By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer
Bournemouth have extended their unbeaten run at the top of the Championship to thirteen games on the trot with a midweek win over Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.
Meanwhile, Stoke have lost their second game in a row after the international break, losing 2-1 at the weekend to a late winner away at Sheffield United, and again midweek against league leaders Bournemouth hampering their promotion ambitions this season.
Michael O’Neill made some tactical changes from the Saturday loss at Sheffield opting for a five-man midfield and two forwards instead of the four across the middle with two attacking midfielders and a solo striker.
Stoke City lined up with an unchanged back three, and two changes in midfield. Sam Clucas and Jordan Thompson came into the midfield for Romaine Sawyers and Mario Vrančić. Joe Allen remained in the middle of the park as the anchor of the five-man midfield.
Scott Parker also made some tactical changes from the Cherries win over Bristol City at the weekend. Instead of a 1-4-1 in midfield and attack, Parker opted for a 3-3 formation with an unchanged back four and Gavin Kilkenny remaining as the central pivot in midfield. The only change came in the inclusion of Jefferson Lerma in midfield for Jamal Lowe.
The only goal of the game came from in-form Dominic Solanke in the 51st minute, seeing Stoke suffer their first home defeat 1-0. The most positive news for home fans was the inclusion of Tyrese Campbell on the bench after his long term injury.
Jacob Brown shot early rifling wide before Jack Stacey’s shot at the other end was saved by Adam Davies in the Stoke net. Shortly after Nick Powell went off injured. Stoke came close just before halftime as Ben Wilmot headed just wide off the end of Harry Souttar’s headed pass.
The Cherries started the second half well with Lerma hitting just over five minutes in, then taking the lead as Adam Davies spilt Ryan Christie’s shot out for Dominic Solanke to finish giving the visitors the lead.
Stoke bounced back with Thompson hitting the post, the best chance for the home side to draw level. Sam Surridge then came on against his old club with O’Neill trying to push for an equaliser, with Souttar heading wide soon after on the end of substitute Vrančić’s cross.
Solanke later rattled the crossbar almost putting the game beyond the hosts, but the game fizzled out at 1-0 with Vrančić’s injury-time freekick being saved easily by Mark Travers.
O’Neill will be disappointed but needs to rally the team as they visit Millwall at the weekend.
By Fletcher Smith, Bradford City writer
The Bantams had the potential to move up to fifth if results went in their favour, only thing stopping them was the worst away side in League Two this season.
The visitors started the fixture in perfect fashion, Mark Cullen gave the Pools the lead after the initial strike was saved by Richard O’Donnell.
The Bantams had a steep hill to climb, in attempt to draw level Cooke’s first-time effort from 20-yards was arrowed narrowly wide.
Hartlepool controlling display paid off for another chance in the 20th minute. Gavan Holohan made an unmarked run into the box which allowed him a strike on-goal, O'Donnell collected this effort easily.
Sutton nearly levelled the terms for the poorly-performing Bantams; Andy Cook headed a long-range pass down for Levi. After a short run his strike missed the targeted bottom right corner.
Molyneux nearly doubled the visitors lead moments later. He found himself in a one-on-one position but the forward missed a key opportunity as the attempt was sent just-wide.
City’s star-man Charles Vernam was inches away from equalising the clash on the blink of half time. The initial attempt was blocked heroically which set up Charles for a second-strike which seemed destined for the bottom-corner but Ben Killip did well to collect.
The second half started slowly for the Bantams as they seemed unable to get into their full stride and gain some valuable momentum in attempt to draw level.
After a decent spell of possession Derek Adam’s side were rewarded with a corner. Cooke's inswinger was deflected towards Oscar Threlkeld at the edge of the area, the first-time effort was sent miles over.
The host's deficit was doubled after Mark Cullen doubled his tally. A simple one-two on the right flank opened the Bantams defence which allowed a powerful driven pass to be sent across the 6-yard area. The Pools number nine was in the right position to tap the loose ball in comfortably.
Despite Bradford’s poor performance captain O’Connor gave them a lifeline 20 minutes before the end. Cooke's looped cross met Paudie, who's header rattled in the top-left corner.
In Bradford’s attempt to draw level an audacious halfway line effort forced Killip to tip the ball for a corner.
To add salt to the wound Yann Songo’o deflected the non-pressured ball into his own net which extended the visitors advantage to two goals.
Derek Adam’s side was unable to gather the momentum anytime throughout the clash and overall were very edgy which resulted in Hartlepool returning to the north east with all three points.
By Louis Pantziarka, Chelsea writer
On Wednesday night Champions League holders Chelsea welcome Swedish champions Malmo to Stamford Bridge for match day three of Europe’s elite competition.
The Blues will be looking to bounce back from their disappointing defeat to Juventus, but will be buoyed by a well-fought three points picked up in the Premier League on Saturday. As has largely been the case so far this season, Chelsea weren’t at their best for that game, but managed to grind out the win. Ben Chilwell summed it up pretty well when he described the final twenty minutes as “hell on Earth”.
Thomas Tuchel will be looking for more than just a victory against inferior opposition on Wednesday though. His team are yet to hit top gear this season, with a lack of creativity starting to shine through. Considering the attacking players at his disposal, that’s quite a surprise.
Mason Mount and Kai Havertz started the season as Chelsea’s creators-in-chief, but they’ve dropped off recently. Timo Werner looked lively against Brentford, but could struggle coming up against what is likely to be a more deep-lying defensive unit, with little space to run in behind.
Christian Pulisic is still on his way back from injury and will miss this one, but Reece James is back in contention to start. Despite that, I’d like to see Callum Hudson-Odoi in at right wing back, with his ability to beat a man potentially key.
It will also be interesting to see if Ruben Loftus-Cheek retains his place in the starting eleven. The powerful midfielder was arguably Chelsea’s stand-out performer against Brentford and deserves a run in the team. Fellow powerhouse Romelu Lukaku is seeing a lot of game time at the moment, but hasn’t scored in six games. With all due respect to Malmo, this could be the perfect match for him to break that duck.
This should be pretty straightforward for the Blues – there’s an important three points up for grabs, but Tuchel will know his team are under the spotlight. They could do with a comfortable win to build some momentum. With Norwich on the weekend, this could be the start of a good run for Chelsea.
By Lauren Whitehead, Huddersfield Town writer
Huddersfield Town host Birmingham City today which could see a win boost their promotion hopes even further.
The Terriers moved into the top six last weekend after a 2-0 win over Hull City, whereas Birmingham sit in 19th, having won just three games so far this season and drawing just one of their last five.
Ivan Sanchez and Maxime Colin will both be absent with injury which will be a big blow for the Blues.
Huddersfield, on the other hand, will still be without Vallejo; alongside Pipa, Jordan Rhodes, Ryan Schofield and Aaron Rowe.
Matty Pearson has been back in training despite going off with a stomach virus during Saturday’s game.
There are likely to be little or no changes to the squad this evening with all players still being available.
The last five meetings with the Blues have seen two Huddersfield wins and two ties, with Fraizer Campbell scoring in three of his four meetings with the visitors.
Carlos Corberan’s side will again be aiming to build on a successful and consistent run, however they need not enter the game complacent.
Backing a win for either of the two teams will earn you 18 Footrace points, whereas a draw brings in 20, meaning it’s all to play for both on and off the pitch.
By Jude Hall, Sheffield Wednesday writer
Darren Moore will be hoping his side can bounce back after Saturday’s late disappointment as they face 18th place Cambridge United at The Abbey Stadium.
Both teams come into Tuesday night’s game following 2-2 draws but in contrasting fashion. Whilst The Owls were frustrated by letting their two-goal lead slip at Wimbledon, it was The Us who made the comeback in their fixture, snatching a late point against promotion hopefuls Ipswich courtesy of an 88th minute Joe Ironside leveller after being 2-0 down.
In their first season in the third tier since 2002, Cambridge have already caused a couple of upsets beating early season promotion favourites Lincoln and Portsmouth already this campaign. Last year’s League Two runners-up have made a steady start to life back at this level taking 14 points from their opening 11 fixtures, losing just three times.
Despite promotion last term, Mark Bonner’s side lost last season’s top scorer over the summer when Paul Mullin joined National League Wrexham following a 32-goal season in the fourth division. However, the Yellows have had no issues finding a replacement marksman with Joe Ironside stepping up to the plate, the Blades academy graduate netting six times since the start of the season.
Wes Hoolahan is another name with plenty of pedigree amongst the Cambridge ranks having made over 100 premier league appearances for Norwich City. Despite playing at the tender age of 39, the former Republic of Ireland midfielder is clearly still capable having directly contributed to 16 goals last season and racking up five assists since Cambridge’s return to League One.
Dennis Adeniran is expected to return to the travelling squad after he re-joined training this week following injury whilst George Byers, Sam Hutchinson, Lewis Gibson and Massimo Luongo are still thought to be out. Despite their injury list Wednesday come into this one as favourites with 10 points available for an away win. However, if the hosts end their four-game winless run there’s 30 points up for grabs. Have your say on the ‘play’ section now.
By Finley Chung, Sutton United Writer
In Sunday’s FA Cup First Round draw, Sutton United were drawn against the winners of the replay between Hayes and Yeading United of the Southern League South Premier Division, or Dorking Wanderers of the National League South. This is Sutton’s first time in the competition as a Football League club and will be looking forward to the encounter which takes place on the weekend of 5th-7th November.
Back to league action, the visit of Swindon Town looms on the horizon as they head to the VBS on Tuesday night. Sutton’s heroics at Crawley on Saturday saw them rise to fifth in the league and it was their fourth league win on the spin. If Sutton were to make it five wins on the spin, that could lift them into second, if other results go their way. They won’t be getting carried away however, as visitors Swindon Town haven’t tasted defeat in the league since September and will be a stern test for Matt Gray’s side.
The visitors will be looking to Jack Payne and Tyreece Simpson, who both have four goals to their name this season and both will the looking to add to their tallies on Tuesday. Tuesday’s visitors have conceded 10 goals this season and scored 16, with Sutton having scored 17 and conceded 11. Stats like this really prove how even this game will seem to be on Tuesday night, with any points for either side will be pinitol as we approach the mid-way stage of the season.
In terms of the Footrace points up for grabs from this fixture, backing a home win will see you earn 12 points to your weekly total. Adding ten to that total will leave you with 22 if you think the points will be shared and 25 points are up for grabs if you think 3 points are heading back to Swindon.
By Charlotte Atherton, Wigan Athletic writer
Wigan Athletic welcome MK Dons to the DW Stadium on Tuesday night for the latest instalment of Sky Bet League One fixtures.
Latics head into the game high off the back of their 4-0 win over their local rivals, Bolton Wanderers, at the weekend.
Despite a convincing win on Saturday, Wigan remain in third place in the table but they are hot on the tails of Wycombe Wanders and Plymouth Argyle above them.
Wigan have two games in hand on some sides in League One and they will be hoping to pick up their ninth win of the season against MK Dons.
MK Dons have been one of the surprise packages of the season so far, currently occupying the final play-off spot on the table.
The Dons opening 12 fixtures of the campaign have played out as five wins, four draws and three losses.
Yet, they travel to the North West on the back of back to back defeats, having not picked up a point in October so far.
Wigan manager Leam Richardson may be forced into changing his squad around slightly for the first time in seven games for the fixture.
Jordan Cousins was substituted off against Bolton at the weekend, with a suspected hamstring injury.
As a result, Max Power could be moved from right back to midfield as Tom Pearce will be hoping to make his return to the starting XI.
On Saturday, Wigan recorded their joint best start to a season since being elected to the Football League and they will be hoping to continue their good form with a result against MK Dons under the lights at the DW Stadium.
There are just 10 points available for a Wigan win, while there are 30 on offer if you back MK Dons to come away with an away victory on Tuesday night.
By Fletcher Smith, Bradford City writer
The Bantams are looking to retain their impressive performance which saw them, unfortunately, conceding in the last minute which limited the hosts to only one point, here’s a recap of what happened:
The Bantams were rewarded for their outstanding performance after Charles Vernam finished a close-range effort following a rebounded save from Yann Songo’o’s effort was saved brilliantly.
Half time shortly followed from City’s deadlock breaker; it was an outstanding performance so far for the home side who could be two-three up at the break. The visitors enjoyed some attacking intent in the final stages but nothing dangerous.
Joey Barton’s half time team-talk was very effective and the visitors were back level instantly after Alfie Kilgour converted a corner into the top left corner.
Derek Adam’s side responded minutes later and regained their advantage. Vernam beat his man on the left-flank and placed the ball into the path of Andy Cook, City’s number nine converted the ball calmly into the top-left corner.
After the hosts regained the lead, the fixture became an end-to-end affair with Bristol showing some real attacking intent. Andy Cook had the ball in the net as he believed he doubled his tally; his powerful header was accused offside and the score remained the same.
After a nervy end to the clash Brett Pitman snatched a point for the traveling side, the centre forwards loping header beat O’Donnell and discredited Bradford from a great performance.
Newly promoted Hartlepool United have made an impressive start to the 21/22 campaign after claiming 17 points so far and placing themselves in 11th. Their most recent fixture concluded in a 2-0 defeat to Salford City.
This is the first league meeting between the Bantams and the Pools since 2005, which ended in Hartlepool claiming all three points in a 1-0 victory.
The player who could be the star-man for tomorrows clash is Charles Vernam. City’s in-form winger recorded another goal and assist against Bristol Rovers, boosting his goal contribution to six so far.
The Bantams injury situation is still a massive problem regarding selection options for Derek Adams, Eisa picked up another injury on Friday and has no current time-scale for his return. Angol and Canavan are not expected to feature in this clash but are very close to returning.
A home win for Bradford gives you 8 points and an away win for the Pools claims another 35 points.
By Lewis Robinson, Chief Football Writer
Club Bruges vs Manchester City
Kicking off the Footrace round, Manchester City travel to Belgium to face Club Bruges Tuesday teatime.
Blauw-Zwart have made an impressive start to the Champions League campaign, holding PSG to a 1-1 draw in their first game and then beating RB Leipzig away from home 2-1.
Consequently, Pep Guardiola’s side can not afford complacency, especially being positioned 3rd in the group as it stands.
City may be boosted by the return of Ederson and Gabriel Jesus from international break, whilst Kevin De Bruyne seems to be coming back into form after his injury.
City should have enough quality to come through against Bruges, but with the Belgian side’s strong start to their European campaign, Philippe Clement’s men could be tough opposition for Guardiola’s City side.
Atlético Madrid vs Liverpool
After a resounding 5-0 win against Watford, Liverpool travel to Spain on Tuesday to take on Atlético Madrid.
Atletico on the other hand have not played since October 2, in an impressive 2-0 win against Barcelona.
The two week rest for Colchoneros could provide a big advantage against the Reds, with Liverpool playing Saturday and travelling to Spain for the game Tuesday.
Liverpool do have the advantage of having Mohamed Salah however, with many people in football saying the Egyptian is currently the best player in the world.
Jurgen Klopp’s men do however have bad memories against Atletico, being knocked out by the Spanish outfit in the last 16 of the Champions League in the 2019/20 season.
Liverpool are currently 2nd in the Premier League, with Atletico Madrid are 4th in La Liga. Atletico lost their league game prior to their win against Barca, whilst Liverpool haven’t lost a game all season, in all competitions.
Form certainly favours the Reds, but how many times have we seen a European masterclass by Simeone under the lights?
Manchester United vs Atalanta
Under pressure Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will face scrutiny as his Manchester United side take on Italian outfit Atalanta on Wednesday night.
United’s last win in any competition came in the Champions League, beating Villareal 2-1 back in September. Atalanta were also victorious in their last European outing, beating Young Boys 1-0.
The Red Devils’ rocky Premier League form means they currently lie in 6th, likewise to Atalanta, who are 6th in Serie A.
The Italian visitors will be no pushovers however, currently sitting top of Group F and unbeaten in this year’s competition so far. The same cannot be said for their opponents, who are 3rd in the group after a defeat to Young Boys in the last round.
Atalanta will be an untimely tricky test for Solskjaer in an important game for Manchester United’s European exploits.
Chelsea vs Malmö FF
Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea look to be finding their feet once again after a shaky period not seen under the German’s stewardship.
The opposition for the Blues are Malmo, currently top of the Swedish top division. The same can be said for Chelsea, who returned to the top of the Premier League after beating Brentford 1-0.
In terms of the Champions League group, Malmo sit bottom of Group H after losing both of their games. Chelsea sit in second, winning one and losing one - their previous game in Europe, losing 1-0 to Juventus in Turin. In fact, every Champions League game the Blues have played so far has finished 1-0. Something to consider perhaps if you decide to place a prediction on this one.
You would think Chelsea would be capable of beating Malmo by a bigger margin, but like we saw with Sheriff, nothing is a given in this competition.
By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer
After a disappointing trip to Sheffield at the weekend, Stoke City will be looking to return to winning ways, seeing their promotion attempts hampered by a 2-1 loss to Sheffield United.
They face stiff competition on Tuesday night as they host league leaders Bournemouth at the Britannia Stadium, a side that have failed to register a single loss so far in the Championship.
Despite an excellent first-half performance from Stoke at Sheffield, they will need to step up their game to maintain their good home form against an in-form Bournemouth.
The Cherries ran away 2-0 winners at Bristol City on Saturday with little room for improvement in their game to bring to Stoke. Scott Parker’s side will look to keep their scoring ways going at the Britannia.
Stoke will be unlikely to make any changes for the game. However, their recent performances have given hope for fans that any team in the Championship is fair game in a home match.
There could be one or two changes if Michael O’Neill looks to change tactics with the possibility of Jordan Thompson coming into midfield alongside either Joe Allen or Romaine Sawyers.
James Chester could be rested after starting the last game with the possibility of Leo Østigård returning in defence. Tyrese Campbell could be ready to make an appearance after training again more consistently after his long-term injury and featuring for the U23’s four times now.
Abdallah Sima will remain out of action for at least another week with his ankle injury, and Morgan Fox will still be out with his long-term hamstring injuries.
Scott Parker’s side will remain without David Brooks, Adam Smith, and Lewis Cook. Although, their selection choices will be bolstered by the return of the suspended Ben Pearson.
Stoke City will need to remain solid in defence and press on the attack to get anything from the unbeaten league leaders Bournemouth.