By Finley Chung, Sutton United writer.
84 minutes had gone when Isaac Olafoe rose highest to loop his header over Glenn Morris to send the Sutton United traveling contingent into bedlam and see them rise to fifth in the League Two standings!
Sutton had Craig Eastmond pull out in training due to an injury, but it allowed Harry Beautyman to keep his place in the Starting XI after the Papa John’s Trophy win at Portsmouth and assumed the captaincy for this latest League encounter. Tom Nicholls was the first to test the defence for Crawley, seeing his shot beaten away by Dean Bouzanis in the Sutton goal. His opposite number, Glenn Morris who was making his 500thCrawley appearance tipped a Rob Milsom free kick over the bar. Richie Bennett unleashed the best chance of the first half on 33 minutes, taking aim from around 30 yards and smashing an effort goalward which was superbly kept about by Morris. Donovan Wilson had the final chance of the first half for the visitors, arrowing a shot in but it lacked power and was well held by Morris.
The second half started with Enzio Boldewijn escaping down the left and his cross hit his intended target and Wilson’s effort was deflected wide by Tony Craig. George Francomb slotted through Will Ferry for Crawley but last week’s goalscoring hero, Coby Rowe, applied enough pressure to force Ferry’s shot to be easily saved by Bouzanis. Having just come on, Isaac Olafoe sent a volley just wide of the mark, before Boldewijn tested Morris and Beautyman sending a shot over the bar.
Sutton thought they might be made to pay for these chances when a classy, slick passing move sent Nicholls down the right and he whipped a cross over towards the onrushing Nick Tsaroulla who collided with David Ajiboye who sent the Crawley fullback tumbling and leaving the referee, Tom Nield to point to the spot, with Louis John and Rob Milsom being booked for their resulting protests. Tom Nicholls stepped up, but Bouzanis was equal to it, diving to his right to keep out the striker’s effort and save a spot kick for the first time in Sutton United colours. This save became even more important six minutes from time. Crawley substitute, Ludwig Francillette committed a foul and went into the referee’s notebook. From the resulting free kick that was whipped in by Milson, Kizzi headed the ball back across before an intervention from Nicholls skewed the ball high up in the air, on its way back down, Olafoe got the crucial touch to guide the ball past Morris into the corner and seal Sutton’s fourth win on the spin and send them into the top 5.
By Archie Burkinshaw, Tottenham Hotspur writer
What a time to play Newcastle United. Before the international break the winless Magpies looked to be in despair, sitting in 19th, having picked up three points from seven games. However, after it was announced that Newcastle owner Mike Ashley had agreed to sell the club to the Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in a 300 million pound deal, the atmosphere around the club changed somewhat.
Parties were held outside the stadium with jubilant fans across the country beside themselves that, overnight, Newcastle United had turned into the richest club in the world. There is no doubt that this is a sad day for football, as one of the worst regimes for human right abuses in the world has taken over a historic English football club. But unfortunately this is the way football has been going for decades now, optimised by events such as the proposed Super League and the Qatar 2022 World Cup (which I still can’t believe is actually happening).
I can see why Newcastle fans are ecstatic with the departure of Mike Ashley, as he has done nothing for Newcastle for several years but I was shocked to see 98% of fans supported the deal. There is part of me that would love Tottenham to be taken over by billionaires and buy our way to trophies, just like Manchester City. But by a country that as recently as 2018 was found guilty of killing journalist Jamal Khashoggi for being critical of crown prince Mohammad bin Salman, does make me question why there hasn’t been more of an outrage.
For all my questioning of Newcastle’s policy I do think it will play into Tottenham’s hands this weekend. All eyes will be on Newcastle to put in a wonderful performance following their historic announcement. The pressure is off Spurs after what has been a shaky start to the season for Nuno’s men. There is no greater motivation in football than to cause an upset and that’s exactly what it would be if Spurs were to beat Newcastle on Sunday.
It is important to remember Newcastle have the same group of players that have been performing terribly so far this season. Tottenham must take the game to the hosts, just like they did in their last game against Aston Villa.
Tottenham South Americans ’Lo Celso, Romero, Sanchez and Royal could feature against Newcastle after taking a private jet back to London after their respective games on Thursday night. Doherty is the only injury doubt after picking a knock on international duty.
I really hope Tottenham can bring Newcastle back to reality by beating them on their own patch on Sunday. I think Tottenham will just come out on top with a 2-1 victory, which will gain me 100 points on Footrace. Footrace has Spurs down as the favourites, offering 15 points for a win, 21 for a draw and 20 for a Newcastle victory.
By Nathan Shields, Manchester United writer
Up first for Solkjaer's reds after the international break is a trip to Leicester City.
Maguire has not trained since picking up an injury in the home defeat at the hands of Aston Villa, and his new centre-back partner Raphael Varane came off before half-time with a groin problem in the UEFA Nations League final for France, which will see him absent for several weeks, and will be out for a few weeks.
"Cross your fingers and hope for the best," Ole said at his pre-match press conference on Friday morning.
"Because as we see with Raphael, he's got an injury, out for a few weeks, but then again Victor and Eric played in the internationals and got good game time, so that was good for us."
Despite struggling with an injury picked up during the loss against Villa and illness, before the break, Luke Shaw played for England against Hungary and is fit, well and ready to play on Saturday.
The Old Trafford faithful will finally be able to welcome back Marcus Rashford back as he has recovered from shoulder surgery.
His time out also allowed his ankle injury to heal up completely. Meaning a completely fit and fresh Rashford is available for the first time in nearly a year.
Ole is likely to be unable to select South American's Fred and Edinson Cavani. They were involved in a South American World Cup qualifier in the early hours of Friday morning.
"With regards to Fred and Edinson, they played a full game this morning, half 1 it kicked off, so of course we're not counting on them," the boss added.
In the Leicester camp, long-term absentees James Justin and Wesley Fofana remain unavailable.
Nigerian midfielder Wilfred Ndidi has missed Leicester's most recent two games with a thigh injury and may miss out again this weekend.
Jonny Evans has been training after injury and illness and will want to prove his fitness and hope Foxes manager Brendan Rodgers selects him to play against his former side.
If you fancy the Red Devils for this one, they're worth 10 points for the win. While a draw is worth 25 points, and a victory for the Foxes is placed at 30 points.
By Lauren Whitehead, Huddersfield Town writer
Huddersfield Town host Hull City this Saturday in the hope of retaining their position near the top of the Championship table and hopefully honing in on securing a play off place.
The Terriers were able to secure a draw against Luton Town in their last game seeing them sit just outside the top six.
Hull, on the other hand, hover just one point above the relegation places having won just two games so far this season.
However, the Tigers will be pleased to welcome George Honeyman and Tom Huddlestone back into the squad this weekend which may see them improve on recent performance.
Huddersfield will also be delighted to see the return of key players Jonathan Hogg and Levi Colwill tomorrow evening, alongside those on international duty returning to training.
This weekend may also see Mipo Odubeko and Fraizer Campbell included amongst the substitutes, or perhaps even the latter within the starting XI.
On the other hand, Alex Vallejo will unfortunately be absent due to recent injury, alongside Pipa, Jordan Rhodes, Ryan Schofield and Aaron Rowe who still need longer to recover.
Carlos Corberan’s side will be aiming to build on what has recently been a successful and consistent run, with a few changes to the starting line-up likely to be made as a result of both player returns and their most recent goalless tie.
With what will undoubtedly be a tough game on the horizon, the Terriers should aim to play with the same determination that has earned them their place towards the top of the division and ensure that they take the next step towards securing a play-off position.
Backing a win for the hosts will earn you just 10 Footrace points, however a win for the Tigers draws in 30. A tie sees you gain 25 but the two teams themselves walk away with just a sole point each.
By Lewis Robinson, Chief Football Writer
Fulham vs QPR
We stay in the Championship and it’s another mouth watering fixture, as Fulham host QPR in a West London derby on Saturday lunchtime.
The hosts were emphatically beaten 4-1 away to Coventry in their last game, whilst QPR came out 3-2 winners at home to Preston.
Two points and one place separates the two sides, with Fulham currently being positioned in 5th, whilst the R’s occupy the last play-off place in 6th.
The Whites have made an inconsistent start to the season, making their games hard to predict. With a lot of money spent in the summer, Marco Silva will want his side to start building a consistent winning habit.
The unpredictable nature of these teams, along with the temperamental nature of a derby game, you’ll do well to get the result bang on. One thing is for certain, it will be a tasty affair.
A.F.C. Wimbledon vs Sheffield Wednesday
In what will be their first meeting in nearly 19 years, Wimbledon play hosts to Sheffield Wednesday.
It will have been two weeks since the Dons last played a game, drawing 1-1 at home to Burton. The Owls played last Saturday, beating Bolton 1-0 at Hillsborough.
Inconsistency has plagued these two sides, with Wednesday arguably underperforming considering the quality of the Owls squad.
The Dons are looking for their first win in a month and currently lie in 15th place in League One, whilst Wednesday sit in 10th. Form suggests an Owls win, but their recent inconsistency could provide Wimbledon with a little bit of hope.
Brentford vs Chelsea
The Bees face Chelsea in the pair’s first top-flight meeting since 1947.
Brentford have made a bright start to the Premier League, sitting in 7th place after 12 games. Chelsea however are setting the pace, sitting top of the Premier League after only conceding three goals, joint best with Manchester City.
Brentford are also unbeaten against London opposition, beating both Arsenal and West Ham and drawing with Crystal Palace. Chelsea however have not lost away from home so far this season, with their only defeat in the league coming from Pep Guardiola’s City side.
However Thomas Tuchel faces a selection headache, with Antonio Rudiger, Thiago Silva, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic all being injured for the West London derby. The Blues still possess a lot of firepower that is more than capable of causing the Brentford defence problems.
Can Brentford earn more plaudits on Saturday evening?
Arsenal vs Crystal Palace
Patrick Vieira returns to Arsenal but in the opposing dugout, as his Crystal Palace take on the Gunners on Monday night.
A recent up-turn in form has created a sense of optimism around the Emirates, a stark contrast to the anguish to the start of Arteta’s side.
Palace have also made a promising start, losing only twice, to both Liverpool and Chelsea. In their previous game, Palace came from behind to draw with Leicester after falling two goals behind. Arsenal ground out a 0-0 draw with Brighton in their last game.
Two teams in transition, whatever the result, there is sure to be some exciting youth talent on display.
By Owain Wyse, Sheffield United writer
4th place Stoke travel to S2 for a three o’clock kick off on Saturday. The visitors have started the season well and sit just 1 point outside the automatic promotion places. Despite being ten places behind their opponents Slavisa Jokanovic’s side will be hoping to show what they are capable of as they look to move up the table towards the top 6.
United will be bolstered by a nearly fully fit forward line with Jokanovic saying that “all three (Mousset, McBurnie, McGoldrick) of them are fully fit and have worked this international break normally”. Despite the break however it is unlikely that any of Rhys Norrington- Davies, Ollie Burke, Luke Freeman or record signing Sander Berge will be available for selection this weekend. George Baldock is also a doubt, which could hand a start to flying wing back Jaydon Bogle..
United have struggled so far this season to adjust to the new bosses way of playing coupled with a lack of goals it has led to very inconsistent runs of form. Jokanovic has acknowledged the Blades disappointing start to the season and has called for a continuation of improvement “This process can not stop. We need to be brave and try to improve ourselves. We need commitment and trust. We play better football and be more competitive”. Off the back of two defeats before the break United will be wanting to put this run right quickly as they try to keep tabs with their rivals for promotion.
The two sides have done a good job of dodging each other in recent times only facing off twice in the last 18 years. However many Blades fans will remember the promotion party at the Bet 365 stadium in May 2019 when Kieran Dowell and Enda Stevens scored to secure a draw against the then Nathan Jones side on the final day of the season.
Stoke have started the season well, before the international break handed league leaders West Brom their first defeat of the season and Michael O’Neil’s side are looking strong candidates for a playoff place despite it still being early in the season. Stoke are still without the services of exciting young striker Tyrese Campbell however Nick Powell and Sam Surridge have stepped up and have 6 and 4 goals respectively across all competitions.
United haven’t lost in 4 at home whereas, Stoke don’t travel particularly well with just one win in their last 5 away games. With this in mind I am going for a competitive tactical match up with both sides pushing hard to get one over their fellow promotion chasers and I am predicting a 2-2 draw.
By Charlotte Atherton, Wigan Athletic writer
Wigan Athletic travel to their local rival Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, hoping to regain their place at the top of League One.
The Latics lost top spot on the table last weekend after not playing due to four players being away on international duty.
Before the international break took hold, Wigan secured their seventh win of the season with a deserved 2-0 victory over Gillingham.
The Latics have two games in hand on this Saturday’s rivals and five places currently separate the two sides in the league.
Bolton sit in eighth place, having most recently lost to Sheffield Wednesday by one goal to nil last weekend.
Despite this, Bolton manager Ian Evatt believes he has the best team in the league so Saturday won’t be an easy game for the traveling Latics side.
Leam Richardson appears to have found his strongest starting XI and so you can expect him to name an unchanged side for the sixth game running at the weekend.
Wigan have already faced Bolton once this season, with the Latics coming out victorious after an intense penalty shootout in the Carabao Cup.
4,000 Wigan fans are set to make the short journey to The University of Bolton Stadium for the fixture, so no matter the result it proves to be an exciting watch.
There are 15 points available for a Bolton win, while there are 20 if you back Latics to travel back with all three points.
By Fletcher Smith, Bradford City writer
The Bantams come into this fixture following a disappointing 0-0 performance against Newport which saw the Yorkshire side fall to 12th in the table.
The last time these two teams faced was in April 2019 which saw the Pirates triumph, courtesy of a Jonson Clarke-Harris 93rd minute winner which dented Bradford’s survival hopes even more.
Strugglers Bristol Rovers claimed their fourth victory of the campaign as they dismantled Carlisle 3-0 at the Memorial Stadium. The goals from Evans, Nicholson and Saunders added 3 points to Bristol Rovers tally and eased the pressure on Joey Barton.
The player who could be the star-man for tomorrows clash is Barnsley’s loanee Luke Thomas. Bristol's number seven recorded two assists in their previous fixture despite only playing 32 minutes. Similar to Thomas, Charles Vernam could be a menace for Joey Barton’s side to face. Charles has been very consistent at the Utilita Energy Stadium this campaign and has been one of the star-players so far for Derek Adams.
The Bantams seem to have many players back from injury for this clash, Eisa was selected for the bench last week but didn’t feature. Angol potentially could feature on the bench but in-doubt he’ll feature. Captain Niall Canavan is still out with injury and is predicted to return in the coming weeks.
A home win for Bradford gives you 7 points and an away win for the Pirates claims another 40 points.
By Ben Brown, Leeds United writer
Southampton will be looking for their first Premier League win of the season as Leeds United make the long trip down from Yorkshire to the south coast. The visitors sit two points and a place better off than their opponents in the early league standings, and will be looking to build on the commanding performance during their first league win for the season against Watford before the international break.
Both sides have notable absentees to contend with however, with Saints skipper James Ward-Prowse a big loss as he starts the first of a three-match ban following his red card in the 3-1 defeat against Chelsea. Striker Che Adams misses out after suffering a muscular injury on international duty with Scotland so Adam Armstrong is likely to be partnered up top again with Nathan Redmond for the goal shy home side, who scored their first goal in four games from the penalty spot in the aforementioned clash with the Blues. Jack Stephens remains a long-term absentee at the back.
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa stated his side will keep an eye on Kalvin Phillips, who pulled out of England duty due to a calf injury a fortnight ago, whilst new Brazil star Raphinha is unlikely to be involved after a 36-hour turnaround from his electric display against Uruguay. Adam Forshaw is back in the squad after a month out but Luke Ayling, Patrick Bamford and Robin Koch all remain absent.
With both sides missing key players and struggling for form it’s hard to pick out a clear winner between the two. The advantage of a home crowd pushes Southampton into slight favouritism on the site, with 15 points on offer for the result of a home win. Back the travelling whites to build on their first league win however and a tempting 20 points are on offer for those who successfully pick this result.
By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer
Stoke City will be aiming for a continued run of form after the international break as they travel to Sheffield United this Saturday.
Before the break, Stoke City beat promotion contenders West Brom 1-0 at home and will be looking to replicate this at Sheffield, who have lost their last two games in a row.
Last time out, Sheffield United travelled to league leaders Bournemouth, narrowly losing out 2-1 after a Dominic Solanke penalty drew the Cherries level before Philip Billing gave them the lead just three minutes after.
Stoke have seen the return of their international players, with the majority returning to full training, such as Joe Allen, with Jordan Thompson and Harry Souttar only joining in light training.
On the other hand, Morgan Fox and Abdallah SIma have not completely returned to training and are unlikely to feature at Sheffield. Similarly, Alfie Doughty has been out with illness, unlikely to return for the game.
Mario Vrančić and Nick Powell will likely feature in the side, looking to continue their brilliant form and bring the Potter’s closer to a promotion spot.
Tyrese Campbell, who has been out for a long-term injury, has featured in training for four full days in a row, looking likely to return in the next month or so after playing a few games for the U23’s.
Slavis Jokanovic will face a challenge in selection with the likes of George Baldock, Rhys Norrington-Davies, Oliver Burke and few others still out due to injury.
The coach has confirmed that all Blade’s strikers will be available for the match, looking to press Stoke’s defence to take away some points.
In terms of points, predicting a win from the in-form visitors will net you 25 points, predicting a draw between two reasonably even sides will get you 22 points, but backing the home side will only get you 12 points despite their lack of form and missing players.