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How to tackle the next £10,000,000 Colossus

How to tackle the next £10,000,000 Colossus

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Bristol City v Chesterfield (Saturday, 3pm)

Bristol City will be looking to preserve one of just four unbeaten records left in the top four English divisions when they host Chesterfield on Saturday.

After 11 matches the Robins lead the way in League One and are four points ahead of second place Swindon Town who have a game in hand.

The Westcountry side boast the best home form in the league with four wins and a draw scoring 10 and conceding only three times.

Four of their last five matches have involved three or more goals and history suggests we could see another high scoring affair here as six of the last seven meetings with Chesterfield have featured four goals or more.

The Spireites have adjusted well to life in a higher division after last term’s promotion and they now sit in sixth place having won five, drawn three and lost just two of their 10 league matches so far.

Paul Cook’s men have also been involved in some entertaining matches of late with four of their last five having at least five goals shared.

With this in mind I’m going to back Any Other Home win, 3-2 and 3-1 victories for Bristol City

AOH, 3-2, 3-1

 

Sheffield United v Leyton Orient (Saturday, 3pm)

Sheffield United and Leyton Orient will both be hoping for a win to kick start their season after relatively disappointing starts to the campaign.

After losing on penalties in last term’s play-off final Leyton Orient find themselves fifth-bottom with 10 points from as many games.

To make matters worse manager Russell Slade left the club during the week to take over at Championship side Cardiff City leaving Kevin Nugent in temporary charge.

The O’s are relying on their away form of late to keep them out of the relegation zone and are currently unbeaten on their travels in the league with two wins and three draws, whereas at home, the London outfit have lost four of their five games.

Meanwhile, after a strong start, Sheffield United have now lost two of their last three games and after finishing last season one place outside of the play-offs they’ll be determined to make sure they’re in the mix this time around.

The Blades have been inconsistent in the league winning five, drawing once and losing four times, but they do look tough to beat at home with three wins from four so far.

All five of their matches at Bramall Lane in all competitions this season have been settled by a single goal, which was also the outcome when these two teams met at Orient in September’s Capital One Cup clash with the away side winning 1-0.

Both of the head-to-heads last season were drawn as was one of the meetings the year before and I think we could see another closely fought match here.

My selections for this game are 2-1 and 1-0 to the hosts and a 1-1 draw.

2-1, 1-0, 1-1

 

Scotland v Georgia (Saturday, 5pm)

After losing their opener to Germany, Scotland will feel this is a must win game at home to Georgia if they are to have a strong chance of qualifying automatically.

Gordon Strachan’s men were unlucky not to gain at least a point away to the world champions last month – after a battling performance, Thomas Muller’s second of the game clinched victory with just 20 minutes left.

Three of the Scots’ next four qualifiers are at home so they’ll see this as the perfect opportunity to gain some early points and put the pressure on the rest of the group.

Before the defeat to the Germans, Scotland had not lost in six matches and their performance last month was enough for me to believe that they’ll come away with victory here.

Georgia lost their group opener at home to Ireland also by a 1-2 scoreline, which means they’ve now won just three of their last 16 games in all competitions with those victories coming against Albania, Liechtenstein and Saudi Arabia respectively.

I’m backing Scotland to return to winning ways here with 2-1, 2-0 and 1-0 selections.

2-1, 2-0, 1-0

 

Poland v Germany (Saturday, 7.45pm)

Poland and Germany will be looking to assert their position at the top of Group D when they meet on Saturday night.

The hosts swept aside minnows Gibraltar 7-0 in last month’s opener but Saturday’s fixture will take them from one extreme to the other.

Germany weren’t at their best in the 2-1 victory over Scotland but still managed to grind out the three points.

I think they’ll be in for another tough assignment here and although Poland are yet to win in their five meetings with the Germans, the latest two encounters have been drawn.

My selections for this match are 0-1 and 1-2 away wins.

0-1, 1-2

 

Barnsley v Bradford City (Sunday, 3pm)

Bradford will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to five league matches when they travel to Barnsley on Sunday.

The Bantams are in seventh with 5 wins, three draws and as many defeats, while they hold the second best away record in the division behind leaders Bristol City.

Phil Parkinson’s men are unbeaten on their travels with three wins and two stalemates and have conceded only twice and kept three clean sheets.

Barnsley meanwhile have struggled so far after last season’s relegation from the Championship and find themselves in 17th with three wins, three draws and four defeats.

The Tykes did manage to win last time out though – their first victory in six games – but their home record is the joint-third worst in the division after losing three of their four matches at Oakwell conceding 10.

Every visiting League One team to Barnsley has scored so far and it’s hard to see that not continuing here.

Interestingly the last four meetings have all been drawn at this ground with each one having a different scoreline.

My selection for this match is a 0-2 victory for Bradford.

0-2

 

Estonia v England (Sunday, 5pm)

***Written before the San Marino match***

Before the San Marino match England have responded well to their disappointing World Cup campaign by keeping clean sheets in the wins over Switzerland and Norway respectively.

Another victory and clean sheet was expected on Thursday night against the minnows of the group which would mean four successive shut outs for the first time since September 2006.

Estonia kicked off their qualifying campaign with a morale boosting late 1-0 home win over Slovenia who were reduced to 10 men with 11 minutes remaining.

Prior to that they had only won once in in their last six, but at home the Estonians are unbeaten in four and have only lost once in nine.

Holland needed a 90th minute penalty from Robin van Persie to rescue a 2-2 draw against them during the last World Cup qualifying campaign and they haven’t lost by more than two goals on their own patch since Ireland beat them 0-4 in 2011 – a run of 14 matches.

I’m expecting England to win here but it may take time for Roy Hodgson’s men to break the hosts down, so I’m opting for a 0-2 away victory.

0-2

 

Bosnia & H. v Belgium (Monday, 7.45pm)

***Written before Bosnia’s match with Wales and Belgium’s game with Andorra***

Two of the summer’s World Cup finals participants Bosnia & H. and Belgium square off on Monday night.

The hosts failed to get out of their group in Brazil and were disappointing against Nigeria. They put in a similarly lacklustre performance in the shock 1-2 defeat at home to Cyprus in their group opener last month and with a tricky away tie to Israel approaching they’ll be keen to get points on the board as soon as possible.

Belgium were heavy favourites to get their qualifying campaign off to a winning start against minnows Andorra on Friday night and this is a tournament that many people  believe they will do well in.

During the World Cup qualifying campaign they won all five away matches scoring 11 goals and conceding only once.

I think they can continue that impressive record during this campaign so I’m backing them to win 1-2 here.

1-2

By Andy Maynard

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