Weekend Predictons: 18th October

Here are this blog’s previews for the weekend’s games in the Premier League, Championship, League One & League Two. For a full list of the predictions, go to the table at the bottom.

Premier League

Newcastle v Leicester

Papiss Cisse

Papiss Cisse

There have been 2 main problems for Newcastle this season. They have defended poorly, and not been clinical enough when they get towards the opposition’s penalty area, yet the overall performances are disproportionate with where they are in the league. They played away to Stoke recently, and came out fighting in the 2nd half, but could not test the opposition goalkeeper enough with the pressure they applied.

Newcastle look most likely to score when they attack teams, which is what the fans want to see, but the dilemma for Alan Pardew is that he also wants the centre-backs to have enough protection. The defensive partnership of Williamson and Coloccini looks static and lackadaisical at times, so any team with some pace up front can cut through them. Pushing numbers forward from midfield will give in-form Papiss Cisse the support he needs, but it will also leave the defence more exposed.

Leicester dropped off in the 2nd half of their last 2 games, and have paid the price. Against Palace, they could not stay focused for 2 set pieces just after the break, and against Burnley, they seemed a little too lethargic. Had those matches finished at half-time, Leicester would have picked up 4 points, rather than 1. Even though the Foxes are still in a comfortable position, Nigel Pearson will hope that the last 2 games act as a reminder to his players of how ruthless the Premier League can be. Having taken points from the top teams, there is a danger for a newly promoted side to start developing a mind-set that they have ‘cracked it’, and lose the competitive edge that made them a force in the early stages.

Southampton v Sunderland

Southampton’s 1-0 loss at Tottenham ended a run of 6 straight wins in league and cup. They have had an excellent start to the season, and on current performances, can realistically challenge for a European place. Morgan Schneiderlin has put in some impressive displays so far. Given that he had put in a transfer request this summer, you have to give credit to the manager, Ronald Koeman, for keeping him motivated.

Sunderland picked up their first win of the season last time out, and it allowed them to go into the international break under less pressure. Evidence so far suggests they will be a midtable side this season. They have the joint-2nd best defensive record in the league, yet do not have enough quality in attack to break into the top half. The Black Cats are the Premier League’s draw specialists, and this blog predicts them to put in a strong defensive shift on Saturday, and get a 6th draw in 8 games.

The Championship

Reading v Derby

Cyrus Christie

Cyrus Christie

Derby’s late equalizer at rivals Nottingham Forest a month ago could have been a vital goal, in terms of the Championship promotion race. Up until that point, Derby had had a mediocre start to the season, but you sense that that scrappy goal from Ryan Shotton gave the team a much-needed lift. The Rams are now unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions, just 1 point off Forest in the promotion places.

One player to impress since signing has been full-back Cyrus Christie, who offers Derby some width on the right, perhaps more so than Andre Wisdom did last season. If you looked at Christie’s touch map from his last match, you would have guessed he was a hardworking winger, rather than a full-back. Because Derby’s forward players operate quite narrowly, Christie could play a key role, making sure the team is not solely reliant on left-back Craig Forsyth providing width.

Reading are without a win in 5, and perhaps tellingly, that run has coincided with the new Thai consortium completing a takeover of the club. You wonder if the change of regime has unsettled a few of their players. In defence, they have looked very shaky recently. The average age of the back-line that played in the 3-1 defeat at Brentford last week was 23, so perhaps they have suffered from a lack of experience. If that problem lingers, Derby will have enough attacking quality to punish the Royals.

Wigan v Brentford

The selling point of this match is that Uwe Rosler faces his old club, but he would probably wish the re-union came with his side in a better position. Wigan have had a disappointing start, and a main problem is that the strikers Rosler has signed, Oriol Riera and Andy Delort, have scored just 3 goals between them. Currently, the Latics sit just 1 place above the relegation zone, and 11 places below Rosler’s former club, Brentford.

The Bees have caught the eye in the first few months, and as a team freshly promoted from League One, they bear similarities to Bournemouth of last season. Although an error-prone defence means they are capable of getting thrashed occasionally, they are not afraid to move the ball quickly and attack teams. Some of the football they played against Reading last time out was very entertaining to watch.

Brentford are already 10 points above the relegation zone and can go into this match with no fear, whereas Wigan are under huge pressure. This blog predicts that those factors will play into Brentford’s hands.

League One

Fleetwood v Doncaster

Nathan Tyson

Nathan Tyson

Fleetwood were in good form over August, but 1 win in 9 league games has seen them drop down the table. They have failed to score in 5 of those games, as top scorer Jamie Proctor has seemingly lost his mojo. Doncaster have addressed their problems in front of goal, having netted 9 times in their last 5 games in all forms. Nathan Tyson is starting to look like an astute signing. He did have severe injury problems when he first signed, but is now the team’s top scorer, having scored 3 goals in his last 4. The statistics point to a draw, as Doncaster have only lost twice away from home, while Fleetwood remain unbeaten at Highbury.

Leyton Orient v MK Dons

Kevin Nugent has been given the job as Leyton Orient’s manager, but there is a very temporary and non-committal feel to the appointment. Nugent has been given the title ‘interim manager’, and speaking as Orient’s new boss for the first time, he said: “If I was to go back to number 2 I certainly don’t fear that situation, that’s fine”. It is hardly the statement of a man confident of stepping into Russell Slade’s shoes, and this blog would now fear for Leyton Orient, who face the joint-highest scoring side in the Football League. 8 of the 9 wins MK Dons have had this season, have come by more than 1 goal. This speaks volumes for the team’s energy levels, and their ability to expose opponents that may be chasing the game. Leyton Orent need to score the first goal in this match, otherwise it could be another comfortable win for Karl Robinson’s men.

Peterborough v Barnsley

After a few disappointing results, Peterborough returned to their best with 4-1 win at Crawley last week. Marcus Maddison has impressed significantly since signing from Gateshead. The attacking midfielder always looks confident on the ball, and clearly has the talent to show for it, with 4 goals in 8 games for Posh. Barnsley’s Sam Winnall has now scored in back-to-back games, and showed some excellent movement for the goal against Bradford. Even during his barren spell beforehand, there is a sense that Winnall had been working a bit harder for the team than he had done at Scunthorpe. If he can combine this new aspect of his game with a predatory instinct in front of goal, then arguably, Barnsley possess one of the best strikers in the league.

League Two

Dag & Red v Newport

Ade Yusuff

Ade Yusuff

Dagenham & Redbridge did to Accrington last week what most teams have done to them. The Daggers have already dropped 11 points from winning positions, yet this time they would come from behind themselves to pick up 3 points. They were perhaps quite fortunate to win, but were able to capitalize on a bright spell just after half-time. The impressve Ade Yusuff scored a couple of excellent goals, and on that evidence, he can take this level by storm. Newport have been better defensively when centre-back Ismail Yakubu is out of the side. In the 7 games Yakubu has played, the team have conceded 12 goals, and kept no clean sheets. In the other 7 games, the Exiles have conceded just 6 goals, with 3 clean sheets. The fact that he has returned to the side is not necessarily good news for Newport. Justin Edinburgh’s side have only scored 1 goal in their last 5 away games, but they have only lost once since the 3rd week of the season, so this blog will go for a draw.

Mansfield v Cambridge

Cambridge have seemingly pulled through a recent injury crisis, and are now gathering momentum. The U’s have scored 8 goals in their last 2 games, making them League Two’s top scorers. Richard Money can be proud of the fact that his side are in the top half, despite at times working without a lot of key players. Defender Tom Champion, and the versatile Liam Hughes were regulars during Cambridge’s promotion season, but have missed a number of games over September due to injury. Mansfield, however, are typically imposing at home, and they have found a talent in Rakesh Bingham. The 20-year-old winger has scored 3 goals in 7 games for the Stags, and makes runs off the ball that may compliment Matt Rhead’s ability to hold the ball up. A draw would not be a bad result for either side.

Stevenage v Accrington

Accrington are already onto their 5th goalkeeper of the season. Jesse Joronen arrives on loan from Fulham, where Marcus Bettinelli, Stanley’s keeper for most of last season, has earned a first team spot.If John Coleman can sort out this position, it will be a big factor in Accrington’s season, because they did not deserve to lose against Dagenham last week. They had a lot more of the play, but were not as clinical as you might expect them to be, given that the team has not failed to score since the 3rd week of the season. Stevenage will be without 7 players in this match, and the extent of their problems is marked by the fact that last week, they had 55-year-old goalkeeper Dave Beasant on the substitutes bench! However, they have acted in the face of their injury crisis, as midfielders Jack Debb and David McAllister sign on loan from Arsenal and Shrewsbury respectively. The form book favours Stanley here.

Fixture Prediction
Premier League
Man City v Tottenham Draw
Arsenal v Hull Home win
Burnley v West Ham Draw
Crystal Palace v Chelsea Away win
Everton v Aston Villa Home win
Newcastle v Leicester Home win
Southampton v Sunderland Draw
QPR v Liverpool Away win
Stoke v Swansea Away win
West Brom v Man Utd Away win
The Championship
Rotherham v Leeds Draw
Cardiff v Nottm Forest Draw
Birmingham v Bolton Draw
Bournemouth v Charlton Home win
Brighton v Middlesbrough Away win
Fulham v Norwich Away win
Huddersfield v Blackpool Home win
Ipswch v Blackburn Home win
Millwall v Wolves Away win
Reading v Derby Away win
Sheff Wed v Watford Home win
Wigan v Brentford Away win
League One
Chesterfield v Oldham Draw
Coventry v Bristol City Away win
Fleetwood v Doncaster Draw
Leyton Orient v MK Dons Away win
Notts Co v Crawley Home win
Peterborough v Barnsley Home win
Preston v Port Vale Home win
Rochdale v Gillingham Home win
Scunthorpe v Colchester Draw
Walsall v Crewe Home win
Yeovil v Swindon Away win
Bradford v Sheff Utd Draw
League Two
Burton v Morecambe Home win
Bury v Portsmouth Home win
Cheltenham v Northampton Away win
Dag & Red v Newport Draw
Hartlepool v Luton Away win
Mansfield v Cambridge Draw
Oxford v Tranmere Draw
Plymouth v Carlisle Home win
Southend v Exeter Home win
Stevenage v Accrington Away win
Wycombe v Wimbledon Home win
York v Shrewsbury Home win
Last week… 9 correct/21 predicted