Every week that I write this diary I try and leave at least some suspense as to which team I’ll pick to win at the weekend. This week I won’t. I’m picking Bournemouth to beat Sunderland.
With Bournemouth’s midfield arguably its strongest unit, it feels like the middle of the park will be where this game is won and lost. Having seen Jack Rodwell try and hide in plain sight of 45,000 people last week, combined with the willing effort – but low on quality – Didier Ndong and it feels like this result should be a foregone conclusion. Elsewhere Jermaine Defoe spends so much time on his own that I’m sure I saw him trying to strike up a conversation with a corner flag on Match of the Day.
Sunderland’s long suffering fans deserve more and maybe the Arsenal result was a nadir, with important players due to return in the coming weeks. I doubt it however. With a boss whose ‘Plan A’ seems to be often built on sand (Bournemouth, sand, geddit?!!!) while ‘Plan B’ seems to be on permanent vacation (Bournemouth, vacation, geddit?!!!) I think the pain is set to continue. I’ll stop there.
The rest of the fixture list us not without interest with numerous chances to pick up some points from the lesser fancied teams. On another week (perhaps one where David Moyes has been sacked) I’d take a serious look at Burnley. Capable of keeping things tight at home and playing against a Palace side now seemingly in their second slump of the season, this would be my second choice pick of the week.
As you’ll know if you read this diary at all regularly, my next fixture of interest would involve picking Hull to lose. But, a spirited showing against Watford (even if one where they gave up a whole tonne of chances) and playing against a Saints team travelling North following a big Thursday night effort and I can see this being a draw.
Finally of focus is Manyu’s trip to Swansea. The Swans are in dire need of points to kick-start what’s looking like it’s going to be the short-lived Bob Bradley era, but with such poor form you’d normally pick the Red Devil’s, right? Well no. I’ll be avoiding this one even with that poor form in mind. The question for me when Mou joined United wasn’t how quickly he’d get them to the top of the league, but more how quickly the squad would start thinking that his personality was so revolting that they couldn’t be arsed to play for him. I think we may have reached that point, though it’s possible 107yr old Zlatan Ibrahimovic might prove me wrong.
The other ‘big boys’ are possibly worth steering clear of as well. Middlesbrough’s upturn in fortunes coincides with a trip to The Etihad so this could be close, though Boro’s style doesn’t seem to be the one that that has unlocked City this season… can Negredo and Co really harass that Sky Blue backline? Meanwhile Chelsea are in a rich vein of form but a lot will depend on what Everton will turn up.
As ever, plenty to ponder. Good luck with your picks.