GW 31 – Ones to Watch

Matt: This has been one of the most challenging periods I can ever recall here at TUG and the fact that there hasn’t been a single ‘ton’ registered since way back in GW 23 tells its own story………not a particularly happy one! Let’s try and help rectify that here with a couple of tips that’ll give you a decent push towards a long awaited trip to Club 100!

Firstly I’m taking the plunge into the English Championship, where a recently revitalised Reading take on struggling Sheffield Wednesday (couldn’t quite complete the full alliteration!) The Royals have picked up again with back-to-back wins coming on the back of goalless back-to-back defeats, so hopefully that sequence doesn’t continue here! Currently occupying fifth spot in the table, Reading will be fully aware that the second automatic promotion place is well within their grasp and a timely three points here would be another step towards solidifying a play-off place at the very least. Their home form is very ‘hit and miss’ though; a 100% win rate in January was followed by a 100% loss rate in February, quite bizarre! They began this month in decent fashion though, seeing off Blackburn Rovers at the Madejski Stadium and they will surely be looking for the same outcome against a Wednesday side who have lost five Championship matches on the bounce. The Owls have also suffered four consecutive defeats on their travels, conceding 11 goals in that run, and heavy losses at Millwall and Brentford, as well as throwing away a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 at Luton Town in their last away game, suggest that new manager Darren Moore has it all on if he is to keep the Yorkshiremen in this league. A last-gasp Rotherham Utd winner at Hillsborough in his first game in charge in midweek was not exactly the start he was hoping for, and things are highly unlikely to get any easier in Berkshire on Saturday afternoon.

Dropping down a division into League One, the fixture between Sunderland and Rochdale will capture plenty of TUG players’ attention I’m sure. This match pitches the team top of the form guide against the team at the bottom of it and on that basis alone it’s certainly worth further investigation. The Black Cats go into the game full of confidence; 13 points from a possible 15 in their previous five matches has seen them move from play-off chasers to automatic promotion contenders, especially as they also have two games in hand on second placed Hull City. All the indications point towards the Wearsiders putting another win on the board here, as their results at the Stadium of Light, where they have seen off Doncaster Rovers, Fleetwood Town and Swindon Town with relative ease recently, are very impressive. Rochdale, meanwhile, have conceded a humongous 59 goals this season already, only bottom of the league Wigan Athletic have shipped more (60), although they have managed four clean sheets on their travels during the course of this campaign. I’d envisage Tuesday evening’s 2-0 defeat at Hull City being a distinctly more likely conclusion than a trip back to Greater Manchester with a fifth clean sheet to their name though, especially if Dale defend in the same manner they did at other promotion hopefuls such as Peterborough Utd and Charlton Athletic, both of whom found the net four times against them! Good luck to you all.