Preview: Peterborough United

You could say that Wednesday night’s defeat away at Sheffield United was a cold, hard dose of reality, but that was one game versus a lifetime of waiting to see this club win something. If you’re going to let an individual defeat sour the experience of Sunday, football just might not be for you.

Possible Line-Up

That being said, failing to win this upcoming game against Peterborough and having relegation confirmed would be a major buzzkill less than a week after winning at Wembley. Although relegation is inevitable at this point, it would be nice to preserve the sense of pride about supporting this club that came from last Sunday for as long as possible. These remaining home games are a chance to win new fans over and tempt old ones back, we cannot allow apathy to set back in so easily.

The line-up against Sheffield United indicated just how many injuries we’re carrying in the squad at this point. It’s likely then that the team selection for this forthcoming game will be a case of who’s fit rather than picking a team specifically designed to beat the opposition. Just who will be available is unclear, but don’t be too surprised to see further starts for Marcus Tudgay and Kevin Foley – maybe we’ll even get to see Michael Folivi finally.

Last Time We Met

In an alternate reality, Peterborough don’t score in the final minute at London Road back on New Year’s Eve, Russell Slade gets his first win, that confidence boost gives us an edge over Slade’s first few games in charge, we remain competitive in the league, Slade leads us out at Wembley, and his name and face are etched into our memories in a positive way. But that didn’t happen and the 1-1 draw against Peterborough earlier in the season was a sign of things to come under Slade.

It’s worth pointing out though that our home record against Peterborough is not only good in recent years, but we always seem to pull off remarkable comebacks against them. The last two meetings at the Ricoh Arena have seen us be two goals behind in each game, only to win 3-2. It was the same scoreline back at Sixfields, only Peterborough were 1-0, then 2-1 up before succumbing to a Leon Clarke masterclass in the second-half.

How Are They Doing?

It’s been a frustrating season for Peterborough where things just haven’t quite clicked for them on a consistent basis. They have a squad jam-packed with exciting attacking players such as Marcus Maddison, Tom Nichols, Paul Taylor, Leo da Silva Lopes, Brad Inman, Martin Samuelsen and Gwion Edwards, but have only demonstrated their potential on intermittent occasions, which is why they’re currently in mid-table rather than in the play-off position they really should be.

Peterborough’s bloated squad is probably the reason why they haven’t achieved what they should have this season. When there were on the fringes of the play-offs in January, Grant McCann wanted the squad trimmed, instead, five first-choice players were signed and it took too long for McCann to integrate them into the side.

The strength in depth though has to be considered a major threat heading into this game. The rangy and mercurial winger Marcus Maddison stands out as Peterborough’s best players and probably one of the best in the division when he’s at his best. He has an absolutely thunderous left-foot and can strike long-range efforts at an angle from long distance from both dead ball situations and set-pieces.

Currently, it is a strike pairing of Tom Nichols and Junior Morias for the Posh. Nichols has had a decent season in front of goal, registering 10 as well as a fair few assists, but hasn’t quite been a reliable finisher. Morias has come in from non-league Boreham Wood and scored some absolutely stunning goals and is a fairly pacey player as well, so he’ll have to be watched carefully.

Possible Line-Up

In midfield, Peterborough have dynamic players in Chris Forrester and Leo da Silva Lopes who’ll play in the wide positions of a 4-4-2 diamond formation. Sitting at the base will be Anthony Grant, who is an absolute bastard, probably the best at what he does at this level of football. He’s a fairly tidy midfield player and a decent tackler, but it’s that he’s an expert in winning soft free-kicks, making nasty, niggly tackles that seem to go unnoticed by referees and wasting time – a nightmare to play against when you fall behind.

Peterborough’s defence is probably the weak area of the side, they have good players for this level in the form of Michael Bostwick, Jack Baldwin and Michael Smith, it’s just that their playing style can leave them open at the back. In goal, they have Tottenham youngster Luke McGee who has had a decent season, especially considering he was a bit of a panic signing at the end of the summer transfer window.

Prediction

I’m in two minds about this game. I’m concerned that the number of injured players we’re carrying is going to make this a tired and disjointed performance against a team with a number of very talented attacking players. However, I’m hoping that the sense of goodwill following the win at Wembley will give the team the shot in the arm they require to get the win here to stave off relegation.

Given Peterborough’s inconsistent nature this season, I’m going to go for positivity heading into this game. I think we’ll win, and it will be a 2-1 scoreline.

Preview: Peterborough United

Another game, another shellacking, this time it was to Bristol Rovers on Boxing Day, which now sends us into part two of Russell Slade’s pre-transfer window reconnaissance mission crossing our fingers that this somehow isn’t going to be yet another heavy defeat.

I would imagine that most Coventry City fans assumed that the appointment of a ‘proper’ manager to step into the breach wouldn’t be a silver bullet solution, and the 4-1 loss on Monday has proven that assumption to be true. There doesn’t seem to be a combination of our current set of players that could conceivably go on to beat the drop this season. It’s not just going to take a few decent signings and a confidence boost to save us this season, a complete re-think in every area of the pitch is the absolute minimum.

Possible Line-Up

Possible Line-Up

For this upcoming game against Peterborough, Russell Slade can either choose to take a look at some of those players that were left out against Bristol Rovers, just in case there’s anything there worth working with, or he can stick with a similar formula as he looks to put in place the building blocks of our survival push. If we can’t take points from this game, something that can help Slade form a team unit as quickly as possible has to come out of this game.

As for the team selection, without any new injuries or suspensions, Slade is free to pick whatever team he feels is appropriate. This may be a chance to play the likes of Dion Kelly-Evans and Ryan Haynes instead of the soon-to-be departing loan players, but Slade doesn’t seem like a risk-taker to me and I can see most of the loan players who were involved on Boxing Day starting again here.

Last Time We Met

It was prior to our last meeting with Peterborough United that we were given the signal by Tony Mowbray that he had given up on any hope of making the play-offs. The signings of Jodi Jones and Vladimir Gadzhev were clearly with the following season, in League One, in mind, so we entered our Good Friday trip to London Road knowing pretty much that the jig was up for what was once such a promising campaign.

Despite dominating that first-half, with Gael Bigirimana and Marc-Antoine Fortuné both playing particularly well, Graham Westley’s Peterborough benefited from some woeful set-piece defending to take the lead before the stroke of half-time. We then went to pieces as Peterborough discovered an extra gear in the second-half and scored a second goal. Joe Cole pulled a goal back after a piercing counter-attack from a corner-kick. Darius Henderson could have levelled matters, before he realised he was Darius Henderson and gravity got in his way. Peterborough punished Henderson’s air-kick by scoring a third and final goal pretty much straight afterwards.

How Are They Doing?

Peterborough probably endured a worse collapse last season than we did. From playing some of the best football in the division and looking set to surge into automatic promotion contention, the sale of star striker Conor Washington and some bizarre tactical decisions from Graham Westley saw them completely lose momentum and slump down towards mid-table obscurity.

However, Peterborough chairman decided to entrust the managerial rookie Grant McCann, who had enjoyed a brief but entertaining caretaker spell before Westley’s arrival last season, with the full-time manager’s role this season. As it as ever thus at London Road, Peterborough have scored lots of goals this season but have struggled for consistency, only, they’ve been slightly less inconsistent this time around then the past few seasons.

Peterborough possess an impressive array of attacking talents, with the rangy winger/number 10 Marcus Maddison playing the role of conductor, with eight assists to his name and maintaining a lethal shot from set-pieces. The performances of striker Tom Nichols and winger Gwion Edwards have caught the eye too. Nichols is starting to live up to his promise, having been signed as Conor Washington’s replacement last season and struggling for form. Welsh winger Edwards is Peterborough’s leading scorer with seven goals and is a bundle of energy and skill, with the occasional eye for the spectacular.

The troubled but mercurial talent of forward Paul Taylor returned to Peterborough this summer and is playing more like the man sold to Ipswich for £1.5m than the one who spent the entirety of last season without a football club. The returns to fitness of last season’s top-scorer Lee Angol and former Crewe midfielder Brad Inman have further bolstered Peterborough’s ranks with goalscorers.

Possible Line-Up

Possible Line-Up

Others to watch out for include the metronomic Chris Forrester in midfield, a lanky Irishman with a wonderful range of passing whose playing style is reminiscent of Ben Stevenson. Leo da Silva Lopes on the left of midfield has been watched by Premier League clubs for much of the season and is a ludicrously gifted dribbler of the ball who also possesses great energy and can get stuck-in defensively on occasion.

Interestingly, despite their struggles for consistency with so many talented attacking players, their defence has been one of the better units in the division. Spurs loanee Luke McGee in goal has been remarkably solid for someone signed in a relative panic on transfer deadline day when Ben Alnwick unexpectedly announced his intention to leave the club. Jack Baldwin and Ryan Tafazolli are two very promising up-and-coming young centre-backs. While there’s always Michael Bostwick who provides some presence to the defensive unit, either as a defender or defensive midfielder.

Prediction

Given that we’ve been thrashed over the past month by teams that aren’t particularly free-scoring, it’s hard to see how we’re going to do any better against a side with goalscorers all over the pitch. Having had more time to work with the squad than he did for the Bristol Rovers game, hopefully Russell Slade will have instilled a modicum of defensive solidity, but he’s still working with a back four of inexperienced full-backs and the two Jordans, there’s only so much he can do.

So to sum up this 1000-word preview more concisely, we’re going to lose 4-0.

May 2017 bring in change on as many fronts as possible.

Preview: Peterborough United

Just when it looked like the run of draws was over, we somehow managed to extend it one game further with a late capitulation against Swindon. Not being at the game, it’s hard to ascertain just how concerned we should be about the late collapse. Staying positive for now, let’s just put it down as just one of those things that happen in even a successful season.

It would be pretty sweet to justify that positivity with back-to-back wins in back-to-back home games. With the three teams above us in danger of pulling away and those below closing in, failure to seize momentum could see us losing touch in the promotion race. Tony Mowbray’s usually managed to pull out results when the doubts had been mounting during his time here, a return to winning ways against Peterborough would be timely.

It’s going to be an interesting to see how Reice Charles-Cook reacts to finally conceding a goal in the league. Swindon’s first goal was a piece of individual brilliance and their second was a penalty, which Charles-Cook can hardly be faulted for conceding. Losing that air of impenetrability could possibly affect his confidence and without Reda Johnson in the side, the rest of the defence may be feeling less certain.

As ever, the main question heading into a Coventry City game at the moment is, how are we going to line up in attack? Tony Mowbray is still experimenting with his various options, now a quarter of the way into the season.

Possible Line-Up

Possible Line-Up

Joe Cole should be much closer to full fitness having had two games last week and a whole week to recover, it was hardly ideal that he had to come off against Swindon at half-time, even if we did score twice without him. With Cole likely to start, it’s unlikely that someone like Fortuné and Tudgay will start too as a hold-up striker. Cole will want pace and penetration ahead of him rather than someone playing with their back to goal.

Just who those players will be is the selection issue for Mowbray heading into this game. Jim O’Brien has performed ably since returning to the team and his industry is important to have amongst our more ephemeral performers up front. Ryan Kent remains a source of frustration, so much talent, so little end product, and could be a contender for the drop. With Jacob Murphy now our specialist substitute, if there is a change to be made it would likely be Lameiras for Kent but the latter may still be preferred for his ability to run in behind.

Last Time We Met

We pulled out two unlikely wins over Peterborough United last season. The first coming almost exactly at this time 12 months ago where Steven Pressley’s demoralised Coventry City side fell two goals behind and looked well-beaten. Inspired by the returning Frank Nouble and Reda Johnson though, the Sky Blues rallied in the second-half to win the game 3-2, leaving the entire Peterborough team utterly shellshocked at just what had happened.

At the end of March this year, Tony Mowbray’s Coventry City side travelled to London Road more in hope than expectation at getting result against a Peterborough side in decent form. In a game that the hosts probably edged, Blair Turgott made his one and only notable contribution for Coventry City in stealing in for the game’s only goal. A defence inspired by a rock-solid Aaron Martin and arguably Lee Burge’s best performance in goal held on for a valuable three points.

How Are They Doing?

Peterborough are always billed as promotion contenders at this level thanks to the performances of players such as Craig Mackail-Smith, Britt Assombalonga and Lee Tomlin still fresh in the memory of many observers. Since returning to this level three seasons ago, Peterborough have been on the decline with the players stepping into the shoes of the aforementioned proving to be pale imitations. Things were made worse this calendar year following Darren Ferguson’s overdue sacking and the decision to replace him with youth-team coach Dave Robertson who was clearly not up for the job.

The farce looked set to continue after the frankly bizarre decision to replace Robertson with Graham Westley a month ago. Whilst Westley is perhaps a harshly maligned manager at this level, his reputation for cynical, low-quality, defensive football seemed to jar with Peterborough’s reputation as being one of the most open and entertaining teams in English football. Westley promised that he would keep to the club’s traditions and thus far has been true to his word.

The goals are flying in at all angles and from both ends at Peterborough currently, that they are the division’s highest scorers and only have a goal difference of +6 should give you a decent impression of what’s going on at Peterborough. In very un-Graham Westley manner, the key player at this moment in time at London Road is the 5 foot 3 playmaker Erhun Oztumer (aka ‘The Turkish Messi’), who has clicked into life with a multitude of goals and assists since Westley’s appointment.

Possible Line-Up

Possible Line-Up

The goals have been shared out fairly equally throughout the team at Peterborough, which is down to the lack of a true central, goalscoring striker in the team. The likes of Lee Angol, Conor Washington and Souleymane Coulibaly are all decent forward options to have but none have reputations as lethal finishers.

With Peterborough’s defence being rather predictably far from water-tight, the other players to keep an eye on are in midfield. Jon Taylor, a direct and energetic winger, always looks a threat whenever I’ve seen him play against us. In a different way, Michael Bostwick has been an impressive player with his sheer presence on the pitch and is a threat with his long-range shooting. Finally, Irish import Chris Forrester has had a promising start to life at London Road, recently being compared to Michael Carrick by his manager in the press.

Prediction

This may be a side managed by Graham Westley that we’re facing, but the idea that we’re facing a cynical, defensive, stodgy team likely to start timewasting from kick-off like a typical Graham Westley team would do, would be a wrong assumption to make. The danger heading into this game is not that we’ll have so much of the ball that we’ll be caught on the counter having failed to breakdown an organised defence but that the opposition will be able to outscore our dangerous looking but profligate attack. The key to winning this game will be how our defence can contain Peterborough’s attack and how incisive we can then be on the counter-attack.

Peterborough are likely to leave gaps at the back and when teams have been more open against us, we have done a lot better than the ones looking to contain us. I’m not sure though that we are clinical enough to go toe-to-toe in an all-out slug-fest against Peterborough should the game pan out that way. I am confident of a win though, 2-1 to the Sky Blues.