Saturday Select #29

Last week was another good week for our tips and after the midweek excitement of the European competition we are ready for another weekend of domestic clashes. As the end of the season draws in fast matches increase evermore in their significance. Which clubs can deal with the rising pressure and deliver the results when it counts most? Here is a selection of fixtures in our focus this weekend…

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Tottenham v Leicester

Leicester are rooted to the bottom of the Premier League 7 points adrift from safety. The Foxes are in dreadful form having only won 2 of 23 league games. With 10 games left Nigel Pearson will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat if a great escape is to be achieved. They may take confidence from having beaten Spurs in the FA Cup this season at White Hart Lane going into this game though.

Spurs are currently sat in 7th level on points with Southampton and will need to pick up to ensure that they qualify for the Europa League for next season. A 6 point gap to Man Utd in fourth is not an insurmountable points deficit but they cannot afford to be not winning against Leicester if they are still harbouring any hopes of a Champions League spot. They were abject in a 3-0 loss to Man Utd last time out and there could be a reaction.

Sheff Utd v Port Vale

Sheffield United are sat in 5th position in the League One table but their playoff place is under severe threat. They have not been firing in the league; they are winless in their last 5 league matches. The Blades fans are desperate for promotion and are demanding a playoff assault.

Port Vale have lost 3 of their last 4 games. They are 6 points off the playoff zone despite being down in 13th position. However they have not ever really threatened to kick on out of a mid-table position all season whilst Sheff Utd are desperate to cement their playoff spot.

Watford v Ipswich

Top of the table Watford are unbeaten in their last 6 matches and have won 5 of those 6 games. They have turned Vicarage Road into something of a fortress of late having won 6 of their last 7 games at home. They are level on points with Middlesbrough but are top of the Championship table thanks to their superior goal difference. Their strength lies in their ability to score goals, only free scoring Bournemouth have netted more.

Opponents Ipswich Town can take confidence from the fact that they won the earlier encounter this season 1-0 at Portman Road in November. However, The Tractor Boys have lost 5 of their last 6 away games as they head west to Watford. They are chasing a playoff spot and sit in 7th position just 1 point off the playoff zone.

MK Dons v Notts County

After a bad spell of form 4th placed MK Dons look as if they could be turning the corner after winning last time out against Oldham. They must go on a real strong run to be in with an outside chance of an automatic promotion spot as they are 6 points behind 2nd placed Preston who have a game in hand. They look nailed on for a playoff spot though and it is really down to how much fight and desire they have in them for promotion.

Notts County are just 2 points clear of the relegation zone and showing signs that they could be sucked into it. County have only picked up 1 win in their last 7 games. They are facing a side that has the best goal difference in the division bar none so this looks a tough match for them.

Shrewsbury v Oxford

Oxford United may be 6 points clear of the relegation zone but they are without doubt still perched in a precarious position. Last time out they were beaten by bottom of the league Hartlepool 2-0 at home. It was their first loss in 6 matches. They are not a good enough team to hold an extended run of form. Now would be an extremely bad time to suffer a dip in results.

Shrewsbury are 2nd in the league table, 5 points behind league leaders Burton Albion. After suffering a loss to promotion rivals Wycombe they bounced back to winning ways in fine style last time out with a 4-1 win over Morecambe. They have an incredibly good home record having only lost 1 game in 18 played at the New Meadow all season and are boosted by key player Liam Lawrence’s return to action.

Barnet v Welling

Barnet wrestled back top spot in the Conference Premier from Bristol Rovers and will be determined to now stay there after blowing their huge advantage built up earlier in the season. They did so by beating Eastleigh; the form side in the division and then picking up a point against Halifax.

They face Welling at the Hive who are sat down in 21st position. Welling are 4 points from safety and should be fighting hard for survival but they have looked a touch out of their depth this season and are likely to struggle away at the league leaders.


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