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Saturday, 12 January 2013

Weekend Football Picks (January 12-13)

Been very late with this thread this week as I have had a lot of work to get through, but these will be the games I play from the action this weekend.

Queens Park Rangers v Tottenham Hotspur Pick: This is the grudge match between Andre Villas-Boas and Harry Redknapp with both seemingly taking shots at the other during the course of the season, although all digs have been subtle for the most part.

While the managers might not get on, the game will be decided by the 22 players on the pitch and I can't help but feel Tottenham Hotspur have the match winners... However, that didn't help Chelsea who were beaten 0-1 by Queens Park Rangers a couple of weeks ago so Spurs have to be wary.

Then again, Tottenham do seem a much freer side when they play away from White Hart Lane as the counter-attack ability of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon can exploit gaps in the home team who are expected to push forward and get in amongst the goals. I expect Spurs to create chances and I still can't get the memory of Liverpool's comprehensive win at Loftus Road out of my mind.

Rangers looked in disarray at the back in that game and Liverpool could have made it much worse than the 0-3 scoreline it finished and I think Spurs will do enough to win this game too. They have the second most away wins in the Premier League this season and have won games at Fulham, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Southampton and Reading so I can see them completing the set against another one of the sides at the bottom of the table.

Instead of playing the odds on card for the away win, I think there is better value picking Tottenham to win the game with at least 3 or 4 goals scored in the match- all of their wins over the bottom clubs would have satisfied that criteria, while QPR have lost 4 of their 5 games at home in the Premier League in the same situation.

Aston Villa v Southampton Pick: Time is seemingly running out for Paul Lambert at Villa Park after their embarrassing 3-1 loss at Bradford in the Capital One Cup Semi Final First Leg on Tuesday night. It isn't just losing to lower League opposition that is piling on the pressure, but the simple fact that Aston Villa are in desperate trouble near the bottom of the Premier League.

That makes this a game a 'must win' for the manager with rumours surrounding his future and the likes of Roberto Di Matteo being linked to the manager job. Lambert has had some successful results and it did seem he was turning a corner for the club around 5 weeks ago, but it has still turned sour.

Going through a run of 3 defeats and conceding 15 goals without reply didn't help, particularly the 0-3 loss to Wigan Athletic. Now they face a Southampton side that is more than capable of scoring goals anywhere and one that will have more 'belief' than their counterparts despite a 1-5 loss in the FA Cup to Chelsea last weekend.

At the end of the day, Southampton have started getting results away from home, beating Queens Park Rangers and drawing at Fulham and Stoke City in their last 4 on their travels. The Saints should have also beaten Stoke when leading 1-3, but they do remain a little vulnerable at the back.

Can Villa exploit these vulnerabilities? They have looked short of confidence up front and have struggled for goals for much of the season and I think the layers are taking a chance by offering Southampton at the big prices they are. It has tempted me too much and I think the value is on the away side in this one so I will have a small interest.

Norwich City v Newcastle United Pick: Both of these sides have taken a number of body blows in recent weeks and that has seen both in the midst of a poor run of form, although I do think Norwich City are in the slightly better position of being able to do something about it this weekend.

Losing to the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City is no disgrace for Norwich, especially not how they pushed the latter, and other losses at West Brom and West Ham United are at least a little understandable. Norwich also beat Peterborough in the FA Cup last weekend so at least aren't coming into this one off a losing run.

The same cannot be said of Newcastle United who have lost 4 in a row in all competitions culminating in that poor effort on the South Coast when beaten 2-0 by Brighton in the FA Cup last weekend. Alan Pardew has mentioned that the squad is beginning to get a little healthier, but it may take Yohan Cabaye a couple of games to get back up to speed, while the sale of Demba Ba does hurt them.

Shola Ameobi is also suspended and I just don't see them scoring enough goals in this one against a Norwich side that had defended well for the most part this season.

My biggest concern is that Norwich come into the game believing a draw is the best way to get off their 4 game losing run in the Premier League, but I think they can create chances and will do just enough to see of Newcastle here at odds against.

Stoke City v Chelsea Pick: Well I guess Sir Alex Ferguson can't be right about everything- Sir Alex insisted that Rafa Benitez was 'lucky' to be able to add a World Club Championship to his CV as well as a chance in the Capital One Cup after the Spaniard took over at Chelsea, but both of those competitions look beyond Benitez' grasp now.

Chelsea have already lost out in the World Club Championship, while a 0-2 loss to Swansea in the First Leg of the Capital One Cup Semi Final at Stamford Bridge puts the Blues in a big hole... I'm pretty sure the Brittania Stadium is the last place they would have wanted to be on Saturday afternoon.

However, Chelsea have shown more toughness on their travels than they have at Stamford Bridge in recent weeks and they are actually riding a 5 game away winning run, which includes ending Everton's unbeaten home record this season.

They will cause problems for Stoke, but I also believe fully that Stoke will cause problems for them and there is every chance that the draw specialists in the Premier League will add another to their list.

Stoke are very tough to play here as shown by the fact that they have held Arsenal (twice), Manchester City (twice), Manchester United, Chelsea all to draws and beaten Everton and Liverpool over the course of 18 months. They have held Chelsea in each of the last 2 Premier League games here at the Brittania and I do think Rafa Benitez would see it as a good point earned rather than two dropped.

All the value is screaming at the draw and that'll be my choice.

Manchester United v Liverpool Pick: The biggest game in English football comes from Old Trafford this week as Manchester United prepare to welcome Liverpool- these two are the most successful clubs and I don't think I am the only United fan that still considers this fixture the most important. Regardless of where Liverpool finish in the League, it remains the first fixture I look for in June when the new season games are released.

The game on the field should be a very interesting one and it is one that I feel Manchester United can go ahead and win as they have dominated the game in recent seasons, particularly at Old Trafford.

I do believe that Liverpool will cause problems for United, particularly for a defence that just hasn't looked right for much of the season, but I also think there are plenty of match winners in the United squad too, no less than Robin Van Persie.

Even in the absence of Wayne Rooney, the Dutchman is fast becoming the main man at Old Trafford and he has the ability to score a goal out of nothing. That could be the difference between the two sides in this one and I think United look a big price to win the game at evens... I was expecting something more along the lines of 1.73 so I'll take United to win this one.

MY PICKS: Tottenham Hotspur Win and 3 or 4 total goals in match @ 3.75 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Southampton @ 3.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Norwich City @ 2.25 Coral (1 Unit)
Stoke City-Chelsea Draw @ 3.50 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Manchester United @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)

January Update: 3-4, + 0.32 Units (9 Units Staked, + 0.36% 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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