There seemed to be a sense of normality around the results in Round 11 last week, but on a personal level my gambles didn’t come off as I ultimately went for four draws and missed the only draw of the round, writes Gary Lemke.
One of my draws was West Ham at home to Manchester United and the end result was a 3-1 win for the visitors who were the favourites. At half-time though I still felt that I was in with a chance with the Hammers 1-0 up when they could have, should have been two or three goals to the good.
United are up to sixth on the table after four straight wins and come up against Manchester rivals City in the blockbuster game of this weekend. But surely United’s league luck has to come to an end at some stage.
They have won their last four matches, beating Everton 3-1, West Brom 1-0 and then coming from 2-0 down to beat Southampton 3-2 and from 1-0 down to beat West Ham 3-1. They were again asked to come from behind in midweek Champions League action but this time it proved a bridge too far and they’re now in the Europa League going forward.
Against a City team hitting form – and goals – surely United can’t afford another slack first half effort because City won’t allow their opponents to recover as they have been doing. It’s an interesting match.
Here are my selections for this weekend.
Leeds 2 West Ham 1: Both sides have been in-and-out with their form and despite losing last week to Chelsea and Man United with identical 3-1 scorelines, both played well, certainly for the first 45 minutes. This has the makings of a score draw but I’m going for a narrow home win.
Wolves 2 Aston Villa 1: This is another where both sides are coming off defeats and a draw is a strong possibility. Last week I was stung by my draw predictions, but without the injured Raul Jiminez Wolves are lacking a cutting edge. But Villa have lost four of their last five and that 7-2 win against Liverpool seems many moons ago.
Newcastle 2 West Brom 0: The visitors looking increasingly like relegation candidates, losing 7 of their first 11 matches and their manager Slaven Bilic is on borrowed time. Another defeat here and he could be the first manager to win this season’s “Sack Race”.
Man United 1 Man City 3: Four League wins in a row for United, but only one out of five at Old Trafford. Without the fans again and against a City team finally starting to find some form – hitting 7 goals without reply in their last 2 matches – I can’t see anything other than an away win.
Everton 1 Chelsea 2: Everton topped the log after winning their first 4 games but have only got 4 points from a possible last 18. While they have the firepower to score goals, so too have Chelsea and I’m expecting the visitors to add to their title credentials here.
Southampton 2 Sheffield United 0: The visitors have lost 10 of their 11 matches and the hosts are up to sixth on the table, winning four of their last six. With Danny Ings in top form, and veteran Theo Walcott enjoying his latest stint at his boyhood club, this should go the way of the hosts to add to Sheffield United’s misery.
Crystal Palace 1 Tottenham 2: Palace are one of the League’s enigmas. They beat Leeds 4-1 and West Brom 5-1 but then lost to Newcastle and Burnley without scoring. At home they always have a chance and there will be 2000 fans in for this game. Spurs are obvious favourites but if there’s to be an upset draw this week, this could be it.
Fulham 0 Liverpool 3: Liverpool are unbeaten their last seven and hammered Wolves 4-0 last week. They are doing just fine without Virgil van Dijk, thank you. Fulham have won 2 of their last 5, but against the champions one cannot see anything but a comfortable away win.
Arsenal 1 Burnley 0: The Gunners have scored 2 goals from their last 7 games, and one of them was a penalty. It’s been over two months since they scored twice in a League game, against Sheffield United. Burnley are again struggling, but again don’t make it easy for opponents to break them down. One goal in this game could prove enough.
Leicester 2 Brighton 1: As we said last week Leicester don’t do draws and have 7 wins and 4 defeats. Brighton, as we keep saying, are better than their log positions suggests. Interestingly, in their 11 games they have scored in 10 of them and actually managed to lose to a penalty after the final whistle against Man United.