He got 5/5 last weekend and 4/5 in his midweek preview, so Ed Acteson is a man in form. He’s cast his eye over six of this weekend’s Premier League encounters and delivered us his best weekend football tips with a view to tackling the £1,000,000 Correct Score – Pick 6 and the £800,000 1X2 Pick 15. If you agree with his thoughts, you can join his Pick 6 Syndicate or his Pick 15 Syndicate.
Norwich vs. Villa
A difficult match to begin the ticket between two of last season’s promoted sides. Norwich won each of their encounters last season 2-1 and that narrow superiority appears to have carried over to this term, as The Canaries sit in 17th, a place and a point above Villa.
Norwich are plagued with injuries at the moment and could be missing as many as ten players in the fixture, with Tim Krul, Ralf Fahrmann, Timm Klose, Christoph Zimmermann, Onel Hernandez, Tom Trybull, Mario Vrancic, Alex Tettey, Ben Godfrey and Jamal Lewis all either missing or in doubt.
As a result, Daniel Farke’s side have followed their unfathomable win over Manchester City with back to back 2-0 defeats away to Burnley and Palace, with Teemu Pukki’s goals drying up at just the wrong time.
Villa have begun to find their feet in front of goal, scoring four in their last two, yet only won a point for their efforts, suggesting that their problems lie at the back. They have also lost all three of their away fixtures so far, whereas Norwich have won all six of their points so far at Fortress Delia.
What would have been a straightforward selection of Norwich is cast into doubt by their injury list. I’ll still pick them as my selection in the blog but will also back the draw in the Pick 6.
Fact: Norwich have win their last four home matches against Aston Villa in all competitions
Burnley vs. Everton
I’m anticipating a close game at Turf Moor, where Burnley host Everton.
The Toffees had the joint fifth best defensive record in the league last season, conceding just 46 goals over the campaign at a rate of 1.21 goals per game. In the summer they weren’t able to retain Kurt Zouma though, whose loan from Chelsea expired, and opted to sell their defensive midfield shield, Idrissa Gueye, to PSG.
As a result, that goals conceded per game ratio has crept up to 1.71 this season and, with them also scoring less goals, it should come as no surprise to see Everton hovering precariously above the relegation zone.
Burnley’s attack has been one of the surprises of the season. Sean Dyche has an arguably unfair reputation for playing negative, defensive football. Yet The Clarets have scored ten goals in their opening seven matches, the highest of any side currently outside the top eight and equal with West Ham in fifth.
There may not be a manager in England who is safer in his job than Dyche, whereas Marco Silva’s position is under increasing scrutiny. Everton have lost three consecutive matches by two goal margins and a fourth may be enough to cost the Poruguese his job.
Will the players fight for him? I’m not convinced. I’m going to take Burnley for the win.
Fact: Everton have conceded at least two goals in their last five matches
Watford vs. Sheffield United
What a disastrous couple of weeks it has been for Quique Sánchez Flores after a great opening draw against Arsenal. An 8-0 humiliation by Man City was terrible, yet it was the 2-0 defeat to Wolves which will have done the damage.
The result moved Wolves out of the relegation zone and means that Watford are already four points from safety. With notoriously volatile owners, it isn’t completely out of the question that Watford could sack their second manager of the season before November if things don’t pick up quickly. So a home fixture against the pre-season relegation favourites should be the perfect tonic, right?
Sheffield United have surprised me at every turn this season. I keep predicting them to slip up and they keep defying expectations. They were even incredibly unfortunate to lose against Liverpool last weekend after going toe to toe with Jurgen Klopp’s juggernaut for much of the game.
I have not learnt my lesson, however, and I’m going to once again predict defeat for The Blades. There simply has to be some sort of reaction from Watford who are performing so far below their level from last season when they finished 11th.
Sheffield United look as though they may upset the pundits by staying up but it won’t be without some bumps along the road and this could be one of them.
Fact: Watford have kept a clean sheet in their last three matches against Sheffield United in all competitions
West Ham vs. Crystal Palace
Both sides have suffered one heavy tonking this season but, otherwise, tend to either win or lose by narrow margins. Of their six combined wins, none have been by more than two goals.
Additionally, both sit in the bottom half of a table of average goals in each club’s matches, with West Ham seeing 2.71 goals per game and Palace games featuring just 1.86 on average.
West Ham currently sit in fifth and could have been as high as second had they held on for the win against Bournemouth last weekend. They have scored the fewest goals in the top eight though. The six goals scored by Palace, who are ninth, is only more than Brighton (16th), Newcastly (19th) and Watford (20th).
All of this points to two sides who rely on mean defences for their success, a notion backed up by the fact that they have conceded just 16 goals in 14 matches between them. In fact, if you remove the aforementioned tonkings (West Ham 0 – Man City 5 & Tottenham 4 – Crystal Palace 0), it is just seven goals conceded in 12 matches. Impressive stuff.
West Ham will be favourites but Palace have been very strong away from home over the last couple of years. I’m going to go for a low-scoring draw but will cover narrow wins for either side in the Syndicate.
Fact: West Ham are undefeated in their last six league matches
Southampton vs. Chelsea
A promising mini-run in which The Saints took seven points from nine seems to have tailed off. They have lost to Spurs and Bournemouth in their last two league outings, slipping down to 16th in the table. Chelsea, on the other hand, are definitely on the up. Despite sitting seventh, the feel good factor at Stamford Bridge is high at the moment.
Club legend Frank Lampard seems to be finding his feet in the dugout and has seamlessly integrated three academy products into the first team, all of whom feature in the latest England squad. It’s been quite a turnaround for a side who have often been derided in years gone by for thei youth policy.
Chelsea’s only league defeats came against Liverpool and Manchester United and their 4-0 loss to the latter looks bizarre considering their contrasting trajectories since that day. I don’t see Southampton posing too much of a threat and expect Chelsea to win by a couple of goals.
Fact: Southampton have failed to win their last five home games in the league
Newcastle vs. Manchester United
Lastly, we arrive at Newcastle vs. Manchester United and I will be delighted if the Syndicate gets this far.
The heady days of Kevin Keegan passionately declaring that he “would love it if we beat them” as the Toon Army went head to head in a title race against Sir Alex Ferguson seems a million miles away now. United are struggling to hold onto their top six place whereas Newcastle will be grateful just to stay in the league.
In reality, Newcastle fans would swap their situation for United’s in a heartbeat. The Geordies haven’t scored in their last two matches and were utterly hapless when thrashed 5-0 away to Leicester last week. Steve Bruce looked a broken man in his post-match press conference and, although United aren’t the force they once were, they’ll still be licking their lips at the prospect of this encounter.
These two sides have ‘enjoyed’ the 16th and 17th lowest scoring matches in the league so far, with neither possessing a single prolific striker. Newcastle have lost three of their four league defeats so far by one or two goals and, as such, I’ll cover the same eventuality happening again in a United win.
Verdict: Manchester United
Fact: There have been under 2.5 goals scored in Newcastle’s last three home games