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MARTIN LAURENCE PREVIEWS THE £10,000 PICK 8

Martin Laurence Pick 8

Join my Syndicates this weekend, where I’m tackling the £1,6000,000 Pick 15 and the £10,000 Pick 8! Here is my preview for the Pick8.

Southampton vs Hull – 1/X/2

Hull’s transformation under Marco Silva has been such that it’s now how bad their away form is that seems more odd than an exceptional home record since his appointment. The Tigers are playing decent football now, and their new signings have adapted quickly to form a strong team unit that makes their woes on the road difficult to comprehend.

A trip to a mid-table Southampton side that played in midweek should be the ideal chance to snap a five-game losing streak away from the KCOM but there must be a reason to their struggles. Saints’ meanwhile are tough to predict wherever they are playing, so I’m covering all bases in this one, avoiding a bet in favour of either side.

Sunderland vs Bournemouth – X/2

Another away team with the advantage of a longer rest and preparation period for this game, while the Cherries have nothing to play for compared to their opponents, that didn’t stop them from thumping Middlesbrough last weekend. Eddie Howe’s side picked up impressive points at United, Southampton and Liverpool on the road before a heavy defeat at Spurs, so this game against the league’s bottom club represents their best hope of a win away from home for some time.

Sunderland, meanwhile, look like they are without a prayer and the goals have dried up for Jermain Defoe, who faces a former club in this one. Despite the hosts’ desperate need for the points they are so short on quality, so I’m backing Bournemouth to get a result, not quite confident enough to back a win outright.

Stoke vs West Ham – 1/X

While they are unbeaten in three now following a dismal run, West Ham are still not exactly ending the season in style as pressure reportedly mounts on Slaven Bilic’s job. The same could certainly be said of Stoke under Mark Hughes, although the Potters do at least look more of a threat since the return of Xherdan Shaqiri.

The hosts’ two defeats in their last 11 matches at the Bet365 Stadium have come to much stronger opposition than Saturday’s visitors in the form of Chelsea and Liverpool. The Hammers, meanwhile, are without a win in five on the road and suffered the indignity of conceding twice to Sunderland on their last away day.

West Brom vs Leicester – 1/2

Not for the first time a Tony Pulis side has taken their foot off the gas at the end of the season, with West Brom picking up one point from a possible 12. At home to a Leicester side playing their second away game in three days following a trip to the Emirates, the Baggies will be narrow favourites, and rightly so given the Foxes have still won just once on the road all season.

Shakespeare has undoubtedly got his side playing closer to their levels of last season though, so this game could go either way. The one outcome I’m confident that won’t come to pass is a draw, with only Chelsea sharing the spoils in fewer home games than West Brom this season (2), whose last stalemate at the Hawthorns came 13 games ago in mid-October against Spurs.

Crystal Palace vs Burnley – 1

While the Eagles faced Tottenham on Wednesday night, they do at least have the luxury of playing that match and this at Selhurst Park. Palace’s home record this season has been poor in general but they have improved markedly in recent weeks and months and should have too much firepower for a Burnley side that are frankly dire on the road.

The Clarets are still without a win away from home all season and while they’ve picked up points here and there in recent weeks, the form of the hosts’ attacking trio has been enough to put some of the league’s top teams to the sword of late.

Torino vs Southampton – 1

If Torino could have translated their home form to points on the road they would have been in with a chance of a European finish this season. Mihaijlovic’s men have lost just once in 16 matches and while they’ve drawn more than they would have liked, Belotti and co. should be confident of a result this weekend.

Their manager will be aiming to get the better of a former employer in Samp, and while the visitors had enjoyed a resurgence until recently, back-to-back defeats against struggling Sassuolo and Crotone have put a dampener on an impressive run. With only three teams having scored more goals at home than Torino, I’m backing their strike force to prove the difference.

Roma vs Lazio – 1

A significant capital city derby for both clubs (as if any are otherwise), Roma are hoping to cement their second spot and with it automatic Champions League qualification, while Lazio still have a very feint chance of catching Napoli in third. Defeat to the giallorossi would certainly put an end to any such hopes and cast their chances of a European finish of any kind into doubt.

The Olimpico is of course home to both of these sides, but it’s Roma who will benefit from the greater numbers in support in this one, and while a faultless run of 14 consecutive wins at home was brought to an end recently, they’ll be on a revenge mission on Sunday. Spaletti’s charges have won the last four meetings between these two in the league, but Lazio dumped them out of the Coppa over two legs this year, ending their hopes of silverware following a Europa League exit to boot.

Everton vs Chelsea – X/2

With the games running out for Tottenham to make ground, a win for Chelsea this weekend would take them a massive step closer to the title. A tough game at Goodison is certainly not ideal for Antonio Conte’s men then, especially following a game in midweek in the aftermath of their FA Cup semi-final victory. The Toffees have an excellent home record this season, losing just once, and boast a strong recent record against the Blues on Merseyside to boot.

Romelu Lukaku may be the key figure in the game, reportedly keen on a return to Chelsea, will he prove why the Londoners were wrong to let him go or go missing in another big game? Conte will know that this is a very tricky game so will probably try to safeguard against a defeat, knowing that a single point may not be a disastrous outcome.

Martin Laurence is the content manager for WhoScored.com.

You can follow more of his tips on Twitter @WSTipster

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