GW 20 – Ones to Watch
Matt: GW 19 proved to be every bit as action packed as i anticipated, as the goals flew in almost relentlessly – no wonder we saw 41 players dining out at Club 100 (the joint highest number this season). That’s a delightful way to end November, hopefully we can kick December off in much the same fashion.
That could be easier said than done though, as at first glance this looks to be quite a challenging gameweek. It’s times like this when a lot of players will ‘default’ to the Premier League as it’s generally deemed less of a risk among ultimate Goals competitors, but as you know we’ll always try to mix it up wherever possible in this section. So my opening tip comes from England’s League One, where Rotherham United host Rochdale AFC at the New York Stadium. These two sides were both involved in FA Cup action against lower league opposition a few days ago, but whilst Rotherham pulled off a magnificent fightback, from 3-0 down to 4-3 victors at Solihull Moors, Dale laboured to a 0-0 draw at home to plucky National League North outfit Boston United. That result did not go down well with the Spotland faithful and under pressure manager Brian Barry-Murphy and his players could be about to come under more fire here if they don’t halt their truly dismal league form; five consecutive losses means Dale are joint bottom of the form guide with MK Dons. With The Millers riding high in fourth place in the table and full of beans after their tremendous comeback on Monday evening, you have to fancy the Yorkshiremen to get on the scoresheet against a team who look devoid of any confidence whatsoever right now.
Moving into Scotland, the Championship fixture between Dundee United and Alloa Athletic certainly catches the eye. After a mid-October blip that saw the Dundonians lose two games on the bounce, one of which was against this same opponent in fact, United have responded in superb fashion by recording five league wins in succession, scoring 11 in the process and keeping clean sheets in the lot! Even more impressively, The Terrors boast a 100% home league record this season and have scored 6 goals on two occasions already at Tannadice Park. Combine that with the fact that Alloa have kept only one clean sheet on the road in any competition for over a year and all the signs point towards the home side continuing their excellent recent form……..and more away day misery for The Wasps. Either way, it’s hard to envisage the visitors returning to Clackmannanshire without their ‘goals against’ column being added to. Good luck to you all.
Ally: My first tip of the week takes me to Cumbria, where National League leaders Barrow welcome struggling Aldershot. After an unspectacular start to the season, the Bluebirds have certainly found their feet since early September under the stewardship of Ian Evatt, winning an incredible 12 of their last 14 league matches. They have also found their goalscoring boots during this run, and currently average a shade under 2 goals per game and are top league goalscorers. Much of this has been down to the prolific form of star striker Scott Quigley and attacking midfielder John Rooney, younger brother of England’s all time top scorer Wayne. Aldershot meanwhile are winless in their last 8 away outtings, and while they can boast 2 clean sheets in that run, they have had a couple of hammerings, conceding 4 at Bromley and 6 at Dagenham, and with form like that I don’t see the Shots leaving Holker Street with anything for their troubles.
Next up is a trip to the capital, to the Championship for what promises to be an entertaining clash that pits third placed Fulham against fifth placed Bristol City. Both teams are joint second top scorers in the league with 31 goals apiece, but importantly for me the Cottagers have scored 2/3rds of theirs at Craven Cottage. Despite losing a couple of games there, they have scored in all but one game, a surprise 3-0 defeat to Hull City. Most recently they’ve beaten London rivals QPR 2-1 and Derby County 3-0 at home, and an impressive 2-1 win at Swansea last weekend. This run has coincided with a return to form of the Championship’s top scorer Alexander Mitrovic who has 15 goals to his name. Bristol City’s away form is generally good, though it’s their goals against tally of 17 in 10 away games (and 27 overall) which has drawn my attention. The Robins conceded 4 goals last time out at leaders West Brom, and a suspect defence is the last thing you want against a team with the firepower that Fulham have. With that in mind I can see goals at both ends, but have a hunch that the hosts will come out on top here. Good luck with your selections.