• Mon. May 27th, 2024

Oxford United’s ‘first chapter’ of League One season ends with MK Dons game

Byoxfordnewspaper

Sep 16, 2022

CHAPTER One of Oxford United’s 2022/23 season ends with tomorrow’s game against MK Dons.

The postponement of next Saturday’s fixture against Fleetwood Town gives the U’s a free fortnight which allows them to draw a line under a difficult start to the campaign, or so they hope.

The first chapter of United's season has been dominated by injuries, with 11 players missing games at various points because they were in the treatment room.

READ MORE: Karl Robinson hails Cameron Brannagan ahead of midfielder's milestone appearance

The way the transfer window ended added to the frustration, especially as the only deadline-day arrival had to wait almost a fortnight for his work permit to come through.

United have underperformed even when you account for the injuries, although it is worth remembering that a win over MK would almost certainly put them in the top half going into October.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, the U's know 'Chapter Two' must be better.

The return to fitness of several players offers hope. Sam Baldock, Elliott Moore, Josh Murphy and Matty Taylor should be available by the time the U’s go to Charlton Athletic on October 1, while Marcus Browne will be closer to his best.

United were outstanding on their last visit to The Valley, winning 4-0 in February, although even the most optimistic fan would not predict the same scoreline this time around.

That is partly because we still do not know what to expect from this U's side.

With his whole squad other than Yanic Wildschut potentially available for the Charlton game, will Karl Robinson revert to the 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 formation he recruited for in the summer?

Will the return of some dynamic forwards see United look more like the side that blew teams away last season? And will they be able to balance that with the defensive solidity they have shown early in the campaign?

READ MORE: Oxford United home game postponed

The good news is that the U's have always improved in the autumn under Robinson.

In the last four years, United's points per game (PPG) has always increased from the third month of the campaign onwards.

Last season's improvement was relatively minimal, with a PPG of 1.5 for August and September rising to 1.69 from October to April.

The climb has been steeper in other years, going from 0.75 in the first two months of 2020/21 to 1.79 in the rest of the campaign.

There is no guarantee the same will happen this term, of course, but United will hope tomorrow's game marks the end of their toughest chapter of the season.