He nailed five out of five in his weekend preview, landing his Syndicate a tasty 5x return in the process. Now Ed Acteson is trying to repeat the trick by taking on the £5,000 1X2 Pick 5. Read on for his midweek tips and, if you agree, join his Syndicate.
Liverpool vs. Salzburg
The cliché goes that the sign of a good team is winning whilst playing badly. Although Liverpool certainly weren’t dreadful against Chelsea and Sheffield United, you might say that they were relieved to win each of the matches.
On Tuesday they host Red Bull Salzburg, a side who certainly appear to have wings as they are flying both domestically and in Europe so far this season. They sit atop the Austrian Bundesliga with 25 points from a possible 27 and hammered Genk 6-2 on Champions League matchday one, proving that they are no mugs.
However, a home tie against Genk is an entirely different prospect from an away trip to the reigning champions of Europe. Despite Liverpool opening their Champions League campaign with a loss, they are still deservedly among the favourites to retain their crown this year, having featured in the last two finals.
As I mentioned, Salzburg aren’t to be underestimated but anything other than a comfortable Liverpool victory would be a big surprise here.
Lille vs. Chelsea
After a bright start to the season, last season’s Ligue Un runners-up have stuttered in recent weeks, winning just one of their previous four matches against lowly Strasbourg. They were beaten 3-0 away to Ajax in matchday one and never left the starting blocks that day.
Chelsea also suffered a disappointing reverse in their opening game, going down 1-0 to Valencia, but their season appears to be on an upward trajectory as Lampard’s youngsters continue to shine in the heart of this youthful Chelsea side.
They have only failed to find the net in two games so far this season, including that Valencia loss, and have scored 20 goals in their last seven fixtures in all competitions. This is a statistic that bodes well against a Lille side who have only kept one clean sheet in their last six.
I’m cautious of the fact that Lille have drawn two of their last three games so on a Syndicate I’d probably back the draw as well but, for the purposes of this column, I’m going for Chelsea.
Barcelona vs. Inter Milan
Definitely the match of the night and competing with Tottenham vs. Bayern for the clash of the week.
The Serie A has an unfamiliar look to it at the moment, with Barcelona sitting in fifth place having won just four of their opening seven fixtures and losing to Granada as well as Athletic Bilbao. These early season teething problem haven’t been evident for Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan who are sitting pretty at the top of Serie A with a perfect 18 points.
With the legendary Diego Godin playing alongside the much coveted Stefan de Vrij and Milan Škriniar in defence, Inter have conceded just twice in Serie A so far, with Conte’s exceptional organisational skills quickly becoming apparent.
Despite their struggles, Barca have blasted 16 goals in seven matches in La Liga and it will be interesting to whether their firepower can overcome Inter’s steely resolve. Despite Barca having a 100% home record in the league so far, with three wins from three, I fancy the tactically astute Conte to orchestrate a defensive masterclass and come away with a point.
AZ Alkmaar vs. Manchester United
Dutch minnows AZ host English giants Manchester United hoping to spring a surprise and, based on recent form, it’s not entirely out of the question.
United were one half of an abject Monday Night Football encounter played in gruelling conditions, so playing an away fixture three days later before facing a must win trip to Newcastle on Sunday for their third fixture of the week is far from ideal.
With that vital match in mind, I would expect Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to rest one or two players for this one, with his squad already depleted by injuries. That being said, it is beyond doubt that he will want to win here.
Alkmaar are in third place in the Eredivisie and will be hoping to push Ajax and Feyenoord in the title race this season. They claimed an away win at Partizan Belgrade on matchday one and have won all three of their league matches since then without conceding a goal. They are well organised and will look to frustrate Manchester United by defending in numbers before launching counter attacks.
Things seem to be unravelling for Solskjaer despite his summer signing bedding in well and I can envisage the headlines on Friday if they don’t win this one. Given their lack of firepower though, they may struggle to break down a solid Alkmaar, so I’m taking the draw.
Arsenal vs. Standard Liege
Lastly we have the other half of the abject Monday Night Football encounter, who take on Belgian challengers Standard Liege.
For me this is something of an open and shut case which requires minimal analysis. Unai Emery, for all his faults, is a Europa League expert and Arsenal, for all their faults, still have plenty of firepower up front.
There’s no angle which would convince that anything other than an easy Arsenal win is on the cards here. Although having been let down by the Gunners more times than I care to remember, I’m fully expecting to eat humble pie.