The FA Cup Third Round fulfilled all our footy needs last weekend and more. Most Premier League sides came through unscathed but those who did lose will be looking to get back to winning ways and in the process strengthen their ongoing mission. The weekend starts on Friday night with a rivalry game:
Brighton & Hove Albion v Crystal Palace
This match will produce some quality football to watch but the massive question mark is will their be goals? Neither team are renowned for finishing the numerous chances they create in games, for a enjoyable Friday night let’s hope the shooting boots are firmly on for both sides. Michael Olise is slowing gaining more game time for Palace, with Zaha away at AFCON he can now establish himself as the creative centrepiece for the club. Of course we cannot forget the recovering Eze either, attack wise Palace look so young and vibrant. Brighton are a tough nut to crack, they are solid physically and mentally in each position group but at the same time those players are comfortable on the ball. The continual missing factor is a player who can alter a game pattern with magic.
The headline fixture of the weekend kicks off Saturday and even though most non Chelsea fans despise the Stamford Bridge outfit if we want a title race then the away side need to win this game. Even though the form of Chelsea over the last few months has been patchy they are more than capable of beating City. Arsenal last time out pushed the champs to the brink, their is no question Chelsea possess more quality than their London neighbours. Since his boohoo outburst was published around Christmas Lukaku has shown a desire to work for his team. The goals have not flowed since he was dropped for the Liverpool game but I cannot see why it won’t happen in this game. It’s not the City centre backs who the Belgian will target but the left back and if its Zinchenko he will be rubbing his hands in glee! Raheem Sterling needs to start this game as he holds the ultimate threat down the middle for the three man Chelsea defence his pace, ability to hang off defenders shoulders and tight ball skill are all traits Rudiger & co dislike to deal with. If Foden is fit enough to start that offers even more headaches for the away side down the flanks. If Chelsea concede one or less then they win.
One for your FPL - Romelu Lukaku £11.5m
Bet Select - Chelsea win
Burnley v Leicester City
The points in the encounter are priceless for both teams as they've played the least so far this season, coupled with awful form. Losing Chris Woods will be a big blow short term for Burnley, even though they're maybe heading a different direction style wise a new player will not turn up by Saturday. If Burnley score via any other means than a set piece in this game (if they score at all) i will be surprised. Patson Daka has not fully got going yet but this match is a great chance, with no Vardy or Iheanacho for the immediate future he can stake a claim to the striker spot. The creative hub for The Foxes are all present so chances will be created. The last two meeting between these sides have ended in draws but i cannot see that run continuing.
One for your FPL - Ayoze Perez £5.7m
Bet Select - Leicester win
Newcastle United v Watford
The first relegation six pointer of the season will be the headline prior to this game but is it a six pointer? The bottom four are clearly the worst teams in the division and are probably competing in a league within the Premier League. As the gap is two points between them, Newcastle will be looking at not losing first and foremost. A win and after this weekend all they need to do is match their rivals point hauls every week as they will be top of the flops, not exactly a six point swing. I like the viewpoint regarding Chris Woods and if Steve Bruce had brought him in what the outrage would be compared to the joy being shown currently. He may score a few goals but it seems more like a signing for next season and a campaign in the Championship. As always Emmanuel Dennis will hold the key to victory for Watford, his pace and movement will occupy the home defence. He is listed as doubtful but its hard to see him not playing some part along with Josh King who's form has deserved a few more goals. I am fairly confident Newcastle will not keep a clean sheet they couldn't last weekend in the FA Cup versus Cambridge.
One for your FPL - Josh King 5.8m
Bet Select - Double Chance Watford or Draw
Norwich City v Everton
Everton fans enter this match up with a great deal of confidence as Norwich are woeful but on the plus side if they did somehow lose it could be bye bye to the panto villain, Rafa Benetiz! Its hard to find positives when writing about Norwich they are as poor a team the Premier League has ever seen, even the young talents Cantwell and Gilmour are not playing due to being out of favour or injury. Demarai Gray has been one of my favourite players this season, its so good to see him start playing like his talent threatened a few years ago. Along with Calvert Lewin and Townsend the away side possess the best attacking threat and surely will win the game.
One for your FPL - Demarai Gray £6.5m
Bet Select - Everton win and over 2.5 goals
Wolverhampton Wanderers v Southampton
Surely this will be the last game on MOTD this Saturday both sides are organised, at times play fluid football but they are so uninspiring. Caught up in the flux of staying up but not good enough to compete at the top, if they was boxers they would get a title shot after 10 years of fighting purely down to the fact they have never had a chance so become a credible challenger. Both teams enter the match-up with identical last three game form but most surprisingly is historically Wolves have won this fixture more away from home. Two youngsters could decide who wins this game as Chelsea loanee Broja will be competing with Max Kilman, this could be a Premier League battle for years to come. Winning midweek will offer Southampton great hope along with the fact James Ward Prowse is playing out of his skin currently but for some reason I favour Wolves to earn the victory. Potentially this could be the Neves farewell game and that's why I think a masterclass from him could lead his side towards all three points.
Saturday finishes with a repeat of Monday's FA Cup game but most importantly for United its away from Old Trafford this time. The home fans are so toxic currently which is affecting the players, they do not know what they want and seem to be loving the negative stories about Rangnick. He is not a fashionable name which the prawn brigade resent and I am not surprised some players are anti his methods, they are being asked to work hard rather than prance around relying on reputation. Ultimately their is too much talent at Utd and eventually this season it will click into place. Digne and Coutinho could well take part for Villa, jury is out with me regarding the Brazilian but i have no doubt Digne will be a success, absolute massive upgrade on Targett. Result wise its a coin flip but a heavy volume of goals will be delivered from a saucy array of forwards.
One for your FPL - Marcus Rashford £9.4m
Bet Select - Over 4.5 goals
Liverpool v Brentford
Sundays hat trick of matches commences with the West London underdogs Brentford looking to emulate the result from the reverse fixture. Away form does not support any chance for The Bees especially after the midweek game earlier this week versus Southampton. First aim for the away side is not conceding early which will be strengthened if out of sorts goalkeeper Fernandez does not play. Ten man Arsenal frustrated Liverpool in the Carabao Cup and showed up the lack of killer edge when Mane and Salah do not play. Klopp trusting a few more of his younger players could be the key to victory on Sunday rather than relying on the old stager Milner or purely not good enough Minamino and Matip. A Liverpool win will surely occur but a brave Brentford performance could see them drag something from this story.
One for your FPL - Ivan Toney £6.6m
Bet Select - Double Chance Liverpool or Draw
West Ham United v Leeds Utd
Another repeat of a tie from last weekends FA Cup has the feel the same result will occur to. Leeds will likely be missing their star men again and the same old players will be expected to try earn them max points. It’s hard graft on them, the style of play is taxing and only Raphinha has the skills to win a game. After last seasons behind closed doors exciting play it’s a shame to see Leeds like this when their fans are back in the stadium. Stopping Jarrod Bowen is not the key to victory for Leeds as I fully expect West Ham to win but it will be easier on their goal difference if Bowen can be smothered.
One for your FPL - Jack Harrison £5.5m
Bet Select - West Ham win
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
The first North London derby this season was between two teams devoid of confidence and form, the second will be known for the players not taking part. With Xhaka being sent off v Liverpool he will now also miss the game. Arsenal players will be leggy after battling for a draw in the cup and will need all the fight they can muster as White Hart Lane will be a cauldron of passion Sunday early evening. Young Spaniard Gil has made a few cameo appearances lately and surely worth a punt lining up against the depleted Arsenal defence. His rawness to me could be similar to what Saka gives his side, direct running and a chance to win every game. One team has a elite striker, Harry Kane is that man, after touting a move all summer this Sunday is his chance to payback White Hart Lane.
One for your FPL - Bryan Gil £5,7m
Bet Select - Spurs win
There are also some more midweek game next week, all of which are on BT Sport and commence with:
Burnley v Watford
I doubt even fans of each team will be watching this game, drab and depressing barely covers it.
One for your FPL - Emmanuel Dennis £6.1m
Bet Select - Draw
Brighton & Hove Albion v Chelsea
Over Christmas this game ended in a draw, I do not see a repeat result, Chelsea are about to enter a dominating run of form emanating from beating City. Werner has barely played but if he gets some minutes I like his match up with the Brighton defence as if they press too high he will roll,off their shoulders.
If Spurs beat Arsenal on Sunday as I predict losing this game is not a option. Goals will be easy to come by in this match up as both defences currently are not capable of keeping clean sheets. That being said another Schmeichal v Kane penalty contest like last summer would be interesting viewing.
One for your FPL - Ademola Lookman £6m
Bet Select - Over 2.5 goals
Brentford v Manchester United
Home games are Brentford’s strength, it would not be a shock if they won but Ronaldo & Co possess the fire power to make it a rout which is needed by them currently. The new management really need that statement victory.
One for your FPL - Mason Greenwood £7.2m
Bet Select - Double Chance Brentford or Man Utd win
Its a bumper game week and acca if you follow my bet selects, the odds with Sky Bet hit 57,087.48/1 good luck if you give it a punt, but most of all enjoy the matches whether you are in the stadium or watching st home.