GUIDE TO THE NEXT £1,000,000 1×2 PICK15
Chelsea vs Liverpool
Head-to-Head: CHE 61-37-75 LIV
Chelsea’s start to their campaign has been one of horrid proportions. They have lost five of their 10 Premier League games this season and suffered another defeat to Stoke City on Tuesday in the Capital One Cup. Jose Mourinho is under immense pressure from the football media with reports circulating in recent days to suggest that Saturday’s game is crucial to his future at the club. The arrival of Jurgen Klopp to Liverpool has brought with it three consecutive draws in all competitions. The Reds are clearly struggling with injuries and have pondered at the possibility of recalling Mario Balotelli from his loan spell at AC Milan. This is an encounter that Mourinho simply cannot lose due to the sheer weight of expectations on his shoulders at Stamford Bridge. I expect the Blues to prevail and kick-start their resurgence in the league.
Crystal Palace vs Manchester United
Head-to-Head: CPA 7-9-30 MUN
There is just no in-between with Crystal Palace this season. Five victories and five defeats has seen the Eagles reach seventh in the league. In their last two outings, Palace have suffered a pair of frustrating losses in games that they really should have had more of a say in. They host Manchester United this weekend who boast four consecutive victories over them in recent seasons. Louis van Gaal’s men played out a lacklustre stalemate with rivals Manchester City last weekend which did no favours for advertising the league’s style of football. Two shots on target between the teams throughout the 90 minutes summarised the overall excitement of the game. However, United will travel to South London on Saturday knowing that they boast a solid record against Alan Pardew’s side. Though I think they’ll have their work cut out to leave with the full three points.
Selection: DRAW & AWAY
Newcastle vs Stoke
Head-to-Head: NEW 43-20-26 STO
Newcastle endured another Tyne-Wear derby humiliation last weekend when beaten 3-0 by Sunderland at the Stadium Of Light. Prior to that defeat, the Magpies had run out convincing 6-2 winners over Norwich at St James’ Park and will be hoping to rekindle their form on home turf. The visitors, Stoke City, will be buoyed by their recent Capital One Cup victory over Chelsea on Tuesday evening and will fancy their chances against a potentially deflated Newcastle side. Geordie fans will be seeking an immediate response by manager Steve McClaren and his players following their disappointment last week and I’m expecting them to do just that.
Selection: HOME & DRAW
Swansea vs Arsenal
Head-to-Head: SWA 7-3-9 ARS
Following a run of six games without a victory, Swansea overcame Aston Villa in a fiery affair last weekend to regain some confidence. However, they host an Arsenal team here in scintillating form – bar their Capital One Cup flop in midweek. They have won their last three games, in all competitions, away from home and will arrive in Wales still full of confidence. Arsene Wenger’s men sit atop of the Premier League with 22 points in 10 games, and alongside Manchester City. I struggle to see anything other than an Arsenal win here as the Gunners look to get regain momentum.
Watford vs West Ham
Head-to-Head: WAT 17-12-40 WHU
Watford enjoyed a fantastic 0-2 victory away at Stoke City last weekend which saw the sides strike partnership of Deeney and Ighalo showcase great chemistry. It was the Londoners’ first win in six Premier League games and one which will only boost their confidence moving forward. They host a West Ham this Saturday who have arguably been the best team away from home this season. Respective victories at Livepool, Arsenal and Manchester City have helped Bilic’s men to 20 points in 10 games, and to third-place in the league. Based on such performances, it is tough to look past another bold Hammers showing here.
Selection: DRAW & AWAY
West Brom vs Leicester
Head-to-Head: WBA 50-22-34 LEI
West Brom are on a run of back-to-back league victories in recent weeks following an away win at Norwich last weekend. Tony Pulis’ men are looking well organised in defence and will continue to be difficult to break down when hosting an in-form Leicester on Saturday. Claudio Ranieri’s team are unbeaten in seven away games this season, in all competitions. Their playing style is one full of confidence and momentum which may have hit a hurdle after their Capital One Cup defeat on Tuesday. However, if Leicester return to the sort of form that saw them overcome Crystal Palace last week then they should pose a real threat at the Hawthorns on Saturday.
Selection: DRAW & AWAY
Ipswich vs Cardiff
Head-to-Head: IPS 21-12-12 CAR
Ipswich have endured a lacklustre period of form in recent weeks. A run of seven games without a victory has led Mick McCarthy’s men to just seven points in nine league meetings. They now sit in 13th place and needing a victory to kick-start their campaign one again. Cardiff, on the other hand, are showing fantastic solidarity throughout October as they have conceded only one goal in four league games. The Welsh side are in eighth position in the Championship and will likely be involved in the promotion battle come next April/May. I see this encounter filled with intense midfield play between two sides who are relatively strong in defence. For that matter, backing the draw is the most sensible option.
MK Dons vs Hull
Head-to-Head: MKD 2-4-4 HUL
MK Dons’ recent form could find them in trouble against Hull City this weekend. The Dons have one victory in all competitions since August and sit in 21st place in England’s second tier. Hull, on the other hand, are four points behind league leaders Brighton and have lost just one of their last 12 games. Steve Bruce’s team are playing with a fantastic fluency which is supported by a solid back-line. They recently defeated Leicester on penalties in the Capital One Cup and will arrive in Milton Keynes full of confidence in toppling the newly promoted side. Cover both the draw and away win here as Hull have played out a stalemate in three of their last six games.
Selection: DRAW & AWAY
Sheffield Wednesday vs Nottingham Forest
Head-to-Head: SHW 56-27-53
Sheffield Wednesday will be ecstatic following their 3-0 thumping of Arsenal in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday. The Championship side decimated the Premier League highfliers in fine style and could be difficult to stop this weekend with so much momentum behind them. Nottingham Forest will need to improve upon their form in October to trouble their opposition on Saturday afternoon. Dougie Freedman’s side have slipped to 16th in the league following a solid period during September. For a side that previously reached immense heights within the European scene, it is sometimes difficult to watch certain performances. Follow the standard form here and back the home side.
Villarreal vs Sevilla
Following a great start to their campaign, Villarreal have slumped to two defeats in their last three La Liga games. A home defeat to Celta Vigo followed an away loss at Levante, respectively. Sevilla, on the other hand, have won three of their last four games in the league which has helped the side climb to eighth in the table. Based on recent form, I feel both sides are evenly matched. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see both teams settle for a point-a-piece.
Inter Milan vs Roma
A fiery encounter is expected when Inter Milan host league leaders Roma on Sunday. Inter have won just one of their last five league games and will be trying desperately to secure the full three points here to keep up with the teams ahead of them. Roma are in superb form of late and could be difficult to beat this weekend. Five consecutive league victories has helped the side to 23 points in 10 games and to atop of the Serie A table. In terms of the head to head record, Roma have lost just one of the last 11 meetings with Inter and I expect that run to continue on Sunday.
Selection: DRAW & AWAY
Hibernian vs Rangers
The form of Hibs throughout October has been fantastic. Four straight victories in the Scottish Championship has seen the side keep close tabs on runaway leaders Rangers, who they host this weekend. The away team have won all of the league games this season and boast a formidable goal difference of +28. Their ambition of returning to the SPL in May is becoming a near certainty thanks to a number of fantastic performances in recent weeks. They should prove too strong for their opposition again on Sunday and maintain their ruthless assault on the league.
Southampton vs Bournemouth
Head-to-Head: SOT 10-5-6 BOU
Southampton should be pleased with their form in the past number of weeks. The Saints have lost just one game in nine appearances since the end of August and comfortably sit in eight place. Bournemouth, on the other hand, suffered a gruelling 1-5 home defeat to Tottenham last weekend and will be hoping for an immediate response. The Premier League new-boys have lost four of their last five in all competitions and are beginning to lurk closely to the bottom three positions in the table. It’s difficult to look past Southampton here in a game that is likely to showcase a lively atmosphere between two south coast sides.
Real Betis vs Atheltic Bilbao
Both Real Betis and Atheltico Bilbao are closely matched on recent form. The two sides are separated by a single point in La Liga and will be hungry to advance further towards the top end of the table. Real Betis have been inconsistent thus far this campaign following two victories, two draws and two defeats in their last six league games. They host Athletic Bilbao on Sunday evening who are unbeaten in four league outings. This really is a difficult game to predict as both are evenly matched in terms of playing style. For that reason, I’ll be backing the draw.
Lazio vs AC Milan
This week’s Pick 15 closes with Lazio versus AC Milan in a clash between two sides on the outskirts of title contention this season. The home team have been perfect on their own turf this campaign with eight consecutive victories, in all competitions, at the Stadio Olimpico. AC Milan have won just one of their last four away games and could struggle against a red-hot Lazio here. Another lively Serie A encounter is anticipated where I feel the home side will be too strong and Pick 15 glory may be with us.