The Sky Blues have a chance to go top of the Championship table – for 15 minutes, at least – in this Friday night clash with Peterborough United. To be fourth after eight games suggests that there is some substance to this team’s strong start to the season, to go top, even if only for a short period, would further underline that this is a good Coventry City side, rather than one simply in good form.
Of course, the team’s current league position and the fact that this is a home game against a newly-promoted side means that there is a ‘banana skin’ factor to this meeting with Peterborough United. Like ourselves last season, Posh are seeking ways to get results in the Championship following promotion, they will have done their homework on the Sky Blues and will be looking to hand out a bloody nose that would give their season momentum.
Fankaty Dabo continues his suspension, meaning that Todd Kane will continue at right wing-back. Hopefully, with a week to work with his team-mates on the training ground, he will have a better idea of what is expected of him in terms of the attacking threat he can provide from that position.
Elsewhere in the defence, Jake Clarke-Salter looks set to miss this game due to concussion. That will see Michael Rose slot in on the left of the back three, providing the Scot with a chance to stake a claim after a difficult season or so. However, that lack of pace at the back in the absence of Clarke-Salter is an area of concern.
The big selection decision for this game looks to be how Mark Robins sets up the midfield. After some impressive performances recently, Jamie Allen was rested last time out against Millwall. While it seems likely that he’ll return, the control of possession that Ben Sheaf can offer alongside Gustavo Hamer could well be handy if it is presumed that Peterborough United will sit deep and look to hit the Sky Blues on the counter.
In attack, Martyn Waghorn seems likely to return to the starting line-up after he was also rested for the Millwall game. The former Derby County forward looks to be better-integrated into the team’s build-up play than his alternates, Tyler Walker and Matt Godden, for the role of Viktor Gyokeres’ strike partner, and there is little need to change that up given the Swede’s excellent form.
Last Time We Met
The Sky Blues were agonisingly close to an impressive first away league win of their League One promotion-winning campaign at London Road back in October of that season. Off the back of the famous switch to a back three in victory against Fleetwood Town at St Andrew’s, Coventry City were largely on top in the first-half, with Amadou Bakayoko putting the team ahead, before having a second goal disallowed for a close offside call.
That reprieve allowed Peterborough United to re-group at half-time and quickly level the game after half-time. A clumsy Kyle McFadzean challenge in the penalty area allowed Marcus Maddison to score from the spot, with Peterborough looking to have moved in control of the contest. Later on in the second-half, the Sky Blues regained a head of steam and scored what looked to be a late winner, with Maxime Biamou producing a typical wonder-goal with five minutes to go.
In the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time, Peterborough made the Sky Blues wait another two months for their first away league win of the campaign, with Mohamed Eisa scoring.
The Manager – Darren Ferguson
Seemingly the only man capable of managing Peterborough United, Darren Ferguson transformed Posh last season from perennial entertaining also-rans in League One into promotion-winners with a largely dominant campaign. Introducing some much-needed defensive organisation and tactical nous, Ferguson’s Peterborough cruised to promotion last season but have, as with the other promoted League One sides, struggled to find their feet in the Championship at this early stage of the campaign.
Darren Ferguson has tried a lot of different formulas to get results of this Peterborough United side, regularly changing formation both prior to and during matches, to mixed effect. A recent falling-out with first-choice goalkeeper, Christy Pym, has further highlighted Ferguson’s impatience for results. Victory in their most recent game, against Birmingham City, has come at a good time, with the situation possibly in danger of spinning out of control for Ferguson if results had continued to underwhelm.
Who To Look Out For?
Promotion last season was built on an excellent attacking line-up made up of the rapid and skilful Sirki Dembele, the late runs of Sammie Szmodics into the penalty area from midfield, and the brute force of former Coventry City striker Jonson Clarke-Harris. In addition, versatile winger/wing-back, Joe Ward regularly provided assists with excellent deliveries from the right wing, and the box-to-box midfielder, Jack Taylor, looked a star in the making.
That attacking threat has been added to with the additions of another goal-scoring midfielder in Jorge Grant and the skilful Exeter City star, Joel Randall. Furthermore, academy graduate, Harrison Burrows is among Peterborough United’s top-scorers this season, from midfield, and looks to have stepped following promotion from League One.
With Jonson Clarke-Harris absent from this game due to a harsh suspension decision and Peterborough’s two other first-team strikers – Jack Marriott and Ricky-Jade Jones – injured, Darren Ferguson will have to tweak things. Nonetheless, there are enough goals elsewhere in this team to account for the loss of their star goalscorer.
While Peterborough have a, justifiable, reputation as being top-heavy, Frankie Kent is an impressive presence in defence, with right-back, Nathan Thompson, a hardened, niggly defender too. In addition, 18 year-old Ronnie Edwards has impressed recently as Frankie Kent’s centre-back partner, in place of the more experienced Mark Beevers, with Josh Knight, who can fill in at both centre-back and defensive midfield, having impressed at this level last season on loan at Wycombe Wanderers.
Where The Game Will Be Won Or Lost
Peterborough United’s excellent win over Birmingham City last week was predicated on quick counter-attacking and playing low, early crosses behind the opposing defence. The respective absences of Jonson Clarke-Harris for Peterborough United and Jake Clarke-Salter for Coventry City will only further Posh’s inclination to adopt that game-plan, utilising the pace of Siriki Dembele and Joe Ward to get in behind a Sky Blues’ back-line shorn of its quickest member.
With that in mind, the wing-backs have an especially important role to play for Coventry City in this game, in cutting out Peterborough’s counter-attacks in wide areas. In Joe Ward on the right and Dan Butler on the left, Peterborough have two wide players who can put in accurate deliveries if left with time and space, Todd Kane and Ian Maatsen will be required to close them down with urgency.
For the Sky Blues, Viktor Gyokeres is likely to provide a stern inspection of the credentials of Peterborough’s young centre-back duo of Frankie Kent and Ronnie Edwards. Additionally, Callum O’Hare will test Peterborough’s defensive midfielder, Ollie Norburn’s, ability to track runners between their line of defence and midfield.
Finally, set-pieces could be an area Coventry City will look to target Peterborough, who have struggled to score many in recent years. In what could potentially be quite a nervous game as Peterborough look to disrupt the Sky Blues’ rhythm, a goal from a set-piece could prove invaluable.