SPANISH SUPERCUP | BARCELONA v REAL MADRID ODDS & TIPS

It’s not quite the war seen between the Catalonia and Madrid regions in the 1900s, or the intense on-field rivalry from the early 2000s, but El Clásico still retains its charm as one of the most intense football matches in club football as the Supercopa de España returns to Saudi Arabia in a battle between fierce rivals with contrasting fortunes.

⚽️ HERE BARCA ⚽️

Barcelona are a whopping 17 points behind La Liga (LL) leaders Real Madrid and struggling to remain in the European qualification race, all of which acts as a stark reminder of how far Barcelona have fallen this season. Their absentee list adds to the inconsistencies of a side that is yet to stitch together a three-game winning run this season. A six-match unbeaten competitive streak (W3, D3) coming into this semi-final cup clash is promising though, especially as this tournament may represent Barça’s best shot at silverware this season.
However, the Catalan outfit’s five-game winless run in El Clásico fixtures (D1, L4) threatens to halt their attempt to claim a record-extending 14th Supercopa title. Defensive questions also continue to circle around Xavi Hernández’s side after a late goal last time out made it just one clean sheet across Barcelona’s last nine competitive matches.

⚽️ HERE MERENGUES ⚽️

That unwanted record may be extended as 11-time Supercopa winners Real have scored seven goals across their previous two matches, and have now won 13 of their last 15. They are therefore justified favourites to make it five H2H wins in a row, which would be their longest winning streak over Barcelona since 1965!
Winning here will also see ‘Los Blancos’ avoid consecutive losses in this competition, although the last time that happened it came vs none-other than Barcelona! If things remain tight as this game progresses, a late burst could come to Real’s rescue as three of their last four H2H wins saw them strike beyond the 80th minute. A fifth of their LL goals this season came during that period too.

👕 PROBABLE LINEUPS 👕

BARCELONA (4-3-3)Ter Stegen; Dani Alves, Piqué, Araujo, Jordi Alba; Nico, Busquets, Gavi; Dembélé, Depay, Jutglà.

REAL MADRID (4-3-3)Courtois; Lucas Vázquez, Militao, Alaba, Mendy; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Benzema, Vinicius.

🔑 KEY PLAYERS 🔑

Luuk de Jong has scored Barça’s last two LL goals – both were match openers.


Karim Benzema could be the star for Real after netting their final goal in nine of his last 11 goalscoring club games, as well as in the previous Supercopa H2H.

🔥 HOT STATS 🔥

Barcelona have conceded 2+ goals in four of their last six Supercopa matches, and the last seven Supercopa H2Hs.

MY TIPS

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PL | Manchester Utd v Wolves Tips

The last match of the first day of the Premier League of this 2022 could be vital for the fate of the two teams. Manchester United face each other in search of the top four positions and Wolves with the aim of reaching a European competition.

⚽️ HERE MANCHESTER ⚽️

Pogba’s absence and doubts about Lindelof and Marzial are Rangnick’s main problems. The Red Devils in the first leg, led by Ole, won with a narrow 1-0. This time, however, within the friendly walls, they can boast the highest victory rate of the PL in January (65%). Further confidence can come from their longest streak against Wolves in January (3 wins since 1968) but they also have the best Monday win rate (65%).

⚽️ HERE WOLVERHAMPTON ⚽️

They have not been able to beat the Red Devils in Manchester for 40 years (3 Losses and 7 Draws). The ambitions of arriving in a European competition are many as well as the desire to extend one’s clean sheet which has lasted for 204 minutes. Several absences for the Wolves who will most likely have to do without Silva too.

👕 PROBABLE LINEUPS 👕

MANCHESTER UNITED (4-2-3-1)

De Gea; Wan Bissaka – Varane – Maguire – Telles; Fred – McTominay; Sancho – B.Fernandes – Rashford; Ronaldo.

WOLVERHAMPTON (4-3-3)

Jose Sa; Semedo – Saiss – Kilman – Marcal; Joao Moutinho – Neves – Dendoncker; Traorè – Jimenez – Trincao.

🔑 KEY PLAYERS 🔑

Bruno Fernandes: He has scored against seven of the ten PL teams he has faced at least 4 times in his career. Against the Wolves make 4 today!

Romain Saiss: He scored the only goal in the last 6 games for the Wolves.

🔥 HOT STATS 🔥

Wolverhampton have never won an opening match in a calendar year since playing in PL (D2, L5).

MY TIPS

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SERIE A | GENOA v ATALANTA ODDS & TIPS

Four successive Serie A (SA) defeats by margins of at least two goals sees Genoa start the final round of 2021 in the bottom three, and with just one league win all season (D7, L10) they’ll be glad to see the back of this calendar year. Each of their four recent defeats saw them trail ‘to nil’ at half-time, which is hardly surprising given they’ve scored a paltry two first-half SA goals all season!

⚽️ HERE GENOA ⚽️


Lamenting the league’s worst home record this term (D3, L5), Genoa haven’t won a home SA game since April (D3, L7). They’ve now scored just once across their last four league matches here, but will hope they can take some confidence from beating fellow SA strugglers Salernitana 1-0 in midweek cup action at the Stadio Luigi Ferraris.

⚽️ HERE ATALANTA ⚽️

Title hopefuls Atalanta were hammered 4-1 by Roma in their last SA outing, their 12th game in a row to feature scoring before half-time. They’ll expect to bounce back immediately here as they’re unbeaten in five H2Hs (W3, D2) and haven’t lost consecutive league games since October 2020.

However, although they won on their last two visits, they were pushed hard before prevailing by one-goal margins. Unbeaten in SA away games since March (W12, D3) and the only team in Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues yet to lose a league game on the road this term (W8, D1), Atalanta will likely see this as a great opportunity to end the year on a high and boost their title ambitions.


🔑 KEY PLAYERS 🔑

Genoa captain Domenico Criscito has bagged five league goals this term – all were penalties and four were scored after the 75th minute. Meanwhile, Atalanta’s Teun Koopmeiners has scored between the 55th and 65th minute in each of his last two league outings.


🔥 HOT STATS 🔥

Five of Atalanta’s last seven SA road games witnessed goals inside the opening 15 minutes.


👕 PROBABLE LINEUPS 👕


GENOA (3-5-2): Sirigu – Biraschi, Vasquez, Criscito – Ghiglione, Sturaro, Badelj, Portanova, Melegoni – Ekuban, Destro
ATALANTA (3-4-1-2): Sportiello – Djimsiti, Demiral, Palomino – Hateboer, De Roon, Freuler, Pezzella – Pessina – Malinovskyi, Zapata

✏️ MY TIPS ✏️

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PREMIER LEAGUE TIPS – 27 NOV.

ARSENAL v NEWCASTLE

Arsenal fans missing European football at the Emirates Stadium this term have at least been compensated with their side’s best 12-game Premier League (PL) start since 2018/19 (W6, D2, L4). Although well placed to challenge for a top-four place, there’s still a clear gap between them and the title contenders, as evidenced by their 4-0 defeat to Liverpool (Nov 20).That ended an eight-game league unbeaten run (W6, D2), but this represents a good chance to bounce back as they haven’t lost a home PL game against Newcastle United since November 2010 (W9). ‘Gunners’ fans will therefore expect another triumph here – and a comfortable one too, given they’ve averaged three goals per game across the last three league H2Hs.While Newcastle’s new owners will eventually demand European qualification, that remains a long way off as they must now focus on gaining their first league win of the season (D6, L6). Lying five points below 17th-placed Leeds United, they’re bidding to become just the second side in a 38-game PL season to survive after a 12-game winless start!On the road in the league this term, it’s been either 1-1 draws or defeats in which they conceded 2+ goals (D3, L3) and given their appalling record here, the ‘Magpies’ would gladly accept another score draw. They’ll need to get on the front foot though, having conceded first in five (83%) of their PL away matches this season.

Players to watch: Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored six times in his last five competitive appearances against Newcastle, each of those goals coming after half-time. For Newcastle, Allan Saint-Maximin has six direct PL goal contributions this term (G3, A3), with his three goals all arriving after the 40th minute.

Hot stat: The last PL matchday produced an average of 3.6 goals per match – the games involving these two witnessed ten!

MY BET: Arsenal Total Over 1.5 @ 1.50

CRYSTAL PALACE v ASTON VILLA

What a game we have in prospect here as arguably two of the greatest midfielders in Premier League (PL) history come face-to-face in the dugout for the first time in a competitive game as Patrick Vieira’s Crystal Palace welcome Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa to Selhurst Park. Much like his own tough playing style, Vieira has made Palace incredibly hard to beat as his only two league defeats in charge have come against two of the top-three (W3, D7).Following the 3-3 draw against Burnley, Vieira will surely ramp up defensive drills after his side conceded their ninth goal from a set-piece last time out, a league high. Even so, Palace remain unbeaten as PL favourites this season (W1, D3) as they are again here, though they’ll hope to turn those draws into wins to push towards a top-half finish.Gerrard’s Villa took a while to get going but eventually recorded a comfortable 2-0 win to begin his reign and in turn, end their five-game losing run. The directors at Villa Park will be hoping he can continue in that vein as they look to reap dividends from their £100m+ spent over the summer in search of regular European football.That victory over Brighton confirmed Gerrard as one of only three permanent Villa managers to win their first PL game and the first since the late Gerard Houllier in 2010. However, he has a long way to go in order to match John Gregory’s record of seven straight PL wins to begin a Villa tenure, as he looks to snap a three-game losing stretch on the road!

Players to watch: Palace’s Connor Gallagher has contributed to the most PL goals amongst English midfielders this season (G4, A3). Meanwhile, Ollie Watkins grabbed the first goal of the Gerrard era last time out and he’ll likely be in the thick of the action again here after assisting a goal in both of his prior H2Hs versus Palace.

Hot stat: There was a red card shown in three of the last four H2Hs, two going the way of Villa.

MY BET: Crystal Palace/Draw & Over 1.5 @ 1.66

LIVERPOOL v SOUTHAMPTON

Liverpool return for their third home fixture in as many games, and Anfield will no doubt be buzzing again after the 4-0 dismantling of rivals Arsenal last time out in the Premier League (PL). As was the case against the ‘Gunners’, Jürgen Klopp’s men have made a habit of suffocating their opponents early, as no other team has scored more first-half goals this PL season, while only the ‘Reds’ and league-leaders Chelsea are yet to find themselves behind at the break.The Merseysiders made it 15 games unbeaten at home with the win against Porto in midweek European action (W10, D5), with Anfield once again becoming a formidable fortress. A visit from Southampton will therefore have the home fans licking their lips, having kept five consecutive home PL clean sheets against their visitors, on the way to remaining undefeated in their last seven top-flight H2H clashes at home (W5, D2).Southampton were in a generous mood in their last PL outing against Norwich, surrendering a lead to lose 2-1 and subsequently snapping their four-game unbeaten run in the league (W3, D1). Manager Ralph Hasenhüttl tends to set his team up for a tight affair week in and week out, considering only two of Southampton’s league matches this season have been decided by more than one goal.The ‘Saints’ have found life more forgiving on the road this PL campaign, already winning as many points (5) in their six PL away games this season, than they managed in the last 13 matches on their travels last season.

Players to watch: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has nine goal contributions in his eight PL matches against Southampton (G7, A2), whose Adam Armstrong has netted the match opener in four of his last five domestic goal-scoring outings

Hot stat: Liverpool’s last loss in a 3pm UK time Saturday kickoff in the PL was in February 2017, going 25 matches undefeated since (W22, D3).

MY BET: BTTS No @ 2.08

NORWICH v WOLVES

New manager Dean Smith had the desired impact many Norwich City fans were hoping for, leading his team to 2-1 victory against Southampton in his first match in charge. In doing so, he also helped the ‘Canaries’ secure a second consecutive Premier League win for the first time since April 2016.That pair of 2-1 victories has lifted Norwich off the bottom of the table for the first time this season, renewing their survival hopes. Another two goals here might just be enough to hand them a third straight win, although a Dean Smith managed Aston Villa led 2-0 at home against Wolves earlier this season before going onto lose 3-2, therefore there’s little chance he’ll let his new group of players get complacent.Wolves got back to winning ways last time out against West Ham United, stretching their PL record to an impressive run of just one defeat in seven games (W5, D1). They’ll no doubt be starting to dream of European qualification this season, however with their games being so finely balanced, there’ll be an awareness that results could just as easily start to swing the other way – eight of their 11 games won or lost this PL season have been settled by a single goal.On the subject of goals, don’t expect to see many in the opening exchanges here. Bruno Lage’s men have only scored once and conceded once before half-time across all of their PL away matches this season. With that being the case, it’s little wonder that the average of 1.83 second-half match goals seen in Wolves’ away fixtures can be bettered by just three other sides ahead of this round.

Players to watch: Norwich’s Teemu Pukki is starting to find his feet after scoring goals before the 30th minute in each of his last two PL matches. It’s two goals in three PL appearances for Wolves’ Raúl Jiménez – those goals arrived in the 15 minutes either side of half-time.

Hot stat: Norwich boss Smith has won only one of his last five managerial H2Hs with Wolves (D1, L3).

MY BET: Under 2.75 @ 1.48

BRIGHTON v LEEDS

How quickly things can change in the space of one year. Leeds United finished several places ahead of Brighton last Premier League (PL) season (ninth vs 16th), despite losing both H2H clashes (0-1 and 0-2), but this time around the places have been reversed almost precisely. With Brighton now sitting just three points off the top five, and after winning eight of the last nine H2Hs, there should be little fear when Leeds roll in.That said, after an unsuccessful trip to Aston Villa (L 2-0) soured Graham Potter’s 100th game in charge of Brighton, a seven-game winless run in PL football (D5, L2) now threatens to undo all of their hard work. The ‘Seagulls’ will hope this campaign doesn’t follow a similar trajectory to their return to the top flight in 2017/18, in which they were also performing well in ninth place after 12 rounds only to fall away deep into the bottom half.Unfortunately for Leeds, their season has been held back by a lengthy period of underachievement, albeit against stronger opposition. They continue to teeter on the edge of the relegation zone in part due to five defeats from five starts as pre-match outsiders, albeit four of them were against clubs placed higher than Brighton at the start of the round.Whilst Leeds have conceded just six first-half goals all season, including just two from their last seven fixtures, their problems go beyond the first 45 minutes. After defeat at Tottenham in the last round (L 2-1), they became the first club of the PL season to lose twice when leading at half-time (W1, L2).

Players to watchNeal Maupay is Brighton’s only player to score in two PL home games this season, with both goals being recorded before half-time and in victories. Similarly, Leeds are yet to lose away from home in the PL when Raphinha has opened the scoring (W1, D1).

Hot stat: All but one of the last nine competitive H2Hs have seen just one team score.

MY BET: Over 1.5 @ 1.28

WCQ22 – Montenegro v Turkey PREVIEW

MONTENEGRO v TURKEY

A late fight-back from Montenegro was enough to secure a famous point against the Netherlands, although it was meaningless in terms of their attempt to qualify for Qatar 2022, as the ‘Brave Falcons’ were already out of the qualification running. While this is another game in which only pride is at stake for the hosts, they could still have a huge say in deciding who claims the top two places in World Cup Qualification (WCQ) Group G.Having disrupted the Netherlands’ momentum, Turkey are the next side whose World Cup dream Montenegro will be looking to derail. Having taken a point in Istanbul two months ago – again fighting back from two goals down – the home side will hope they have the measure of Turkey again in Podgorica, although a run of just one win in their last five home WCQ outings certainly isn’t a record that breeds confidence.

PROBABLE LINEUP MONTENEGRO

PROBABLE LINEUP TURKEY

Qualification for Qatar 2022 would avenge a 20-year absence from football’s showpiece event for Turkey and their task is simple: win here and they’ll secure at least a play-off spot, although a Norway victory against the Netherlands would instead see Turkey gain automatic qualification if they maintain their superior goal difference over the Nordic nation.While home comforts may have been nice for this gargantuan clash, on the road the ‘Crescent Stars’ have excelled, winning three of their four WCQ away games this term (L1). Concentration will be key to Turkey’s progression, who will understandably have one eye on what is going on in Rotterdam, as they’ll have to do better than in their three draws this WCQ campaign, all of which saw them spurn the lead – just as they did in the last two H2Hs.

Players to watchRisto Radunović assisted Montenegro’s equaliser against the Netherlands on Saturday and also grabbed their last-gasp equaliser in the reverse H2H. Burak Yılmaz registered a hat-trick of assists in Turkey’s 6-0 demolition of Gibraltar, his first of the WCQ campaign.

Hot stat: Turkey have taken the lead in eight of their last ten WCQ matches

MY PICK: BTTS YES now at 3/4 at THEPOOL.com

WCQ22 – England v Albania PREVIEW

ENGLAND v ALBANIA

Despite going unbeaten in this 2022 World Cup Qualification (WCQ) campaign, England cannot afford to rest on their laurels as there’s still work to be done. Currently sitting pretty atop Group I, three points ahead of Poland with a +4 goal difference advantage over them, means one more comprehensive victory over Albania in this game or San Marino in the last round should be enough to see the ‘Three Lions’ book their tickets to Qatar 2022.

Manager Gareth Southgate will emphasize their campaign is not over until the fat lady sings, as he takes charge of his 67th England match, the tied-most since Sir Bobby Robson’s departure in 1990. They’ll fancy themselves to get the job done in style as they’ve lost just once in 18 games (to Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 final), shutting out the opposition in 13 of those, and last lost to a side ranked outside FIFA’s top 50 back in June 2016.

Albania’s push for a spot in a World Cup finals for the first time in their history is still mathematically a possibility, as they’re just two points behind current playoff-spot holders Poland, and five points adrift of their hosts England. They’ll need to make history if they’re to pull it off though, having lost every fixture played against England to date by an aggregate of 14-1 (L5), while also never scoring on English soil against them.Surprisingly though, the ‘Eagles’ have been fearless on their travels this WCQ campaign, winning three (all ‘to nil’) of their four away games (L1), nearly matching their tally in their previous 12 WCQ campaigns combined (W4, D7, L41).

Players to watch: England have won all six games ‘to nil’ in which Jack Grealish has scored or assisted, while Armando Broja has been directly involved in five of Albania’s 11 WCQ goals so far (G:3, A:2).

Hot stat: England have never trailed Albania in their five H2H matches, only ever facing Turkey (11), Andorra (six) and Colombia (six) as often while achieving the same milestone.

MY PICK: England To Win & Kane To Score First 👉 6/4

PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW 06/11

Man Utd v Man City

The 186th edition of the Manchester derby, one of the world’s biggest football matches, sees Manchester United host reigning Premier League (PL) champions Manchester City with both sides looking to put recent setbacks behind them. For the fourth campaign in a row, Man United have lost three of their opening ten league fixtures (W5, D2) and now trail cross-city rivals City by three points after a recent dip in PL form (W1, D1, L3).One could be forgiven for thinking the gap was larger given the pressure on boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but having suffered a 5-0 humiliation in one derby (vs Liverpool) already this season, he can’t afford another poor showing here. Encouragingly, the ‘Red Devils’ have fared well in the Manchester derby in recent years, losing just one of the last five competitive meetings (W3, D1) and will believe they can deal an early blow to their title-chasing foes.However, as they’ve won just one of the last six PL H2Hs at Old Trafford (D2, L3), that could put a spring in the step of Man City as they look to bounce back from a surprise 2-0 defeat to Crystal Palace in their last league outing. That saw them slip five points behind leaders Chelsea, although a midweek 4-1 thrashing of Club Brugge will have boosted morale ahead of what could be a defining match in either side’s season.Defeat to Palace was Man City’s first at home this term and interestingly, the last time they lost consecutive league fixtures, the first of those defeats was against none-other than Palace! That might give manager Pep Guardiola some food for thought, particularly as this is now the third straight season that they’ve lost two of their first ten league games (W6, D2).

Players to watchGabriel Jesus completed the scoring for Man City against Brugge and the last three of his four competitive club goals this term have now arrived after half-time. The same is true for United’s Bruno Fernandes, who opened the scoring in the last PL derby clash.

Hot stat: Man City have a 100% record (W4) after leading at half-time in the PL this term.

My Pick: Man United To Win 18/5

Brentford v Norwich

With Brentford now looking back on three straight Premier League (PL) defeats, they can consider their honeymoon period following promotion to be well and truly over. It is an alarming turn of fortune, although Thomas Frank’s men haven’t had it easy after facing three of last season’s top-five finishers in as many home games.That said, the ‘Bees’ have thrived on the nectar of strong starts here, scoring inside the opening half-hour in both of their prior home league games to see them avoid defeat. Though Brentford took only a point across last season’s two H2Hs (D1, L1), they should see this as a great opportunity to bounce back against a Norwich side that’s winless in PL away action since November 2019!Norwich have now taken just two points from the first 30 available, and that shameful return makes them only the fourth PL side ever to take less than three points from their opening ten matches. The other three ended up relegated, with the last two finishing rock bottom.Looking further ahead, Norwich need that first win soon if they are to at least avoid becoming the third PL team ever to be officially relegated before April 1st. However, getting that maiden win looks unlikely here, as the Canaries’ ongoing run of 17 PL road trips without victory (D3, L14) contains 13 scoring blanks, and precisely zero points recovered from 11 first-half deficits.

Key battle:Bryan Mbeumo has scored before half-time in Brentford’s last two league wins. Set for a torrid time marking him, Norwich defender Andrew Omobamidele gave his side short-lived parity with an equaliser against Leeds last weekend (L 1-2), in a mad five-minute spell that saw three goals.

Hot stat: On average, Norwich have conceded 2.0 goals per match beyond the hour mark across their four away defeats this term.

My Pick: Brentford To Win 3/5

Chelsea v Burnley

It was a good weekend last time out for Chelsea, who capitalised on their rivals’ misfortunes to steal a march in the title race and followed it up with a 1-0 victory over Malmö in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) in midweek. Back on the domestic trail, Thomas Tuchel’s side play host here to Burnley who they’ve beaten in their last four Premier League (PL) H2Hs, scoring 12 goals in the process.The ‘Blues’ have been free-scoring this campaign, netting 16 goals in their five PL home games, their joint-most at this stage of any PL season alongside 2010/11. Chelsea have also claimed the most home points of any PL side ahead of the round, whilst they’ve followed up their three previous UCL fixtures with a PL victory this season.At the tenth time of asking, Burnley finally registered their first PL win of the season in the last round, convincingly dispatching Brentford 3-1. Victory in that clash marked the first time in 138 PL games that the ‘Clarets’ scored three first-half goals at Turf Moor, but etched in the memory of Sean Dyche’s side will be the fact they achieved that exact feat here at Stamford Bridge in 2017, as Burnley famously won 3-2 back then thanks to three quick-fire first-half strikes.Since that famed victory in West London, it’s been one-way traffic in H2H terms, with Burnley succumbing to six losses from seven prior fixtures with Chelsea (D1). The visitors can take heart, however, from their solid recent record in the capital, with six wins from their last nine competitive visits to London (L3).

Players to watchCésar Azpilicueta was on the scoresheet in Tuchel’s first league victory in charge against Burnley and has three goal involvements in his last four H2H appearances (G1, 2A). Matthew Lowton scored only his third-ever Burnley goal against Brentford; only once in his career has he been on the winning side against the ‘Blues’ (W1, D2, L9).

Hot stat: All 14 PL H2Hs have seen at least one first-half goal.

My Pick: First Half Over 1.5 31/20

Crystal Palace v Wolves

Crystal Palace pulled off one of the upsets of the Premier League (PL) season so far by keeping a clean sheet and beating Manchester City 2-0 last time out. That win ended a four-game series of score draws for Palace, having shared the spoils more than any other PL team coming into the weekend. They’ll now look for back-to-back PL wins for the first time since January/February.One of those victories was actually a home game against opponents Wolverhampton Wanderers, whom Palace last secured consecutive league victories over back in January 2013. The Eagles’ confidence will therefore be flying high here, especially given that they’ve lost only two of their first ten PL fixtures this campaign (W2, D6), their fewest at this stage of a top-flight season since 1990/91.Wolves have put together a credible run of form themselves, going unbeaten in their last five in the league (W4, D1). Their main concern here will be the destination, as the capital city hasn’t been welcoming for the men from the West Midlands, with Wolves losing four of their last seven trips to London (W2, D1), failing to find the net in five of those matches.Manager Bruno Lage will believe his team are in great shape to break that duck though, as their away form has been superb since losing their opening away league game on their travels. Wolves have won ten points across their last four PL away fixtures (W3, D1), just one fewer than the 15 road matches prior to this.

Players to watch: Palace’s Wilfried Zaha has scored the match opener in six of his last seven PL goalscoring outings, while Wolves’ Raúl Jiménez has won his side seven points with his goal contributions this season (G2, A2), the third highest such return in the league.

Hot stat: Palace have scored 85% of their PL goals in the second half this season, the highest proportion of all PL teams.

My Pick: Over 1.5 11/25

Brighton v Newcastle

Graham Potter’s Brighton & Hove Albion managed what many teams have failed to do previously as they cut a two-goal deficit to earn a point away to high-flying Liverpool last time out, showcasing their battling qualities. Thanks to that result, the ‘Seagulls’ now have their best ever return of 16 points at this stage of a top-flight season (W4, D4, L2), and they’re hot favourites to win here.It’s easy to make a case for a home win here when you consider that Brighton have never lost a Premier League (PL) H2H versus Newcastle United (W4, D4) whilst they’ve kept four straight clean sheets in this matchup. A win is also of vital importance as Brighton have stagnated in the PL of late, registering four draws across the last five rounds (L1).While the financial takeover of Newcastle United hasn’t given them any immediate results on the pitch, the feeling around Tyneside remains one of hope as the owners look close to appointing their first manager. Never mind their long-term vision, the ‘Toon’ have a relegation battle on their hands this campaign as they still seek their first PL win of the season (D4, L6).Only the bravest or most optimistic fans of some clubs would make an approximate 12 hour round trip for a fixture of this nature, but the ‘Geordies’ will travel in their hordes – some maybe even without their shirts! They could be in for a long journey back north though if their beloved Newcastle can’t improve on their measly return of just one goal from their last 96 goal attempts vs Brighton!

Players to watch: Brighton’s Leandro Trossard contributed to three goals across his two league H2Hs with Newcastle last season (1G, 2A) and hit the equaliser last weekend. Meanwhile, Callum Wilson has scored in three of his last four games, though all three outings saw Newcastle fail to win (D2, L1).

Hot stat: Both Brighton and Newcastle have picked up a joint-league high 26 yellow cards ahead of the round (2.6 per match on average).

My Pick: Brighton To Win 3/5

PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW 31/10

NORWICH v LEEDS

This spooky Sunday of Premier League (PL) action gets underway with a clash between early season relegation candidates Norwich City and Leeds United. A stat sure to strike terror into any Norwich fan is the fact that they currently have the joint-worst goal difference at this stage of a PL season (-21) alongside Sheffield Wednesday in 1999/00, who were eventually relegated that campaign.Will it be a trick or a treat for Norwich here then? Well, they’re unbeaten in five of their last six PL H2Hs (W4, D1, L1), but to continue that positive H2H form they’ll have to lay the demons of their winless PL season to rest (D2, L7). Their leaky defence also means that more than one goal could be required, something that Norwich haven’t achieved in 27 straight top-flight games!Leeds have caught themselves a ghastly case of ‘second-season syndrome’, evidenced by their return of just one PL win so far (D4, L4), following a top-half finish in their first season back in the top flight. Not only that but they’ve also returned just one clean sheet in the PL so far, highlighting a need for urgent defensive improvement.The good news for Leeds is the fact that they’re unbeaten in all eight league games against sides starting the day in the relegation zone since their own PL return (W6, D2). The bad news is that both of those games this season ended in 1-1 stalemates, with Leeds forfeiting a lead to Newcastle in the last such game.

Players to watch: With just two goals, Teemu Pukki is the only Norwich player to score across their last 1256 minutes of PL football. As for Leeds, Rodrigo registered a club-high five shots from inside the box across the last four rounds as he continues to lead the line in the absence of Patrick Bamford.

Hot stat: Norwich have attempted a league-low 89 shots so far (9.89 per match on average).

MY BET: LEEDS TO WIN 21/20

ASTON VILLA v WEST HAM

It’s been a difficult time for Aston Villa, who have lost three straight Premier League (PL) games ahead of this Halloween clash. Manager Dean Smith now looks to exorcise the evil spirits of his winless personal H2H record with West Ham (D2, L2) as Villa look to avoid four straight PL defeats for the first time since March 2020.Despite a spending spree over summer and talk of a European push, Villa have been disappointing, but even with their poor form Villa games have been all thriller and no filler for the neutral, as they have witnessed at least three goals in two-thirds of their PL games so far. The ‘Villans’ will be looking to end up on the right side of any goal-fest this time around, as they seek to avoid 4+ league defeats in a single month for the first time since April 2016.There’s been nothing scary about West Ham’s form of late, as they travel jubilant after knocking EFL Cup holders Manchester City out of the competition in midweek. They now seek to build on their own European ambitions, and encouragingly, the ‘Hammers’ last picked up 17 points at this stage of a PL season back in 2015/16, when they ended up finishing 7th.David Moyes’ men are currently enjoying a club-record run of seven straight unbeaten PL away games (W5, D2). However, to keep that going they will have to end their Villa Park hoodoo, which sees them failing to win back-to-back games here since 1965-67!

Players to watch: Can he break the curse? Villa’s Danny Ings (3G, 2A) has played against no side more often than West Ham without scoring or winning (D2, L9). Meanwhile, only Mohamed Salah and Phil Foden have had more shots from inside of the box across the last five PL rounds than West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen.

Hot stat: Fifteen of Moyes’ last 17 H2Hs with Villa have seen both teams score (W6, D9, L2).

MY BET: WEST HAM OR DRAW 2/5

PREMIER LEAGUE PREVIEW 23/10

CHELSEA v NORWICH

Saturday’s early Premier League (PL) game sees league-leading title contenders Chelsea take to the field as overwhelming favourites, and with morale sky high after a 4-0 thumping of Malmö in midweek Champions League action. Like in that European victory, a hallmark of Chelsea’s success under boss Thomas Tuchel so far is their stellar defence – they have conceded a joint league-low three goals so far.In fact Chelsea have kept 16 clean sheets from 27 PL games under the German tactician’s stewardship. That includes shutouts in three of Tuchel’s four PL games against newly-promoted opponents since his arrival (W2, D1, L1), so rock-bottom Norwich appear to have a mountain to climb in what looks like a classic ‘David vs Goliath’ encounter.Now winless in their last 18 PL games (D2, L16), Norwich look set to sustain their reputation as a ‘yo-yo’ side, as characterised by either a Championship triumph or a rock-bottom finish in the PL over their last three campaigns. Last victorious at Stamford Bridge in October 1993, Norwich currently prop up the table despite picking up points in the last two PL rounds.As well as being goalless away from home, the ‘Canaries’ have also picked up just one point across the last seven PL away H2Hs (D1, L6). If there is any cause for optimism amongst the Norwich contingent, their last clean sheet here only dates back to May 2014, and after two goalless draws in the last two rounds, they are at least seeking a third consecutive top-flight shutout for the first time since 2011.

Players to watch: Chelsea’s Ben Chilwell has surprised fans with goals in back-to-back PL games, and a strike for England in between despite playing as a full-back. Meanwhile, Teemu Pukki has scored both of Norwich’s paltry two goals so far.

Hot stat: No bottom-placed side has beaten a league leader heading into a PL matchday since February 2011.

MY BET: Chelsea to win & Over 3.5 Goals 6/4

CRYSTAL PALACE v NEWCASTLE

After a shaky start to their Premier League (PL) campaign, Crystal Palace are growing in confidence, and they’ll be disappointed to have drawn 2-2 away to Arsenal in midweek. Cruelly denied by an injury-time equaliser, manager Patrick Vieira knows that they must start converting drawn games into wins (W1, D5, L2) if they’re to move towards the top half and away from a potential relegation battle.The ‘Eagles’ are still unbeaten at home in the PL this term (W1, D3), encouragingly producing those results against sides currently above them in the table. However, they have cause to be wary ahead of this clash with Newcastle United – now under new ownership following their £305 million takeover – as they’ve won just one of the last four H2Hs here (D2, L1).The hosts might ‘fly’ under the radar as speculation builds around who Newcastle might appoint to replace manager Steve Bruce, who left on Wednesday after failing to oversee a league win this season (D3, L5). The ‘Magpies’ made an impressive start to his 1,000th game in management before losing 3-2 to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend but must maintain that quality throughout to get themselves out of the relegation zone and away from danger.With just a draw to show for their efforts on the road in the Premier League this season (L3), they’ve at least scored in the last three of those games and for all the doom and gloom surrounding their on-field performances, they had one fewer point in 2018/19 after eight games (D2, L6) yet still survived!

Players to watchOdsonne Édouard is becoming a key man for Palace and could make a late impact as all three of his PL strikes this term have come after the 70th minute. Conversely, Callum Wilson has opened the scoring in all three of his goalscoring league outings this season.

Hot stat: After matchday eight, Newcastle’s matches had produced a league-high average of 3.63 goals per game.

MY BET: Both Teams To Score 3/4

EVERTON v WATFORD

Everton’s ambitions for European qualification took a blow on Sunday, with Rafael Benítez finally shorn of his 100% home record this campaign, as his men went down 1-0 to West Ham. This marked their second defeat in four league matches (W1, D1, L2), and with both losses seeing them concede from a corner kick, there is already a niche weakness for them to address.Injuries have played their part in Everton’s recent slump, with both losses seeing 2020/21 top scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin and prime strike partner Richarlison absent from the squad. The latter’s return to fitness will be particularly welcomed, as Everton have lost half of the ten Premier League (PL) games the Brazilian has missed since the start of 2020 (W2, D3, L5).Watford also have a point to prove, after being humiliated 5-0 by Liverpool last Saturday. The result undoubtedly gave new manager Claudio Ranieri much to ponder, but he has won on his last four visits to Goodison Park as an opposition manager, giving Watford some hope of defying the odds and registering a maiden win at this venue on the 16th attempt.The visitors’ away record to date spells trouble (W1, L3), and while all of those defeats saw Watford keep a second-half clean sheet, their inability to recover from an early setback is alarming. Notably, their most recent PL away points recovered after conceding first and trailing at half-time date back to January 2019.

Players to watch: Everton left-back Lucas Digne memorably denied Watford their first Goodison Park win back in December 2018, with an injury-time free kick (D 2-2). He will be particularly wary of Watford winger Ismaïla Sarr, who netted twice beyond the hour mark in the Hornets’ sole away win this season.

Hot stat: Everton have failed to keep a clean sheet in five prior PL fixtures played on this date (W2, D2, L1).

MY BET: Draw 11/4

LEEDS v WOLVES

Second-season syndrome has well and truly set in for Leeds United, who returned to their regular poor form with defeat to Southampton last time out directly following their sole win of this Premier League (PL) season. The ‘Whites’ haven’t been at their brightest all campaign long, winning just one of their first eight league games (W1, D3, L4) for the first time in the top-flight since finishing rock-bottom in 1981/82.Considering the above, Leeds can count their lucky stars that there are three teams who have performed worse than them so far, yet beating Wolverhampton Wanderers will prove no mean feat for Marcelo Bielsa’s side. That’s because the hosts have lost five straight league meetings against Wolves, scoring just one goal in reply!The Bruno Lage era at Wolves looks like it’s beginning to pick up some traction after a run of four wins from five PL games ahead of this clash (L1), peaking with Wolves’ second-ever PL win after trailing by two goals last time out (vs Aston Villa). The visitors have now recorded more wins in their last five outings than in their 16 PL games prior (W3, D3, L10) and will hope to carry on that run here at Elland Road as they mount an outside challenge for European qualification.Another victory here would see the away side win four consecutive top-flight matches for the first time since 1972, and they’ll be confident of doing just that after winning back-to-back away PL games in Yorkshire, against both Sheffield United and Leeds last season.

Players to watch: Leeds’ in demand forward Raphinha has scored in two of their four PL home games so far, though they didn’t win either time when he netted (D1, L1). A deflected Rúben Neves free-kick secured Wolves’ historic comeback victory last time out as all three goals came on or beyond 80’.

Hot stat: Wolves were drawing at half-time before claiming victory in each of their last three PL matches.

MY BET: Both Teams To Score 4/6

SOUTHAMPTON v BURNLEY

A narrow 1-0 triumph over Leeds last time out finally kick-started Southampton’s Premier League (PL) campaign and means the prospect of back-to-back wins is a very real possibility for a ‘Saints’ side who now face a winless Burnley. History would intensify Southampton’s belief in securing successive victories, with five wins to their name in the last eight H2H meetings (D1, L2) at St Mary’s.Goals have been few and far between for Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side since the departure of Danny Ings and only Burnley (five) and Norwich (two) have scored fewer PL goals than Southampton’s six. However, a South coast clash with the ‘Clarets’ could prove to be the perfect antidote for the goal-shy ‘Saints’, who boast an average of 1.88 goals per game across the last nine home H2Hs.As far as footballing cliché’s go, ‘the league table doesn’t lie’ is certainly widely used, but in the case of Burnley, perhaps it doesn’t tell the full story for a side who have nosed ahead in four of their eight PL games so far, only to win none (D2, L2). Another failure to take three points on Saturday would make it Burnley’s longest ever run without a league victory with Sean Dyche at the helm.The ‘Clarets’ boss will be concerned by the fact his side are shackelled with the unwanted record of the longest run in England’s top four divisions without a league win, which now stands at 11 games (D3, L8), but his Burnley side can take heart from the fact their four PL wins prior to this torrid run all came on the road.

Players to watch:Armando Broja opened his Southampton account against Leeds to draw level with Fred of Manchester United as the ‘Saints’ top home PL scorer. Meanwhile, Matěj Vydra has scored on Burnley’s last two visits to St Mary’s.

Hot stat: Fifteen of Southampton’s last 23 PL victories have been ‘to nil’.

MY BET: Southampton to win 19/20

BRIGHTON v MANCHESTER CITY

Despite three consecutive Premier League (PL) draws, Brighton & Hove Albion start this round just two points behind visitors Manchester City after making their best ever eight-game PL start (W4, D3, L1) to occupy fourth place prior to the round. However, they laboured to a goalless draw against Norwich City (October 16) and must raise their game against the reigning champions.They did just that when winning this fixture 3-2 last term, but that was their first H2H success anywhere since 2008 (L8), and they scored more goals in that match than they had in the previous eight meetings! It’s hardly been a thrill-a-minute at the Amex Stadium this term either as their home league fixtures have produced an average of 1.75 goals per game (W2, D1, L1).City may well increase that, however, as their midweek 5-1 UEFA Champions League demolition of Club Brugge was the fifth time they netted 5+ goals in all competitions this term. Yet to trail at half-time in the league this season (HT: W3, D5), Pep Guardiola’s side will hope there’s no European hangover as they’ve failed to win their next PL match following a continental tie on the last four occasions (D2, L2).With the ‘Cityzens’ locked in a three-way battle with Chelsea and Liverpool at the top of the table and having taken points from trips to both (W1, D1), another solid performance on the road would both keep the pressure on their rivals and extend their lead over Brighton.

Players to watchLeandro Trossard bagged Brighton’s opener in this fixture last season and they’ve won each of his last five goalscoring appearances. Kevin De Bruyne could provide late action, as he’s netted after the 65th minute in City’s last two PL matches.

Hot stat: Dirty ‘Seagulls’: Brighton have collected more yellow cards than any other team across the first eight PL matchdays (averaging 2.75 per match).

MY BET: Over 3.5 Bookings 8/5

Spain v France

Two thoroughly entertaining UEFA Nations League (UNL) semi-finals have lifted Spain and France, two of the last three World Cup winners, into this UNL showpiece, and a chance to battle each other in the first H2H clash in a major final since 1984. One-quarter of a century after facing off as rival midfielders in the 1996 Euros, either Didier Deschamps or Luis Enrique will win their first UEFA silverware as a national team manager.

HERE SPAIN

Spain avenged their Euro 2020 knockout defeat to Italy in their UNL semi-final on Thursday, ending the Azzurri’s record 37-game unbeaten run in the process, and could be birthing a new generation of title winning footballers after their glory years of 2008-2012.Nonetheless, and despite just one loss over their last 18 games (in 90 mins), that semi-final victory was a fifth consecutive knockout match (in any competition) in which Spain failed to keep a clean sheet. That only reaffirms the burden on their attacking unit, which has been held to one or no goals in four of their seven UNL 2020-21 fixtures, but does offer the rare prospect of goals in a major final against an attacking France side that have their own defensive issues.

HERE FRANCE

Those issues were on display in France’s semi-final, but a brilliant second-half comeback saw them beat Belgium 3-2 and confirmed their place in Sunday’s showpiece event at the San Siro in Milan. That’s helped ‘Les Bleus’ to recover somewhat after their shock exit at Euro 2020, and a record of just one defeat in regulation time over their last 28 games highlights the continued strength of this France squad, although their win against Belgium was just their second win from their last seven starts as favourites.

KEY PLAYER

Pablo Sarabia is the only Spanish player other than Ferran Torres to score in three internationals since the beginning of the Euro 2020 finals, whilst France’s Karim Benzema has been his team’s first goalscorer in a remarkable four of his last five appearances for club or country.

HOT STATS

All but one of the last 11 finals in a UNL or Euros has produced fewer than 2.5 total goals (excluding extra time), as have the last seven H2Hs.

MY BET

Ferran Torres to score Any Time @3.66

Spain to win First Half @3.50