Written by Connor Lawson
With the Christmas period fast approaching, the league table is starting to take shape. There is now a convincing 25-point gap between first place Scunthorpe and rock bottom Chesterfield. There are a few surprises so far, including Bristol Rovers finding themselves towards the top end of the table, and managerless MK Dons sat in the relegation zone.
There have been five managerial changes, and two have come in the last week, with Charlton sacking Russell Slade and David Flitcroft parting company with Bury. With both sides still yet to appoint a new boss, they join MK Dons on the list of teams looking for a new man to take charge.
Gameweek eighteen has some interesting ties at the top and the bottom, so I will hand pick the best ones and give you my thoughts on the sides and a prediction for the game.
Bolton Wanderers vs Millwall
Two of the leagues ‘heavyweights’ will go head-to-head at the Macron on Saturday afternoon. Strangely, this will be the second league encounter between the two this season, just a month after the first game at The Den. Bolton won at Millwall last month and they haven’t lost to Millwall in their last six games against them. Millwall will be out in search of their first win against Bolton since 2012 in the Championship, a league that you would probably expect these two sides to be in.
So what about current form? Bolton’s run of five wins on the trot was ended by a loss at Peterborough last weekend after a run of form which has seen them surge up to fourth in the League One table. Bolton also boast the best defence in the division having only shipped twelve goals all season. However, they lack firepower up front having scored just twenty goals this season, the second lowest in the top half. Zach Clough is their danger man, having scored five this season and three in his last three matches, he will be raring to go.
Millwall are getting their season back on track after a poor spell with three wins on the bounce, a run which has put them up to ninth in the table just two points outside the play-offs. In fact, their last loss came against the hosts for Saturday’s game but since then they have scored eight in their last three games. They’re also the third highest scorers in the league which shows they don’t have too many problems going forward. It is at the back where the problems are for Millwall, and they have only kept two clean sheets all season.
I think the game against the best defence in the league and one of the best attacks should be interesting, it will either produce lots of goals or not very many.
My Prediction: 1-1
credit to quisnovus
Oxford United vs Coventry City
This is a game between two sides not enjoying the best of their respective campaigns. The two teams are separated by a goal, with that advantage going to Coventry, but they both sit just two points above the relegation places.
For Oxford, they would perhaps have expected to be fighting to stay in the league from an early stage, that isn’t to say they definitely will be come April, but there is always that likelihood for newly promoted sides. The home side will be looking to end a run of four games without a win and two back-to-back losses. They certainly haven’t conceded the most goals in the league, but they aren’t scoring many either. The most they have managed in a league game is two, but they might be encouraged slightly by the 5-0 rout of non-league Merstham in the FA Cup a fortnight ago. They have been hit with an injury to Liam Sercombe leaving him out for the rest of the season, so they may have trouble trying to bridge that gap.
Coventry were the first managerial crisis of the season. Tony Mowbray resigned after Coventry sat bottom in the early knockings of the season. After his departure and, as if by magic, the result started to improve for the Sky Blues, which lifted them out of the relegation zone. Their recent four game unbeaten run came to an end when Scunthorpe beat them last weekend and they may be slightly more tired than their opponents having played an FA Cup Replay in midweek. Coventry have scored the second least amount of goals in the league this season but their goals conceded figure betters three of the teams in the top six. Evidently, Coventry can be hard to break down so Oxford will have a tough task on their hands if they want three points.
My Prediction: 0-1
Scunthorpe United vs Oldham Athletic
I have picked this game because I feel like there will be goals. Scunthorpe have scored the most goals in the league this season by quite a bit. In contrast, Oldham have scored the least having only managed nine this campaign. The Irons are sitting pretty at the top of the table whilst their opponents and visitors to Glanford Park sit third from bottom. Again, this is the second time these two have met this season and Oldham are responsible for Scunthorpe’s only defeat in their last twelve.
I already mentioned Scunthorpe are on a fantastic run but, in truth, they have been on that run since August 6th. The best attacking team in the league are also the second best defensive team and they also have the leagues top scorer Josh Morris in their side. They have only conceded one in their last three games and recently demolished Swindon with a convincing 4-1 win. Glanford Park is a fortress for Scunthorpe and they haven’t lost a game at home so far this season. The only downside of their season so far was elimination from the FA Cup recently after a loss at Charlton, but I am sure the Glanford Park faithful will be delighted with how their side is performing.
Oldham have had a pretty miserable time this season and, if it wasn’t for their good defensive record, they would be in a much worse situation than they find themselves in at the moment. They have only won three games all season but two of those games have been in their last six. They are awful going forward, to put it bluntly. They lack a goalscorer, they don’t have anyone good enough to score goals for them at the moment, with their top scorers in the league only scoring two league goals so far. They did progress in the first round of the FA Cup at home to Doncaster, so they could go on a cup run to lift their season, but they definitely need something to rejuvenate their squad.
My Prediction: 4-0
What are your predictions? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by Mikey