OXFORD fan George Elek (@georgeelek) previews Sunday’s EFL Trophy final from Wembley as the U’s take on Coventry.
Oxford v Coventry | Sunday 14:30 | Sky Sports 3
So, as a disclaimer, I’m an Oxford fan.
I like to think I’m pretty impartial in that regard though. Just a couple of weeks ago, on this very column, I tipped Bolton to beat us live on Sky. They duly obliged.
The 21/20 (Marathon) available on Oxford to defeat Coventry in Sunday’s Checkatrade Trophy Final, however, is just wrong.
Michael Appleton has built a team that attracted a reported 33 scouts to the Kassam Stadium in their 5-1 win over Bury on Tuesday evening. Hat-trick hero Conor McAleny is cup-tied, but the quality of Oxford’s squad runs deep.
They have had difficulties with their home form; an uneven pitch is not ideal for the athletic and technically gifted players that Appleton has recruited.
Wins at Charlton, Peterborough and Bolton show that Oxford are adept on their travels, especially on the pitches that enable wingers Marvin Johnson and Robbie Hall to cause carnage.
Coventry are undoubtedly resurgent under Mark Robins, and maximum points in their last two games, both at home, is indicative of a team who have come on hugely with the new man in the dugout.
Oxford’s 5-1 win against Bury, however, was justly deserved. The fluid attacking play of the Oxford front line dispatched a team who had conceded just two goals in their previous 10 games.
Favourites should prove too good
This is simple; back the better team to prevail at 21/20.
The likes of Johnson, Hall and John Lundstram are frankly too good to be playing in League One, and this Wembley pitch will give them the stage on which to show what they can do.
Oxford were losers in this competition last season, going down to eventual play-off winners Barnsley. That experience will serve them well this time around, with much of the team from that day looking to make get over that heartbreak.
Maguire the man for the big ocassion
Chris Maguire looks set to return from injury, and has proven himself to be the man for the big occasion. He was tremendous in their FA Cup victory against Swansea last season, and has been the talisman in both A420 Derby wins over Swindon this term.
He dispatched an expert free-kick at the Riverside against Middlesbrough in the 5th round of this year’s FA Cup, and his expertly dispatched set-piece in his last appearance against Bolton was his ninth converted free-kick this season.
Appleton has commented that Maguire’s skill with dead-balls in these areas has meant he know sees them a penalty-like opportunities. With Oxford likely to dominate possession, Maguire will have chances to score at Wembley, so back him both to score first and at anytime at 9/2 (bet365) and 7/5 (Coral).