GW 4 – Ones to Watch

Matt: Despite the current climate of having fewer leagues and therefore less fixtures on offer, it’s good to see that plenty of players have overcome this rather unusual and awkward start to a season by piling up some serious points. It has to be said that players who have stuck rigidly to the more ‘high profile’ leagues/teams appear to have fared extremely well, especially those who have backed Premier League sides in the main – incredibly the first three weeks of the season has brought a mighty 103 goals in the English top flight, at an average of 3.68 per game! Astonishing! Quite how many of these goals have been as a direct result of dubious and plain ridiculous handball related penalties I don’t know, but spot-kicks in general (with or without VAR assistance) seem to be the order of the day, and it’s fair to say that if you do go with any given Prem side you’re in with a decent chance of a goal (or 3 in some cases!) from the 12 yard spot!

I got off to a flier in this section with my first pair of tips a fortnight ago, courtesy of a combined 8 goals from Blackburn Rovers and Brentford, so hopefully I can reproduce that sort of form again here. With that previously mentioned Premier League goalfest in mind, my first pick simply has to come from that direction! If I was to say that direction was specifically Merseyside, you’d probably assume I was tipping Liverpool, who have carried on from where they left off last season with their relentless attacking prowess! However, it’s the blue half I’m backing here, as Everton take on Brighton & Hove Albion at Goodison Park. The Toffees proudly sit joint-top of the table, albeit with only three games played, but this has been a hugely encouraging start by Carlo Ancelotti’s men; six competitive games played, six wins, 20 goals scored in the process! It’s been a dream September for The Blues, the question is can they carry this mightily impressive form into October? Well, if the front three of James Rodriguez, Richarlison and the irrepressible Dominic Calvert-Lewin, justifiably called up to the England squad by Gareth Southgate today, continue to play in the same manner then the answer to that is almost certainly going to be YES! Brighton will head north in slightly dispirited mood having lost at home to Manchester Utd twice in quick succession, the first defeat of which could, and indeed should, have resulted in a comfortable win for Albion, given the amount of chances they created (hitting the woodwork no less than FIVE times!!) Those two losses also saw them concede 6 goals, with another 3 against them in their opening league game against Chelsea, so they clearly have their work cut out to prevent Everton’s formidable front-line from doing further damage to their goals conceded column. That said, The Seagulls have also won three times this season, including a much deserved victory on the road at Newcastle Utd, so they are capable of upsetting teams on their travels. Hopefully this will be another open and entertaining contest, just as Everton’s previous home matches have been this season, resulting in plenty of goalmouth action. A repeat of the recent 5-2 victory against another Albion – West Bromwich – cannot be discounted!

Now for those of you who follow this section for the tips Ally and I conjure up, firstly I’m sorry!! and secondly you’ll probably have noticed we do like to utilise all the different leagues on offer by tipping teams from throughout the footballing pyramid. This game is purely about goals and those scored by a team in the Scottish League Two are worth every bit as much as those scored by a Premier League side. However, being as my own lower league selections this season haven’t worked out at all and bearing in mind the monumental amount of goals scored in the English Prem in the opening three weeks, I’m going to do the rarest of things and stay there for my second tip. It goes without saying that the ‘big boys’ will be hugely popular again, but I’m looking elsewhere for some inspiration! I’m confident that Wolverhampton Wanderers will cast aside last Sunday evening’s 4-0 drubbing at West Ham Utd and get back on the goalscoring trail against an already beleaguered looking Fulham outfit. I think it would be fair to say Wolves have dazzled the vast majority of people with the way they have approached life in the Premier League over the past couple of seasons, but they’ve not quite looked themselves so far this time around. After a solid 2-0 win away at Sheffield Utd in their opening fixture, Wolves have suffered three consecutive defeats – including two on home soil – and only scored a solitary goal over the course of those games. The loss of Diogo Jota to Liverpool won’t help their cause, but they have plenty of attacking options within the squad and in striker Raul Jimenez they possess one of the league’s deadliest finishers. As long as the likes of Adama Traore and Pedro Neto provide some chances then Jimenez will find the back of the net with continual regularity. Those chances should be forthcoming against a Fulham defence that has already shipped 10 goals in their first three games since returning to the Premier League, far from the start that manager Scott Parker would have been hoping for! The Cottagers have also been well beaten by Championship play-off foes Brentford in the EFL Cup as i type this, so if morale was low previously, it will have taken a further hit following this evening’s 3-0 derby defeat. Parker was also less than impressed with co-owner Tony Khan’s Twitter activity after last week’s heavy home loss to Aston Villa and it does appear from the outside that cracks are quickly beginning to appear around the club, a worrying sign so soon into their top flight return. Things won’t get any easier at Molineux on Sunday afternoon and unless the visitors stop conceding goals for fun they could find themselves in deep trouble very early into the campaign. All things considered, you have to fancy Nuno Espirito Santo’s troops to rediscover their top form and fire home some goals in this fixture. Good luck to you all.