So the Championship show goes on and we head to South Yorkshire on a Tuesday night backed by just under 6,000 fans.
As ever there’s not time to reflect too much on a great win on Saturday as three points are once more there for the taking, which would set us up nicely for the home game against struggling Ipswich on Saturday.
The game at Barnsley would have been a completely different proposition a month a go but the wheels have come off at Oakwell since they briefly rose to third in the table after stunning Wolves by four in September. Since that game Barnsley have lost four and drawn one of their five games and the draw was gained via a last minute equaliser against relegation strugglers Aston Villa. A home defeat against Fulham by four goals to two on Saturday (including having a man sent off) was a sign that the rot may well be set to continue for the newly promoted side.
The negative part of me thinks back to the game after United had stuffed QPR and Wolves had conceded four (against Barnsley, funnily enough) and we all know what happened three days later. I’m sure lightening won’t strike twice as Rafa will be on it. Barnsley haven’t won at home since the end of August and United haven’t lost away from home since less than a week past July. Conceding just two away goals all season is quite an achievement for a side as pathetic as we have been for the past three years.
Goal scoring was also a major problem pre-Rafa. We’ve now got 25 in 12 games. We’re on for 100 goals . Middlesborough got promoted last season scoring just 63 goals, which two seasons a go in this division would have had them the tenth highest scorers in the division so what was going on down here last season I’ve no idea. Any team scoring over 90 goals has always been automatically promoted so as well as aiming for 90 points (two points a game on average) – we’re ticking all the boxes.
Brighton, Birmingham and Huddersfield all dropped points on Saturday few expected them too – so this mental division will continue to throw up results no one saw coming. United and Norwich have great opportunities to start putting daylight between themselves and the chasing pack. Norwich face Fulham away and then Preston at home while we have this fixture and then Ipswich. Both managers will be looking for 6 points. The games are relentless and therefore so must we be.
That’s not to say that a draw wouldn’t be a reasonable result. As I said, two points a game dictated we needed 6 from this
week of three, but it would be nice to go into the weekend already having achieved that.
Adam Armstrong will be missing for Barnsley (though he hasn’t been starting) but they are still the third highest scorers in the league but only Rotherham have conceded more.
Considering we were only in that neck of the woods two and a half weeks ago, I’m going 1 0 United. Matt Ritchie missed the game through illness and Jamal missed most of the second half through the same, so let’s hope those two have been quarantined/are back fully fit raring to go. I have to admit how positive it is to have won the last two without Ritchie, as he was so influential in everything we did before his rotation.
There may be 5 changes for this one, or Rafa might name an unchanged team. I have as little idea as you do.
Looking forward to it.
ALEX HURST – Follow Alex on @tfalex1892
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