Welcome back to another FreePlay6, that jackpot just keeps growing and growing….over £1.5m now!!
Let’s get straight down to business…
West Brom v Tottenham
With the greatest of respect to the Baggies, this is likely to be a men against boys scenario. Spurs are again playing some of the best football in the Premier League and all Tony Pulis’s men can hope for is a more industrial edge to their game to knock the north Londoners out of their stride.
Whether or not Harry Kane has fully recovered in time for the trip to the Midlands is unlikely to alter the outcome of the game.
As was shown against Manchester City last time out, Mauricio Pochettino’s side have started this season how they finished the last, only this time they’ll be hoping to go one better and take the crown from Leicester. Perhaps the only worry is that they will peak too soon.
Pulis at least has the luxury of a fully fit squad to choose from but, frankly, I don’t think that matters too much. An exhibition of football and an easy 0-3 away victory.
Stoke City v Sunderland
Bring your pillows and your sleeping bags.
The bottom two go head to head in one of the earliest relegation six-pointers ever known.
Both sides have scored less than a goal a game and apart from Stoke’s backs against the wall performance at Old Trafford, neither have had anything to shout about this season.
David Moyes, if he doesn’t get the sack before the end of the season, will have the dubious honour of being the architect that gets Sunderland relegated. The body language of each player at the Stadium of Light tells us much, although things aren’t too much better in the Potteries.
Mark Hughes’ European aspirations have certainly taken a battering and it’s not as if he can use a mammoth injury list as an excuse either. The change for last season has been marked indeed and unfortunately this is one fixture that should be quickly erased from the memory bank.
Can’t see anything good coming of this at all and a 0-0 will be a faire reflection of what’s on offer – nothing.
Bournemouth v Hull
An interesting game will, I’m sure, develop down on the south coast.
Although Eddie Howe represents the future of English football, in terms of tactical innovations etc., Mike Phelan is hardy old school and has learned from the best in the business.
Just a shame the Tigers’ owners are only in it for what they can get out of it. It’s that current instability which is manifesting itself with irregular results on the pitch.
Phelan has already been putting markers down, Tom Huddlestone the latest big name to fall foul of his manager’s disciplinary code.
In the shake up at the end of 90 minutes, just that little extra bit of quality that the Cherries have in midfield, should seem them home with a slender 1-0 victory.
As usual at the half way point, we invite you to use our Cash Out service. Bank some of your winnings and play on with the remaining portion of your ticket.
Crystal Palace v West Ham
Two teams whose fortunes have reversed from last season.
High-flying and into Europe at the end of 2015/16, West Ham are now languishing in the bottom three whilst Palace, on the slide from the beginning of the year, have been re-energised by their new signings, particularly Christian Benteke and Andros Townsend.
Although the Hammers have won the last two at Selhurst Park their confidence is at rock-bottom. Andy Carroll may finally return but it would be wrong to expect him to come straight in and affect matters when service to the front men has been poor all season.
If there was one moment to sum up their season it came when Dimitri Payet took matters into his own hands against Middlesbrough. One man team? Not quite but not far off it either.
Slaven Bilic has apparently just a couple of games to save his job, which seems a little knee-jerk, however if the east Londoners slip further away, Messrs. Gold and Sullivan may decide it’s time to act.
Alan Pardew’s side look vibrant and lively and the Eagles at home will be a tough proposition to overcome. The success down the flanks that the Hammers desire will be evidence for the hosts.
With crosses raining down on the visitor’s defence, they will buckle, and I’m predicting a 2-1 home win here.
Middlesbrough v Watford
Aitor Karanka has been happy enough with his team’s progression since their return to the Premier League and Boro’s rise, fall and rise again is a tribute to chairman Steve Gibson who continues to steer the club in the right direction.
In Karanka, he has one of the game’s brightest minds and as long as a continued longer-term view forms part of the clubs modus operandi, then the glory days of Southgate, Ravanelli, Juninho et al could be just around the corner.
Watford are enjoying a similar renaissance to their opponents and with Troy Deeney and his team mates in such fine form, the Hornets are punching above their weight at present.
Although this match will be hard-fought and there’ll be no quarter asked or given from either side, there’ll be plenty of moments of genuine high-quality.
Both teams are building a reputation for a more European style so expect a hugely enjoyable 1-1 draw and both sets of fans to go home happy.
Villarreal v Celta Vigo
The Yellow Submarine as Villarreal are often referred to, were in danger of sinking before the season had even started when manager Marcelino was sacked in, at that point, mysterious circumstances.
When his replacement, Fran Escriba, failed to win upon his arrival – and given that he hadn’t won his last 13 with previous club Getafe – the signs already began to look ominous.
Fortunately, things have picked up significantly and the hosts have found their mojo again as they look to make inroads into the top few places in the table.
A stunning performance against Barcelona was Celta’s best of the season and the second fixture against them at Balaidos in succession where they’ve managed to score four against the Catalans.
Starting off poorly themselves, the Galicians are beginning to find their feet and form again but El Madrigal is a tough place to get a win.
This will be an expansive and open game an as such, my final tip of the week is an ANY OTHER DRAW.