Ahead of the latest Football League fixtures, Ross Gibson puts Wigan, Rotherham, Bradford, Sheff United and Carlisle under the spotlight.
Will Wigan turn their fortunes around?
Reigning League One champions Wigan Athletic have suffered a very slow start on their return to the Championship, and but for the poor form of Rotherham United they’d more than likely be bottom.
As it stands, the Latics are second-bottom on 11 points, but interestingly also on a goal difference of only -2, which suggests the team aren’t too far away from getting things right, and that the losses are only narrow ones. The stats back this up to – six losses in total, none have been by more than one goal.
A recent run of four games without a loss (one win, three draws) will give the team and fans the confidence that they will soon start to climb the table, and that the lack of luck in some of the losses they’ve suffered may be over.
They host the high-flying Seagulls this weekend, who are now above Huddersfield in third. The match will provide the Latics with a huge test, and will be a good indicator as to whether the side are slowly moving away from their slow start, or if there should still be an element of worry around the club.
Can Kenny Jackett work his magic at Rotherham United?
After just one win in 13 games thus far this season, including six consecutive defeats, it came as no surprise that Alan Stubbs was sacked as the manager of Rotherham on Wednesday.
Tuesday night’s defeat to Birmingham left the Millers six points adrift of safety, and on an incredible goal difference of minus 18.
Followers of the club on Twitter seem to have taken well to the news of Jackett’s appointment, but more so the Wolves fans (Jackett’s last club), who have been full of praise for their former gaffer.
Jackett has just one day to prepare his team for their home match with 10th-placed Reading on Saturday. The Royals are without a league victory in four games, which will fill the new manager with hope that he can kick-start his new job with a bang.
Can second-placed Bradford overcome in-form Sheffield United?
Without a doubt the most talked-about game this weekend in League One will be the one that takes place at Valley Parade on Saturday, between Bradford City and Sheffield United.
Bradford have sat in second place for over 20 days now, but that could come to an end should the Blades emerge victorious, and Bolton drop points.
United are unbeaten in the league since late August, and a run of seven wins out of nine has been key to their rise up the table, after a slow opening month on the whole.
Bradford had gone the whole season unbeaten until their loss to Oxford United last Saturday, and that was followed up by a disappointing draw at home to lowly Southend United on Tuesday.
With Bradford looking to get back on the winning streak, and Sheffield United keen on keeping up their good run, it’s sure to be a fantastic game – but one I’d suggest will be a low scoring one.
Keith Curle’s Carlisle to remain FL’s only unbeaten side?
Bradford’s previously mentioned loss to Oxford last weekend meant they lost their unbeaten start to the season, which left Carlisle United as the only side in the Football League to have started the season without recording a loss. Impressive.
Keith Curle has guided his side to third place in League Two, on 25 points, four points behind first-placed Plymouth Argyle, and one point behind second-placed Doncaster Rovers. They would likely be even hotter on the tail of the two sides above them, but seven draws from the opening 13 games has hampered them – if only a little.
The Cumbrians travel to Stevenage this Saturday, a side currently 18th in the league, before they then host Crawley a week later who are sat just outside the Play Offs in 9th.
Should Carlisle begin to turn some of those draws into wins, it will be very hard for the sides below them to keep up to their pace, considering they’ve already shown so far how hard a side they are to beat.
At the start of the season, I think any followers would have chopped their hand off to be sat where they are now, and there’s nothing to suggest they can’t finish at least third come May – meaning the promotion celebrations could ensue?
This week I’m going to do things a little different and go for an accumulator of the games that I have spoken about:
Sheffield United DRAW
Carlisle WIN – 44/1 with Betfair