Harry’s Picks: Week 219 min read
Wolves in the hunt for top finish
Wolves were beaten for only the third time in the Premier League this season when Tottenham proved too strong, running out 2-1 winners at Molineux last weekend.
The Black and Golds are still handily placed in eighth position however and only trail Chelsea in fourth by five points. They are through to the last 32 in the Europa League and this is promising to be an exciting 2020 for the club.
They have a good opportunity to get back to winning ways when they visit relegation-threatened Norwich this Saturday.
The Canaries put up arguably their best away performance of the season to take a point at Leicester last week but five points from a possible 24 shows why they find themselves in the bottom three. Defensively they have been unable to prevent teams from scoring and with 35 conceded, it’s an area manager Daniel Farke must address urgently.
Wolves have good forward strength, are resolute at the back and appear a little more streetwise than their hosts and know how to win. They can go into a busy schedule of fixtures with three points and keep the pressure on more fashionable clubs around them.
Watford will have to wait for win
Manchester United were disappointed to only manage a draw with Everton at Old Trafford but the Toffeemen have shown improved form under caretaker Duncan Ferguson and a draw was a fair result.
They bounced back with a cosy 3-0 win over League Two Colchester in the League Cup and have been rewarded with a Manchester derby against fierce rivals City in the semi-final.
They have worked themselves back into Top Four contention in the PL and will fancy themselves to pick up further points away at Watford on Sunday. Marcus Rashford is one of the form players in the top flight and is regularly finding the back of the net. He will be rubbing his hands in anticipation of more success against a Hornets defense that rarely keeps a clean sheet.
A 2-0 reverse at champions-elect Liverpool was no disgrace but with just the solitary win so far, it will take a mammoth effort to preserve top-flight status this term. United can boost their goal difference and continue their upward spiral at Vicarage Road.
Baggies bouncing towards promotion
In what is genuinely always a competitive heat, Leeds and West Brom are suddenly pulling clear at the top of the Championship and already the pair have one foot in the Premier League.
The Baggies are currently two points clear and it’s a further ten points back to third-placed Preston, so the duo look to be fighting it out to claim the title.
Albion will need to be in top form this weekend however as free-scoring Brentford are the visitors to the Hawthorns and they arrive in excellent form. However, they are prone to far too many defeats with eight already and the consistent hosts look to have a few too many tricks up their sleeve.
Charlie Austin has always been a class act at this level and bagged a brace during a dramatic 3-2 win from behaind at Birmingham last time out.
West Brom are extremely difficult to beat with only one reverse and can pass this tough examination on the way to better things.
Chairboys sitting pretty
The one team who deserve enormous recognition in English football at present have to be Wycombe in League One, and manager Gareth Ainsworth continues to do a superb job on a low budget.
Incredibly, the high-flying Wanderers have quietly moved seven points clear at the top in a section featuring heavyweights Ipswich, Portsmouth and Sunderland amongst others.
How they handle this new pressure as clear leaders will be interesting, and a look at their next five fixtures sees them having to pass many tough challenges.
This week will be hard as they make the 23-mile short hop over to Oxford for what is always a keenly contested M40 derby fixture.
The ‘U’s acquitted themselves very well in making holders Manchester City pull out all the stops on their way to a narrow 3-1 victory at the Kassam Stadium on Wednesday and are another team who have exceeded expectations in this section. They are one of the best footballing sides and have been highly entertaining in the opening third of the season. I suspect they have been a little sidetracked ahead of the City game and failed to win either of their previous league fixtures.
Whether that is a blip remains to be seen but with tired legs from their midweek heroics, this looks an ideal time for Wycombe to press their advantage and put further daylight between themselves and the chasing pack.
Despite a small squad, the Chairboys have only been beaten once in the League and many will recognise their larger than life forward Adebayo Akinfenwa who is enjoying another great campaign as well as chipping in regularly with crucial goals.
The more established clubs may just have given Wycombe too much daylight at the top and they will prove hard to peg back, especially if they can come through unscathed from a busy and tough Christmas and New Year period.
Bhoys refusing to blink
Over the border, it’s no surprise to see Celtic once again at the top of the SPL although it’s great for Glasgow and the league that deadly rivals Rangers are refusing to buckle and maintaining a strong challenge.
The green half of the City were celebrating League cup success last Sunday and a 2-0 win for the Hoops at Hearts on Wednesday shows they are very focused on retaining their title crown. They face third-placed Aberdeen at Parkhead next and despite the Dons aiming to be best of the rest behind the Old Firm, they are some way from actually being able to compete with the big two.
Sam Cosgrove is a regular source of goals for the visitors but they don’t have the quality to contain a confident Celtic team who should be able to keep boasting an already impressive and ever-growing points tally.
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