
The expectations are high, and rightfully so. Many EFL One League teams are led by excellent coaches who have championship pedigree and are expected to lead their sides to glory. The expectations, however, could also work as a double-edged sword, as it’s highly likely we will see many managerial changes in teams who don’t get off to a strong start.
With such a stacked competition, a slow start for any team would mean that they will be playing a catch-up game throughout the entire season. And that’s not a spot you want to find yourself in.
There are a lot of teams to consider when picking out teams who we expect to do well. Still, we have found three teams worth checking out, two of which should do well enough to end the season inside the top-six, while we are confident in one team that they have the tools need to lock in a direct promotion.
Bolton enter the 2021/22 season of EFL League One after securing a direct promotion from EFL League Two. The Trotters finished last term in third, with a 23-10-13 record and 79 points, just one short of Cambridge United in second and three short of EFL League Two champions, Cheltenham Town.
This is a very interesting team that is in many ways similar to Luton under Nathan Jones, who we have talked about in our EFL Championship season preview. The teams are not necessarily similar if you compare the players; however, both Ian Evatt and Jones use the same style of coaching.
Bolton are an outlier heading into the EFL League One, but this team has the tools and the mentality to compete not only for a top-six finish but a direct promotion. And they definitely have a coach who is capable of leading his side to that goal.
We’re putting a lot of emphasis on the manager profile here, which is an often-overlooked element, but an extremely important one, especially at this level of play. What’s more, Bolton are an entirely different club now from what they were before the lockdown.
With Evatt and new owners, there is some real promise in this club, and while they looked good last season, what we have seen from Bolton last time out feels more like a beginning of something great rather than a one-off solid season.
Next up, we have Portsmouth, a team we expect to have a consistent campaign and navigate their way into the playoffs. There’s a lot to like about this side, namely their manager Danny Cowley, who has earned a lot of respect from fellow bosses.
Then there are also the off-season signings, namely Gassan Ahadme, who proved his worth during the pre-season and could be a massive asset to the team. The team can also count on John Marquis, who has scored 16 goals across 41 games last term.
Moving away from Portsmouth’s effective frontline, the team also boasts a strong and experienced backline with the likes of Sean Raggett, Clark Robertson, Paul Downing, Kieron Freeman, and Lee Brow, who form a strong base that enables Pompey to operate the way they like to. And we can’t forget to mention wingers Marcus Harness and Ronan Curtis, who have caused plenty of headaches to the opposition the last term.
Portsmouth look solid all-around and have a solid base which will allow them to have a stable and consistent season. A playoff picture shouldn’t escape them.
Charlton narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season due to goal difference; however, that doesn’t take away from their quality. Since Nigel Adkins took over, he managed an impressive 8-6-1 record with Charlton, and there is no reason to believe they can’t carry that form into the new season.
Adkins is also a big reason why we are bullish on this team. He has promoted with Scunthorpe United, helped Southampton from League One into the Championship in 2010/11, and further led the Saints into the Premier League the next season.
If you look back, Adkins hasn’t had many full seasons where he hasn’t gotten a promotion. And there is nothing that would suggest that will change here.
Adkins is a high achiever, and he definitely won’t settle for anything else than a promotion with Charlton this term. And let’s not forget that Charlton finished last season in seventh, with 74 points, tied with Oxford United in sixth.
Prediction: Bolton top 6 finish – 3.25 at Bet365
Prediction: Portsmouth top 6 finish – 2.20 at Bet365
Prediction: Charlton top 2 finish – 7.00 at Bet365
Can Plymouth Recover?
Plymouth have been the worst-performing EFL League One team over the last 17 rounds, managing only 11 points with 11 defeats and a disastrous -23 goal difference. To make matters worse, Plymouth boasted the league’s second-worst away record last term, managing only 16 points from 23 outings with a 3-7-13 record.
In a bit to improve their backline issues, Plymouth acquired James Wilson, James Bolton and Jordan Houghton. However, even with the defensive overhaul, it’s hard to be overly excited about a team that finished only six points above the relegation zone, especially considering how competitive this year’s field looks.
Luke Jephcott has had a remarkable breakout season, but his longevity remains a question. All in all, Argyle’s side looks very questionable, and their progression is dubious.
You’re getting odds as high as 4.5 on Plymouth to get relegated, which is a generous offer.
Cheltenham, Cambridge, Morecambe, AFC Wimbledon, Accrington Stanley, and Gillingham are other strong contenders to drop off. And while it’s fair to say that at least a couple of listed teams will end up relegated, we have a hard time believing Plymouth are that much better than any of those.
We’re not convinced of the quality of this team and are primarily quite concerned with where Ryan Lowe is leading this side. The roster is decent, but Lowe seems very tactically limited and seems like the main problem why Plymouth are struggling as much.
Prediction: Plymouth to be relegated – 4.50 at Bet365
Matt Taylor a Decent Bet For EFL League One Golden Boot
Last season saw Jonson Clarke-Harris claim the league’s golden boot with 31 goals to his name, becoming the second Peterborough striker in succession to win the reward, following Ivan Toney (24) in 2019/20. With promotion into the Championship, Peterborough won’t be able to three-peat their success, so the golden boot winner must now come from another team.
Considering how competitive the field is for the 2021/22 season, it’s hard to pick out who the new top goalscorer will be. However, there is one that caught out attention as a striker that is more than capable of upsetting the betting odds.
Oxford made it to the EFL League One playoffs for the second year in a row but couldn’t make it out and were beaten by the eventual champions Blackpool in the semis. Despite the disappointing finish of the season, Oxford’s consistency over the last two years is a good enough reason to be optimistic about this team heading into the 2021/22 season.
Much of their success is thanks to Karl Robinson’s attractive and attacking football, which has earned Oxford the third-most goals last term, behind only the automatically promoted Peterborough and Hull. For this season, we expect Oxford to look even deadlier in the front.
With the return of Marcus McGuane, and the arrival of Nathan Holland, Steve Seddon, and Billy Bodin, the Yellows now boast a scary lineup and more than enough ammunition to support Matt Taylor in his quest to claim the golden boot for himself.
Taylor scored 19 goals last season, all of which came from inside the box, which proves his elite-level poaching ability. He might not be the striker who will score a wide variety of goals, but he will get the job done inside the box.
Bet365 offers odds as high as 11.00 on Matt Taylor to end the season as the league’s top goalscorer, which looks like the best value.
We encourage you to look around for the best odds – Unibet offers 15.00 on Taylor on the top goalscorer market.
Prediction: Matt Taylor top goalscorer EW – 11.0 Bet365 / 15.0 Unibet