GW 2 – Ones to Watch

Matt: That was as tough an opening weekend as i can remember, with only five leagues/47 fixtures available, far less than we’d usually expect to be in play on a standard gameweek, so a hearty well done to those of you who managed to overcome the awkward nature of week 1’s offerings by racking up a big score – a ton no less in 13 cases! Week 2, with just 49 fixtures on the table, looks to be equally tricky and that will remain the case for the upcoming gameweeks until we (hopefully!) bring the National League and then the Scottish Championship, League One & League Two into the fold in October.

As Ally alluded to in his week 1 ‘Ones to Watch’, we do try to avoid the more blatantly obvious choices in this section – for instance this weekend sees Celtic go up against Livingston at Celtic Park and i’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that this is likely to result in goals for the current Scottish Premiership champions! That said, history has proved time and time again that there is no such thing as a ‘banker’ in this game, so although i’m absolutely convinced The Hoops will be backed in huge numbers, shock scorelines can (and regularly do) occur! Football wouldn’t be the same without these shocks and neither would The Ultimate Goals!

For my first pick of GW 2, and indeed the season, i’m putting my already suspect reputation on the line by heading into The Championship. This could well prove to set the tone for another season of somewhat dubious picks, for we all know that this league more than any other has a knack of churning out the most unpredictable results! I also had Championship outfit Cardiff City on x3 in my own selections last weekend and that brought a thoroughly abrupt halt to my scoring! That said, times are hard at the moment but i’m hoping to get back on the points trail here, ably assisted by Blackburn Rovers. They face a newly-promoted Wycombe Wanderers side who are probably still celebrating their elevation into this league for the first time in their history! Wanderers were about 30 seconds away from an opening day point against fellow promotion achievers Rotherham United last Saturday, but a 94th minute lapse in concentration means they head to Lancashire still looking for their first points of the season. Rovers themselves also got off to a losing start at Bournemouth (3-2), with another defeat in midweek at Newcastle United in the EFL Cup (1-0), but in both games they have been very unfortunate to taste defeat; they’ve had the lions share of possession and plenty of goalscoring opportunities and i expect to see more of the same in this fixture. There’s little for me to go on by way of home form, but Blackburn did see off Doncaster Rovers in the first round of the EFL Cup before going out at Newcastle, scoring three times in the process, and they also ended last season with a rollercoaster 4-3 win against Reading at Ewood Park. That sort of result would do me very nicely here!

In what might turn out to be one of the worst predictions in the history of the game, bearing in mind it’s only GW 2 so I should perhaps be playing it relatively safe (as opposed to risking double jeopardy!), i’m sticking around in The Championship for my second pick. Despite having lost or about to lose key members of their squad, including two of the most potent attackers in the division last season, i’m firmly of the belief that Brentford will continue to give opposition defences nightmares over the course of this campaign. On Saturday they take on Huddersfield Town in their first league outing at the Brentford Community Stadium, having left Griffin Park at long last – their home since 1904 and in my opinion easily one of the best grounds to visit (“a pub on every corner” and all that!) Despite now being without the fearsome duo of Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma, who is surely Premier League bound like Watkins, and notwithstanding a rather surprising (and goalless!) defeat at Birmingham City last weekend, i’m predicting Thomas Frank’s Bees to get among the goals in this encounter. A terrific 2-0 midweek win at Premier League Southampton, who fielded a near full strength side for the EFL Cup clash, will have restored a lot of confidence and should do wonders to shrug off any hangover from last season’s heartache at narrowly missing out on promotion to the top flight. Huddersfield meanwhile have new man Carlos Corberan at the helm after dispensing with Danny Cowley at the back end of last season, in a move which some Town supporters believed to be a rather harsh dismissal. The Spaniard didn’t have far to travel, making the 20 odd mile journey Southwest from Leeds United, having spent the past 3 years as manager of their U23 side. It’s not been the best of starts for him though, having watched his troops suffer consecutive 1-0 home defeats to Rochdale and Norwich City in the EFL Cup and League respectively. I doubt it will get any easier for him and his squad in this fixture, as Brentford will undoubtedly play to their strengths and go hunting for goals – not least new £10 million arrival Ivan Toney, who will be especially keen to start repaying some of that hefty transfer fee back! Good luck to you all!