Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
Arsenal came from behind to win the reverse fixture at the Emirates 4-2 back in December, but I expect their North London rivals to gain their revenge back at Wembley in another hugely entertaining derby.
Spurs’ have won five of their last seven PL home games against the Gunners and will want to bounce back, having lost their last two PL games on the road this week. They take a three-goal lead to Dortmund midweek and the Champions League looks their only realistic chance of silverware this term.
The Gunners meanwhile, have picked up six home points this week and a win for Unai Emery’s side would take them within a point of their neighbours.
The away side have only won one of the last 16 north London derbies and Arsenal remain vulnerable on their travels. I feel Spurs will extend the gap between the sides to seven points in Saturday’s early kick-off.
Spurs to win and both teams to score 12/5
Bournemouth have never beaten Manchester City in 13 previous league meetings and have lost all seven games between the clubs in the PL by an aggregate score of 24-3.
The Cherries last six home league defeats have come against “big six” sides including all three this term. City were not at their best against West Ham midweek, but they did have an arduous couple of hours at Wembley on Sunday and they will miss Fernandinho in the centre of the park.
I expect City to take all three points and return to the top of the table – if only for 24 hours.
City halftime/fulltime 5/6
The Seagulls are the only side in the four divisions of English football yet to win a game in 2019 following their midweek loss at Leicester City and Huddersfield’s last-minute winner against Wolves.
Brighton had their chances at the King Power midweek and the Terriers have failed to score in over seven-and-a-half hours of PL football away from home. I think one goal might be enough to give the Seagulls all three points.
Brighton to win 5/6
Crystal Palace had 29 shots in the reverse fixture at Selhurst Park earlier in the season at a time when Burnley were struggling for form. I feel they will find the hosts a different proposition at Turf Moor, however, as the Clarets look to put behind a rare indifferent performance at Newcastle midweek.
Palace put four past Leicester at the King Power last weekend and they have picked up more points on the road (17/30) than they have at Selhurst Park. I expect to see an entertaining draw.
Game to finish in a draw 9/4
United remain unbeaten domestically under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and their injury-ravaged team were too good for Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park midweek. United have picked up five more points than any other club in the division since the Norwegian took charge!
The Saints gained a valuable three points at home to Fulham midweek to ease their relegation worries although they remain just two points above the drop zone.
As a former striker I enjoyed Romelu Lukaku’s predatory goals at Palace midweek. Although eight of his 10 PL goals so far this season have come on the road, I expect the Belgium international to be among the goals back at Old Trafford.
Romelu Lukaku to score anytime 13/10
Wolves only mustered one shot on target in their defeat at Huddersfield midweek while Cardiff conceded eight goals in their two home games over the last week – games against Watford and Everton they would have hoped to pick up valuable points from.
I expect Wolves to bounce back from their surprise loss at the John Smith’s Stadium and keep the points on home soil.
Wolves to win to nil 13/10
Felipe Anderson was outstanding for West Ham in their 3-0 win in the reverse fixture earlier in the campaign and Manuel Pellegrini will be hoping the Brazilian recaptures his best form given he has been relatively quiet in recent games.
The Magpies have improved dramatically in recent weeks and they comfortably saw off the challenge of an improving Burnley side at home midweek – their fourth successive league win at St James’ Park.
I think this promises to be a cracking game and I just think the hosts will edge it.
West Ham to win and both teams to score 3/1
This will be Brendan Rodgers’ first game in charge of Leicester City, although the former Liverpool and Celtic boss was on hand to see the Foxes’ beat Brighton at the King Power midweek.
The Hornets have put five past Cardiff and conceded five at Anfield in the last week and I expect to see plenty of opportunities at Vicarage Road – a point apiece for me.
Game to finish in a scoring draw 18/5
Chelsea are unbeaten in their 17 PL games against their west London rivals and I would be surprised if the Cottagers bucked that trend in a game they simply cannot afford to lose given their defeat at St Mary’s midweek
Chelsea bounced back from their League Cup defeat to beat Spurs midweek. The selection of Willy Caballero in goal for the Blues and the reaction he got from his players midweek suggested to me that Maurizio Sarri is very much in charge at the Bridge and has the full backing of his squad.
Chelsea to win "4/7
Liverpool go into Sunday’s Merseyside derby unbeaten in their last 18 games against their local rivals although Everton gave Jurgen Klopp’s side a real test at Anfield when only a freakish late winner from Divock Origi separated the sides.
Both teams had comfortable midweek wins, but the Blues are not in the same form as they were when the sides met in December and they have already lost at home to Spurs and Manchester City so far this season with Chelsea, United and Arsenal still to come to Goodison.
Whatever the result of the game at the Vitality Stadium 24-hours earlier, I believe Liverpool will be top of the table come Sunday night.
Liverpool to win to nil 9/5
Michael’s weekend wager: Spurs, Wolves and Brighton 5/1