Pete O’Rourke previews this weekend’s 1X2 Pick 8 pool, kicking off on Friday at 19:30 with Bundesliga action. You can join his Syndicate, playing for £10,000, here.
Leverkusen vs Bayern
Bayern Munich face a trip trip Leverkusen as they aim to continue their relentless march to another Bundesliga title. Bayern have won nine of 10 games since Jupp Heynckes replaced Carlo Ancelotti as manager, but they arguably face one of their toughest tests of the season on Friday night. Leverkusen are unbeaten at home this season and will make things difficult for Bayern so it could be a tight encounter at the Bayer Arena.
Sheff Utd vs Sheff Wed
New Sheffield Wednesday manager Jos Luhukay has a real baptism of fire in his first game in charge as he takes on city rivals Sheffield United in the second Steel City derby of the season. Sheffield United will be looking to complete a derby double over Wednesday after winning the first meeting at Hillsborough earlier in the season and they will be looking to get back to form after dropping out of the play-off picture. Wednesday on the other hand have lost their last six games and the last place they want to be going to is Bramall Lane right now so a home win should be on the cards.
Cardiff vs Sunderland
Cardiff play host to basement boys Sunderland seeking a return to winning after a disastrous run of form over the Christmas period. Neil Warnock’s men have lost their last four league games, but are still just two points outside the automatic promotion spots in the Championship. Sunderland are two points from safety at the bottom end of the table and although they have shown signs of improvement under Chris Coleman their misery looks set to continue in the Welsh capital.
Crystal Palace vs Burnley
Roy Hodgson has got Crystal Palace moving in the right direction as they welcome Burnley to Selhurst Park. Palace have moved out of the bottom three off the back of just one defeat in their last 11 Premier League, while Burnley have failed in their last five games after a difficult set of fixtures over the Christmas period. Both sides struggle for goals so this looks like being a low-scoring game and it is hard to separate the pair so the draw looks the best play.
Chelsea vs Leicester
Chelsea have won their last seven at home and they will be looking to maintain that momentum when they welcome Leicester to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have second spot in their sights and they will be aiming to keep the pressure on runaway leaders Manchester City with another three points at home. Leicester struggle away from home against the top six and although Claude Puel has turned things around at the King Power it would be a major surprise to see them come away from anything from their trip to West London
Watford vs Southampton
Watford’s bright start to the season seems a long time ago as they take on struggling Southampton at Vicarage Road. Marco Silva’s men have lost six of their last seven, while Southampton find themselves outside the drop zone on goal difference. Both sides are woefully out of form and too hard to predict so will sit on the fence for this one.
Tottenham vs Everton
Tottenham will be seeking to keep pace with the top four when they welcome Everton to Wembley on Saturday. Everton have hit a slump in form after a bright start under Sam Allardyce with no win in their last four games and just one goal in that run. Everton will set up to frustrate Tottenham like Allardyce always does against the top six, but Tottenham’s class should tell in a low-scoring affair.
Nottingham Forest vs Aston Villa
Aitor Karanka begins life as Nottingham Forest manager with a home clash against an Aston Villa side looking to boost their promotion bid. Despite their heroics in the FA Cup against Arsenal last week Forest have struggled at the City Ground of last losing three of their last four in the league. Villa have automatic promotion in their sights and they have lost just two of their least 10 in the league. This looks a tough game to call as sides normally get a bounce from a new manager, while Villa are in much better form than Forest.