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Saturday, 15 February 2014

Weekend Football Picks 2014 (February 15-17)

Late goals, missed chances and some poor performances pretty much summed up the picks I made during the week and that has put me in a pretty negative position in the month. The last two round of games have been a struggle, but hopefully there will be a change in fortunes as the FA Cup reaches the Fifth Round.

It will be interesting to see some of the team line ups that will be sent out this weekend, but we have two huge games as the top four sides in the Premier League meet one another just before the Champions League re-starts.

Guessing team news is never an easy task, but you have to think the majority of teams that have reached this stage will be taking the Cup seriously, especially those outside of the top four knowing that two of those sides will be exiting at the end of the Round. Wigan Athletic winning the competition last season will also give other teams the belief that they are capable of going all the way too and so strong teams should be named.

The weather is another factor that will have an effect this weekend as the heavy storms battering the United Kingdom continue, but the hope is that those calm down on Saturday to the point that we get to see some good football.


Sunderland v Southampton Pick: Both of these clubs will feel they have an excellent chance of reaching the Sixth Round of the FA Cup and could easily go a lot further if they can navigate this game, but I think the edge is rightly being given to Southampton in the first of the games this weekend.

Last month, Southampton were 0-2 up here and cruising, but they stepped off the gas and allowed Sunderland to get back into the game, but the away side can use that confidence to win this game.

Sunderland are likely to play a lot of fringe players as they decide to put the Premier League first and that is an easier decision for Gus Poyet knowing the side have a League Cup Final to play in two weeks time.

With a few changes, Sunderland may struggle to find the rhythm in their play against a Southampton side that have seen their confidence restored over the last six weeks. I would be surprised if Mauricio Pochettino decided to make a lot of changes with the chance to win silverware this season and no reason to rest players at the moment.

However, he did in a League Cup defeat here earlier this season, but I still believe the FA Cup has more prestige attached to it that Southampton will give it a good go to win the competition. Sunderland won't want a replay, but I think they will do well to get this tie to that stage and I look for Southampton to snap their poor run against Sunderland and beat them for the first time since 2003.


Sheffield Wednesday v Charlton Athletic: Two sides in the Championship have the chance to replicate the achievements of Blackburn Rovers and Millwall by reaching the Quarter Final of the FA Cup and I would be surprised if either takes this game lightly even if I do think Sheffield Wednesday are going to move through.

Of the two teams, Sheffield Wednesday have at least been in better form over the last few weeks and they should still be feeling good about their chances even after being battered at home during the week.

That was a disappointing loss, but the scoreline was harsh and Sheffield Wednesday may have won the game if they had shown some more clinical form in front of goal. That is what they have been doing in games at Hillsborough before the loss to Wigan and I think they will prove a little too good for Charlton Athletic.

You have to respect Charlton coming through two away ties in the FA Cup, but their form has been poor in the Championship on their travels and confidence would have taken another hit from 3 straight losses since the Fourth Round win at Huddersfield Town. They may play with nothing to lose which makes Charlton dangerous, but another fluctuation in form during the FA Cup would be a surprise considering how they have been playing.

Charlton didn't have to play during the week which may give them a chance, but I like Sheffield Wednesday to win.


Manchester City v Chelsea Pick: You can't argue with the conclusion that Jose Mourinho out-witted Manuel Pellegrini two weeks ago and got the tactics spot on in a 0-1 win that could have been a greater margin but for some poor finishing and the woodwork coming to the rescue for Manchester City.

The absence of John Terry and Gary Cahill is big news though and may give Manchester City a little more room to create chances after finding both in top form when they played earlier this month. Manchester City weren't great two weeks ago, but Samir Nasri returning would be a huge positive for them as it may free up Yaya Toure a little more although the absence of Sergio Aguero will also have a big impact on the home side.

Chances were not at a premium when they met two weeks ago and I would find it strange if either side sat back in this game. With the Champions League re-starting during the week, there isn't much room for additional games so a replay is the last thing either will want and I feel that will produce a more open game.

That isn't to say that the game last month wasn't open, but it is to say that I think there will be plenty of chances again in this game and I will be expecting more composure in front of goal. Manchester City shouldn't really be as big a price as they are to win the game, but Chelsea had things spot on two weeks ago and back to back games without a goal will have sapped some confidence.

I don't think it will go three games without a goal is in the offing for Manchester City, but I can't back them to win the game with the way Chelsea performed against them either. I do think both teams will score at least one goal and both will be pushing for the winner so over 2.5 goals has to be the call, especially if the game is as open as two weeks ago.


Everton v Swansea Pick: I won't have much to say about this game except Everton are bound to be taking the competition seriously after Roberto Martinez won the FA Cup with Wigan Athletic last season.

I couldn't believe Southampton rested so many players yesterday with nothing to really gain from doing so, but I would be surprised if Everton go the same way.

Having a game cancelled during the week would have helped them and I think they are capable of winning the game. However, Swansea will cause some problems themselves and I can see them scoring at least once in the game and so backing the home team to win a game where both teams score is my pick.


Arsenal v Liverpool Pick: The layers are taking no chances with the Liverpool price after it was suggested that Arsenal were going to rest a number of players in anticipation of the Champions League game to be played on Wednesday night.

It would be a concern for the fans if Arsene Wenger decides to rest a number of first team players as they can't afford to see Arsenal give up on trophies, but they will also want to see the team restore some confidence after a couple of disappointing performances in the Premier League.

The 5-1 loss at Liverpool will be a result they really want to wipe from the memory at the first opportunity, but resting first team players will only give the away side the edge.

I have to credit Arsenal with the way they have defended for most of the season, especially at the Emirates Stadium, but Liverpool exposed them with pace and power in their play and I have no reason to think Brendan Rodgers will make too many changes. They did have a tough game at Fulham during the week, but the additional time to prepare for this game and the week between this and their next game should have Liverpool fully focused on the task at hand.

Whether they can win this game at the first instance is tough to really know considering Liverpool's poor record at Arsenal in recent seasons, but they have enough about them to cause the Gunners more defensive problems. I think if Liverpool are to win, they will likely need to score twice, but I will back them to either reach that number or three goals which is priced at a very similar level to the away win.

MY PICKS: Southampton @ 2.30 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Sheffield Wednesday @ 2.05 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Manchester City-Chelsea Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.85 Bet365 (2 Units)
Both Teams to Score and Everton to Win @ 3.60 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Liverpool Goal Bands: 2-3 Goals @ 2.45 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

February Update5-12, - 8.41 Units (29 Units Staked, - 29% 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)

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