Tackling the £1,000,000 FreePlay6
Tackling the £1,000,000 FreePlay6. FA Cup fourth round ties dominate this week’s Pick 6 with a Serie A classic thrown in for good measure.
For a chance at the lottery-sized £2m jackpot you must stake a minimum of £2 per line, but remember to take advantage of our FreePlay option beforehand – one line, absolutely free of charge. Gratis.
You can thank us later if it comes up trumps for you this week.
Let’s get down to business…
Crystal Palace v Stoke
Two teams who are playing some sparkling football this season and surprising a few people into the bargain.
Alan Pardew has made the side he graced as a player a lot more competitive and combative, especially in the middle of the park.
Much like how Pardew himself used to play the game.
Mark Hughes, another old warhorse who didn’t mind a bit of afters, has altered the perception of the way Stoke play immeasurably.
Known as hard to beat and often hard as nails, the Potters have added a new dimension to their play.
With players such as Bojan Krkic, Marco Arnautovic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay in their ranks now, Stoke are taking on the more celebrated footballing sides and their own game. And winning.
Only a couple of points and a couple of places separate these two teams in the league and form for both has been much the same.
I won’t try and separate them here either with my opening selection an AOD.
Nottingham Forest v Watford
Watford are where Nottingham Forest would love to be.
Promoted to the Premier League, playing decent football and consolidating their position in the division despite a budget that is dwarved by 90 percent of the other teams in the English top flight.
Forest were once part of the elite but as with so many that have dropped out of the EPL, the fight to get back is a long and arduous one and if it isn’t managed at the first attempt, the struggle intensifies.
There’s no chance whatsoever of Forest being in the shake up for promotion this year either despite some solid performances so the cup gives them a little respite.
Having said that, Watford will be one of the teams to take this cup seriously. No reserve team out for them.
Quique Sanchez Flores will want to see a continuation of the free-flowing football that has won the Hornets so many plaudits already this season.
Dougie Freedman’s side have their work cut out and whilst I believe it will be a tough ask for the visitors, I don’t see them leaving the City Ground without a win.
1-2 is my second selection of the week.
Portsmouth v Bournemouth
Is it really only eight years since Harry Redknapp took Pompey to the promised land?
Fast forward from 2008 to 2016 and Portsmouth are now languishing in the lowest professional league in the country, League 2.
It’s quite the downfall for the men from the South Coast, in and out of administration, and now fan owned, for the sake of football generally, this has to be a story that has a successful outcome.
Far too many teams have begun to slide down the divisions and some out of business entirely, once the riches of the Premier League are no longer on offer.
Bournemouth have done exactly the opposite.
Stuck with one of the most progressive managers in the country, not overspent, been a few minutes from going out of the league only to claw their way back and eventually into the Premier League for the first time in their history.
The parallels couldn’t be more marked.
Although Paul Cook’s side have lost only four games since early September, this game is a step up in class for them and, frankly, although a cup run is great for the fans, Portsmouth can do without the distraction as they push for promotion.
Don’t be surprised to see Cook go with a relatively inexperienced XI and an easy victory for Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth as a result.
0-3 is my selection.
If you’ve made it this far with three out of three, congratulations. You can take advantage of our Partial Cash-Out facility at this point. Bank a portion of your ticket and grab yourself some cash, whilst playing on with the remainder.
Liverpool v West Ham
In all honesty this is probably one tie that Slaven Bilic could’ve done without.
If the Hammers wanted a cup win to sign off their last ever season at the Boleyn Ground, they’re going to have to do it the hard way, winning at Anfield for the second time in a season, also only the second time in over 50 years.
In the league match at this venue earlier in the campaign, the Reds were comprehensively outplayed by a dogged and determined West Ham.
No longer the pushovers of old, the east Londoners were very much a side in Bilic’s own image. As they were in the reverse fixture at Upton Park, again won fairly convincingly by West Ham.
And despite Liverpool’s obvious defensive frailties, asking for three in a row is a little bit much.
Jurgen Klopp has much to iron out on the training ground because West Ham’s players are, with respect, a step up on Norwich’s staff and the Canaries were able to waltz through Liverpool’s excuse for a defence at will.
Both teams will provide another exhibition of controlled attacking football and I’m taking the hosts to squeeze through here, leaving West Ham to concentrate on finishing in the European places and a Europa League campaign to open up the Olympic Stadium.
2-1 to Liverpool.
MK Dons v Chelsea
It really is quite embarrassing to see just how much Chelsea have improved since Jose Mourinho was sacked.
And it most definitely brings into sharp focus just how much the players were holding back in order to ensure that the Special One was sent packing.
A hugely unpalatable side to the game but here we have the most visual manifestation of the same.
Guus Hiddink really hasn’t had to do too much at all to turn things around at the club. Just a more jovial and approachable presence seems to have hit all of the right notes with the playing staff.
MK Dons might’ve been looking upon this one as a real scalp and a month ago you’d have put your money on them turning a poor Chelsea over.
But mojo restored, there isn’t much for the visitors to worry about here.
The Dons have just two wins in the year so far, and only six stretching back to late August in all competitions.
A damage limitation exercise for the hosts whose Premier League opponents will be rampant.
AOA for your coupon.
AC Milan v Inter Milan
One of the classic Italian fixtures is very rarely one for the purist.
As if to ram home the point, in the last nine games between the pair stretching back over four years, neither AC or Inter have managed to score more than one goal.
And neither side have managed to retain the upper hand either.
Only two places separate them going into this one but Inter are well clear in points terms, Roberto Mancini proving again what an excellent manager he remains, if a little spiky at times.
He’s yet to win over the local media and indeed some fans who dislike his “boring” style. Yet as Mancini will, and has, eulogised, it’s a style that is getting results.
Six points off of top spot isn’t insurmountable at this juncture and the nerrazzurri have more chance of getting there than the Rossonerri.
Even if the latter are playing the more pleasing football.
In any event, you know both teams are going to cancel each other out across the 90 minutes.
An easy 1-1 pick for my last prediction of this week.