Who will be League 1’s top scorer?

League 1’s race for top scorer could be a very contest as there are some very good strikers in the league this year who can score a lot of different types of goals.

The first player that could do the business this season is a striker that has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders this year and will be vital if the team want to achieve their targets. Chris Porter of Sheffield United has a really big season in front of him. He agreed a new two year deal in the summer so he now knows he has a bit of security and can go out and not worry about his future. He only scored 5 goals last season but one of those was in the playoff semi final against Stevenage so when the pressure is on he can score.

Andy Williams had a fantastic year last year and will be hoping he can perform to the same level for his new club Swindon Town and will be hoping that playing under Paolo Di Canio he can learn a thing or two in the process. He scored a lot of goals for former club Yeovil Town and now playing for a team that has realistic promotion ambitions he will surely get more.

Matt Tubbs had a good start to his career at Bournemouth by scoring on his debut but that was his only goal for the club last year as he struggled with injuries for the remainder of the campaign but there is no doubting his abilities and I am sure he will put away the chances in the coming season. He has proved his worth at every level he has played at so he will be hoping that League 1 is not a step too far and he can carry on his phenomenal goal scoring record.

New MK Dons signing Ryan Lowe will be hoping that he can get a good start to his time at the club and score the goals that finally get them promoted to the Championship. Lowe has been one of the best finishers in the lower leagues for a number of years now and even though he didn’t play as much as he would have liked for Sheffield Wednesday he still managed to get eight league goals. He will get more chances to start at MK Dons so I expect him to at least double that tally.

Dean Bowditch, yet another MK Dons player could also be a contender and that is down to the way they play football. They will create chances and it is down to the strikers to put them away and Bowditch has shown that he can score goals by getting into double figures for the last three consecutive seasons. He got 10 goals last season and you have to believe now he is 26 and more experienced he will be starting to hit his peak and will start getting more and more goals. However, he has played on the wing for them at times and this will lower his chances of scoring on a regular basis.

Who will win League 1?

Sheffield United unfortunately lost the playoff final last year on penalties against Huddersfield Town and are now facing a second season in League 1. But the team from Yorkshire are the favourites to win promotion and this is a very real possibility as they should really have gone up automatically last year but were just beaten to second place by neighbours Sheffield Wednesday. However, they were beaten yet again on penalties by Burton Albion in the Capital One Cup which will have surely damaged a bit of confidence in the camp. So far they have largely kept the same team as last year so will be very competitive and are rightly the favourites.

 

The nearly men of the division MK Dons will be hoping that this is their year and definitely won’t want to go through playoff heartache again. The play the best football in the league and love to pass the ball and Karl Robinson has to be given a lot of credit for that but at times they do seem to lack another option which cost them at times. The signing of Ryan Lowe could be crucial as he is a very good finisher and even though things didn’t quite go right for him at Sheffield Wednesday, I think he will suit his new clubs style of play.

Newly promoted Swindon Town are also considered one of the leading clubs in the division this year and with Paolo Di Canio in charge anything can happen there as he always demands the best from his players and his methods even though they can be slightly unorthodox seem to be doing the trick. The signing of James Collins and Andy Williams could prove to be a stroke of genius as they were brilliant defensively last year but didn’t have that striker to get 20 goals which they will need to get promoted from this league.

Bournemouth under Paul Groves could be considered contenders because they have a decent squad but I am still slightly surprised that so many teams are backing them because they don’t have a striker that has really scored a lot of goals in League 1 and their top scorer last year was Marc Pugh who got 12 goals. The team maybe didn’t quite live up to their chairman’s expectations last year so he will be wanting to see an improvement this time around.

Relegated Coventry City seem to have the best chance of all the teams that came down from the Championship last year to return at the first time of asking and this is definitely a make or break season for manager Andy Thorn who had to work with a lot of young players last year. Maybe they were always doomed because of this but Thorn definitely needs to put up a challenge if he wants to keep his job. They have signed a few decent players this summer, some with experience in Kevin Kilbane and others that had been tipped for big things like John Fleck so if they can get the right blend then the good times could return.

Sheffield Wednesday team against Sheffield United- My opinion

The big game is finally here and Gary Megson has some very big decisions to make, how much does he want to win the game or is it more about not losing for the Owls.

A loss would surely end any chance of finishing in the automatic places and Wednesday would then have to face the dreaded playoffs which are always difficult to predict. Therefore this is the last chance the club have to really put pressure on the Blades and I am going to choose a team which I think would be capable of winning the game

Goalkeeper- Nicky Weaver- Tough choice between him and Bywater but out of the two I just think Weaver has more big game experience and will want to win as he is a fan just like the majority will be at Hillsborough. He is the better shot stopper but maybe his communication isn’t the best. He gets the shirt for me as he is very consistent.

Right Back- Lewis Buxton- Possibly the only position on the pitch that not one person would argue with. The best fullback in the league, very solid in defence and provides a good attacking threat when he overlaps.

Left Back- Reda Johnson- Most improved player in the squad by a mile and although not originally a left back, he is the best at the club. His tough tackling has made him a fans favourite this season but can be a bit rash at times so I do expect him to get booked.

Centre Back- Danny Batth- The young loanee from Wolves has performed to a very high standard and is looking better and better every time he plays with him gaining more experience. Needs to stand up and be counted though as he could be in for a tricky afternoon against the Blades strike force.

Centre Back- Miguel LLera- This was a difficult one as Rob Jones is club captain but I just think at home against anyone in this division when teams will sit back you need one of your centre backs to be comfortable on the ball. This is exactly what he gives you and is no worse than Jones at defending anyway.

Left Midfielder- Mike Jones- This was a tricky one but I believe Megson should attack and play with two out and out wingers, pin back the opposition and go for the victory. Try and get in as many crosses as possible and who knows maybe this game will kick start his career at the club.

Centre Midfield- Jose Semedo- Another one that is not really up for debate, a candidate for signing of the season in League 1 never mind player of the year just at Wednesday. Could be crucial against the Blades midfield as whoever wins this battle will probably win the game.

Centre Midfield- Chris Lines- I would go for Lines because he can provide attacking quality from the centre but can be slightly inconsistent and sometimes games pass him by. In a derby there can be no passengers so it could be a risk but when you are at home you need to go for it. Megson may go for Prutton if he hasn’t been shifted to right of midfield just add extra steel in there but I think that is too negative so Lines gets the nod.

Right Midfield- Michail Antonio- Quick winger who will be looking to impress from the off. He will look to put in a lot of crosses and take on his defender so hopefully he will get involved and gets the crowd going every time he touches the ball. This could one of the most memorable debuts if he puts in a good performance and the team get the right result.

Striker- Gary Madine- Yes he is out of form but he is the top scorer and looked good before his injury. Maybe this is the sort of game that will get the fans back on his side and get back to scoring goals at a consistent rate. Sometimes he doesn’t look that bothered but surely when he sees the crowd before kickoff he will realise how big it is and put his all in.

Striker- Ryan Lowe- Another questionable decision but there is no doubt that when he is confident he will score goals at this level. I believe he just needs better balls from out wide instead of long balls from the back and he will produce the goods. He is an intelligent player and Madine will combine better with him as Chris O’Grady is too similar and that partnership hasn’t worked that well.

That is the team I would choose and there may be a lack of communication at the back with no real talkers in there which could prove costly but just because you can communicate well does not mean you will help anyone. Darren Purse was a perfect example of this, good leader, poor defender. The lineup is attacking and it should be the crowd will get right behind the team and the players will respond positively and it will hopefully spur them onto victory.

Do Sheffield Wednesday have the bottle to get promoted from League 1

Sheffield Wednesday are in danger of throwing away all of their good work throughout the season after suffering three defeats in a row against Exeter, Stevenage and now Chesterfield.

The game against Chesterfield was supposed to be a warm up to the big derby game against Sheffield United next week but with their recent results this could possibly be the worst upcoming fixture which is surprising as a few weeks ago the fans were all hoping the game would come quicker, this just shows how quickly football changes.

So, it’s down to the players and Gary Megson to prove they have the bottle in one of the biggest ever games to be played in the third tier of English football. This will not be easy but it could galvanise the team and a win could catapult them up the table and on a long unbeaten run so the fans need to get behind the team even though I can imagine a few of them are wishing they never purchased tickets for the game now. Another worry for Wednesday is that Jermaine Johnson had to go off in the first half against Chesterfield and he looks to be the only player that can produce a moment of magic.

Why have the Owls struggled recently, is it because of the manager and the way he wants to play? Or is it because Megson doesn’t know his strongest team?  Is it because of the players?

It’s obvious Megson doesn’t know his strongest team with him changing his line up regularly in recent weeks, most notably at centre back with him being unsure whether to partner Danny Baath next to Rob Jones or Miguel Llera and with this uncertainty in a very key area of the pitch it is no surprise that the team have started looking more shaky than usual at the back. Another position he is unsure of is equally important and that is upfront. Gary Madine looks out of sorts since coming back from injury, Ryan Lowe has not hit the heights expected and looks like he is lacking a bit of confidence. Then you have Chris O’Grady who will work hard but the goals have never flowed for him and Clinton Morrison who still on his day can produce some magic but this has been far too infrequent for the fans.

He has problems in all departments, even goalkeeper where he has to choose between Stephen Bywater and Nicky Weaver and I know competition is good but sometimes you just need to have a number one so the keeper knows the manager has 100% confidence in him. The midfield is a real worry, David Prutton has been put on the right wing and will not influence the game from that position and will not add any threat from the wing. Mike Jones signed from Bury in January but he has hardly had a kick and it seems that if Megson wanted him then he would have been well down the list he gave to the chairman to replace Ben Marshall.

So do Wednesday have the bottle to get out of this division this season. We will certainly find out against United in front of a packed stadium.

What Sheffield Wednesday need for the Championship

If Sheffield Wednesday get promoted to the Championship they were shown against Blackpool that Milan Mandaric will have to invest if they are to survive. They were comprehensively beaten and although they did make seven changes from their game against Yeovil, they clearly do not have the squad depth to succeed in their ambitions.

They do have some quality in the squad with Gary Madine a good goal scorer in League 1 but a question he has to answer is will he score enough goals to keep them in the Championship? Jose Semedo is a very good holding midfielder that loves to break up the play and is difficult to get past. And in Lewis Buxton they have the best right back in the division and should do a decent job in the Championship. Last time they were in League 1 they also had the best right back in the division in Frankie Simek who unfortunately suffered with injuries after they got promoted and the Owls will be hoping Buxton does not suffer the same fate.  Also, in goal they have experience in Nicky Weaver and Stephen Bywater, as well as the promising Richard O’Donnell so they will probably not have to invest in this area of the team.

But they will struggle at the back with Reda Johnson currently doing a good job at left back but may not be seen as a long term solution. In the centre of the defence is where I see the main problem as Rob Jones is very good in the air but on the floor he is slow and was very suspect against the pace of the Blackpool forwards, although he is a very good leader and could be very important in the dressing room. Danny Baath his partner is only on loan from Wolves and if they can’t get him back they will need another as Mark Beevers has been out of sorts for the club, however, he was very highly rated and given a confidence boost he could become a solid defender in the Championship.

Midfield maybe the biggest worry for Megson as he is currently struggling with a lack of wingers, playing players out of position to fill the gap on the right. Wednesday do have Jermaine Johnson who has looked impressive in recent weeks but this could be because he is fighting for a new contract or at least looking to impress scouts from other clubs. But Johnson does provide pace and skill which no other player in the squad possesses and if this isn’t addressed in the summer then he has to stay. Chris Sedgwick is well past his best and shouldn’t be playing in the Championship next season. In the centre of midfield they have David Prutton and Chris Lines who will be good squad players but they should be looking to bring someone in to play alongside Semedo next season. Liam Palmer is well thought of but he does not have enough experience yet.

In the striker department they look like they will struggle for goals in the Championship with Clinton Morrison another one past his best and has struggled even in League 1. Ryan Lowe is untested and is not getting any younger and has not really hit the heights he and his manager were expecting. Chris O’Grady does a lot of work upfront but isn’t a goal scorer and although he will be a useful addition he should not be a permanent in the starting 11.

At the moment this is all ifs and buts because the team has not been promoted yet and still have work to do but they have enough in League 1 to get promoted and I hope they do achieve their goal because they are too big to be playing in this division and their fans deserve some joy for once.

The sleeping giants- Sheffield Wednesday

A fascinating battle is developing in League 1 this season as to who is going to get promoted, but the more intriguing battle in League 1 is who is going to finish highest out of the two Sheffield clubs

Both Wednesday and United are battling it out at the top of the table and after United’s 4-0 win tonight over Yeovil they have overtaken the Owls by a single point but have now played a game more. This is Wednesday’s second season in League 1 and after a disappointing season last year under Alan Irvine, Gary Megson came in and has made the team into a title challenging side, although most Owls fans would have been happy with a playoff challenge given the fact that the majority of players from last year underperformed. Quite well known players were at Hillsborough last season such as Gary Teale and Tommy Miller but both largely failed to secure promotion for Wednesday and eventually finished in a less than satisfactory mid table. The club faced many problems over the season off the pitch and were saved by Milan Mandaric who quickly brought in former Wednesday player Megson who has shipped out players that he felt were not good enough for the club and didn’t have the heart to perform for the team.

They do still have experience in their squad with Clinton Morrison, Rob Jones and Nicky Weaver but it has been the performances of some of the less experienced players that have really caught the eye of the fans and on looking scouts, such as Gary Madine. Megson has used his contacts in the game to bring in young players that are hungry and have a lot of potential. With Ben Marshall on loan from Stoke City, they have a winger that is most certainly a class above League 1 and they will need to keep hold of him if they are going to succeed this season and gain promotion. Danny Batth also deserves credit because he is only a young centre back but he is playing like he is a seasoned professional, getting better and better with each game and produced one of his best performances in the recent FA Cup victory over West Ham.

Possibly the signing of the season in League 1 has to be Jose Semedo who’s work can sometimes go unnoticed as he is a holding midfielder but he has been in sensational form this season and even though Charlton are top of the league, they must be regretting letting him go. He has been a player Wednesday have missed for many years, someone that does the hard work in the middle of the park and brings a lot of energy and desire every time he steps on the pitch.

Wednesday should be looking for promotion this year as they have two solid goalkeepers for this level in Nicky Weaver and Stephen Bywater, probably the best right back in the division when fit Lewis Buxton and a tough tackling left back in Reda Johnson who can also chip in with a goal. In the midfield they have the unpredictability of Jermaine Johnson who delights fans with his mazy runs but also infuriates them at the same time with his sometimes poor final ball, add this to Semedo and Marshall and you have a good midfield even though Johnson has struggled to get in the side consistently this season, they also have Chris Lines who is experienced in the lower leagues and David Prutton who has played in the Premier League. Up front they have many options with the fantastic finishing ability of Gary Madine, the strength and power of Chris O’Grady, the clever and crafty Ryan Lowe and Clinton Morrison, if he can get back to his best, he will score goals in this division.

So their biggest challenge is to get out of the division but first they have to topple the Blades and the way the season is shaping up, it may not be the easiest thing to do but they are still unbeaten at home and this stands them in good stead for the rest of the season. They are one of the biggest clubs in England and it is time for the sleeping giant to wake up.