Five games to watch this weekend
Michael Johnson | 3 July 2020
What’s on this weekend? Here are our picks of the action
It’s been another busy week in the Premier League and across Europe, but there’s still plenty more action to enjoy.
We’re highlighting the five games that have caught our eye while trawling through the weekend fixtures, including a cup final, a crucial title-chasing fixture and some intriguing ties from the Premier League.
Leicester City v Crystal Palace – Saturday (15:00)
At the start of the year Leicester seemed a shoe-in for a Champions League spot, with a 14-point gap between them and fifth, Jamie Vardy on a scoring spree and Brendan Rogers looking much-improved over the manager who left England for Celtic back in 2016.
But only five clubs have earned fewer points in 2020 and that gap over fifth has closed to three points. They’re also out of the FA Cup and they’ve picked up just two points in three league games. That Champions League spot is now under serious threat with some tough games in their remaining fixtures.
Crystal Palace then, present them with an opportunity – they’re safe in twelfth, probably with little to play for and have lost two in a row, although they have at least managed to win since the restart, beating Watford 1-0 in their opener.
Ahead of Tuesday night’s game away to Arsenal, Leicester simply need a win, and they could really do with seeing Jamie Vardy among the goals – he has just two from his last 13 games, yet somehow remains the league’s joint top scorer. Vardy can be backed at Evens to score tonight.
Wolves v Arsenal – Saturday (17:30)
Say it quietly, but Arsenal seem to have found some form. They’ve now won three games on the trot, they’re still in the FA Cup and they’re back in with a chance at playing European football next season.
Better still, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang exploded into life against Norwich on Wednesday evening and whether he’s at the club next season or not, he’s now the league’s joint top scorer and is the 7/4 favourite to win the golden boot.
Opponents Wolves meanwhile have been very consistent since the league’s resumption, grinding out low-scoring wins, albeit against inferior opposition – they’ve beaten the teams in 16th, 18th and 19th, with an aggregate scoreline of 4-0 in those three games.
Wolves’ season could yet go either way, currently sitting just two points behind Chelsea in fourth. But they may need to step through the gears as they face tougher opposition in their upcoming ties, starting with the Gunners.
Newcastle v West Ham – Sunday (13:15)
Remember when Newcastle United used to be the league’s ‘entertainers’ back in the ‘90s under Kevin Keegan and were briefly consistent challengers for a European spot under Sir Bobby Robson?
Steve Bruce clearly does, and despite the much-derided owner and swirling takeover rumours – they’ve suddenly become one of the league’s freest-scoring teams. They’ve scored at least three goals twice now since the restart– a feat they’d only managed twice in their previous 30 games.
A lot of this boils down to Allan Saint-Maximin, who has become the attacking heartbeat of the side since the return of Premier League football, scoring one, assisting three and earning two Man of the Match awards in four games.
Opponents West Ham finally had something to celebrate in beating Chelsea 3-2 on Wednesday, although they could be forgiven for thinking there was a VAR conspiracy against them at this point, after seeing a goal chalked off in questionable circumstances.
That win moved them up to 16th with a run-in that sees them face three of the teams below them. You suspect they’d take a point away to Newcastle, especially with David Moyes at the helm – but perhaps Steve Bruce’s free-scoring Magpies will see things differently.
Bayer Leverkusen v Bayern Munich – (Saturday 19:00)
After winning their eighth successive league title, Bayern Munich are looking to the domestic double for the fifth time in the same run. Their opponents in the DFB-Pokal final – sometimes called ‘Neverkusen’ due to their legendary propensity to fall at the final hurdle – haven’t won the competition since the 92/93 season.
Both teams had a win apiece against each other in the Bundesliga this season, though Bayern did beat Leverkusen 4-2 in their most recent June meeting.
Robert Lewandowski hit 34 goals in the Bundesliga season and is on 49 goals in all competitions. Just one more goal will have him on 50 – and his highest-ever tally. As such, Lewandowski is just 2/5 to score anytime in the final.
Leverkusen’s hopes rest on the attacking trio of Kai Havertz, Kevin Volland and Leon Bailey – who scored both goals in their 2-1 away win over Bayern back in November.
Lazio v AC Milan – (Saturday 20:45)
Along with La Liga, Serie A is one of the few leagues where the small matter of who wins the title is still up in the air. Juventus are on top, with a four-point lead, but Lazio are their closest challengers as they face seventh-placed AC Milan on Saturday evening.
Lazio haven’t won Serie A since the 99/00 season, when their squad was packed with talent, including the likes of Diego Simeone, Roberto Mancini, Pavel Nedved and Juan Sebastien Veron.
Their current squad isn’t quite as star-studded, but in 30-year old striker Ciro Immobile, they do boast a striker who has scored 29 goals in 29 appearances this season – equalling the club’s goalscoring record for a single season.
Unfortunately for Lazio, both he and second top-scorer Felipe Caicedo are suspended against AC Milan. Can the seven-goal Joaquin Correa step up in their absence, or will their lack of firepower cost them in the title race? You can back Correa at 23/10 to score anytime.
When Lazio and Milan met back in November, Correa and Immobile did the damage in a 2-1 win, but Milan have looked strong since the restart, winning two and drawing one. Will they play the spoiler role in the title race?
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication