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 March 2013
Weekend Football Picks (March 2-4)
Chelsea v West Brom Pick: Rafa Benitez has made himself out to be a laughing stock yet again with another bizarre rant to rival the one he had in his time as Liverpool manager and it is going to be a very interesting atmosphere on Saturday afternoon at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are in for a real fight for a top four berth and they do need the fans on their side, but I do think too much is being made of West Brom getting the last two Chelsea managers sacked and I think the players have a reaction in this one.
Chelsea have usually been far too strong for West Brom and the away side do look a little light up front with both Romelu Lukaku and Shane Long expected to be spectators. Peter Odemwingie is capable, but hasn't played much football recently and I do think Chelsea have a real chance of winning this in a bit of style.
If West Brom play as they did at Anfield last month, I would expect Chelsea to create enough chances to win this game by at least a couple of goals and that is going to be my pick from this game.
Everton v Reading Pick: There isn't really much to say about this game as I think there are some serious signs that Everton are beginning to get a little fatigued with the amount of matches they are getting through with their small squad.
I do think Everton will win this game, but they have rarely made life easy for themselves at home all season and have actually kept 1 clean sheet in their last 13 home games in all competitions. They have really begun to struggle from set pieces and that is one area where Reading have been able to find some success.
It is true that Reading are not the best team on their travels and they haven't scored a lot of goals away from home (only Stoke City and West Ham United have scored fewer away goals), but they have managed to find the net in their last 3 away Premier League games and Everton will give them opportunities to do so here.
Both teams to score looks the best shout from the game.
Manchester United v Norwich City Pick: There is no doubt that the excitement is building at Old Trafford for the second leg of the Champions League tie with Real Madrid on Tuesday night and that is likely to see Sir Alex Ferguson make a number of changes to his side for the visit of Norwich City.
With Norwich struggling on their travels, this could be quite a tight affair- however, Manchester United have scored plenty of goals at home, even when making changes, and I think they will have enough to secure a narrow win and extend the lead to 15 points over Manchester City in search for the Premier League title.
Norwich have only scored 11 away goals in the Premier League all season and their last few visits to Old Trafford have seen the Canaries beaten in a number of low-scoring contests. I am going to stick to the pick that was successful when United played Reading here and back the home side to win in a low-scoring game.
Changes to the first team may make it a little tougher for United to play at their free-flowing best, but a 2-0 or 2-1 scoreline looks the most likely results.
Stoke City v West Ham United Pick: Neither of these teams have been in very good form of late, but I think the Brittania Stadium remains a tough place to come and play your football, especially for a West Ham United team that will be missing the heartbeat of their side in the absence of Kevin Nolan and Mark Noble.
Stoke have won 6 of their 7 games in the Premier League in front of their own fans and meeting a team like West Ham who have only scored 8 away goals all season so far looks to be the perfect tonic to record back to back home wins in the League.
Both teams have a very similar outlook to one another, but the midfield battle looks set to be tilted in favour of the home side and I think they are going to sneak this by a solitary goal.
Backing Stoke City to win either 1-0 or 2-1 gives a combined payout of 4.38 at Bet Victor and that looks the most likely way the home side are going to win this game.
Wigan Athletic v Liverpool Pick: Recent games between Wigan Athletic and Liverpool have been low-scoring affairs with the last 5 at the DW Stadium ending with 2 or fewer goals, but I do feel there is a small interest to be had in this one bucking the trend in a big way.
Both of these teams' respective home/away games in the Premier League have produced a lot of goals and neither team is going to look at this game where they need to 'settle' for a draw. I can see both sides creating chances against the other and a little bit of composure could lead to at least 4 goals scored between them.
5 of Wigan's last 7 home games in the Premier League have ended with at least 4 goals, while 4 of Liverpool's last 6 away games have also ended with that tally. That is a big trend as both teams have managed to score and concede at least 2 goals for fun in recent games.
It looks like it is worth a small interest for at least 4 goals in this one.
Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal Pick: This is a huge game for both of these sides and could go a long way to deciding which of them finishes in the top four and one of the coveted Champions League places.
The North London derby has produced plenty of fireworks over the last few seasons and the way that both sides have defended in recent weeks suggests there will be a few goals in this one too.
5 of the last 6 games between these teams have provided at least 4 goals and I think there is every chance we see the same amount in this one. The likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Theo Walcott are both appealing on the 'anytime scorer' market, but I'll be settling down to watch an exciting game that should be full of goals with both sides likely to get on the front foot to win the game.
Aston Villa v Manchester City Pick: I don't know whether the Manchester City players will be adversely affected by the Manchester United result on Saturday which has sent United 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League and looking very good to take back the title of Champions.
However, City could have come out with a poor performance against Chelsea last Sunday after being in the same situation, but instead put in what was one of their better performances of the season in a comfortable 2-0 win.
I think City are going to be too strong for Aston Villa, a team that had a great weekend without kicking a ball as they watched Reading, Wigan Athletic, Southampton and Newcastle United all lose. Villa have just struggled for goals all season and I think they find it tough in this one to break down a Manchester City team that had looked better away from home before a terrible performance at Southampton three weeks ago.
I know a lot of people will be expecting City to thump Villa here, but I think it may be a little closer than that- however, I do think any basis of a City win will likely come courtesy of a clean sheet so that will be the call for this game.
MY PICKS: Chelsea - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.25 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Everton-Reading Both Teams to Score @ 2.00 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Manchester United to win and under 3.5 goals to be scored in match @ 2.30 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Stoke City to win 1-0 or 2-1 @ 4.38 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Wigan Athletic-Liverpool Over 3.5 Goals @ 2.90 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Tottenham Hotspur-Arsenal Over 3.5 Goals @ 2.80 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Manchester City Win to Nil @ 2.60 Coral (1 Unit)