During last week’s preview we correctly picked 5 out of 9 winners which was an identical strike rate to the week before… Although 2 correctly picked draws padded out the multi bet nicely! I’m aiming a little higher this week; think we can bring it to at least 7 out of 9. So what will happen in round 3? Let’s take a look at my thoughts… *events predicted may or may not actually happen.
West Ham v Fulham
West ham gets back home where they just nosed out Villa in round 1. This form line is now looking very average considering how poor Villa actually are. Last week West Ham were woeful against Swansea giving up the ball in the back half for fun, although they did look a constant threat from set pieces. Fulham on the other hand are flying, going forward they look sharp and incisive. After mauling Norwich in Rd. 1 they ran Man U close last week at Old Trafford. I think Fulham may have the tools at the back to keep West ham out, Hangeland is a match for their aerial threat but can Fulham score? Good sense says they should be able to bag a couple but I can’t escape the feeling that this is going to be hard work for Fulham. If West Ham brings the defence they brought in Round 1 it could be a stale mate 0-0… but I’m more likely to pick a score line of 0-1 to Fulham. I think the loss of Dembele is a huge deal for Fulham, he is a quality player who joins the midfield to the attack with class and flair, I reckon their scoring output will suffer from this move. I have no real hunch on who may be the point scorers but we can assume Duff, Petric and Ruiz will be trying all day to knock the door down.
Swansea v Sunderland
Swansea are the buzz team in the league so far, they have scored 8 goals and conceded none but it’s the way they are playing that is exciting everyone. They keep the ball on the ground at all times playing a crisp passing game. The wingers are always a chance as each attacking wave flows forward. As they have been instructed to play the ball from the back they do seem to make some risky passes out of defence rather than hoofing it away, which can have clean sheet hunters with their hearts in mouths but Vorm has been a brick wall so rest easy! Sunderland are very organised in defence, if they had of played last week I’m sure we would be looking at a side now that have conceded zero goals this year. They have been a bit toothless in attack, we just have to wait and see if Johnson, Saha and McClean can work together. In this fixture I don’t think Swansea will have it all their own way, I reckon Sunderland will keep them at bay for large periods of time but weight of numbers will prevail to a 2-1 win to the Swans… and to the top of the table they will go! Michu, Graham, Rangel and co to continue their dream starts. But I see Johnson feeding McLean for the black cat’s first goal of the year!
Tottenham v Norwich
Let’s not beat around the bush, Tottenham have been the biggest let down for us so far, they fell to a disappointing defeat at Newcastle followed by a last minute Draw at home to West Brom. For a team with so much attacking talent it’s not good enough and the blame needs to go squarely on the shoulders of one AVB. I still think he is spooked from his horror run at Chelsea and is afraid to play an expansive game, a game which gave him his name! He needs to go back to basics, play attacking football and score some goals! Norwich have also been poor, they shipped 5 goals in rd. one and drew with another poor side last week in what could be described as a snore fest. Both sides were too scared to make a move after the previous weeks pommeling. In this fixture we really have to give spurs the benefit of the doubt, they really do have too much talent on the pitch to not dismantle a poor Norwich playing away. That said Spurs are not flying by any stretch so I can only see them sneaking 2 past the keeper, 2-0 to spurs. Bale and Ade must be involved….they are too good not to be!
West Brom v Everton
West Brom are consistently underrated by most. Their ‘no name’ squad is now reaping the rewards from the solid Hodgson tenure, Clarke has them playing in a well organised style. They are now 7 games unbeaten all year including last week’s draw with spurs. They actually look sharp in attack and late in the game Lukaku makes a menace of himself with strength and pace. Everton have flown out of the blocks, they are generally tenacious and solid at the back while having a real unpredictability in attack. Pienaar buzzes around, Felliani is a menace in the air and Jelavic is clinical when given a sniff. Baines and Pienaar on the left are a particularly lethal combination. In this fixture I’m finding it hard to get a result. West Brom are organised but Everton are on fire…. I’m going for the 1-1 draw here, I think both sides have claims for a win but I can’t pick who!
Wigan v Stoke
This is the snore fest game of the round. Wigan are 1-1 for the year and playing some OK football, they put up a good showing vs Chelsea followed by a 2 goal win against promoted Southampton away. For some crazy reason Wigan are a far better team away than they are at home. Stoke are Stoke… same old Stoke. Playing that same style they always have, 2 draws so far… it’s a mirror image from the past 2 seasons it seems. So in this fixture Stoke will be typically hard to break down while Wigan poke and prod the ball around trying to find an opening. I’m going to back Stoke in here for a shut out, Wigan are not flash at home, and although Stoke are not the best away I think they can do enough here for a 0-0. And that’s Stoke in a nutshell!! Happy for a 0-0.
Man City v QPR
City are not flying by any stretch, They do seem to have a resolve to get a result from any predicament but are playing in an arrogant style that is seeing them ship a lot of goals. Last week they scrounged a draw at Anfield after a terrible mistake by Liverpool. QPR are in trouble, they are playing poorly and keep on buying new players all over the place. They are playing like a disjointed unit which is understandable considering nobody knows each other yet! They played a drab draw last week against lowly Norwich and really need to sharpen up in defence and attack if they are going to make a fist of this season. City will have far too many attacking options this week and should be able to deal with QPR comfortably. Mancini has asked for an improvement in defence which may suggest they revert to a 4-4-2 again this week. I think they will hold out QPR and notch a 3-0 scoreline. Tevez to be amongst it and Nasri to fire during the continued form lull of Silva. Toure will be no good this week thanks to the need for a clean sheet; he should patrol things from deep.
Liverpool v Arsenal
Tough game to call this one. Liverpool were OK last week against City only losing thanks to a defending howler, the week before that they were unlucky to go to a 3-0 defeat thanks to a red card. They seem to be playing OK without getting results. Arsenal on the other hand are playing well at the back, and looking good but are just not getting it together in front of goal. Eventually the new boys will click and the goals will start flowing. Will it be this week? A Gooner friend of mine is of the opinion that Arsenal new boys always announce themselves at Anfield, Arsharvins 4 goals two years back would kind of back up his claims, can Giroud, Podolski, Cazorla and co finally click this week and get on the score sheet? Hmm I reckon they do have one goal in them, only thanks to the suspect Liverpool defending, but I also see Liverpool scoring 2. I sense Gerrard will be instrumental in a first victory of the season in front of the kop 2-1.
Newcastle v Villa
Newcastle started this year off in the same form that they ended the last, they had a cracking win against Tottenham, but then travelled to Stamford bridge last week and lost 2-0 .Pardew took a formation that really had them little chance of scoring. Villa have been woeful under their new manager, they have let in goals at one end and have been non-existent at the other. Bent has been left floundering up front alone! Scoring 3 goals in midweek will hopefully help their confidence a bit but I don’t like their chances against a tough Newcastle at home. Newcastle will play with Ba and Cisse in a front 2 and that is a very dangerous combination at St James park, I see them scoring twice in a 2-0 victory. I reckon Ba is going better at this stage so I’ll tip him to be in the points.
Southampton v Man U
Southhampton have made a fair fist of their entry back in the top flight, two competitve performances but no points to show for it as yet. They have looked to play a fairly attacking game but it has meant goals going in at the other end. Man u have been struggling with injuries at the back, it has meant they are yet to keep a clean sheet but things started to click for them in attack last week when they notched 3 and looked menacing each time they went forward. It would be a brave man who thinks they won’t score atleast another 3 here too, with Rvp, Kawaga and Valencia amongst the points. I reckon Southampton may nick one though to ruin the cleanie. 1-3 to Man u!
So that’s it for the round 3 preview, agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments. Good luck!