A few late goals put an end to last weekends effort, so it’s one more go before a break for international football comes up again as I try to hit that magical 8 from 8 correct selections for this coming weekend. Plenty of exciting matches to look ahead to with featured games covering the Championship, Premier League, and games in both France and Spain. My syndicate offers the chance to join in the fun with low stakes, which hopefully means that if it all goes wrong, it hasn’t cost any of us a lot of money. So here goes with this weekend’s preview.
The weekend gets underway with the ‘Steel City’ derby at Brammall Lane where 3rd placed United – with only one win from their last 4 league games- welcome City rivals Wednesday who have just one league win from the last 6 games, which includes 4 straight defeats with 12 goals conceded in those 4 games. Obviously all form goes out of the window in such fixtures, but it is hard to see past United who will move to the top of the table if they claim the win. Wednesday will of course raise their game, and although I expect a home win, because of the occasion, I will also cover the draw.
Selection: Home / Draw
If I was selecting a banker for the weekend, then a win for Lille would be it. Christophe Galtier’s side have won their opening 6 home league games, and put in a very good performance that came very close to ending runaway leaders PSG’s 100% start last time out. Only PSG and Marseille have scored more league goals, and in Nicolas Pepe and Jonathan Bamba, they have players who score regularly, with Pepe finding the net 4 times in the last 5 league games. Visitors Strasbourg will take confidence into the game after they won the recent Cup clash between the teams, but on the road in the league they have been average and I expect a home win.
The early kick-off in the Premier League involves 2nd from bottom Cardiff as they host Brighton, with both teams looking to bounce back following recent defeats. The home side have had a very poor start to the season with just 1 win from their first 11 Premier League games. At home they have one win, one draw, and 4 defeats from their opening 6 games, and I think the best that they can get here would be a draw. Brighton’s away record mirrors that of Cardiff’s home record, with their only away victory coming at Newcastle, but previous to their defeat at Everton last time out, they won 3 successive games by a 1-0 margin. My preference for this game would be a narrow Brighton win, but I will also cover a draw.
Selection: Draw / Away
Huddersfield finally broke their home duck with Monday night’s win against Fulham, but with no disrespect aimed at Fulham, who are currently on a poor run of form, if Huddersfield were going to win a game it was that one. Even then it took an own goal to give them their first home win of the season. At long last West Ham seem to have found a system that suits the talented players that Manuel Pellegrini has at his disposal with the 4-2 win over Burnley ending a run of 3 league games without a win. The Hammers’ only win on the road came at Goodison, but I expect the London team to pick up their 2nd win away from the London Stadium.
This for me is the hardest game to predict, so I will cover all options here. Newcastle moved out of the bottom 3 with the first league win over Watford last weekend as they also ended a run of 5 successive home defeats thanks to substitute Ayoze Perez whose first goal of the season after 65 minutes proved to be the winner. That win could be the catalyst that kick starts the season for Newcastle, but they will have their work cut out to take anything from this game against high flying Bournemouth. The away side have won 3 and lost 2 away from home this season and on current form based on the last 5 games, you would have to favour Bournemouth But, based on Newcastle’s last couple of performances, they are showing signs of improvement and I think they are capable of earning a draw from this game.
12 points separate these teams ahead of the game at St. Mary’s this weekend and lowly Southampton go into the game having won just once at home in the Premier League from their last 16 attempts. A truly shocking statistic that also includes 7 home defeats. In their last 6 Premier League games, only Danny Ings – once from the penalty spot – has found the net for the Saints with their total number of Premier League goals standing at just 7. Visitors Watford have been on an indifferent run since starting the season with 4 league wins on the run, and their recent reverse at Newcastle was their 3rd loss in the last 5 games. Watford have only drawn once all season, and I expect that statistic to stay the same as I am going to take the away side to repeat last seasons result at St.Mary’s when they left with all 3 points.
Another London derby for Spurs – the first of 3 league derbies coming up – should be another win for Mauricio Pochettino’s side as they continue to chase both Liverpool and Chelsea who are 3 points ahead of Spurs. The away team have scored in all but one of their 11 Premier League games so far this season with only Manchester City preventing them from finding the net. In contrast, Palace have yet to win a home game, and the 2 goals they scored against Arsenal in their last home game were their first league goals at Selhurst, and with both being penalties, they have yet to score a goal at home from open play. They may well break that record in this game, but Spurs will be too strong and I expect a comfortable away win.
The final game is in La Liga and it is difficult to see any other outcome but a home victory, but Bilbao are a difficult team to beat and have taken creditable points from both Barcelona and Real Madrid with both games ending 1-1. Atletico have lost just once in the league this season- against Celta Vigo – and at home are very strong where they have lost just 3 games in their last 36 across all competitions and I don’t expect that stat to change this weekend. Bilbao have recorded just a single La Liga win this season and that came in their opening game when a 90th minute strike from Iker Muniain won them the game against Leganes. Since that opening game win, it’s been a mix of draws and defeats, 7 draws and 3 losses. Their defence is pretty porous having conceded in all but one game and I expect that trend to continue. Atletico should claim the win, but with games coming up against Barcelona and Monaco, Diego Simeone may contemplate resting a few players which may give Bilbao a slight chance of sneaking a draw.
Selection: Home / Draw