Last Saturday saw me casually check the final scores from the day on my phone, seeing if I had managed to pull off a third accy in four weeks. Stoke City and Sunderland to draw – check. Manchester City to beat Swansea City – check. Barcelona to beat Rayo Vallecano – check. Stevenage to beat Swindon – ah nuts!
I can only assume Mr Di Canio pinned my article to the Robins’ dressing room wall to inspire them to that 4-0 win at Broadhall Way, which was Boro’s first home defeat of the season.
After the Tranmere debacle the weekend before, it appears that League One hates me and wants my accumulators to die.
With that in mind, this week sees us go for the cream of the crop, dealing with the top divisions from around Europe, although to celebrate FA Cup weekend, there’s also a first-round match thrown in for good measure – just not one featuring anyone from England’s cursed third tier.
Agree with this week’s picks? Then lob the free £20 bet you receive for registering with bwin on these selections to give yourself a chance of taking home (unless you’re already home) a firework-banging £199.01.
Chelsea to beat Swansea @ 13/20
With both teams coming into this game on the back of impressive Capital One Cup wins in midweek, confidence will be flying everywhere at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
This match finished 1-1 last season, with a late Neil Taylor own goal denying the Welsh side a famous win, but this is a better Chelsea.
Despite their controversial loss to Manchester United last Sunday, Roberto Di Matteo’s men remain top of the pile and unbeaten on the road, winning three of four away games to date.
The Blues will want to get back to winning ways in the league and with Michael Laudrup’s side having leaked eight goals in five games at home, and with the deadly triumvirate of Oscar, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard all in fine form, Chelsea will fancy their chances in this one.
Accrington Stanley to beat AFC Fylde @ 13/20
We had to pick one FA Cup match this weekend and there is something about it being a good old-fashioned club like Accrington Stanley that makes me feel all warm inside about the first round of the most famous domestic cup competition in the world.
Yes, it’s slightly dull to be backing the league club against the non-league minnows, but 13/20 just jumped out at me, especially seeing as the Evo-Stik Northern Premier side – co-managed by former Tranmere defender and long-throw merchant Dave Challinor – sit 77 places below Stanley in the football pyramid.
You can use all the FA Cup cliches possible – the form book being thrown out the window, the magic of the cup and so on – and you can imagine the ‘Fylde of Dreams’ headline just waiting to be written.
However, I am the Grinch when it comes to the FA Cup, especially when there’s money to be had, and I’m fully backing Accrington to avoid a giant-killing in this one.
Lille to beat Evian @ 23/20
Lille are a far cry from the team who became Ligue 1 champions of 2010/11, having lost the likes of Gervinho, Yohan Cabaye and Hazard to the Premier League since then.
However, they travel to lowly Evian this weekend aiming to make progress up the table, as they currently teeter in tenth spot.
Rudi Garcia’s team have only been beaten twice this season and one of those losses was to the mighty Paris St Germain. It’s draws that have been the problem, with five of their ten games so far failing to provide a winner.
But against an Evian team which has lost five of nine and was thumped 4-0 in their last home fixture against Toulouse, Lille should have enough quality to get the job done.
Juventus to beat Inter Milan @ 7/10
We end with the Old Lady, and not for the first time. Juventus have started this season the way they ended the last, undefeated, and have even managed to stop drawing so many games.
This top-of-the-table clash in Turin sees an in-form Internazionale travel to face the Serie A champions fresh from a 3-2 midweek win over Sampdoria at the San Siro, while Juve triumphed 2-1 at home to Bologna thanks to a late Paul Pogba strike.
Antonio Conte’s side have developed a knack of winning when they most need to and victory on Saturday would be a massive statement to make in the title race.
Juve have won the last three meetings between the teams and 7/10 is a very good price on the leaders eclipsing Arsenal’s ‘Invincibles’ of 2003/04 by extending their extraordinary unbeaten run to 50 league matches with another three points.
That’s it for this week. Be sure to enjoy bonfire night (responsibly of course), but should this coupon not come up, please refrain from making a Guy Fawkes of yours truly.