Original article published 11 November 2022
It's the final 6 Scores Challenge before the World Cup, and Steve Freeth has cast his eye over this week's fixtures.
The £1,000,000 boosted jackpot will remain in place until someone correctly predicts all six scores, with consolation prizes between £5 and £1,000 also available.
Mo Salah has set such high standards since returning to the Premier League, so maybe we’ve been a bit unfair in suggesting that he hasn’t hit the heights of previous seasons, especially with Erling Haaland hitting the ground running.
Salah is still odds-on to score 20 Premier League goals this season and he could follow up his brace against Spurs with another goal as the struggling Saints head north to Anfield.
It would be hasty to suggest Liverpool have turned the corner following the win in North London – their first on the road this season – but the Reds have found things easier in front of their own fans and should have too much for Nathan Jones' men.
Well, it’s not been dull for Leeds fans recently with some entertaining, thrilling games, especially if your name is Crysencio Summerville.
The dramatic wins against Liverpool and Bournemouth stopped a run of eight without victory, with Jesse Marsch set for a much-needed break in South America during the World Cup.
I can’t imagine Antonio Conte enjoying thrilling games, and while he’ll be the first to admit his side need improvements after three losses in their last four, I’m going for his team to grind out a 1-0 win as Spurs look to get their Top 4 challenge back on track.
One of these managers struggled for wins when he first took over, while the other got off to a flyer and went nine unbeaten.
However, it’s Eddie Howe that is getting all the plaudits right now, while the newly appointed Graham Potter already looks to be under pressure following a couple of crushing Premier League defeats.
Despite keeping five straight clean sheets in all competitions, the rejuvenation of Kepa Arrizabalaga was largely to thank for that, and in his absence, a porous defence have shipped five in their last two.
The Magpies are shorter than the Blues to finish in the Top 4 and they can further enhance their credentials with another win here.
The goal-shy hosts have managed to score three in their last two games and can find the net against the current leaders, despite the absence of wallflower Diego Costa who’s suspended after his first ever Premier League red card (yes, really).
However, Arsenal were superb at Stamford Bridge and Gabriel Jesus can end his goal-drought and head off to the World Cup full of confidence.
Cynics point to him missing the most chances in Europe’s top five leagues, but after 17 shots and around 2.0 xG since he last found the net, it’s a matter of time before he scores again.
Four of the last five games between these two on the south coast have ended in draws and I can see another here.
After the pulsating 3-3 draw at Anfield in Roberto De Zerbi’s first game, the Seagulls only managed one goal in their next four but redressed the balance with their superb 4-1 win against Chelsea.
Villa were terrific against Manchester United and were good value for their win. There’s no question that the squad at Unai Emery’s disposal is talented, and if last Sunday is anything to go by, we might be about to see the best of it.
Meanwhile Brighton left it late against 10-man Wolves on Saturday before following that up with a resounding win over Arsenal in the EFL Cup, and we could be in for a good one.
Fulham and bookmakers had their hearts broken by one side of Manchester last week, but they can get some joy from the weaker side of the city this week.
Their xGD may raise some concerns that their start to the season won’t be sustained after the World Cup, but it would take a real collapse to find themselves in the relegation battle that many predicted in the summer.
They’ve gone toe to toe with some of the big guns this season, only denied results at the Emirates and the Etihad late on, and of course getting the point on the opening day against Liverpool, and they won’t fear Erik ten Hag’s side who were miles off the pace at Villa Park.
United will welcome Bruno Fernandes back into the fold after his suspension, but will be without Diogo Dalot, while their attacking options have suddenly become very sparse through injury.
Team news will be key with some no doubt having an eye on the forthcoming World Cup, but I’ve seen enough from the Cottagers this season to know they’re more than a one-player team.