Thursday, 17 April 2014

Monte Carlo Tennis Picks 2014 (April 17th)

There weren't too many surprise results on Tuesday and that means the Third Round action in Monte Carlo has a number of intriguing matches, although I do think it is set for a very strong Quarter Final at the first major clay court event of the season.

As I said though, that doesn't mean there aren't some fascinating matches to view on Thursday and I do believe anyone lucky enough to watch the tennis live will certainly be enjoying themselves during the day.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga v Fabio Fognini: With one of the most improved performances on the clay courts in recent months, it is no surprise that Fabio Fognini is considered the favourite to win this Third Round match. However, I do think Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has the tools to bring in the upset and move through to the Quarter Final.

He may not have had a strong start to 2014, but Tsonga showed some guts to come through his match against Philipp Kohlschreiber in the last Round and some of the attributes he has should give him a great chance to win this match.

Tsonga's serve and heavy shots should pay dividends at times, while he will also get a good chance to see the Fognini serve and really try and earn breaks of serve. The Italian has been playing some brilliant tennis on the clay courts, but he will offer chances to Tsonga, who also has the benefit of knowing he has beaten Fognini on the clay courts before.

There is no doubt that Tsonga has to serve well and try and keep Fognini on the back foot if he is to win the game, but I do think the Frenchman can do so in three sets as the underdog.

Milos Raonic v Tommy Robredo: Another favourite that could be upset on Thursday is Tommy Robredo who faces the big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic in the Third Round.

The experience and comfort of the clay courts will certainly fall in favour of Robredo, but Raonic has the heavy shots that can see him hit through his opponent and also has the benefit of beating the Spaniard in Barcelona on the surface last season.

Raonic was actually favoured to win that match and he has the big game that can see him keep Robredo under pressure. He is also playing a little more aggressively when returning serve and Robredo's serve is not one that will pick up too many cheap points like Raonic's serve will during this match.

There is every chance this will go into a deciding set, but I like Raonic to frank last season's win and move through to the Quarter Final.

Stanislas Wawrinka - 3.5 games v Nicolas Almagro: There is a famous line from the film Anchorman that summed up Stanislas Wawrinka's win over Marin Cilic on Tuesday night- 'well, that escalated quickly'.

It was a stunning display from Wawrinka and one that surprised me very much considering how well Marin Cilic usually performs on the clay courts.

The win and the manner in which it came would make Wawrinka a strong favourite against Nicolas Almagro, even though the latter is one of the better clay court players out there. However, Almagro is coming off a tough week in Houston, has had to travel back to Europe and is now playing his third match in consecutive days and that can catch up with any player.

Stanislas Wawrinka will have to play as aggressively as he did yesterday and he also has a strong record against Almagro. He beat him twice last season, once on the clay, and also crushed the Spaniard 63, 63 back in 2012 in Monte Carlo and I like Wawrinka to win this match 64, 64.

Tomas Berdych - 4.5 games v Guillermo Garcia-Lopez: There has to be a lot of confidence on Guillermo Garcia-Lopez' side of the court having won in Casablanca last week and winning a couple of matches here in Monte Carlo, but the run could very much come to an end on Thursday.

As impressive as the win over Alexandr Dolgopolov was, Garcia-Lopez hasn't played anyone of the quality of Tomas Berdych over the last couple of weeks.

Berdych has the serve and the aggressive brand of tennis that will make Garcia-Lopez' serve really feel the pressure and I think he is going to be too good in most areas in this match.

You have to respect the run Garcia-Lopez has had on the clay courts though, especially with this being Berdych's second match of the clay court season, but I still believe the higher Ranked player comes through 63, 64.

MY PICKS: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga @ 2.20 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Milos Raonic @ 2.30 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Stanislas Wawrinka - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Tomas Berdych - 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Monte Carlo Update: 4-3, + 0.96 Units (14 Units Staked, + 6.86% Yield)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Monte Carlo Tennis Picks 2014 (April 16th)

Tuesday proved to be a better day for the picks as they went 2-1, although that still means the week is slightly on the negative side of things.

With another full day of tennis on Wednesday where the Second Round will be completed, the big names are opening their clay court season following Novak Djokovic yesterday. Today the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will take to the courts as well as the Australian Open Champion Stanislas Wawrinka and there will be a lot of good tennis for the locals to enjoy.

Fabio Fognini - 2.5 games v Roberto Bautista-Agut: With the way he approaches tennis, Fabio Fognini is always liable to throwing in the kind of up and down performance he had in the First Round. That is usually enough to dissuade me from backing the Italian to win too many matches, but his form on the clay courts over the last nine months is enough to keep me on his side in this Second Round match.

His opponent, Roberto Bautista-Agut, also looks one that should match up well for Fognini- while most Spaniards would favour the clay courts over other surfaces, I think Bautista-Agut is someone who isn't as comfortable on the slower surfaces.

Bautista-Agut doesn't have a big serve, but looks to wear down opponents with his defensive skills... That shouldn't be an issue for Fognini who has more clay court pedigree than his opponent and who has dominated the head to head between them.

The Italian has won 4 of the 5 previous matches between the players and beat Bautista-Agut in Miami last month and also won their sole meeting on a clay court last season. Fognini should be too good and move through to the Third Round on Wednesday with a 63, 46, 64 win.

Roger Federer - 5.5 games v Radek Stepanek: The first match on a new surface can be a troubling time for even the very best players on the Tour, but Roger Federer has the benefit of playing someone he will be very familiar with.

The style that Radek Stepanek brings to the court is awkward, especially if you haven't played him before, but he doesn't really ruffle the Federer feathers too often these days. In fact, he has lost 9 in a row since surprising Federer on the clay courts of Rome back in 2008 and Stepanek has been dismissed fairly comfortably more often than not.

Take away Rafael Nadal and Federer could have gone down as one of the best clay court players of all time so this should be a surface he is comfortable on. I also think Federer has taken a Wild Card spot here with the expectation of having a big week and I believe he will prove to be too good for Stepanek when it is all said and done.

The aggressive play should help Federer, although he has the experience to show more patience on the slower courts, but he has been serving well for the most part in 2014 and that should lead to a 64, 62 win.

Marin Cilic + 2.5 games v Stanislas Wawrinka: I was very tempted in picking Marin Cilic to win this Second Round match outright, but I have decided to take the games on offer in what looks a much closer match than the layers may think.

Cilic had to come through a tough First Round match where a Lucky Loser was placed in the draw and those struggles in the middle of the match could be down to it being his first match on clay this season. That is where the Croatian could take advantage of Stanislas Wawrinka who has admitted some of the mental issues of winning his first Grand Slam title of his career in Australia to open the season.

While Wawrinka has played well at times since then, he has suffered three surprising losses including in the Davis Cup two weeks ago and he may be caught cold by Cilic in this one. Cilic has a decent serve and can cause problems with his aggressive return.

Even if Wawrinka wins the match, it could be very close as their previous matches have tended to be, while the fact he is playing his first clay court match of the season may see Cilic take at least one set comfortably. That would make the games given to Cilic look too high and I will back a player that could potentially win this match outright to at least keep it competitive.

MY PICKS: Fabio Fognini - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Marin Cilic + 2.5 Games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Monte Carlo Update: 2-2, - 0.84 Units (8 Units Staked, - 10.5% Yield)

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Midweek Football Picks 2014 (April 15-16)

The first week since returning from my holiday has been tough to get back into the groove of a normal life again, but things are finally settling down a little.

This week is one where a few teams will make up games in hand that they have in the Premier League as the season gets closer and closer to concluding before the World Cup will begin. There are three League games to be played in the next couple of days before the Easter Weekend and we may begin to get a clearer picture of who will finish in the top four.

Manchester City are also under pressure to win their games in hand after somehow blowing all the momentum in their eventual 3-2 loss at Anfield which has left Liverpool as the favourites to win the title. I still believe if City can win their remaining 6 games this season, they will still win the title, but the key game comes in two weeks time when Liverpool host Chelsea as a win for the home team will almost certainly mean their wait for a top flight title has come to a close.

Arsenal v West Ham United Pick: This time of the season will bring a lot of pressure on teams that have some serious goals to achieve and this day belongs to Arsenal in their bid to get back into the top four. A quick glance at the fixture list suggests Arsenal have the better run in compared with Everton, but that also means there is a pressure on them to win the games they are expected to which is what the fans will be doing when they go to the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

Failure to win the game would make Everton a serious favourite to finish in the top four, but an Arsenal win would shift the pressure onto a side that is hosting Manchester United and Manchester City before the season draws to a close.

In saying that, Arsenal also have to deal with the tiredness that will come from a long Cup Semi Final that went further than anyone would have really expected. Instead of beating Wigan Athletic in the time allotted, Arsenal had to go through extra time and then the mental fatigue of a penalty shoot out and could be given another difficult test by this West Ham United team.

For much of the season, West Ham United have been pretty solid away from home and been able to make life difficult for opponents. In recent away games, West Ham have drawn with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and only been beaten by a late Everton goal at Goodison Park while they also gave Liverpool plenty to think about at Upton Park ten days ago.

Sam Allardyce has also had a few extra days to prepare his team for this visit to North London and I think West Ham can make it difficult for an Arsenal team that have started conceding goals at home.

Arsenal did crush West Ham here last season, but tiredness, pressure and a West Ham team that have been defending better away from home for much of the season could help keep this game close. With that in mind, taking West Ham United with the Asian Handicap headstart looks the way to go where even a one goal loss would return some positive results.

Everton v Crystal Palace Pick: In all honesty, it doesn't matter what happens in the Arsenal game against West Ham United on Tuesday as Roberto Martinez will know anything less than three points in this game will make it very difficult for Everton to make the top four.

The game against Crystal Palace at Goodison Park, with all due respect to the Eagles, is the easiest of their home games left and Everton can't expect to beat Manchester United and Manchester City so dropping points in this one would be a huge body blow to the mental state of the squad.

Everton have put in a lot of work to claw back and overtake Arsenal and have been playing very well at home all season, but Tony Pulis has made Crystal Palace very difficult to beat. I expect he will set out a stall to do the same to Everton having pushed Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal to dig deep to beat them.

However, Palace have some problems when it comes to scoring goals away from Selhurst Park and that may prove to be their downfall in this game. Prior to the three goals scored at Cardiff City, Palace had scored just 1 in 6 away games in the League and that could be a problem for them at Everton on Wednesday night.

I don't think Everton will blow away Crystal Palace just with the way the away side set up, but there is creativity and confidence in the home team that suggests they will find a way to win this game. I believe they will too, but it may be down to the clean sheet and a solitary strike to earn those vital three points in the chase for a Champions League place.

Manchester City v Sunderland Pick: Sunday may prove to be the pivotal moment in the title race this season when David Silva just couldn't stretch enough to make it 2-3 for Manchester City at Anfield, only for moments later Liverpool scoring the decisive winning goal.

That means Manchester City are going to need some help if they are to win the League, but Manual Pellegrini is not concerning himself with that but is simply looking for them to take the next step by winning this game.

Even in the absence of Yaya Toure, Manchester City should have far too much attacking threat for Sunderland to cope with, especially with the lack of confidence the away side have to be bringing into the game. A 5th straight Premier League loss on Saturday has essentially ended Sunderland's top flight status and they were crushed at Tottenham Hotspur in their last away game where the heads really did drop.

There are goals in the Manchester City side and they have shown that in their last two home games against Fulham and Southampton and I would expect them to be too strong again. Toure is a big miss, but Sergio Aguero is back and I think Manchester City want to show they are still in the title race and will put up some goals for their own goal difference.

It's a big handicap to cover, but Manchester City have beaten Sunderland 5-0 and 3-0 over the last three years here and I can see them recording something similar on Wednesday.

MY PICKS: West Ham United + 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.90 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Everton Win to Nil @ 2.20 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Manchester City - 2.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)

April Update: 9-3, + 10.66 Units (20 Units Staked, + 53.33% Yield)

March Final26-22, + 13.94 Units (83 Units Staked, + 16.80% Yield)
February Final12-28, - 16.74 Units (61 Units Staked, - 27.44% Yield)
January Final17-24, - 3.18 Units (62 Units Staked, - 5.13% Yield)
December Final19-16-2, + 13.34 Units (66 Units Staked, + 20.21% Yield)
November Final17-19-1, + 0.50 Units (56 Units Staked, + 0.09% Yield)
October Final20-16-1, + 12.94 Units (51 Units Staked, + 25.37% Yield)
September Final13-12, + 1.24 Units (39 Units Staked, + 3.18% Yield)
August Final13-26, - 12.13 Units (54 Units Staked, - 22.46% Yield)

Season 2013/14137-153-3, + 9.91 Units (472 Units Staked, + 2.10% Yield)
Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

Monte Carlo Tennis Picks 2014 (April 15th)

The first couple of days of a Masters event that is taking place over the course of a week are surprisingly limited in terms of the amount of matches they put on the court and that has been the case in Monte Carlo this week.

It also means that the Tuesday of the event is usually a full schedule as the tournament concludes the First Round matches and also gets the top seeded players underway with some of the Second Round matches.

I only had the one pick on Monday but wrongly picked Benoit Paire to come through his First Round match against Albert Montanes- it was a pretty poor display from the Frenchman, with the choice of shots being particularly poor, and he almost looked disinterested for a set and a bit.

Paire did push on to a three set loss, but it was still a poor display in most regards and he could find himself slipping down the Rankings over the next couple of months unless Paire puts in more effort than he seemingly did yesterday.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 3.5 games v Philipp Kohlschreiber: I have to be honest and say that Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has looked like a player that has perhaps lost a little bit of power in the off-season through the work he may have done on improving his fitness.

He hasn't had the results he was perhaps expecting to open 2014 and the clay court season is not his favourite part of the Tour, but I still think he can get the better of Philipp Kohlschreiber, a player he has beaten in 6 of their previous 7 meetings.

I respect what Kohlschreiber brings to the court- he has a decent serve and heavy enough groundies to be able to have significant success in this match, but he also has a mental issue when playing some of the better players.

The backhand wing will be dominated by the German, but I think Tsonga will still find a little more as the match goes on and find a 75, 75 win.

Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 games v Marcel Granollers: Grigor Dimitrov has not beaten Marcel Granollers in their two previous matches, and the latter is also a little more comfortable on the clay courts with plenty of tournaments played on the surface this season.

However, Granollers is not the stereotypical Spaniard who loves the clay courts over the other surfaces and I actually think his game is better suited to the faster surfaces.

On the slower courts, his lack of fizz off the serve and the groundies don't have the same penetration and that is where Dimitrov should be able to take advantage of the First Round match. The first match on the clay courts can be a concern (although Dimitrov has won a Davis Cup match on the surface two weeks ago), but I still think the Bulgarian youngster should be too good.

There are times that Dimitrov can be erratic in his play, but the consistency is certainly coming into his game and I like him to win 63, 64.

Gael Monfils - 2.5 games v Kevin Anderson: The slower courts should level things up against some of the biggest servers on the Tour, but the likes of Kevin Anderson may also enjoy having a little more time to really get after their big groundstrokes.

The downside of playing on the clay courts is that their opponents can get a decent read on the return of serve and someone like Gael Monfils could make life extremely frustrating for Anderson with his defensive skills.

Monfils is consistent across the surfaces, but he has opened 2014 in decent nick and I think that he will force Anderson into enough uncomfortable positions to earn breaks of serve.

If the Frenchman is focused for the first clay court match of his season, he should be able to come through this tough First Round match with a 76, 75 win under his belt.

Marin Cilic - 2.5 games v Fernando Verdasco: Fernando Verdasco leads the head to head between these two players 5-4 coming into this match, but I believe Marin Cilic is going to be able to level their series with a win in this First Round match.

You have to give credit to Verdasco for winning the title in Houston last week, but he hasn't had long to travel across to Europe and get accustomed to the conditions in Monte Carlo. That could be a problem against a player as good as Cilic who would have arrived here a few days ago to get ready for the clay court season.

I have said a few times how highly I rate the Cilic return game and that should help him get involved in the Spaniard's service games.

Add in the more aggressive serving that has helped Cilic to a good, positive start to 2014, and I think he proves too strong for what could be a tired Verdasco.

MY PICKS: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 3.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 Games @ 1.73 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Gael Monfils - 2.5 Games @ 1.85 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Marin Cilic - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)

Monte Carlo Update: 0-1, - 2 Units (2 Units Staked, - 100% Yield)

Monday, 14 April 2014

Monte Carlo Tennis Picks 2014 (April 14th)

My holiday coincided with the first of the clay court tournaments in 2014 and also with the Davis Cup Quarter Finals, but it was good to see Switzerland making it through to the Semi Final in that competition.

I picked the Swiss to win the Davis Cup at the start of the season and they will be big favourites, as long as they steer clear of injuries to Stanislas Wawrinka and Roger Federer, to beat Italy and make it through to the Final now.

I am a big fan of the clay court season and really enjoyed my time at the French Open last year, but the tournaments are going to be dominated in terms of favouritism by Rafael Nadal in the men's draws and that is no different this week. The draw will always be important, but Nadal has also benefited in that department this week and it would be a surprise if he doesn't make it through to the Final and have a chance to reclaim the title he lost last season.

That could all depend on who he faces in the Final, but Novak Djokovic looks a little short with the likes of Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer and Fabio Fognini in his side of the draw and I would like to see how he negotiates that draw.

With that in mind, I didn't make any outright picks this week, but I will be making picks from the matches that will be played through the week, beginning on Monday (although some First Round matches were played on Sunday).

Benoit Paire v Albert Montanes: Benoit Paire hasn't played a lot of tennis since the Australian Open, but he beat Albert Montanes last week in Casablanca and I believe he is worth backing to do that again this week.

The clay courts may be Montanes' favourite surface and he may have the confidence that comes with winning a couple of qualifiers here in Monte Carlo, but the support should be behind Paire and I think he has the tools that will make this match swing in his direction.

While there will be breaks of serve, Paire certainly has the bigger shot in that department and could earn a few more 'cheaper' points that should help him come through the match. Last week that shot proved to be the difference in the three set win for Paire and I think there is every chance this match goes the distance too.

However, the little more stability behind serve should give Paire the chance to move through to the Second Round as long as he hasn't reacted negatively to the first bit of competitive tennis he played in months last week.

MY PICKS: Benoit Paire @ 1.83 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

Miami Weekly Picks: 13-11, + 1.76 Units (48 Units Staked, + 3.67% Yield)
Miami Outright Picks: 1-3, - 1.25 Units (8 Units Staked, - 15.63% Yield)

Season 2014+ 38.05 Units (519 Units Staked, + 7.33% Yield)

Season 2013+ 21.74 Units (1251.5 Units Staked, + 1.73% Yield)
Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)
Season 2011+ 82.02 Units

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Weekend Football Picks 2014 (April 12-13)

It's been a long trip away from home, but it is good to be back even if the time change hasn't quite seen me catch up just yet.

With that in mind, from next week these posts will be back in their normal fashion, but here are the picks from this weekend.

Fulham v Norwich City Pick Below

Stoke City v Newcastle United Pick: The form guide points to only one winner in this game and the motivation will certainly also be on the side of Stoke City in this one as they look to make sure they finish in the top half of the Premier League table.

Stoke City have been playing good football in recent weeks and they have been winning plenty of games in front of their own fans including against the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United.

That is in sharp contrast to Newcastle United who have lost a couple of away games at Fulham and Southampton which makes it tough to really believe they can avoid defeat at the Brittania Stadium. The lack of goals in the Newcastle team has been a real problem, especially in the continued absence of Loic Remy and that is all pointing to a home win in this game.

Of course, the Premier League is always likely to throw up strange results on a weekly basis, but Stoke City seem to be holding all the aces in this game and I think they look worth backing to overcome Newcastle and earn another three points at home.

Sunderland v Everton Pick: Some recent performances from Sunderland suggest this is a group of players that are beginning to feel the drop is very much in their future, but they can reinvigorate some optimism by winning this game. It is imperative that Sunderland find the three points in this game if they are to have a real chance of avoiding relegation, but Everton have a lot of momentum behind them and are going to be very confident.

The 3-0 win over Arsenal has given Everton a real chance of finishing in the Champions League places this season, but they can't afford to take their eye off the prize and fail to win this game.

However, the away form has been up and down all season for Everton as they haven't found it as easy scoring the goals needed to win games on their travels. 20 goals in 16 away games highlights that problem and shows why they have only won 6 away games to this point, but back to back impressive wins at Newcastle United and Fulham may have seen the side turn a corner.

There should be goals in an Everton team that has the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Leon Osman and Kevin Miralles able to put away chances that come their way and I expect they can do enough to earn the three points here.

Even with that in mind, backing Everton at odds on away from home makes little sense for me considering their season form on their travels. Instead, I think Everton will need to score more than once to win the game and I am going to back them to score either 2 or 3 goals here.

Sunderland have conceded that amount to Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Southampton this season, while Chelsea managed to score a late fourth in their win at the Stadium of Light. Add the fact that Hull City and West Ham United have scored twice in their recent visits to Sunderland and I think backing Everton to score either 2 or 3 goals is the call.

West Brom v Tottenham Hotspur Pick: This is a game that has ramifications at both ends of the table and that should produce a fascinating game of football for the fans in attendance on Saturday afternoon. West Brom will feel the win at Norwich City last weekend has given them one foot in the Premier League for next season, but they need to use that momentum to at least push away with another win this weekend.

With Fulham facing Norwich City on the same day, West Brom could find themselves dragged back into the relegation mix if they lose this game and Fulham win and that keeps the motivation high for the home team.

West Brom have certainly struggled at home this season, especially when it comes to wins, but they have also been tough to beat as Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool and Chelsea will all tell you. Taking into account Tottenham Hotspur's recent struggles away from home, West Brom will feel they can earn another three points that will put them a long way from relegation.

Before the recent away results, Tottenham Hotspur had been very solid away from home and I think they can cause problems for a West Brom team that haven't kept too many clean sheets at home. They have also conceded three goals in back to back games at the Hawthornes and Spurs are coming in having scored five against Sunderland.

I would be surprised if this isn't a game that produces goals, although the 1-1 scoreline is the one that bothers me the most with it being a popular one for West Brom against the better teams in the Premier League. Still, I would expect both teams to go for the three points that are so important at this stage of the season and will back the game to see at least three goals.

Wigan Athletic v Arsenal Pick: There is no doubt that Arsenal are really having a hard time in recent weeks as they barely hold onto their top four place in the Premier League, but this FA Cup game should be to their liking against a team in the lower Leagues.

That is not disrespecting Wigan Athletic, but a long season may be beginning to take its toll on their players and their form coming into the game is not as strong as when they surprised Manchester City. Of course the FA Cup Semi Final will re-energise some of the players taking to the field, but promotion is the bigger importance to Wigan who would probably take an appearance in the Play Off Final at Wembley over an FA Cup one at this point.

No team rolls over in the FA Cup Semi Final though and I fully expect Wigan to really give this a go and perhaps trouble Arsenal more than some may initially expect.

The problem is that Arsenal should have more quality and the bigger pitch should help them stretch the play to the point of being able to win this game. If Wigan are forced to chase the game, Arsenal should also be able to hurt them on the break and I will back them to win this game by a couple of goals.

That should ease some of the pressure on Arsene Wenger that has been building up in recent games, although it could quickly return if the side fall out of the top four in the coming weeks.

Liverpool v Manchester City Pick: A lot of the experts are suggesting that the winner of this live game on Sunday will be the new Premier League champions come May and it is hard to argue with that logic with the way both teams have been playing.

Liverpool have won 9 in a row in the Premier League and have all the momentum behind them with the visit of Manchester City and Chelsea- a win in both games will surely see them end their 24 year wait for the title, but writing off Manchester City to upset the apple-cart is a big mistake.

Much like Liverpool, Manchester City are set up to attack and score goals and I can see them causing plenty of problems for their hosts, although will also be vulnerable to the pace that Liverpool have in the forward positions.

With all the attacking talent on display, this should be a game for the neutrals as both sides will look to get forward and win the game. Of course, there is the potential for the tension to get to both teams and force them to play it a little more cautious than they would naturally be inclined to do, especially with all that is at stake.

I believe that both Manuel Pellegrini and Brendan Rodgers will be urging their side to get forward and I think there is the potential for at least four goals to be shared between the sides, something that has happened a fair bit between them in recent matches. Last season saw both games end 2-2, while it has been a more common scoreline when the teams have met at Anfield.

In fact, 3 of the last 5 games between the sides at Anfield have ended 2-2, including the last two times they have played here. At 2.40 being offered, the layers are taking no chances with the expectation of goals, but I still think that is a price worth backing this weekend.

Swansea v Chelsea Pick: There are only five games left for Chelsea to play in the Premier League and they know their chances of winning the title will be reduced hugely if they fail to win in Swansea as they have done in their 3 previous visits to the Liberty Stadium.

All of those games have ended in draws, but Chelsea should be on a high after booking their place in the Champions League Semi Final and they have had enough time to prepare for this game.

Chelsea have been struggling away from home including back to back losses in the Premier League, but Swansea have also been having a tough time and remain in the relegation mix. It would become even more precarious for Swansea if Fulham beat Norwich City on Saturday, but they will probably have enough to steer clear of the bottom three.

At home, Swansea should be able to cause problems, but they have struggled against the top teams in the League and I believe Chelsea will find the victory. Eden Hazard's absence would be a big loss, but Swansea might not have enough to take advantage on current form and I think the away side are worth backing, even with the odds on quotes.

Hull City v Sheffield United Pick: Since Nigel Clough arrived at Sheffield United, there has been a huge upturn in form for the Blades and they can't be under-estimated by Premier League Hull City simply because they have beaten two Premier League teams already in the competition this season.

I expect they will make it very difficult for Hull City, but I am also surprised that the team that is two Divisions higher are a bigger price than, for example, Southampton beating Cardiff City this weekend.

Yes, this game is being played on a neutral ground that should even up the game, but the playing surface at Wembley Stadium should also suit Hull and I expect the width of the pitch should also make it more difficult for Sheffield United to dig in as they are expected to do.

If Hull can forget the expectation that will be on their shoulders, they should pose enough quality to wear down an opponent that has overachieved in the FA Cup this season. Patience might be the order of the day, but the price looks too hard to ignore on a Hull City win and a place in the Final next month.

MY PICKS: Fulham @ 2.20 Coral (1 Unit)
Stoke City @ 2.05 William Hill (2 Units)
Everton Goal Bands- 2/3 Goals @ 2.25 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
West Brom-Tottenham Hotspur Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.92 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Arsenal - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Liverpool-Manchester City Over 3.5 Goals @ 2.38 Stan James (2 Units)
Chelsea @ 1.85 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Hull City @ 1.75 William Hill (2 Units)

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Weekend Football Picks 2014 (April 5-7)

The first week of April is when I have decided to take a short break from the United Kingdom and head over to the United States for stops in New York and New Orleans.

That meant I was a little too busy to get anything going for the Champions League games that took place earlier in the week, although that had a lot to do with not liking any of the games to the extent needed.

This weekend I am going to be travelling to New Orleans, but I have a couple of hours before taking a early morning flight there from New York and that is the time where I have put this post together.

However, time constraints means I cannot put down full thoughts as I have during the season and will simply make my picks from the games to be played this weekend. I have updated the March totals that have taken the season back into a positive after a terrible start to 2014 and hopefully that will be built upon on April.

MY PICKS: Manchester City - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.08 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Norwich City @ 2.45 William Hill (1 Unit)
Chelsea Win to Nil @ 1.90 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Everton @ 2.50 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

March Final26-22, + 13.94 Units (83 Units Staked, + 16.80% Yield)
February Final12-28, - 16.74 Units (61 Units Staked, - 27.44% Yield)
January Final17-24, - 3.18 Units (62 Units Staked, - 5.13% Yield)
December Final19-16-2, + 13.34 Units (66 Units Staked, + 20.21% Yield)
November Final17-19-1, + 0.50 Units (56 Units Staked, + 0.09% Yield)
October Final20-16-1, + 12.94 Units (51 Units Staked, + 25.37% Yield)
September Final13-12, + 1.24 Units (39 Units Staked, + 3.18% Yield)
August Final13-26, - 12.13 Units (54 Units Staked, - 22.46% Yield)

Season 2013/14137-153-3, + 9.91 Units (472 Units Staked, + 2.10% Yield)
Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)