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Opposition analysis: Carlton

Squad Announcement: R6 See the squad that has been picked to take on the Blues this Sunday in Tassie.

The line up

B: Thomas, Jones, Marchbank

HB: Newman, Weitering, Plowman

C: Murphy, Cripps, Walsh

HF: Petrevski-Seton, McKay, O’Brien

F: Gibbons, McGovern, E.Curnow

FOLL: Kreuzer, Dow, Fisher

I/C (from): Simpson, Casboult, Cuningham, Silvagni, Garlett, Kennedy, C.Curnow, Polson

IN: Cuningham, Kennedy, Garlett, C.Curnow

OUT: -            

Read: Stratts signs

What to expect

Despite only registering its first win of the year last week, Carlton’s form hasn’t been quite as bad as that record might suggest.

A slow start was the fault in the Blues’ season opener as Richmond’s 33-point quarter time buffer was also the game’s final margin.

Brendan Bolton’s side then came within three goals of Sydney and Port Adelaide in Adelaide before losing to Gold Coast in a game they really should have won.

It speaks to the evenness of the competition this year, that a side with just one win to their name are a threat to any side on any given day.

One area that the Blues have made great strides in is the defensive side of their game.

The easiest side to score against in 2018, with opposition averaging 103.7 points per game against them, Carlton have now conceded the eighth fewest points despite saluting in one of its five outings.

The side’s ability to score themselves is a stronger reflection of its ladder position, ranking 15th for its 73.6 points per game.

Key forward pair Harry McKay (nine goals) and Mitch McGovern (eight) have led the way for the Blues in front of goal so far this season but, following them, no other Blue is averaging more than a goal per game.

With both McKay and McGovern strong forces in the air, if the Hawks are able to cut off their aerial supply, it will go a long way to defeating the Blues this weekend.

Player to watch

The current favourite to take out this year’s Brownlow Medal, Patrick Cripps has earned this mantle through posting prolific numbers so far in 2019.

Since the contested possessions statistic was first recorded 20 years ago in 1999, no player has averaged 20 contested touches through an entire year - but that is precisely what Cripps is on track to do as he eyes off Patrick Dangerfield’s 2017 record of most in a season (17.9 per game).

Cripps also has fellow Carlton great Brett Ratten’s season clearance record in his sights, being the first player since Ratten in 1999 to average over 10 clearances a game.

Needless to say, Cripps is a near-on indomitable midfield force at the moment.

The Hawks will be putting some work into restricting the Carlton skipper’s influence on Sunday, but, standing at 195cm tall, it seems there is only so much you can do to interrupt this man’s current run of dominance.

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