Three big Premier League matches take place on Sunday, as Everton take on Man Utd, Arsenal face Palace and struggling Cardiff host Liverpool. Our resident tipster has run the rule over each of them, to give you some insight into tackling the £5,000 1X2 Pick 5 pool.
Everton vs. Man United
Two sides with opposing trajectories go head to head on Sunday, as Man United make the short trip to Goodison Park to take on Everton.
Despite bizarrely losing to Fulham last weekend, Everton have been in decent nick recently, winning their previous three games against Chelsea, West Ham and Arsenal. They’ve also got improved markedly at the back, keeping five clean sheets in their last seven matches.
United, on the other hand, have seen the wheels come off a magnificent run of form that helped them leap back into contention for a Champions League spot. They’ve lost five of their last seven matches in all competitions and are now back in sixth place, chasing Arsenal and Chelsea to make the top four.
With the new manager bounce having long worn off, the weaknesses in United’s squad have become readily apparent once more and they will need significant investment in the transfer window this summer. However, before then they need to focus on a dangerous and in-form Everton side.
Whilst the Toffees are fighting to be in the Europa League, United are fighting to escape it. I don’t think you can question the desire of either side but you can question form and confidence. For me, United’s lack of certainty at the moment was characterised by costly mistake made by the usually reliable David De Gea against Barcelona midweek. I think Everton are the side on the up and will win this one.
Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace
An interesting battle between the two sides with the most contrasting home and away form in the league.
Arsenal have taken 44 points at home this season yet only 22 away. The 22 point superiority of their home form is the biggest in the league and Unai Emery’s men clearly don’t enjoying travelling much.
Palace, on the other hand, seem to love it. They have taken 23 points away from home versus 16 at Selhurst Park, giving them the seventh best away record in the league and making them one of only two sides who have won more points on their travels than at home.
So if isn’t quite the immoveable force vs. the unstoppable object, it’s certainly a battle between two decent records and should make for an engaging battle. Or will it?
Whilst Arsenal have won five of their last six matches and are now firmly in the driving seat to finish in the top four, Palace seem to have run out of steam. The Eagles effectively ensured their safety with recent wins over fellow relegation contenders Huddersfield, Newcastle and Burnley but have lost four out of their last six in all competitions including two goal defeats against Tottenham and Man City.
The defeats to Spurs and City are significant as Palace had held their own against sides in the top six earlier in the season, indeed they remain the only side to win at the Etihad this season, but looked devoid of ideas and ambition in those contest.
With safety ensured and the Europa League out of reach, it could be that Roy Hodgson’s side are simply on their holidays now and, with Arsenal’s season still in the balance, I’d expect the Gunners to win comfortably.
Cardiff vs. Liverpool
It’s difficult to know whose need is greater in this one. Both sides have worked incredibly hard this season to achieve their respective positions, though clearly with completely contrasting goals.
Whilst Liverpool find themselves with probably their best ever chance of winning the Premier League, and could yet win a Champions League double, they also know that any slip ups will probably allow Man City to claim the title.
Cardiff simply want to stay in the division. Having worked their socks off to beat Brighton on Tuesday, the Bluebirds are now just two points behind the Seagulls and have a genuine chance of staying up if they can win a couple more games.
Unfortunately, that win is extremely unlikely to come against Liverpool. Realistically, Klopp’s men are far superior in every position and it would be a major surprise if any result other than a comfortable Liverpool occurred. They should be included in any pool as a safety selection.