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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Midweek Football Picks (January 29-30)

All I have read over the last couple of days is how the 'romance' of the FA Cup is back following a number of surprise results in the Fourth Round over the weekend, but personally I thought it was an absolute nightmare.

For the first time this season when it comes to the football picks, I seemed to be on the wrong end of a number of late goals that screwed a number of picks I had made. It all began with a late Manchester City winner at Stoke City, followed by another late winner for Everton in their game at Bolton Wanderers.

Then Manchester United conceded a goal to a player that averages a goal every 50 appearances in a game the home side dominated- I honestly think Fulham had about two shots all day and still United couldn't keep a clean sheet.

While I had backed against a couple of favourites going through, the teams I did favour all decided to throw in stinkers as Middlesbrough struggled to see off Aldershot Town and both Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur were surprise losers.

Those kicks in the nuts and other results has not helped the cause at all for the month and it just seems to be one of those weeks- hopefully the Premier League games will turn around some of those fortunes during a crowded midweek schedule of games.

Aston Villa v Newcastle United Pick: This is an absolutely huge game for two sides that are sitting just outside the relegation zone in the Premier League and both teams are under real pressure to get results following some big setbacks.

Aston Villa are clearly the big story with defeats against Bradford City and Millwall in the Capital One Cup and FA Cup respectively, while they have failed to win in 6 Premier League games, losing 4 of those. They have actually failed to score in their last 4 home games in the League and that has to be a big concern for Paul Lambert who continues to insist he has no room for a proven goalscorer like Darren Bent.

On the other hand, Newcastle United also suffered a shock FA Cup exit when beaten at Brighton in the Third Round and Alan Pardew's men have now lost 5 of their last 6 games in all competitions. Newcastle have failed to win an away game in all competitions this season, although they did snap a 7 game losing run on their travels with a draw at Norwich City last time out.

Stopping the rot has got to be the first call for both of these sides and it wouldn't be a big surprise if we see the points shared. Newcastle are getting healthier in their squad, but they have a number of players who have just joined the club and may need some time gelling this squad together.

I think the draw is a major player in this one and that is what I'll be recommending.

Queens Park Rangers v Manchester City Pick: Harry Redknapp has made his Queens Park Rangers side a little tougher to play against over the last month and I would ignore the 2-4 loss to the MK Dons as there were a number of changes made to the team. Redknapp essentially said he knew the players were not good enough, but he sent them out there with the belief that they were going to show the rest of the country why they were not being picked for the team.

That probably isn't best for morale, but Redknapp is aware that he doesn't need a massive squad, but just 16 players that he can trust to their best for the club- he is also trying to bring in a number of reinforcements to help out the squad, but this game is going to be about making life difficult for Manchester City.

City have picked up some real form of late and look a lot more like the side that won the Premier League last season rather than the one that has struggled for form and results in the first five months of the season. They have won 4 of their last 5 games away from home in the Premier League and should be a little too good for QPR.

However, I wouldn't be surprised if they have to wait and are pushed all the way in this contest and it looks like a game where they could settle the win by the odd goal. They managed to do that at Stoke City over the weekend in the FA Cup and a similar 0-1 scoreline might be the result today.

Arsenal v Liverpool Pick: Every Liverpool fan I know seem to get over-excited about a couple of positive results, but they were brought back down to earth with a bump as the side were knocked out of the FA Cup at Oldham Athletic over the weekend.

It will be interesting to see how they respond to that setback, although it also has to be noted that Liverpool have not beaten any of the sides above them in the Premier League table.

It won't be much easier for them to break that run against Arsenal, another inconsistent team that haven't been able to string a number of positive results together. Arsenal, like Liverpool, seem to suffer setbacks just when it looks like they are getting going.

The results between the teams here have been close in recent seasons, but I think Arsenal are going to have a little too much for Liverpool in this one and may just pick up the three points in a tight game.

Everton v West Brom Pick: Everton could be a surprise package making the Champions League places this season, but that means they must improve their record at Goodison Park where they have failed to win more than half of their League games this season.

The problem Everton seem to have is that they don't put away teams easily, winning a number of games by the odd goal, while also being a little vulnerable at the back.

West Brom may not be able to take advantage of those vulnerabilities fully as they have just hit the buffers after a really positive start. It will be interesting to see how the squad feels after Peter Odemwingie's attack on the club, but the bigger concern may just be their poor run of form.

The home win is far too short in my opinion, especially considering the way Everton can struggle to finish teams off- however, I do think the home team will win this game by the odd goal in three.

Manchester United v Southampton Pick: Manchester United can't really have got a bigger boost than watching Manchester City fail to win at Loftus Road last night and I expect the squad to come out and put on a big performance against Southampton in this one.

The big guns should be back in action following the weekend win over Fulham in the FA Cup, while it will be interesting how Southampton approach this game.

The Saints have a big game against Wigan Athletic on Saturday and it is conceivable that they are already more focused on that one- at the end of the day, they are more likely to get points from that fixture, a big relegation six pointer, than a game at Old Trafford where United have been dominant this season.

To be fair to Southampton though, they have rarely been flattened in the Premier League this season, but this could be one of those rare occasions and I wouldn't be surprised if United recorded a 3-0 or 4-1 win.

Fulham v West Ham United Pick: Both of these sides have been in terrible form in recent weeks and both Martin Jol and Sam Allardyce are a little concerned that their sides are going to be dragged into a relegation battle, especially with the sides at the bottom beginning to pick up points.

With the way both have been playing, this could be a fairly entertaining game at Craven Cottage- West Ham do have a lack of goals on their travels, but they do create chances and Fulham have been regular scorers as well as failing to keep clean sheets in their home games.

West Ham do have a pretty special record at Craven Cottage, only losing 1 of their last 10 visits to this ground, and I am expecting both sides to push for the win in this game and to keep a nice buffer between themselves and the relegation zone.

The 1-1 draw is in play in this one, but I am liking someone to win the game and so I'll take goals in this one.

Reading v Chelsea Pick: This is an interesting game as the two teams seem to be going in opposite directions with Reading winning 4 in a row, while Chelsea were knocked out of the Capital One Cup Semi Final and then were almost embarrassed by Brentford in the FA Cup.

Reading have also been a tough prospect at the Majedski Stadium this season, but Chelsea seem to play with a little less pressure away from home in the Premier League and have won 4 in a row on their travels.

This match has all the makings of a tight contest, but Reading are a little suspect at the back and I do think Chelsea will find a way to keep the fans off Rafa Benitez' back with a win.

However, it may come by the smallest of margins and that looks the call in this match.

MY PICKS: Aston Villa-Newcastle United Draw @ 3.40 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Manchester City to win by 1 Goal @ 3.75 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Arsenal @ 2.30 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Everton win and 3 or 4 total goals in the match @ 3.40 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Manchester United - 2 Asian Handicap @ 2.25 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Fulham-West Ham United Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.85 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Chelsea to win by 1 Goal @ 3.80 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

January Update8-17, - 7.99 Units (35 Units Staked, - 22.8% Yield)

December Final17-24-1, - 0.83 Units (53 Units Staked, - 0.02 % Yield)
November Final8-21, - 8.25 Units (37 Units Staked, - 22.3% Yield)
October Final9-9, + 5.44 Units (27 Units Staked, 20.1% Yield)
September Final17-11, + 21.19 Units (46 Units Staked, 46.1% Yield)
August Final12-13, + 1.29 Units (40 Units Staked, 3.22% Yield)

Season 2012/13+ 18.84 Units (203 Units Staked, + 9.28 % Yield)

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