GW 1 – Ones to Watch

Matt: Firstly i’d like to once again welcome you all to what promises to be another enthralling season of Ultimate Goals action, the game that never fails to deliver!

The opening few weeks of the season can often prove to be somewhat of a lottery, other than pre-season results there’s no form to go on and a lot of teams can take a couple of games to adjust, get their players sharpened up and their tactics sorted. Whilst that can make it slightly awkward when it comes to declaring our predictions, it certainly ensures that there will be fun and games right from the off!

With that in mind, i feel like taking a somewhat kamikaze approach to these first few weekends (although that could backfire spectacularly of course!), so i’m going to dip straight into the lowest league available in GW 1; Scotland’s League Two. The team i’m backing is Peterhead, who still find themselves in this division despite dominating it for much of last season. Their capitulation towards the end of the campaign will have left a few scars no doubt, but in keeping hold of influential captain and key striker Rory McAllister, the Blue Toon have made a statement that they fully intend to go one better this year. An away game at Albion Rovers, thrashed 4-0 by Edinburgh City last week, gives them a very decent opportunity to register their first win of the season.

Heading back to England, i’m having a delve into the league that’s probably the most notorious for throwing up strange results – the Championship. This division gets harder by the year with so many ex Premier League teams all believing they can get back to the ‘promised land’, it’s not anybody can beat anybody, it’s more everybody does beat everybody!! I’m singling out Aston Villa to get on the scoresheet (more than once hopefully!) in their home game against Wigan Athletic. Villa have had off field problems since missing out on promotion back in May, but the major financial concerns that were hanging over them do seem to have subsided a bit recently. Just as importantly, they’ve been able to fend off interest from Tottenham and keep hold of star player Jack Grealish, if his head is in the right place then the Latics’ defence could be in for a long, hard afternoon! Both teams got off to a flyer in their opening fixtures and both scored three goals in the process. I’d happily settle for that again, it’s all about the goals in this game remember! Enjoy week 1 and good luck to you all!

Ally: As has been alluded to, with many teams and players getting used to new surroundings and unfamiliar opposition, it can be difficult to confidently predict some high scoring teams so early in the season.

First up I’m going for big spending Liverpool, who appear to have strengthened well over the summer. Led by the exploits of Mo Salah, they were outstanding last season and simply blew many teams away. West Ham will be standing in their way at Anfield on Sunday, and like the hosts they too have signed a raft of players over the summer as they look for a more comfortable season under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

My second tip could be the classic case of heart ruling the head, but I’m plumping for Nottingham Forest who face Reading at the City Ground. Forest have taken two points from their opening two games, but the new look side have at times played some scintillating attacking football without really converting their chances so far. They have scored in each game though, whilst visitors Reading will be looking to avenge last Friday’s last gasp defeat at home to Derby County.

Jamie: As always, I’m excited for the new season of The Ultimate Goals to commence. Just like in the real football world, getting off to a good start can make all the difference. That said, early on in the season it’s always difficult to select teams (especially the initial few gameweeks), as new players are still finding their feet and league positions don’t necessarily mean an awful lot.

The first team I am banking on will be Rangers. With this being Steven Gerrard’s first league game at Ibrox since taking over, they will be desperately looking to get their first win of the new season after coming agonisingly close at Aberdeen last weekend. The Gers take on newly promoted St Mirren in a Sunday fixture, with the away side themselves also looking to prove a point here. I fancy Rangers to score a few goals with the home advantage.

Secondly I’ll be looking towards Scottish League One and in particular Raith Rovers. They so nearly had a great season last year, topping the table for much of it, only to miss out on promotion after finishing second – just a point behind Ayr United, before subsequently failing in the play offs. Like Rangers, Raith too will be welcoming a newly promoted team into the league in the shape of Stenhousemuir. And once more, i’m tipping the home side to find the net a few times.