League One Predictions: Gameweek 16

bradshawThere will be 2 Yorkshire Derbies in League One on Saturday. Out-of-form sides Bradford and Doncaster go head-to-head at Valley Parade, while Sheffield United look to stay in the promotion mix with a win against Barnsley, who have improved after a tough start. This blog covers the task ahead for relegation strugglers Walsall and Scunthorpe, as they have a tough trip to Notts County and Peterborough respectively, both of whom sit inside the top 6.

Notts County v Walsall

Walsall won this fixture 5-1 back in January, but a repeat of that scoreline seems a very distant prospect. The Saddlers are the joint-lowest scoring team in League One, heavily reliant on the goals of Tom Bradshaw, and they now face the division’s meanest defence. Notts County have won 6 on the bounce, they are unbeaten since August, and have kept 6 clean sheets in their last 11 games. Strong defensive displays are made more impressive by the lack of experience at the back, as the average age of County’s defence is under 23. On the other hand, Walsall do have a tendency to perform better against the better teams. They would be 10th, rather than 18th, if all of their matches were against top half opponents, and on that basis, this blog will tip Dean Smith’s men to grind out a goalless draw.

Peterborough v Scunthorpe

October has been a goal-fest for Peterborough. We have seen yet more talented attacking players to emerge at London Road, with Marcus Maddison and Conor Washington in-form. However, their young defence has struggled in recent weeks, when someone with a bit more knowhow, and physical presence, may be preferable. Gabriel Zakuani may have been signed in the summer to provide this, but by all accounts, he has not been the same player since returning to the club. Scunthorpe have scored more goals than any team in the bottom 7, but have suffered from a lack of stability in defence. They have used 9 different defenders so far, and it has clearly been hard for players to form partnerships. Expect free-scoring Peterborough to take advantage of this.

Leyton Orient v Coventry

Mauro Milanese has recently been named Leyton Orient’s new manager, and he certainly has a challenge to turn around the team’s fortunes. They are without a number of key players at the moment, and notably, with Romain Vincelot and Lloyd James ruled out for a long time, they are lacking a little bit of quality in midfield. Josh Wright, who has come on loan from Millwall, has a difficult task of replacing those players. Coventry have loaned in striker Gary Madine, who has a very good record at this level, but the man priority for the Sky Blues is to improve defensively. They are conceding far too many cheap goals at the moment, and their last clean sheet came on the return to the Ricoh Arena against Gillingham, back in early September. The return of Reda Johnson from injury may make a difference on that front. Both of these clubs excelled in the first half of last season, but there is a sense that they have been on a slight downer since then, and nether side can be looked upon too favourably, ahead of this match.