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Saturday, 9 February 2013

Weekend Football Picks (February 9-11)

After the brief break thanks to the international action during the week, we can get back to concentrating on those games that actually mean something as the Premier League gets back underway.

I am sure I am not the only one that thinks international friendlies are the biggest waste of time in the football calender, especially not when players are asked to play the full minutes in games that literally don't mean a thing in the grand scheme of things.

Anyway, as a Manchester United fan, this is a big week as we are almost ready for the start of the Champions League Second Round matches with the big game at Real Madrid just days away. The change in the Everton fixture from a Saturday lunchtime to a Sunday afternoon has infuriated Sir Alex Ferguson as United will have a day less to recover between their game with Everton compared with Real Madrid who play Sevilla on Saturday evening.

The bottom line is that the TV companies dictate the time games are played (ask how many United fans are feeling good about the Reading FA Cup tie being moved to a Monday night?) and there is little thought to 'helping big clubs' and even less in helping fans out who make the game what it is.


Chelsea v Wigan Athletic Pick: Chelsea have been in a terrible rut of form but they haven't been too far away from giving someone a right good going over and that could be the case for Wigan Athletic in this one at Stamford Bridge.

To be fair to Wigan, they have performed well at the Bridge for the most part, although they have taken two absolute pastings here too. The last two seasons have seen them lose by a solitary goal, but they have also lost 8-0 here and 4-0 so it could be another one of those occasions.

While Chelsea haven't been performing that well recently, they are capable on their day and they should be able to win this one by a couple of goals as long as they cut out some of the defensive mistakes that have blighted their recent games.

There is still a lot of attacking talent in the Chelsea squad and I think this will be their day to turn around some of the recent negative vibes.


Stoke City v Reading Pick: Stoke City were being lauded as one of the best defensive sides in Europe around six weeks ago, but all that seems to have disappeared in recent games and this is going to be a tough game for them.

Only Asmir Begovic saved Stoke from a real shelling at Arsenal in their last game, while both Southampton and Wigan Athletic have scored freely at the Brittania Stadium in recent League games. That should give Reading a lot of confidence that they can continue their recent revival and perhaps put some more distance between themselves and the relegation zone.

However, the reason Reading have relied on so many late heroics is because their own defence has hardly been playing at a high level and they will allow teams to create chances against them. Stoke might be conceding goals, but they have also been pretty effective going forward against the sides below them in the table and I imagine they will get on the scoreboard too in this one.

It is a hard game to pick a winner, but I do imagine there will be one and the 2-1 scoreline either way looks the call. Therefore, I'll be picking goals in this one.


Sunderland v Arsenal Pick: Arsenal are the absolute favourites in this game, but that looks remarkably short against a Sunderland team that have at least been playing a little better for the most part in recent weeks.

While Sunderland do remain a pretty unattractive team to watch (exhibit A is the recent game against Swansea at the Stadium of Light), they are proving hard to beat and 3 wins from their last 4 Premier League games at home suggests they'll be hard to be again.

The side have also managed to beat Manchester City in that time so playing Arsenal won't hold too many fears for them, while the last 5 games here between the sides have ended with just 1 Arsenal win.

Arsenal have only won 2 of their last 8 away games in the Premier League, but they have also only lost 3 of those games so the draw looks a big call in this game with a lot of signs pointing that way. Even last season, Arsenal needed an injury time goal to grab the three points and it will be close but the draw looks the most reasonable result to go with in this one.


Southampton v Manchester City Pick: Southampton have really played well since Nigel Adkins was unceremoniously dumped as manager, but the players have responded to the new words of Mauricio Pochettino and it is more than arguable that they have deserved a lot more than the 2 points from a possible 9 they have earned in his time as manager.

The Saints outplayed Everton and Wigan Athletic for long periods in games that ended in draws, while they were more than a little unfortunate to lose 2-1 at Manchester United after a terrific second half performance.

Even with that in mind, they are facing a wounded Manchester City team that will be aware that they need the three points to put a bit of pressure on Manchester United who play on Sunday. The City team had just seemed to have found a defensive groove but they were brutally exposed by Liverpool's movement and they could be under some real pressure in this one too.

However, City did earn clean sheets at Stoke City and Queens Park Rangers in their most recent away games, while they have the best away defensive record in the Premier League and should have just enough to prevent Southampton scoring.

I do expect City to win the game in what could be a close game and it might only take a solitary goal to separate the sides.


Aston Villa v West Ham United Pick: The first live game on Sunday doesn't exactly offer too much to look forward to when you see the teams in action, but I actually think it could be a fairly entertaining game.

Aston Villa have had some real struggles defensively, particularly from set pieces, and that doesn't exactly bode well against a West Ham United team that will look to exploit those problems and certainly have the size to do so. I am expecting West Ham to score at least once from a corner or free kick simply because Villa have shown no signs of getting to grips with this area of their defending and players like Andy Carroll and Winston Reid are going to be a danger.

I don't expect Villa just to lie down though as they have a chance to move out of the bottom three with a win- the bottom of the table is looking like we will see 3 teams relegated from 4 at the moment so Villa need to start picking up points and could come to regret the three points they should have had from Everton last weekend.

The side should have some chances if Christian Benteke is in the same form as last weekend, especially considering West Ham have conceded at least 3 goals in each of their last 3 Premier League away games. This game could easily result in a 2-1 win either way and I think we will see goals in this one.


Manchester United v Everton Pick: There has been a little bit of giddyness developing in some Manchester United fans after Manchester City lost at Southampton, so much so that they are hoping Sir Alex Ferguson rests his entire team in preparation for the game at Real Madrid on Wednesday night.

While SAF has admitted he will make changes, I don't believe at all that it will be wholesale as there is a lot of respect for Everton and the job David Moyes has done at Goodison Park this season. The manager has also not forgotten what happened last season when United blew a 4-2 lead in the final minutes of their game with Everton, a result that is blamed for the failure to win the Premier League title.

However, it is hard to get a read on how to grab an angle on the game considering the team selection is something I would like to see first.

Instead, I think it could be worth backing Wayne Rooney to continue his hot streak and open the scoring in this one- Rooney is a player that the gaffer has admitted needs to keep playing games to stay in shape so I am almost certain that the former Everton player will be given a starting spot in this one.

Rooney has scored 5 goals in his last 5 games for United and he also has 4 goals from his last 3 games at Old Trafford... He has also opened the scoring in 2 of the last 5 United games while continuing that form for England by opening the scoring against Brazil on Wednesday night.


MY PICKS: Chelsea - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Stoke City-Reading Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Sunderland-Arsenal Draw @ 3.75 Boyle Sports (1 Unit)
Manchester City Win to Nil @ 3.00 Coral (1 Unit)
Aston Villa-West Ham United Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Wayne Rooney First Goalscorer @ 5.50 Bet 365 (1 Unit)


February Update: 2-5, - 4.30 Units (12 Units Staked, - 35.9% 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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