Well here we go with another big weekend across the football calendar with the Pick 8 covering games in the Premier League, La Liga, and one game from the Championship, and a timely win would come in very nicely indeed. As usual I will be doing me best to reach the target of 8 from 8, and although there are a few games that seem pretty straightforward, once again many of the matches in the Pick 8 could go either way.
Friday night kicks-off with Top of the table Liverpool visiting Molineux for a league fixture for the first time since January 2012. On that occasion Liverpool won 3-0 and in their last 3 visits to Molineux, the Reds have not conceded a goal. It seems highly unlikely that Wolves can end Liverpool’s unbeaten start to the season, but, and it’s a big but, the hosts have performed well in their last 3 games and may well be good enough to take something from the game. With such a hectic programme coming up, Jurgen Klopp may well rest some of his ‘better’ players for this one which may give Wolves an opportunity to pose some problems. Four consecutive Premier League away wins for Liverpool will see them start as huge favourites, but Wolves may just spring a surprise.
Selection: Draw / Away
The home team go into this game on the back of 2 consecutive La Liga defeats, and having won just one of their 7 home league games so far, they will be hoping to make the most of home advantage as they aim to climb the table, and they will be looking for inform striker Mikel Oyarzabal to continue with his recent scoring spell, he has scored 4 goals in his last 6 games across all competitions. Visitors Alaves are sitting in 6th place but it is their early season form that has allowed them to reach those heights, as their recent form of just one win in 7 has seen them take only 5 points from 21 available. Although their home form is not great, I expect a home win from this clash.
The third of four La Liga games sees Quique Setien’s Betis side looking for their 8th league win of the campaign as they welcome mid-table Eibar. Betis are on a fine run of form and across all competitions which includes league, cup and Europa League, they have lost just once in their last 11 games, and in that run they had that amazing 4-3 win at the Camp Nou. On current form it is hard to oppose the home team here but Eibar have performed well recently and could well take something from the game. The corresponding fixture last season ended with a 2-0 victory for Betis, and there was a similar outcome in the season before that, all of which points to a home win, and that would be my preference.
The home side should be good enough to make it back to back league wins when they take on bottom club Fulham at St. James’ Park. The Magpies recent run of form has seen them take 10 points from their last 6 games, and although their home form is very poor – only Huddersfield have taken fewer points at home – it is hard to see Fulham increasing their points tally in this game. Fulham have only gained one point away from Craven Cottage, and a team that concedes as often as Fulham do – no clean sheets in the league so far- are always going to struggle. I am going for a low scoring Newcastle win.
This for me is the game of the weekend that should be a home banker. Although currently placed 9th & 10th on 24 points each, both having won 7 games, drawn 3 and lost 7 and both conceding 25 goals, only 2 more goals scored by the Hammers keeps them slightly ahead, the current form of the hosts that sees them with 4 straight Premier League wins is their best winning run in the league since 2014, and they will be strong favourites to make it 5 in a row, against visitors Watford who are currently on a poor run. Having started the season so well, Watford ended a run of 6 games without a win as they just about held on to a 3-2 win against Cardiff last weekend, and that win made it a total of just 5 points from the last 21 on offer. My preference here is for a comfortable home win.
He may only be ‘just in the building’, but new Southampton manager has already made a difference to what was previously a sorry looking outfit, and the confidence gained by the impressive win that ended Arsenal’s long unbeaten run will see the Saints travel to Huddersfield hoping that they can gain their first Premier League win away from home for the first time since September. A win for the Saints would see them stretch the gap between themselves and their hosts to 5 points and inflict more problems on a Huddersfield team that has lost their last 4 games, and have only won once at home. I don’t see Southampton losing this one.
Selection: Draw / Away
The one Championship game involves 9th place Swansea as they make the trip to take on an improving Hull City team who have won 2 and drawn 2 in their last 4 games. The home side are on their best run of the season and recently prevented free flowing Norwich from scoring – the only team to do so in 11 games, and there has been significant changes in Hull’s form to suggest that they can begin to climb up the table. Visitors Swansea ended a run of 3 straight defeats with a win against Brentford and followed that up with a win over Sheffield Wednesday last weekend. This game could go either way and it is the only game this weekend where I will cover all options.
Selection: Home / Draw /Away
Bilbao find themselves in the bottom 3 after a below par start to the season, and against Valladolid they will be chasing only their 3rd league win of the season. Their major problem has been that they have drawn so many games, 9 in total with only Valencia having drawn more. The 1-0 win over Girona 10 days ago was their first since their opening day win over Leganes and they followed that up with a scoreless draw away at Alaves to record back-to-back clean sheets for the first time in La Liga this season. Visitors Valladolid have only won once in 7 league games, with the victory over Sociedad coming courtesy of goals from Suarez and defender Antonito who scored for the second time this season. The teams have not met in La Liga since 2014 when Bilbao were comfortable winners, and you have to go back to 2004 to find a Valladolid win at Bilbao. I think this will be a very close game that won’t produce many goals, with Bilbao being good enough not to lose.
Selection: Home / Draw