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Bradford City VS Forest Green Rovers – Match Preview

29/10/2021 - League Two

The Bantams are set to face current league leaders Forest Green which is considered to be the match to watch this weekend. 

Derek Adam’s side will be aiming to build on their impressive 3-1 victory away at promotion-candidates Swindon Town. Goals from Caolan Lavery, Levi Sutton and a spectacular long-range strike from Theo Robinson claimed all three points. The Rovers equally claimed a crucial victory last weekend as they overcame Salford City 3-1 at The New Lawn. 

Bradford City are currently placed in 11th with 20 points so far, a victory could potentially push them level with fourth place; On the other hand, Forest Green are leading Sky Bet League Two with 30 points. 

The players to watch out for are the visitor's attacking duo, Matthew Stevens and Jamille Matt. Both of these centre-forwards have recorded seven goals this season, with one assist from Stevens and six from Matt. This forward partnership has been remodelled by Rob Edwards and has been a massive part to their success so far. 

Forest Green are unbeaten away this season after having a record of five wins and two draws. The Rovers have also claimed a 100% victory rate against sides below tenth place, the Bantams are sat in 11th... 

The last time Forest Green visited the Utilita Energy Stadium was last season when Bradford triumphed 4-1, a double from Andy Cook, a brilliant half-volley from Elliot Watt and a cheeky finish from Danny Rowe secured all three points. 

The Bantam’s currently have two first-team candidates injured, Liam Ridehalgh and Abo Eisa are unavailable for this clash. Lee Angol is back training but no confirmation he’ll be used. 

A home win for Bradford gives you 18 points and an away win for Forest Green claims 18 points also. 

Sutton Back at Home as Walsall are the Visitors

29/10/2021 - League Two

By Finley Chung - Sutton United Writer 

It’s back to home action for Sutton United on Saturday as they welcome Matt Taylor and his Walsall side to Gander Green Lane. Coming off the back of an impressive away win at Colchester United, coming from behind to win 3-1, Sutton will be keen to make it 2 wins on the spin.

Matt Taylor’s Walsall side come into this encounter 14th in the table, with 17 points from their five 14 matches so far this season. Unbeaten in their last 7 games in League and Cup, last time out saw them draw 2-2 with Barrow, where frontman George Miller bagged his 6th and 7th goals of the season to secure Walsall a point. Miller is the key man for The Saddlers, hitting seven in ten this season and is in especially red-hot form of late with three in his last two. The Sutton defence will have to keep a tight eye on Miller, as he will be keen to add more to his total as well as helping Walsall climb the table.

Sutton’s home record this season boasts four wins and two defeats, with their last two fixtures yielding one of each, shipping five goals and scoring five of their own too, Matt Gray will want to tighten up his defence at home on Saturday to keep out the aforementioned Miller. Goalscoring isn’t an issue for The U’s though, having scored in each of their last eight games and only failing to hit the target in three of their league matches this season. Sutton will be hoping they can chalk up a fifth home win of the season to move on to 26 points, which could see them rise into the automatic promotion places if other results go their way.

In terms of the footrace points available for this one, eight points will be added to your total if Sutton manage to pick up the win, 27 points will be yours if you think the draw is the outcome, with a whopping 35 points available if you think Walsall will take the points back to the midlands.

The problem of Solksjaer's belatedness

28/10/2021 - Premier League

By Maurício Alencar, Footrace Football Expert

Early into the season, and Solksjaer’s under pressure again. In this same month last season, he was under pressure for getting thrashed 6-1 at home by what was a mediocre Tottenham side. This time, the Red Devils lost 5-0 at home to Liverpool… to Liverpool! The exception is that this season, Solksjaer’s transitory phase is meant to be over. By now, many believe that Solksjaer should have finally asserted his unique football identity. By now, Solksjaer’s footballing mind, through all his powers, should irradiate a football style that would have made it seem as though football had never been properly played before. The long tradition of Manchester United should have reached a new summit of glory.

Solksjaer seems to have all the components needed to accomplish this masterpiece: De Gea, Slabhead, and the finely-aged French fromage that is Varane, as well as the fit-and-healthy Luke Shaw and monster-tackler Wan Bissaka out on the flanks, establish the perfect hardcover for Solksjaer’s project, able to stop any thwarting attacks at ease.  The combination of Bruno Fernandes’ tenacity with Pogba’s sublime curlers surely give Solksjaer’s scripture the needed rigour and flair. The fine quill, Cristiano Ronaldo, should exquisitely sign off each tale, capturing Manchester United’s great sense of vigour and excitement. 

Tradition and influence may be Solksjaer’s stumbling block. The weighty presence of Sir Alex Ferguson from the stands , as well as the pride of the “Manchester United DNA” that is so palpably felt by all Manchester United supporters, as well as every football fan, clouds over Solksjaer. 

Solksjaer has, time and time again, consciously alluded to the United tradition. After the Atalanta game just a week ago, in which they won 3-2 after going 2-0 down, he triumphantly stated: “Comebacks are in our DNA”. He also managed to slip in “never give in” to his interview. On the other hand, Solksjaer has also struggled with this luring presence of history. After Sir Alex Ferguson was caught criticising Solksjaer’s decision to leave Ronaldo on the bench against Everton, Solksjaer simply said that he was “relaxed about it”. 

 The problem of history and tradition that faces Solksjaer has been pointed out by several journalists and fans, and as we have seen by Solksjaer himself. Yet, there has been no proper explanation for the reason why it has been such a hindrance to Solksjaer’s progress. 20th century literary criticism on literary influence and tradition may prove to be an apt framework for the discussion of Solksjaer’s predicament. 

Although Harold Bloom’s Freudian basis of familial complexes in The Anxiety of Influence may in many respects be outdated and perhaps not so valid, it remains to be an important touchstone in the study of literary history and tradition. Bloom essentially argues that writers feel a sense of ‘belatedness’- or in other words, that they are too late to the party. ‘Strong poets’, he declares, will ‘misread’ precursor poets. Therefore, dead poets’ works are revised by these ‘strong poets’ in such a way there is a ‘swerve’. This ‘swerve’ from tradition means we cannot ever read the precursor poem in the same vein again, and it makes it seem as though the new poet was the first to ever write. Paradoxically, ‘strong poets’ simultaneously conserve and innovate. 

At Manchester United, there is no place worse to feel ‘belatedness’. It may just about be impossible to overcome the club’s vast history. Some may argue that Mourinho and van Gaal do not fit into this framework. Except they do. While Solksjaer has largely struggled to innovate and ‘swerve’ from the point of the club’s core tradition, van Gaal, with his rigid football, and Mourinho, with his pragmatic football, completely disregarded the point from which one can ‘swerve’. In other words, it was as though van Gaal and Mourinho played slow and disharmonious music which sounded completely unfitting to its jazz-loving audience. Solksjaer’s football at Manchester United has played along to the club's appetite for jazz, improvisation, and quickness; the problem is that the conductor has not mastered the grace of Manchester United’s jazz-structures, or even properly conjured a melodious chorus which Sir Alex Ferguson had himself so finely composed. 

Solksjaer has also been presented as anything but ‘strong’. In fact, partially due to modern media’s perception of him, he has largely portrayed him as a fairly feeble character. This may yet not necessarily be a problem. 

T.S Eliot, who is probably the better orator on the subject of literary tradition, says, the great poet must escape personality and write with the ‘feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order’. In football terms, Solksjaer may indeed benefit from education beyond Old Trafford’s Delphian oracle, Sir Alex Ferguson. Guardiola, who must be the manager which best exemplifies the Bloomian ideal of a ‘strong poet’, was inspired by a range of football managers from around the world, both from the past and present. The regal list of football sides and managers which inspired Guardiola’s football include Tele Santana’s marvellous Brazil 1982 side, Arrigo Sacchi’s AC Milan Champions League-winning sides, and also, of course, his muse Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona sides. In order to ‘swerve’ and sweep away this overwhelming feeling of belatedness, Solksjaer would do well to look sidewards to Klopp’s attacking systems or backwards to Helenio Herrera’s defensive systems. Should he fuse all the knowledge he has and manage with the feeling that all football exists simultaneously, Solksjaer may come up with the perfect system to take Manchester United forwards. 

When van Gaal and Mourinho were in the job, they were criticised for abandoning Manchester United’s tradition. Now, Solksjaer is being criticised for the opposite. Perhaps Solksjaer may never find the right gusto which both excitingly retains Manchester United’s extraordinary heritage and also utterly transforms the Manchester United way. 

In every way possible, Solksjaer has been an important intermediary manager in the post-Ferguson era. Many may justifiably argue that Solksjaer lacks the top-calibre kind of intelligence and tactical awareness that is needed to win trophies. Yet, as Solksjaer has largely revived the style of electric football at Old Trafford, despite its flaws, fans, including Gary Neville, should maybe not be so harshly scathed for backing the manager.

The decision that the Manchester United board make next is crucial. Whether they think that Solksjaer is simply not good enough, or whether they believe Solksjaer can fulfill the destiny of the ‘strong poet’ who ultimately transcends and transfigures Manchester United, the idea of tradition will undoubtedly be the most crucial factor in determining the direction of the club in the next decade and beyond. If the club’s revered tradition is disregarded in the club’s next phase, then any success will be short-lived, and the club’s identity may dissolve altogether.

Colchester's misery continues as Sutton rise back into the playoffs.

27/10/2021 - League Two

Goals from David Ajiboye, Rob Milsom and Ben Goodliffe saw Sutton United rise to 6th in League 2 with the visitors getting back to winning ways after back-to-back losses at the hands of Swindon Town and Rochdale. This result heaps more misery on Colchester, who went ahead after two minutes when Freddie Sears put the hosts ahead early on, but Sutton soon turned it around and against the ten-man hosts, eased to a comfortable victory.

Isaac Olafoe, Coby Rowe and Omar Bugiel all came into the starting eleven as Matt Gray looked to put the weekends gutting late defeat to Rochdale behind them. Things couldn’t have started any worse for the visitors however as the clock had barely struck two minutes when Colchester opened the scoring. Former Bournemouth defender Charlie Daniels picked the ball up on the left and curled a wicked ball into Freddie Sears, the striker spun and swivelled and planted a shot past Dean Bouzanis in the Sutton goal to give Colchester the lead after only two minutes.

The visitors, clearly undeterred by the goal set about getting back into the game quickly and David Ajiboye came close, forcing Shamal George into a good save in the Colchester goal, however the lead did not last long for the Blue and White army and on 16 minutes, Sutton levelled. Ajiboye who threatened early on, bundling the ball home at the back stick to level the game up. Samson Tovide was soon about to become the man in the thick of the action, however. First, he nearly put the hosts back in front after lashing at a ball following a goal-mouth scramble with his strike eventually being forced out for another corner. He then turned villain on the 30thminute, when he handled the ball in the box and received his marching orders after half an hour. Rob Milsom stepped up for Sutton to gratefully bag his second of the season and turn the game on its head. It would stay this way until half time, with Sutton marshalling the game well since Milsom’s penalty.

Half Time – Colchester United 1-2 Sutton United

Ten minutes into the second half, Colchester set about getting back level and as Freddie Sears raced through on goal, Sutton defender Ben Goodliffe was adjudged to have pulled him down on the edge, the home crowd wanted him sent off, but the referee brandished only a yellow, much to the home fans annoyance. The resulting free kick by Sears was deflected off the wall, then off Luke Hannant to send it over the bar. On the hour mark, Sears threatened again, racing clear and in on goal, a mixture of Bouzanis in goal and Coby Rowe was enough to put the striker off and prevent the effort. This valiant defending was rewarded soon after, when up the other end, Rob Milsom whipped in a free kick, when Ben Goodliffe headed home to give Sutton a two-goal cushion in the game.

Colchester did have one more chance at getting back into it, when Sears prodded home after Charlie Daniels effort was parried by Bouzanis, however the linesman raised his flag and the goal was chalked off, which confined Colchester to their first home defeat in three and saw Sutton rise back into the playoff places.

Full Time – Colchester United 1-3 Sutton United

 

Sutton Back On the Road as They Head to Goal-Shy Colchester

26/10/2021 - League Two

By Finley Chung - Sutton United Writer 

Way back in August, Sutton had their visit to Colchester postponed due to several injures, a COVID outbreak and international call ups amongst the London side, on Tuesday night, that rescheduled game is set to be played, with both sides looking to put a stop to some poor recent form.

By Sutton’s standards, the phrase ‘poor recent form’ may be a bit harsh, but having lost their last two, they will be desperate to get back to winning ways at Colchester. They travel to Essex, knowing that a win will see them climb back into the playoff places, with those currently sat 4th-7th, all tied on 23 points which is the same number Sutton will be on, should they be victorious, leaving it to the virtue of goal difference, to decide where Sutton will be, come 9:30pm on Tuesday, if they pick up three points. The weekends trip to Rochdale was cruel on Sutton, having put their never say die attitude which came to full fruition against Crawley and Port Vale earlier this month, out for all to see again, only to be hit with a sucker punch of a 94th minute Rochdale winner. Matt Gray will be hoping his side can put Saturday’s performance behind them and get back to winning ways.

As for the hosts, things really haven’t got going for Colchester this season, currently slumped in 19th place, they are the lowest scorers in the division, having only found the net nine times in their thirteen matches so far with only Freddie Sears and Noah Chilvers notching more than once this campaign for United. Having only picked up 5 points from a possible 18 at home so far this season too, Colchester will be desperate to end this poor run and give their season the kickstart it really needs.

 

As always, Footrace points are available for this game, with 18 points up for grabs if you back either side to win, with 20 points on offer for the draw.

 

James McClean secures all three points for Latics in the capital

25/10/2021 - League One

By Charlotte Atherton, Wigan Athletic writer

Wigan Athletic got back to winning ways with an impressive performance on the road to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

An own goal from Paul Kalambayi opened the scoring in the 50th minute for Wigan, before a superb goal from James McClean sealed all three points for the Latics. 

Wigan started brightly in the first half and had an effort cleared off the line 7 minutes into the match when a low cross from Tendayi Darikwa was flicked on by Will Keane, but Ben Heneghan was on hand to prevent the Latics taking an early lead.

Keane was involved in the action again shortly after when Callum Lang crossed the ball to him from the right side, Wimbledon keeper Nik Tzanev pulled off the save but only as far as Max Power who whipped the ball back into the box for Keane again but it remained 0-0.

Two well taken free-kicks from Anthony Hartigan could have given Wimbledon the lead in the first half but the waiting Wimbledon players in the box failed to find the back of the net.

Power had the next opportunity for Wigan, his effort was parried away by Tzanev but landed straight into the path of McClean, his effort was then whisked away by the Dons defence. 

Latics started the second half with the same intent as the first and they were rewarded for their efforts with a goal in the 50th minute.

Power managed to set up Lang in the area whose shot hit Kalambayi on the way in and was converted into the Wigan net to put Latics in front.

Wigan almost doubled their lead instantly when a slip up from Luke McCormick allowed Lang to set up McClean, but his shot was cleared off the line.

McClean did not have to wait long to get his goal and what a superb goal it was on the 54th minute mark. Charlie Wyke did well to hold the ball up before finding Lang whose only option was to pass to McClean on the edge of the area, he controlled the ball well to guide it into the back of the net in unstoppable fashion.

Wigan could have got a third when Gavin Massey worked the ball out wide to Power who put a delivery into the box to find Keane perfectly, but his effort was sent just over the bar.

The game finished at Plough Lane 2-0 to the travelling Latics side, who now have five away wins on the bounce in Sky Bet League One and are up to third in the table.   

AFC Wimbledon 0-2 Wigan Athletic

Stoke continue poor run of form as the curse of the capital is unlifted

25/10/2021 - Championship

By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer

Stoke have lost three games on the bounce, adding to their midweek 1-0 loss to league leaders Bournemouth with a 2-1 defeat against Millwall this weekend.

The poor run of form has seen Stoke City drop down to ninth in the league, only ahead of Millwall by one goal in goal difference.

Only a handful of goals and at most two points separate thirteenth place Reading and fifth place Luton Town, meaning the promotion race this year will continue to be tight. Seven teams in the middle all sit on 21 points.

Stoke made a few changes with Josef Bursik coming into nets for Adam Davies, Leo Skiri Østigård returning in the back three pushing Ben Wilmot further up in place of Tommy Smith.

In the attacking line, Sam Surridge was given a chance in place of the recently injured Nick Powell. Two changes were made in the middle of the park with Romaine Sawyers coming in for Jordan Thompson, and Mario Vrančić coming in for Sam Clucas giving a new tactical approach compared to the game against Bournemouth.

The Potters started well with Millwall’s Bartosz Bialkowski keeping out Jacob Brown’s by tipping it round the post. Surridge called for a penalty minutes later when he was brought down in the box but the referee had none of it.

After twenty minutes Stoke broke the deadlock through a Romaine Sawyers goal as he passed the ball past Bialkowski after Brown guided Tymon’s cross onto him. Millwall replied with pressure against Stoke.

Joe Bursik performed well in the first half reacting to a long ball from Billy Mitchell, with Harry Souttar making an excellent block before the half-time stopping Bradshaw from bringing the hosts level.

After 51 minutes the hosts drew level as Bradshaw finished off a pass from Sheyi Ojo. Ten minutes later Bradshaw scored a similar goal to his first off the back of Ryan Leonard’s cross, giving the hosts the lead.

Both sides pressed on to clinch a winner as Stoke came close a few times with another penalty shout as Scott Malone appeared to handle the ball inside the area. Matt Smith came off the subs bench and had a chance to put the game to rest in the 88th minute, only to slap it wide.

Michael O’Neill will be disappointed with his sides lack of form recently, hoping to turn things around in the cup against Brentford and at home against struggling Cardiff.

Rochdale stun Sutton as visitors late fightback still not enough

24/10/2021 - League Two

By Finley Chung, Sutton United Writer

Two goals down with 8 minutes to go, Isaac Olafoe and Alasdair Smith both struck late on which looked like earning a point for the visitors, after going 2-0 down due to goals from Alex Newby and Liam Kelly. The drama wasn’t over after Sutton had levelled though and a thunderbolt from Aaron Morley in the 94th minute, won the points for Rochdale and made it the hosts first win in seven games.

Jon Barden started this one in midfield, with Louis John starting as captain also in absence of Craig Eastmond and Harry Beautyman, but themselves lost John through injury after just 7 minutes, replaced by Coby Rowe. David Ajiboye starting on the bench meant that this selection ensured that no Sutton player has started every single game so far this season in the league.

Will Randall won possession back inside the first minute and threaded through Enzio Boldewijn down the left, but across came Eoghan O’Connell, the Rochdale skipper to block the effort. When Louis John was eventually replaced by Rowe, despite trying to eun his injury off, Rowe had barely been on the pitch when Rochdale had their first chance, Jimmy Keohane belted away down the left and his cross was met with a firm header which was well saved by Dean Bouzanis. Abraham Odoh and Jimmy Keohane were causing Sutton problems again and again, with the latter finding Alex Newby who burst through the middle to dispatch a brilliant volley over Bouzanis to give Dale a deserved lead.

They nearly added to their lead again, when Kizzi’s poor pass allowed Rochdale in again, but Ben Goodliffe blocked the resulting shot for a corner, with Rowe having to do the same moments later to keep the Rochdale barrage at bay. Sutton did end the half strongly, when Boldewijn set up Will Randall for an effort that was well saved. However just at the end of the half, things went from bad to worse, when Richie Bennett received his marching orders for what appeared to be a stamp on Jake Beesley, making Sutton’s work in the second half, even harder.

The offside flag came to the rescue first in the second half for Sutton, when Liam Kelly floated in a brilliant free kick, chipped in by Newby but the flag was up to deny Rochdale their second goal. Bouzanis then had to get down really well to deny Jake Beesley but the second goal was coming, and it did come, midway through the second half, Aaron Morley’s deep cross was headed back across goal by Corey O’Keefe and there was Liam Kelly who had time to measure up his effort and place the ball past Bouzanis and give the two-goal cushion to Rochdale.

There certainly seemed no way back for Sutton and things almost got even worse, when Jake Beesley saw his effort blocked off the line by Ben Goodliffe. The introduction of Omar Bugiel saw the 10 men of Sutton carry much more of a threat in the last ten minutes and they were thrown a lifeline, when a Sutton corner was bouncing around, Joel Coileman beat away a Bugiel header from a Rob Milsom corner, but there was Isaac Olafoe to smash the ball home and haul Sutton back into it, the comeback which seemed so unlikely just minutes previous, was then complete after another Milsom corner was headed in by Alasdair Smith in the last minute of the ninety to send the 117 traveling Sutton fans into raptures. However, there was one more twist in this most extraordinary of games, Smith the goalscoring hero played a loose pass which gave Dale one more attack, the cross fell to Aaron Morley who hit a thunderbolt into the corner to sent Rochdale fans berserk and give the cruellest defeat on 10-man Sutton.

 

Nuno made to pay for leaving stars at home

22/10/2021 - Europe

By Archie Burkinshaw, Tottenham Hotspur writer

Well I said Nuno was taking a risk and it certainly didn’t pay off, as a dejected Tottenham performance resulted in a 1-0 loss to a very average Vitesse side.

The entirety of the starting XI that beat Newcastle last Sunday were tactically left at home in preparation for West Ham at the weekend. This was yet another chance for the likes of Sanchez, Winks, Gil, Lo Celso and Alli to stake their claim to start at the weekend, but after that performance none of them will be anywhere near it.

From the first minute the ball was cheaply given anyway, players were jogging when they should have been sprinting, 17-year-old Dane Scarlett was left to lament up top without any support. There was no desire from players that should be desperate to prove their worth.

I can imagine the frustration at being part of such a blatant B team but they are all professionals and should strive to perform at the highest level every game, it is quite frankly embarrassing that a club of Tottenham Hotspurs’s size does not have the squad depth to compete in the Europa Conference League.

The most damning thing I can say is that I was not surprised we lost, not surprised we didn’t even score. There is no blame on the manager for this one, the players were more than capable of winning this game and the Premier League has to be prioritised, it will be interesting to see Nuno’s team selection in this competition moving forward, I’m not sure these players deserve another chance.

At least Nuno will have any selection headaches against West Ham, I fully accept him to name an unchanged side for the third Premier League game in a row.

COYS!

Latics take on Wimbledon in the capital

22/10/2021 - League One

By Charlotte Atherton, Wigan Athletic writer

Wigan Athletic travel to Plough Lane on Saturday, hoping to get back to winning ways against AFC Wimbledon.

Latics’ great start to the season hit a small bump in the road on Tuesday night when they lost out to MK Dons at the DW Stadium.

Tuesday night’s result saw Wigan slip to fourth place in Sky Bet League One but, having only lost three all season, they remain within touching distance of the top two.

On Saturday Latics will be hoping to secure their ninth win of the season but they will have to do it against a Wimbledon side who appear to be gaining momentum.

Wimbledon have not lost in October so far, having most recently beaten Lincoln City 1-0 and drawn the two previously.

With Jordan Cousins still out injured, Wigan manager Leam Richardson could stick with the same side that started on Tuesday evening and see midfielder Tom Bayliss feature.

Instead, Richardson may opt to start Tom Pearce at right back and move Max Power to midfield after impressing in that position towards the end of the match in midweek.

Either way, Wigan will be backed by a sold out away end with 1,000 Latics fans set to make the trip to the capital for the fixture.

Despite the result in midweek, Charlie Wyke managed to find himself on the scoresheet for Latics. He will be eager to add to his tally and help push Wigan to a win come Saturday tea-time.

There are 10 footrace points available if Latics can get back to winning ways at the weekend, but there are 30 points on offer if Wimbledon can become the latest team to put a dint in Wigan’s early season success.

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