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James Davis’ Pick 15 Preview

Southgate

Southgate and England feature in this week’s Pick 15, England will be looking to keep up World Cup momentum!

We will not cashout – we will not fold to pressure – we will win this thing!

Last week started off really well again, with just a single slip up in the first seven games and that was due to the unexpected Zaha injury that caught a lot of people out it seems. Even with the one slip up though, because there were only a few of us left in the consolation we were still in profit. The second half of the ticket though was an absolute disaster – 10 man Swansea came back from 1-0 down to beat Millwall? Schalke lost 2-0 at home? Valencia couldn’t beat Levante?!

Each week I will be highlighting some fixtures as bankers – games that I would bet my house on and will be tallying up my success rate on these games.

Last week there were 3 bankers – and… hangs head in shame… only 1 of them won. Celtic duly beat Rangers again, but Valencia could only manage a draw and Schalke were smashed at home. This week Gareth Southgate’s boys are back in business.

Bankers so far: 3 out of 5.

This week there are (2) bankers…

Anyway onto this week…

Portsmouth Shrewsbury

Portsmouth are straight out of the gates this season going great guns. Last season’s wild cards and sad playoff losers Shrewsbury have slipped into the season with a splodge. This doesn’t look like the game for them to turn it around in.

Selection Home

Southend Peterborough

Peterborough are not putting a foot wrong this year so far. The only thing that has me slightly concerned is Peterborough’s away record last season was pretty dire. They’ve nearly won as many away games this season already as they did all of last season. So for that reason I’m covering the draw.

Selection Draw Away

Blackpool Bradford

I quite fancy this game for a draw. Last season Blackpool had almost the same number of draws at home as wins. These two teams finished only 1 place apart last season. Blackpool have had a brighter start so I will cover the home win, but I feel like 1-1 here is a decent shout.

Selection Home Draw

Scunthorpe Rochdale

Scunthorpe appear to have lost their scoring boots of late. Last season saw them nearly get promoted so I would expect them to find those boots fairly soon. They lost Ivan Toney to Peterborough in the transfer window which has had a an effect but I think this is a good game for Josh Morris to get his name on the scoresheet again and perhaps become this season’s top scorer for them for a second year, despite not being a striker.

Selection Home Draw

Sunderland Fleetwood

Jack Ross is having a positive effect at the Stadium of Light and although Fleetwood have begun this campaign with a spring in their step I think this is a clear home win for Sunderland. Max Power is on suspension for a red card and is a pivotal player for Sunderland, so there are some reservations, but their last game at home against Scunthorpe where they destroyed them 3-0 shows what Fleetwood are up against.

Selection Home

Doncaster Luton

It’s always difficult to gauge how well a newly promoted team will do in a division until they’ve really got going in it. Some burst upwards with confidence and carry that with them and some are obviously out-classed. I’m unsure so far where Luton sit in that. They’ve had some decent wins, most notably the 3-2 win against Shrewsbury, so they’re definitely not out of this fixture.

Doncaster finished an unexciting 15th last season and have churned out mostly draws so far this year. I feel the draw is most likely, but I’m going against the bookies and backing the away team too, because I think if they get their nose in front and smell victory then they’ll be quite capable of taking it.

Selection Draw Away

Gillingham AFC Wimbledon

The only thing I feel reasonably certain about is that this game won’t be spectacular to watch. It could definitely go either way if not just because of the bad play from either team. Gillingham’s home record from last season is as terrible as Wimbledon’s away record. I literally may as well throw a dart with my eyes closed and see where it lands. So whenever such a game occurs I think it’s wisest to back the draw.

Selection Draw

Switzerland Iceland

We all enjoyed Iceland in the world cup with their huge simultaneous claps, but Switzerland really showed some class on the pitch. If this is at all competitive then Switzerland should come out on top, despite draws being a huge risk in international games.

Selection Home

Finland Hungary

I can’t really split these teams apart very easily, but there is one game that I can use to compare them. They both played Belarus in June. Finland beat them 2-0 and Hungary only managed a 1-1 draw. So for that reason alone, which seems as good as any, I’m backing Finland.

Selection Home

Southgate

England Spain

The World Cup was great. Southgate & England were great. Sterling will miss this game with a back injury and although he couldn’t find the net easily in the World Cup he was very good at putting the cat amongst the pigeons. Writing the words ‘I feel fairly confident England can get a result here against Spain’ feels ridiculous, but I feel fairly confident England can get a result here against Spain.

Our young team is growing in strength and despite the lack of prestige in the Nations League, they will enjoy the chance to play together again which will hopefully prove decisive (walks off cliff singing the national anthem). Okay, let’s cover the away win to be safe – Spain are favourites to win the thing after all. Hopefully Southgate works his magic!

Selection Home Away

Oxford Utd Coventry

Coventry had a somewhat fortunate escape from League 2 last season and haven’t started this campaign very well. The same could be said of Oxford too, but they have shown a bit of improvement in the last two games. It’s a tough call this one but I’m looking back to Oxford’s last home game for inspiration and they convincingly stuffed Burton – the same Burton that beat Aston Villa. So with all due reservations I’m backing the home team to come out on top.

Selection Home

Denmark Wales

Strange things are happening with Denmark with some bizarre dispute that might cause them to pick a squad from the lower leagues rather than their star players like Eriksen. So normally I would definitely go for a home win here, but I feel like anything could happen with so much weird turmoil happening with the Danish squad so I’m going to back Wales.

Selection Away

Internacional Gremio

It seems this is the week to focus on the newly promoted, and as I mentioned before they can be hard to judge, but Internacional have had time to get their teeth into the season and they are biting down hard. They are in second place with 12 wins under their belt which is pretty impressive for a team who weren’t long ago in the division below.

Gremio consistently find themselves in the top half on the table, if not inside the top 4 so are very strong opponents. As Internacional haven’t lost at home this season so far I’m going to go with them.

Selection Home

Russia Czech Republic

I think everyone was surprised to see how well Russia managed to play in the world cup, but this game is a friendly so I wouldn’t expect to see the same sort of competitive spirit. So because of this I reckon a draw is always a decent shout in a non-competitive match where neither team are that strong.

Selection Draw

Portugal Italy

Another game in the UEFA Nations League. Italy were a no show at the world cup and Ronaldo… sorry Portugal played very well. In the game against Spain I thought they were going to win the whole thing. But it wasn’t to be. Ronaldo however won’t be playing in this fixture, so what will that mean for Portugal? It will probably mean that they can still beat Italy, that’s what.

Selection Home

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