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Friday, 28 February 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 28th)

The Semi Final in Dubai that everyone was looking forward to has been set between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic and will definitely make good viewing for those lucky enough to tune in on Friday afternoon.

I've always loved when these two players meet one another because I think there is genuine needle between them, needle that can sometimes come to the surface on the court. You'll hear about the respect they have for one another and I don't dispute that, but they don't like one another and that brings a different dynamic to the court that always makes for fun tennis to watch.

The week has been a very good one for the picks, although I will once again update the weekly total on Friday once the matches in Acapulco are in the books. Those remaining picks from Thursday are played during the night (United Kingdom time) and one winner from the two remaining would make it three straight days with a positive return.

After this weekend, there will be a few days before the tournament in Indian Wells begins and it would be nice to be able to go into that event with the season looking in a much stronger position after a roller-coaster start to the 2014 season.

Any picks from the tournaments in Acapulco and Sao Paulo will be added on Friday once the markets are up for the matches that are being set during Thursday.

Tomas Berdych - 4.5 games v Philipp Kohlschreiber: Credit has to be given to Philipp Kohlschreiber for earning his 300th win on the Tour on Thursday, but he is now playing an opponent who is in great form and who holds an 8-1 head to head record between these two.

Kohlschreiber has had a pretty comfortable route through the draw so far and it's hard to argue against the fact that Tomas Berdych is going present a big step up in level of competition for him.

The Czech player has been serving very well and is playing the big points effectively- Berdych's confidence behind his serve also transfers to his return game and he has been placing pressure on opponents who know one break of serve could prove critical in sets.

He is playing solid tennis and limiting the mistakes he is making and that is where I believe he will be too strong for Kohlschreiber, a player he has dominated as I said above. This is the first time they have played in a couple of years and Kohlschreiber can sometimes put together some lights out serving, but Berdych is playing too well at the moment and I expect him to come through 64, 63 in this first Semi Final.

Roger Federer + 1.5 sets v Novak Djokovic: This is the Semi Final that everyone will be paying some keen attention to as we can really see how effective Roger Federer could potentially be in 2014 and whether he can win another Grand Slam title.

While he isn't the benchmark of men's tennis at the moment (Rafael Nadal takes that mantle), Novak Djokovic is still someone who is likely to be there or thereabouts when it comes to the Grand Slam prizes through the season. Losing out on the Australian Open title will be a real disappointment for Djokovic considering his dominance of that tournament in recent years, so getting back into the titles here in Dubai is important for him.

The layers seem confident in his chances to win this match, mainly because Federer hasn't really served that well so far. However, I expect the Swiss man to raise his game in this one and I think he has the tools to cause problems, particularly the short slice to the Djokovic backhand.

Federer will have to serve well to win the match, but he does match up pretty well against Djokovic as he can be aggressive enough to attack the second serves he will see and look to dictate rallies himself.

There are times when Federer still plays tennis at another level to his rivals and he usually takes advantage of that period to take a set off of Djokovic but has struggled to maintain the level to win the match. He has shown that in his recent matches against Djokovic, who really gets Federer's attention, and I don't think his chances of winning one set should be priced as it is.

Federico Delbonis - 3.5 games v Albert Montanes: This is an interesting Quarter Final between a veteran with a lot of experience and a young player who is beginning to make a regular impact on the Tour.

Albert Montanes has been slipping with his performances over the last twelve months and you have to think the gruelling Tour on the clay courts is perhaps wearing the 34 year old down these days. He will be put under pressure by Federico Delbonis' serve which can supply him some cheap points, while the confidence should be oozing from the Argentine after a come from behind win over Nicolas Almagro in the Second Round.

If Delbonis is serving well, it is going to be very hard for Montanes to really get a foothold in his service games, which also adds the pressure on his own vulnerable serve to keep up in the set.

Montanes will find breaks of serve if he gets as many chances as Almagro did in the Second Round, but I think he will also give up a lot of chances for Delbonis and I like the latter to find a 75, 64 win in this one.

MY PICKS: Tomas Berdych - 4.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Roger Federer + 1.5 Sets @ 2.33 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Federico Delbonis - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 11-5, + 12.10 Units (31 Units Staked, + 39.03% Yield)

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 27th)

I can have absolutely no real complaints with the way the week has gone so far as more winners on Wednesday keeps the profit rolling in the right direction. The final pick of Wednesday was to be played in the early hours of the morning so I will update the weekly update once I finalise the picks from Acapulco and Sao Paulo to be played on Thursday.

The tournament in Dubai looks like it is going to have a fine end to the week with some big matches to be played including the potential Semi Final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic which is scheduled for Friday. Both players have to get through Thursday Quarter Final matches, but both will be big favourites to do that and I am looking forward to the Semi Final between players who have no love lost between them.

It will also give Roger Federer more of an idea as to where he stands in 2014 having been outplayed by Rafael Nadal in Australia and both Federer and Novak Djokovic will appreciate the importance of winning the title in Dubai, even if this is not a Grand Slam tournament.

The confidence it will give the player winning the title heading into the back to back Masters tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami is the immediate benefit, while it should also renew belief for the Grand Slams left this season.

Who would I say this tournament means more to? I would say Roger Federer without a doubt in my mind as he won't want to go the six months it took to win a title in 2013 which seemed to sap some confidence along with the back issues. It will also mean Federer already holds wins over Andy Murray and, most likely if the seedings work as expected, Novak Djokovic already in 2014 and help him settle into the season.

Philipp Kohlschreiber - 5.5 games v Malek Jaziri: You have to give Malek Jaziri the credit for making the Quarter Final here, although he did have to ride his luck in his first match against Igor Sijsling and that his run may have to come to an end on Thursday.

He is playing an opponent that can play some very solid tennis at times, but Philipp Kohlschreiber is also guilty of being erratic in matches where you least expect it.

I still believe fatigue is going to make a difference for Jaziri at some point and Kohlschreiber has the game to put some real pressure on him. The German has been serving well for the most part this week  and I think he will get his chances to break serve which should see him come through comfortably enough.

Kohlschreiber has won his 2 previous matches against Jaziri too and I like him to find a 64, 62 win from this first Quarter Final.

Tomas Berdych win 2-1 v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga reached the Final in Marseille last week and has the benefit of coming through to the Quarter Final without needing to hit a ball in the Second Round. However, he is playing one of the form players on the Tour in Tomas Berdych who barely was pushed in his own Second Round win and will be very confident he will reach the Final in consecutive years if he can win this match.

I am surprised in some ways that the layers feel this is going to be a fairly comfortable win for Berdych as both players can play some very good tennis in patches that can secure sets simply if they are serving up to par.

It is no surprise that so many of their matches have ended up in deciding sets, including the last 3 matches and 5 of 7 overall. All it really takes is either to put together a decent return game and their serves can carry them through the set and I do think both players will take a set each in this one.

However, Berdych is playing the more confident tennis and I think that will keep him in the match mentally even in a decider and I like the Czech player to win this one in three.

Paolo Lorenzi - 2.5 games v Rogerio Dutra Da Silva: Paolo Lorenzi and Rogerio Dutra Da Silva both have a lot more success on the Challenger level than they do on the main Tour, but Lorenzi can at least point to more experience at the top level and that should make the difference in this Second Round match.

The home support should give Da Silva a boost, but he has put a lot of tennis in this week already having won a couple of qualifiers before his surprise win over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

There will likely be a few breaks both ways, but I do believe Lorenzi will just knuckle down when the big points are played and use his added experience of winning matches on the main Tour to lead him through this match and into the Quarter Finals.

Andy Murray - 4.5 games v Gilles Simon: He had to battle hard again to reach the Quarter Finals, but Andy Murray should still be too strong for Gilles Simon in Acapulco in this match.

Murray has dominated the head to head between the players and does everything a little better than the Frenchman, while Simon has also been struggling with his fitness to open 2014. The draw has been kind for Simon here so far and this is going to represent a big step up in class which could be tough to bridge with the form he has displayed over the last two months.

You have to respect the tenacity that Simon shows on the court, but as I said, I believe Murray can do everything a little more effectively.

To cover this spread, Murray has to serve a little better than he has done in the first two matches he has played this week, but I still believe he comes through 75, 63.

Grigor Dimitrov v Ernests Gulbis: These two met in Rotterdam a couple of weeks ago and Ernests Gulbis came through a close match, but I feel Grigor Dimitrov can get a measure of revenge in the Quarter Final between the players.

Gulbis has played a lot of tennis over the last couple of weeks as he took the title in Marseille last week and reached the Semi Final in Rotterdam. Having to fly to Mexico for this tournament is tough and he had to win in three sets against David Goffin.

Fatigue may play a part, but I also feel Gulbis was just too strong when it came to the big points in Rotterdam as he was serving out of a tree that day. If he is even slightly under that serving form, I think Dimitrov will have more chances to get on the front foot in rallies and win this match.

It'll likely be close again, but I look for Dimitrov to beat an in-form opponent in three sets.

MY PICKS: Philipp Kohlschreiber - 5.5 Games @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Tomas Berdych win 2-1 @ 4.00 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Paolo Lorenzi - 2.5 Games @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 4.5 Games @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov @ 2.00 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 8-3, + 9.1 Units (22 Units Staked, + 41.36% Yield)

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 26th)

I am writing this post before the last match of Tuesday night that I picked had been completed and it is already a decent start to the week thanks to the earlier picks going 3-1.

Even with that positive start, it should really have been a clean sweep from the early matches as Igor Sijsling somehow found a loss from his match with Malek Jaziri despite opening with a bagel set and dominating the rest of the match. The Dutchman missed a number of match points too as he ended up on the wrong side of a 06, 64, 76 loss in the First Round and I am never a fan of picks leaving a win out there.

At the end of the day, a profit is a profit so I can't be too downbeat and will be looking for things to continue trending in a positive direction as we move on to the middle of the week. The ATP tournament in Dubai ends on Saturday which means there is a lot of tennis to be played there as they get through the Second Round in one day, while I will have to update any picks from Sao Paulo and Acapulco during the day.

I will also update the weekly total at that point once the remaining match is completed from the Acapulco tournament.

Tomas Berdych - 5.5 games v Sergiy Stakhovsky: If you were to go by Twitter, you would think these two players are friendly with one another off the court, but I still don't see that taking the edge off the in-form Tomas Berdych in the Second Round match.

With Juan Martin Del Potro retiring from the tournament, Tomas Berdych will be the favourite to at least return to the Final he made it twelve months ago and he has been in very decent nick to open 2014 to think he will get through this match.

Berdych has not just been serving well, but he is returning serve with real effect and I think he will produce enough pressure on Sergiy Stakhovsky to find a couple of breaks in one set. I will say one thing in that Stakhovsky can build a nice rhythm on serve, but he had to come through a long match on Tuesday and fatigue could play a part both mentally and physically if Berdych brings his game of recent weeks to the court.

As long as he doesn't drop serve with a poor game, Berdych should prove too good and come through 62, 64.

Roger Federer - 5.5 games v Radek Stepanek: It has been an impressive start to the 2014 season from Roger Federer which will have excited his fans and he made a fast start to the tournament in Dubai with a comfortable win over Benjamin Becker.

I would expect Radek Stepanek to offer a different challenge and the Czech player can regularly be a thorn in the side of opponents.

He hits the ball a little flatter than most, especially off the forehand, while Stepanek will employ serve and volley tactics when under pressure or on big points. He is comfortable at the net and Stepanek is also quite unique with his behaviour on the court as well as the variations in the shots he uses.

However, he is unlikely to fluster Federer who has played him 15 times on the Tour and will be expecting some antics on the court. I also feel Federer is feeling a little more comfortable with the new racquet he is using and continuing to serve as well as he has been to open the season should help Federer ease to a 63, 63 win.

Nicolas Almagro - 4.5 games v Federico Delbonis: Nicolas Almagro has beaten Federico Delbonis in each of the last two years in Buenos Aires, but there is no doubt the young Argentine is getting closer in being able to make this a competitive match.

Almagro has returned from a lay-off and played some decent tennis over the last couple of weeks, although he is not as solid as he usually is on the clay courts which will give his opponent a chance in this one.

That will especially be the case if Delbonis is serving well, but I still believe there are issues with his fitness that have been exposed in the last couple of weeks. It is a tough Tour on the clay courts where the rallies are extended and you have to feel Delbonis is still settling into his body and getting used to pushing himself as much as he is on the ATP main Tour.

The level is higher and I think a tight first set may end up being followed by a more straight-forward second for Almagro and help him move through 76, 62.

Tommy Haas - 3.5 games v Potito Starace: There is a chance I will regret this pick considering Tommy Haas is coming off the hard courts to play this single clay court tournament before returning to the United States for Masters events at Indian Wells and Miami.

The more realistic scheduling may have seen the veteran take the courts in Acapulco so there is a real part of me that is questioning his motivation and determination to do well here in Sao Paulo.

However, I think Haas is still being a tad under-rated against Potito Starace who is no longer a regular competitor on the main Tour but has been playing Challenger tournaments. He has come through the qualifiers here, but Starace was always hindered by a serve that is attackable and I think that will be the problem for him this week.

A motivated Haas would clearly be too good for Starace, even on the clay courts, and I still have faith he can come through this match with a 64, 64 win.

Ivo Karlovic win 2-0 v Dudi Sela: Ivo Karlovic played the big points well in his First Round win over John Isner and the man that reached the Final in Memphis recently could go deep in the draw this week too.

He has dominated the head to head against Dudi Sela in the past mainly because the Israeli player has struggled to get to grips with the huge serve that Karlovic possesses.

The height difference between the men makes it tough for Sela to make enough effective returns, while his own serve can offer up some chances to break serve and help Karlovic get over the line in this one.

Karlovic has been serving very well of late and has won 10 of 11 previous sets against Sela, although they are 1-1 when it comes to tie-breaks competed, but I do think Karlovic wins 76, 63.

Andy Murray - 5.5 games v Joao Sousa: Andy Murray had to come from a set behind to beat Pablo Andujar in the First Round and has also made a note of the humid temperatures in Mexico having normally made a stop in Dubai at this time of the season.

I think the first match would have really helped in giving Murray an idea of the conditions in Acapulco and I expect him to be far too strong for Joao Sousa in this Second Round match.

Sousa doesn't have the serve that will help him pick up cheap points against someone who can return as effectively as Murray and I think that is an area where the Portuguese player will have a hard time competing in the match.

It was no surprise that Murray dismissed Sousa's challenge so effectively in Australia last year and I expect him to similarly get over the challenge at this event too with a 62, 64 win not out of the question.

MY PICKS: Tomas Berdych - 5.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Roger Federer - 5.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Nicolas Almagro - 4.5 Games @ 2.25 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Tommy Haas - 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Ivo Karlovic win 2-0 @ 2.50 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Andy Murray - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 4-1, + 4.46 Units (10 Units Staked, + 44.6% Yield)

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Midweek Football Picks 2014 (February 25-27)

Last week saw all four away teams in the Champions League win the first leg of their Last 16 ties and you would arguably say that all four of those ties are effectively over as contests.

It would now take something special for Manchester City and Arsenal to turn around 0-2 deficits at the homes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively, while Bayer Leverkusen have an even bigger task from their 0-4 home loss against Paris Saint-Germain.

In past years, Milan's 0-1 home loss would not have meant curtains for them, but this is far from a vintage crop of players and the club are unlikely to beat Atletico Madrid in Spain with the latter one of the dark horses to win the whole competition.

So what are the chances of the remaining four Last 16 ties going the same way? All of the away teams are favourites to win again this week, but I think it will be a big ask for all of them to win, especially the three games not involving Real Madrid.

The Europa League will also set their Last 16 ties this week and most of the second legs are up for grabs following close matches last week. It is a competition that is much harder to get a read on simply because you can't always predict the changes made by managers and the Europa League is clearly not high on everyone's priority list.

That will change as the teams are filtered away through the Rounds, but that was the main reason I steered clear last week.

February has just been plain horrible for the picks I have made and have ruined what was a decent season to this point. Things are not going to plan when you account for late goals, players being guilty of missing absolute sitters (the worst example was Edin Dzeko's miss at the weekend), or teams playing comically when least expected.

It happens, but it doesn't make it less frustrating when all these things seem to be occurring within the same time period and really putting a few doubts in the head.

The month is already gone in terms of a win-loss record, but hopefully the last few days can see a change in fortunes.

In saying that, I wouldn't mind being wrong about the pick for the Olympiacos-Manchester United game...

Zenit St Petersburg v Borussia Dortmund Pick: It is never an easy task travelling to Eastern Europe, but this may be the best time for Borussia Dortmund to take on Zenit St Petersburg as the home side could be slightly undercooked having been on a winter break.

At the end of the day, you can't replicate competitive football and that may be a tough obstacle for Zenit St Petersburg to overcome in this Last 16 tie. However, they may take some solace in the fact that Shakhtar Donetsk were minutes away from beating Borussia Dortmund at the same stage last season in similar circumstances.

The other issue for Zenit to overcome in this game is their poor form in the Champions League this season and the fact that they failed to win any of their 3 home games in the Group. Going to Germany next month without the luxury of a lead could be too much for them to defeat Dortmund without having something to hold on to in the second leg.

As much as Zenit have failed to win games, they have also been tough to beat at home and I still don't think Borussia Dortmund are as convincing a side on their travels as they are in front of their loud home support. The quality is certainly in the German sides ranks to win this game and put a big foot into the Quarter Finals, but they won't want to be too rash and a professional performance may see them return home with a draw and the ability to finish the match in the second leg.

Dortmund needed late goals to beat Arsenal and Marseille away from home in the Group, but it is far from a stretch to suggest they won't be pushing on with ten minutes left if they have got an away goal, even if the game is drawn at that stage. The away sides have dominated the Last 16 ties last week, but I have a feeling that this one might end up being a draw which will be a result that satisfies Borussia Dortmund from a tough away adventure.

Olympiacos v Manchester United Pick: It hasn't been a good Last 16 Round for the English teams so far, but Manchester United will be the clear favourites to come through this tie, although I don't think it will be the straight-forward tie that many may have originally expected.

When you look at the forms of the two sides, it is hard to make a case for Manchester United at short odds away from home and I think that is my first impression of the odds.

Yes, Manchester United looked better on Saturday, but there is a vulnerability to the side that could easily return in front of a loud, passionate home crowd that have seen their side win a lot of football games over the last four months.

Some will point to the Paris Saint-Germain win here in the Group Stage, but I believe PSG are a better side than Manchester United, although the experience in the away camp is hard to ignore too. However, I think Manchester United are going to be given a really big test here and Olympiacos will know they have to win this leg if they have real ambitions for making it through to the Quarter Finals.

The last time Olympiacos reached this stage four years ago, they were beaten 0-1 here by Bordeaux but they are on a run of 16 straight home games which have either seen the side win or lose and that includes victories over the likes of Arsenal, Benfica and Borussia Dortmund. It looks like it is going to be hard to stop the home side scoring too as they have hit the net in their last 8 games at home in the Champions League and I do believe Manchester United are in for a huge test of their defensive concentration.

I do have a feeling that United will get themselves a crucial away goal and, as a fan, I would love to be proved wrong here... But if the Olympiacos home trend continues from the Champions League, I think the home side at 4.00 is a much better value price than Manchester United at 2.25 and I do think that the Greek side may secure a lead to take to Old Trafford in three weeks time.

Galatasaray v Chelsea Pick: A tough week in European competition for the English sides showed no sign of improvement on Tuesday night with Manchester United's loss in Greece, but I believe Chelsea will buck the trend by at least avoiding defeat in this game.

As well as Galatasaray have done to reach the Last 16 for the second year in a row, they were perhaps a little fortunate to score as late as they did in their win over Juventus on match day 6 that was played in terrible conditions. It didn't look like they were going to score the winning goal to take them through to the Last 16 that day and I think Galatasaray will find it tough to break down a well organised Chelsea team.

On the other hand, I don't think Jose Mourinho will be setting his side up to do much more than use the counter attack to earn an away goal that may make the second leg that much more comfortable for them to deal with. Chelsea did play well away from home in the Group, but they were beaten in Basle and I don't think this is going to be an easy game for them as they look to snap a long unbeaten run that Galatasaray have been enjoying at home.

There are still times that Chelsea look a little toothless going forward as Jose Mourinho pointed out in the video that was filmed and released this week- the forwards are the weakest position in the Chelsea team and it is clearly a position they will look to improve this summer and may be the biggest reason this team don't win the Champions League this season.

Chelsea have been effective on the counter-attack which is where they will make hay in this one if they are to win the game. Personally I believe Mourinho will have his side settle for the draw and finishing the tie in front of the home fans at Stamford Bridge and I predict this one to end in a low-scoring game that leaves the tie in the balance.

Schalke v Real Madrid Pick: There must be something strange in the water in Germany that doesn't sit well with Real Madrid as they have only won 1 of 25 previous games held in this country and will be looking to double that tally on Wednesday night.

To be fair to Real Madrid, Schalke present an 'easier' challenge than their last three visits to Germany as they were beaten by Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund (twice), but the likes of Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen have also beaten them in their current 6 game losing run in Germany.

Schalke have also been playing well so I think they will present problems for Real Madrid and I wouldn't be surprised if the home side get on the scoreboard despite the improvements in Real Madrid's defensive performances recently. However, I also think the Chelsea losses show that Schalke are perhaps not quite good enough against the really good teams in Europe, while Schalke have also been beaten here by Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund this season.

All of those sides have scored at least 3 goals against Schalke and a Real Madrid team that has the attacking potential that comes with Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and Gareth Bale can match that tally. Galatasaray also managed to score 3 here last season at the same stage of the competition, although it has to be noted that came in the second leg when Schalke were caught late on as they chased goals.

This could be an entertaining first leg as Schalke know they have to get something to defend in Madrid next month, but I think Real Madrid are playing too well at the moment to slip up here.

Real Madrid should win a high-scoring game and I expect the away side will score at least three goals here.

Rubin Kazan v Real Betis Pick: The draw in Spain in the first leg has given Rubin Kazan a big edge in this tie and I think they will move through to the Last 16 of the Europa League with a win under their belt. Real Betis have nothing to lose, but their priority is the Spanish League now as they look to avoid relegation and Rubin Kazan have proven to be a tough team to beat here over the last twelve months.

It took a late goal from Maribor to prevent Rubin Kazan winning their seventh home game in a row and it is the only goal they have conceded at home in 6 games in the Europa League.

The pressure is on Real Betis to come to Russia and score the goal that will cancel the one they have conceded at home, but they have failed to score in 4 of their last 5 away games and it is tough to see them changing that here.

With the home record that Rubin Kazan have built up in the competition since the beginning of the 2012 season, I think they will expose any gaps Betis leave in search of goals. I believe the home side will move through with a win, but their first port of call is making sure they are defensively sound so will back that win to come with a clean sheet.

Napoli v Swansea Pick: There is no doubt that Napoli had to ride their luck at the Liberty Stadium last week, but I think they will likely be a lot more positive in this game and I expect them to come through with something to spare.

Swansea looked good going forward in their loss at Anfield on Sunday, but Liverpool could be accused of some poor defending and I don't think Rafa Benitez will let his Napoli side lose sight of that aspect of their game.

The first goal is going to be critical in this game after the goalless draw in Wales, but Napoli should prove to be too strong with their 10 game home unbeaten run to protect. Napoli were comfortable winners over Arsenal at home in the Champions League and they do score a fair few goals in front of their own fans.

I also feel there will be gaps to exploit if Napoli are leading in this game as Swansea will be forced forward, but a goal for the English side will allow them to sit in and look to counter themselves.

Napoli should have enough to score the goals to take them through to the Last 16 in this tie and I think they are worth backing to win by two or more goals.

Tottenham Hotspur v Dnipro Pick: After the complaints made about the state of the pitch last week, Tim Sherwood can only save face if his Tottenham Hotspur side can come out with a positive result from this second leg and move through to the Last 16.

A defeat at Carrow Road on Sunday means Spurs have lost back to back games and they need to build momentum ahead of a very strong month of March where they face some of the top teams in the Premier League. Getting into the Champions League is the priority for the entire club, but they need the momentum that can come with a good Cup run in the Europa League too.

They should have got more out of the game at Dnipro last week and failing to score gives the Ukrainian team an edge in the tie because any goal scored means Spurs will have to score three times to progress. However, Spurs created enough chances last week to think they will do the same at home and I do think they will have enough to see off the challenge from Dnipro.

I did think about backing Tottenham Hotspur to cover the one goal Asian Handicap, but instead I am going to back them to qualify and reach the Last 16 at odds against.

MY PICKS: Zenit St Petersburg-Borussia Dortmund Draw @ 3.80 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Olympiacos @ 4.00 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Galatasaray-Chelsea Draw @ 3.40 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Real Madrid to Win and 3 or 4 Total Goals in the Match @ 3.20 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Rubin Kazan Win to Nil @ 2.75 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Napoli - 1 Asian Handicap @ 1.80 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Tottenham Hotspur to Qualify @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

February Update8-25, - 20.97 Units (54 Units Staked, - 38.83% Yield)

January Final17-24, - 3.18 Units (62 Units Staked, - 5.13% Yield)
December Final19-16-2, + 13.34 Units (66 Units Staked, + 20.21% 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 2013/1499-103-3, + 12.71 Units (328 Units Staked, + 3.88% Yield)
Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 25th)

Last week proved to be a mixed bag with the daily picks having a slight loss on the week, but the outright picks proving effective as Ernests Gulbis took the title home in Marseille.

Another profitable week means the season is going in the right direction after a pretty poor start to the 2014 season.

I didn't make any outright picks this week despite some of the stellar names playing on the ATP Tour, but there are enough doubts surrounding fitness, form and the nature of the draw to put me off on that front.

I also skipped Monday's matches this week as I didn't have a great feeling about anything and also didn't have the time on Sunday to put in the kind of research that is necessary when making picks.

Igor Sijsling - 3.5 games v Malek Jaziri: The one thing that has been holding me back about this pick is the fact that Igor Sijsling had been struggling with some kind of injury in Rotterdam a couple of weeks ago, but he still took his place in the draw in Marseille.

That should suggest it wasn't too serious and having a few days off may have aided him, especially as his opponent Malek Jaziri is coming back from a couple of long weeks in the United States and Mexico.

Jaziri has won a few matches which should have given him some confidence going forward, but Sijsling has a decent serve and should prove to be a little too good overall in this match.

I would expect the Dutchman to come through in straight sets in this one with a break more in each set than his opponent, eventually recording a 64, 64 win.

Nikolay Davydenko - 2.5 games v Andrey Golubev: Another player that had a successful week last week was Andrey Golubev who won a Challenger tournament in his home country, but that could have an effect on his abilities in Dubai.

He has a decent serve and can play pretty effective tennis off the ground, but Golubev has always been a little suspect when it comes to fitness and I don't know if he has the ability to follow up the tournament success from last week.

Golubev also hasn't had a lot of time to fly to Dubai and get accustomed to the conditions he will be facing and I expect Nikolay Davydenko to find a way to take advantage of the situation.

The Russian is not the force of old, but he played well in his loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last week and still shows flashes of his form that took him into the top tier of men's tennis. If Davydenko can come through what will be a tough first set, he may take away some of the confidence that Golubev has as well as making him feel the tennis in his legs.

Novak Djokovic - 5.5 games v Denis Istomin: A long lay-off since the Australian Open should have reinvigorated Novak Djokovic as he looks to defend the Dubai title he won twelve months ago and I am expecting him to make a strong start to the tournament.

He has dominated Denis Istomin in previous matches as Djokovic has won all 4 previous matches and all but one of those wins have come comfortably.

As well as Istomin can play at times, he also plays a game which helps the top players get into their rhythm, while also not having a hugely dominating shot that can dictate the point. There are times when Istomin serves well and doing that will give him the chance to at least make this competitive, but the conditions in Dubai clearly suit the World Number 2 where he has won 4 of the last 5 times here.

Djokovic made a really fast start to the tournament twelve months ago by dominating his first three opponents and I think he will prove to do the same this year with a 62, 64 win.

Kevin Anderson - 3.5 games v Stephane Robert: After a successful run through the qualifiers and the main draw at the Australian Open, Stephane Robert has struggled to repeat the formula over the last month.

The Frenchman has attempted to take part in the Golden Swing in South America, but has won 1 match in 3 tournaments and has only played in one main draw.

Now he has to switch surfaces to take on a confident Kevin Anderson who showed some sustained form in Delray Beach last week by reaching his first Final of 2014, albeit coming up slightly short against Marin Cilic.

Anderson should be able to dominate behind his big serve and keep the pressure on Robert- the latter is more likely to be found at the level below the main ATP one for much of the season and the pressure should eventually tell and lead to a 64, 63 win for the higher Ranked player.

Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 games v Marinko Matosevic: I am expecting big things from Grigor Dimitrov in 2014 and it is matches like this that he should be able to come through comfortably if those expectations are to be met.

He has had a couple of weeks off since losing to Ernests Gulbis in Rotterdam, but Marinko Matosevic is someone that will get down on himself very early in matches and thus give Dimitrov a lot of cheap points which can also help bring the confidence back for the Bulgarian and make him feel comfortable on the court.

There is no doubt that Matosevic can put things together for periods in a match, but far too often he makes the mistakes that offers break point chances to his opponents.

I would think Dimitrov is a good enough returner to make use of the chances that may come his way and I like him to come through 75, 63.

MY PICKS: Igor Sijsling - 3.5 Games @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Nikolay Davydenko - 2.5 Games @ 1.83 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Novak Djokovic - 5.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Kevin Anderson - 3.5 Games @ 1.75 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 Games @ 1.85 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Picks17-18, - 1.55 Units (68 Units Staked, - 2.28% Yield)
Outright Picks1-2, + 5 Units (6 Units Staked, + 83.33% Yield)

Season 2014+ 9.92 Units (325 Units Staked, + 3.05% Yield)

Season 2013+ 21.74 Units (1251.5 Units Staked, + 1.73% Yield)
Season 2012+ 49.21 Units (855 Units Staked, + 5.76% Yield)
Season 2011+ 82.02 Units

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 22nd)

It wasn't a good day for the picks on Friday and has put the week in a difficult spot, although the saving grace is all three outright picks are still in action and have every chance of winning the tournaments they are competing in.

The most difficult of those is John Isner who takes on Marin Cilic in the Semi Final in Delray Beach and the way the latter has been playing, it is tough to see anyone stopping him taking the title home this week which will be the second in three weeks.

The biggest surprise yesterday was seeing Serena Williams being beaten by Alize Cornet and she was beaten... There have been times in the past when you think Williams may have beaten herself, or she has picked up a niggle, but that wasn't the case in Dubai and the Frenchwoman simply out-performed her.

It will always be surprise when Serena is beaten by anyone other than Victoria Azarenka in my opinion and even losing to the latter will raise some eyebrows, but it will still be considered a good week for Williams to get back on the court. Now the big interest is whether she will take her place at Indian Wells having deliberately skipped the event for a decade due to the poor reception she and Venus got there, but we will have to wait two weeks for our answers to that question.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 4.5 games v Jan-Lennard Struff: The battle between the players with two barrelled first names will be the second Semi Final in Marseille and I think Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will have taken a lot out of his Quarter Final win as he looks to reach another Final in front of his home support.

After losing the tie-break, Tsonga dismantled Edouard Roger-Vasselin and his confidence should be in a very good place in time for this Semi Final.

Struff had a much easier time in the Quarter Final as he beat a listless Michael Llodra without too many problems, but I can't see Tsonga performing as badly and letting Struff come through his service games with no issues to deal with.

We all know the size of the Tsonga game and while it may take a little while to get used to what he is seeing from Struff in their first meeting, I expect the heavy ground strokes to eventually wear down his opponent and produce a 75, 63 win.

Alize Cornet + 3.5 games v Venus Williams: Beating both Williams sisters in consecutive days is not an easy task for any player on the WTA Tour, but Alize Cornet has got through the 'tougher' of the two these days and must have a good feeling about her chances in this match.

However, I think Venus Williams is playing some special tennis and is going to be a hard to stop having built up so much momentum this week already and she is yet to drop a set.

The question is whether Cornet can keep the same level of intensity and form that helped her knock of Serena last night and thus make this a competitive match? I think she will be given chances on the Williams serve which has been a touch vulnerable at times and it will all depend on whether Cornet can keep her head straight.

Usually, I would not back a player that has just beaten Serena Williams in her next match because it does take a lot out of someone, but Cornet held her nerve so effectively yesterday that I can see her taking at least one set in this one and perhaps making it very competitive through the match in the Final.

Kevin Anderson - 2.5 games v Steve Johnson: I have been burned twice by Steve Johnson already this week, but I am going to the well one more time in the belief that he won't get the better of Kevin Anderson in this Semi Final.

Johnson actually beat Anderson last month, but that was with the South African suffering some sort of illness and I think a fully capable Anderson will prove a little too good.

He came through a three setter against Marinko Matosevic yesterday, but dominated the match and could have won much easier than the scoreline may suggest, while I think Johnson has played a lot of tennis over the last month and may struggle to keep up.

The American has a decent serve that has got him out of trouble at times, but I think Anderson will pose a lot of pressure with his own serve and that may eventually wear down Johnson with a 76, 64 win for the higher-Ranked player.

Marin Cilic - 2.5 games v John Isner: I may have backed John Isner to reach the Final at the very least in Delray Beach this week, but this does not look a good match up for the American who hasn't played that well all week.

At the moment, Marin Cilic seems completely zoned in when it comes to match tennis and he has a return of serve that can at least pressure Isner and not allow him to have as many easy games as he usually expects.

In all honesty, the Isner serve hasn't been in top form this week either and unless that changes drastically, I think Cilic will create the more chances.

The Croatian has also served effectively the last three weeks and, again, if that changes drastically, the outcome may do to. Unfortunately for Isner, I can't see anything but a 76, 63 win for Cilic in this one.

MY PICKS: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga - 4.5 Games @ 2.17 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Alize Cornet + 3.5 Games @ 2.20 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Kevin Anderson - 2.5 Games @ 2.15 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Marin Cilic - 2.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 15-16, - 1.95 Units (60 Units Staked, - 3.25% Yield)

Weekend Football Picks (February 22-23)

After a ten day break, the Premier League returns to action with a number of the leading teams as well as those fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table involved in some big games this weekend. Some teams will be coming off disappointing results, for example the way Southampton went out of the FA Cup has really got the fans out of whack, while both Manchester City and Arsenal are coming in off disappointing home losses in the Champions League during the week.

Both of those Champions League games were marred by red cards and has raised the debate about whether a sending off coupled with a penalty is too harsh a punishment. It may not have happened to Manchester United, which usually means I might end up laughing at the outcome, but taking off my fan hat leads me to believe that it is a rule that needs to be changed.

I think it should remain a sending off if a player is brought down outside the area, but in a clear goal-scoring opportunity, so the last man would always be in trouble. There is no guarantee a team would score the resulting free-kick and that is a not a 'clear goal-scoring opportunity' so the sending off would be the most suitable punishment.

On the other hand, if the foul was to occur inside the penalty area, I don't think a 'clear goal-scoring opportunity' has been wasted with the penalty giving the team a clear shot on goal and I think a yellow card would be suitable in that situation.

It is just something I feel can be changed by the law-makers to try and keep the matches that are played as fair as possible and I don't think a sending off AND a penalty is a reasonable response to the situations we saw on Tuesday and Wednesday night.

This month has been pretty pathetic when it comes to the picks I have made and has put a decent season into a relatively level one as we enter the last week of February. This weekend is critical to turn things around, but I also don't want to push too hard and ruin a whole season on one terrible month.

Chelsea v Everton Pick: The live game on Saturday afternoon looks a very interesting one between two of the sides chasing a place in the top four, although Chelsea have bigger aims of winning the Premier League title no matter what Jose Mourinho may say to the press.

Chelsea top the Premier League table and will be looking to put some pressure on Arsenal and Manchester City who play later in the day, although it has to be said that both of those sides have winnable games.

So in a strange way, there is almost more pressure on Chelsea to earn the three points and maintain the gap in the League as it is at this stage. They also have to focus on the Champions League which resumes during the week for the Blues, but I am expecting Chelsea to be too strong for an Everton team that has just slipped in recent weeks.

Back to back losses at Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur has left them 8 points off a top four place and another loss could spell curtains for Everton when it comes to the Champions League places. It was always going to be a long shot for Everton to reach the top four with the money spent by the teams in and around them, while they haven't been given a kind draw in the FA Cup either as they visit Arsenal in the Sixth Round.

Without Romelu Lukaku, they also look a little weaker going forward, although Everton continue playing some good looking football and did create chances at White Hart Lane which may have left them a little hard done by that they lost that game. They should be able to cause some problems for Chelsea in defence, but I also believe the pace provided by Eden Hazard, Oscar and Willian will give Everton plenty of tough spots to deal with.

Games between the teams at Stamford Bridge have usually provided goals with 3 of the last 4 in the Premier League between them ending with at least 3 goals scored. I think Chelsea are the more likely winners though in the game and I will back them to win a game in which 3 or 4 goals are scored.

Arsenal v Sunderland Pick: Arsene Wenger was understandably upset about the manner of the 0-2 loss to Bayern Munich on Wednesday night, while the fans would probably have woken up with the nagging feeling of 'what if' regarding their missed penalty early in the game.

You can't really argue with Wenger's assertion that his Arsenal side are not demoralised with their performance, but it is imperative that they win this game and keep their Premier League title challenge going forward after dropping 5 points from their last two League games. There will be a real feeling that Arsenal can get back to winning ways as they have been strong at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League ever since the 1-3 loss against Aston Villa to open the current campaign.

It certainly isn't a foregone conclusion against a Sunderland team that have improved over the last couple of months and one that has won 3 of their last 4 away games in the Premier League including a 0-3 win at Newcastle United.

Sunderland will look to make life difficult for Arsenal, but I am not sure if they have enough going forward to hurt an Arsenal team that have certainly been solid defensively at home all season, especially in the Premier League.

The fact they have played with ten men for a large portion of the game against Bayern Munich may have taken something out of the legs for the Arsenal players that had to work hard throughout the second half. That may give Sunderland half a chance to cause a surprise, but I think Arsenal are going to come out with something to prove from their last couple of weeks of ups and downs.

However, Arsenal have rarely blown teams away at home and the 2-0 scoreline is so prevalent that I would look to back it again, especially with tiredness perhaps a factor and the home side just doing what they need to.

Manchester City v Stoke City Pick: This is the second English side that has been beaten at home in the Champions League during the week that should have a positive reaction, especially as Manchester City perhaps feel even more hard done by than Arsenal with the way their 0-2 loss to Barcelona developed.

At the Etihad Stadium, Manchester City have been a dominant force for much of the season and they have dominated Stoke City in League games here with 4 of their 5 wins over the last few years coming by the same 3-0 scoreline.

Coming off a few days rest when the team had to play with ten men for a large portion of the second half means there will be some tired legs in the squad, but I also think there will be a passion in the home squad to right the 'wrong' they feel they have suffered in the Champions League.

Goals have been plentiful for City at home, even if they have failed to hit the target in 2 of their last 3 home games and I think the return of Samir Nasri is going to be important for their attacking potential.

Stoke City have conceded plenty of goals on their travels, including shipping 3 at Manchester United, 4 at Everton and 5 at Newcastle United. While they have picked up more points in recent weeks and snapped a 4 game losing run away from home in the Premier League, I have a feeling that they are facing a wounded and angry Manchester City team in this one.

Covering 2 goals is not an easy target in any game, but Manchester City have regularly won this fixture 3-0 and have goals in the side that should see them win this game comfortably.

West Ham United v Southampton Pick: I don't think I will ever be able to understand the decision of Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino to rest as many players as he did in the FA Cup last weekend considering the opportunity that was presented to his side. It makes it worse that Southampton barely have anything left to play for this season as they look almost certain to finish in the top half of the table, while the European places up for grabs from League position are almost certainly beyond them.

It will be interesting to see the motivation of the players down the stretch, although the likes of Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez are pushing for England places at the World Cup, but others could already be thinking about the end of what is a long season.

Against sides like West Ham United who are more desperate for the three points in their fight for survival, a lack of motivation in the Saints squad may be most noticeable. However, Southampton have beaten a couple of struggling sides in the last few weeks, both away from home, and they have a team that is capable of causing problems with the creativity they have.

They do have to breach a West Ham defence that has kept four clean sheets in a row, including at Stamford Bridge, and a team that may have a little more confidence and belief that comes with a three game winning run in the League. Back to back home wins will also keep the fans behind West Ham and I think there is every chance that they can make it four in a row on Saturday.

I still can't shake the quality that Southampton will bring going forward though and I do think they will have their chances too and this game has the makings of an entertaining affair with goals at both ends. I also believe we will see a winner in the game as neither side is likely to settle for a point if they can help it and that should lead to goals so I will back this one to go over 2.5 goals.

Crystal Palace v Manchester United Pick: If Manchester United have any real ambitions of finishing in the top four, the time for draws and losses have long gone and they have to start winning games to at least pressure the teams above them. Games like this are where United have to pick up the full points as they have a lot of tough tests remaining this season and a confidence boost would be greatly received days before their Champions League campaign restarts.

However, if United fans are turning up at Selhurst Park with only a quick look at the League table, they could be surprised as to how well Crystal Palace have been playing and how tough it will be to stop their own momentum. Tony Pulis has given the side plenty of belief and they have made life very difficult for the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal away from home.

The likes of Tom Ince and Jason Puncheon give Crystal Palace pace in the forward areas and they will test a Manchester United defence that has struggled with that aspect of attacks in recent weeks. With knocks in the defensive areas, Palace will certainly pose problems if Pulis can keep the belief where it has been.

On the other hand, I expect another week will integrate Juan Mata into the forward line for Manchester United a little more, but David Moyes has to have a better game plan in place to get the Spaniard into the space he requires.

I expect Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie to give the Crystal Palace defenders something to think about, but you would hope there is more to the Manchester United attack than cross, cross and then cross some more.

Both teams should create chances and I do think both are going to score at least once, but I also think we are going to see a winner in the game with the chances that should come at both ends. The weather looks improved for football on Saturday and I am backing at least three goals to be scored in this game.

Liverpool v Swansea Pick: Take away Manchester City and no team has scored more home goals than Liverpool this season with their 38 goals at Anfield only being four goals fewer than City have produced. That doesn't spell too much good for Swansea who put in a huge effort in their Europa League game on Thursday and could be suffering some fatigue in their play as they meet on Sunday.

With the likes of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge up front to keep players active at all times, defenders will certainly be asked for a full level of concentration and that is where the fatigue can come into the mix. If Swansea are feeling slightly tired, the front two of Liverpool are going to create plenty of problems for them and the amount of goals the team have been scoring at Anfield is an additional problem for Swansea to face.

Liverpool have won 9 of their last 10 games at Anfield and every one of those wins has come by at least a couple of goals. On the same side of the coin, Swansea have been beaten comfortably at Southampton, Manchester City and Manchester United (in the Premier League) and I am finding it hard to ignore Liverpool doing the same with the goal-creating players thy have in the squad.

As long as Sturridge returns to the form he showed before the Arsenal game last weekend, Liverpool should be fresher than their opponents and come through with another comfortable win.

Added Picks from Two Live Sunday Games in the 'My Picks' column this week

MY PICKS: Chelsea to Win and 3 or 4 Total Goals in the Match @ 3.40 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Arsenal Win 2-0 @ 7.00 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Manchester City - 2 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
West Ham United-Southampton Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.17 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Crystal Palace-Manchester United Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Liverpool - 1.5 Asian Handicap @1.83 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Newcastle United-Aston Villa Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur Win and Over 2.5 Goals Scored in Match @ 4.60 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

February Update7-18, - 12.31 Units (41 Units Staked, - 30.02% Yield)

January Final17-24, - 3.18 Units (62 Units Staked, - 5.13% Yield)
December Final19-16-2, + 13.34 Units (66 Units Staked, + 20.21% 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 2013/1499-103-3, + 12.71 Units (328 Units Staked, + 3.88% Yield)
Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

Friday, 21 February 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 21st)

Over the last couple of days, I have seen at least four players get themselves into strong winning positions, but have then been unable to take the chances that have come their way to finish the match off, which has led to some frustration.

There was a slight profit made on the picks yesterday, but Alexandr Dolgopolov, Albert Ramos and arguably Ernests Gulbis all missed big chances to produce the cover, with the former two suddenly blowing all the momentum.

Momentum might not be a tangible aspect of sport, but there is no doubt that a human being would feel a match slipping and have the intelligence to register that they may need to do something more- a lot of the times that can produce, when it comes to tennis, unforced errors and mistakes as players are 'trying too hard' to change the feel of a match.

On some occasions, it produces inspired tennis while the player with all the momentum is also guilty of becoming 'over-confident' and thus missing shots that they may not have been.

That may have been the case for Dolgopolov and Gulbis who had many chances to break serve in the last sets of their matches that would have helped the picks come in as winners, but you have to move on from this.

The better news is that all three outright picks made at the beginning of the week have all reached the Quarter Finals which are to be played today. Hopefully tomorrow I will be talking about three Semi Finalists as the tournaments move forward on Friday.

Ernests Gulbis - 2.5 games v Nicolas Mahut: Ernests Gulbis came through a tough Second Round match last night and it will be interesting to see if that has taken much wind out of his sails or whether his confidence has increased in a decent part of the season for him.

On a normal day, I would favour him to beat Nicolas Mahut 8/10 times on the indoor hard courts, even if Mahut has played fairly well this week.

The problem for Mahut is that this two previous opponents are not of the same level as Gulbis who has been serving well, but also forcing pressure on his opponents with a solid return of serve. While Mahut will hit his big serves and win some cheap points, the pressure should tell as the match goes on and Gulbis should be the one who dictates the majority of the rallies.

The Frenchman is capable of getting to the net and putting away good volleys, but I would think Gulbis is going to come through a tight first set before finding a key break in the second to win this one 76, 64.

Michael Llodra - 3.5 games v Jan-Lennard Struff: There could be quite a lot of tennis in the legs of Jan-Lennard Struff ahead of this Quarter Final as he has needed three sets to win his two previous matches and reached the Final in Bergamo last week on the Challenger Tour.

Facing someone like Michael Llodra can bring its own mental pressure if the Frenchman keeps producing the big serves to hold his own and force his opponents to try and keep up.

Llodra actually returned pretty effectively in his win over Andreas Seppi too and he should have some confidence restored with back to back wins, his first of 2014 on the singles circuit. He has also beaten Struff twice last season, once on the indoor hard courts, and I think he will have a few chances to earn the breaks of serve in this match too.

As long as Llodra can take the chances that come his way, he may find himself a break advantage up in both sets as he comes through 64, 64 to another Semi Final in front of his home support.

Serena Williams - 6.5 games v Alize Cornet: Serena Williams is still comfortably the best player on the WTA Tour and she seems to have recovered from some of the injury problems that saw her exit the Australian Open surprisingly early.

Williams dismissed an in-form Jelena Jankovic without too many issues and I would expect her to do the same to Alize Cornet in this Semi Final.

You have to admire someone like Cornet who will run hard all day long on the court and the Frenchwoman is showing signs of the potential that most expected her to have and is coming off a career year in 2013.

However, she doesn't really have the power to trouble someone like Serena Williams and I think that will ultimately be the biggest problem in a 63, 62 defeat.

David Ferrer - 5.5 games v Thomaz Bellucci: A couple of years ago, this would have been a tough Quarter Final for David Ferrer to deal with, but I think Thomaz Bellucci is still far below the level that is going to be needed to win this match.

He will have the home support, but Bellucci has also had to come through two matches that have gone the distance and is facing a player that will look to keep him out on the court for long periods at a time.

Having to go through what he will to win points is going to be tough for Bellucci and I think that is where Ferrer will wear him down and then come through fairly comfortably.

There will likely be breaks in both directions, but Bellucci will need to serve incredibly well to avoid going down 64, 62 in my opinion.

Kevin Anderson - 2.5 games v Marinko Matosevic: Both of these players got through their Second Round matches thanks to a retirement on the other side of the net so neither can complain about fatigue as they look to reach the Semi Final.

Neither Kevin Anderson nor Marinko Matosevic has been pulling up trees to open 2014, but I think the big South African is going to continue his dominance of the pair in the head to head and come through.

Anderson's serve is the more reliable of the two and that can put pressure on opponents to keep up, while I also think Matosevic doesn't always put together the best game plan. The Australian hits the ball hard, but sometimes he goes for a little too much and winds up making far too many errors.

That may prove to be the reason he loses this match and I think Anderson comes through 76, 64 after breaking the spirit a little in the first set.

Feliciano Lopez - 2.5 games v Steve Johnson: Steve Johnson showed some grit to beat the top seed Tommy Haas in the Second Round, but it doesn't get much easier for him as he faces Feliciano Lopez in this Quarter Final.

The only concern for Lopez is having to have come through two matches that have lasted the distance already this week, but he is enjoying the conditions and being a left hander may be the key to beating the American.

Lopez will know that Johnson's backhand can be a little erratic and is clearly the weaker wing and will look to use his forehand to open up the other side of the court by forcing Johnson to perhaps cheat to one side.

If he had a better backhand of his own, it might been a little easier for Lopez, but I think he is capable of getting to the net and putting away volleys, while Johnson struggled at times when he was forced forward. Johnson's serve will get him out of trouble at times, but I think he rode his luck a little in the last two sets against Haas and I like Lopez to come through 76, 64.

MY PICKS: Ernests Gulbis - 2.5 Games @ 1.80 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Michael Llodra - 3.5 Games @ 2.33 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Serena Williams - 6.5 Games @ 1.80 Sky Bet (2 Units)
David Ferrer - 5.5 Games @ 2.25 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Kevin Anderson - 2.5 Games @ 1.85 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez - 2.5 Games @ 1.90 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 13-12, - 1.25 Units (48 Units Staked, - 2.6% Yield)

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 20th)

There have been some mixed performances through the first three days of the week, but I can't complain too much against fortune or bad luck as it has been fairly even both ways.

The only other positive is that the outright picks I have made at the start of the week are all intact at the moment, even if we are still to reach the Quarter Finals in Marseille or Delray Beach.

Edouard Roger-Vasselin - 2.5 games v Sergiy Stakhovsky: For as long as he plays tennis and beyond, Sergiy Stakhovsky will be known as the man who beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon, but he has rarely performed to that level again.

Both of these players had to come through tough First Round matches against players who qualified for the main draw, but I think the edge in the match will be with the Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

Roger-Vasselin has dominated the head to head between these players and has also shown a little more form in 2014, while the home support will likely inspire him to come through the match.

I have seen Stakhovsky really perform on the indoor hard courts, including winning a title on the surface in the past, but he has suffered some disappointing defeats this season and I am not sure he would be able to recover from losing the first set as he did against Daniel Evans in the First Round. Roger-Vasselin beat him 75, 75 in St Petersburg at the end of last season and something similar wouldn't be a big surprise to me.

Ernests Gulbis - 3.5 games v Roberto Bautista-Agut: Ernests Gulbis must have been glad to see the organisers give him a few days off from his exploits in Rotterdam as he plays his first match here in Marseille, although the real hope is that he hasn't lost some form that he was displaying a week ago.

If Gulbis serves as well as he did last week, he is going to be very tough to stop this week and I think he can get off to a strong start against Roberto Bautista-Agut.

The Spaniard is coming off a career year in 2013 which saw him open 2014 as one of the Davis Cup members for his country, but he hasn't had a lot of tennis since the Australian Open and didn't enjoy a lot of success on the indoor hard courts last season.

That included a thumping at the hands of Gulbis in St Petersburg on the way to the latter winning the title- I would expect this to be closer but the Latvian to come through 64, 64.

Michael Llodra - 1.5 games v Andreas Seppi: Michael Llodra may have lost the last two times he has come across Andreas Seppi, but he picked up a morale boosting win in the First Round and may be able to knock off the seeded Italian in this match.

While the win would give Llodra a boost, Seppi has lost 7 of the 8 matches he has played in 2014 and he was also just 3-6 on the indoor hard courts last season.

The courts do favour the serve-volley tactics that Llodra will look to employ and I do think the Seppi serve is a little vulnerable as it does sit up and can be attacked. If Llodra finds a way to force his opponent backward, he won't hesitate to get to the net and use his volleying skills to keep the pressure on Seppi.

So far this season, Seppi just hasn't looked right on the court and I think Llodra will be able to come through and reach the Quarter Final.

Venus Williams - 2.5 games v Flavia Pennetta: It is quite interesting to note that Venus Williams does not have a winning record against Flavia Pennetta with the latter leading 4-3 in the head to head even though they haven't played one another since August 2009.

The Italian does have a lot of variety in her game that perhaps makes it a little more difficult for Williams when she gets into the net, but it is still surprising to see that statistic. I would favour Williams behind her serve and would expect her to do some damage against the Pennetta serve too so I do think the older Williams sister can come through the match.

She will have to serve as well as she did in her win over Ana Ivanovic as Pennetta will be in confident mood with a run through the qualifiers and then beating Agnieszka Radwanska, the current World Number 3, in straight sets.

If Williams can serve well, that pressure may build on Pennetta and help the American reach the Semi Final, and extend her winning run in Dubai, with a 64, 64 win.

Sorana Cirstea + 3.5 games v Caroline Wozniacki: Any kind of performance that resembles the one we saw on Wednesday from Caroline Wozniacki will give Sorana Cirstea a real chance of springing the surprise outright in this match.

I think it is going to be competitive because Cirstea has a decent serve and will also have the power off the ground to trouble Wozniacki if the latter can't find the bite that hurt Sabine Lisicki in the final two sets they played a couple of days ago.

A better player than Annika Beck would have beaten Wozniacki in the last Round, while Cirstea should have the belief that comes with winning their last match against one another as well as pushing the former World Number 1 on other occasions.

Cirstea has to keep her concentration, but I think she can win at least one set which should give her a chance to cover the spread with the games in hand even in a losing effort.

Alexander Dolgopolov - 4.5 games v Facunda Bagnis: He might have been on my 'blacklist' for over twelve months now, but finally I feel it may be the right time to back Alexandr Dolgopolov to come through this Second Round match.

While he plays some interesting tennis and is fun to watch, Dolgopolov is extremely inconsistent and I have never had the feeling that tennis means everything to him. He should be far higher up the Rankings than his current position of 54, although it represents the inconsistencies he brings to the court.

Dolgopolov seems to drop serve out of nowhere at times and that is a concern for spreads as high as this, but he is playing a player in Facunda Bagnis who is not used to the ATP main draw level and who has a lot of tennis in his legs.

Bagnis had to come through the qualifiers and has won all three of his matches this week after going the distance and that can eventually wear on any player. That should especially be the case for a young player that may not be expecting the level he will face on the main Tour and I think Dolgopolov comes through 62, 46, 63.

Rafael Nadal - 6.5 games v Albert Montanes: Rafael Nadal had a more difficult match in the First Round than some may have expected, but being the first match back on the clay meant adjustments and I expect a more dominating win this time around.

We all know how good Nadal is on the clay courts and I think it is a big ask for Albert Montanes to find 6 games to take off him at this stage of his career.

Montanes ended a long losing streak with a win over Robin Haase in the First Round, but the competition is ramped up in this one and he has struggled for games the last two times he has met his famous compatriot.

Barring some bad bounces of the ball, Nadal should win this one 63, 61.

Albert Ramos - 3.5 games v Joao Sousa: I will admit that I got Albert Ramos all wrong in the last Round and I think he is going to be a little too effective for Joao Sousa in this Second Round match too.

He has dominated Sousa in their previous three matches and he has the bigger serve in the match which can help him set up the rallies in his favour.

On the other hand, Sousa is going to have to work hard to protect serve and he did struggle over the last twelve months to have a real impact on the main Tour, even on the favoured clay courts.

The first set is likely to be critical, but if Ramos can take that, I think he can come through 75, 63.

Marin Cilic - 4.5 games v Ryan Harrison: I think Ryan Harrison has to be considered a disappointment to this point of his career as he looked to be getting ready to make a step up on the Tour and take over the mantle of men's American tennis, but he has fallen back somewhat.

Whether that was down to the pressure of expectation, or just a natural 'hitting the wall' for a young player is yet to be seen, while this match presents a very difficult challenge for him.

That is because Marin Cilic is in as good form as anyone at the moment with back to back Finals over the last two weeks and comfortably beating Benjamin Becker in his first match here.

His return of serve is vastly under-rated and actually has made life easy for Cilic, especially as his own serve is effective, and that is the extra pressure he is putting on opponents. With the way Cilic has been returning, Harrison is going to be under pressure and I do think the Croatian will find a couple of breaks of serve in one set and that should stand him in good stead to win and cover.

MY PICKS: Edouard Roger-Vasselin - 2.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Ernests Gulbis - 3.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Michael Llodra - 1.5 Games @ 1.80 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Venus Williams - 2.5 Games @ 1.92 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Sorana Cirstea + 3.5 Games @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Alexandr Dolgopolov - 4.5 Games @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Rafael Nadal - 6.5 Games @ 1.80 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Albert Ramos - 3.5 Games @ 1.92 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Marin Cilic - 4.5 Games @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Weekly Update: 8-8, - 2.49 Units (30 Units Staked, - 8.3% Yield)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Tennis Picks 2014 (February 19th)

After a pretty successful Monday, Tuesday proved to be more of a mixed bag with a couple of the picks getting close, but not quite getting over the line in to the winner's enclosure. Those could have made it a strong day, but you can't win them all and it was still a positive enough start to the week with the hope that John Isner can comfortably come through his First Round match that is yet to be played at the time of writing.

With a little more luck, this week could still go the same way as last week and continue the upward trend as we continue with a lot more tennis to be played on Wednesday.

Agnieszka Radwanska - 4.5 games v Flavia Pennetta: This should be the kind of match up that is to Agnieszka Radwanska's liking as she is playing an opponent that doesn't usually have the consistency to hit through her nor the power to make Radwanska feel uncomfortable on the court.

Flavia Pennetta has come through the qualifiers to make the main draw in Dubai and was a straight sets winner in the First Round, but she has also struggled in the past when coming up against Radwanska.

That includes a straight sets loss at the Hopman Cup to open this season and the last four matches between the players have not been competitive. I think this one will be a little closer, but Radwanska should be able to frustrate her opponent and extract the errors that will help her come through with a 63, 64 win.

Caroline Wozniacki - 3.5 games v Annika Beck: Caroline Wozniacki would have covered the spread yesterday if she had taken one of the first three match points that came her way, but I was still very impressed with the way the Dane recovered from one set down to beat Sabine Lisicki fairly comfortably.

She was serving well and showed some power off the ground and I think that will give her a good chance to beat Annika Beck in this Second Round match.

As well as Beck did herself to recover from a set down to beat Samantha Stosur in the last Round, she was helped massively by the complete drop in form during the second set from the Australian and I think Wozniacki is going to show more consistency than Stosur did.

Wozniacki should be able to force errors from the Beck game and as long as she continues serving as she was on Tuesday, she should be able to come through 64, 63.

Venus Williams v Ana Ivanovic: I think I have to have a small interest in Venus Williams to win this Second Round match against Ana Ivanovic despite the latter finding a three set win over the former World Number 1 in the Final at Auckland earlier this season.

As well as Ivanovic has played at times this season, she has sometimes found it tough to back up big wins and was forced to dig very deep in beating Angelique Kerber on Tuesday after saving match points.

The day off between her match may give Venus Williams the edge when it comes to fitness and fatigue and she has played well at moments through 2014, even if the consistency has fallen off. That is one element that puts me off backing Williams for more than the minimum stake, but I do think the underdog has enough bite to take a chunk out of Ivanovic in the match.

It will likely go to three sets, but Venus Williams may have a little more in the tank in this match and come through.

Lucie Safarova + 3.5 games v Jelena Jankovic: Over the last ten days, Lucie Safarova has really picked up her serving and that could give her a chance to knock off Jelena Jankovic in this match, although I am just more interested in her making it a competitive match.

With the serving in a place it is, this match has the hallmarks of a three setter and their past meetings have an indication that they are a little more closely matched.

I think Jankovic's game is a little more solid as she relies more on her defence than Safarova who can also have a few issues with fatigue, but the power is more likely to come from the Czech side of the net and that should pose some problems itself.

The one aspect of the WTA that can frustrate is when players seemingly collapse within sets and that is a concern for Safarova if she is beaten 62 in one set, but I think she is capable of at least taking one herself and that should be enough to keep this a competitive match.

Feliciano Lopez - 3.5 games v Adrian Mannarino: He had to come from a set behind to beat Sam Querrey in the First Round, but that may have opened the door for Feliciano Lopez to go deep in to the tournament at Delray Beach.

The warmer conditions during the day should also help Lopez with the big serve and the ability to close points out at the net and I think the pressure will eventually tell on his opponent Adrian Mannarino.

I am not always impressed with Lopez' ability to return serve as the slice isn't always effective, but the scoreboard pressure coupled with the fact that Mannarino can lose concentration means I believe the Spaniard will find a way to earn the break points and close this match.

The match has all the makings of a 64, 64 win for Lopez as he moves through to the Quarter Finals.

Tommy Haas - 3.5 games v Steve Johnson: Tommy Haas disposed of one American in the First Round, but I expect a lot more competition for him in this match after losing just three games in the win over Wayne Odesnik.

This time he faces Steve Johnson who won a Challenger in Dallas a couple of weeks ago and has come through the qualifiers to reach this stage of the tournament so confidence has to be in a good place.

When I have watched Johnson play, I have seen a player with decent ability, but one whose concentration is perhaps not at the level to see off someone as good as Haas. He will have some success because he does hit a heavy ball and the confidence, as I said, should be high after a run of wins behind him.

However, I do think Haas has too much know-how and will come through 64, 64.

MY PICKS: Agnieszka Radwanska - 4.5 Games @ 1.73 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Caroline Wozniacki - 3.5 Games @ 1.83 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Venus Williams @ 2.25 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Lucie Safarova + 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Feliciano Lopez - 3.5 Games @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Tommy Haas - 3.5 Games @ 1.85 Pinnacle (2 Units)

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Midweek Football Picks (February 18-20)

It really has been one of those months where things seem to be going wrong in the strangest of ways, but there is still absolutely no way that I could have predicted Southampton to play as weak a team as they decided to on Saturday.

I would love to question the manager and ask what he was resting players for? Southampton are unlikely to finish much higher than 9th and I don't think they will fall lower than 10th so resting players for a Fifth Round FA Cup tie where two of the current top four were going to be knocked out makes as little sense to me as anything I have tried to explain.

For the life of me, I could not tell you what was going through Mauricio Pochettino's head in picking the starting eleven for the game and Southampton got what they deserved- understandably the fans were upset as the final three months of the season look to be one that they are going to coast along and not really have a lot to look forward to.

We also saw more poor refereeing from the biggest culprit in England who seemingly gets away with all the terrible decisions he makes- Howard Webb somehow missed a karate kick in the last World Cup Final, but how he decided Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's 'tackle' on Luis Suarez was NOT a penalty and how Steven Gerrard's late tackle was NOT a red card is beyond me.

For some unknown reason, Webb is still considered the top referee in England, but I tend to disagree as few get as many consistently bad decisions... The other factor is that Webb always tends to get the really big decisions wrong, the ones that could change the feeling of a match which was the case on Sunday.

Yet he will be going to the World Cup as the top English official and I still believe all referees should be made to explain their decisions and there should be a really sense of demotion when blatantly wrong decisions are made in one week.

Being a Manchester United fan, I tend to follow a few fellow fans on Twitter and it came to my attention on Monday that something had happened to suggest Manchester City were a 'bigger' club than Manchester United.

This is an old debate and one that always first has to be answered with what defines 'big' clubs- is it history, is it the last ten years, the attraction of the club to players?

I've always had my opinion on that definition which makes Manchester United and Liverpool the two biggest clubs in England, but I think the current suggestion from Manuel Pellegrini may have been a little lost in translation.

At the end of the day, English is not Pellegrini's first language and the suggestion from the press conference was he meant Manchester City are better than Manchester United right now, something that I cannot really argue against.

Give any sane Manchester United fan this option and see what they would answer- if I was to tell you one club from Manchester is definitely winning the Champions League this season and you had to pick one which will double all your assets, or lose everything, which club would you pick? I think you would have to be lying if you really believed United had the better chance.

But that is this season and I do believe Pellegrini got a little muddled between 'bigger' and 'better' so I wasn't too concerned. However, all the GIF images and memes that were sent out that I have had 'retweeted' onto my feed looks a touch bitter and is something that I would have laughed if it had been sent out by Liverpool fans. People get a little too sensitive over issues that really don't matter in the grand scheme of things and I really don't want to become one of these fans that constantly talks about history in any debate over the game.

Everyone will define 'bigger' clubs their own way, but I don't want to go overboard in having a reaction to a manager whose first language isn't English making a statement that could easily be taken out of context.

The Champions League is back this week, but I am still not a fan on the splitting the Last 16 Round into four match days for the first and second legs. It does mean the television coverage lets the fans see most of the big matches they may want to, but it feels like overkill to me and I would still prefer to keep the matches together.

Bayer Leverkusen v Paris Saint-Germain Pick: Out of these two teams, the obvious pick as to which of the sides will go through to the Quarter Finals is Paris Saint-Germain, but the first leg is at least a little more interesting and will be Bayer Leverkusen's best chance of laying the foundations for an upset.

Unfortunately for the home team, this game may be coming at the wrong time as they have just slipped a little in recent weeks and the 1-2 loss to Schalke here on Saturday will not have done the confidence any favours.

When I saw Bayer Leverkusen play Manchester United earlier this season, I was distinctly unimpressed with their performance in either game and I think Paris Saint-Germain will feel confident of their chances of earning a lead to take back home next month.

Losing Edinson Cavani for the game is a disappointment for PSG, but they should still be creating chances and Zlaten Ibrahimovic has been playing well enough to make up for the absence of the Uruguayan.

Paris Saint-Germain won at Valencia at the same stage of the competition last season and, while the odds are a little shorter than I may have initially suspected, I think they can win this one too. With the Bayer Leverkusen form just slipping in recent games at home, PSG should have enough to sneak that lead back home.

Manchester City v Barcelona Pick: The winner of this tie will certainly feel the door is going to be open for a deep run in the Champions League simply because of the confidence it would give them to knock out a big rival for the title.

The home leg is going to be key for Manchester City who have been strong here all season and they will know taking a lead to the Nou Camp next month is imperative if they are going to be getting through to the Quarter Finals for the first time. Not having Sergio Aguero to their disposal is a big loss for City and I think that made a huge difference to their approach to recent games, although Manchester City looked a lot better on Saturday in their win over Chelsea in the FA Cup.

Manuel Pellegrini has to show he has learnt lessons from the dismantling at the hands of Bayern Munich, but Manchester City have been tough to play in front of their own fans in this competition and all this season.

I think it won't surprise anyone with the way Barcelona approach the game and they won't sit back and look to soak up pressure, but they do look a team that is vulnerable at the back and will give Manchester City chances. However, I also think the Catalan side can create chances against this City defence and it looks a fascinating game.

When the draw was made, I actually thought Manchester City were going to come through and the whole key to that is taking a lead to the Nou Camp next week. There is no reason to think that Manchester City should be such a big price with the way they have played at home this season, although I do think Aguero is a big miss. If Stevan Jovetic can offer something different up front and Samir Nasri is back to offer more creativity from the start along with David Silva, I believe Manchester City take a narrow lead to the Nou Camp for the second leg.

AC Milan v Atletico Madrid Pick: This has absolutely been a down season for Milan who are looking in a precarious position when it comes to simply earning a place in Europe next season as injuries and loss of form take their effect on the side. However, I think they are unlikely to roll over in this tie, especially not in the first leg at the San Siro.

Milan have been tough to play here in recent years and that is shown by their 1 loss in their last 10 Champions league games in front of their own fans. That run is more impressive considering they have hosted Barcelona three times in that run of games and have yet to be beaten by the Spanish side.

That also means Milan have only lost 1 of their last 7 home games against sides from Spain, although anything less than a win would give Atletico Madrid the edge in the tie.

A draw would be seen as a really good result for Atletico Madrid, but they have shown they have the ability to get more than that on their travels this season in the Champions League. The difference this time is the fact that the draw would be seen as a competitive advantage for Atletico Madrid in the return next month and I think Diego Simeone will set out his side to make them hard to beat.

It's not often that Milan will be such a big outsider at the San Siro, but I don't think they have enough to win the game although I do think this tie will be in the balance when it goes back to the Spanish capital next month.

Arsenal v Bayern Munich Pick: A 2-0 defeat in Napoli has once again meant Arsenal were in the difficult position of finishing second in their Champions League Group, a situation that comes with the prospect of playing a more difficult Last 16 tie. Unfortunately for Arsenal, that has come about and the game against Bayern Munich looks an incredibly difficult one for them to negotiate after being taught a lesson by them a year ago, albeit in the first leg.

With the way that Arsenal defended against Liverpool on Sunday, I think there will be every chance for Bayern Munich to create chances and score goals at the Emirates Stadium and the fact they have scored at least twice in 7 straight away games shows what they are capable of. Bayern Munich have also reached that total of goals in 6 of their last 7 away games in the Champions League and have shown their ability to win outside of Germany regularly.

It also has to be stated that Arsenal have struggled against German opposition in recent years at home, losing to the likes of Schalke, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund which happened earlier this season.

All 3 of those losses have seen the away side score at least twice and I think it is going to be tough for Arsenal to not have a deficit going into the second leg next month. Arsenal should cause some problems with the home advantage, but there seems to be a lack of real pace in the side at the moment and Bayern Munich are clearly the best time they would have faced here this season.

I think Arsenal may score, but it is going to be hard to prevent Bayern Munich scoring and I think the away side will win this game and set up the second leg for them to move through as the Bavarian's continue to defend their trophy.

MY PICKS: Paris Saint-Germain @ 2.25 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Manchester City @ 3.10 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
AC Milan-Atletico Madrid Draw @ 3.30 Coral (1 Unit)
Bayern Munich to Win and 3 or 4 Total Goals in Match @ 3.60 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

February Update6-15, - 11.81 Units (36 Units Staked, - 32.80% Yield)

January Final17-24, - 3.18 Units (62 Units Staked, - 5.13% Yield)
December Final19-16-2, + 13.34 Units (66 Units Staked, + 20.21% 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 2013/1499-103-3, + 12.71 Units (328 Units Staked, + 3.88% Yield)
Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)