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Saturday, 4 May 2013

Weekend Football Picks (May 4-6)

The football season enters it's final month in most of the top European Leagues and this weekend is critical for teams fighting for Champions League places, those looking to avoid the drop and also promotion places for the Premier League up for grabs.

It can be a tense time of the season for some of the teams involved, but others may already be looking forward to their Summer holidays and getting ready for next season so it is good to be careful at this time of the season when making any picks.

Fulham v Reading Pick: Fulham have been one of those teams that have perhaps being playing out the string a little too much over the last couple of weeks and that has seen them struggle to score goals and subsequently win games.

However, they get a good chance for some feel good factor at Craven Cottage as they host already relegated Reading on Saturday. There is no doubt that Reading will give a lot of effort in the game, but they don't have a lot of quality in the side and that has seen them struggle this season.

Nigel Adkins would certainly like to grab his first win as manager before the Championship season begins in April, but this looks a tough test for them against a Fulham team that will want to end their season at home on a high. The lack of goals for Fulham has to be a concern, especially at odds on, but I do think they still want to finish in the top half of the table and I do think they will win this game.

Tottenham Hotspur v Southampton Pick: Hugo Lloris has made it clear that Tottenham Hotspur have to win this game if they really want to make the Champions League, especially after dropping two points against Wigan Athletic last weekend. At the start of the weekend, Spurs are only 2 points off a top four place with an extra game to play compared with their rivals Arsenal, but dropping points in this fixture will put a lot of pressure on them to grab a win from the visit to Chelsea during the week.

Spurs can at least point to the fact that they all of their attacking weapons back in the squad for selection and I think they could be playing Southampton at the right time. While they are not mathematically safe, there is a feeling that 39 points will likely be enough for Southampton unless Wigan Athletic and the teams below them all have brilliant runs.

With that in mind, it will be easy for Southampton to perhaps exhale, as they did in their 0-3 loss to West Brom at home last weekend, and that could give Tottenham the impetus to beat them here. I do think Spurs will win and likely by at least a couple of goals to move into fourth spot, even for a couple of hours.

West Brom v Wigan Athletic Pick: Only Roberto Martinez could have been happy in the Wigan Athletic camp when they saw Aston Villa thumping Sunderland 6-1 on Monday night and it is beginning to look like that their time in the Premier League is coming to a close. Wigan are 5 points off the safety positions and although they one extra game to play, they are beginning to get desperate to grab the three points in this one.

It does actually look a decent chance for Wigan to do just that as they have won on 2 of their last 4 visits to the Hawthornes, including last season, and they have created enough chances to have a lot more than the 1 point they earned from their last 3 Premier League games.

With West Brom looking in a strong position to finish in the top half of the table, there is a chance that Wigan could grab the three points here as they will be the more motivated of the teams. Before their 0-3 win at Southampton last weekend, West Brom had failed to win any of 4 Premier League games and had lost 2 of those games, while they have only won 2 of their last 8 at home in all competitions.

If Wigan can take their chances, they have every chance of stealing the three points here and putting some real pressure on the likes of Aston Villa, Sunderland and Newcastle United.

West Ham United v Newcastle United Pick: Newcastle United were awful in their 0-6 home loss to Liverpool last weekend and I am expecting them to put together a much more solid performance this weekend. However, there seems to be some disruption in the locker room and Alan Pardew is certainly feeling the pressure as he takes charge against one of his former clubs.

You also can't underestimate the motivation that Sam Allardyce and Kevin Nolan will have against their former club for West Ham United, while Andy Carroll can show Newcastle United fans what they have been missing since he left the club around eighteen months ago.

West Ham have also been a lot more comfortable at Upton Park throughout the season and have made it very difficult for any side that has visited here regardless of the result. With Newcastle United struggling away from home for most of the season themselves, a small interest in the home team to win this one looks the call.

Queens Park Rangers v Arsenal Pick: Some of the players were laughing and joking as they exited the Majedski Stadium following a draw that consigned Queens Park Rangers to life back in the Championship and it is that attitude that would have irritated the management and the fans of the club. They should be motivated to play Arsenal at home this weekend, but I do think there is a lack of quality in this squad that should be exposed by the Gunners.

Arsenal have won 4 straight away games in all competitions including a 0-2 win at Bayern Munich, and with Queens Park Rangers struggling for goals at home, you have to think Arsenal can win this one with room to spare.

Of course, there is no way of telling how QPR react to being able to play with the freedom that comes with having no pressure on their shoulders, but too many of the players don't have the same love for the club as the fans and may already be thinking about their next club. If Arsenal score early, there is every chance this could be a terrible day in the office for the Rangers fans, and I do think the away side will win with room to spare.

Brighton v Wolves Pick: Brighton don't have to win this game as they are pretty much locked in as the team to finish 4th in the Championship, while Wolves need to win this game to give themselves any chance of avoiding relegation to League One.

However, I think Wolves are resigned to their fate now and I am sure Gus Poyet will not want his Brighton team to lose any momentum going into the Play Offs and I think they will be able to put the final nail in the Wolves' coffin.

Brighton have won plenty of games at the Amex Stadium in recent weeks and I think they will set their tone for the Play Offs with another one here. An early goal for Brighton or either Barnsley or Peterborough United could demoralise the Wolves players and they may just drop their heads enough to give the home team the opportunity to take home the three points.

Hull City v Cardiff City Pick: There is no doubt that Hull City have been choking their promotion chances away in the last couple of weeks and I have a feeling there could yet be more pressure on them by the time this one is completed. Steve Bruce knows his side will be promoted to the Premier League with a win over Champions Cardiff City, but anything less will give Watford the chance to overtake the Tigers on the final day.

Hull do look remarkably short to win this game considering the recent results and performances they have put in, including a disappointing 2-0 loss at Barnsley last weekend. The pressure is all on them to win this game and while Cardiff have nothing to play for, they won't roll over for Hull in this one and certainly have the quality to get a result.

This is going to be a tense day at the KC Stadium and an early goal for Watford in their home game against Leeds United will only increase that tension. I just have a feeling that Hull have already cracked and I think Cardiff will do enough to avoid defeat and leave the home fans with their heads glued to the radio to hear the score at Vicarage Road.

MY PICKS: Fulham @ 1.80 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Tottenham Hotspur - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.35 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Wigan Athletic @ 3.10 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
West Ham United @ 2.30 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Arsenal - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.33 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Brighton @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Cardiff City + 0.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.85 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

April Final10-21, - 9.15 Units (45 Units Staked, - 20.33% 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+ 3.42 Units (396 Units Staked, + 1.63% Yield)

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