By Charlotte Atherton, Wigan Athletic writer
Wigan Athletic will be hoping to get back to winning ways this weekend as they travel to the Priestfield Stadium to face Gillingham for another round of Sky Bet League One action.
Wigan lost for the first time since the opening day of the season on Tuesday night after failing to overcome Sheffield Wednesday at the DW Stadium.
Now, the Latics will be hoping to mark the start of a new run with an away victory over Gillingham – something they have not managed to achieve in their last four away meetings against The Gills.
While Wigan sit in second place in the table, Gillingham are currently 18th after a difficult start to the season. However, The Gills do appear to be gaining some momentum having won their most recent match and drawing the two before.
For the trip, Wigan manager Leam Richardson may decide to rest a couple of players after an intense run of games recently.
One player who will be eager to impress tomorrow will be that of Will Keane. Having just received his first international call up with the Republic of Ireland first team, the striker will no doubt want to further prove he deserves it by heading into the international break on a high with his club.
Despite losing in midweek, Charlie Wyke found himself on the scoresheet again for The Latics. He now has four goals in three games and will be desperate to add to his tally this weekend.
There are just seven points available if you opt for Wigan to get back to winning ways at the weekend, while there are 40 points available if you back Gillingham to get their first back-to-back victory of the season.
By Fletcher Smith, Bradford City writer
The Bantams have had a disapointing 5 weeks of results after recording 2 points out of a possible 15, Derek Adam’s side are currently 12th with 12 points. Bradford’s most recent result was a defeat to West-Sussex side Crawley following goals from Will Ferry and Nicholas Tsaroulla which sunk the visitors hopes of claiming a point despite Callum Cooke’s late strike.
Rochdale were also defeated on matchweek 9 in the wake of their 1-0 loss to strugglers Oldham Athletic after Davis Keillor-Dunn's 59th minute strike secured the victory for the visitors. The Dale have claimed 8 points out of a possible 15 which was boosted by back-to-back truimphs against Tranmere and Port Vale.
The player to watch for this fixture is the host’s Charles Vernam, the skillfull winger possess a reputation of being a hazard for opposistions so far this season after creating an average of 1.93 chances per 90 minutes so far this campaign, the highest in the league. In City’s recent home clash against Barrow, Vernam bagged the equaliser from a close-range header was sent into the roof of the net.
The Bantam’s currently have 5 first-team candidates injured, Lee Angol, Niall Canavan, Abo Eisa, Theo Robinson and Caolan Lavery are unavailable for this clash due to injuries and are expected to be back in October which leaves Derek Adam’s side weak up-front.
A home win for Bradford gives you 10 points and an away win for Barrow claims 30 points for this fixture.
By Nathan Shields, Manchester United writer
In mid-week, United stole the points in the game's dying embers as they fought to win 2-1 in the Champions League against Villarreal.
Their next challenge comes in Premier League competition against Everton, at Old Trafford as the home look to bounce back in the league after last Saturday's home defeat against Aston Villa.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka is back available to play as his suspension is in European competition only.
Luke Shaw missed Wednesday's game through illness. Ole gave an update on Shaw's status for Saturday's game in his pre-match press conference on Friday:
"Luke feels better in himself. He's been ill, but he's still got the shoulder injury",
"We've got to make a decision on him."
Marcus Rashford trained fully for the first time with contact since his shoulder surgery on Friday.
Solksjaer provided an update on when he will be back in contention to feature in a different interview with club media:
"Marcus is fit, he's worked really hard, but he's not had any contact [until now]," Ole added in a separate interview with club media.
"If his shoulder can take the contact now, he should be ready after the internationals."
Captain Harry Maguire is still a few weeks away from returning after suffering a calf injury during last Saturday's defeat to Aston Villa; Ivory Coast winger Amad is the only other absentee.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Seamus Coleman are both out with thigh injuries. Despite having resumed training, they are not yet fit enough for first-team football.
In his pre-match press conference, Everton manager Rafa Benitez also ruled Richarlison and Andre Gomes out of contention.
England’s number one Jordan Pickford should be ready to return in goal for the Toffees, and Jean-Pierre Gbamin is fit again.
By Finley Chung, League Two editor
Deep in England’s fourth tier of the Football Pyramid, League 2, thousands of football fans flock to stadiums week in week out, creating an atmosphere that is brilliant and for 99% of match going supporters, is part of the day out. Sadly, for female football fans up and down the country, not just in League 2, they are subjected to horrendous abuse at games, simply because of their gender. Constant remarks, hate sent on twitter just for commenting on football simply isn’t on. Organisations such as Her Game Too (HGT) are so vital in highlighting this and bringing people together, making people realise that people can simply watch and comment on football, without bearing judgement.
Two League Two supporters who are very vocal on the situation, are Her Game Too co-founder Lucy Ford, who is a Bristol Rovers supporter, and Sarah Aitchson, who follows EFL newbies, Sutton United. They kindly answered some questions for us about HGT and what people can do to help combat sexist abuse in the game.
As one of the founders of HGT, Lucy touched on the brilliance of the Her Game Too campaign and the support it has gained.
“It’s incredible to think we only started four months ago. The 12 girls who founded HGT, myself included knew this campaign was one we all needed as we all have received sexist abuse, just for being female football fans, but for the original video to receive a million views on Twitter in just over 24 hours, still blows my mind and to have clubs in the Football League want to partner with us already is just amazing”.
Sarah also touched on the impact of HGT, for someone who wasn’t a founder, feels very much part of the community. “With HGT, it finally feels like we have a unified voice. With so many of us standing together and saying no, this is not good enough and needs to change, people are beginning to take it more seriously, I think? Perhaps because they're surprised by the extent of the problem which they didn't previously realise”.
As with all campaigns, HGT has its own individual role and purpose, below, Lucy lists what exactly HGT is and how it works.
"So, HerGameToo is a campaign which was set up in May 2021 by 12 female football fans to raise awareness of sexist abuse in football. The campaign’s aims are: to create awareness, educate fans, do research, develop a strong sense of community, create regular content to champion women in football (players, staff AND fans), create strong relationships with clubs, create strong relationships with club trusts and communities, have a presence at football grounds and sports bars to build a more welcoming environment for young girls and women, continue to campaign against sexism in football, and continue to campaign against online abuse."
We encourage female football fans to share their experiences going to games on social media, but also sharing their experiences of any sexist abuse they have received or have witnessed. Touching on this point, Sarah goes on to say, “Twitter is quite good for this, particularly using the HGT hashtag which means you can do a search and demonstrate the extent of the problem if lots of people are using the same hashtag. A bonus is if you tag in the club's official account then they are faced with a choice of whether to be seen publicly to be ignoring the abuse of fans at their club or be seen to be taking appropriate action. They have reputations to uphold so that should help some of them do the right thing. And if fans see their clubs respond appropriately then it sends a clear message that yes this is a problem, and it isn't welcome at our club. I want to see more of that”.
On the HGT website, there is a report from where any form of abuse, whether it is seen or experienced themselves can report. This can either be done anonymously or leaving their name and contact details. This could potentially lead to following up with the club that the offence is reported at.
As a final touch, Sarah left a wonderful message of gratitude for people stepping forward and revealing the tales of abuse being suffered at games. “Thank you. There is strength in numbers and the more of us stand up and show this is a real issue, the more seriously it will eventually be taken. Because we're not yet there, it takes courage to stand up and speak out because there will often be more trolls to jeer at your stories of abuse. So, if you've shared your experience despite all that, well done. Keep on fighting and it will get better”.
If any of the issues that have been raised have affected you or you need someone to chat too, please don’t hesitate to get in contact. We’re all here to help. Let’s make football everyone’s game. Her Game too can be found on Twitter (@HerGameToo, or the created #HerGameToo), Facebook (Her Game Too) and also on Instagram (@HerGameToo). Finally, there is a website (www.hergametoo.co.uk) and an email address for people to contact, firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Archie Burkinshaw, Tottenham Hotspur writer
When Harry Kane came on mid-way through the second half Tottenham were 2-1 up and looking nervy against NŠ Mura, a Serbian side who were formed in 2012. Twenty minutes later, three trademark Kane finishes had put Spurs comfortably 5-1 ahead to save the hosts any more embarrassment after their humbling defeat by Arsenal last Sunday.
In my previous reports I have spoken about Tottenham’s fringe players not stepping up to the mark in cup games, meaning key squad members don’t get a rest. Last night was a prime example of this, a blistering opening eight minutes where a Dele Alli penalty and a fabulous Giovani Lo Celso strike put Spurs 2-0 up was undone by a brilliant Ziga Kous volley eight minutes into the second half. This spurred the visitors on following their poor first-half display where they only had 32% possession and no shots on target, the fact Tottenham didn’t put this game to bed without the help of Son, Kane and Moura must worry Nuno.
There were some positives to take from this game, Lo Celso played well especially after he had the front three mentioned above in front of him making brilliant runs. Kane was very much back amongst the goals after five Premier league games without scoring. Hopefully this hat-trick will leave him full of confidence going into this weekend’s game against Villa.
NŠ Mura are a poor side but a 5-1 victory against any opposition should always be seen as a very good thing. At the very least it will help Tottenham put the dismal Arsenal performance behind them, if they can now beat Aston Villa on Sunday, there will be some optimism for Spurs fans going into the international break.
By Jude Hall, Sheffield Wednesday writer
Darren Moore’s side will be looking to build on their midweek triumph over high-fliers Wigan Athletic as they face 8th placed Oxford United at Hillsborough.
The Owls stopped their rot of a month without a league victory when they claimed all three points at the DW on Tuesday night with a battling performance. In a game very much of two halves, Wednesday found themselves fortunate to be ahead at the break following a comical own-goal from Max Power in a 45 minutes mostly played at Wigan’s pace. However, The Owls made sure they were good value for the win with a dominant second half display including a superb half-volley from Callum Paterson who celebrated his first goal of the season in style.
Bailey Peacock-Farrell looked back to his best after a recent rough patch and can consider himself unlucky not keep a clean sheet, beaten only from the penalty spot in a performance that produced some fine saves from the Burnley loanee. The Yorkshire club can take huge confidence following Tuesday’s display, even more so that they were without captain Barry Bannan who could provide another boost should he return to the lineup this weekend.
Saturday’s visitors sit level on points with The Owls and will also come into this one fairly confident after enjoying a big win themselves midweek as they thumped Accrington Stanley 5-1. Managed by Karl Robinson, who has a League One promotion on his CV from his time at MK Dons, Oxford United know what it takes to be in the promotion mix at this level having made the playoffs in the previous two seasons and will be hoping to go one better this time around. One man who was key in those playoff campaigns and will be again this season is winger James Henry. The former Millwall man is a popular figure at the Kassam Stadium, raking up 162 league appearances for the Us, scoring on 44 occasions. Henry looks as though he will play a vital role for Robinson this season, with the 32-year-old bagging 4 goals already this term making him the club’s top scorer so far in the League One season.
Another man who is pivotal to Oxford United is their number nine Matty Taylor. Once an England C international, Taylor has a lethal record in the third division, most recently tallying 18 goals last season. Alike Henry, Taylor has also made a decent start this year netting three times. The veteran striker will be hoping he can add to his 34 goals for Oxford United this Saturday and is one that The Owls will have to keep an eye on.
Two names that will catch the eye of Owls supporters are those of Jordan Thorniley and Sam Winnall. Everton Youth product, Thorniley left Hillsborough in the summer of 2020 following 31 league appearances in The Owls defence. After promotion from this level with Blackpool last season, the 24-year-old signed on loan with the Yellows and has missed just one league game since joining. Sam Winnall on the other hand has had less involvement in Robinson’s team, sitting out their last four fixtures. The man who scored six times for The Owls also left in the summer of 2020 following release and has just four goals to his name in an Oxford shirt.
Darren Moore may have a few concerns with his selection after Sam Hutchinson had to go off at the DW. The stand-in skipper was moved back into the midfield and put in a solid trademark Sam Hutchinson performance, battling for every ball. Barry Bannan also could be a doubt for the weekend after he was an unused substitute midweek. Other than that there appears to be no new injury worries for Wednesday, with Josh Windass edging ever closer to his return which looks to be a matter of weeks away.
The last time these two clubs met in the league was in 1991, a year every Wednesdayite will have fond memories of as they secured promotion to the First Division, also winning the League Cup along
the way. However, it was Oxford who came out victorious in that fixture with a 2-0 win at Hillsborough. If the visitors can repeat that feat and record another win at S6 then 30 points are available for correctly predicting the away victory. In contrast, if Wednesday can continue their fine showing from Tuesday night 10 points are secured for backing The Owls to complete back-to-back wins. Have your say now at the ‘play’ section.
By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer
On Friday night Stoke City will welcome West Brom to Staffordshire as they hope to maintain their perfect home record. This will be no easy task as West Brom remain unbeaten in their ten Championship games so far this season, a record only equaled only by Bournemouth so far.
In stark contrast Stoke have only managed eight out of a possible fifteen points in their last five games. Though they have maintained a strong record at home, Stoke on the road have failed to register a win since August against Swansea.
Michael O’Neill will be struggling for choice in his midfield lineup, with three senior centre midfielders missing. Joe Allen remains out because of a toe injury, Sam Clucas will be serving a one match ban, and Romaine Sawyers cannot play against his parent club.
With the midfield needing to be rejigged to fit the players available, West Brom have a chance to steamroll their promotion rivals, with only Dara O’Shea unavailable.
The Baggies will be boosted by the return of Robert Snodgrass after an ankle injury earlier this month. On-loan Brighton defender Matt Clarke is available again after a hamstring injury that has ruled him out from selection since the win at Blackburn Rovers in August.
Valerien Ismael's side will be looking to continue their winning form that has picked up since returning from the international break. Stoke City will be looking to recreate their win at Hull City or the EFL Cup win at Premier League Watford as opposed to the frustration felt at Preston in their 1-1 draw.
In terms of points for this match, choosing the home side will net you 25 points, a draw gets you 22, and an away win in line with the Baggies form gets you only 12 points.
By Archie Burkinshaw, Tottenham Hotspur writer
Only a few months into Nuno Espírito Santo’s Tottenham career and he already finds himself going into a vital week where he must win both of his games with performances that give the fan base some hope moving forward.
His first opportunity to do this is against NS Mura on Thursday who currently sit bottom of Group G in the Europa Conference League, after they lost 2-0 to SBV Vitesse in the first round of fixtures. This would not only be a morale boosting win for the side but also an important three points after Spurs drew 2-2 away at Rennes, if they can’t beat the worst side in the group at home then qualification could be in doubt.
Tottenham have no fresh injury concerns going into this one, but Steven Bergwijn will again be missing with a foot injury, while Ryan Sessengnon is also unavailable. Nuno is expected to shuffle the pack with Gollini, Romero and Gil all expected to start after being on the bench on Sunday.
I’m predicting a 2-0 win for Tottenham, this is the perfect fixture to install some belief back into the side against poor opposition, a 2-0 win will gain me 65 points from Footrace. Footrace sees Tottenham as huge favourites for this game with 2 points for a win, whilst a draw will get you 65 points and if you are brave enough to predict a NS Mura win you will be rewarded with a whopping 120 points.
By Lewis Williamson, Stoke City writer
Michael O’Neill’s side took a trip to draw specialists Preston North End on Tuesday night in the hopes to secure all three points and move up into second place in the Championship.
The Potters employed a change of tactics with a 3-4-2-1 formation, seeing Mario Vrančić and Nick Powell moved up behind Jacob Brown for more attacking options.
Leo Skiri Østigård returned to defence in place of James Chester, and the previously suspended Tommy Smith took the place of Demeaco Duhaney on the right of midfield.
The final change made from last weekend’s win over Hull City was the inclusion of Jordan Thompson in place of Sam Clucas, making a pivot alongside Romaine Sawyers in the midfield four.
After the first five minutes, the visitors pressed the early advantage. They were rewarded for it as Nick Powell headed home a curling cross to the back post from wingback Josh Tymon, guiding the ball back across Daniel Iversen in the Preston goal.
Stoke came close again shortly after as a ball across the box by Mario Vrančić was sent goalward by wingback Tommy Smith, denied only by Iversen.
Iversen proved crucial again, staying large in the goal in a one-on-one with Nick Powell, getting his left hand to the shot that should have gone in.
Preston were finally rewarded at the other end, with a freekick guided past Adam Davies beautifully by Ben Whiteman. The ball managed to find the gap between the keeper’s hand and the crossbar.
After the break, the two sides remained even for the rest of the game, with Stoke City’s quick passing and counter-attacking runs matched by Preston’s high press and the excellent work of Daniel Iversen in the net.
Tymon came close again as Brown’s chance came back off the Preston defence but again was denied by Iversen. The favour was returned as Tymon hit a wonderful cross into the path of substitute Sam Surridge, whose side-foot volley went just wide.
All even, in the end, seeing Stoke drop two points in the push for promotion but five draws in five is not a bad run for Preston North End as they look to reach the top half of the table.
By Maurício Alencar, Footrace Football Expert
My dad’s biggest pet peeve: half-time binge drinking. After getting up from his seat to let the dizzy drunken man shuffle past just as half time is approaching, he starts cursing loudly and violently, albeit in Portuguese. Missing precious seconds of a football match sends him the wrong way. The English fan’s matchday habits of leaving seats early, or arriving late from the concourse, so that they can grab a pint at half-time has its collateral damage.
Last week, Tracey Crouch, who is leading the “fan-led review” of football governance, said in an interview with Matt Lawton of The Times that the government could lift the ban on drinking alcohol inside football grounds “in view” of the pitch. This ban has existed for 36 years due to the extent of hooliganism in the country. The new age of beer might be coming our way.
The sit-down-stand-up choreography, which is English football’s reluctant alternative to the Mexican Wave, is a famous routine, well known and excellently rehearsed by all fans who regularly attend matches. This routine may be happening a whole lot more often if the drinking ban is lifted. Why wait till half time to grab a drink? Very soon, you might be able to get your pint in midway through the first half. Cue the friendly yet frustrated chants of “is this a fire drill?”.
Supporters are allowed to drink at the cricket or the rugby “in view” of the pitch. With all due respect to cricket and rugby, football’s instants of excitement are often rarer, shorter, more dramatic, manic, adrenaline-fuelled, action-packed, moment-of-truth-charged, g’wan-silence-yeaaaah-defined. Football’s crazy. There are no tea breaks. There is no courtesy, or least any sign of respect, shown to an opposition player lining up their penalty kick.
When your team scores, the full pint in your hand might be up in the air, soaking all those around in warm, stale beer. Can you imagine the scenes: a thousand men dancing and singing under golden showers? If they’re selling Darkfruit Strongbow in the concourses, it won’t just be splashes of gold flying about in the stands, but also pink and purple. Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams, will surely be known as the Theatre of Drinks. Getting drenched in beer may be enticing for the young football mavericks, but it’s certainly not for all match attendants. There’s Boxpark on an England matchday for that.
Tracey Crouch makes the point that half-time drinking means “we kettle people into drinking quickly”. There are compromises to be dealt with though when it comes to football and drinking. It would perhaps be too harsh on English football fans to introduce Scottish football drinking rules, which would mean that all alcohol is forbidden in a football ground. On the other hand, it would most likely be far too permissive to let stands across the country once again turn into beery water parks, and let stadiums’ staircases turn into sticky slip n’ slides.
There is also a strong sentiment among the British public that football fans simply can’t be trusted. As shown on the recent documentary series Fever Pitch: The Rise of the Premier League, The Times wrote that football in the 1980s was a “slum sport played in slum stadiums and increasingly watched by slum stadiums”; many people believe that the culture of these darker times survives today; many perceived the scenes on Wembley Way in July to be the manifestation of this.
At first, the ban would only be lifted at lower leagues,so that data could be collected. Tracey Crouch’s main reason for lifting current restrictions on drinking was to help the lower league clubs, whose beer sales account for much of their annual income. Though it may be hypothetical to say so, mix beer with a sore defeat, and the pint cup could become an effective weapon for the football fan. You could see pint cups flying like arrows onto the pitch when the opposition scores, much like what the abusive Hungarian fans did against England. Matchday incomes earned might quickly be offloaded on FA fines and other policing costs. Then again, with that in mind, we could see more Declan Rice-inspired celebrations, where opposition players pretend to chug beer from cups. Surely, those celebrations would be so iconic that EA Sports would have no way of not including them in PEGI 3-rated FIFA games by 2024.
Booze seems set to return to football. The nature of this new age in drinking- a consolidated revival of hooliganism or the nativity for carnival atmospheres in football grounds?- will certainly be one to look out for.