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Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (February 8-17)

The English Winter Break is in play for the first time this season and I think it has not gone as well as the Premier League and the top clu...

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (March 7-9)

I was away for a few days which meant I was not able to post a thread here, but Twitter followers would have seen my move from Jack Grealish to James Maddison for the FPL game... A move that didn't work out as well as I would have wanted.

It was still not a bad week, but I will get back to that at the bottom of this post.

Before we get into GW29 of the FPL game I will have my thoughts down for the Weekend Premier League Football, although those are feelings rather than anything more forceful.


Liverpool v Bournemouth Pick: There is no doubt that Liverpool have hit a slightly awkward patch in what has been a strong season for them, and it is going to take a serious turnaround if they are going to at least find some momentum to take into their Champions League Last 16 Second Leg to come.

Losses at Atletico Madrid, Watford and Chelsea would have stung as much for the level of performance as the actual result.

However it should be noted that all have come away from Anfield and this ground is still a fortress for Liverpool even if they had to rely on some big West Ham United mistakes to beat The Hammers 3-2 last time out here. Key players have been rested by Jurgen Klopp for the loss at Chelsea during the week and I expect they will have been itching to get back on the field and make up for the defeat at Vicarage Road last Saturday.

The opponent also looks a good one for Liverpool as Bournemouth continue to look haphazard at the back and have been struggling on the road for much of the last three months. Last weekend Bournemouth almost did enough to beat Chelsea, but the game was at home and they have lost 5 away games in succession while conceding a host of chances in those matches.

Goals have been flowing against Bournemouth too and I do think they could face something of a backlash here. The match up with Liverpool has not been a good one with 5 losses in a row by three or more goal margins, and I do think Liverpool are still playing well enough at Anfield to build some steam behind them.

I can’t completely ignore the form that Liverpool find themselves in, but losing back to back games has been rare for this team and I think they can bounce back with a comfortable win on Saturday afternoon. It is hard to imagine Bournemouth being able to defend well enough to contain the home team and so another big win would not be a surprise in favour of Liverpool.

Score: Liverpool 3-0 Bournemouth


Arsenal v West Ham United Pick: Both of these clubs have shown signs of improvement under new managers at different times, but it may be West Ham United who come into this League game with a little more spring in the step.

A solid performance at Liverpool was followed by a win over Southampton and that has dragged West Ham United out of the bottom three. However you have to be concerned with the amount of goals they continue to ship and now they face an Arsenal team who have looked in decent shape when they go forward.

The bigger issue for Arsenal has also been at the back and making sure they keep the door locked, From set pieces they have been a mess so it would not be a big surprise if David Moyes is able to set something up to give the home team problems to deal with.

Ultimately it feels like an entertaining and goal-filled afternoon is going to develop and that is my feeling from the fixture. Arsenal have scored plenty of goals, but look unlikely to keep a clean sheet, while West Ham United have also struggled at the back.

The level produced at Anfield is encouraging for the visitors, but I think they continue to have problems in conceding too many goals and that is where Arsenal should be able to take advantage. The Gunners have won 4 in a row at home against West Ham United and I think they continue that streak by winning a fixture featuring at least two goals scored on the day.

Score: Arsenal 3-1 West Ham United


Crystal Palace v Watford Pick: If Crystal Palace had not taken maximum points from their last 2 Premier League games they would have been firmly involved in the relegation battle that is developing. Instead they are now likely just a single win away from guaranteeing another season in the top flight, although Roy Hodgson won’t be taking anything for granted.

How could he after seeing the performance Watford produced in their 3-0 hammering of Liverpool last weekend?

Nigel Pearson will hope that gives his team some momentum with four good looking fixtures in front of them. Watford have been much improved under his watch and they have some exciting players that will believe they can win this game having beaten Crystal Palace 3 times last season.

Earlier in this campaign they had to settle for a draw, but Watford won’t be intimidated and they have the pace in the forward areas to cause problems.

Ultimately they have not been at their best at the back and that is where even a goal-shy Crystal Palace team can have some success. Goals have not been the order of the day at Selhurst Park this season, but these teams have tended to match up well with each other and it feels like being the case on Saturday too.

7 of the last 8 between Crystal Palace and Watford at this ground have ended with at least three goals shared out. That may be pushing things a bit, but the 1-1 is a real player and I do think both teams will be looking to get forward and can hurt the other when they do.

Both teams to score looks the play despite the low scores we have seen at this ground this season.

Score: Crystal Palace 1-1 Watford


Sheffield United v Norwich City Pick: Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United all failed to win last weekend while Sheffield United had the time off and that will have given the fans further belief that this could be one of the most memorable seasons in the history of the club.

While no one will be looking too far ahead inside Bramall Lane, you can't help but see there is a real path towards the Champions League places that Sheffield United can perhaps take control of over the next few weeks. They will play the likes of Wolves and Manchester United around them, but those matches will not mean so much if they can't beat Norwich City this weekend.

For all the positives about Chris Wilder and his team, you do have to wonder if they have enough goals in the squad. It is most evident when they have played the 'lesser' clubs in the Division and the likes of Southampton, Newcastle United, Watford and Brighton have all avoided losses here.

West Ham United almost stole a point too before a late VAR intervention, and in all of those five games mentioned Sheffield United have not scored more than one goal.

They might need more to win this game against a Norwich City team who have been creating chances even if they are not as clinical away from Carrow Road as they would like to be. There is a real confidence at the bottom club that they can surprisingly pull away from the bottom three, and Daniel Farke won't lose his principles now which means Norwich City will at least give this a go.

Defensively there remain some major questions that Sheffield United will be looking to have answered and I do think the home team might have just enough. While they are not completely easy to trust with the lack of goals an issue, Sheffield United have beaten Burnley, Bournemouth and Aston Villa here and in all of those games they did find the two goals needed to secure the points.

I will look for them to do that this weekend too.

Score: Sheffield United 2-1 Norwich City


Southampton v Newcastle United Pick: Both Southampton and Newcastle United may look relatively comfortable with ten League games to play, but both Ralph Hasenhuttl and Steve Bruce will be reminding their players how quickly things can change.

Neither team is in great form and the improvements that Bournemouth, Watford and now West Ham United are showing means the 5 points to Newcastle United and 7 points to Southampton is a bridgeable gap.

That makes this a very important game for both teams and I do think there will be chances at both ends.

Newcastle United earned a morale-boosting win at The Hawthorns on Tuesday, but both of these teams look capable of creating chances and struggling defensively at times.

It is particularly the case for Newcastle United away from home and I think it could mean a repeat of the earlier meeting between these teams and at least three goals being shared out. Before the goalless draw last season, that had happened the previous 4 times Southampton had hosted Newcastle United and the defensive performances of the two teams in recent weeks suggest we could see this one go back to that trend.

Tension and fear of a defeat could take some of the effective play out of this fixture, but I can see it ending 2-1 either way and I will back at least three goals to be the outcome of this one.

Score: Southampton 2-1 Newcastle United


Wolves v Brighton Pick: This is a pivotal game at the top and bottom of the Premier League as Wolves continue to chase down a surprise Champions League berth and Brighton look to reverse the slide into the bottom three.

There has been plenty of talk about Manchester United and Chelsea failing to take advantage of the slips each are making, but Wolves have quietly moved into their slipstream. The fixture list looks much kinder to Wolves than United over the next few weeks too and I do think this is a team capable of handling the pressures of Premier League and Europa League Football as they have all season.

A home game with Brighton has to be the kind of fixture Wolves have to take advantage of especially as Manchester United and Chelsea have much tougher looking games this weekend. However it is not always easy to trust Wolves to get the job done as you would imagine.

Newcastle United, Southampton and Burnley have all avoided losses here already this season and Brighton are a team who have been creating chances in recent games despite the 0-1 setback to Crystal Palace last weekend.

Brighton have the character that has seen them come from behind and draw with both West Ham United and Sheffield United in the last couple of away games played in the League, while they are also unbeaten in 5 against Wolves since October 2016.

That has to be respected, but Wolves look to be in good form and scoring plenty of goals. In what could be a surprisingly high-scoring affair, I do think Wolves can edge to a win in a game featuring at least two goals on the day.

Score: Wolves 2-0 Brighton


Burnley v Tottenham Hotspur Pick: The live game on Saturday evening comes from Turf Moor and it is a huge test for Jose Mourinho and his Tottenham Hotspur team who have been in a miserable run of form.

They had lost 3 in a row in all competitions prior to the FA Cup Fifth Round tie against Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur have found themselves dumped out of that on Penalties. Injuries are piling up to the point that Mourinho has suggested he is going to speak to the board and ask them which competition he wants to prioritise this week with a Premier League and Champions League fixture to be played.

After losing 0-1 at home to Leipzig it could be argued the Premier League has to be the priority for Tottenham Hotspur who can close the gap to 4th placed Chelsea by winning twenty-four hours before The Blues are due to kick off against Everton. That makes this game even more important for Spurs to try and regain some lost momentum, but Burnley are anything but a soft touch and especially if the focus is not at 100%.

Tottenham Hotspur will create chances against this Burnley team, but I have little doubt the home team are going to do the same against a team that has just 3 away clean sheets in 20 games played in all competitions (and one of those was at League Two Colchester United). However the other side of the coin shows that Tottenham Hotspur have only failed to score in 4 of those 20 away games and I do think they can cause problems for their hosts too.

Burnley have been in the better form and they have narrowed into the home favourites- winning 4 of 6 Premier League games will do that- and I do think they are the more likely winners on the day.

In saying that I do think the defensive issues have not been underlined as much as they should have been and it may take two goals to win the game. Backing at least three goals to be shared out at odds against is a very appealing price, and 4 of the last 6 between Burnley and Tottenham Hotspur have ended that way.

1-1 is perhaps the most dangerous scoreline, but I can see there being enough chances on the day to see the total goals hitting at least three goals.

Score: Burnley 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur


Chelsea v Everton Pick: The first of the live games to be played on Sunday comes from Stamford Bridge and it may be a big opportunity for Chelsea to pull away from at least Manchester United in the race for the Champions League places.

If Frank Lampard’s men can win, it will put pressure on Manchester United to respond in the derby against Manchester City later in the same day. However it is no guarantee with Chelsea being a little inconsistent as it is and now suffering with a number of key players looking set to miss out.

That will have given Everton a chance anyway, but this is a team in good form and who will take the game to Chelsea.

Under Carlo Ancelotti Everton have been creating chances and they showed that again in the 1-1 draw with Manchester United last weekend. They should have perhaps gotten more out of the 3-2 defeat at Arsenal last month and Everton will certainly believe all the pressure is on their hosts.

A team creating chances like Everton are will be dangerous- but add to that the inconsistency of Chelsea and I can’t help feel they are a touch short here. Everton did beat Chelsea at home already this season and a weaker team earned a result at Stamford Bridge last season.

Being able to back Everton with the start looks very appealing here and I will do that as I look for the underdog to perhaps spring a surprise.

Score: Chelsea 1-1 Everton


Manchester United v Manchester City Pick: In the next few weeks I do think Pep Guardiola will turn his full attention to the Cup competitions Manchester City are involved in as they are closing on a top four finish in the Premier League. At that point they can only await the judgement set out by the CAS in terms of whether they will be playing in the Champions League again next season.

For now there is still motivation to keep the wins being churned out in all competitions which will give the Manchester City squad some momentum. It is a deep squad and that means rotations are being made, but I expect the Manchester derby to earn the full attention of the visitors especially as Manchester United have won 2 of the 3 games between these clubs this season.

The exception did come at Old Trafford where Manchester City ran out 1-3 winners in the League Cup Semi Final First Leg, the foundation for progressing to the Final, and Manchester City have won 4 of the 5 games played at this ground under Guardiola.

However Manchester United are coming into this one in fine form too with a 9 game unbeaten run to protect. They have won 6 of those games including the last 2 at Old Trafford, although it does have to be pointed out that it has been a good portion of the fixture list which has been negotiated and facing their cross city rivals is a different test for them.

Manchester United have looked threatening going forward with the arrival of Bruno Fernandes a real boost, while they have also been pretty effective at the back. Harry Maguire's potential absence is a blow, but I do think Manchester United will be confident regardless and it could be a very good game.

I do think United can have some success playing against this Manchester City defence which has struggled, and they will be even more confident if Kevin De Bruyne is missing. The Belgian is a major creative force and Manchester City have been producing plenty of threatening play in the final third in their wins over Leicester City and Real Madrid away from home.

I'd love to be wrong, but I do think Manchester City will find the win in this one- as well as Manchester United have been playing, they are still a team that looks like they could be vulnerable if Manchester City are at their best. In all of the games played it is Manchester City who have dominated the chance count and I think that is likely to come through for them again.

Sergio Aguero has hit some positive form with goals in the last two games and he has always impressed at Old Trafford. My lean is that Manchester City will win and they can do that in a game featuring two or more goals.

Score: Manchester United 1-2 Manchester City


Leicester City v Aston Villa Pick: Recent form will have made Brendan Rodgers very glad for the long run of wins at the back end of the 2019 calendar year which has given Leicester City some room for error in the race for the Champions League spots.

That room is closing all the time though and Leicester City have to find a way to get back to winning ways after another disappointing Premier League setback at Norwich City last weekend.

At least being at home should give them a real chance to get back on the horse and Leicester City are also going to be benefit from having Jamie Vardy return. This should boost their chances and coupled with the poor run Aston Villa are on it is no surprise the home team are favoured to win this one.

Aston Villa beat Leicester City with a late goal in the League Cup Semi Final Second Leg, but they have lost 4 in a row in all competitions since then and have been conceding far too many goals. Back to back away losses at Bournemouth and Southampton and the kind of performances produced are a massive concern for Dean Smith who saw his team slip to 19th in the Premier League table after results last weekend.

The confidence of beating Leicester City in the League Cup will help, especially as those memories are quite fresh, but this is a tough test for Aston Villa.

Asking relegation threatened clubs to out-score opponents to win games is a hard way to make a living and I do think Leicester City will be too strong. Motivation won't be a problem and the chance to regain complete control of one of the Champions League places on offer in the Premier League should focus the mind too.

The amount of goals conceded by Aston Villa in recent weeks means I will back Leicester City to get back to winning ways in the League and cover the Asian Handicap in the process.

Score: Leicester City 3-1 Aston Villa



Fantasy Football GameWeek 29
*KLAXON* It's time for another DGW!!

Manchester City and Arsenal are both playing twice this week after seeing their Premier League game rescheduled for Wednesday.

Most are going to have at least one player involved, but I would not be surprised if hits have to be taken to bring in a second or third player.

Clouding things is the status of Kevin De Bruyne who was set as a doubt by Pep Guardiola and that has to be a concern for all owners. I am one of those, although it was not enough to make me think removing him from my team was the right play.

Pep Guardiola has taken over from Sir Alex Ferguson in being very difficult to second guess, the new 'Tombola Operator' if you will.

In saying that my decisions were made much easier when the news broke that Alisson had been ruled out- it meant I could bring in a City defender (goalkeeper in this case) which would allow me to have just enough funds to move Roberto Firmino into Sergio Aguero.

Taking a hit is not ideal, but I am comfortable enough doing it in this case even if it is hard to trust Pep Guardiola to resist making wholesale changes between games. However it is a risk worth taking with the way things are shaking up and of course Aguero will be given the Captaincy armband.

Next week I am going to look at potential plans for the chips I have remaining, and that includes holding onto my Triple Captain chip for another week.



My GW29 Team
Ederson- two games this week and needed a definite replacement for an injured Alisson.

Serge Aurier- not sure I think Tottenham Hotspur are a good thing when it comes to clean sheets, but Aurier does produce attacking returns.

Caglar Soyuncu- home game against Aston Villa might see Leicester City turn things around defensively.

Enda Stevens- looks to be passed fit for a Sheffield United home game.

Mohamed Salah- has a good record against Bournemouth.

Kevin De Bruyne- would have been the easy Captain choice if his overall fitness was better going into the weekend.

James Maddison- good fixtures and I do think Leicester City can bounce back.

James Ward-Prowse- home game against Newcastle United and midfielder on set pieces.

Troy Deeney- not an easy game for Watford but Troy Deeney scored and assisted last weekend and will be a threat.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin- a tough away game at Chelsea, but this is a player in the form of his life and can be a threat regardless of fixture.

Sergio Aguero (C)- his record speaks for itself against Manchester United and Arsenal and two goals in two games should mean Aguero is given a chance to play both fixtures.


Bench- Michael McGovern, Adama Traore (injury concern means he might not earn the start), Federico Fernandez, Harry Maguire

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Tennis Picks 2020 (February 25th)

Without a doubt I have just been through the worst week in three years for the Tennis Picks which meant I needed to take a couple of days off to really reset.

It can be a mental strain when you feel like you are having the kind of luck I was last week (four players lost matches in which they won more points which is really is tough to take over the course of a month let alone a few days), while multiple times I can up short by a game here or there.

Things can be frustrating and especially when it has almost completely wiped out the season totals that had been built through the first seven weeks of the season. I have no doubt that the system is still a solid one and I was not chasing anything, but I do hope to see some better fortune in the remainder of this week and going into the short break before Indian Wells and Miami Masters events get going.


But as I have said many times through the good and the bad, the season is a long one and it is all about bouncing back from a setback and looking for a better all around effort. This week we have three really big events being played in Acapulco, Dubai and Doha and there is no reason to want to beat yourself up for one truly horrific week in three seasons. The last time this happened was in Indian Wells in 2017 and it was the kind of week which made me change direction with the selections that paid dividends ever since.

I am not convinced I need to do that yet, but some adjustments should always be made to try and stay ahead of the curve and make sure we have a lot more profits than negative returns from these selections.

I will be looking for a much better week beginning with Tuesday Tennis selections. I will update the season totals on Wednesday when updating this thread with any selections from the tournament being played in Acapulco this week.


Marin Cilic - 2.5 games v Benoit Paire: The First Round continues in Dubai where the ATP Tour have taken over from the WTA Tour and this is an interesting match between Marin Cilic and Benoit Paire. Both players might already have seen their best tennis days behind them, but both have played at a higher level to open the 2020 season compared with how they were performing in 2019.

Of course it is still a long season coming up and there will be some difficult moments, but Marin Cilic and Benoit Paire have to be encouraged by what they have done so far. Neither has had a very good month to be honest, but I do think the overall performances have not been too bad.

There does look to be a slight edge with Marin Cilic in the match having held 88% of his service games on the hard courts compared with Benoit Paire's 82% mark. In recent years the Frenchman has struggled to hold more than 80% of the service games played on this surface and I do think Cilic has the edge on that side of his game.

To double down on it, Cilic has also been the superior return player of the two although we have seen Benoit Paire produce the better numbers in 2020 so far. The two players have won a similar percentage of return points, but Benoit Paire has managed breaks in 22% of return games compared with Marin Cilic's 17% mark.

The numbers have been tighter when Benoit Paire has been facing opponents Ranked in the top 100 and I do think the head to head can come into play in this match too. Marin Cilic has won five of the previous six matches between these players and four of those wins have come on the hard courts including at the Australian Open last month.

It is Marin Cilic who has held 87% of the service games played on the hard courts between these players and that is compared to Benoit Paire being at 73% mark. Even at the Australian Open it was Cilic winning 87% of service games played compared with Paire's 75% number and I do think the Croatian can come out on top in this First Round match with the conditions in Dubai likely to suit him a little more than the flashy Frenchman too.


Hubert Hurkacz - 2.5 games v Alexander Bublik: Only four months separate these two young players on the Tour who are hoping that they are going to be able to make a significant impact over the course of the 2020 season. Hubert Hurkacz has just turned 23 years old and will be joined by Alexander Bublik in June and both are Ranked inside the top 50 in the World Rankings.

Both can point to one run to the Semi Finals on the hard courts already in 2020, although Bublik's run came last week in Marseille where he was downed by eventual Champion Stefanos Tsitsipas. Neither player has really had a consistent season, but both have hit peak career Rankings this month as they prepare to progress on the Tour.

There are very similar numbers being produced by Hubert Hurkacz and Alexander Bublik on the serve with both winning 63% of points behind that shot. At the moment it is Hurkacz who has been able to secure a very slightly higher percentage of games behind serve, but the real difference maker may be on the returning side of the sport where the Pole looks to be significantly stronger.

It is Hurkacz who has been breaking in 22% of return games compared with Bublik who is down at below 16% and that may be where this match is won and lost.

Alexander Bublik's returning numbers take another dent when playing top 50 Ranked opponents, but that has not been the case for Hubert Hurkacz. I do think the latter needs to work out how to get a little more out of his serve against the better players he meets on the Tour, but in general that feels like an area that may be easier to improve than the return like Bublik has to work out.

There also hasn't been a lot of time for Bublik to recover from his exploits in Marseille on Saturday and be able to head over to Dubai and acclimatise here. That may be another factor in this First Round match and I will look for Hubert Hurkacz to win and cover the mark.


Roberto Bautista Agut - 3.5 games v Jan-Lennard Struff: This is only the second tournament Roberto Bautista Agut is playing since the Australian Open and he was disappointed to lose early in Rotterdam this month. He was the better player on the day, but Bautista Agut is going to have to be strong from the off when he begins his campaign in Dubai.

He is the favourite to beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the First Round as the German has lost three matches in a row. We do see Struff at close to his career best World Ranking, but it has been a difficult start to 2020 where he is holding 82% of service games played and broken in 20% of return games.

The draws have not really helped his cause, but Struff can serve very well on his day which will make him dangerous.

Roberto Bautista Agut will feel his own serve can at least put Struff on the back-foot in this one and keep him under some pressure. The Spaniard has held in 86% of service games played on the hard courts in 2019 and that mark has been slightly improved to 87% in 2020 which has allowed Bautista Agut to let his stronger return game take over.

Over the last fourteen months Bautista Agut has broken in 25% of return games played on the hard courts and that is a mark that is significantly stronger than this opponent. It should give Bautista Agut a strong opportunity to win this match and cover the handicap mark, especially when you think of how previous matches have gone between these players.

They haven't met since 2018 so you do have to keep in mind the improvements that Jan-Lennard Struff has made, but Roberto Bautista Agut has won all three previous matches between these two. In those it is Bautista Agut who has held 88% of the service games played compared with Struff's mark of 48% and the Spaniard may be too strong for him here.

I expect Struff to have much better service numbers than he has in previous matches against Bautista Agut, but it still may not be good enough against the in-form top 20 Ranked player.


Iga Swiatek - 2.5 games v Svetlana Kuznetsova: She may remain a pretty strong hard court player, but Svetlana Kuznetsova has been dealing with injuries over the last eighteen months which has limited her time on the court. A dominant win in the First Round will have given the veteran some confidence, but this is a very tough match against an up and coming player on the Tour who looks capable of going as far as she wants.

Iga Swiatek beat Donna Vekic in straight sets in the First Round and at 18 years old she has already cracked the top 50 of the World Rankings. Injuries ended her 2019 season a little early, but Swiatek has returned in 2020 in good form and her numbers over the last twelve months on the hard courts have been impressive.

She has an underrated serve and I do think this is going to be a big part of her game going forward as she develops further. It is a weapon that is well backed by Iga Swiatek's return game and I do think it will put her in a position to win this Second Round match.

I do have to respect the way Svetlana Kuznetsova has been able to perform on this surface and I do think she will have her successes within this match. The Russian still has a strong first serve, but her second serve has been vulnerable in the matches played in 2020 and I do think that is an area in which Iga Swiatek can have her way with Kuznetsova.

Both players have had similar return numbers, but Iga Swiatek has a slight advantage over Svetlana Kuznetsova in that department too and I do think the younger player is going to have the edge in this match. It might go three sets with the tennis that Kuznetsova can produce at times, but Iga Swiatek may still have too much for her and can cover this number.

MY PICKS: Marin Cilic - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Hubert Hurkacz - 2.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Roberto Bautista Agut - 3.5 Games @ 1.72 Bet365 (2 Units)
Iga Swiatek - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
Sofia Kenin - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet365 (2 Units)
Alison Van Uytvanck + 4.5 Games @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Elise Mertens - 4.5 Games @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)

Season 2020: + 0.52 Units (325 Units Staked, + 0% Yield)

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Boxing Picks 2020- Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury 2 (February 22nd)

It has been a long time since we have seen a Heavyweight Fight of the kind of stature as the one we are getting on Saturday night from Las Vegas.

Things always seem to feel that much more important when an American fighter is the 'A Side' of the event, but Tyson Fury is more than just a hyped up European Boxer and he could be the very best of this generation.

Deontay Wilder will have something to say about that and anything like the first fight will set up a potential trilogy this summer in exactly the manner we would want to see.

You can go to my Instagram page to see a video that captured THAT moment in the Twelfth Round and the link to that is here.


Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury 2
This is essentially a 50-50 pick 'em and I can't argue with that at all.

There is a real case that can be made for either Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury to have their hand raised at the end of this rematch, but I think it makes a lot of sense for people to either believe it is going to be a Wilder KO or a Fury Points Decision.

The intrigue has really been built up from the first fight when Fury largely outboxed the American WBC Champion, but it was Wilder's power that scored two Knock Downs and eventually the Draw on the cards. I thought Fury had done enough to win the fight to be honest, but it wasn't a massive surprise when a Split Decision Draw was announced.

A third fight has already been signed off so I don't think we will see that same kind of controversy this time, but it is interesting to hear that Tyson Fury wants to change his tactics as much as he says he does. Some of that is down to mind games and I would not be shocked to see him box and work his way to another Decision, but the weight put on is suggesting Fury has not be making things up.

Deontay Wilder is also a lot heavier as he looks to hold his own in the clinches and perhaps just avoid being sapped by the weightier Fury in those up close and personal moments.

I've always felt that the second time an elite fighter would get to see Tyson Fury they would be much better prepared for what is an amazing style for someone as big as the 'Gypsy King' is. You really can't figure that out when just watching the tape, but I do think Deontay Wilder is going to be better for having had that first fight and the fact he managed to force Fury to hit the canvas twice in the last four Rounds is telling for me.

Of course I do think Fury will be better having been much more active now than when the first fight was signed, and I am not reading too much into the last two performances as he feels like a Boxer who will be better against the better competition faced.

However you can't ignore the 47 stitches he needed after the win over Otto Wallin and I would not be surprised if that is a problem in this one. I would hope it is not the case, but Fury has not given as much time for that to heal as you would want.

A move in trainer and gym clouds things a little more as Tyson Fury says he wants to sit down on his punches and stop the Knock Out artist that is in front of him and it all just makes things as intriguing as you like.

This is going to be a big fight that I am going to enjoy- my gut feeling is that Wilder is going to find an answer in a fight that is either going to be controversial with the Fury cut reopening and seeing the referee/doctor step in, or Tyson Fury will be winning on the cards before Wilder finds the eraser of a punch which has seen him come through battles with Luis Ortiz over the last two years.

Either of those conclusions will at least keep people interested for a trilogy fight too, but I can't recommend either fighter here and instead will have a cold one and enjoy the entire occasion.


There is an undercard in place which is perhaps not as strong as some would have hoped.

Emanuel Navarrete is one of those on the undercard who looks like he could be the best fighter in his Division and will be searching for Unification fights to prove that. He might soon be going up to the Featherweight limit where more big fights would await, but on Saturday he should blow past his opponent without being overly taxed and the layers feel the same.

We will also have a crossroads fight at Heavyweight where Charles Martin, the fighter deposed as IBF Champion by Anthony Joshua, and Gerald Washington look to move back into a contender status. It is Martin who looks the more capable and I think he will win by stoppage against Washington who looks like he is not as confident in taking the big shots as his opponent may be.

I am not sure Charles Martin is as big a puncher as his 24 Knock Outs in 27 wins would suggest, but he has enough pop and I think he could get this done within the first six Rounds.

MY PICKS: Relax and enjoy the main event!

Boxing Picks 2020: 0-2, - 4 Units (4 Units Staked, - 100% Yield)

Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (February 22-24)

It feels like the last Fantasy Football deadline was 'months' ago with the Winter Break meaning the last GameWeek was spread over two weekends.

The week wasn't a bad one, although it was also not a great one and I will have more thoughts about that below. Before that I will have a few thoughts about the Premier League fixtures to be played this weekend.


Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur Pick: Most people will be predicting goals when Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur meet in the early fixture on Saturday afternoon, but there are likely going to be some key attacking players missing for both teams.

Both clubs are coming in off a loss and there is just a point separating them in the Premier League table so this is a very big game for Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur.

Chelsea have had longer to prepare, but Frank Lampard is struggling to find the balance he wants from his team, while Tottenham Hotspur are still being moulded into a shape Jose Mourinho will like to see. It makes it a tough game to predict, but Chelsea as odds on is as baffling as I thought it was when they hosted Manchester United on Monday.

However neither team is creating a lot of chances at the moment which is perhaps not a surprise considering the kind of players missing. It could mean both Lampard and Mourinho are looking to set their teams up to be hard to beat and try and steal something from set pieces or asking for a player to create a moment of magic to separate them on the day.

At odds against I will look for fewer than three goals to be produced with the feeling that one of these teams might actually struggle to hit the back of the net.


Burnley v Bournemouth Pick: Both Burnley and Bournemouth have had some recent successes in the Premier League which will give them some belief, although Bournemouth are coming off a two week break in which they will have been thinking about blowing the lead at Sheffield United.

This is a difficult test for Bournemouth who have not played as well away from home as they have in front of their own fans, although the attacking options that are available to them makes them dangerous. The Cherries have Josh King back and they have been creating chances, although defensively there remain some major concerns that have to be fixed.

Eddie Howe has had two weeks to work on improving the defensive performances of the side, but Burnley have also been creating a few chances. However, the bigger factor for Burnley is they have been clinical in front of goal which means they should be able to punish their visitors.

Teams are still creating chances against Burnley too and 7 of the last 9 between these clubs have finished with both teams scoring. The more recent fixtures have seen Bournemouth fail to score in 2 of the last 3 against Burnley, but with Callum Wilson and Josh King up front they should have opportunities in this fixture too.

Both teams should have enough in the final third to at least hit the back of the net in this fixture and that is the best angle to approach this game.


Crystal Palace v Newcastle United Pick: This is honestly one of the toughest games to call this weekend as neither team can point to a consistent avenue for goals.

At the same time neither has been watertight at the back and it may take a VAR intervention or an unfortunate bounce of the ball to separate them on the day.

Gun to the head I would probably back the draw, but it is a very difficult match to be confident about.


Sheffield United v Brighton Pick: Coming from 0-1 down to beat Bournemouth 2-1 at home two weeks ago was an important result for Sheffield United who have sometimes lacked goals despite their obvious good play into the final third. It is a result that will give the players belief that they can finish this exceptional season with a European place, and some will even be thinking of a potential Champions League spot if the CAS upholds the decision to ban Manchester City from the top competition in European club football.

Chris Wilder is a straight talking kind of manager though and I very much doubt any European prospects are not discussed on the training ground and instead it is all about focus. The Blades have had two weeks to prepare for this game and they will believe any kind of consistent end to the season will bring its own rewards.

The same can be said for Brighton who will have spent time trying to recharge batteries and get ready for the relegation fight that is in front of them. They have not won any in 7 games in all competitions which will put Brighton under pressure, but the points earned against West Ham United and Watford prior to the Winter Break could still be all-important when the final standings are produced in mid-May.

Games like this one are important for Brighton even if anything they earn will be considered a bonus- with twelve games left any against a team that is not called Liverpool or Manchester City have to be seen as ones from which points can be earned.

Brighton have played well at times and they do create chances, but the defence has suffered with the new style of play and Sheffield United can take advantage. For all the praise the home team deserve, they are a team that will offer up chances as they take risks getting forward, and I would not be surprised if this is a fixture that produces three or more goals shared out.

Neither is a team that is scoring a lot of goals, but the 1-1 might only suit Brighton and Sheffield United's attacking instincts could see them rally as they did against Bournemouth two weeks ago. Backing at least three goals to be shared out at odds against looks the play.


Southampton v Aston Villa Pick: This is a very important game for both Southampton and Aston Villa and I have no doubt at all that both managers will send their teams out fully believing this is a winnable fixture.

6 points separate these teams and with twelve League games to play there is no doubting how important the three points on offer can be.

Southampton have had a strong couple of months which has seen them progress up the standings, but recent results and performances have just come off the kind of standard they had been producing. They have not been creating as many chances and that is a problem when coupled with the fact that Southampton continue to look vulnerable at the back.

They will feel they can hurt an Aston Villa team who have not been able to put consistent defensive performances in all season. However it does have to be said that Dean Smith's team have really shown some strong attacking potential of late and in Mbwana Samatta they look to have someone who can lead the line and give the attacking players around him the chance to play off him.

Aston Villa have struggled away from home which can't be ignored, but they have been competitive in recent weeks. They have looked the stronger team in the final third when attacking of late, and I think that gives them a chance against what looks a very short priced Southampton team.

Backing Aston Villa with a full goal start should be enough to at least earn a push, but I would not be stunned if The Villains can earn something here.


Leicester City v Manchester City Pick: All of the talk coming out of Manchester City is that they are positive they are going to overturn the UEFA ban that was handed out last week and will mean two seasons without European competition. Pep Guardiola is trying to make sure his players are focused on the field and he has set out a target of winning the last three competitions they have a realistic chance of winning.

He has also pointed out he wants Manchester City to finish 2nd in the Premier League and a win on Saturday will go a long way to doing that. However you can't deny that the focus has to be on the Cup competitions and Manchester City have a huge game against Real Madrid to come this week which could be a big distraction on the day.

They might be facing Leicester City at the right time though with Brendan Rodgers' team just struggling for consistent results in recent weeks. However The Foxes will be able to put their full power into winning this game and that could see them extend their recent strong run against Manchester City at the King Power Stadium.

Leicester City will look to counter attack and there is no doubt that Manchester City remain vulnerable at the back. The visitors do create chances, but they will offer Leicester City chances and if there are changes made with the Real Madrid tie in mind it may give the home team more of an edge.

I have to be concerned by their record against the top two this season as Leicester City have lost all 3 of those games and two by wide margins. However the situation may just give them a chance in this one and I think Leicester City might have enough in them to earn a positive result so backing them with a start on the Asian Handicap looks to be the play.


Manchester United v Watford Pick: This is a very important game for both Manchester United and Watford who will know they can't afford to keep dropping points as they enter the final quarter of the Premier League season. The home team are still very much hoping to return to the Champions League, while Watford are desperate to avoid the drop and so the three points available on Sunday are very important to both.

Since Watford earned a 1-1 draw at Brighton two weeks ago they have been on their Winter Break while Manchester United have played at Chelsea and Club Brugge. It could mean Watford are fresher, but some teams have struggled with this first time Winter Break and Nigel Pearson will be demanding a big performance from his team.

His arrival has seen Watford's performances improve, but they have not won any of their last 5 games in all competitions. The Hornets have not won any of their last 4 in the Premier League, but they have led in each of the last 3 games and somehow managed to lose two of those.

It will have knocked some of the confidence from the players and I do think that could play a part here. Manchester United will restore some key players, although I am always a touch concerned in backing the home team when you think of how they play against teams who will look to sit in and make things difficult as I imagine Watford will try and do.

However Watford have struggled for clean sheets and they are giving up too many chances for Nigel Pearson's liking. So even a low block defence may not be enough to contain Manchester United who will have Bruno Fernandes back in the line up to produce the creativity that has sometimes been lacking for the home team.

Goals have been a problem for Manchester United too and that is another factor that can't be easily put aside. They have beaten Watford 8 times in a row at Old Trafford though and I do think the match fitness may see the home team being a little sharper on the day and they can find a way to break down this Watford team.

Backing the home team to win a game featuring two or more goals looks the play considering Watford's recent poor performances at the back.


Wolves v Norwich City Pick: After dismissing the challenge of Espanyol on Thursday night, Wolves will be looking to keep another avenue into the Champions League open to themselves by seeing off another club that is bottom in one of the top European Leagues.

This fixture is against Norwich City who have looked overmatched when it comes to the Premier League and who need to find wins sooner rather than later. The Canaries are as healthy in the squad as they have been at any point this season, but they are struggling at both ends of the field and I do think a team like Wolves can expose those issues.

Wolves are not an easy team to back simply because they can be a little lacking in the final third. They are hard to beat, but Wolves don't score a lot of goals even with the 4-0 win over Espanyol in mind and I do think that makes them a hard back at times.

Despite that, I do think Wolves can hurt Norwich City with the attacking players they can call upon.

Norwich City might have their moments if they can play as they did against Newcastle United prior to their Winter Break, but Wolves are a much more solid team all around than Steve Bruce's team. I expect that to show up here and I think backing Wolves to win a game featuring two or more goals has to be the call.


Arsenal v Everton Pick: The home team have picked up a couple of big results this week which has to give them confidence, but Everton are playing well enough to offer a lot more threat than Newcastle United or Olympiacos posed to Arsenal.

Mikel Arteta has made Arsenal tougher to beat which means the layers are about right to have them as favourites, but I would not rule out Everton getting a result here.

Arsenal have not been dominant in front of goal under their new manager and that has led to a lot of draws. They have shown a little more defensive resiliency which makes this a difficult game to predict, while the layers are well on top of the 'Both Teams to Score' and 'Over 2.5 Goals' markets.

Again I would not be surprised if this game ends in a draw, but I don't think there is an angle to recommend here.


Liverpool v West Ham United Pick: There have been a couple of signs that Liverpool are just struggling through the full ninety minutes of fixtures at the moment as they try and maintain the standards they have been setting for the last twelve months.

A battling win at Norwich City was followed by an uninspired defeat at Atletico Madrid, but Liverpool have had almost a full week to prepare for this fixture.

That should help as they look to bounce back and if David Moyes employs the same tactics he did at Manchester City on Wednesday it is going to be a one sided game for much of the evening. Liverpool will be happy if West Ham United sit back as this is not a team who have been that strong at the back and unlikely to prevent chances like Atletico Madrid do.

It will be good preparation for the Second Leg of the Champions League Last 16 tie, but I also think Liverpool will want a reaction to a defeat. They have scored four times in each of the last two West Ham United visits to Anfield and I think the home team will be too good here.

Liverpool have won 9 games in a row here and the last 7 have come with a clean sheet. They have sometimes done just enough to secure the points and backing them to win another fixture with a clean sheet looks a good price at close to odds against and especially if West Ham United are as negative as they were on Wednesday evening at Manchester City.

MY PICKS: Chelsea-Tottenham Hotspur Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.05 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Burnley-Bournemouth Both Teams to Score @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
Sheffield United-Brighton Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.30 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Aston Villa + 1 Asian Handicap @ 1.84 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Leicester City + 1 Asian Handicap @ 1.73 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Manchester United & Over 1.5 Goals @ 2.00 Coral (2 Units)
Wolves & Over 1.5 Goals @ 1.86 Coral (2 Units)
Liverpool Win to Nil @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)

February 2019/208-10, - 3.74 Units (36 Units Staked, - 10.39% Yield)
January 2019/205-12, - 14.66 Units (34 Units Staked, - 43.12% Yield)
December 2019/2016-14, - 0.58 Units (60 Units Staked, - 1% Yield)
November 2019/209-16, - 12.66 Units (50 Units Staked, - 25.32% Yield)
October 2019/2016-14-2, + 6.14 Units (62 Units Staked, + 9.90% Yield)
September 2019/2013-9-1, + 8.82 Units (46 Units Staked, + 19.17% Yield)
August 2019/2014-17-2, - 8.78 Units (64 Units Staked, - 13.72% Yield)




Fantasy Football GameWeek 27
The Winter Break caused problems for managers as the Fourth Round FA Cup Replays were scheduled to be played at a time when some Premier League clubs were supposed to be having the break promised to them.

It was also not ideal for FPL players who have had a long wait between GameWeek 26 and 27 and during that time there have been some key players that have gone down with injuries which could be important to any decisions on transfers that need to be made.

My choices are fairly simple with a couple of members of the squad needing to be moved out, while we have yet to hear about any potential DGWs that are going to be played later this season. Those games won't really come to light until the FA Cup Fifth Round is completed, although I think it should be noted that we may get very late notice for an earlier than expected DGW if Manchester City make it through to the FA Cup Quarter Final.

It would mean Manchester City have potentially three games to make up and there would only be two potential midweeks to come after the March international break if the team continue to progress in the Champions League too. This issue is something to keep in mind, although you would also have to factor in the potential rotation that Pep Guardiola will use in the Premier League down the stretch as they are almost assured of finishing in the top four, but also out of the title race.


My GW27 Team
I might have gotten it slightly wrong in GW26 by removing John Lundstram from my squad considering he came on and scored the winning goal against Bournemouth, but the long-term starting prospects of the cult Fantasy Player means it is the right play for me.

The next player out of the squad is going to be Pablo Fornals who is out of favour with David Moyes at West Ham United. The fixture list for West Ham United was unappealing anyway, but not getting any minutes makes this an easy choice for the Free Transfer I have this week.

My main plan for the rest of the season remains the use of the Free Hit in GW31 and that means I can pick a short-term option for Fornals. The likes of Wolves, Leicester City and Newcastle United have perhaps the most favourable fixture list which includes fixtures in GW28, an important weekend when four of the twenty Premier League teams will not be in action.

The choice I ended up making is picking Adama Traore who is cheaper than Fornals and means I can stick with my plan of upgrading Troy Deeney if I choose to do that next week. I am still toying with the idea of removing Jack Grealish who will be having a blank week, especially with the fixtures Aston Villa have coming up, but the potential make up game with Sheffield United could be played before GW31 if the latter progress in the FA Cup and I think Deeney may be the next player on the way out of the squad.

I will have more on that next week.

Alisson- home game against West Ham United, easy choice even if I had to make one.

Harry Maguire- scored last week to go with a clean sheet for some huge points. Home game against Watford presents a chance for another clean sheet.

Enda Stevens- I think the Sheffield United game against Brighton might be more entertaining than the layers think, but a home clean sheet would not be a massive surprise.

Federico Fernandez- tough away game, but I feel Newcastle United have a better chance of a clean sheet than Serge Aurier and Caglar Soyuncu.

Adama Traore- brought in and has been a revelation for Wolves who look to be entering a favourable stretch in their fixture list.

Mohamed Salah (C)- home game against West Ham United makes the Egyptian an easy choice as Captain.

Kevin De Bruyne- a big game with Real Madrid to come during the week which may see Manchester City rotate the squad, but the Belgian is a key figure for them and should get 60-70 minutes.

Jack Grealish- Aston Villa need their Captain to perform and they are facing a porous defence Southampton bring.

James Ward-Prowse- hasn't produced as many points as I would have liked and Southampton been a little weak in the final third in recent games which makes him a vulnerable member of my squad.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin- an away game at Arsenal is tough on paper, but Everton have been playing well and the young English player has been in great form under Carlo Ancelotti.

Roberto Firmino- hasn't scored a League goal at Anfield in a long time, but as good a chance to snap hat run as he will have when facing West Ham United.


Bench- Michael McGovern, Serge Aurier (tough away game at Stamford Bridge), Troy Deeney (I won't rule out a Watford goal at Old Trafford, but it won't be easy), Caglar Soyuncu (maybe a better chance of a clean sheet than I think considering Manchester City's recent results and upcoming match against Real Madrid, but I like the other two outfield subs a bit more).