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Saturday, 14 September 2013

Weekend Football Picks 2013 (September 14-16)

With the latest round of international games behind us, the domestic Leagues will be back in action before the Champions League and Europa League Group Stage begins next week and the next four weeks are an important time for clubs.

That is the time between the last international round of games and the next one and there are a number of games to be played in that time as the Premier League and the Cup competitions really get going. I always think you can begin to get a feel for how a League will develop after 10 games are played, a quarter of the season, and we will almost get to that mark by the time the next round of World Cup Qualifiers come around.

I have written the latest 'United Corner' focusing on Manchester United and the first month of the season and that can be read here.

The transfer window closed at the end of the last round of Premier League games which means there are a few moves made on the final day which will see players making their debuts for their new clubs. That could be very interesting to watch in the coming weeks as managers have to find the right blend with the squads they have put together until January and it will be an exciting time for the fans attending the games too.

It was a tough first month of the season mainly down to the last weekend when anything I expected to happened went the opposite way, but there were a couple of months like that last season too so hopefully I am getting that out of the way. This is the start of a new month and hopefully the games settle down now that the squads are set for the next three months and players should be focused with things on the pitch moving forwards.

Manchester United v Crystal Palace Pick: A disappointing transfer window and a tough start to the new season has made this a more important match for David Moyes to find the winning solution than it perhaps looks like on the face of things.

Manchester United's defeat at Liverpool means they have failed to score in their last two Premier League games, while the media will love to continue pointing out that Moyes has never won a match at Old Trafford, especially if United fail to win this weekend.

The international break will mean Carrington was a lot quieter over the previous two weeks than Crystal Palace would have been and that could cause the home team to perhaps start off a little slower than the fans at Old Trafford may like. The early start won't help, but I expect United to take control of the game in the second half and they should be able to move away from Palace for the win.

Crystal Palace fans will point to their 1-2 win here in the League Cup in 2011, but they had lost 7 in a row at Old Trafford prior to that game and the side are going to do well to keep Nani, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia, Robin Van Persie, Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez quiet. I very much expect United to win this by a couple of goals with the way Crystal Palace have defended at times, and there is every chance the result could be even more comfortable for a United side that will want to kick start their season with another tough match at Manchester City to come next weekend.

Fulham v West Brom Pick: Martin Jol may be feeling his manager seat becoming a little warmer if he can't guide Fulham to wins in the coming weeks. Under the Dutchman's guidance, Fulham have seen the fortress Craven Cottage breached a number of times and they are no longer as tough to play here as they were in the years under Roy Hodgson and Mark Hughes.

Fulham may not have played that well recently, but they have players like Bryan Ruiz, Dimitar Berbatov and Darren Bent in the squad so they do have goals- that may show up against West Brom who are missing Ben Foster and the Baggies have also struggled to open the season.

If the results from the second half of the season were taken alone last season, West Brom would have finished bottom of the Premier League and those struggles have continued at the beginning of this season. Fulham have dominated this fixture in recent times and I think they are worth backing to once again get the better of West Brom.

Stoke City v Manchester City Pick: Mark Hughes has certainly made an impact at Stoke City in his short time as manager of the club and the fans must have been very impressed with the way the Potters passed West Ham United to death in their last League game.

It will be interesting to see if Hughes continues trying to get his team playing football when the bigger clubs in the Premier League face them, particularly at the Brittania Stadium, or whether Stoke will revert to the tactics that have proved so successful in the top flight since they were promoted a few seasons ago.

The first test of that will come against Manchester City who will not want to show the defensive frailties of the first month of the season as they make the short trip to this ground. Manchester City were terrible defensively in their surprise loss to Cardiff City in August and even Hull City created enough chances to perhaps steal a point at the Etihad Stadium ahead of the international break.

Stoke have held City to draws in their last 4 home Premier League games against them and that really puts me off the away win price which looks remarkably short considering how well Stoke played last time out. However, City did win here in the FA Cup last season and they could be good enough to take the 3 points here.

Stoke lost half of their home games against the top six last season and while Hughes will fire them up to give his former club all they can handle, Manchester City may just nick this by a single goal margin.

Sunderland v Arsenal Pick: It does seem that Arsenal are going to be one of the more popular picks of the weekend football as the signing of Mesut Ozil gives them more attacking firepower, although I am mainly opposing Sunderland in this one.

Paolo Di Canio has brought in a lot of new personnel to the Stadium of Light and it is clear that it could take a few weeks for the players to get on board with what the Italian expects of them, although I can't see them avoiding a fight against relegation.

Injuries are also taking a toll and the suspension of John O'Shea leaves them a little short at the back. Sunderland have struggled for goals and how can they keep up with an Arsenal side that comfortably dismissed Fulham at Craven Cottage last month as well as winning in Turkey against Fenerbahce.

There are goals in the Arsenal side and I can't see anything but an away win from this game, even at the horribly short odds that are being offered.

Tottenham Hotspur v Norwich City Pick: The loss of Gareth Bale will certainly be felt by Tottenham Hotspur, even if only for the first few weeks of the season until the new players get accustomed to what is expected of them at their new club.

Spurs have looked a little disjointed at times in their opening three games, but they have won two of those games and that is a positive to take forward, even if the 1-0 loss at Arsenal would have disappointed the fans.

They have to get enough service to Roberto Soldado if they are to take advantage of the Spanish striker's movement and finishing as he does his best work inside the opposition penalty box and Andre Villas-Boas will be hoping the likes of Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela can provide the ammunition and also help fill in for Bale's goals from last year.

I do expect the home side to create chances against Norwich City who were fortunate to pick up four points from home games against Everton and Southampton. The Canaries were disappointing in a 1-0 loss at Hull City and they will give Spurs a chance to put another three points on the board.

I do believe Spurs will win this one by a couple of goals, although they may still be in the settling in period for the new signings and it may be a disjointed match at times.

MY PICKS: Manchester United - 1.75 Asian Handicap @ 1.80 Pinnacle (4 Units)
Fulham @ 2.15 Coral (2 Units)
Manchester City to Win by 1 Goal @ 3.60 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Arsenal @ 1.70 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)

August Final: 13-26, - 12.13 Units (54 Units Staked, - 22.46% Yield)

Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

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