This weekend will see the top two sides in League One lock horns in a greatly anticipated encounter. Coventry City welcome Justin Edinburgh’s Gillingham side to the Ricoh Arena and both sets of supporters will be in buoyant mood after their respective sides picked up victories from their last outings.
With the two teams level on points at the summit, this fixture will provide a huge opportunity for one team to pull further away. The majority of football enthusiasts are tipping it as a potential goal fest. With The Sky Blues and The Gills scoring a combined total of 66 goals thus far in the 2015/16 campaign, it certainly promises to be an entertaining spectacle.
Coventry City are in fine fettle going in to the fixture, so much so that they are top of the form table when looking at the last 8 league games. Being undefeated in this sequence of encounters will certainly fill all associated to the club with confidence. Looking at their last five matches, the midlands outfit have racked up 3 wins and 2 draws.
After reaching 34 points at the end of February last term, The Sky Blues have managed to achieve the same points total by the middle of November this time around. They currently sit in 2nd place with a goal difference of 14, scoring 32 goals and conceding 18.
The Gills are also in tremendous form at the moment and they’ll be looking to extend a fine run come Saturday. In their last five ties, they’ve managed to pick up 3 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss to sustain their push at the higher end of the division and place them in 1st position.
A side riddled with talent, supporters at the Priestfield Stadium have been treated to some excellent football this season both home and away. They are currently the top scorers with 34 goals and they also sit comfortably on 34 points, 7 above Bury who occupy the final playoff position.
The Sky Blues continue to compete without Reda Johnson, Jordan Willis and Ivor Lawton as the trio are scheduled to be absent for the majority of the season. Joe Cole is also nursing a tight hamstring and he could be a doubt, although Tony Mowbray has stated that he’s recovering well.
As far as the remainder of the squad goes, a clean bill of health will allow for a strong side to be fielded. Adam Armstrong and Ryan Kent both returned from international duty with England, whilst Gael Bigirimana and Ben Turner could feature after both rejoined the club on loan from Newcastle United and Cardiff City respectively.
Gillingham will also have a large quantity of players at their disposal when they travel to the Ricoh. Striker Luke Norris is, however, ruled out for approximately another month with ankle ligament damage. No other players are missing for Edinburgh, so he will be naming a strong starting eleven for this clash.
Defender Deji Oshilaja is back in contention after a few months on the sideline with a knee ligament problem. Dominic Samuel is also expected to start after a very impressive debut versus Bury last weekend, and of course, Sky Blues supporters know how dangerous the frontman can be after witnessing him first hand last season.
Ones To Watch:
After leaving Charlton Athletic’s youth setup in 2010, Dack joined Gillingham’s development team and he has since went on to grow in to a key player at the Priestfield Stadium. This season has been rather productive for the midfielder so far, he has featured 21 times and scored 8 goals.
He’s not just about goals though, even though that is a key attribute he brings to the team. The passing ability he possesses is also a real threat and he has the potential to cut apart any opposition on his day. A combative nature is also present within him, this being summed up by the 7 yellow cards he has received. He’s a real handful, that’s certain.
The 19 year old trickster joined the club in the summer of 2015 as he joined from Tottenham Hotspur. His career in football started when he was on the books of Dundalk at youth level, but he then developed his game at White Hart Lane after making the move via their education programme.
With exceptional pace and control, the attacking player loves to run at defences. His ability on the ball is superb and he can be a real star turn in Gillingham’s side. His goal tally, however, stands at a meagre 1 goal. He’ll be determined to light up the Ricoh Arena and he could well be a thorn in Coventry’s side. Confidence will also be oozing within him after he was called up to represent the Republic Of Ireland at U21 level.
“There’s a lot of diversity in this league of how teams play and every week is a different challenge. It’s a challenge for the coaches and the players.”
“The challenge this week is to deal with their intensity, I think. They are good on set plays, scored more set plays than anyone in the league. They’ll be looking to come here to be the first league side to win at the Ricoh.”
“My job is to give fans a team to be proud of. The history of Coventry, I was 23 in 1987 when they won the cup. It’s got a great history and we want the supporters to get their scarves out again in their numbers. It’s good they are excited and we want to keep that going on an upward spiral.”
View from the opposition – Justin Edinburgh:
“Our away performances in the league recently have been fantastic and we want that form to continue.”
“We will show Coventry City the respect they deserve, but on the flip side we’ve got to make sure we impose ourselves on the game.”
Speaking about Dominic Samuel, Edinburgh also said:
“It’s vitally important for clubs at this level [to use the loan market] and luckily we’ve been able to get the ones we targeted at the start of the season, Dominic took a bit longer because his form at Coventry propelled him into the first team at Reading.”
Well, it’s been a long time since we’ve been involved in a ‘top of the table clash’ that’s for sure. It’s quite an exciting prospect and I’m relishing this game, as are many other Coventry City supporters. We are normally involved in relegation scraps not vying for promotion, albeit so early in to the season.
With the amount of goals we’ve both scored, this one certainly has a recipe that should dish up an interesting contest. The chance to move to the top of the table outright is a mouth-watering prospect for both teams, the atmosphere should be vociferous as a result.
Of course, there’s always a fear of the former City players coming back to haunt us as always. Both Cody McDonald and Dominic Samuel are in The Gills’ attack and neither of them will have any niceties, they’ll want to contribute to the game with goals.
To thwart them tearing our defence open, we’ve got to be wary and organised. Although our defending at Colchester was reasonable, it’s been our downfall of late. Undoubtedly, Reda Johnson’s absence has had a part to play in that, but Ben Turner could be the man to ‘steady the ship’ again if you like.
In my opinion, the game will be won in midfield. If John Fleck and Romain Vincelot can stop the away side’s moves at source, we can play on the front foot and punish them. With the abundance of quality in attacking areas we possess, if we win that midfield battle I can see us notching some goals.
Mowbray has eluded to games being like a ‘chess match’ before and this one certainly has that feel to it. If we make the correct moves, however, I think we have the ability to take all three points. A boosted attendance is expected and if we all get behind those lads in sky blue, it could be a very good day. I have a good feeling about this one again. How times change.
My Score Prediction:
Coventry City 2-1 Gillingham