The Shrimps host Milton Keynes Dons as their hunt for the first 3 points of the season. Promising performances against Fleetwood and Oxford have left Morecambe fans hopeful that the first league win of the season is just around the corner.
MK Dons finished in a comfortable 3rd place, missing out on automatic promotion by only 1 point. The goal scoring success of Scott Twine in no doubt helped fire them towards what seemed like a relatively easy playoff semi-final. However, Gareth Ainsworth’s Wycombe Wanderers came away with a 2-1 aggregate win despite a spirited Dons’ second leg performance. The disappointed of playoff semi-final woes were only compounded when their top scorer left for Burnley in July. To put this into perspective, Twine was directly involved in 42% of MK’s league goals last campaign.
Despite their given pedigree in this division, MK Dons have only accrued 4 points this season from their first 5 games. A below par start against Cambridge United turned worse following defeats to both Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town. Four points in their last 2 games against Port Vale and Accrington Stanley will boost confidence in the camp that they can travel to the Mazuma Stadium and return with all three points. MK Dons have also just progressed to the third round of the Carabao Cup after beating Championship side Watford 2-0 away from home.
Statistically, the Dons match up similarly to Morecambe in most aspects. The two teams have similar numbers in tackles won, fouls drawn, shots on target percentage, expected goals and goal difference.
The numerical similarities between the two sides are not a result of the playing styles each team deploys being alike. For the start of the season, Liam Manning set up his side in a 4-2-3-1 formation with an emphasis on allowing the most forward players freedom to create. This set-up and the importance on possession played right into the hands of the opposition as they lost to Cambridge United and Sheffield Wednesday despite having two thirds of the possession in each game. When switching to a 3-4-3, Manning’s side have found greater success even though they have had less of the ball in each game. One point of note is that this formation has only been deployed for two games of the season so far and could be undone should it come up against the wrong team; who is to say that will not happen on Saturday.
Bradley Johnson- The veteran central midfielder has been one of the more consistent players in the Dons’ squad. With an impressive brace against Port Vale, Johnson has been earmarked s one of the players that the Shrimps should keep an eye out for. Last season, Johnson was in and out of the team and could not find too much consistency within his own game. In comparison, he has played in each of the 5 league games on offer starting in the last four. This increased game time has only helped Bradley develop still into a constant figurein an MK Dons side that is seeking promotion.
Given the money and the history that the club has, MK Dons will once again be aiming for promotion back to England’s second division for the first time since 2016. Whether the Milton Keynes based side can replaced Scott Twine will be one of the larger factors as to whether their promotion bid will hold any substantial weight. The start they have had to the season does look more like one of a relegation contender, but all fans know the season is long and many factors could change in an instant. Dons’ fans will be hoping the different system will produce a run of form that could propel them back into the playoff places.
In the six competitive games played between the two teams so far, Milton Keynes Dons have had the upper hand having won on 4 occasions. Thee four wins include the two that took place last campaign. The only win Morecambe have in this fixture was a 4-2 home win in the 18/19 season.
Both teams have stumbled over the starting block this season and have looked to steady the ship with a change in tactics. The similarities between the two sides, I predict, will end on Saturday. This MK Dons side are finally coming into their stride and despite some impressive performances against Championship sides in the EFL Cup, Morecambe will be the underdogs. Hence, why I am predicting a 2-0 away win.