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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Midweek Football Picks 2013 (Wednesday 4th December)

This is the start of the most hectic period for English football and by the time we get to the start of the new calendar year, we should have a really good idea as to which teams are going to be chasing the Premier League title and which will be battling against relegation.

I know you can't win the League this side of the new year, but you can certainly lose it and the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United need to start clawing back the deficit to Arsenal at the top of the table.

The month will also see the World Cup draw being made and the draw for the last 16 in the Champions League and the last 32 of the Europa League. Also, my favourite draw of the year in the Third Round of the FA Cup will be made and it should be a hectic month, but one that all football fans in the United Kingdom will enjoy.

Suffice to say, I am not in the group that wants a 'winter break' for the English game, despite that being a major reason for why England haven't performed at international tournaments in the past (guess people just like ignoring the fact that England are crap and not near the elite teams in the international arena).


Arsenal v Hull City Pick: It will be interesting to see what kind of effort Hull City can muster after only enjoying the win over Liverpool for a couple of days. They put in a huge shift to win that game and there could be a few tired legs in the line up on Wednesday, while another concern will be the absence of Curtis Davies.

Steve Bruce has set up Hull to be a difficult out for anyone going against them, but they were crushed at Southampton in their last game and they could be focused on their next two games which are more winnable than this one.

Even with a decent defensive record in the League, it will be tough for Hull City to contain this Arsenal team that have won their last 3 home games fairly comfortably. That becomes even more difficult without the likes of Curtis Davies and Paul McShane and I do think Arsenal will run out comfortable winners on Wednesday.

The home side create plenty of chances and have beaten better teams than Hull City in recent home games. Arsene Wenger will know his side cannot afford to drop points in a game like this with games against Everton, Manchester City and Chelsea to come during the next month and I like Arsenal to win by a few goals.


Liverpool v Norwich City Pick: There is no doubt that Sunday was a terrible day in the office for Liverpool, but I think the critics who think the team will suddenly collapse without Daniel Sturridge are off the mark. I don't think Liverpool are as good away from home as they are at Anfield and I think they can prove that with a win on Wednesday.

There are goals in the side even without Sturridge- Liverpool also showed they can win games during the early part of the season without Luis Suarez and I think they will be able to do the same in reverse.

Liverpool want to finish in the top four and they have to win games like these if those are serious ambitions for the team this season. Norwich City have struggled away from home and have been conceding plenty on their recent travels and they may struggle to contain Liverpool in this one.

The last three games between these teams has seen Liverpool out-score Norwich 13 to 2, while Suarez has 7 of those goals including two hat-tricks. I expect Liverpool are going to bounce back from Sunday and win this game by a couple of goals at least.


Manchester United v Everton Pick: Understandably, the media wanted to know what David Moyes thinks about coming up against his former club, but the manager is probably deep in thought into how he can turn a few of the draws into wins in the coming weeks.

Manchester United have been improving, but they can't afford to spot the teams above them too much more of a lead if they are serious about retaining their Premier League title earned last season.

This is certainly not a game that anyone can overlook as Everton have proved tough and durable all season, while also having the added class in the final third to cause plenty of problems of their own.

It is not often that Manchester United will be as big a price to win at Old Trafford as they are for this game, but that only highlights the threat that Everton will pose.

These types of games are rarely straight-forward and I think Everton will certainly make sure United come out of the game knowing they have been in a real game. I contemplated backing United to win the game, but the value is taking them to win this by a single goal.

Manchester United beat Stoke City and Arsenal by single goal margins, while also doing the same against Real Sociedad. They also led Southampton by a single goal going into the final minutes of a game that eventually ended 1-1 and I don't think Everton will roll over for them in this one.

I do believe that United will have a little too much with the inside knowledge that David Moyes has of a number of players in the away dressing room, so a win by a single goal margin for the home team looks the call.


Sunderland v Chelsea Pick: There has been an improvement in the way Sunderland have been playing lately and they don't look like the side that had lost to Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United earlier in the season. There are still some vulnerabilities about them away from home, but they have shown some resiliency and belief in their games at the Stadium of Light under Gus Poyet.

I can see Sunderland causing Chelsea some problems because the latter haven't convinced that they are consistently going to bring their best game.

They will likely need their best to win this game at Sunderland, but Chelsea have dominated recent visits to the Stadium of Light and they have won a number of high-scoring games here.

Sunderland should get forward and cause some problems, particularly from set pieces and they may score as they have in their last 8 games here this season. However, Chelsea look too strong and the 3.40 the away side win and both teams score is hard to ignore if you look at the results in this fixture over the last 8 years with that pick being a winner 7 times.


Fulham v Tottenham Hotspur Pick: Martin Jol is gone and Fulham will be hoping for a quick response to their predicament that sees them in the bottom three of the Premier League. I do think Fulham are going to be too good to go down, but they need to start proving that on the field, while rumours abound that Dimitar Berbatov is unhappy at the club.

On paper, you wouldn't give Fulham much hope of beating Tottenham Hotspur, but I also think it is ridiculous to have Spurs at short prices to win this game. Tottenham haven't been pulling up any trees on current form and their own manager is under a lot of pressure to start producing results.

Spurs haven't scored enough goals this season and they have struggled to integrate their new signings into the squad, while the loss of Gareth Bale means they don't have a player that is capable of producing an individual moment of magic to help the team win games they have been drawing.

Of course Spurs are the more likely winners of the game, but I am expecting Fulham's players to have a better effort in this one than they have produced in the last month- I believe they may have been fed up of hearing Martin Jol's voice in the dressing room and that the change in management may produce a chance in results.

They are getting a one goal start on the Asian Handicap and I think that is asking a lot for Spurs to cover, while there is every chance Fulham can sneak a draw in this one.


West Brom v Manchester City Pick: West Brom have shown they are capable of mixing with some of the best teams in the League with a win at Old Trafford and only a controversial penalty from also winning at Stamford Bridge. They have held Arsenal here and the only terrible result they have suffered in recent weeks is the 4-1 loss at Liverpool last month.

They will have the confidence to try and expose the vulnerabilities that Manchester City have shown on their travels and I expect the home side to get on the front foot.

However, I also think Manchester City are going to start finding their form away from home with plenty of goals in the side and only a little bit of luck needed to start turning away games into three points.

It has taken some weird collapses for City not to have won at Cardiff, Aston Villa and to avoid defeat at Chelsea, but that can't be something that will continue the rest of the season. The only terrible away performance came at Sunderland, but I think that is the exception for their away games this season.

I expect City will find a way to win this game, but it won't be easy with the way West Brom have played and I think the away side may come through in a game where both teams score.

MY PICKS: Arsenal - 1.75 Asian Handicap @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Liverpool - 1 English Handicap @ 1.73 Stan James (2 Units)
Manchester United Win by One Goal @ 3.75 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Both Teams to Score and Chelsea to Win @ 3.40 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Fulham + 1 Asian Handicap @ 1.90 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Both Teams to Score and Manchester City to Win @ 3.10 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

November Final17-19-1, + 0.50 Units (56 Units Staked, + 0.09% Yield)
October Final20-16-1, + 12.94 Units (51 Units Staked, + 25.37% Yield)
September Final13-12, + 1.24 Units (39 Units Staked, + 3.18% Yield)
August Final13-26, - 12.13 Units (54 Units Staked, - 22.46% Yield)

Season 2013/1463-63-1, + 2.55 Units (200 Units Staked, + 1.28% Yield)
Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

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