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, 2 February 2013
Weekend Football Picks (February 2-3)
January turned out to be a total crappy month, especially the last week of the season when a number of late goals screwed a lot of the picks. Take away the last five minutes of games and the month would have finished in profit thanks to Manchester City, Everton and Reading scoring game changing goals in the final few minutes of games.
Oh well, hopefully a change of month also means a change of fortunes in what has actually been a pretty terrible last three months after all the positives of the first three months of the season.
Queens Park Rangers v Norwich City Pick: It wasn't as productive a January transfer window for Queens Park Rangers as I imagined it would be and late bids for Peter Odemwingie and Peter Crouch fell through. However, the signing of Loic Remy and the return of Bobby Zamora is a boost to the squad, while I do think bringing in Chris Samba to replace Ryan Nelson looks a smart move.
All of that will be a moot point if they don't start picking up points in the Premier League with 4 points separating Rangers from the positions of safety. This is a game they would have absolutely circled as one they have to win if they are to avoid the drop, and I think they are catching Norwich City at just the right time to do so.
Norwich did grab a draw with Tottenham during the week, but they have not been playing well of late and they have lost their last three away games in the Premier League. They are capable of scoring goals, but they face a QPR team that has focused on locking down their opponents in recent games.
It is likely to be a close one, but I can see the home side doing just enough to win, although I am keeping this to a minimum as I don't particularly trust QPR if I am honest.
Arsenal v Stoke City Pick: Arsenal have regularly struggled at the Brittania Stadium in recent seasons, but it has almost always been a different story when they have hosted Stoke City in London and I think this game is going to go the same way.
The Arsenal defence will always give their opponents chances, but the early season form of the Stoke defence, which had some lauding them as the 'best in Europe' has disappeared in recent games and they have been conceding goals for fun.
That has seen Stoke beaten easily at Manchester City and Swansea, while Wigan Athletic came from two down to earn a draw during the week. With the chances that Arsenal can create you have to believe they will score enough goals to win this one fairly comfortably and that is what I'll be looking for on Saturday afternoon.
Arsenal have a real chance to put some considerable pressure on rivals Tottenham in the final Champions League place and I like the home side to win this one by a couple of goals at least.
Reading v Sunderland Pick: I have read in many places that Reading are going to win this game thanks to some of their recent performances, but I am not really a fan of backing teams that have needed to produce a lot of late magic to earn results... As a Manchester United fan, that might sound funny, but I have not been convinced with the way Reading have gone about their business whereas I never think United are out of games.
Why is that? Well, Chelsea should have beaten Reading by a country mile and somehow conceded two goals in the last three minutes to let the Royals escape with a point, while I have no idea how West Brom blew a 0-2 lead to lose with three goals conceded in the last eight minutes.
And I also think people are ruling out Sunderland in this game far too easily, especially considering they have won at Fulham, Southampton and Wigan Athletic this season, three sides that are in the same bracket, or better, than Reading as far as I am concerned. The signing of Danny Graham will give them an additional attacking threat along with Steven Fletcher and I think the side will cause Reading some real problems here.
The game looks like one that could provide at least 3 goals as recent Reading home games have been high-scoring affairs and they clearly can get on the scoresheet as well as struggling defensively. With Sunderland being able to cause problems for those sides below them in the table, the over 2.5 goals looks a better option than trying to pick a winner.
Wigan Athletic v Southampton Pick: Another game that could see a few goals in it is this one at the DW Stadium, although the one concern is that the importance of the game for both teams could lead to a bit of stalemate as neither will want to lose the game.
However, I like the chances of goals after seeing the way Southampton played at Old Trafford during the week and the amount of chances they have created in their last couple of games with Mauricio Pochettino in charge. Those games were against better teams than Wigan Athletic so you have to think they will create opportunities in this one too.
Also, I do believe Wigan are beginning to play much tougher football and they have been much better at scoring goals against the weaker teams in the Division, with 2 scored against both Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in their most recent home games against teams from the bottom half of the table. Wigan also scored twice at Stoke City during the week to pull the draw and both teams will surely want to win the game.
With the way both teams have defended at times, I do believe we will see at least 3 goals in this one.
Fulham v Manchester United Pick: It wasn't a great performance from Manchester United on Wednesday night, but the three points were earned and they now have a chance to extend their lead over Manchester City to ten points in the race for the Premier League title.
Playing Fulham away from home is a much different prospect, so I don't expect this will be as easy for United as it was in the FA Cup at Old Trafford last Saturday tea time, although they did come here and record a 0-5 win last season.
Dimitar Berbatov is a doubt for Fulham and that would be a big concern for them as the Bulgarian really is a pivotal player for them despite only being here since the start of the season. Without his presence, Fulham begin to look a lot more average and I think they are going to struggle to contain United in this one.
However, as I said before, I doubt this is as easy as it was last weekend and I can imagine some nervous moments with the way United have defended at times this season. I think United will win the game, but it could be thanks to an odd goal in three and that is what I'll be looking for.
West Brom v Tottenham Hotspur Pick: The Peter Odemwingie saga has overshadowed anything West Brom have been doing over the last week, but his removal from training on Friday should have at least got them focused for this game as the Baggies look to stop a slump in form that has seen them slipping down the table.
Facing Tottenham Hotspur is not exactly the opposition required to get back to form as Spurs have been decent away from home for the most part this season and their pace on the counter can cause plenty of problems for sides.
However, they are also vulnerable at the back and there will be chances for West Brom in this one as far as I am concerned. The lack of form is a concern, but West Brom may be able to play without some pressure in this one as they will not be the favourites and thus no expectation of them getting a result.
Both teams look like they are capable of scoring goals in this one so the 1.95 on offer for at least 3 goals looks a touch generous to me.
Manchester City v Liverpool Pick: This is a big game for Manchester City who need to close the ten point gap that Manchester United opened up at the top of the Premier League with a win at Fulham on Sunday afternoon. The sale of Mario Balotelli has at least removed a distraction that had been given far too much press coverage, while there is still plenty of attacking talent available to Roberto Mancini.
City should be too strong for a Liverpool side that haven't beaten a side above them in the table and one that is coming off a big effort to hold off Arsenal in their last game on Wednesday night.
Liverpool are capable of causing problems on the counter attack for City, but I can imagine this game following a similar pattern to when they visited Old Trafford earlier last month- in that game, Liverpool were clearly second best for much of the game until a mistake from Manchester United defence gave them an avenue back into the game.
There has definitely been an improvement in form from the City side in recent weeks and only an inspired Julio Cesar prevented them beating Queens Park Rangers last time out. The absence of Vincent Kompany should give the away side a chance, but I like City to win this either 2-1 or 3-1.
MY PICKS: Queens Park Rangers @ 2.10 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Arsenal - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.17 Ladbrokes (3 Units)
Reading-Sunderland Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.05 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Wigan Athletic-Southampton Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.80 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Manchester United Win and 3 or 4 Total Goals in Match @ 3.40 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
West Brom-Tottenham Hotspur Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.95 Coral (2 Units)
Manchester City Win and 3 or 4 Total Goals in Match @ 3.75 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
January Final: 10-22, - 10.89 Units (45 Units Staked, - 24.2% Yield)
December Final: 17-24-1, - 0.83 Units (53 Units Staked, - 0.02 % Yield)
November Final: 8-21, - 8.25 Units (37 Units Staked, - 22.3% Yield)
October Final: 9-9, + 5.44 Units (27 Units Staked, 20.1% Yield)
September Final: 17-11, + 21.19 Units (46 Units Staked, 46.1% Yield)
August Final: 12-13, + 1.29 Units (40 Units Staked, 3.22% Yield)
Season 2012/13: + 7.95 Units (248 Units Staked, + 3.21 % Yield)