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Saturday, 7 December 2013

Weekend Football Picks 2013 (December 7-9)

The World Cup draw was made on Friday and you can only imagine the disappointment of England that they ended up in the 'Group of Death' despite the fact that they were not the non-seeded European side that had to be moved out of Pot 4.

I wasn't that impressed with the manner in which the draw is conducted as there isn't the balance in the Groups that you would want to see- a couple of the Groups look far 'easier' thanks to the likes of Switzerland and Colombia being considered first seeds ahead of the Netherlands and Italy. Even with that in mind, there is enough football in the Group Stage that will have the neutrals salivating that I can only see a strong tournament next summer.

For the next six months, the World Cup will move to the back of fans minds as they concentrate on their club football and for some that means trying to pick up enough results this December to achieve their goals in the new year. A lot of things will become clearer at the end of the day on January 1st as teams will begin to find their place in the League, especially in the English Leagues where a lot of football will be played.

Manchester United v Newcastle United Pick: Last season, Manchester United scored a lot of late goals that helped them win games that they had no real right to and this year it seems that the luck has gone the other way.

Manchester United created enough chances in the game against Everton to have won that one, although there are still some vulnerabilities in the United team that could be exploited by Newcastle United in this one.

I am expecting Alan Pardew to rely on the counter-attack as Everton did, while the absence of Wayne Rooney and possibly Robin Van Persie will make life a little easier for the Newcastle defenders in this game.

This is going to be another tough game for the home team as confidence can't be in a good place with the way recent results have gone. Manchester United haven't won any of their 3 Premier League games since supposedly getting back into the title race with a win over Arsenal and they can't afford to drop more points in this one.

Newcastle United won't roll over for them, despite the 3-0 loss at Swansea, and they have enough quality in midfield to give Manchester United problems.

I do think the home team can recover from Wednesday and grab the three points in this one, but it will be tight for sure. Under David Moyes, United have rarely looked like a team that is going to blow others away, and Newcastle are playing well enough to make this very competitive.

United have won 6 Premier League games this season and half of those have come by a single goal margin. I think United just want to get out of this game with the three points and might have another nervy game but they could sneak by with a single goal win in this one.

Liverpool v West Ham United Pick: This looks like one of the more straight-forward picks of the weekend in the Premier League and that is picking Liverpool to win this game by a couple of goals.

Nothing is as it seems though and it has to be remembered that West Ham United have proven to be a stubborn away team for much of the season and won 0-3 at Tottenham Hotspur. However, they have lost their last 2 games and better finishing from Crystal Palace will have seen them score more than the one goal they managed.

Unfortunately for Sam Allardyce, they are running into a Liverpool team that boasts Luis Suarez up front and one that has scored plenty of goals in their recent games at Anfield. This is definitely one of the tougher grounds to play at so far this season and Liverpool can get swarming on teams in front of their own fans.

An early goal would be big trouble for West Ham United in my opinion and I think Liverpool to cover the Asian Handicap is the pick.

Southampton v Manchester City Pick: It seems that the 1-0 loss at Sunderland has angered Manchester City who have won 4 straight games since then and have scored 16 goals in those games. The biggest win may have been the one they recorded at West Brom during the week as there may have been a mental block to overcome from their away games in the Premier League and that result should show how capable they are.

There are still some vulnerabilities at the back that Southampton will feel they can expose, but I can't help feel that this side has hit the wall a little over the last couple of weeks. Three defeats on the bounce and 4 of their last 5 games may have dented some confidence, although I don't think they know how the lost to Aston Villa during the week.

Southampton do press teams, but they won't kick a team off the park and that may play into the hands of Manchester City who have a lot of talent in the final third. While Southampton will cause some problems, I don't doubt that Manchester City will cause plenty of their own with Sergio Aguero, Alvaro Negredo, Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri in excellent form.

I think City will win the game, but their odds have been shortened after the results this Wednesday to the point that they don't look much value. Instead, sticking to City winning the game in which both teams score looks the better option as Southampton have been able to find the net at home and it is very unlikely that the away side doesn't concede at least once in my opinion.

Stoke City v Chelsea Pick: This is an important game for Chelsea to try and pick up the three points and give Arsenal 24 hours to think about the challengers that are building up behind them.

Chelsea looked very good going forward in the win at Sunderland, but looked pretty poor defensively and that has to be a concern for a manager like Jose Mourinho. He will be expecting a much better effort here at Stoke City, particularly as the home team have been struggling for goals all season.

That has been the big problem for Stoke who don't have a lot of options up front and it says a lot that they have won 1 of their last 4 home games even though they have only conceded 1 goal. I think Mark Hughes will look to try and get something out of this game with that defensive shape that has been a staple of this group of Stoke players and they did hold Manchester City scoreless earlier in the campaign.

The lack of goals means Chelsea might only need one to get the three points on the board and you have to believe they have enough quality in the final third to unlock the door in this one. Chelsea to win with a clean sheet looks the best option for the game and will be my call.

West Brom v Norwich City Pick: West Brom have failed to win their last 4 games in the Premier League, but they have had a run of tough games and I think the one positive for the Baggies is that they have scored goals.

That could prove to be the difference for them in this game against Norwich City who have been conceding goals at an alarming rate away from home, although they did battle to a 0-1 win at Stoke City earlier in the season.

Norwich's latest thumping was 5-1 at Liverpool during the week, but Chris Hughton wouldn't have expected to pick up points there even if the performance wasn't what the fans would have wanted. This game is a much more winnable one for the Canaries, but the problems defensively haven't been limited to games against the better teams in the League.

West Brom have now scored at least 2 goals in their last 3 games at home in the Premier League and I can see them hitting that mark again in this one. They have enough in their attacking third to cause problems for Norwich, although I do expect a better effort from the away team too. West Brom have conceded a fair few goals themselves lately so Norwich will feel they can get a result in this one, but their away record is too much of a concern for me.

However, the home win is far too short and instead I will back West Brom to score at least twice in this one at odds against.

MY PICKS: Manchester United Win by One Goal @ 3.75 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Liverpool - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Both Teams to Score and Manchester City to Win @ 3.50 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Chelsea Win to Nil @ 2.50 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
West Brom Over 1.5 Team Goals @ 2.00 Stan James (2 Units)

December Update: 4-1-1, + 6.01 Units (8 Units Staked, + 75.13% Yield)

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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