By Lewis Robinson, Chief Football Writer
Harrogate Town vs Newport County
Harrogate Town had a successful first season in league football, finishing 17th and ensuring another season at this level. Fast forward to today, the Sulphurites sit top of the League Two after five matches, with a game in hand on Forest Green who are second. Harrogate have won their last two games 3-1 and are the second highest scorers in the league.
Newport on the other hand have made a decent start, sitting in 15th after the disappointment of a play off final defeat at the back of last season. The Exiles have made a mixed start to the campaign, but will be looking to gather some form in hopes of emulating, if not bettering, last season’s finish.
On paper there is not a tougher place to do that than at the Envirovent stadium, with the hosts being unbeaten at home so far. Newport however have had more success on the road so far this campaign, which could be a leveller in this clash.
Arsenal vs Norwich City
If before the season someone had said that this game would be a bottom of the table clash, I don’t think many people would have believed you. Or maybe you would? This doubt is a sad indictment of Arsenal’s fall over the last few years, with the club adopting a younger transfer strategy that will no doubt take time to come to fruition, the situation is precarious currently for the Gunners.
Like their visitors, Norwich are also without a win in the league but have been handed a tough start to the campaign. Having played Liverpool, Manchester City and Leicester in their opening four games (with Newcastle being the opener). In those games, the Canaries have only netted once, a penalty converted by Teemu Pukki.
This is one more goal than the Gunners have scored in the league this season, a stat Arsenal will be desperate to change against the recently promoted Canaries.
Manchester United vs Newcastle United
There is a return to Old Trafford for a certain Manchester United legend on the cards when the Red Devils take on Newcastle on Saturday.
Steve Bruce sits in the opposition dugout this time...of course I mean CR7 himself, Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo’s ‘homecoming’ will no doubt dominate proceedings, but there is debate surrounding the Portuguese player’s level of impact considering his age. However, I’m sure his introduction will be a huge boost to a club already with a good feeling around the place.
This is not good news for Newcastle, who have not tasted victory since the opening day, and suffered a 4-1 defeat in this fixture last season. This, combined with Ronaldo’s homecoming could be bad news for the Magpies.
Leicester City vs Manchester City
Two teams who have won the Premier League in the last five years face off at the King Power on Saturday, as Leicester play host to Manchester City. It has been a mixed start to life for the Foxes so far this season, losing defender Wesley Fofana in pre-season and 4-1 loss to West Ham is balanced by two victories out of three. A result against Manchester City would certainly have a good chance of being a catalyst for the Foxes, with their Europa League campaign beginning on Thursday.
After a disappointing opening day defeat at Spurs, Manchester City have responded in almost perfect fashion, with consecutive 5-0 wins over Norwich and Arsenal. It will certainly be some feat if Pep Guardiola’s side were to continue that scoreline streak on Saturday, but if any team is capable, it is this City side.
Blackpool vs Fulham
Fulham have made a barnstorming start to the Championship season, not losing since the opening day. The Whites are the top scorers in the league, boasting a plethora of exciting attacking talent. Marco Silva’s men are also prudent at the back, being the division’s joint tightest defence with Birmingham, only conceding three goals.
Blackpool are winless in the league so far, with Fulham being a tough fixture to arrest that slide. Blackpool will be hoping to do better than their fellow League One campaigners last season, Hull City, who were defeated 2-0 by the West London outfit. With Fulham’s form and Blackpool’s slow start to the season, it could be a long afternoon for the Tangerines.
Sunderland vs Accrington Stanley
The Stadium of Light plays host to a top of the table clash between the Black Cats and Accrington Stanley.
Sunderland top League one and have a game in hand on the visitors. The Black Cats have only tasted defeat once this season, and are unbeaten in their last three in all competitions.
Stanley have made a good start to the campaign, winning three in a row during August. All but one of Stanley’s games have been won or lost by one goal, so it could be a tight affair on Saturday afternoon.
Home advantage plays in Sunderland’s favour, but Accrington are a team in form who could spoil the party at the Stadium of Light on Saturday afternoon.
Chelsea Women vs Everton Women
Both teams going into this one will be looking to correct their opening day results, with both sides tasting defeat.
Emma Hayes’ side lost to Arsenal last Sunday, whilst Everton were defeated by Manchester City 4-0.
Each team endured a tough opening fixture, with current WSL holders Chelsea being the favourites. Chelsea should win this one, but that opening day defeat could show signs of a blip in West London outfit’s form.
Leeds vs Liverpool
Two teams who love to throw men forward and play on the front foot take each other on at Elland Road on Sunday. 0-0 guaranteed then.
Leeds are without a win so far in the Premier League, and it will take a perfect performance you’d imagine for that to change against Jurgen Klopp’s side. The possible absence of Raphinha could also be a big blow for the Whites in what will be a challenging game.
Liverpool however come into the game on form, winning twice and drawing once so far this campaign. The Reds’ previous game was a frustrating one, with the side unable to break down a 10-man Chelsea team. Leeds will be a tough test for Liverpool, with the sheer energy and pace they bring to the game. Will Liverpool get a taste of their own medicine?
By Owain Wyse, Sheffield United writer
On deadline day much was promised, and many were linked with the Blades. It began with links to two wide players, Barcelona youngster Alex Collado and Parma winger Yann Karomah both deals were reportedly close, with Callado’s supposedly 99% complete before reportedly falling through due to money disputes between the player's representatives and the club. However, 4 players did join the Blades: Ben Davies, Conor Hourihane, Morgan Gibbs-White and Robin Olsen all on loan.
6 players have also left Bramall on a permanent basis the biggest being Aaron Ramsdale to Arsenal for £25 million. Club legends Phil Jagielka and Simon Moore were released by the club and have joined Derby and Coventry respectively. Midfielder John Lundstram was also released and has joined Rangers, defensive duo Jack Rodwell and Kean Bryan also saw their contracts run out and haven’t found a club since leaving S2.
2 fringe players departed on loan, promising young striker Dan Jebbison joined Burton as he sought tutelage from former great Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Max Lowe joined Nottingham Forrest on a season long deal.
The first signing of the window was centre half Ben Davies from Liverpool. The left footer joined United on a season long deal and will be looking to bolster the fragile Blades backline. United struggled to fill the void left by Jack O’Connell after his injury and will be hoping Davies can solidify the backline and be a mainstay within the team over the course of the season.
The Blades then left it until the second last day of the window before the next addition arrived through the doors. Experienced midfielder Conor Hourihane joined United from Aston Villa. Formerly of Barnsley, Hourihane has superb set piece delivery a great range of passing whilst having an eye for goal. He will provide competition for the current midfield three and has a wealth of experience to call upon at this level.
Morgan Gibbs-White was the third fresh face to join the Blades. The England Under 21 international is an attacking midfielder who usually slots into the number 10 role, or the Duffy role as it is commonly known within the Blades fanbase. Gibbs-White spent the first half of last season out on loan at Swansea where he made 5 appearances scoring one goal on debut before an injury stopped him in his tracks. He was recalled to Wolves in January, featuring in 11 games before the end of the season.
The final signing of the window came at the 11th hour of deadline day with Swedish goalkeeper Robin Olsen brought in from AS Roma as a replacement for Aaron Ramsdale. Olsen made his first foray into English football last season when he joined Everton as back up to England number 1 Jordan Pickford. Despite being signed as cover, Olsen did briefly replace Pickford as Ancelotti chose to rotate his keepers. Olsen is Sweden’s number 1 and has 48 caps to date.
By Juan I Giulianelli, Escritor de fútbol argentino
La semana pasada, la Premier League tomó la decisión de proteger a sus equipos de las convocatorias de la Conmebol para los futbolistas sudamericanos citados por sus selecciones nacionales para disputar la clasificación para la Copa Mundial de la FIFA 2022. En un primer momento muchas asociaciones de fútbol europeas se unieron a esta idea, pero afortunadamente luego declinaron su posición.
Por supuesto que el COVID-19 es la razón principal, América del Sur está mostrando que la Pandemia en el continente lamentablemente todavía está muy activa en muchos países y algunos de ellos tienen serios problemas como Argentina, Brasil y Venezuela, entre otros....
La FIFA pidió a las federaciones europeas, especialmente a Inglaterra y España que reflexionen al respecto de esta medida y desistan de su postura como una forma de apoyar al “mundo” llamado fútbol y crear igualdad de condiciones para cada país miembro de la Asociación. Es importante recordar que los anteriores partidos de clasificación para la Copa Mundial de la FIFA en Sudamérica fueron pospuestos por similar motivo (COVID-19) en este caso con acuerdo de la FIFA.
¿Qué hay detrás de esta posición de la Premier League y otras asociaciones de fútbol que hacen que futbolistas como Alisson, Fabinho y Roberto Firmino del Liverpool, Ederson y Gabriel Jesus del Manchester City, Fred del Manchester United, Thiago Silva del Chelsea o Raphinha del Leeds, todos de ellos jugadores brasileños que juegan en la Premier League o Malcolm y Claudinho del Zenith (que sugirió regresar temprano a los jugadores) o Raúl Jiménez del Wolverhampton (Federación de México), Ben Brereton del Blackburn Rovers y Francisco Sierralta del Watford (Federación de Chile) o Davinson Sánchez del Tottenham (Federación Colombiana) que ha acordado con el jugador que juegue solo dos partidos y regrese temprano para unirse al equipo de la Premier League, o Miguel Almirón del Newcastle United (Federación de Paraguay)?, la única razón es el dinero, el dinero que los equipos podrían perder si son derrotados en las competiciones europeas jugando sin sus mejores futbolistas, pero claro la excusa en este caso ha sido el COVID-19.
Entiendo que los equipos locales pagan todos los meses altos sueldos a los mejores futbolistas y ellos "sugieren al respecto" ..., también entiendo que alguien puede argumentar que esta es una situación diferente porque en partidos anteriores a la pandemia de Covid-19 los equipos han dado permiso a sus jugadores, pero… ¿Qué pasó con Moisés Caicedo de Brighton que estaba autorizado para jugar con la Selección de Ecuador? (Finalmente ha dejado la Premier League para pasar a la liga de Bélgica) Bringthon le dio autorización para viajar porque el futbolista no forma parte del primer equipo actualmente, entonces ¿No es importante la salud de Moisés Caicedo? ¿O porque Moises Caicedo no es actualmente parte del primer equipo puede viajar a Sudamérica donde la Pandemia es un Caos? ¿Este caso no les recuerda cuando Sevilla quiso prohibir a Maradona y Simeone viajar a jugar con Argentina porque tenía un importante partido de competición europea?
Como argentinos, estamos muy orgullosos de jugadores como Emiliano Martínez y Emiliano Buendía del Aston Villa o Cristian Romero y Giovani Lo Celso del Tottenham que desafiaron a su equipo y viajaron para jugar con la selección, pero ¿tendrá consecuencias para ellos? ¿No es este tipo de rebeldía bien aplicada parte del talento buscado para sumar calidad a su equipo?
La mayoría de estos jugadores forma parte de la Selección antes de llegar a sus actuales equipos de la Premier League, por supuesto jugar en la Premier League les da prestigio, dinero y potencialmente más reconocimiento para ser seleccionados en sus equipos nacionales, pero los equipos lo saben cuándo firmaron un extranjero, los mejores futbolistas deben jugar con la selección nacional si lo desea, porque desde el punto de vista de los futbolistas, los equipos en los que juegan en algún momento desaparecerán de su vida, pero las selecciones serán parte de su vida por siempre después del fútbol porque la gente en sus países los reconocerá por sus partidos con la selección nacional, no por la cantidad de goles que marcaron en la Premier League…
Por supuesto que hay algunos casos excepcionales como Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Ryan Giggs, Francesco Totti, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, etc., que son y fueron muy importantes en su carrera también en sus equipos, pero considero que el caso de Lionel Messi nos da la oportunidad de entender cómo piensa el futbolista sudamericano. Messi vivió en Barcelona desde los 13 años, ganó dinero y reconocimientos jugando para el Barcelona y lo invitaron para jugar en la Selección de España, pero el decidió jugar en la Selección Argentina, para la Argentina donde probablemente no puede caminar por la calle y seguramente en el futuro solo vendrá como turista porque el estilo de vida en los países de américa del sur está muy por detrás de Europa pero, como la mayoría de los jugadores de fútbol en todo el mundo, ama a su país y se sienten muy orgullosos de unirse a él y viajar horas para jugar solo 90 minutos con sus colores nacionales y luego volver y jugar de nuevo con los colores de su empleador de turno ...
Será una pelea entre la Conmebol y especialmente la Premier League, con la FIFA como árbitro.
Solo una pregunta para comprender finalmente los puntos clave de esta decisión ... ¿Por qué no utilizar un enfoque similar al adoptado por el gobierno del Reino Unido para las etapas finales de la EURO 2020 para los próximos partidos internacionales?
Por supuesto que entiendo la situación, y como todas las personas alrededor del mundo en los sudamericanos somos muy apasionados por el fútbol. Lo entendimos también cuando hace unos meses se pospuso la fecha de eliminatorias anterior, pero los futbolistas nacieron en un país y si lo desean, deben jugar en su nacional
By Juan I Giulianelli, Argentinian football writer
Last week the Premier League made the decision to protect its teams when the Conmebol association called South American footballers to play for their National Teams on FIFA’s World Cup 2022 qualification. At first many footballs association added to the Premier League’s idea and suggested to their South American footballers not to travel to play with their National Teams but fortunately then they declined their position.
Of course, COVID-19 is the main reason, South America is showing that the Pandemic in the continent is unfortunately still in progress in many countries and some of them have serious issues such as Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, etc....
FIFA requested to the European associations, especially England and Spain, to think about it and decline their position in order to support the “world” called soccer and to create equal conditions for each country member. It's very important to remember that the previous matches of FIFA World Cup qualification in South America were postponed for similar reasons (COVID-19) but on that occasion with FIFA’s agreement.
What is behind this position from the Premier League and the other football associations that make football players like Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino from Liverpool, Ederson and Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City, Fred from Manchester United, Thiago Silva from Chelsea or Raphinha from Leeds, all of them Brazilian players that play on the Premier League or Malcolm and Claudinho from Zenith (who were suggested to came back early) or Raúl Jiménez from Wolverhampton (Mexico federation), Ben Brereton from Blackburn Rovers and Francisco Sierralta from Watford (Chilean federation) or Davinson Sánchez from Tottenham (Colombian federation) who agreed with the team players to play just two matches and come back early to join the premier League team, or Miguel Almirón from Newcastle United (Paraguay federation)? Of course, the only reason for this teams that made this decision is money, the money that the teams could lose if they are defeated in European competitions especially if they play without their top footballers, but what was the reason they said there was? COVID-19. But is it a real issue? Of course local teams pay high salaries every month for the Top footballers and we “suggest about it”.... Of course, some people might think that it is a different situation because in previous matches until Covid-19 pandemic, the teams had given permission to their players but… What happened with Moisés Caicedo from Brighton who was authorized to play with the Ecuador National team? Of course at the end of the time he had left the Premier League to Belgium League but Bringthon didn’t give him authorization until the football player was part of the team. Isn't Moises Caicedo health important? or because Moises Caicedo is not currently part of the first team can travel to South America where the Pandemic is a caos?
As Argentinean, we are very proud of players like Emiliano Martínez and Emiliano Buendía from Aston Villa or Cristian Romero and Giovani Lo Celso from Tottenham who challenged their team and travel to play with the national team, but will it have consequences for them? Perhaps this kind of rebellion is not part of the talent chosen to add quality of his team?
Most of them were part of the National team before they arrived on their currently Premier League teams, of course playing on Premier League has given them prestigious, money and potentially more recognition to be selected on the national team, but the teams know it when they signed a foreign, top footballers that must play with the national team if he wish because
from footballers point of view teams will passed away on their life but national teams will be part of their life post football.... because the people in his countries will recognize them for the national teams.... not for how many goals they scored at the Premier League...
Of course, there are some exceptional cases as Lionel Messi, Diego Maradona, Ryan Giggs, Francesco Totti, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, and so on, who were and are very important on their career on teams and national teams, but I think that the Lionel Messi case give us the opportunity to understand the brain of the south American football player.
Messi lived on Barcelona since 13 years old, he won money and recognition playing at Barcelona and he was requested to play on Spain National team but he decided to play on Argentinian team, on Argentina he probably can't walk on the street and probably in the future will come just as tourist because the lifestyle in south America countries is many steps behind of Europe, but as most football players around the world, he loves his country and its feel very proud to join it and travel many hours for play just 90 minutes with his national colors and then come back to play with its employer colors ...
It will be a fight between Conmebol and especially the Premier League with FIFA as referee.
Just a question to finally understand the key points of this decision.... Why don't use a similar approach as adopted by the UK government for the final stages of EURO 2020 for the upcoming international matches?
Of course we understand, and as all people around the world we are very passionate of soccer and we understood when some months ago the south American World Cup qualifications was postponed, but the football players were born in a country and if they wish they must play on their national team.
By Samuel Ketch, Editor-in-Chief
Sky Sports, BBC, and the FA Player – spot the odd one out.
That’s right, the FA Player may be the one that’s sat by the side of the Women’s Super League for a while but it’s the only one which doesn’t have pre- or post-match analysis.
Karen Carney and Casey Stoney stood in Sky’s studio on Friday night and – in a clip you can see on social media – discussed Ella Toone’s potential use as a false nine for Manchester United.
It’s a moment in time for women’s football fans, as they watch the legitimisation of their game. It’s also a moment that feels belated, given the WSL has been – in the same way as the Premier League has been since 1992 – the top tier since 2010.
The good news doesn’t stop there either. On Sunday it was announced that ITV would be showing the Lionesses fixtures, just like they show the Three Lions. The game grows in legitimacy every time a move like this is made, and with every growth in legitimacy comes more positive steps.
It’s the perfect circle for the game to grow – the problem is ensuring that the circle has no gaps for the momentum to stop on.
Anyway, let’s talk more about the action.
The first round of fixtures for the 2021/22 season saw arguably the biggest clash in the league. Arsenal against Chelsea, at the Emirates.
When the men’s game is in an international break, the women’s games get moved into the ‘main’ stadiums to try and draw bigger crowds – including those who wouldn’t normally go.
This weekend witnessed 4 of the 6 WSL games moved. Only Manchester United (Friday night, vs Reading) and Aston Villa (Saturday afternoon, vs Leicester) didn’t move. So Goodison Park (Everton vs Manchester City), the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (Spurs vs Birmingham), the Amex (Brighton vs West Ham) and, of course, the Emirates (Arsenal vs Chelsea) hosted the WSL for the weekend.
Friday night, on Sky, saw Man United beat Reading 2-0 at Leigh Sports Village. There has been much controversy, in the women’s game circle of social media, about the lack of coverage for the game from the main Man United twitter account. Not one post, though there was plenty of time for the continued announcement of Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival.
United’s Kirsty Hanson bagged the first goal of the campaign when Ella Toone split the defence to find Hanson’s run and the Scottish international poked home with the outside of her boot.
Reading have right to feel aggrieved as, due to the lack of goal line technology, a shot by Brooke Chaplen that hit the underside of the crossbar before coming down landed over the line. It would have levelled the game, but alas it was not to be.
And when United doubled their lead, there were calls for offside as Leah Galton appeared to be beyond the last defender – but the offside wasn’t given. A nice one two between Ona Batlle and Toone led to the Spaniard putting the ball in the top corner.
The first of the non-televised games, hosted at the same time as the BBC showed Everton and Man City, was Aston Villa and Leicester. Interestingly Villa’s women play at the Walsall stadium – Bank's Stadium – and this game was played there too, despite the men’s international break.
WSL newcomers Leicester dominated the first half and eventually took the lead through Natasha Flint’s long-distance strike that Villa ‘keeper Hannah Hampton fumbled. Up to that stage only Hampton’s saves had kept Villa in the game.
But Sarah Mayling’s brilliant long distance free-kick and Remi Allen’s accidental finish turned the tides in just two minutes for Carla Ward’s team.
The other early afternoon game, this one on the BBC, was not as tight.
Man City stated their intent for this campaign with a 4-0 romp at Goodison.
Goals from Vicky Losada, Janine Beckie, Khadija Shaw and Steph Houghton – a brilliant free-kick, though someone should tell Willie Kirk and his Everton defenders that jumping in the wall can help the goalkeeper out.
The final game of Saturday saw Tottenham beat Birmingham 1-0 as Kit Graham’s cross became a shot and that was all. There were plenty of chances for Spurs in the game, but a lack of clinical finishing kept this score line down to one nil.
Sunday, and the biggest game of the lot.
Arsenal took the lead through Vivianne Miedema in the 14th minute, as she beat the offside trap and slotted home at the near post.
The visitors levelled before half-time as Melanie Leupolz collected the loose ball from Millie Bright’s shot and played into an open Erin Cuthbert who placed the ball across goal and into the far-left hand corner.
Beth Mead gifted Arsenal the lead again as Miedema played through two Chelsea defenders for Mead to race onto. The chance looked dead as Mead cut back, but then she unleashed an unstoppable left footed effort at goal.
Mead then extended the lead when Maya Iwabuchi played her in. Mead tapped the ball past the onrushing Ann-Katrin Berger before taking another touch to lose the tracking defender and rolling into an empty net.
There was some controversy, as replays seemed to show Mead was offside as the ball was played – but with no VAR, the decision stood.
Emma Hayes’ team halved the deficit when Cuthbert whipped in a cross and Pernille Harder connected for a thumping header home; but that was all she wrote, as the game ended 3-2 to the hosts.
After the match Hayes made a point of the absence of goal line technology and VAR, noting that while they have the product (meaning, the women’s game is a good enough level to be properly funded) they don’t have the equipment.
The final game of the weekend saw Brighton host West Ham, and despite the visitor's early pressure the game turned on its head when Hawa Cissoko was sent off for handling Brighton’s Danielle Carter’s effort at goal.
Inessa Kaagman converted the subsequent penalty to give Brighton the lead. Minutes later the lead would be doubled when the ball deflected off Carter and into the path of Lee Geum-min who beat the ‘keeper with a low strike.
So, all in all, a good first weekend of WSL action in place of the men’s stuff. It’s well worth a watch catching up with the highlights via the FA Player – with individual match highlights, or the whole catchup show.
By Fletcher Smith, Bradford City writer
Bradford City were unable to take command of the game with their man advantage as Walsall held on to split the points at Valley Parade.
The visitors started the clash with some attacking intent after obtaining a couple of corners but nothing really threatened the Bradford defence.
Eight minutes into the clash the Bantams started to look dangerous. The first chance came for Andy Cook, after Charles Vernam played a brilliant cross to the in-form forward his strike was cleared bravely off the line.
Carrying on with the pressure the Bantams created another chance. This time it was Gareth Evans who attempted an acrobatic effort which was tipped over by Carl Rushworth.
In the 14th minute the deadlock was broken, and it was the hosts who took the lead. Elliot Watt’s first-time strike from 20-yards out arrowed into the top right corner spectacularly.
Derek Adam’s side continued their domination going late into the first-half. Another chance was created by a lovely one-two between Gilliead and Cooke opened up space for a cross, Vernam met the lofted pass but his header narrowly missed.
Two minutes before the break the visitors equalised, Jack Earing scored his first professional goal after converting from close range.
Minutes after levelling the score Walsall’s captain Joss Labadie is sent off for a dangerous tackle on Gareth Evans.
Another chance was created for Cook, the Vernam-Cook partnership worked once again. Andy had a free-header after Vernam’s cross but sent it over the bar.
The hosts controlled majority of possession and attacking intent throughout second-half but the Saddlers were holding firm, denying any clear chances to be created.
The game ended 1-1. The visitors will be absolutely delighted with the point after going down to ten men. For City it'll feel like a loss after dominating the second half and creating many chances.
By Finley Chung, Sutton United writer
Sutton United will have another week to prepare for League action, as their match, away to Colchester United on Saturday September 4th has been postponed, it was confirmed on Friday evening (3rd Sept)
The following statement, which is available on Sutton United’s official website, reads:
“We have had to inform the league today, that due to the emergence in COVID-19 cases, coupled with international call ups and Injuries in the squad, we would be unable to fulfil the fixture.
The EFL will look into the circumstances surrounding the postponement and a rearranged date for the fixture will be confirmed after consultation with all parties”.
As a result of this, Sutton will stay 24th in the league after this round of matches, whatever happens. The Amber Army’s next league action will be the visit of Stevenage, on 11th September, when the Hertfordshire outfit visit the VBS Community Stadium.
By Fletcher Smith, Bradford City writer
Bradford City will be aiming to return to winning ways following their 2-0 loss to promotion candidates Leyton Orient at the Breyer Group Stadium. Despite this recent setback Derek Adams side have recorded a 100% record at home in the Sky Bet League Two this season.
Walsall secured their first victory of the 21/22 campaign after a 1-0 victory against Stevenage after a 5th minute strike from Connor Wilkinson.
The player to watch for this fixture is Bradford’s top scorer Andy Cook, who has netted 4 times in 5 games - he will definitely be a threat for the visitors tomorrow. The former Saddler scored a close-range strike in City’s 2-1 victory at the Bank’s Stadium last season.
The Bantam’s currently have 2 first-team candidates injured, Lee Angol and Abo Eisa are unavailable for this clash. Levi Sutton and Oscar Threlkeld are back into contention after both featuring in Tuesday’s Papa John's Trophy fixture.
Former Bantam, George Miller united with Walsall on deadline-day and is likely to be involved in the traveling squad which could see him debut for the West Midlands side.
A home win for Bradford gives you 7 points and an away win for Walsall claims 25 points.
By Samuel Ketch, Editor-in-Chief
The Women’s Super League, the Women’s equivalent to the Premier League in England, has seen plenty of movement of players, managers and even TV channels as the 2021-22 season approaches tonight, 3 September.
The WSL will now be live on Sky and BBC as part of the new rights package that sees Sky pick two games to show exclusively while the BBC get one of their own. The other games will then be shown live, for free, on the official FA Player.
Over the course of a season, Sky will show 44 matches and BBC will show 22 – 18 of which must be shown on BBC One or BBC Two.
For the opening weekend of fixtures, Sky have chosen to put Manchester United vs Reading on Friday Night Football and the huge clash of Arsenal vs Chelsea on Sunday afternoon. While BBC will show Everton vs Manchester City on Saturday.
All six games will be on Footrace, and that will be the case every week of the WSL season.
The top three in the WSL is fairly settled – although one side nearly missed out last year, sneaking in by a single point.
Last year’s champions were Emma Hayes’ Chelsea, who pipped Manchester City on the final day. Arsenal finished seven points adrift which, in a team with just twelve teams, is a considerable drop off – especially considering, in the last non-Covid impacted season – they won the title (2018/19).
Expect these three teams to stay in contention, while you can also expect Everton – who have added the seven or eight key deals that their manager, Willie Kirk, wanted – and Manchester United to be in the mix to try and upset the apple cart in the top three.
United’s new manager, Marc Skinner, has seen a few big names leave but has largely kept hold of his squad. Skinner took over from Casey Stoney after she abruptly left the club which sparked players like Lauren James leaving the club in a mass exodus.
At the other end of the table, Birmingham narrowly avoided the drop last year while Aston Villa, West Ham and Tottenham have good squads theoretically but never caught fire last term.
There will be a battle at both ends of the table, with a wide gap to be expected between the Champions League clubs and the relegation scrappers come the end of the 22nd game week.
Footrace is proud to be providing this opportunity to predict on the WSL games ahead of another Euro hosted – this time entirely – in England next Summer. This is your perfect chance to learn everything WSL related.
PLUS if you fancy yourself as a good narrator, and would want to write about all things WSL – or even better your team – then get in touch with our Editor-in-Chief Samuel Ketch via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Happy Footrace-ing, WSL fans. Welcome aboard.
By Finley Chung, Sutton United writer
The U’s are back on the road this weekend as they make the journey to the JobServe Community Stadium to face Colchester United on Saturday in the first match between the two teams for nearly 3 decades!
Colchester head into this one sitting in 13th Place and are unbeaten in three games following their last outing, a 1-1 draw with Rochdale last Friday. Sutton had competitive success for the first time this season on Wednesday night, as they overcame a young Crystal Palace side, 3-0 in the Papa John’s Trophy. The last action The Ambers had in League action, was last weekend’s heart-breaking 2-1 defeat to Oldham, in which two added time goals saw Oldham steal the points.
Sutton will need to keep an eye on former Ipswich frontman, Freddie Sears in this one. The Colchester marksman has notched two goals in his last three matches for Colchester and will look to cause some more harm to an opposition team again. Shot stopper, Shamal George, formerly of Liverpool has been in good form too for the hosts, with any Sutton forward knowing that top form will be required, if they wish to put the ball in George’s net.
Sutton gave plenty of players their first starts of the season in the EFL Trophy win on Wednesday, Joe Barden limped off with injury in the Palace victory, while Omar Bugiel is away on international duty with Lebanon for the World Cup Qualifiers, who picked up his 8th cap this week!
In terms of Footrace points for the fixture, home advantage is prominent again, with backing a Colchester win earning you 12 points. If you feel the draw is likely, that’ll win you 22 points. If you back an away, Sutton United win however, a mammoth 25 points will be coming your way.