The £1,000,000 HDA15 – This Week It Could Be You
Burnley vs West Ham:
A tough opening game to this week’s HDA15 with a confident West Ham side travelling to Burnley. Allardyce’s men will be in high spirits after a smooth 2-0 success at home to QPR a fortnight ago. The Hammers showcased a solid defence with thanks to Alex Song who proved his worth as a consistent European midfielder. The former Arsenal man covered every blade of Upton Park in a performance that saw the Londoners move to seventh in the league. Burnley have struggled for form thus far this season and find themselves in the relegation zone, though they have performed with credit against the likes of Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Leicester. Their home form will be vital to their survival hopes this campaign and the Clarets have only 1 of their opening 3 home fixtures – against title favourites Chelsea. Burnley are a tough side to break when at home so the West Ham front-line must bring their A-game. It’s best to cover the DRAW and AWAY win here.
Prediction: DRAW & AWAY
Everton vs Aston Villa
Everton will be boosted by the news that star midfielder Ross Barkley is nearing 100% fitness and a return to first-team football following a long injury lay off. The Englishman was a standout for the Toffees last season as well as the World Cup in Rio. His attacking flair and agility will no doubt improve Martinez’s side after a mediocre start to their campaign. Everton have been leaking a number of average goals through the fault of an inconsistent back four. They need to ensure their defensive line is sharp against Aston Villa who are ferocious on the counter-attack. Paul Lamberts team started the season strongly but have faded since, especially at home to Manchester City recently who completely out-played them. Villa have not tasted success against Everton in any of their last 7 attempts; I can’t see that record changing on Saturday.
Newcastle vs Leicester City
This is an extremely hard fixture to predict and one that will result in many hiccups for peoples HDA15 tickets. Newcastle possess a talented squad that are capable of putting together a glittering performance with their pace in midfield and finishing threat up front. However, the potential of the side is yet to transpire and Pardew is a man under monumental pressure from the Geordie faithful. They are yet to record a victory this season but showed glimpses of a revival against Swansea last time with Papisse Cisse carrying the team with his superb goal-scoring form. The atmosphere will be hostile at St James’ Park in a fixture Newcastle desperately need something from with only 5 wins throughout 2014. Leicester’s memorable victory at home to Manchester United has been their highlight of the campaign to date. Their home form has been exceptional and they are looking a dangerous team under Nigel Pearson. The manager has the side well organised along with much needed discipline, their only downfall is their ropey away form. Yes, they did defeat Stoke on the road but looked poor against Crystal Palace. This could easily go either way but I just think it could be Newcastle’s afternoon.
Prediction: HOME & DRAW
Southampton vs Sunderland
The Saints have become a formidable force this season under Ronald Koeman, albeit when everyone write them off. The club acted well in the summer with their new acquisitions who have all performed with real credit. Southampton’s defeat away at White Hart Lane two weeks ago would have slightly dented their momentum but the Saints are unbeaten at home this campaign and are strong favourites to continue that run. Sunderland, on the other hand, have started relatively solidly but have produced some sub-standard displays. The Black Cats victory at home to Stoke lately will give them great confidence heading to the South coast of England although I doubt they’ll have much success.
Brighton vs Middlesbrough
Both closely matched sides on recent form in the division. Brighton have earned two valuable draws against Watford and Cardiff, respectively. The side are unbeaten in their last 5 encounters played at the Amex stadium in all competitions. Middlesbrough have enjoyed a fine start to their season and have aspirations of promotion to the Premier League come May. They currently sit 5h in the Championship and boast a record of going five games without tasting defeat on their travels. These are two teams that are consistently performing of late which, I believe, will result in a stalemate.
Fulham vs Norwich
In Fulham is a side who have been completely crushed since being relegated from the Premier League last season. The vast majority of the squad departed during the summer which left the then manager, Felix Magath, to place ultimate faith in his youth academy. Scott Parker is the only remaining player from last years Premier League starting XI. Fulham had a torrid start to their campaign without a league victory until their 10th game. Norwich have had quite the opposite from their opening 11 games. The Canaries are top of the Championship having won their last 4 away games and I think it will improve to 5 come 5pm Saturday.
Reading vs Derby
Two teams that are earmarked as potential play-off contenders this year go toe-to-toe at the Madejski stadium. Reading are unbeaten in their last 3 home games and have only lost twice in their last 15 encounters with Derby. Derby are also unbeaten their last 9 matches in all competitions and their confidence and momentum is sky-high. I can see this being a tight encounter between two good attacking sides – a draw for me.
Bradford vs Sheffield Unitd
Here is another incredibly close affair in the HDA15 which could cause many issues for punters. Bradford are incredibly inconsistent so far this campaign and have struggled to string together a solid run of three games. They lay 7th in League One with victory likely to catapult them into the play-off positions. They have, however, only record 1 victory in their last 4 games played at home. Sheffield United have had a lot of publicity this past week over the Ched Evans situation. Many eyes will be on their performance this weekend and they will be wanting to put in a good shift. They have lost 2 of their last 3 away trips and I think they might struggle in Bradford.
QPR vs Liverpool
QPR and Harry Redknapp have been amongst the headlines over the last two weeks with Redknapp speaking out about his position at the club. The R’s are bottom of the Premier League with only 4 points from their opening 7 games, including the solitary victory at home to Sunderland. The clubs defensive woes are threatening their chances of survival week-in week-out. Liverpool are also, arguably, struggling themselves without their talisman Daniel Strurridge on the team-sheet. The Englishman is nearing a return from injury and should feature in some capacity on Sunday which will give the Reds a major lift. Their form has not been the best on the road – losing 2 of their 3 encounters away from home this season. Saying that, I believe with Sturridge back in the side I think Liverpool will have a lot of success on the counter-attack with QPR’s defence looking so unstable.
Stoke vs Swansea
This weeks HDA15 is full of close encounters between sides that arrive in similar form. Stoke have become an inconsistent side to follow this season having looked great against Manchester City but poor at home to Leicester. They recently lost to Sunderland in a match that was full of goals and attacking action. Swansea have, themselves, dipped in form slightly after a fabulous opening 7 games. They should have defeated Newcastle last time but instead gifted them a point and I expect their lethal pace in attack to cause Stoke major issues on Sunday. Stoke are a tough side to judge at home with recent defeats to Leicester and Aston Villa, therefore I see the Welsh side leaving with at least a point.
Prediction: DRAW & AWAY
Deportivo vs Valencia
Deportivo sit bottom of La Liga with only 1 victory in their opening 7 games and will be desperately seeking something from their home encounter with Valencia having lost their last 4. Valencia, on the other hand, are flying high in second place without tasting defeat thus far this campaign. They are two points behind leaders Barcelona and will have them firmly in their sights after a great 3-1 victory over Spanish Champions Atletico Madrid. Striker Paco Alcacer has been in flying form for Valencia, netting 4 times already this season, and I cannot see anything other than an away win here.
Inter Milan vs Napoli
Inter Milan and Napoli are two teams you would expect to be challenging for the Serie A title but both lie near to mid table after inconsistent starts to their seasons. Inter Milan have lost back-to-back games in the league and will seeking a sharp response from the defeats. Napoli, however, will arrive in Milan as the side in better form having won their last 2 league games. Inter Milan have only defeated their opposition on Sunday once in their last five encounters – a fact that will give the travellers great confidence. However the San Siro is formidable place to go to gain a victory; therefore I’m plumping with the draw.
West Brom vs Manchester United
West Brom had found some solid form before tasting defeat to Liverpool last time. They had thumped Burnley 4-0 after beating Tottenham at White Hart Lane. They performed respectively at Anfield and will come into this encounter with Manchester United still full of confidence. Manchester United and their World class signings are finally starting to find their feet in the Premier League. Recent victories over Everton and West Ham have been hard fought but resulted in the all-important three points for the Red Devils. Angel Di Maria has been performing in fine style since his arrival from Real Madrid, scoring three goals, along with Falcao who has looked sharp up front. They are still inconsistent in defence however; they continue to leak goals which makes life that much harder for Louis van Gaal’s side. West Brom are a team that must not be taken lightly and can easily upset United if given the opportunities.
Prediction: DRAW & AWAY
CSKA Moscow vs Manchester City
If this Champions League encounter was played in front of the ferocious Moscow fans then it could easily become a tight affair, though this fixture is due to be played behind closed doors due to the racist behaviour of the Russian fans. Therefore, I only see Manchester City coming out on top as they possess the must classier squad and should cause CSKA far too many problems for the home side to be competitive.
Roma vs Bayern Munich
Roma have been in flying form thus far in Serie A losing only 1 of their opening 6 league games, away to hampions Juventus in a thrilling 5 goal encounter. They performed with class in the Champions League so far – recording a victory against CSKA and holding English Champions Manchester City to a 1-1 draw. Bayern Munich have started their Bundesliga campaign like always, being undefeated. However their away form has become arguably shaky by failing to secure victories against Schalke and Hamburg on the road. Travelling to Roma will be a serious challenge for Munich who need to be on their A-game in order to get the win. The Italians have become a well organised team who have all gelled well individually this season; a factor for which I see Bayern struggling to break down. It’s a stalemate for me.