HERE’S HOW IT works. Every week, we choose six of the weekend’s biggest sporting events. Then we ask six of TheScore.ie’s finest minds to have their say. Come Monday, everybody looks and feels a little bit sillier than usual.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the Pick 6.
Meet this week’s pickers *drumroll*:
- Steven O’Rourke: NFL guru, enjoys craft beer
- Patrick McCarry: aspiring five-a-side keeper
- Adrian Russell: the gaffer
- Tony Cuddihy: contributes an estimated 6% of TheScore.ie‘s content
- Sean Farrell: may be attempting Movember, we’re not quite sure
- Paul Fennessy: has seen more films than you
Premier League: Manchester United v Arsenal
SOR: What seems to have been forgotten in the hoopla that surrounded Arsenal’s win over Reading in midweek is that they were 4-0 down at one point, to Reading. United, on the other hand just beat the league leaders last weekend. It’s a no brainer.
PMC: It won’t be 8-2 but United are clearly the better of the two sides and should win this if they keep Scott Wootton and Alexander Buttner away from penalty boxes and, preferably, the starting line-up. Extra prediction is a goal and respectful celebration for Robin van Persie.
AR: Set your sky-box to shaky defence. 8-2 last year? Arsenal beat Reading by a rugby score on Tuesday night? I’ll have United to win by the odd goal in 13.
TC: Both squads have enough strength in depth that the exertions of midweek won’t make that much of a difference. Arsenal have been boosted by the injury to Gervinho and Wenger really ought to give Theo Walcott a shot up front in a meaningful game. He won’t, though, so expect a United win against a team where too many players are playing at 70%, but no higher.
SF: Both sides are leaking goals for fun at the minute and both were forced to endure and unwanted 30 minutes in midweek. Despite United having 24 hours less recovery time, only Rafael could really be considered as a first team player at Stamford Bridge. Home advantage will tell here, eventually, and I’ll go out on a limb to say there will be at least four goals along the way – at least one of them will be an ‘RVP’ embossed dagger through Gunner hearts.
PF: United will be buoyed from their win at Chelsea last weekend, while Arsenal have started the season inconsistently, so I’m going to go with a home win.
Pro12: Ospreys v Leinster
SOR: Only Ulster have come away from Swansea with a win in the last eight visits by Irish provinces and Leinster have beaten the Ospreys only once in five attempts. I can’t see that record changing.
PMC: Leinster won by a massive margin last weekend and have enough quality left in their squad – Cullen, Jennings, Madigan, D Kearney, Boss – to cause their league nemesis some headaches. If Ospreys can negotiate Dan Biggar’s release from Welsh international duty that may give them the edge. I’m going for Ospreys here.
AR: Leinster have won their last three encounters with Welsh regions, and have been victorious in four of their last five visits to Wales in all tournaments. But as Henry Ford said: history is bunk. I’ll take the Ospreys, Popey.
TC: Even without their Irish contingent and a number of injured players, I still expect Leinster to get a positive result in Wales. It’s a level playing field, with Ospreys also missing their Wales contingent, but the Irish side will edge it. Leinster win for me.
SF: The Heineken Cup champions have won each of their last four games and they will be intent on gaining some measure of revenge for the Pro12 final defeat in May. However, despite losing nine players to Wales, Ospreys’ first-choice back-line is relatively untouched and they can still look to George Stowres and Joe Bearman in the back row. Add to that Ospreys recent hex over Leinster – it’s almost two years since they lost to Ireland’s eastern province and have not done so at home in over three – and there’s only one winner for me.
PF: Leinster are missing a good few players on international duty, but so are Ospreys, so I’m going to go with the Irish side to just shade it.
Donegal SFC Final: St. Eunan’s v Naomh Conaill
SOR: This will be the third meeting between these two sides in the Donegal SFC final, with one win apiece. St. Eunan’s have more pedigree at this stage though – eight appearances since 2000 compared to three from Naomh Conaill – so I’ll give them the nod.
PMC: The comprehensive semi-final win of St Eunan’s makes them the favourites to win the final in my dog-leafed book. Naomh Conaill have shut a number of good attacks down en-route to the final but Conor Gibbons and Lee McGonagle have enough class to give their side the edge.
AR: What do I know about Donegal football? I like the sound of St Eunan’s.
TC: St. Eunan’s may have gone off the boil somewhat in recent years, but they’re still a formidable side and Naomh Conaill will have to up their game considerably on Sunday. They’ve had a relatively easy passage compared to their opponents, and the fright given to St. Eunan’s by Kilcar should spur them on to claim their first county win since 2009.
SF: Aside from just liking the cut of their jib, Naomh Conaill’s defence impressed in their 0-9 to 0-6 semi-final win over Four Masters. St Eunan’s are rightly favourites after seeing off Dungloe with ease, this one will go to the wire and Conaill’s experience of winning in Letterkenny this year could well give them an edge.
PF: It should be an entertaining and very closely fought affair, but I’m tipping Naomh Conaill to just edge a tight game.
Formula 1: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
SOR: The F1 crown is there for the taking for Sebastian Vettel following four wins in four races. It has to be five from five doesn’t it?
PMC: This one is more in hope of a good finale to the season rather than a nailed-on prediction: Fernando Alonso to keep his title dreams alive and Vettel to drop out as Roman Grosjean tracks him down on the first lap. 2013 season prediction: Grosjean gets test driver job with Ferrari.
AR: Lewis to make it a big weekend for the Hamilton-Scherzinger house. He’ll win in the east and we’ll get Rylan through another week of X-Factor later on Sunday. #teamrylan
TC: Four in a row to become five in a row. Sebastian Vettel is just too good at the moment and there’s absolutely nothing to suggest that he’ll be caught at the top of the standings now. McLaren will flatter to deceive in qualifying but finish outside the top five on Sunday.
SF: Sebastian Vettel. He may have only been third fastest in qualifying, but the 13 point cushion he currently holds in the Drivers’ Championship will aid to him to relax and take yet another first place.
PF: Sebastian Vettel will win it, because he has an excellent record in Abu Dhabi, and is obviously in very good form at the moment.
Golf: WGC HSBC Champions Trophy
SOR: Shane Lowry and Peter Hanson are in great form and it would be brilliant to see the Irishman win. However, it’s difficult to look past Australia’s Adam Scott after his opening round.
PMC: Louis Oosthuizen is starting to put together regular performances that saw him storm to the British Open in 2010. He would be my pick with Adam Scott, as is his wont, coming in a shot or two behind.
AR: Adam Scott. He’s dreamy.
TC: Nothing’s going to stop Louis Oosthuizen in this kind of form.
SF: Sure, Louis Oosthuizen shot a course record and currently holds a five shot lead, but I believe in Adam Scott. The Australian is currently tied for second on 11-under-par. Yes, of course he can gobble up the gap in two days to exorcise a little of that Masters nightmare…. why not.
PF: Bubba Watson has started well at the World Golf Championship and is due a win, so I’m going to go with him.
NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers v New York Giants
SOR: I said in my Redzone preview this was a really tough one to call as you just don’t know how Hurricane Sandy effects the mindset of the Giants. The Steelers look a much better team over the past two weeks though so I’ll pick them, just.
PMC: Going to go with the Giants on this one. Four game winning streak and Eli Manning starting to motor. The Steelers have lost some of their lustre of late and have veered between fantastic and bungling in their seven outings this season.
AR: If you read our Redzone column every week you’ll know the men from Steel Town are the coming force. But if you spent half you’re week on this Tumblr of Eli Manning looking at things — like me — you’ll know New York City needs a big night after Superstorm Sandy. The Giants to do the business, baby.
TC: Some are saying that the events of the last week will prove too much for the Giants and they’ll roll over, but I tend to believe the opposite. The New York side will want to provide a fillip for their stricken state and there few better sides to do it against than the Steelers, who have been inconsistent so far this season.
SF: Tom Coughlin spoke midweek about putting this game in perspective after the harrowing week experience on the eastern seaboard, but in the Meadowlands, I expect the Giants to be fired up to give New Jersey something to cling onto. On top of the emotional factors, Giants (as already proven this season) are a better team and Eli Manning has numerous viable rushing and receiving options Big Ben Roethlisberger can only dream about.
PF: The Giants are in good form and odds-on favourites, and deservedly so, in my opinion.
Who do you fancy in this week’s six events? Post your picks in the comments section >