GW 33 – Ones to Watch
Matt: It looks as though the midweek bonus round brought a proper mixture of emotions with it, some of you taking full advantage but equally plenty of players heading in the wrong direction! So far February hasn’t been nearly as generous as January, maybe that’ll change here in GW 33?
I’m opening up with a foray into the Championship, as the fixture between Fulham and Barnsley looks a tempting proposition. The Cottagers are one of about half a dozen sides currently scrapping for the second automatic spot and a home game against bottom three opposition gives them a fantastic opportunity to secure another vital win. The result isn’t important to us though, it’s all about the goals! And whilst the West Londoners have been a bit shy in front of the target on the road, there’s been no such trouble at Craven Cottage – only once have they failed to find the net on home turf this season, with a total of 29 league goals to their name. Recent results at the Cottage have included victories over Huddersfield Town, Middlesbrough and Aston Villa (in the FA Cup), so their home form won’t be to Barnsley’s liking……..especially as The Tykes aren’t exactly great travellers! Their past three away matches have all resulted in defeat; league losses at Charlton Athletic and Bristol City separated by a thrashing at League One Portsmouth in the FA Cup. The Reds have just two clean sheets to their name away from Oakwell this season and it’s unlikely that’ll become three in the capital on Saturday afternoon. This is the Championship though remember!!
Dropping down a division to League One (although the team i’m tipping will be hoping that isn’t the case for much longer!), i’m backing Rotherham United to do the business in front of goal as they take on AFC Wimbledon at the New York Stadium. Now i have tipped The Millers previously this season, but it did not go to plan! A 1-0 home reverse against Rochdale was not what i anticipated, so i figure that they owe me one here! Paul Warne’s side are flying at the moment, taking 24 of a possible 27 points from their previous nine games and recording five consecutive league wins on home turf. Their last match there was a thoroughly entertaining 3-2 win over Burton Albion and, aside from a 1-0 victory against Ipswich Town, The Millers have scored at least 2 goals in every home game since that ill fated tip of mine back in early December. Visitors Wimbledon have pulled 6 points clear of the drop zone after an appalling start to the season, but their recent form isn’t too clever; just 2 points have been secured from the past four games, although they did manage a 0-0 draw at home to Ipswich Town last time out – a result that would not go down well with me if it were to occur again here!! Having lost an eye-watering 13 times on their travels this season and having failed to keep a single clean sheet in any competition away from Kingsmeadow, i’m fairly confident that Rotherham will continue their excellent recent scoring run and not ruin me for a second time! Good luck to you all!
Ally: My first team to watch this weekend are League Two leaders Swindon Town, who welcome mid table Scunthorpe United to the County Ground. The Robins hold a two point advantage over second placed Crewe Alexandria, with Exeter City a further point behind, but crucially both these sides have a game in hand and so the hosts will surely see this as an ideal opportunity to put another 3 points on the board. They also boast the services of one of the country’s leading marksmen in the prolific Eoin Doyle, who has 24 league goals to his name. Signed on loan in the summer, he was recalled by parent club Bradford City but Swindon were able to make the move permanent in the January transfer window, and his goals have given the Wilshire side a great chance of promotion this season. Visitors Scunthorpe meanwhile are in no danger of relegation, but similarly have next to no chance of reaching the play offs either, so arguably have little to play for even at this stage of the season. Their recent away form isn’t great either, with the Iron shipping 10 goals in their last 4 matches away from Glandford Park, which is in stark contrast to Swindon’s home form which has seen 6 wins from the last 7 matches and a total of 16 goals scored, and on that basis I’m backing them to get among the goals again on Saturday.
I’m heading up a division to League One next, for the clash between Fleetwood Town and in-form Peterborough United. Hosts Fleetwood started the season well, but their recent form has fallen away with just one win in the last 8 at home in all competitions, though they have just recorded successive wins away from Highbury at struggling Wimbledon and faltering Wycombe. After an indifferent end to 2019 and start to the new year, visitors Peterborough appear to have rediscovered some of their early season form which made them such a popular choice among TUG players, as they have embarked on a 6 match winning streak. They have also hit 4 goals in each of their last 3 matches, and 20 in the last 6. The goals have flowed freely at London Road but have generally been harder to come by on the road, though any team scoring 4 goals at Ipswich (as they did in their last away game) has to command respect, and I just have a hunch that the Posh will continue their recent good run on Saturday. Good luck!