This weekend's football action is poised for an exhilarating scoring spree, headlined by Juventus' Serie A clash against Empoli, Ajax's Eredivisie journey to Heracles, and a gripping FA Cup matchup between Blackburn and Wrexham.
As Juventus aims to extend their dominant run against a struggling Empoli side, Ajax seeks to continue their resurgence against Heracles. Meanwhile, in the FA Cup, Blackburn faces a determined Wrexham, promising an intriguing contest. This article dives into detailed predictions and insights, focusing on key players likely to make a significant impact in these pivotal matches.
Juventus v Empoli
The first of our anytime scorer trio comes from the Italian Serie A in what many will suspect be a one-sided affair as in-form Juventus take on relegation-threatened Empoli in Turin. Juventus are very much the form team in the league and Sunday’s 3-0 away triumph at Lecce saw them leapfrog Inter into top spot. Empoli secured a rare victory of their own last time out with a confident 3-0 home success over Monza, which ended an eight-match winless streak.
Juventus are on a pretty handy streak of their own as the three points they earned at Lecce made it seven on the bounce, extending their even greater run of matches without losing to 18 in league and cup. Max Allegri has formed a well-oiled machine and it is just impossible to back against them at the moment. Confidence is high and now they are starting to score more goals, which can only be a positive for them. Six of their 16 league victories have come by a 1-0 score line, but they’ve averaged 3.60 goals scored across their previous five in all competitions.
Only four other sides have conceded more Serie A goals in comparison to Empoli. Also, only four other sides are unwantedly ahead of them in the Expected Goals (xGA) tally across the division, so they are again expected to come under big pressure against their goal-crazy opposition. Gli Azzurri also tend to have major issues playing against the stronger clubs in the Italy game. They’ve suffered defeat in eight of their 10 league meetings against current top-half opposition. They’ve failed to score in all those losses, of which six came by at least a two-goal margin, including a 7-0 setback at Roma.
A strong case is therefore built for another commanding win for Juventus here and there is clearly one man who is largely responsible for their recent increased return in front of goal. Duşan Vlahović did have a frustrating time of it earlier in the campaign but he is now making up for lost time. He has netted six goals across the last seven games in all competitions, including a brace in each of the last two. This has seen him propel to the second outright top scorer in the league, only behind Inter’s Lautaro Martínez. We can gets an odds-against price of 2.11 with VBet on him just to score at any point in the game.
Heracles v Ajax
Another weekend and another tip is advised in a match involving Ajax. It is now three weekend’s running I’ve put a selection involving the Dutch giants and I’m looking for a third successive winning selection. It will have a very familiar feel to what I went with last weekend! On Saturday evening, Ajax go in search of a third league victory in a row when they make the 88 mile journey to take on Heracles in Eredivisie. The home team are on a disappointing five-match winless run in front of their own fans, but will certainly be up for this match against an ever-improving opponent.
It is common knowledge of the issues Ajax had earlier in the season. The identity of the team which we had all become accustomed to was non-existent and fan protests became common at their games. Fast forward a few months and things are looking much rosier in the camp. Whilst fifth in the table is still way off the expectations of Ajax, they are certainly trending upwards and they do still remain in Europe, meaning there is still plenty to play for. They’re only six points off third place, which is the final UEFA Champions League position on offer, so it is their best interests to get the job done again versus a side sitting only just outside the bottom three.
The form guide over the last ten Eredivisie matches placed Ajax second only behind runaway league leaders PSV, which highlights the task in hand for Heracles here. Heracles at least enter this contest on a two-match unbeaten run, albeit those came against two of the only three clubs below them in the standings in Waalwijk and Volendam. Similarly to Empoli in Serie A, Heracles also have big problems facing the top dogs in the league. They are winless in six meetings with current top-six clubs this season, losing four. In all four of those defeats, they conceded at least four goals ever time, including when going down 4-1 away to Ajax in August.
I mentioned already my tip for this game will ring some bells from last weekend, well, it is exactly the same! I am tipping Brian Brobbey to find the back of the net in this contest, something he has been going more than regularly of late. He needed a brace last weekend and missed a penalty to complete a hat-trick! Manchester United have been heavily linked with signing him this month and understandably so. The Netherlands international has ten goals across the last ten games in all competitions and for some reason is again priced bigger than understudy Chuba Akpom; a regular substitute. Bet365 are offering 2.50 on Brobbey scoring again.
Blackburn v Wrexham
No selection on Sunday from me but if you’re prepared to wait a little longer until Monday night then there is a third and final anytime scorer bet that I really like the look of. It is again one which I punted last weekend as a personal bet, albeit unsuccessfully, but it still one which has a great chance this time around. It comes in the FA Cup as Wrexham make the trip to Blackburn looking to cause another cup shock. They knocked League One Shrewsbury out in the last round, albeit fortunately, and face a badly out of form Championship opponent.
Blackburn had been on the edges of the play-off positions before this alarming run of form played on. So much so, the future of Head Coach Jon Dahl Tomasson has started to come into question from fans for the first time in his tenure. The second-tier team have won just once in eight in all competitions, that being their 5-2 win over League One Cambridge United in the last round of the FA Cup. Expect Rovers to go strong in their selection here, just as they did against Cambridge, as they look to take confidence from their cup run into their league campaign.
Wrexham are very much the high-profile club in League Two for a number of obvious reasons, and there is every chance they will be playing against a club such as Cambridge next season in League One. The Red Dragons are second only to Stockport County in the table and also will take confident from their impressive FA Cup run of last season when a non-league club. Phil Parkinson’s side knocked out Championship side Coventry City and took Sheffield United to a replay before being knocked out of the Fourth Round. The FA Cup is broadcast across the globe and another big audience will be tuning in expecting another strong crack at beating a side from a higher level.
Blackburn are odds-on favourite here and should be getting the job done realistically, but I don’t think too many would be shocked to see Wrexham prevail here given the form of the two clubs. Even so, one shining light for Rovers this season has been the transformation of attacking midfielder Sammie Szmodics, who is the top scorer in the Championship with 16. He played as a striker last weekend as Tomasson surprisingly fielded a 3-5-2 formation, but may go back to more of a 4-2-3-1 here, allowing the former Peterborough man to play in his preferred Number Ten role. A price of 2.30 is available with Hollywood Bets on the league’s top scorer to net at any point at home to a League Two team is something I can’t ignore.
Juventus v Empoli – Duşan Vlahović Anytime Scorer (2.11 VBet)
Heracles v Ajax – Brian Brobbey Anytime Scorer (2.50 Bet365)
Blackburn v Wrexham – Sammie Szmodics Anytime Scorer (2.30 Hollywood Bets)