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Saturday, 6 April 2013

Weekend Football Picks 2013 (April 6-8)

This is an important weekend for a number of teams in the top flights around Europe, especially the Premier League where some of the issues at the top and bottom of the League will be looking a little clearer at the end of the weekend.

Of course, Sky Sports are probably the most disappointed as they haven't been able to overhype the Manchester derby this week as United maintained their 15 point lead over City last weekend and look in a very strong position to take back the Premier League crown from their local rivals. That doesn't mean that the players and fans of both clubs will not be up for the game and I think it could be a very interesting game on Monday evening.

Before that, the likes of Reading and Queens Park Rangers have huge home games in their fight to survive in the top flight, while Tottenham Hotspur are going to be missing Gareth Bale for the next couple of weeks as they try to hold off the likes of Arsenal and Everton in the race for the top four.

Reading v Southampton Pick: Nigel Adkins would surely have been a little bitter with the way his job was taken from him at Southampton and the new Reading manager has a real chance to earn a measure of revenge by leading his current club to the three points in this game.

It won't be easy for the home side considering they have lost 7 in a row in the Premier League and a defeat in this one would virtually ensure that they are playing in the Championship next season, although only 2 of those losses have come at the Majedski Stadium. Both defeats were disappointing considering they came against Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa, but prior to that Reading had won 3 of 4 home games in the League.

Last weekend, Southampton turned over Chelsea and have also beaten Liverpool and Manchester City at St Mary's in the last couple of months to keep themselves ahead of the relegation zone and they are now as high as 12th in the Premier League, although only 4 points clear of Aston Villa in 18th.

However, the Saints have not been the same on their travels where they have failed to win in 5 games in a row and this is the last chance saloon for Reading. I expect Nigel Adkins to get his troops fired up and I have a sneaky feeling the home side can sneak the three points and give themselves a glimmer of hope of survival.

Stoke City v Aston Villa Pick: Stoke City have been in a miserable run of form since the turn of the New Year and they can thank their early season form that they are not in any more trouble than they are facing at the moment. With just 4 points separating these sides, this is an important game for the home side and one that I can think they win.

It is hard to trust Stoke considering their run of 4 losses in their last 5 games and Aston Villa have certainly been playing with a little more freedom in their away games to suggest there is a chance they can cause a surprise.

However, I just think their young side could be bullied somewhat by the Stoke City players and that may be the difference in the home side winning the game. This will be a tight game, and one where there could be a lot of tension for the home fans considering Manchester United are the next visitors to the Brittania Stadium. While Stoke will be pushed, I do think they are worth a small interest at odds against to win this one.

West Brom v Arsenal Pick: Arsenal look like a side that are very confident in their chances of finishing in the top four and to do so, they have to win games like this.

It won't be an easy task against a West Brom team and I don't really have a real feeling for which of these teams will come away with the three points, although I do think there will be a winner.

West Brom have seen a lot of goals scored in their recent home games, while Arsenal's defence is always liable to give the opposition some chances in games. The recent history between the teams have also seen a fair few goals shared between them and I think there will be at least 3 goals scored in this game.

Liverpool v West Ham United Pick: Surprisingly, despite a terrible start to the season, Liverpool are still with an outside chance of finishing in the top four- Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal have all dropped points at unexpected moments and all three have some tough games to go this season so a late push from Liverpool may just pay dividends.

However, there are currently 8 points between Arsenal in 4th and Liverpool in 7th so games like this have to be won by the home side if they are to give themselves any chance of closing that gap and I am sure Brendan Rodgers expects his team to finish on a bright note this season no matter what they actually are rewarded with.

There is still the motivation of finishing above Everton to keep the Liverpool team focused, and a place in Europe will be expected by the fans so I expect Liverpool to come out and win this game.

Liverpool have certainly been playing better at Anfield in recent weeks and I think they will prove to be too strong for West Ham United in this one. The Hammers are on course to prolong their stay in the Premier League, but they have had their most success at Upton Park and I think they will struggle to contain Liverpool here. Liverpool have been scoring plenty of goals at Anfield and I don't think West Ham will keep up with them and I expect the home side win this by a couple of goals at least.

Newcastle United v Fulham Pick: Newcastle United have suffered three defeats in a row, but all of those have come away from home and they have won 4 of their last 5 games at St James' Park.

I expect they can make it another win on the board in this one against a Fulham team that have notoriously struggled away from home in the Premier League, although one that has been in good form and picked up a 0-1 win at Tottenham Hotspur in their last away game.

They will look to take advantage of any tiredness in the Newcastle squad after their 3-1 loss in Benfica on Thursday night, but Newcastle certainly created enough chances in that game, and others recently, to think they will be avoid relegation. However, they need to pick up a win here to make sure there are enough points between themselves and 18th place in the Premier League and I do believe they will do enough to grab the three points in this one.

Newcastle will have needed to bring in their shooting boots to this game as Fulham are certainly capable of scoring at least one goal, but the Magpies have created enough chances in recent games for me being comfortable taking them to win this one.

Chelsea v Sunderland Pick: Chelsea play their fourth game in nine days, but they have a chance to move back into the top four after booking a place in the FA Cup Semi Final and getting halfway to getting through to the Europa League Semi Final with a 3-1 win over Rubin Kazan on Thursday.

There will be some changes made to the starting line up, and that can make it hard to figure which Chelsea will turn up, but they are facing a Sunderland team that could be a little discouraged after some recent poor results.

The arrival of Paolo Di Canio has brought a storm that Sunderland would not have wanted at this stage of the season with the team tumbling down the table, but the Italian has certainly shown he can invigorate a squad of players from his time at Swindon Town. He will need to do that as injuries are taking their toll on a limited squad and we may not see the best of his work until the following week at Newcastle United rather than here at Chelsea.

I do think Rafa Benitez understands the significance of Chelsea making it back to the Champions League next season with a top four finish and the result against Rubin means he can play a stronger team here than the one that will go to Russia on Thursday.

Chelsea should win the game and I wouldn't be surprised if they keep a clean sheet in the contest too.

Queens Park Rangers v Wigan Athletic Pick: Neither one of these teams are exactly high-scoring, but both defences have been very generous in recent weeks and it would be a surprise if there isn't at least 3 goals in the game.

Queens Park Rangers have to win this game if they have real ambitions of staying in the Premier League and so they will likely be on the front foot as much as possible and that will surely give Wigan Athletic the chance to use the counter attack that has been so effective for them under Roberto Martinez.

The game between the teams at the DW Stadium ended 2-2 earlier this season, while Rangers beat Wigan 3-1 here last season and I wouldn't be surprised if the four goal mark is hit again in the game. However, I will simply take the over 2.5 goals in this one as I feel a 2-1 scoreline either way is very much on the cards in this one.

Manchester United v Manchester City Pick: While there are still some points to go, Manchester United are almost certainly going to win the Premier League this season and that could lead to an open and entertaining second Manchester derby of the season.

Usually games between the top team and second place in April would be tense affairs, but the 15 point gap between the sides means there should be less pressure on both to perform and it could go the way of recent derbies which have produced a lot of goals.

Both teams will want to put a marker down for the next campaign and both teams will want to prove they have the better of the other. I think there is every chance that both teams go on the attack in this one and games at Old Trafford between the rivals have been fairly entertaining affairs.

I won't be surprised if we see at least 4 goals shared in this one and I hope the party will continue long into the night at Old Trafford with a 3-1 United win in the books.

MY PICKS: Reading @ 3.40 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Stoke City @ 2.14 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
West Brom-Arsenal Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.75 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Liverpool - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Newcastle United @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Chelsea Win to Nil @ 2.10 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Queens Park Rangers-Wigan Athletic Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.90 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Manchester United-Manchester City Over 3.5 Goals @ 3.10 Bet Victor (1 Unit)

April Update: 3-5, + 0.05 Units (8 Units Staked, + 0.06% Yield)

March Final16-20, + 7.43 Units (55 Units Staked, + 13.51% Yield)
February Final14-23, - 2.81 Units (48 Units Staked, - 5.85% 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+ 12.57 Units (351 Units Staked, + 3.58% Yield)

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