Michael Owen vs The £10,000,000 Colossus
FIRST off, let’s hope that we are half as successful as the Colossus punter who turned 40p into £70,000 last week, or indeed all those who snaffled a handsome share of the bonus fund pool to go with their earlier five-figure winnings, Not to mention the guy who cashed in £27,000 on a losing ticket on Tuesday night!
Some going that for a matter of pennies!
They are certainly in better form than Everton at the moment, as it is something of a surprise to see them languishing in 17th place in the league, and even more shocking this season has been their home form.
Last season, they won 13 of their 19 games at Goodison Park, losing only three, but they have only got a point from their opening three home games, being thumped 6-3 by Chelsea and 3-2 by Crystal Palace in the process.
So we have something of a dilemma as their match against Aston Villa forms the opening leg of this week’s £10 million Colossus, especially as John Stones has now been added to their long injury list.
Everton did the double over Villa last season, winning this fixture 2-1, and I am inclined to believe that we will see the side that acquitted themselves so well against the likes of Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool this season.
They drew against the latter two sides, and were a bit unfortunate not to get something out of the United game at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, where the home side had David de Gea to thank for securing them three points.
Villa haven’t scored a goal in successive defeats against Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City, but they showed in a 1-0 win at Liverpool previously that they have the capability to surprise the better sides away from home.
This is tough one to call but I am going 2-1 and 2-0 Everton, with 1-1.
One thing is for sure this weekend, and that is Alan Pardew needs a win as Newcastle play host to Leicester.
Along with Burnley, they are one of only two Premier League sides without a win to their name, and you have to fear that defeat at home to Leicester could spell the end for the manager, deserved or not.
But Leicester have only lost two of their opening seven games, have famously beaten Man Utd 5-3, and this is another tricky one to call.
Newcastle did well to twice come from behind to draw at Swansea last time, so there is still spirit in the camp, and I have to slightly favour them if there is to be a winner in this game. So I am taking Newcastle 2-1 or 1-0, with 1-1 again included as an alternative.
I’d be lying if I said I had a strong opinion in the League One match between Bradford and Sheffield United.
Bradford won this fixture 2-0 last season, but their home record doesn’t look to be the best this season, – they have lost three from 6 there – and they come here after a 3-1 defeat at Barnsley last weekend.
The sides have made similar starts to the season, with only three places and a point separating them in the league, and both concede plenty of goals, so I am going to go for 2-1 to Bradford, with 1-1 and Any Other Draw (AOD) as my other selections.
QPR are another side who are in desperate need of a boost after losses at Southampton and West Ham, but they could be meeting Liverpool at a bad time with Daniel Sturridge possibly fit and raring to go again.
Liverpool have been hit-and-miss this season and have been conceding goals, but I reckon they can win this 2-1 or 3-1.
The Stoke-Swansea match is another very hard game to call.
Swansea have started the season really well and sit fifth in the league, and Stoke have already lost 1-0 to Villa and Leicester at the Britannia this season, and were soundly beaten by Sunderland last time.
But, then again, Stoke have also beaten Man City away from home and are traditionally hard to beat at home. I see a low-scoring match, and take 1-1, and maybe even 0-0.
Inter look to be having a rough time of it in Serie A, as their last two games have seen them lose 4-1 at home to Cagliari and 3-0 away at Fiorentina.
Napoli come into this game in better nick, beating Torino 2-1 last time and having won two of their three away fixtures, so this is another evenly-poised game.
I am going to go for 1-1 and AOD.
I always tend to go for a banker in the last leg of the Colossus, reasoning that if we get that far, we will be in a position to get a handsome Cash-In offer whatever we have chosen.
We are still waiting for this formidable Man Utd frontline to gel and blow someone away, and it could happen against a West Brom side that clearly lack their opponents’ star quality.
But West Brom acquitted themselves well at Liverpool, and have gone to Tottenham and won this season, so this game is no gimme for United, especially with their defensive frailties.
My main fancy is for United to nick a high-scoring match 3-2, but it makes sense to go with Any Other Away (AOA) here with potential Cash-In offers in mind.
By Michael Owen