Preview: Wycombe v Peterborough

The Basics

As it stands: Wycombe 11-641 (2nd, 22 pts, F18, A10) | Peterborough 10-523 (8th, 17 pts, F23, A12)

Form: Wycombe WLDWW | Peterborough WWDLW

Last time out: Rochdale 0-3 Wycombe | Peterborough 3-2 AFC Wimbledon

Head-to-head: P22 | Wycombe W10 | Peterborough W7 | D5

Previous meeting: Peterborough 4-2 Wycombe (02/03/19)

Coming into the Game

These sides face off in HP12 after both taking ten points from the last five games. Having trounced Rochdale 6-0 two weeks earlier, Peterborough’s 3-2 success over Wimbledon marked a return to winning ways after a 2-2 draw at Tranmere and 2-0 loss at Doncaster. Our own defeat of Dale made it three games unbeaten and consigned Gillingham away to the ‘blip’ folder once and for all.

Posh’s demolition job came at the end of a five-match winning run in all competitions which saw Darren Ferguson’s side score 17 and concede none – with a 3-0 win over Sunderland probably being the most notable result. They beat Arsenal’s U21s in the week, but the side didn’t include any outfield players likely to start this one.

Last time we met Posh, we went down 4-2 at London Road in Matt Bloomfield’s 500th career game, with the inimitable Marcus Maddison doing much of the damage. Last time we met them at home? Bryn Morris’ deflected free-kick secured a 1-0 win over our then second-placed visitors. Now we’re the high-flyers.

Some reassuring stats: there has never been a 0-0 draw between Wycombe and Peterborough; 15 of the 22 league meetings have produced three or more goals; Peterborough have only won on two of their 11 league visits to Adams Park. But hey, that all means nothing…

Opposition Overview

Last season: 7th in League One

Manager: Darren Ferguson (appointed January 2019 third spell in charge)

Top league scorers: Mo Eisa (ST) and Ivan Toney (ST) – 8

WhoScored.com highest rated player in 2019/20: Marcus Maddison (AM) – 7.83 (highest in League One)

Style of play: High intensity, lots of shots, keep ball in middle third

STAR PLAYER: MARCUS MADDISON | Not just Peterborough’s best player but arguably the best player in the division, the number 10 (well, actually number 11) is simply a wizard with the ball at his feet – and more specifically his left peg. Nine starts. Six goals (including three certified humdingers). Six assists (also featuring some humdingers). It’s fair to say he’s had an alright start to the season.

The 26-year-old leads the division in big chances created (eight) and averages almost three shots a game – not bad for a midfielder. It would be wise not to give him any space within about 35 yards of goal – and definitely not any free-kicks; he’ll shoot from anywhere. Just look through Posh’s highlights for his best bits – there are plenty of them – but below is arguably the pick of the bunch from his cinematic performances.

Three Talking Points: Wycombe

Going on a Winning Run?

Last Saturday’s rare away triumph made it back-to-back victories for the first time this season. Win this one and that’ll constitute a run. Incidentally, it falls one day short of a year since the 2-1 win over Burton – our first of 2018/19 – the first of six straight on home soil (a joint League record for us). Am I playing down the significance of one defeat in 11? Absolutely not – but seeing that form column fill up with Ws is always a sight to behold.

What’s more, send Posh packing and we’ll prove wrong a few more doubters of our staying power in the upper reaches of the table (to be honest, I still doubt it, but that’s probably because I’m not yet convinced that Wycombe occupying second spot isn’t something off FIFA). Our home record against the better sides is certainly encouraging: we beat three of last season’s top eight and drew with two, only losing by more than a goal on one occasion (to Coventry, of course).

Fortress Adams Park

I suppose this overlaps with the above, but whatever. After grinding out that 1-0 against Pompey, consider it rebuilt. We’ve won with ease (v Bolton), dramatically from behind (v Southend) and scraped a tense one. Short of going and walloping someone 5-0, I think we’ve pulled off every major kind of victory – and winning any which way can only be a good sign. Seeing off an early season promotion favourite would reinforce the barricades ahead of the visit of…oh, Sunderland. We’re already on our longest home league unbeaten run since September – December 2017 (also eight games); we’ve not gone nine without losing at AP for over a decade – when we went 20 from February 2008 to January 2009, falling one matches short of a year undefeated.

Two of Diamonds?

We’ve started every home game this season in a 4-3-3, only changing course from the norm when chasing the game against Southend (4-4-2) and, obviously, after going down to ten men against Pompey (4-3-2). That said, we’ve yet to face the dreaded diamond 4-4-2 on our patch. Peterborough employ it and employ it well – evidently – but we haven’t when attempting to match the shape of the opposition at Bristol Rovers and Gillingham.

It’s a formation which seems to make Gareth change more than others. It makes sense when you consider the potential for such a dynamic system to overrun a three-man midfield, but you have to get it right. Seeing as we’ll potentially be missing three central midfielders – the suspended Nnamdi Ofoborh and, depending on their fitness status, Nick Freeman and Alex Pattison – Gaz’s decision might be made for him. I wouldn’t rule out a flat 4-4-2 for the extra width, though.


Three Talking Points: Peterborough

Goals Galore

Peterborough are the top scorers in League One with 23 from their ten games – and they’ve failed to score in two of those. Maddison has accounted for six goals, front duo Mo Eisa and Ivan Toney for eight each (centre-back cum midfielder Josh Knight bagged the stray one). That might not be as much of a spread as we have – eight scorers so far – but to have three players hitting the back of the net so frequently is something most sides at this level can only dream of.

An injury crisis might spell trouble for Posh, but within a game, shutting those three down without resorting to underhand tactics is a tall order. We can make life awkward for them by doing the (theoretically) simple things – stay rigidly organised and close down well like we did at Rochdale – and Oxford and Doncaster have already kept the terrific trio out, but we won’t be in for an easy ride. It’s a good thing we’re currently averaging over two goals per home game!

Defensive Frailties?

If Posh keep banging them in for fun at the one end, it might not matter that they’re slightly porous at the other, but the point is they can be got at. Fleetwood put three past them, Ipswich, Tranmere and Doncaster two each, and Oxford one. We’ve scored the second most home goals in the league (14); they’ve conceded the joint seventh most away goals (nine). We just need to exploit the right areas (yeah yeah, easier said than done).

Crosses and long balls over the top have caused problems for Peterborough so far, while questions have been asked of their speed of closing down around the box. New ‘keeper Christy Pym arrived from Exeter highly rated but has endured a wobbly start to life in Cambridgeshire. Allsop releases Onyedinma who crosses for Bayo to score?

An Even Aerial Match-up?

Yep, perhaps surprisingly, Posh boast the highest aerial success rate in League One (58.1%) – although we’re not far behind, ranking fourth with 53.1%. It’s all about areas, though. Where do they win the ball in the air? Judging by their last five games, on the right-hand side of the middle third and in the opposition’s box – thanks mainly to Leicester loanee Knight in the former and Toney in the latter. Toney ranks seventh in the division for aerial wins (113), and while he’s still a fair way off chart-topping Beast on 189, he’s obviously adept in this respect. Only two of his eight goals have been headers, but 12 of his 37 attempts have.


Possible Line-ups

WYCOMBE

Darius Charles looked to be struggling late on at Rochdale, and Giles Phillips is a more than able deputy should his senior colleague need to sit this one out – which would see Jamie Mascoll start at left-back assuming Joe Jacobson remains sidelined. Blooms missed that game as a precuation so may well return. Josh Parker could be pushing for a start after his fine cameo last Saturday, but the big man should be fresh to put in another Beastly shift.

lineup (42)

PETERBOROUGH

Posh could go with the team which beat Wimbledon. 18-year-old Ricky Jade-Jones is set to be in the squad after impressing on Tuesday night and could make it two young academy products on the away bench – 17-year-old Harrison Burrows is already well in the first team frame, making his debut at Oxford in Round One of the Carabao Cup and four further appearances.

lineup (43)

In the Middle: Will Finnie

An EFL newcomer, Finnie has officiated eight games so far in 2019/20, dishing out 35 yellows but no reds yet. However, this will be his first League One appointment – which, let’s be honest, is a concern. Still, they all have to start somewhere. Let’s hope he’s eager to prove himself – just not too eager, eh?

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