An awesome £800,000 is up for grabs this weekend to anyone who can successfully tackle the 1X2 – Pick 15 pool. Our resident tipster, Ed Acteson, has cast his eye over three of the featured Premier League matches, all taking place at 15:00 on Saturday.
Watford vs. Wolves
The Manchester Derby was a mere warm up for the real battle this week; the fight for seventh place.
Wolves currently have 51 points and occupy the final Europa League qualifying spot, with Watford just a point and a place behind. The winner will fancy their chances of holding onto the position until the end of the season, whereas a draw would open the door for Everton and Leicester.
Wolves have continued their bizarre form recently by beating Man United and Arsenal whilst losing to Southampton and Burnley. At some point you assume that they will start turning up against the smaller sides consistently but it just hasn’t happened yet.
Watford have been quite the opposite, acting as something of a flat-track bully with wins against Huddersfield and Fulham in conjunction with losses to Arsenal and Man United.
The pair have met twice already this season and Watford have come out on top both times. A 2-0 victory for the Hornets at Molineux earlier in the season looked to have been avenged at the start of April, as Wolves took a 2-0 lead in their FA Cup semi-final encounter.
However, a 94th minute Troy Deeney penalty eventually sent the tie to extra time where Watford once again nicked it.
For me this is significant and, although Wolves could be seen to have a point to prove, the manner of their last defeat will surely be in the back of their mind. They tend to be unconvincing against non-top six sides and I fancy Watford to capitalise on their home advantage with a win.
Southampton vs. Bournemouth
The south coast derby holds significance for both clubs as, not only will Southampton effectively be safe if they win, but they will also be just a point behind the Cherries in the table. Should they eventually overtake them, it would be quite the turnaround given their contrasting first halves to the season.
Bournemouth beat another south cast club comfortably recently, thrashing Brighton 5-0 a couple of weeks ago, but that was a rare bright spot in a dire run of form that has seen them lose three of their last four; against Fulham, Burnley and Leicester.
Southampton have been alternating good result with bad in recent weeks. Victory over Brighton was followed by a loss to Liverpool. Bouncing back, they beat Wolves but were then stuffed by Newcastle. On Tuesday they managed a credible draw with Watford, having scored the fastest goal in Premier League history.
There is nothing to seperate them in the home vs. away tables as they both find themselves 16th in the division respectively. I was tempted to tip the draw based on this statistic until I looked closer at Bournemouth’s away record, they haven’t drawn a single game on their travels, winning five and losing 12.
The five wins came against West Ham, Watford, Fulham, Huddersfield and Brighton. Whilst the first two on that list are solid scalps, it’s worth noting that the latest of them came on October 6th, before Bournemouth’s form plummeted. They have now lost ten out of their last 12 away games in the league.
With this in mind I simply can’t support anything other than a Southampton win, with the Saints winning three of their last four at home. It’s my bet of the weekend.
Crystal Palace vs. Everton
The home and away table does offer some variance between these two sides in terms of how they have performed this season.
Whilst Everton haven’t performed spectacularly well away from Goodison Park, taking 18 points from their 17 matches so far, that remains two points more than Palace have managed at home.
Considering that Selhurst Park is regarded as one of the noisier grounds in the league, with Palace’s ‘Ultras’ known for their constant singing, the Eagles just don’t seem to enjoy playing there this season and sit second bottom in a home table, two points below Fulham.
Both teams had eye-catching wins last weekend, Palace beat Arsenal 3-2 at the Emirates and Everton thumped Manchester United 4-0 at home, so each should go into this one in high spirits.
Everton have actually been in irresistible form recently, winning four of their last five, including impressive victories over Chelsea, West Ham, Arsenal and United. They also drew with Liverpool and Marco Silva finally seems to have got the penny to drop with his talented squad.
Given Palace’s dire home record and Everton’s great run, I’m left with little choice but to support the Toffees.