So after a pretty hopeless effort last time around, it’s everything crossed 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, and Premier League. 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 game that kicks off our Pick 8 takes place at Villa Park where just two points separate the teams who currently sit 17th (Villa) and 19th (Bolton) in the Championship table. Villa have struggled to find any decent form so far this season and have only won 2 of their last 13 Championship fixtures. They do however score goals, and they have only failed to score in one league game this season and that was the last time out against QPR. Visitors Bolton haven’t fared much better, and they have just 1 win from their last 11 league games, 7 of those games ending in defeat. Christian Doidge has been their only scorer in the last 5 games, with his strike earning a point at Rotherham 3 games ago. I expect Villa to win a game between two poor teams.
The early kick-off is a cracker with high flying Bournemouth looking to maintain their unbeaten home league record and extend their current run of 4 unbeaten in the Premier League. This season across all competitions, Bournemouth have only lost 2 out of 13 games, and after a much changed team did just enough to get past Norwich in the EFL Cup in midweek, the bulk of the team were rested and will be fresh for the visit of United. Last seasons game at the Vitality was won by United, and that match back in April was the last time that Bournemouth lost a home Premier League game. The teams have met 3 times in the League at Bournemouth, with United winning twice, and Bournemouth winning the first ever meeting back in December 2015. Current form would suggest a home win, but United are so unpredictable at present and although I don’t see them winning they may grind out a draw.
Selection: Home / Draw
This game will be the first for Leicester since that terrible tragedy of last weekend, and amidst much emotion, I am sure that they will attempt to go all out to win this particularly poignant game to honour their former owner, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha. Leicester’s recent league form is pretty poor with just 2 wins from their last 7, but even so they should still be good enough to stay unbeaten in this game. Cardiff finally claimed their first Premier League win when they convincingly beat Fulham, but they were comprehensively beaten last weekend as Liverpool’s 4-1 win was Cardiff’s 7th league defeat of the season so far. This will be the first time that the teams have met in the Premier League, and since moving to the Cardiff City Stadium, the home side are unbeaten against Leicester, a statistic that may well point to a low scoring draw.
Selection: Draw / Away
The home side have struggled in their start to the campaign, and so far have collected just 2 wins, with victory over Manchester United being their only home league win at the London Stadium. Their opening 10 games have seen them score just 9 goals, with Marko Arnautovic having scored 4, leading the way. The corresponding fixture last season ended with a 3-0 win for Burnley, their first , and so far only win at the London Stadium. Like the Hammers Burnley have also struggled and their usual strength of defending has been badly missed this season, as they have already lost 21 league goals with their only clean sheet coming in the 4-0 win over Bournemouth. This game is hard to call, but I don’t see Burnley winning so I will cover West Ham and the draw.
Selection: Home / Draw
Second bottom team Newcastle are on a dreadful run of form and are only kept off of bottom spot due to the fact that Huddersfield have conceded more goals. The Geordies total of 3 points have all been collected on the road, and have all come from no-scoring draws, whilst at home they have lost all 5, and in the last two against Brighton and Leicester, they have failed to score. The last time Newcastle scored more than 1 goal in a game at St. James Park came in the last game of last season when they beat Chelsea 3-0. Watford sit just 3 points off of a top four spot at present, and seem to have got back to their early season form with 2 back-to-back wins over Wolves and Huddersfield. Form wise this looks like another home defeat, but Newcastle’s luck at home has to change at sometime, maybe this game could be the start.
Selection: Draw / Away
Table toppers United will have their credentials seriously tested in this game at the City Ground where an improving Forest side- on a current run of just 1 league defeat in 8 – have lost just twice in their last 14 home league games. Having lost for the first time in 7 games against Norwich, they bounced back to win comfortably at Bolton, and Forest are certainly capable of causing an upset here. Sheffield United have either won or lost their games away from Bramall Lane so far, but my choice here is for them to be involved in their first away draw so far with a 1-1 scoreline being my choice.
Third placed ‘Boro will start this game just 2 points off of top spot in the league table, and if results go as I expect, then Tony Pulis’ side may well be sitting at the top of the table at the end of play. Their current record of having conceded just 8 league goals is easily the best in the division,and includes 9 clean sheets from their 15 Championship games.Meanwhile hosts Stoke having been nothing more than average so far as their playing record of 5 wins, 5 draws, and 5 defeats from their 15 games would suggest. On current form though based on the last 5 games, Stoke’s 3 wins would give them an edge,although at home they have lost as many times as they have won – 3. The visitors have only been beaten twice in all competitions this season, and away from the Riverside their form has been pretty decent and I expect them to notch up a 4th away win of the season in this one.
Undoubtedly the Premier League’s game of the day as at the Emirates where Arsenal will be looking to make it 4 straight Premier League home wins, and continue their impressive unbeaten league run that currently stands at 8 games. This game will certainly be a test of their new found ability as Liverpool arrive unbeaten in the Premier League so far this season.
The corresponding fixture last season just before Christmas, saw one of the games of the season as the sides shared 6 goals, with 4 of those goals being scored in an incredible 6 minute period, and although I am uncertain about the result, I am pretty certain that there will be plenty of goals, as there has only been one scoreless draw in the last 47 meetings between the teams. Liverpool are unbeaten against Arsenal in their last 8 Premier League meetings, and I fully expect this to continue. With Arsenal’s defence still conceding unnecessary goals, I expect Liverpool to win quite comfortably.