An enormous £800,000 is up for grabs once again in our 1X2 – Pick 15 Pool. Our resident tipster has run his expert eye over three of the featured Premier League fixtures and delivered a verdict on each.
West Ham vs. Leicester
With the end of the season drawing closer, there are still several key battles taking place in the Premier League. The fate of title is still up in the air, four teams are battling for two Champions League spots and we don’t yet know who will join Huddersfield and Fulham in the Championship next season.
This match features two sides who will still have an eye on finishing in seventh place and claiming a Europa League spot next season. Leicester currently occupy the position but have Wolves, Everton and Watford hot on their heels and, with West Ham just five points behind, they are also still in with a shout.
The two sides played out a 1-1 draw at the Walkers Stadium earlier in the season but, since then, Leicester have appointed Brendan Rodgers and their form has improved markedly. The Foxes suffered a blip in losing to Newcastle last weekend but, prior to that, had won four consecutive matches.
West Ham are on a far less convincing run. The Hammers have lost four of their last five with a 4-3 victory over the division’s whipping boys Huddersfield the only bright spot in the last month, and even that required a late comeback from 3-1 down.
With safety assured, I can only assume that a lack of motivation is hurting the Hammers and they will require a huge shock to the system if they’re going to defeat this Leicester side. I can’t see it and will be supporting the visitors.
Wolves vs. Brighton
Crikey, Brighton are in big trouble. The 2-0 loss against Burnley on Tuesday was their fifth consecutive defeat without scoring and means that they are now just two points ahead of Cardiff in the battle to stay up.
Granted, the Seagulls have played a game less but when their remaining fixtures are Wolves, Tottenham, Newcastle, Arsenal and Man City and Cardiff have to play Liverpool, Fulham, Crystal Palace and Manchester United, you’d probably say that the Bluebirds have more winnable games left.
Last weekend in this column, we correctly predicted that Wolves would lose to Southampton but don’t expect lightning to strike twice. With Leicester overtaking Wolves in the race for a Europa League position, Nuno Espírito Santo will have them under no illusions ab.out the importance of winning this one
Wolves form hasn’t been sensational really, in fact it’s very patchy. A pair of wins over Man United and a draw with Chelsea look less impressive when accompanied by defeats to Southampton, Burnley and Huddersfield. Their system seems to work better against bigger teams than those in the bottom half but, given Brighton’s woeful form, it would be a huge surprise to see anything other than a sixth consecutive defeat for the south coast side.
Huddersfield vs. Watford
It’s hardly a brave shout but backing against Huddersfield should remain an automatic selection in anyone’s pool picks until the end of May. Their abject season has highlighted the extent of their overachievement last year and it’s now 12 consecutive losses for the Terriers.
Sometimes once teams are mathematically relegated it causes an upturn in form due to pressure being lifted but, in Huddersfield’s case, things seem to be getting worse. They have conceded four goals in three of their last four games and have scored five goals in that miserable 12 game run, and three of those came against West Ham.
Watford are enjoying a fine season and gave Arsenal repeated bother on Monday night in their 1-0 defeat, despite being down to ten men for most of the game after Troy Deeney was sent off for elbowing Lucas Torreira in the head. Deeney famously said 18 months ago; “Whenever I play Arsenal, I’ll go up and think ‘Let me whack the first one and see who’s up for it’”. The words came back to haunt him as he was given his marching orders.
Even in his absence though, Watford are flying high having won three of their last five matches and reaching the final of the FA Cup. Huddersfield surely just want the season to be over now and will almost certainly lose again. It’s simply a question of how many they will concede.