This week I’m tacking the £10,000 Pick 8. Join my Syndicate HERE
Lyon vs Ajax – 1 / 2
With Lyon trailing 4-1 from the first leg in Amsterdam, Bruno Genesio has no choice but to set his side up with a great deal of attacking intent. As a result there are two predictable outcomes. The hosts will either break Ajax down early and spark a potential classic into life or they will leave themselves exposed to a fearsome young attack on the counter. A draw seems a very unlikely outcome as a result, and were it not up first in this week’s Pick 8 I would have gone for OL outright.
Manchester United vs Celta Vigo – 1 / X
Jose Mourinho’s side are in a strong position ahead of the second leg of their semi final against Celta at Old Trafford courtesy of Marcus Rashford’s valuable away goal. While a much changed United line-up lost at Arsenal at the weekend, the Red Devils remain very difficult to beat and their visitors’ form has fallen off a cliff. They looked to prioritise the Europa League but perhaps made too many changes, seeing the side enter the game low on morale and ultimately looking a little limp last week.
Everton vs Watford – 1
Everton have surrendered any feint chance of a top six finish but should be strong favourites against a Watford side that has had nothing to play for for some time, reflected in some abject displays. The Toffees may have been hammered by Chelsea at Goodison last time out but their home record is still very strong, while Watford have lost five in a row on the road. There should be only one winner.
Aberdeen vs Celtic – 2
A rehearsal for the Scottish Cup final later in the month, Aberdeen would love to put an end to Celtic’s unbeaten league season while the Hoops will be desperate to protect that record despite wrapping up the title with time to spare. The Dons have lost back-to-back home games, conceding five goals, and the pressure is now on in the race for second ahead of a massive game with Rangers next time out. Don’t expect any favours from Rodgers’ men on Friday night.
Rangers vs Hearts – 1 / X
Speaking of Rangers, while a game with Hearts may seem like a potential banana skin, particularly given a 4-1 defeat in the last meeting between the sides, their visitors record away from home makes for encouraging reading. Ian Cathro’s side have won just three of 16 matches on the road all season in the SPL and have very little to play for, relatively assured of their place in fifth. With a cash out offer to be had ahead of the final three matches, I’m playing it safe by backing both Rangers and the draw.
Sunderland vs Swansea – X / 2
While Sunderland proved last week that they aren’t willing to roll over despite their relegation, picking up a hugely surprising win at Hull last time out, that warning should serve Paul Clement’s men well at the Stadium of Light. The Swans are of course fighting for their lives but won’t be complacent as they look to learn lessons from the Tigers’ defeat come Saturday. On the back of a hugely important and morale boosting win over Everton, the away side should avoid the same fate as Silva’s men against a team without a win in 8 at home.
Bournemouth vs Burnley – 1
Burnley may have secured a long overdue first away win of the season against Palace but with the safety that result assured, the Clarets would be forgiven for taking their foot off the gas a little. Both of these sides have the chance to finish in the top 10, which would be a magnificent achievement, but it’s Bournemouth that have the upper hand and the greater momentum ahead of this one. Their record at the Vitality Stadium has been strong of late, scoring 12 in their last 5 home matches, and Howe’s men may just have too much firepower for their visitors on Saturday.
Middlesbrough vs Southampton – X / 2
With relegation confirmed in midweek, Boro could react in one of two ways, following in the footsteps of Sunderland last time out or throwing in the towel. They’re unlikely to make things easy for Southampton at the weekend, boasting a solid defensive record at home, but Claude Puel may have three games to save his job and will be desperate to finish in the top half. The visitors are still capable of claiming a respectable 8th placed finish, if not a particularly strong points haul, and three of Saints’ last four victories have come away from home, where they have only lost to the top two in their last 6.