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, 20 April 2013
Weekend Football Picks (April 20-22)
It is close enough that it feels like you can reach out and touch it, but Manchester United are not yet in a position to relax when it comes to picking up the Premier League title. I was a little surprised to see Brian Kidd telling the papers that United will still have some 'jittery' moments considering the way Manchester City played against Wigan Athletic on Wednesday night and the fact that unless City keep winning, the title is as good as done anyway.
I know that managers and those in decent coaching positions at clubs will use 'mind games' wherever they can, but it seems a strange moment to talk about United being a little flat considering the poor performance City put in and I think they have the much tougher game this weekend.
There is every chance that United could secure the title at Arsenal next weekend and that could be a special moment for Robin Van Persie in particular... What a way to justify his move to Old Trafford than scoring the goal that wins the Premier League title at his former home in front of former fans?!!
However, I am absolutely sure that Sir Alex Ferguson will not be thinking about anything more than getting his team ready to beat Aston Villa at Old Trafford on Monday night after they came through a bruising encounter at Upton Park with a draw.
It has been a tough month for the picks so far as a little bit of luck has been missing... I don't care how much you research and look into a game before making a decision as it won't matter if the luck isn't quite running the right way and that has been the case for a few of the picks this month. I took a week off to refresh the mind and hopefully that has been enough time to get things going in the right direction over the last couple of weeks of this month.
Fulham v Arsenal Pick: In recent seasons, Craven Cottage has been one of the tougher away grounds for visiting teams especially for the teams at the very top of the Premier League, but that hasn't been the case this season.
Fulham have lost 6 of their 16 home games, but more importantly have lost against 4 of the top 5 that they have faced with Arsenal being the only club in those positions to visit here this season. The 0-3 loss to Chelsea on Wednesday night was certainly not a fair reflection of the game as Fulham had chances to get back into the game at various points and so I am expecting a reaction from them this week.
It is a good thing that they are facing another big game in Arsenal, who are coming in off a disappointing 0-0 draw at home against Everton, and there is a chance that the home team can take advantage of some tired and battered bodies in the Arsenal camp. The Gunners have been surprisingly tough away from the Emirates Stadium and they have a couple of impressive away wins in recent weeks at Swansea and West Brom so visiting Fulham won't be an intimidating fixture for them.
However, Arsenal have only won 1 of their last 4 visits to this part of West London and could see their top four bid dented again with a possible failure to win this game.
Sunderland v Everton Pick: Everton are coming off a tough game at Arsenal where their Champions League chances have been left in a desperate position and now have to travel to the Stadium of Light which has to be buzzing after the 0-3 win Sunderland recorded at Newcastle United last weekend.
The absence of Steven Fletcher and Craig Gardner does limit the attacking force of the home side, but Paolo Di Canio clearly has injected some belief in the squad and I expect them to trouble Everton. For all the fabulous defending Everton did at Arsenal, you have to think there could be some mental lapses of concentration in this one and I think they will find it tough to keep Sunderland out.
Even though Everton have conceded just 2 goals in their last 5 games in the Premier League, most of their clean sheets have come at home and they have actually been involved in games where both teams have scored in 15 of their 20 away games in all competitions this season.
It does seem that could be the case again this weekend and I do think William Hill are taking a chance by offering that at 1.92 in this one.
West Ham United v Wigan Athletic Pick: I thought West Ham United played very well against Manchester United on Wednesday night, while the highlights of Wigan Athletic's trip to Manchester City suggests they were unfortunate not to pick up something from that game.
Both teams will look at this fixture as one where they can pick up three points and games between the two teams have produced a fair few goals in the past. Already this season, they have met twice and there has been a combined 9 goals in those two games, including a 1-4 win for Wigan here in the Capital One Cup.
The last four games at Upton Park between these sides have produced 17 goals and both teams have been scoring a fair few goals in their recent games. Hopefully an early goal goes in to get the ball rolling, but this does look like a fixture where there could be at least 3 goals and that will be the pick.
Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City Pick: Tottenham Hotspur look like they will be back to full strength in an attacking sense for this game and that is very important to them with a few games left to play this season and the top four beginning to pull away from them.
However, they have been very vulnerable at the back in the last few weeks and I do think Manchester City can take advantage of that too. The away side may be missing David Silva and Sergio Aguero for the game, but I expect a more positive performance than the one they had against Wigan Athletic during the week and this is a game that will at least excite the players.
Both teams should want to get forward in this one and I am looking for at least 3 goals in the game.
Liverpool v Chelsea Pick: It has taken a couple of very good goalkeeping performances and some poor finishing to prevent Liverpool still being in a position to perhaps fight for a top four place and their only motivation for the rest of the season is finishing above Everton in the Premier League table.
They should also be up for playing Chelsea, a team that has provided a real rivalry for Liverpool over the last few seasons and one that will be managed by Rafa Benitez, a hero on this part of Merseyside.
However, Liverpool have proved to have had a few defensive problems against the best teams in the League and it is telling that all the sides in the top five that have visited Anfield this season have come away with at least 2 goals. On the other hand, Chelsea are quite vulnerable at the back themselves and I do think the home side will create chances and with a bit more composure in front of goal will surely score goals themselves.
It looks a good day to play football and this could be even more entertaining than the first game on TV and backing at least 4 goals is the call.
Manchester United v Aston Villa Pick: There is going to be a party atmosphere inside Old Trafford on Monday night as a win would make sure the Premier League title is returning to Manchester United after the heartbreak of last season. With Manchester City losing on Sunday, United need just three points to confirm the title and most fans will be expecting that to happen today.
United haven't been in great form in the last couple of weeks, but they have continued doing enough to keep the points churning and I think the happy mood could translate to one of the better performances in recent weeks. While Aston Villa have certainly begun to play better, they are still a young team that could be a touch overawed at a heaving Old Trafford.
However, the pressure is off Villa with the bottom three all losing this weekend and that makes them a dangerous side with nothing to lose. They should be able to cause some problems on the counter attack with the pace they have in the side, but they have regularly struggled at Old Trafford.
With what happened at White Hart Lane yesterday afternoon, you have to think United will come out firing in this one and I can't see them winning the game by less than 2 goals at least.
MY PICKS: Fulham + 0.75 Asian Handicap @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Sunderland-Everton Both to Score @ 1.92 William Hill (2 Units)
West Ham United-Wigan Athletic Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.92 Coral (2 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur-Manchester City Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Liverpool-Chelsea Over 3.5 Goals @ 3.00 William Hill (1 Unit)
Manchester United - 1.75 Asian Handicap @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
April Update: 5-16, - 12.25 Units (28 Units Staked, - 43.75% Yield)
March Final: 16-20, + 7.43 Units (55 Units Staked, + 13.51% Yield)
February Final: 14-23, - 2.81 Units (48 Units Staked, - 5.85% Yield)
January Final: 10-22, - 10.89 Units (45 Units Staked, - 24.2% Yield)
December Final: 17-24-1, - 0.83 Units (53 Units Staked, - 0.02 % Yield)
November Final: 8-21, - 8.25 Units (37 Units Staked, - 22.3% Yield)
October Final: 9-9, + 5.44 Units (27 Units Staked, 20.1% Yield)
September Final: 17-11, + 21.19 Units (46 Units Staked, 46.1% Yield)
August Final: 12-13, + 1.29 Units (40 Units Staked, 3.22% Yield)
Season 2012/13: + 12.57 Units (351 Units Staked, + 3.58% Yield)