After the break for the latest round of international fixtures, the Premier League returns this weekend and the Pick 8 from Colossus features 5 games from England’s top flight, and includes the game of the weekend where Spurs take on Liverpool at Wembely in what is expected to be one of the games of the Premier League season. The action for this particular Pick 8 starts on Friday night where Birmingham play hosts to West Brom at St.Andrews, and that is where I will kick -off with my thoughts on this weekend’s games.
The home side are one of 3 teams in the Championship who have yet to record a victory, and Gary Monk’s outfit go into their 8th competitive game of the current campaign having not one a competitive game since they defeated Fulham in their last game of last season. That final day victory was part of a sequence that saw City remain unbeaten in their last 5 home league games, which produced 4 wins and a draw, but it’s been an indifferent start so far as although they are unbeaten at St.Andrews this season they have started with 3 home draws, with the last 2 both being scoreless.The head to head favours visitors West Brom and the last 3 meetings between the teams have all been won by West Brom, including the last 2 which have been won at St.Andrews.West Brom are the league’s top scorers – albeit having hit 7 past QPR – and since their opening day loss at home to Bolton, they have lost just one game – at Middlesbro – in their last 7. Along with Nott’m Forest, Birmingham have drawn 4 games so far, and this could well be another, but West Brom have a decent record at Birmingham, so I will cover those two options.
The lunch-time kick -off is the ‘big one’ as league leaders, Liverpool will have their perfect start severely tested by Spurs at a packed Wembley Stadium, but this is a game that I don’t expect Liverpool to lose as they seem to have found the right combination between defending and attacking. After the opening 4 games, only Leicester’s Rachid Ghezall has managed to score against the Reds, and although Spurs will be a tougher test then West Ham, Palace, Brighton, and Leicester have been so far, Liverpool have looked pretty solid at the back. Spurs had the better of it last season, winning 4-1 at Wembley, and then earning a 2-2 draw at Anfield, but that 4-1 defeat was Liverpool’s only loss to Spurs in their last 11 league meetings. That is a pretty strong statistic, and which is why I favour Liverpool not to lose.
Just a single point splits these two sides at this early stage, with the home side having that slight advantage. Both teams have scored 6, and conceded 5, and last season both league games ended as draws. The home side’s only defeat this season was at Stamford Bridge, and at home they have only lost 2 games in their last 12 in all competitions. This fixture is relatively new with only 15 meetings between the teams and even those stats are close, Bournemouth, 4 wins, Leicester, 6 wins, and 5 draws. The last 7 meetings have seen a win for each team, with the other 5 games being drawn. I can’t split these teams so I will have to cover each option.
Huddersfield in 17th, take on Palace in 15th, and so far in the 8 games that these two teams have played between them, only one game has resulted in a win and that was a Wilfred Zaha inspired opening day victory for Palace at Fulham. Since losing their opening 2 games against Chelsea, and Man City, – conceding 9 goals in the process, – Huddersfield , have drawn their last 2 games and have only conceded 2 goals which suggests that there has been a slight improvement to their play. The teams met for the first time in the Premier League last season, Palace won at Huddersfield, and Huddersfield won at Palace. Palace without Zaha usually means a struggle, and for this reason I am selecting the home team to come up with their first win of the season.
This game will be Newcastle’s third home fixture at St.James Park this season, and the third against a London based side, and the Geordie’s will be hoping to stop it becoming an unwanted treble after they suffered defeats at the hands of both Spurs, and Chelsea by the same 2-1 scoreline. The home side’s last Premier League win came on the last day of last season as they produced one of their better performances when beating Chelsea, but so far in this campaign they have struggled to keep the ball out of the net, having kept just one clean sheet. Visitors Arsenal have had a mixed start to the season with 2 wins, and 2 defeats, but like their hosts they have also had a problem preventing the opposition from scoring, and have yet to keep a clean sheet. The Londoners lost the corresponding fixture last season despite taking an early lead,but that was their only loss at St.James’ in their last 11 visits, with 6 of those games being wins, and I think they will make it a 7th win in this one.
With the Bundesliga teams still finding their feet after the opening games, I am going to side with current form and hope that the home side can maintain their unbeaten start to the new campaign with a win over Schalke who have lost both of their opening games. Both games last season ended in 1-1 draws, but the away team have only recorded just one won in the league at the venue, and the favourites to get the win here must be Dieter Hecking’s Muchengladbach as last season’s league runners-up Schalke have started the season rather disappointingly.
The one Saturday Championship game in this weeks Pick 8 takes place at Ewood Park, where the teams currently placed 12th & 13th are locked on 9 points with 2 wins, 3 draws, and a defeat each. After starting the season with 5 unbeaten games, Rovers crashed to a heavy defeat last time out when after taking a 13th minute lead, at Bristol City, they fell apart and the home side ran out comfortable 4-1 winners. However their recent record at home is pretty decent, and although they are now in a higher division, they are unbeaten at Ewood Park in their last 15 games across all competitions. Villa have won 5 out of the 8 recent meetings across all competitions between the teams,and like the home team started the season well, before – again like the home team – they suffered a heavy defeat in their last game, also by the same 4-1 scoreline. Villa have scored 11 goals already, but they have also let in the same amount. They have only failed to score twice in their last 18 games, and I expect them to score and not lose in this encounter.
The final game is the late kick-off on Saturday evening where Watford will be looking to make it 5 wins from 5 when they host unpredictable, Man United. Jose Mourinho’s team did the league ‘double’ over Watford last season, winning 4-2 at Vicarage Road, and they ended the season with a single Marcus Rashford winning goal at Old Trafford back in May. Rashford is in good current form for England but so far his appearances for United have been limited and with Romelu Lukaku also in good form, the young England striker might have to start on the bench. Manchester United’s record at Vicarage Road is very impressive as they have won 7 out of their last 8 visits, and I think they will be the first team to stop Watford from winning this season. It has been a fantastic start for Javier Gracia’s team, but I think United might be just too strong for the Hornets.