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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, 16 March 2013

Weekend Football Picks (March 16-17)

Everton v Manchester City Pick: It was a hugely disappointing result for Everton last Saturday as they were knocked out of the FA Cup with a whimper by Wigan Athletic. Many fans voiced their discontent and it does seem the small squad is struggling to maintain their level down the stretch.

The ongoing discussions about David Moyes' future is not really helping the squad and injuries have hurt Everton in key positions. All of this doesn't bode well for the visit of Manchester City that have begun playing with the freedom that comes with a 12 point deficit in the Premier League.

City will also be missing some big players including Captain Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero, but there is more depth here and they have been in better form than Everton. The poor performance at Southampton is looking more like a blip at the moment and I think City will come here with confidence that they can close the gap to Manchester United who play later on Saturday evening.

However, I think the best way to follow this game is backing at least 3 goals to be scored- Everton home games in recent weeks have produced a fair few goals and I do think both sides will score at least once in this one.

At slightly shorter than odds against, I do feel goals is the best way to go with this game as Everton will surely improve from last week and City do need to win the game to keep their title chances alive.

Aston Villa v Queens Park Rangers Pick: Another game that could produce a few goals is this relegation six pointer between Aston Villa and Queens Park Rangers, especially with the latter knowing a defeat would likely signal the end of their stay in the top flight.

The one thing to notice about Aston Villa games is that there have been a lot of goals in them and Queens Park Rangers have also found their shooting boots over the last couple of weeks.

Both of the defences do offer up chances and both teams have better talent in the forward positions than they do at the back so it would be a slight surprise to me if we don't see goals in this one.

The only real concern is that nerves take over the game and forces the teams to be a little too cautious to find a winner, but I think both teams know the importance of the three points and will be looking for the win. I can't see that coming without both teams scoring at least once and so goals has to be the call.

Manchester United v Reading Pick: It was an emotional week for all connected with Manchester United last week, but I think the six days of rest will have done them the world of good as they get set to put another three points away in search of the Premier League title.

On the other side of the coin, it has been a turbulent week for Reading as Brian McDermott was sacked as manager and it will be interesting to see where the side go from here. They lost a big relegation battle with Aston Villa at home last week and there is now a 4 point gap between Reading and safety, while the players were very much behind McDermott and could have a negative reaction.

I think Reading will likely make life tougher for United than many would initially imagine, but I think they will also struggle to provide an effective threat in attacking positions. Reading are dangerous from set pieces, but I expect Nemanja Vidic to be back at the heart of the defence and I think United will bring home a routine win.

My opinion is that United win the game with a 2-0, possibly 3-0 scoreline, and so will back the home side to win this one with a clean sheet to boot.

Tottenham Hotspur v Fulham Pick: Tottenham Hotspur just about got through to the last eight of the Europa League on Thursday night, but Gareth Bale will be available for this game and they are a vastly different side with the Welshman in their starting XI.

They need to keep winning their home games in the Premier League if they are to find a way to finish in the top four and a place in the Champions League for next season, and games against the likes of Fulham are certainly games they need to win. Spurs still face some big matches before the season is over so dropping points here will give Arsenal a real chance to finish above their North London rivals yet again, while Chelsea are also showing improvements.

Spurs should be too good for a Fulham side that have been inconsistent away from home, but one that is definitely not as good on their travels as they are at Craven Cottage. Martin Jol would love to get one over on the club that sacked him, but I think Bale will once again prove to be the difference for a Spurs team that have won 11 of their last 13 at White Hart Lane in all competitions.

Injuries in attacking areas have cleared for Tottenham and I think they win this by a couple of goals.

Chelsea v West Ham United Pick: Chelsea have picked up some serious momentum over the last week or so and I think they can go into the international break with the three points from this game. Facing a West Ham United team that have only scored 9 goals away from home in the Premier League all season and one that has lost some games by big margins should result in another home win for Rafa Benitez' men and ease the pressure a little more on the Spanish manager.

I expect West Ham will make life a little tough for Chelsea as Sam Allardyce will send them out and make them hard to beat, but the lack of goals means they will have to be very good from set pieces if they are to find a way to get on the scoreboard.

Personally I think Chelsea have played pretty well over the last couple of games and they have won 5 of their last 6 here in all competitions, while also scoring a fair few goals. I expect a strong team to take to the field at Stamford Bridge and I do think Chelsea win this by a couple of goals at the least.

Wigan Athletic v Newcastle United Pick: The inconsistency shown by Wigan Athletic has been highlighted in the last couple of weeks as they were thumped 0-4 here by Liverpool and then beat Everton 0-3 at Goodison Park in the FA Cup Sixth Round last Saturday.

So which Wigan will turn up this week? That is a tough question to answer, but results for Aston Villa over the last seven days means Wigan have to start winning games too if they are to stay in touch with the sides outside of the relegation zone. The Latics are 18th in the Premier League table and trail Villa by 6 points, albeit with two games in hand including this live one at the DW Stadium.

It won't be easy at all for Wigan as Newcastle United have certainly been playing at a better level since their injuries have begun clearing up and the new signings have fitted in seamlessly since coming in in January. The lack of goals away from home is a concern for Newcastle, especially considering they have lost 6 of their last 7 away games at Wigan.

Goals have been a feature of recent Wigan games, particularly at this stadium, and I think we could see more of the same on Sunday. I am expecting both sides to score at least once in this one and I have a feeling Wigan may sneak the vital three points. Regardless, I am liking at least 3 goals from this game.

Barcelona v Rayo Vallecano Pick: There isn't really a lot to say about this game as I am expecting Barcelona to be too strong for Rayo Vallecano.

However, I think the pick from the game is the home team to win with a clean sheet to boot- they have kept clean sheets in their last two home games and Rayo Vallecano haven't scored too many goals on their travels this season.

Barcelona have also kept 4 clean sheets in a row against Rayo and I can see them making it 5 in a row with another victory to boot from this one.

MY PICKS: Everton-Manchester City Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.90 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Aston Villa-Queens Park Rangers Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Manchester United Win to Nil @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.33 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Chelsea - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.05 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Wigan Athletic-Newcastle United Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Barcelona Win to Nil @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)

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