GW 29 – Ones to Watch

Matt: It looks as though the extreme weather that is hitting some parts of the UK is going to play a major role in this weekend’s team selections, so please keep your eye on the fixture list and remember that you can edit your teams right up until the deadline, no need to kick off with postponed matches included in your line up!

One fixture that is unlikely to be called off due to the adverse weather is Sheffield United v Bolton Wanderers. The Blades currently sit third in the Championship table, but with the top two (Leeds United and Norwich City) facing one another on Saturday evening, this is a fantastic opportunity to cut the gap to top spot in half. Wanderers have been frankly woeful away from home all season, although in fairness they’ve not been much better on their own patch! Their only victory on the road came way back in August, a 1-0 win at fellow strugglers Reading, and they’re on a run of six straight defeats on their travels, including a 6-0 thumping at Hull City recently. You have to fancy the red and white half of Sheffield to get on the scoresheet here.

My second tip involves a fixture that will definitely need to be monitored, but as things stand it’s still going ahead. In fact it’s the last remaining match in the Scottish League Two; Edinburgh City against Albion Rovers. Simply put, it’s top v bottom. It’s also 48 points versus 7 and 42 goals scored versus 48 conceded! However, City have lost their previous two home games and only scored once in the process, so they’re not exactly dynamite on home soil right now! But with Rovers having been thrashed yet again last weekend, 5-0 at home to Stirling Albion, and having not won on their travels for the best part of an entire year, this has to go down as a home banker! A zero goals return for City would be a huge surprise…….and a huge blow to quite a few players in this game i’d wager! Good luck.

Ally: My first tip come from the north west, where in-form League Two side Bury take on Crawley at Gigg Lane. The hosts are currently the division’s top scorers, and have started 2019 in excellent form with 6 wins and a draw, the dropped points coming last time out when they came from behind three times against leaders Lincoln to finish a very creditable 3-3. That result took their tally of goals this year to 22 from their 7 matches. Crawley in contrast haven’t been nearly as prolific, but have been in decent form themselves since the turn of the year, winning 3 and losing 3 matches. They have kept clean sheets in each of the victories, and conceded just 4 goals in the other 3 games. On this basis I’m not expecting Bury to have it all their own way tomorrow, but I think they will have enough to see off Crawley and maintain their automatic promotion push.

I’m staying in the north west for my second tip, where I’m expecting to see a positive reaction from Manchester City to their surprise midweek defeat at struggling Newcastle. Pep Guardiola’s side were rightly many people’s pre-season favourites to retain the league title, but they currently find themselves 5 points behind leaders Liverpool after a fourth league defeat of the season. Visitors Arsenal may occupy 4th place, but are known to have a soft underbelly defensively, particularly against the so-called big teams, as evidenced by the recent 5-1 humbling at Liverpool, and last week’s 3-1 FA Cup defeat against Manchester United. City have the best home record in the league, having scored 40 goals in their 12 matches (plus 5 and 7 against Burnley and Rotherham in the FA Cup, and 9 against hapless Burton in the League Cup), and have scored in every home game this season in all competitions. I’m expecting City to come out firing on Sunday, and Arsenal will have to be at the top of their game to prevent anything other than a comfortable home win.