There’s a Rollover Pick 8 kicking off on Tuesday evening. Ed Acteson has cast his eye over three of the featured matches and he reckons that Liverpool could bounce back quickly against Chelsea. If you agree with his selections, then join his syndicate.
Chelsea vs. Liverpool
Two sides who will be looking to bounce back after poor results at the weekend.
Whilst Liverpool’s shock defeat to Watford was a huge surprise, it did mark the end of a remarkable unbeaten run and was their first league defeat this season. The Reds remain the finest team in the land by a wide margin.
Frank Lampard’s side, however, had to come from behind to snatch a 2-2 draw with Bournemouth. It marked their fifth consecutive game without a win and the only positive you can rely draw from it was that it ended a run of three straight defeats to Manchester United, Tottenham and Bayern Munich.
What was a dream start for Frank Lampard is rapidly becoming something of a nightmare. The Blues seem to have no defensive gameplan or organisation and are set up purely to attack. This wasn’t a problem when Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount were scoring for fun but the goals have dried up.
Whereas Liverpool effectively have the league title wrapped up, Chelsea have a real fight on their hands to earn a Champions League spot. They are now just three points above Manchester United in fifth and Wolves in sixth, with a host of chasing clubs just behind.
Stamford Bridge, once famed as a fortress, is no longer a happy hunting ground for Lampard’s side and they are sixth in the Premier League home table with just six victories from 14 matches. Liverpool, on the other hand, have won 12 of their 14 away ties.
It is fair to say that Liverpool has treated the cup with some disdain this season so far but, with the league sewn up, can afford to start prioritising the cup competitions now. Assuming that both sides play a strong side, I have to pick Liverpool.
WBA vs. Newcastle
The Championship leaders take on a side that they could yet be replacing in the Premier League next season.
Despite some decent early season form that saw the Toon Army as high as ninth over Christmas, they are now on a run of just a single victory in their last ten league game. There are four draws in that stretch as well which has been just enough to keep their heads above water but, with no goals scored in their last four matches, you fear for Newcastle in the final stretch.
Goals haven’t been a problem for the Baggies who are the Championship’s top scorers with 64 in 36 thanks, in part, to top scorer Hal Robson-Kanu who has netted ten times. Seven of the Baggies squad have scored at least three in the league which suggests that they have threats all over the pitch.
Their home loss to Wigan at the weekend marked the end of a six game unbeaten run in which they won five, so they can consider themselves in fine fettle.
Usually in a match like this you would still expect the Premier League side to have the edge, however Newcastle are so dire that I wouldn’t touch them with somebody else’s money. Keeping in mind that Newcastle are traditionally useless in the cup as well, I’m backing West Brom to win this one, so will also cover the draw.
Sheff Wed vs. Man City
Having already wrapped up the Carabao Cup with what ultimately proved to be a surprisingly tight victory over Aston Villa on Sunday, City turn their focus on retaining the FA Cup with a trip to Sheffield Wednesday.
Pep Guardiola started Kevin de Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva and Riyadh Mahrez on the bench in the final, presumably with a view to playing all three here and that could spell big trouble for Sheffield Wednesday.
The Owls have already dispatched Premier League opposition to reach this stage of the competition but Brighton are clearly an entirely different proposition to City and their recent league form doesn’t offer much encouragement. Wednesday have only one once in their last nine league encounters and have conceded three in three of their last four.
That doesn’t bode well against City who, despite being far below their levels of the previous two seasons, remain the top scorers in the Premier League this season with 68 goals in 27 matches, an absurd 2.5 a game average.
Even if Wednesday score first, I can’t see them keeping out that attack and it’s a straightforward City win for me.
Verdict: Man City