So far this season Oxford United have been achieving what they have been trying to do for the past 3 years . They have found a goalscorer, recruited a firm centre midfielder and have a range of good quality goalkeepers to choose from. They also sit 3rd in League 2 as well as still being in two cup competitions the FA Cup and the Johnstone Paint Trophy respectively. However the real question is can they keep it up?
Over the past 2 years Oxford United’s team has had a huge transformation with Jake Wright being the only player in the squad that was part of the Conference playoff winning team back in 2010. Nonetheless the acquisitions made since then have been essential to how they are performing now. You just have to look at the FA cup tie the other week against Swansea City to see the class that has been brought in. Beating a team of premier league quality is never easy and Oxford managed that. Can they continue on in the FA Cup? Yes, however they may struggle if they come up against some of the bigger teams left in the competition such as Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United but with Blackburn next up and with confidence behind them anything is capable.
The key player has undoubtedly been Kemar Roofe for the U’s this season who has played at an outstanding level, as well as the performances he has also managed to bag himself 18 goals in 31 games so far this campaign.His shining appearances came against Swansea City in the FA cup tie, as well as the Johnstone Paint Trophy match versus Millwall in which he scored a brace in both games. In addition to Roofe, John Lundstram has put in some exceptional performances as well Liam Sercombe who have dominated the centre of the field for Oxford United. The defence looks sturdy and strong enough to see out opposing teams, with the skipper Jake Wright leading from the front. The squad as a whole also looks of good quality when fit and has enough depth to push for promotion this season, in which they have been striving to achieve for a long period of time.
With the second leg of the Johnstone Paint Trophy coming up I hope that Oxford can keep their concentration on the league as well as pushing for a trip to Wembley in which their fans would be delighted with. If this is not accomplished then they may struggle to keep hold of key players such as Kemar Roofe. Newcastle have already been linked with the forward and I fear many other clubs could look to purchase the in form man. Not only this but the tricky winger Callum O’Dowda has also been linked with a move away from the club and Derby County have expressed a large amount of interest, which may concern many fans. By gaining promotion to League 1 I feel that many suitors may vanish and allow Oxford to keep pushing towards their goals, furthermore they will also gain an increased amount of funding to push them a step further.
Can Oxford win the triple? Well the odds are stacked against them with the bookies putting Oxford United to win the FA Cup, League 2 and the Johnstone Pain trophy at 25,000/1, which suggests not. However the double is very much on with Oxford 3rd in the league and 2-0 up in their Southern Area final against Millwall with the second leg to play, it must be a realistic target. On the other hand promotion must be the main goal and if Michael Appleton’s team plays the way they are capable of, then promotion should be completed.
Oxford United fans right now are singing ‘we are going to win all three!’. Will they? Only time will tell.