Rovers are looking to start 2020 with a bang as they prepare to face in-form Oxford United on New Year’s Day.
Rovers have generally done well in the opening game of a new year suffering just one loss in the previous decade and claiming five wins.
Rovers brought 2019 in with an emphatic 5-0 win at home and will be hoping for more of the same in 2020. However, Oxford will provide Rovers with a tough test as the visitors look to complete a hat-trick of wins in seven days.
The U’s recent form
Oxford United are Sky Bet League One’s in-form team. With three consecutive wins, they have leap frogged Peterborough United to claim second place and have start narrowing the gap on table-toppers Wycombe Wanders who have failed to pick up any points in their last three matches.
They have only lost one league game since mid-September. This came in a surprising 1-0 defeat to MK Dons on December 14 though perhaps the U’s were distracted by the bright lights of a Carabao Cup tie against Manchester City which came just four days later.
Who’s the gaffer?
Karl Robinson is closing in on two years at the helm of the U’s after joining them on March 22 2018 - the same day that his contract at Charlton Athletic was cancelled by mutual consent.
He spent almost two years at Charlton – joining them after being sacked from MK Dons following a run of four defeats in October of 2016. This brought the end of a six-year stint in charge of the Dons during which time he took the team to the Championship and masterminded a 4-0 victory over Manchester United in the Carabao Cup.
He has taken charge of just over 100 games for Oxford, taking them to 16th in 2017/18 and 12th in 2018/19.
Ones to watch
Henry was on the bench for the U’s most recent victory over AFC Wimbledon, but Robinson has confirmed the club’s top striker is fit to start on Wednesday.
The striker has been involved in 16 of Oxford’s 41 goals this season – scoring 11 and setting up five.
Regardless of his record in the league, his record against Rovers is excellent. He scored twice in the reverse victory earlier this season, got a goal in the 2-2 draw at the Kassam Stadium last season, and scored the winner at the Keepmoat Stadium the season before.
Oxford have the joint best defensive record in the league (alongside Wycombe and Ipswich) having conceded just 21 goals so far. They have only conceded three league goals since October 20 and much of this can be attributed to captain John Mousinho.
Mousinho joined Oxford in 2017 and was made captain soon after. He recently played in his 500th career game. He has been at the heart of the U’s defence this season and has helped them become resilient and difficult to break down.
Who’s the ref?
Like the reverse tie, the man in charge of this match will be Sebastian Stockbridge. You can read more about Stockbridge here.
Last time out
Rovers struggled to contain a tenacious Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium and were beaten 3-0 in October.