Monday, 13 August 2018

League 1 Discussion 4: Luton, Oxford Utd, Peterborough, Plymouth

It was a tremendous season for Luton last time out. Despite missing out on the title to Accrington Stanley, Luton stormed to promotion with attacking flair and a lorry load of goals. Now the ambitious football club is gearing up for potential back to back promotions. Matching the ambition of the board is highly rated Nathan Jones. The Welshman has done a brilliant job at the club and there is a real buzz around the whole football club. Luton were regarded for scoring plenty of goals in League 2 last season and they will certainly fancy their chances of taking that form into League 1. James Collins and Danny Hylton smashed the goals in as Luton stormed to promotion and these two will hope to continue their form in the new season. However, Nathan Jones has won plenty of plaudits for bringing in young, hungry players like James Justin, Glen Rea and Pelly Ruddock who all played crucial roles in their promotion campaign and all will be determined to prove themselves at a higher level with admirers from afar watching on. However, the loss of Olly Lee to Hearts will be a blow but Jones will believe there is enough at the club to continue the clubs’ ambition for promotion. Jones has flexed his muscle in the transfer window and signed and so far, added Andrew Shinnie on a permanent deal following a loan spell as well as defenders Sonny Bradley and Matty Pearson and exciting young attacker Jorge Grant from Nottingham Forest. Grant was magnificent for Notts County during a loan spell last season, and like his new teammates, he will have a desire and spirit to prove himself at this level. The Luton fans will be quietly confident their side can mount a promotion challenge as will Nathan Jones and the board and it could be an exciting season for the Hatters once again with the Championship being their prime target, but should they consolidate themselves in League 1 then that would represent a good season for the club.
I think Luton will be challenging for a play-off spot like most teams in the league and they will fancy their chances. However, I feel they will just miss out on a play-off spot but don’t rule them out because they certainly could spring a surprise. Certainly, a team to watch this season.

My Predicted Finish: 7th

Oxford Utd
It was an extremely disappointing season for Oxford last season. Many expected them to be competing for promotion under Pep Clotet but his sacking and Karl Robinson’s underwhelming finish to the season, the U’s just about avoided the drop. Karl Robinson, the new owners and the fans will demand improvement this time around. Robinson has completely stripped the squad back from the previous season and a total of 14 players have left the club so far this transfer window. Robinson will rely on some of the old guard from the previous season including Curtis Nelson, James Henry, Simon Eastwood, Ricardinho and Jonathan Obika who will all admit their underperformed last season and improvement must be high on their agenda this season. These players are all experienced players at this level and they will be vital with many of Robinson’s signings being young, unproven players at this level. The likes of Cameron Norman, Harvey Bradbury, Tsun Dai and Marcus Browne all join with a hunger and desire to improve this entire side. However, Robinson has blended in experienced players at this level as well with the acquisitions of Samir Carruthers, Tony McMahon, Ricky Holmes and Jamie Mackie. These players all come with a good reputation at this level and they will hope to showcase their skills once again. Robinson and the fans will demand improvement and a play-off charge will be high on the Oxford fans’ agenda following a poor campaign. Karl Robinson has a proven record at this level but with a completely new team, he must hit the ground running immediately to give them the best chance of success. An improvement on last season would represent a good season for Oxford United.
I think Oxford will improve on last season and will attempt to mount a play-off charge this season however, I feel they will come short and finish in mid-table which would be much improved on last season.

My Predicted Finish: 11th

Posh are becoming season regulars in the third after another narrow miss on the play-offs. The surprise sacking of Grant McCann was met with some trepidation with seasoned promotion winner Steve Evans in captaining the ship, Peterborough fans will believe this is their year to get out League 1. Steve Evans has completely stripped the squad from last season following the clubs’ decision to transfer 13 players, but it has ended up seeing 17 players depart the club including last seasons top scorer Jack Marriott and others including Jack Baldwin, Anthony Grant, Steven Taylor, Gwoin Edwards, Chris Forrester, Leonardo Lopes and Danny Lloyd. The club still has highly rated Marcus Maddison but was expected to leave before the permanent window closes but he may still go but for now Evans still has him after being told to plan without him. Steve Evans has a completely new squad at his disposal after signing 16 new players who all have ambition that matches the club and that is to get out of League 1. Peterborough have a new goalkeeper in promotion winner Adam Chapman who was exceptional for Accrington. Posh also have a new look defence following the acquisitions of Jason Naismith, Tyler Denton and Josh Yorwerth. All are yet to prove themselves at this level and Evans will be confident they can make the step up. However, the loss of Jack Marriott may hit Peterborough hard but Evans has brought in a new set of strikers capable of filling his big boots. Matt Godden, Jason Cummings and Ivan Toney have all signed for the club this window. Godden was excellent for Stevenage last season and he will hope to continue that form. In contrast, both Cummings and Toney will hope to have found a home at Peterborough following their moves. Cummings struggled after a move to Nottingham Forest last summer and now Evans will hope to get the best out of his fellow Scot. Likewise, Toney has struggled at Newcastle since signing and has frequently been loaned out to the likes of Wigan and Scunthorpe. However, he has a proven track record at this level and now with a permanent home, he will be determined to fire the goals for posh. Steve Evans certainly has assembled an exciting, young, hungry squad capable of challenging for promotion and with ambitious owner Darragh MacAnthony and the outspoken Barry Fry behind Evans, this could be their strongest challenge yet to get back to the Championship. Optimism is high for the fans and they will at least expect a play-off spot and promotion would be magnificent achievement for Posh.
I think Peterborough will be the surprise package and full of excitement. Evans has assembled an excellent team following the mass number of departures. I fancy Peterborough for automatic promotion and even the title because Evans is a seasoned winner and there quality at this level spread across the whole team.

My Predicted Finish: 1st

It was an excellent season for Plymouth back in League 1 even if it started so horrendously. Derek Adams side were bottom in November but stormed up the table and narrowly missed out on a play-off place and Derek Adams will be confident that his side can go one better this season and break into the top 6. However, they have stripped their squad back and the club has seen 11 players depart the club. However, one who hasn’t gone is the talented midfield pair of Graham Carey and Ruben Lameiras. These two are the creative spark in this Plymouth side and were vital in their charge to the play-offs last season. Adams will want to see them continue their form of the previous season because without these two being at their best, their chances of play-off spot become significantly weakened. Sonny Bradley’s departure to Luton will be seen as a blow for Adams but he has brought in new centre backs in Niall Canavan and Scott Wootton who will compete for his place in the side following Ryan Edwards’ magnificent return to football following his battle with cancer. This summer also saw the departure of long-serving goalkeeper Luke McCormick and a new set of keepers in Harry Burgoyne and Matt Macey will compete for the number 1 spot in the side. Derek Adams will be confident in mounting a promotion charge this time around after falling short. The Plymouth fans will hope they can but consolidation once again this season would represent a good season for the Pilgrims with their long-term goal being promotion back to the Championship.
I think Plymouth will finish in the top half and once again miss out on the play-off spots but will make a strong challenge for them, but they need a much better start than last season to give them the best possible chance of reaching the top 6.

My Predicted Finish: 10th

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