GW 22 – Ones to Watch

Matt: Just the response i was hoping for last weekend, as the goals flowed and our tips in this section coughed up 13 goals – with the FA Trophy that both Ally and I championed proving to be particularly bountiful. Kudos to Stockport County and Eastleigh for producing the goods for us.

I’m going to put this out there immediately; GW 22 looks a very tough prospect! It’s a fairly daunting way to kick off The Ultimate Goals’ congested festive fixture list (make sure you keep track of that by the way – we have not one, but two ‘bonus’ rounds thrown in for good measure too!) Still, we’ll do our best to unearth some decent tips as always so here goes. First up for me is a trip into the Championship for the second week in succession, where in-form Millwall take on Barnsley at The Den – always an intimidating ground at the best of times! Since the appointment of Gary Rowett a couple of months ago, The Lions have been on a splendid run; four wins and three draws in their previous seven games – a run which has seen them move to within 2 points of the play-offs in fact. Crucially, as far as this game is concerned, they have scored in every home game this season (including a very impressive victory over Leeds Utd) and in their last six home matches Millwall have netted at least 2 goals in each one. In stark contrast, Barnsley’s away form is, to be blunt, absolutely woeful! In ten Championship away days this season, they have mustered just 2 points and a single clean sheet, form that will have set alarm bells ringing with even the most ardent of Tykes fans! Two of their last three away games have resulted in 3-2 defeats and a total of 19 goals have been scored in their previous four matches, so more of the same in this fixture will hopefully be the order of the day – i’ll happily take a repeat of the 5-3 scoreline The Reds were involved in last weekend!

In what might be considered a slightly bizarre turn of events, my second tip is going to be a team who are up against one of our top picks last weekend – but that’s what sort of week it is! It’s another London based side too, but a few divisions down the football league pyramid, with Bromley entertaining Eastleigh at Hayes Lane. Bromley, like Millwall, are another team who have scored in every home league game this season (their only blank came against League One Bristol Rovers in the FA Cup) and although their form of late has been a bit hit and miss, they’re certainly consistent scorers……in league games at least! I’ll overlook the 3-0 defeat at Dorking Wanderers in the FA Trophy last weekend and put it down to a bad day at the office, although in fairness The Ravens did have a handful of key players missing and i’m hoping all of them will be available for this match. Visitors Eastleigh are fresh off the back of that excellent 6-1 victory against Yate Town in the same competition, but their away form isn’t the best; The Spitfires have two defeats and three draws to their name in their previous five games and no clean sheet away from home in the league all season. Against a team who can score as freely as Bromley do when they’re in the mood, they’ll have their work cut out to end that dismal run here. Good luck to you all.

Ally: As Matt says, this week looks quite tough and so I’m searching for slightly less obvious picks with my tips this weekend. First up is the Championship showdown between in-form Brentford in 4th place who travel to leaders West Bromwich Albion. After a shaky start to the campaign, the Baggies have been in sensational form of late as they and Leeds have built a 10 point cushion over third place, unprecedented in what is normally such a tight league. West Brom also top the Championship scoring charts with 45 goals, 10 clear of their nearest rivals, and with 28 of those coming at the Hawthorns. Brentford have been in good form themselves of late, though they have lost their last 2 matches on the road, and probably won’t be relishing a trip to a ground which has seen fellow play-off contenders Swansea, Bristol City and Sheffield Wednesday dispatched 5-1, 4-1 and 2-1 respectively in the last 3 matches. I’m backing Slaven Bilic’s men to get among the goals again on Saturday and cement their position at the top.

Next up is a game that breaks all the proverbial rules, but bear with me! The game in question is the London derby between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea. After their Champions League hangover, the hosts appear to be finding their feet under new manager Jose Mourinho, and a run of 4 wins in their last 5 league matches has seen them sneak somewhat unnoticed into 5th place. Visitors Chelsea on the other hand have enjoyed a wretched run of 4 defeats in 5, including calamitous 1-0 home defeats against West Ham and latterly Bournemouth. Their early season away form was outstanding, as they embarked on a 7 match domestic and European winning streak, but their Achilles’ heel has been their defence, with just one away clean sheet in all competitions. Spurs’ on the other hand have scored 14 goals in the last 5 Premier League matches, and 8 in their last 2 home league games so will head into this game against the Blues in a buoyant mood. On paper this could well be a cracker of a game, though you know after this sort of build up it will finish 0-0!! Good luck and Merry Christmas!