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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, 23 February 2013

Weekend Football Picks (February 23-25)

It has been a busy week so I didn't have time to put up the picks from the weekend football any earlier thanks to work commitments.

Arsenal v Aston Villa Pick: To say it has been a tough week for Arsenal would be an under-statement, but I do believe Aston Villa provide the perfect opposition for the side to bounce back and get back on the winning trail.

While the trophyless seasons have now likely been extended to 8 with back to back Cup defeats in the last seven days, Arsenal have only lost 2 of their last 11 Premier League games and I think they have enough options up front to cause Aston Villa a lot of problems. Villa have the worst away defence in the Premier League and they will be under pressure in this one.

The biggest concern for Arsenal will be the fact that Aston Villa have drawn 3 Premier League away games in a row since an 8-0 hammering at Stamford Bridge and they seem to play with a little more freedom away from home when there is no expectation on the side.

Paul Lambert will be aware that the pressure is on the home side after their last two performances, but I can't see Villa keeping Arsenal at bay in this one. I just feel the Gunners will be ready and itching to set the record straight somewhat in this one and I think they will win by at least 2 goals.

Norwich City v Everton Pick: Everton must have felt sick when Oldham Athletic scored a late equaliser in the FA Cup Fifth Round at Boundary Park last week, but the draw for the Sixth Round was fairly kind to them and they can get back to the FA Cup Semi Finals with home wins over Oldham and Wigan Athletic.

For now, Everton can get back to concentrating on the Premier League where they are still in with a chance of finishing in the top four and a Champions League place. Currently they are trailing Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur by 7 and 6 points respectively in 3rd and 4th place, but Everton will feel they can really get close by winning this game as those two sides have tough away assignments this weekend.

It won't be easy against a Norwich City side that are tough to beat at Carrow Road and one that doesn't concede a lot of goals. The home side haven't been winning many games recently, and I think Everton are good enough to win here, although their quotes look a little short to me.

Instead, I am recommending dutching the 1-2 Everton win and the 2-2 draw... The most recent Everton wins seem to follow a 1-2 trend and I am keeping the 2-2 on side after what happened to the Toffees last week, but you can get those correct scores together at a decent 6.63 and is worth a small interest.

Queens Park Rangers v Manchester United Pick: Queens Park Rangers were brought back down to earth with a bump in their last Premier League game when they were beaten 4-1 at Swansea and Harry Redknapp knows it is looking increasingly unlikely that his team can avoid the drop barring a remarkable turn in results.

They have been much tougher to beat at home in recent games, drawing 3 in a row here in goalless games including against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City so this certainly won't be an easy game for the League leading Manchester United.

However, the lack of goals in the home side has to be a concern for Redknapp as that wasn't an area they fully rectified in Janaury with Loic Remy missing a few games with injury since signing.

Sir Alex Ferguson will make changes to the side that beat Reading in the FA Cup Fifth Round on Monday night, but he knows the importance of increasing the pressure on Manchester City now and perhaps resting players in later Premier League games if Manchester United do progress in the Champions League.

I can see this being a tight game, but I do feel that United will find a way to break down the QPR resistance, although I do hope Julio Cesar isn't in the inspired form he has shown a few times in the last couple of months. It might be a tight game that follows a similar pattern to the one United played at Fulham recently and I do think United can win this one without conceding a goal.

Manchester City v Chelsea Pick: All the pressure has been shifted onto Manchester City thanks to Manchester United's comfortable 0-2 win at Loftus Road on Saturday and Roberto Mancini's men cannot afford to drop any more points if they are to retain their Premier League title.

It should be a fascinating game between City and Chelsea in the live lunchtime offering, especially as Rafa Benitez and Roberto Mancini are both feeling a lot of pressure when it comes to their respective management jobs.

Chelsea have certainly been a better team on their travels than they have at Stamford Bridge since the Spaniard took over as Interim Head Coach and I do expect them to cause City some problems with the attacking players that Benitez can use.

My issue for Chelsea is that they are conceding far too many goals recently, especially away from home, and I think it will be tough for them to get a result here without scoring at least twice. They are certainly capable of doing that, but the return of Vincent Kompany should settle down a City defence that was abysmal at Southampton two weeks ago.

I am expecting goals in this one and I also think City will be able to edge the win as they have three years in a row now. Twice they have had to win 2-1 and I think that is the most likely score in this one.

Bradford v Swansea Pick: The Capital One Cup Final is being played by a League Two and a Premier League side this season and I am a little surprised that Swansea are priced as 'high' as they are on a neutral field to pull off the win.

I am expecting the bigger Wembley pitch to cause problems for the Bradford players, especially with the way Swansea keep the ball and I think they will wear down their opponents before recording a 2-0 win.

Bradford can certainly pose some problems from set pieces, but I think Swansea will limit their chances to few and far between. I also think the pressure of expectation has to be managed as I am sure the Swansea players are aware that the onus will be on them to win this game and everyone is going to expect them to win the Cup now.

That may make them a little nervous to start off with and take a little more time to break down the Bradford resistance, but I do expect Swansea will eventually be able to do that. With the likes of Michu finding themselves in the right place at the right time, I expect this to be one of the brightest days, if not THE brightest day, in Swansea's history. Taking the Swans to win this one without conceding a goal looks the best call.

Wolves v Cardiff City Pick: Swansea won't be the only South Wales club whose chances I like this weekend, but I also expect Cardiff City to take another big step to playing in the Premier League next season with a win at Wolves.

With the likes of Hull City and Crystal Palace losing and Leicester City failing to win, Cardiff look in a very strong position in the Championship, a position that can be strengthened mightily with a win in this game.

They are facing an extremely out of form Wolves team that are staring back to back relegations in the face and one that hasn't responded to Dean Saunders since he took charge of the club. Cardiff are winning plenty of their recent away games and Wolves have lost a fair few games here in recent weeks and I just feel things are going to get that little bit worse for the home fans this weekend.

Cardiff have to avoid complacency, but I think the losses for their rivals on Saturday will inspire a good performance from them and picking up the three points.

West Ham United v Tottenham Hotspur Pick: This is a big game for Tottenham Hotspur as they look to keep the 4 point buffer between themselves and Arsenal in the race for the Champions League places in the Premier League. Tottenham have seen that lead cut to 1 point thanks to Arsenal's win over Aston Villa on Saturday, but they can extend it back to 4 points and also overtake Chelsea in 3rd spot with a win in this game.

It is important Spurs have some type of momentum heading into their home game in the North London derby next Sunday. They also seem to be picking up some health in the key striking positions with Jermain Defoe expected back in the 16 for this game to aid Emmanuel Adebayor in giving Andre Villas-Boas attacking options.

West Ham United will certainly provide tough opposition as they haven't rolled over for anyone at Upton Park this season and they will be especially dangerous from set pieces. I can definitely see West Ham scoring at least once in this one, and the over 2.5 goals options makes sense with the counter-attacking ability Spurs do have.

Of course, it has to be stated that Spurs' recent away games have not followed the trends of earlier this season when goals didn't seem to be a problem. However, both of these sides should look to get onto the front foot in this one and I do think both will get at least one goal in the live showing.

Hopefully those will come early enough to give both sides motivation to go for a winner and that'll be my take at 1.95 in this one.

MY PICKS: Arsenal - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.85 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Dutch Norwich City 2-2 Everton & Norwich City 1-2 Everton Correct Scores @ 6.63 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Manchester United Win to Nil @ 2.88 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Manchester City to win and over 2.5 goals to be scored in the match @ 3.10 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Swansea Win to Nil @ 2.38 Coral (1 Unit)
Cardiff City @ 2.40 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
West Ham United-Tottenham Hotspur Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)

February Update10-20, - 5.37 Units (39 Units Staked, - 13.78% Yield)

January Final10-22, - 10.89 Units (45 Units Staked, - 24.2% 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+ 7.95 Units (248 Units Staked, + 3.21 % Yield)

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