TACKLING THE £2,000,000 PICK6
TACKLING THE £2,000,000 PICK6
The Champions League is back and forms a third of this week’s Pick 6 coupon.
Premier League fixtures also feature heavily including a tasty Midlands derby, plus a Serie A classic to mix things up a bit.
For less than the price of your match programme you can have a shot at the £2m lottery-sized jackpot, with a minimum £2 stake needed to play at the top table.
Step right up…
Sunderland vs. Tottenham
Could this be the game that sees the first managerial casualty of the season? Just five games in and Sunderland already look like they are in for their annual relegation battle.
Dick Advocaat won’t have endeared himself to the Black Cats hierarchy with his comments during the transfer window and Ellis Short is known to have a bit of a trigger finger when it comes to managers. Just ask Gus Poyet.
Jermain Defoe has the perfect chance to get one over on his old employers and with two goals already the striker is already in the groove.
But his efforts could all be in vain if his defence continue to let themselves down.
Harry Kane could finally get off the mark for Spurs and will find rich pickings against a back four that have already shipped 10 goals this season.
Responsibility will rest squarely on the industrious Lee Cattermole in this one, with Advocaat looking for a high level of protection afforded to his central defence.
Mauricio Pochettino’s exciting 4-2-3-1 formation should see the visitors dominate the lions share of possession but if they can’t involve Kane again, any attacking intent is moribund.
Three draws in their last three games indicates where their problems lie but Kane has to come good sooner or later.
I predict that the future of Tottenham’s attack will trump the past. 0-2 or 0-3 for your coupon.
Leicester vs. Aston Villa
What a treat Midlands football fans have in store this weekend.
Claudio Ranieri’s Foxes have taken the Premier League by storm and another three points could see them as high as second in the table by the end of Week 5’s fixtures.
Only Manchester City and West Ham have scored more goals so there will be an expectancy of ball hitting onion bag from the King Power Stadium faithful.
Still unbeaten this season, confidence remains high and Ranieri continues to hit all of the right notes with his team selections.
Stationing Andy King in between the lines in a 4-1-4-1 formation has made them very hard to break down centrally so if Villa want to come away with at least a point, they will need to work the channels effectively.
Scott Sinclair has been one of Tim Sherwood’s success stories but if Ritchie De Laet can curtail his incisive bursts, Villa have precious little else to trouble their hosts.
It’s been nine years since the claret and blues have won away at Leicester and it’ll be at least 12 months more because the Foxes success story continues.
An easy 3-0 3-1 or AOH are my selections.
Lazio vs. Udinese
The symmetry between these two Italian sides is staggering.
An almost identical start to the season with a win and a loss apiece sees both sides split only by AC Milan on goal difference.
11th playing 13th and just three goals between them doesn’t sound like the most attractive fixture of the weekend.
In 21 fixtures between the sides over the last weekend, both have won eight each and drawn five. Lazio have scored 35 across those games, Udinese 31.
The last three have been won by the away side, the previous four by the hosts.
A see-saw battle therefore surely awaits. A win here potentially takes the victor level on points with the leaders of the Italian top flight – not Juventus for a change.
The Stadio Olimpico isn’t a particularly inviting stadium for any away side, but with the fans so far away from the pitch, neither is it an advantage for Rome’s “other” team.
A stuttering start for both sees a 0-0 bore draw here, perhaps an away win by the odd goal 0-1.
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West Ham vs. Newcastle
Which Hammers side are going to turn up today?!
The one which comprehensively outplayed both Arsenal and Liverpool on their own patch or the side which couldn’t string two passes together against both Leicester and Bournemouth?
Perhaps it is the atmosphere created at home games by the Upton Park faithful that isn’t conducive to getting the best out of Slaven Bilic’s new look West Ham.
Steve McClaren arrives in East London knowing that three points is almost imperative.
Never a popular appointment on Tyneside, his stock is rapidly diminishing. If Sunderland do get the desired result at the Stadium of Light, Newcastle run the risk of finishing the weekend propping up the table.
History is on the side of the Toon Army mind you. West Ham have only triumphed on two occasions at home over their visitors in the last 10 years.
Key for the hosts is Dmitri Payet. The summer signing from Marseille has quality written all over him and it’s no surprise to learn that he had the most assists across Europe’s top five leagues last season.
If he is allowed to play, he will be the difference here.
Newcastle’s new signing Aleksandar Mitrovic is sidelined after his red card against Arsenal so Papiss Cisse gets an early reprieve despite his protestations at wanting to leave the club.
This is a chance for him to show McClaren what he has been missing and with Daryl Janmaat raiding down the right, he will be given the right kind of service throughout.
I expect the Magpies to score, but it won’t be enough for all three points.
A hard fought 1-1 draw is my selection.
PSV vs. Man Utd
No sooner has Memphis Depay left PSV then he returns with Manchester United.
You just knew that the Champions League draw would throw a tie like this up.
The insider knowledge that United’s new number 7 can bring will give the Red Devils an advantage before a ball has even been kicked.
Louis Van Gaal needs his team to make a statement and what better way to start off their UCL group campaign than with a healthy away win.
The Dutch champions will be no pushovers mind you.
They remain unbeaten this season and Phillip Cocu’s 4-3-3 formation leans towards a Barcelona style of play, with ball retention key to PSV’s aims.
Luke De Jong will lead the line with aplomb. Winning seven aerial battles against Feyenoord last time out should give Daley Blind and Chris Smalling some food for thought.
Home advantage is likely to be crucial but will PSV be able to contain the likes of Rooney, Mata, Herrera et al for 90 minutes? Unlikely.
Goals are a given in this game and I’m predicting a high-scoring AOD which will suit both sides in their opener.
Valencia vs. FC Zenit
Los Che are back where they belong, and not before time.
The feelgood factor around Valencia shows no signs of abating and in Nuno Santo they have a manager well-equipped to take them back to a promise land that they haven’t inhabited since the days of Rafael Benitez.
Zenit travel to Spain on the back of an enviable record in 2015. Of the 16 games played in all competitions, the Russian’s have won 11, drawn one and lost just four, although two of those reverses have come in the last three games.
Andre Villas-Boas has the perfect opportunity to right a few perceived wrongs with a decent UCL campaign and a decent result here might get everyone sitting up and taking notice of the Portuguese again.
The most obvious threat to Valencia is Hulk who still packs a fearsome punch with his cannonball-like shots.
Axel Witsel’s industry needs to be kept in check too, if Mestalla is to witness an opening day victory from the hosts.
Man for man, Valencia are well covered in all areas but haven’t started this campaign as well as they might’ve hoped.
It will be a battle royale but the hosts should just shade it to finally kick-start their season.
Take a 1-0 or 2-1 home win for your final selection this week.