Well it’s back to ‘proper’ football this weekend, and once again I will aiming for that so far elusive 8 out of 8 for my syndicate which this weekend includes 3 games from the top end of the Championship, and 5 games from the Premier League. So hoping to improve on my woeful performance of a fortnight ago, here goes with my thoughts for this coming weekends Pick 8 selections.
These teams are separated by just 3 points as 6th placed Wednesday host 4th placed Middlesbro in what looks to be one of the top games in the Championship this weekend. Visitors Middlesbro boast the best defensive record in the league, whilst Wednesday have not lost at Hillsborough in the league this season, and have only been beaten at home once in their last 11 Championship matches. Middlesbro came from behind to win the corresponding fixture last season, and have won 4 out of the last 5 meetings between the teams. Wednesday go into the game unbeaten in their last 4, but they have conceded in all Championship games so far and that is likely to continue against Tony Pulis’ team who have only lost once on the road this season. I don’t expect Middlesbro to lose, but I think they might have to settle for a point from this game.
Selection: Draw / Away
The early kick-off in the Championship on Saturday sees Blackburn welcome 3rd placed Leeds with the away side knowing that a win would take them to the top of the table even if it is only for a few hours. After bursting from the traps in the early part of the season, Leeds have faltered slightly in recent games and current form based on the last 5 Championship games has seen the Elland Road side take only 8 points from the 15 available. Leeds have scored in all but one of their 12 Championship games so far, and only West Brom have scored more league goals, so the likely scenario will see Leeds at least find the net. The home side’s last outing at Ewood Park saw them suffer their first home league defeat of 2018 – a run of 17 games – as 2 goals from Sheffield United’s, Billy Sharp, ended that impressive run. Earlier in the season this would have been a banker away win, but current form, and with the very impressive home record of Rovers, this could go anyway.
Selection: Home / Draw / Away
Saturday’s Premier League fixtures start with a return to Stamford Bridge for under pressure United boss, Jose Mourinho, as his team aim to become the first to inflict a league defeat on Maurizio Sarri’s Chelsea. Chelsea have started well this season and they will be looking to the Premier Leagues top scorer, Eden Hazard, to impose more misery on United. This will be United’s 5th Premier League game away from Old Trafford this campaign, and although they have scored in each of their previous 4, scoring here may prove beyond them. Their last 3 visits to London have produced 2 defeats and a draw, one of which included the FA Cup Final defeat by Chelsea, and they have failed to win a Premier League game at Stamford Bridge since the 2012/13 season. On the road so far for United this season it has been either win or lose, not really surprising that I think this will be another defeat.
On current form this London derby looks likely to go the way of Spurs as they will aim to make it 4 consecutive Premier League wins for the first time this season, and in fact for the first time since they won 6 in a row in a run that started back in February. Their last 3 league games have seen Spurs concede just a single goal, and added to the fact that they have scored in every game they have played across all competitions so far this term – in fact Spurs have only failed to score just once in their last 48 competitive matches, when they lost at West Brom back in May – and West Ham will certainly be hard pressed to stop Spurs from scoring.
The Hammers have taken 7 points from their last 4 games which included creditable results against Chelsea, and Man United. The only ‘guarantee’ in this game is that Spurs will score, not sure if that will be enough for them to win, but I don’t see Spurs losing.
Selection: Draw / Away
Second bottom Newcastle go into game 9 still searching for their first league win of the season and after losing a two-goal lead at Old Trafford in their last game, the Geordies will be hoping that their performance for a good part of that game can be replicated, and they can end their winless league run. So far at St.James’ they have lost all 4 league games, with Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Leicester all leaving with 3 points, and only Joselu’s 11th minute goal on the opening day has been scored in the first half. Brighton had the upper hand last season, winning, and drawing without conceding, but on the road, the visitors have just a single point from their 4 games, and they haven’t won an away Premier League game since they recorded a 1-0 victory at Swansea back in November 2017. This is a game that Newcastle will be targeting to win, and I think it will be celebrations for the Toon Army as they get their long overdue first league win.
High-flying Wolves – currently occupying 7th place and just 3 points off of the top four, entertain Watford who after opening their campaign with 4 successive league wins, have now gone 4 Premier games without a victory which culminated in their recent 4-0 thumping by Bournemouth. The home side have taken many by surprise and this first meeting between the teams in the Premier League will see Wolves start as strong favourites to collect another 3 points, and although Wolves have been strong at home against Watford – the visitors have only won once in their last 17 visits – as many as 11 of those games have been drawn.
Wolves have yet to lose at home this season and I see that pattern continuing, preferring a draw, but I will cover a home win as well.
Selection: Home / Draw
League leaders Sheffield United have a pretty decent record at Derby where during their last 6 visits they have lost just one game, and victory here would see them maintain their recent excellent run of just 1 defeat in 10 Championship games, which includes 8 wins. After losing their opening 2 league games of the season, the Blades have found some excellent form, and Sharp, and McGoldrick, they have strikers who are on form. By contrast, Derby have had an indifferent start to their season having already lost 4 of their league games and defeat here would see their visitors open up a 10 point gap. The hosts have only won one of their last 6 Championship games, and for me, 6 will become 7 as I expect the visitors to win a close game.
No surprises here as I just can’t see anything other than a Liverpool win. The home side are struggling to keep clean sheets,just one so far this season, and they are also finding scoring difficult, and have yet to score a league goal at home,and even if as expected Liverpool are not at full strength, they should still be good enough to claim all 3 points. Liverpool won both fixtures by the same 3-0 scoreline last season, and a repeat of that score is very possible. This will probably be most peoples banker this weekend, and for me it’s another 3 points for Liverpool.