MICHAEL OWEN vs THE £10,000,000 COLOSSUS
MICHAEL OWEN vs THE £10,000,000 COLOSSUS
Man City have gone odds-on for the title after winning their first three games by an aggregate of 8-0 – and they were tricky opening fixtures, too – but the other end of the table currently makes for grim reading for Sunderland fans.
They are already as short as 1-2 for the drop, and that isn’t too surprising.
Yes, it is far too early to be writing teams off – and or indeed crowning City as champions-elect – but I think it is fair to say that Sunderland, notwithstanding their 6-3 Capital One Cup win in midweek, would have been hoping for more than a point from home fixtures against Norwich and Swansea, and an away tie at Leicester.
And things may not get any better as they visit Aston Villa, where I am predicting either a 2-1, 2-0 or 1-0 victory for the home side.
Villa can probably feel a little hard done by having not added to their opening 1-0 win at Bournemouth, being beaten by deflected and late goals respectively in narrow defeats to Man Utd and Crystal Palace in their last two games. But Sunderland should present them with an easier task altogether.
Bournemouth would have certainly counted themselves very unfortunate not to get at least a point at Anfield on week one – their disallowed goal should have stood, while Liverpool’s allowed goal shouldn’t have – but they got their first Premier League points in style in a 4-3 win at West Ham on Saturday.
That was more like their free-scoring Championship form – and they also won 4-0 away at Hartlepool in midweek – and I expect plenty of goals again when Leicester, who have netted seven times in their unbeaten start to the campaign, come calling.
Bournemouth have not looked out of place so far in this division and I am banking on this being a high-scoring game. I go 3-2 Bournemouth as my main fancy, with Any Other Home (AOH) and Any Other Draw (AOD) as back-up.
Tottenham did the double over Everton last season but I have an inkling that the Merseyside outfit could get their revenge here.
Tottenham can be forgiven for feeling a bit sorry for themselves after only taking two points from their three games. They were undone by an own goal in a 1-0 defeat at old Trafford, and pegged back after taking 2-0 and 1-0 leads against Stoke and Leicester respectively.
But I have been pretty impressed by Everton in their last two games.
Their 3-0 win at Southampton was probably one of the best performances of the Premier League season to date and a 2-0 home defeat at the hands of Man City on Sunday could have been very different had Lukaku been six inches nearer his own line when his goal was disallowed at 0-0.
I take Everton to win 1-0 or 2-1, with 1-1 also included.
Regular readers of this column will know that I think Europa League football is a big negative for the teams involved and, although Southampton will have been bitterly disappointed to go out of that competition on Thursday night, it could prove a blessing in disguise.
Given that Cup exit and their less than impressive start to the domestic season, I’m sure that they will be desperate for a morale-boosting win, and to progress in the competition. As well as Norwich have begun in the Premier League, I take Southampton to grind out their first win of the campaign, either 1-0 or 2-1.
Swansea achieved one of the more unlikely doubles last season, beating Man Utd 2-1 home and away, but I think the sides will share the points in a scoring draw at the weekend.
United have only scored twice in their opening three matches, but you can’t expect that goal-shy start to continue – and it didn’t in Europe in midweek – with the talent they have at their disposal. And Swansea are decent going forward, too.
I go 1-1 and AOD.
The sixth leg of the £10 million Colossus sees the top two Serie A teams of last season lock horns, as runners-up Roma host winners Juventus.
And I think home advantage could be enough to see Roma nick this 2-1, though my perm also includes 1-1.
Roma only lost two games at home last season – they drew 1-1 with Juve in this fixture – and drew their opening game 1-1 at Verona last weekend, while Juve lost 1-0 at home to Udinese (a big shock considering that they were unbeaten in front of their own fans in the 2014-15 league campaign).
Europa League winners Sevilla only lost once at home last season and have started well this time around, only losing the Super Cup in extra time against Barcelona (levelling the scores after being 4-0 down) and drawing away at Malaga.
Atletico Madrid’s third place in La Liga last season was built largely on their home form but they drew this fixture 0-0 and I am playing safe and going 1-1 here.