At the rate at which we are going, I think it is fair to say that this season will see the lowest winning points tally in the Premier League for a while.
The winning points’ totals in the past four years read 87-86-89-89. But if one of the top sides don’t get a grip soon and start to dominate, then even the 80 points Man Utd won the title with in the 2010-11 season may suffice this time around.
So who is brave enough to rule out leaders Leicester now?
Not me. I see they are around 28-1 to hold on for one of the biggest sporting shocks in decades.
Unlikely? Of course it is.
Would I like to lay anyone 28-1? Not a chance!
Anyway, more of Leicester later.
Crystal Palace v Southampton is first up in the Colossus, and I am going for 1-1, Any Other Draw (AOD) and 2-1 as the three score lines in my perm.
Like most teams, Southampton have proved inconsistent this season and they probably come here in their worst form of the campaign with three losses – including a 6-1 hammering at the hands of Liverpool in the Cup – and a 1-1 home draw against Aston Villa in their last four games.
And their away record of just one win – and that was only at Chelsea! – in seven is not the best.
However, Palace are equally Jekyll and Hyde, especially at home – their 1-0 loss to Sunderland was hard to see coming – and my gut feeling is for a scoring draw. But the home side have been playing the better football this season, so if there is to be a winner, I think it will be Palace by the odd goal.
If Leicester have been a revelation, then Watford are not far behind them in the “surprise stakes” with only five losses in their opening 15 games, and currently sitting 10th in the table after four wins in their last six matches.
Compare that to Sunderland’s three wins all season – though, to be fair, two of those came immediately before their predictable away loss at Arsenal last weekend – and 19th league position, and you have to favour the away side, for all that Big Sam has made an impact on the Mackems.
I take Watford to win either 2-1 or 1-0, with 1-1 added in.
Another side who were among the favourites for relegation at the start of the season, Bournemouth, are also coming here in their best form of the campaign following high-scoring draws against Swansea and Everton , and that 1-0 win at Chelsea last Saturday.
And they could well be meeting Man Utd at the best time, too, after their exit from the Champions League on Tuesday and their well-documented scoring problems before that.
But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Utd have only lost twice in the league, and conceded only 10 goals in 15 games. I take Utd to win 2-1 or 1-0, with 1-1 included as a nod to Bournemouth’s good recent form.
The less said about Aston Villa’s season the better, and I can see many punters banking on AOA here when Arsenal visit.
But while I obviously think Arsenal will win, they are still not totally convincing – notwithstanding their superb 3-0 away win to progress in the Champions League on Wednesday night – especially with their injuries. I take the Gunners to win 3-1 or 2-1.
Napoli have won six of their seven home games, drawing the other, and Roma’s fourth place in the league is mainly down to their form in front of their own fans, too.
Both sides were in action at home in Europe this week, so I can’t see that having too big a bearing – though Napoli played a day later on Thursday – and a home win for Napoli, either 2-1 or 1-0, appeals most.
Real Madrid have reacted rather well to their 4-0 home defeat to Barcelona, and they have scored 21 goals in their subsequent five games. Not bad.
You suspect that Villarreal, with five wins and only one loss in their seven home games, could cause them a lot more problems though, even if they had that dreaded away Europa League game on Thursday night.
I go 1-1 as my main fancy, and 2-1 Real Madrid.
I see Chelsea are around 6-4 favourites to win at Leicester on Monday night, and that is obviously pretty hard to justify on this season’s form, even if they did beat Porto 2-0 on Wednesday night.
To think that Chelsea have lost eight, and won only four, of their opening 15 fixtures really does defy belief and there is no way that you can fancy them with any confidence to win at Leicester.
But the home side have “only” drawn at home to other big clubs such as Man Utd and Tottenham, as well as losing to Arsenal, so I think 1-1 is probably the sensible play here.
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