Coventry City travel the short distance up the M6 to the Bescot stadium on Saturday to face an in-form Walsall side. The Sky Blues are high in confidence themselves though, and Tony Mowbray and his players will be looking to extend their one-hundred percent record thus far in the league campaign.
With the Sky Blues undefeated away from home in the league under Mowbray, they’ll also be looking to keep that achievement intact also. A strong following of 2200 City supporters will be crammed in to the away end, they will be hoping for a performance and result similar to that of last campaign’s trip where the away side ran out 2-0 victors.
Walsall have made a great start to the season and they remain undefeated in all competitions. Dean Smith’s side sit third in League One after picking up seven points, a draw against Oldham was followed up by victories against Southend and Rochdale to give them this total.
The Saddlers have also progressed in to the second round of the Capital One Cup after edging past Nottingham Forest in a 4-3 thriller. A total of 9 goals have been scored in all competitions whilst 5 have been conceded.
The Sky Blues come in to the game on the back of three consecutive wins in the league, they are now the only League One side with maximum points and they subsequently sit top of the division. Impressive wins versus newly relegated Wigan Athletic and Milwall were backed up by victory over Crewe in midweek.
Mowbray’s side have lost one game however as they were dumped out of the Capital One Cup at the hands of Rochdale who won an enthralling tie via a penalty shoot-out. In terms of goals being scored, City fans have been treated to 10 in all competitions whilst only 3 have been shipped at the other end.
The Saddlers have a fully fit squad to choose from for the tie between two of the league’s early pacesetters. Despite Andy Taylor suffering a hefty blow to his shin on Tuesday night, Dean Smith insists the defender will be ready to go. It would be no surprise if the home side began with the same eleven that defeated Rochdale.
Coventry City also have a ‘healthy’ group of players to select from for the weekend’s fixture. With the same personnel starting for three consecutive games, you would also expect Mowbray to name an unchanged eleven as his side chase a fourth straight win.
One to watch… Tom Bradshaw
The potent scorer is the obvious ‘one to watch’ in the Walsall ranks at the moment, his form is attracting interest from a host of Championsip clubs. After signing for the Saddlers from Shrewsbury Town in June 2014, he has made an impressive mark with 18 goals in 32 appearances.
One thing that has frustrated the Walsall supporters and Dean Smith alike is the number of games the striker has missed through injury. Despite this, when he is fit he poses a real threat to any defence. The former Wales U21 international possesses a natural trait for finishing and the Sky Blues will have to be alert to deny him on Saturday.
View from the dugout…
“If Walsall beat us they go above us which shows what a decent start they’ve had. They’ve won three away games on the bounce, including Nottingham Forest in the cup; they beat Rochdale away and we found out how tough they can be, so they are obviously at the top of their game at the moment.”
“We’re mindful that their manager has been changing his formation a little, tinkering with his shape, and the past is totally irrelevant to him sitting there with his team today.”
“We go into the game looking at ourselves and knowing it will be tough but in a good, confident mood.”
Well, our ‘local derby’ if you like is already upon us. We’ve had a good time at the Bescott over the last couple of seasons, but it may just be a little different this time around. Both sides go in to the fixture with undefeated records and that will provide motivation as neither side will want to give that up.
I expect the game to be very tight but entertaining as both teams play expansive, attacking football. The home side will be in confident mood and they’ll be relishing the chance to get one over on the Sky Blues. Mowbray’s men will also be wanting to come away with a positive result and the City fans will be in expectant mood.
After our dominant display against Crewe in Tuesday I remain upbeat, but we’ve got to defend better if we want to thwart Bradshaw and Co. It should be a good atmosphere in the stadium as both sets of supporters are in party mode at the moment, but who will be leaving the stadium the happiest?
My score prediction… Walsall 1-2 Coventry City