GW 25 – Ones to Watch
Matt: Plenty of FA Cup shocks last weekend, which is always great to see (when it’s not your team who’s on the receiving end!), but that does usually equate to turmoil in this game and GW 24 was no exception! The best or worst case, depending on your perspective, was surely Newcastle Utd’s inability to break down a highly resilient and well-drilled Cambridge Utd side, which caused plenty of discontent among Geordies and players of this game alike! With AFC Wimbledon (>Boreham Wood), Birmingham City (>Plymouth Argyle) and finally Arsenal (>Nottingham Forest) all exiting the competition against lower league opposition, but more crucially without finding the net, it really was a another tough round to navigate! The addition of the FA Trophy in GW 25 should offer up plenty of options on the scoring front, as it did when we last had this competition in play just before Christmas, but after what we’ve just witnessed in the FA Cup, let’s take nothing for granted! Here’s a couple of tips to get the ball rolling…..
- Fulham v Bristol City. This isn’t the first time I’ve picked out Fulham this season and it quite possibly won’t be the last, especially if they continue to produce results like they did in midweek at Reading! That 7-0 mauling of The Royals is the second time they’ve scored seven times on the road this season (they won by the same scoreline at Blackburn Rovers in November), becoming the first side since way back in 1895/96 to achieve such a feat! Wow! I’m not predicting, nor expecting, another 7 goals on Saturday against Bristol City, but I would be majorly surprised to see The Cottagers fail to find the target; despite a slight blip prior to the Reading demolition, the West Londoners are comfortably the league’s top scorers, with a mighty 58 goals to their name already, and they possess a strikeforce that includes two players in Aleksandar Mitrovic and Harry Wilson who have been directly involved in 47 goals between them this season, which is quite astonishing! The latter also netted an extra-time winner when these two sides met at Ashton Gate in an FA Cup Third Round tie last weekend, and while City may take some confidence from holding Fulham at bay for 90 minutes, you can be sure that The Cottagers will field a very different lineup this weekend! Throw in The Robins’ wretched away form recently – 1 point from their last five league games on the road, with 13 goals conceded in those matches – and you can only envisage that Nigel Pearson’s team are going to really have their work cut out to prevent their goals against column taking another turn for the worse!
- Doncaster Rovers v Wigan Athletic. Third-bottom of the form guide meets third-top of it in this League One encounter at the Eco-Power Stadium (Keepmoat to most of us!) Doncaster are having a terrible time of things at the moment and new manager Gary McSheffery must be tearing his hair out already, given what he’s witnessed in his short time in charge! The clearest (and most painful) example of Rovers’ recent woes must surely be their horrible capitulation at Morecambe a fortnight ago, when they somehow managed to blow a 3-0 half-time lead and go on to lose 4-3 against their fellow strugglers! Eight defeats in nine in all competitions has seen Donny plummet to the foot of the table, as well as being eliminated from both the FA Cup and the EFL Trophy. Wigan will head East in tremendous spirits, after knocking Championship neighbours Blackburn rovers out of the FA Cup last weekend, in what was a continuation of their excellent form over the past three months…..The Latics are undefeated in any competition since the 26th October 2021! With games in hand on the teams above them, including three on league leaders Rotherham Utd, Wigan can move comfortably to the summit should they pick up maximum points in those. A whopping 9 goals in their previous two away matches, 3-2 at Oxford Utd in the league and a 6-0 annihilation of Oldham Athletic in the EFL Trophy, indicates that Liam Richardson’s men will travel to their hosts with plenty of intent and no shortage of goals in their locker. Good luck to you all.