As another exciting weekend of Premier League action gets underway, we tried to find an angle in three of the 3PM matches featured in this Saturday’s £5,000 1X2 Pick 5 Pool.
Southampton vs. Wolves
The upturn in Southampton’s fortunes under Ralph Hasenhüttl have been stark, they were heading for the Championship under Mark Hughes having taken nine points from their opening 14 matches which included a single win.
They’ve taken 24 points from 18 games since, which has been enough to lift them out of the relegation zone. As a result they now sit 17th and are five points clear of Cardiff with only six games remaining plus a markedly superior goal difference.
That isn’t to say that the Saints can afford to rest on their laurels, they come up against a Wolves side who have enjoyed a remarkable season and are on course to finish in the top ten, a rare achievement for a newly promoted side.
Wolves have been fascinating to watch this season. They have been a constant thorn in the side of the top six taking at least a point from each of the and 13 from ten games in total.
Yet, on the other hand, they have repeatedly faltered against the ‘lesser’ sides and were the only team that Huddersfield did the double over, accounting for two of the Terriers’ three wins. Add in defeats away to Brighton, Cardiff and Burnley and you see a side who are prone to losing concentration away from home in matches they should win.
With Southampton still needing points to ensure their survival, they will be up for this and I fancy them to get the better of Wolves.
Fulham vs. Everton
Poor old Fulham. With exciting signings like Jean Michaël Seri and André Schürrle added to existing talents within their squad such as Ryan Sessegnon and Aleksandar Mitrović, the season promised so much. Yet, it has delivered so little.
The managerial turbulence hasn’t helped. They opted to twist rather than sticking with Slaviša Jokanović in November. Envisaging a Leicester-style recovery, they appointed Claudio Ranieri who only lasted until February. Finally they appointed Scott Parker as a caretaker, to oversee the sinking of the ship.
The end result is that Fulham have shipped 76 goals, the worst in the division and one of the worst records in Premier League history. They have lost nine consecutive games and come up against a merciless Everton side who are finding some end of season form as they try and pinch seventh spot from under the noses of Leicester and Wolves.
The Toffees have had an odd season and there has been an element of fan discontent over some of Marco Silva’s decisions. Yet, in the last few weeks, they have upped their game and are now on a three match winning streak with wins over Chelsea, West Ham and Arsenal.
Fulham have nothing to play for and, unless the footballing Gods have a huge upset in mind, this should be a routine victory for Europe-chasing Everton.
Burnley vs. Cardiff
Until a couple of weeks ago, this fixture looked as though it might be a six-pointer that decided who filled the final relegation spot.
However, since then Cardiff’s unkind fixture list has thrown up losses against Chelsea and Man City whereas Burnley have rediscovered some of the form that took them to the heady heights of seventh last season by beating Wolves and Bournemouth.
As a consequence, Cardiff now find themselves eight points behind Burnley and five points adrift of safety with only six games to escape. However, four of those are against teams in the bottom reaches of the league (Burnley, Brighton, Fulham and Crystal Palace) so not all hope is lost.
For Burnley, this could very well be the last opportunity to add to their points tally this season. They follow this fixture with a horrific run-in against Chelsea, Man City, Everton and Arsenal.
Sean Dyche will hope that they already have enough points to negate the dreadful run but will want to take a further three here just to make sure. Though there is an element of pressure on Burnley to get the three points as a result, it is nothing compared to the pressure on Cardiff who are quickly running out of time.
Cardiff have little option but to become more adventurous in their final few games, as draws are no longer enough and I think this approach will be their undoing. Cardiff’s desperation, coupled with Burnley’s home advantage, should be enough for the Clarets.