Preview: Peterborough United

Last Saturday’s loss to Burton Albion has made that bump in the road encountered by successive cup defeats into something more closely resembling a pot-hole. An own goal may have been the difference between the two sides on the day, but it was a game in which we were thoroughly outclassed.

With back-to-back league games coming up before an FA Cup exit-enforced break from action, Mark Robins would ideally be looking for a win in one of these upcoming games just to puncture the all-pervading pessimism that is never far away from descending over Coventry City.

Expected Line-Up

Possible Line-Up

For the first time in a while, Mark Robins may well be justified in changing things up team selection-wise. While injuries probably limit the manager’s decision-making at the back, there are some major calls to be made further forward, albeit, Robins has to be careful not to throw everything good about our recent good run of form out of the window.

The biggest call at the moment appears to be whether to stick or twist with Conor Chaplin. The forward’s all-round game suggests that the goals will eventually come, but Robins has a decision to make over whether to let Chaplin play himself into form or to give him time on the sidelines to avoid knocking his confidence any further. Jordy Hiwula appears to be the natural successor to Chaplin in the side, although Chaplin’s absence could also be used as an opportunity to tweak the tactics slightly.

Elsewhere, it is probably a call between Jordy Hiwula or Jodi Jones for a position nominally on the left of midfield. Hiwula was conspicuously anonymous against Burton Albion and seems to be very much a hit-and-miss player, which always risks that dropping him costs us a potential moment of magic. Jones is still on a long road back from injury, probably more mentally than physically at this point, but this could be the time to see what he can do over 90 minutes in a meaningful game.

Last Meeting

It was the first home game since we had won the Checkatrade Trophy and on a sunny afternoon, there was a celebratory mood at the Ricoh Arena in spite of the looming certainty of relegation. Although the Sky Blues enjoyed the best of the chances for most of the contest, a clumsy Gael Bigirimana lunge handed Peterborough the chance to take the lead from the spot. However, Lee Burge saved Craig Mackail-Smith’s effort, before a daisy cutter effort in the second-half from Ruben Lameiras proved to be enough to decide the game in our favour.

The Opposition

Manager – Steve Evans

The archetypal ‘you hate him unless he’s your manager’ manager, since taking over at Peterborough United back in February – indirectly providing us with a path into the play-offs in the process – Steve Evans has followed his usual methodology of completely tearing apart a squad over the summer and building his own side. Whether a total of 22 outgoings and 19 incomings was truly necessary is debatable, however, the results have thus far justified such a radical scorched earth policy to Evans’ squad-building.

Ones To Watch

Possible Line-Up

The most noticeable thing about Peterborough this season is just how physically massive the majority of the squad is. Except for the presences of the five foot six Siriki Dembele and Louis Reed, much of this Peterborough side stands at comfortably above six foot, which is going to make playing direct football and exploiting set-pieces against them particularly difficult.

In attack, Peterborough have two clinical finishers in former Stevenage man Matt Godden and Scottish international Jason Cummings. In addition, they have former Newcastle youngster Ivan Toney who plays more of a target-man role in the side – and is someone with a reputation for going down easily under the lightest of opposition touches.

Those set-pieces Toney wins provide ample opportunity for Peterborough’s expert set-piece takers to threaten with direct and indirect deliveries. The languid Marcus Maddison has come back into the side in recent weeks having been frozen out to secure a move over the summer, consistently one of the most creative players in this division, Maddison has four assists in just five starts this season. In addition, the rapidly skilful ex-Grimsby winger Siriki Dembele has added considerable end product to his game since arriving at London Road, contributing four goals and five assists thus far.

At the heart of their midfield is the industrious former Lincoln midfielder Alex Woodyard – who we reportedly tried to sign over the summer – who is partnered at the moment by the deep-lying playmaker Louis Reed, but Evans can also call upon the box-to-box giant Mark O’Hara in that area of the pitch.

Areas To Exploit

While Peterborough sit near the top of the division, the underlying performance data suggests that they have ridden their luck for large portions of this season. According to the excellent Experimental 3-6-1, Peterborough have conceded an average of nearly 16 shots against per game this season while contributing just under 11 at the other end of the pitch – by contrast, we have conceded just over 11 per game and taken just over 12.

Mark Robins has talked about how Peterborough will look to press us high up the pitch in this game, however, it does appear likely that there will be periods in this game where we’re going to see a lot of the ball and will have to find a way through a physical and combative opposition. Given Peterborough’s explosiveness on the counter-attack and their clinical finishing, avoiding conceding an early goal is a must here.

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