With the help of Rich Pullen from the Loathed Stranger podcast, we review Swindon Town’s new signings, pre-season form, style of play under Richie Wellens and consider what we can expect from The Robins on Saturday, in addition to picking out our tips for your Saturday flutter at the bookies.
1,000 fans will return through the turnstiles at Bloomfield Road this Saturday and it should be a good – if not a little unusual – atmosphere as we cheer on the boys against Swindon. It’s set up to be the perfect game for fans to return, with Richie Wellens, Keshi Anderson and Jerry Yates all facing their former sides.
Following Swindon’s promotion to League One as champions, Wellens lost eight of his first team players of last year. In addition to Anderson and Yates, the latter who was on loan from Rotherham, they also lost Kaiyne Woolery, Michael Doughty and Danny Rose, as well as loanees Eoin Doyle, Steven Benda and Rarmani Edmonds-Green.
Wellens did manage to secure two of his key men in Pool-linked Anthony Grant who signed a new deal, and also make the loan of Diallang Jaiyesimi permanent. They’ve managed to strengthen this window too, with Akin Odimayo, Brett Pitman, Jonathan Grounds and Joel Grant amongst seven permanent new faces with a further four loanees – three of whom are named Smith.
Like Pool, they’re still two or three players short of a full squad and are reeling from having lost a few key men so will be hopeful of getting stronger as they go along this season.
Form so far
The upheaval of their squad led to an indifferent preseason. An 8-0 win at Nuneaton and 2-1 victory over Championship side Coventry were followed by a 4-3 defeat at Ashton and consecutive 1-1 draws at Melksham and Bristol City. They were also booted out of the EFL Cup with a 3-1 defeat at home to Charlton and went down 3-2 to West Brom’s U21 side before last week’s league opener against Rochdale where they won 3-1.
Swindon therefore sit top of the league on goal difference, so everything’s surely going well? Not according to Rich Pullen.
He said: “There’s one problem with that – Rochdale were dog poo. Everyone’s got Rochdale to go down (in their pre-season previews), and they played a similar brand of football to Swindon’s relegation team of 2017. It’s nice, but it’s not effective. Blackpool will be a better gauge to see how this side are doing because we are a few bodies short.
“The result was misleading because Rochdale are no good. Swindon played well but I would’ve hated Plymouth away on the opening day of the season and I saw some Blackpool stats – it looks like you got robbed in a way and Plymouth are a well-drilled team.”
Style of play
As we shared on social media earlier this week, Blackpool had three of the top four defenders in terms of the numbers of passes completed at the weekend, with Swindon’s Zeki Fryers – who was linked with Pool during the summer – in second place. The two sides play a similar style of football, looking to play out from the back and play a high pressing game.
Like Pool, they tend to play 4-2-3-1, with Grant and Smith in front of the back four, the main danger coming from the wings and one focal point up front. Also similarly to the Seasiders, they’re expected to try to play on the front foot and dominate possession, while also leaving space in behind for the opposition to potentially exploit.
“We go a little bit gung-ho in the first 15 minutes and if teams can get through that, they’ll have a chance of beating us. It’s clear that Critchley plays a similar brand of football to Wellens, so what are you going to do? You’re going to look at the division below and see who’s doing well, and try and get their players. That’s football.”
The game will therefore be about which side plays better and takes their chances, given both sides have similar styles and tactics. It will be up to CJ Hamilton, Sullay Kaikai and both Yates and Anderson – who will both be licking their lips against their former clubs – to take their chances when they arrive. If not, Swindon will create chances of their own and try to spoil the party for us in front of 1,000 supporters.
Right winger Diallang Jaiyesimi recently joined Swindon permanently, having spent last season on loan from Norwich, and the 22-year-old has been outlined as The Robins’ danger man. He scored five in 21 league games last season and gained interest from plenty of clubs over the summer before opting for the County Ground.
“He’s a naturally good footballer. It was a bit of a surprise Norwich released him and there were lots of clubs in for him, but Richie Wellens is the reason he chose us. On his day he’s a nuisance.”
What we can expect on Saturday
In front of our own fans, albeit at a low capacity, it is set to be a tasty affair with the return of pantomime villain manager Wellens, in addition to Keshi and Jerry lining up against their former clubs. Both sides are set up to score and also struggle to keep clean sheets, so there will surely be goals.
“I fully expect Wellens to be booked or sent to the stands… it’s all about who winds up who the most. I’d expect a lot of stuff on the pitch – Keshi is a mischievous guy, he will wind up Swindon’s players. There aren’t many left from last season but those who are surviving will know what him and Jerry are about.”
“I don’t think Swindon will win, I would take a 1-1 draw all day long. I don’t think last weekend’s results will have any bearing other than motivation for both sides. No Swindon fan is thinking anything other than for one, if not both, of Yates and Anderson to score. Anderson has scored some absolute belters from 25 yards so if he scores it will be a screamer. Unfortunately for him if he wants to shush anyone then he’ll have to find a camera because none of us will be there!”
The sides have only played 36 times, with Blackpool having won 12, drawn 17 and only lost 7. While we’re not often on the losing side, our most recent meeting ended in a 3-2 defeat at the County Ground in February 2016. We won 1-0 earlier that season, while the eight previous meetings between 2002 and 2005 all ended in draws.
Blackpool – Evens (SkyBet)
Draw – 13/5 (Bet365)
Swindon – 5/2 (888 Sport)
Jerry Yates is 5/1 to open the scoring while Keshi Anderson is 6/1
Both teams to score and a Blackpool win is 10/3
You can listen to our full chat with Rich Pullen in our latest podcast.
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