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Match preview: Carlton v Essendon

Pick a Winner: Carl v Ess Duck and Browny preview the Blues v Bombers
Tom Bellchambers faces a big ruck task in his 100th AFL game, taking on Matthew Kreuzer and Andrew Phillips - AFL,Carlton Blues,Essendon Bombers
Tom Bellchambers faces a big ruck task in his 100th AFL game, taking on Matthew Kreuzer and Andrew Phillips

SUMMARY

How the mighty have fallen. As the Blues celebrate the 50th anniversary of their drought-breaking premiership against the Bombers in 1968, these proud clubs sit in the bottom four and well off the pace for finals contention. Apart from an excellent display by ruckman Tom Bellchambers and solid contributions from a select few, Essendon was most disappointing against Hawthorn last Saturday to record its fifth loss in the past six games. Both teams have struggled to score this season and Carlton's forward set-up will be restructured without the injured Levi Casboult. While the Blues has played well in patches, they have been unable to string a full four quarters together and remain winless after seven rounds. They will be bolstered by the return of several key players and this looms as their best chance of breaking through for a much-needed win.

WHERE AND WHEN: MCG, Saturday, May 12, 2.10pm AEST 
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide

PAST FIVE TIMES

R20, 2017, Essendon 11.18 (84) d Carlton 11.10 (76) at the MCG
R3, 2017, Carlton 7.15 (57) d Essendon 6.6 (42) at the MCG
R23, 2016, Essendon 15.13 (103) d Carlton 10.19 (79) at the MCG
R6, 2016, Carlton 10.12 (72) d Essendon 8.9 (57) at the MCG
R3, 2015, Essendon 16.9 (105) d Carlton 11.18 (84) at the MCG

THE SIX POINTS

1. Essendon came from behind to win when the clubs last played, trailing narrowly at three-quarter time before kicking four goals to two. Dyson Heppell and David Zaharakis combined for 77 disposals.

2. Both teams have struggled to score this season. Carlton is second last, with an average of 66 points a game and has not reached 100 in its past 40 matches. Essendon is 12th for scoring with an average of 81 points, down from 95 in 2017.

3. Essendon has been smashed in third quarters all this season, losing all seven – kicking a total of 87 points to its oppositions' 223.

4. This will be the 68th time these clubs have clashed at the MCG. Essendon holds the advantage, winning 37 games to 26. There have been four draws.

5. Carlton and Essendon have taken the ball inside 50 on fewer occasions than the other 16 clubs. The Blues are 17th with an average of 48.6 and the Bombers last, averaging 47.6.

6. Joe Daniher's travails in front of goal have been reflected in the Schick AFL Player Ratings. The Bombers spearhead started the season as the fifth-ranked key forward (No. 72 overall), but dropped to ninth (No. 97 overall) at the end of round seven.

IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR …

Essendon ruckman Tom Bellchambers will line up for his 100th game on Saturday. He outpointed big Hawk Ben McEvoy last Saturday and the Bombers will need him to replicate that form against Blues pair Matthew Kreuzer and Andrew Phillips.

PREDICTION: Carlton by three points.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs