By Max McVittie

Carlisle United will have to beat one of the most in-form teams in the league if they are to get three much-needed points, with Saturday's visitors having won four out of their last five league games.

Northampton Town visit Brunton Park on Saturday in blistering form whilst scoring at least two goals in each of their last four league victories, something Paul Simpson’s side have struggled with so far this campaign.

Reassuringly, the visitors haven’t been particularly strong on their travels having picked up just nine points from a possible 27, conceding 13 goals and scoring only eight in the process. Compare this to their home form, where they have picked up 17 points, including five wins, which has propelled them up the table and away from relegation contention, for now.

After gaining promotion to League One with each other last season, one side has acclimatised to the higher level better than the other. We take a look at the danger men that will look to trouble the Blues on Saturday, with stats courtesy of fotmob.

Sam Hoskins

Last season’s EFL League Two Player of the Season has been a mainstay for Northampton over the past eight years, having signed from Yeovil Town in 2015. The tricky winger has found goals to come by in abundance this season, as he sits in a tie for fourth in League One’s top scorer chart with 12 goals.

The 30-year-old predominantly plays on the left - allowing him to cut in on his favoured right foot - recently playing an instrumental role in the Cobblers’ 2-1 victory over Blackpool at Bloomfield Road, setting up the first and scoring the winner.

Hoskins is certainly Northampton’s biggest threat as, according to fotmob, the attacker averages the visitors' highest expected goals per 90 at 0.42, comfortably higher than Louis Appere, 0.33, who plays more centrally.

The former Southampton academy player also tops Northampton’s charts for most big chances created this season with four - illustrating Hoskins importance to the Cobblers' attack in more ways than one. Alternatively, one of the division’s most in form players has missed seven big chances this season which will give Tomas Holy and co some much-needed encouragement for Saturday.

Marc Leonard

The highly-rated midfielder was subject to much transfer interest across the EFL as well as abroad upon making his original loan spell at the Sixfields Stadium permanent in 2023.

The 22-year-old has once again had a stellar start to the season and has started all 20 of Northampton’s league games so far this season. In those 20 games, the Scotland Under-21 international has shown how instrumental he is in the visitors’ build up play, as he averages the most passes per 90 minutes for the Cobblers, according to fotmob, with 51.8.

Leonard has created the most chances for Northampton this season in League One with 36, again highlighting his importance to the visitors’ attacking play. Defensively, the young midfielder ranks third within Northampton’s squad for interceptions per 90, 1.3 and successful tackles per 90, 1.4.

The former Brighton & Hove Albion player has built up strong partnerships in midfield alongside Shaun McWilliams and former Carlisle player Jack Sowerby over the past two seasons, which has been fruitful for Northampton over the last five games, especially.

Mitchell Pinnock

A more naturally attacking midfielder than Leonard, Mitchell Pinnock has also operated from both flanks in more recent weeks after Louis Appere dropped to the bench following his return from injury.

Although his goal scoring and assisting output is modest, standing at four goals and one assist, the former Arsenal academy player still remains a tough challenge for United’s backline and midfield to deal with on Saturday, whilst being Northampton’s second top goalscorer in the league.

Pinnock’s creativity is a potentially main cause for concern for Simmo’s men as fotmob’s stats point to the 29-year-old as being a focal point to the Cobblers' attack. He ranks first in expected assists across the season, 2.8, and per 90, 0.15, above any other attacker - shows Pinnock’s value to Northampton’s very respectable start to the season.

The attacking midfielder has an xg (expected goals) of 2.3 despite scoring four goals, highlighting his ruthlessness in front of goal, something The Blues will want to prevent at the weekend.