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Saturday, 30 August 2014

Weekend Football Picks 2014 (August 30-31)

The final weekend of August is the final round of Premier League games before the first international games of the new season and it is a big one for the likes of Manchester United who need a win desperately.

The first month has been as bad as last season to this point, but with this last weekend to try and redeem things and I am hopeful that these picks can get things continuing in the right direction.

Burnley v Manchester United Pick: I know Burnley have made a poor start to the new season, but I don't know who will be backing Manchester United to win at short odds considering their own poor start to the new season. The defending has been diabolical at times with a 3-5-2 system that is unfamiliar to the players causing some issues.

However, there should be a boost this weekend with Marcos Rojo and Angel Di Maria giving Manchester United a sprinkling of Argentinian toughness that has been missing from the first three games. Even with those arrivals, United have taken the Liverpool line of being priced by 'name' rather than 'form' and there is no way I would feel comfortable backing them to win at Turf Moor this weekend.

Manchester United have found the net in both League games though and I do think they are capable of scoring at Turf Moor with Di Maria, Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie providing some real attacking options.

On the other hand, I fully expect Burnley to be completely up for this live game and they created enough against Chelsea in the first home game to think Turf Moor can be a very tough place to visit this season. That is the only goal Burnley have scored in 3 games in all competitions this season, but I think Sean Dyche is smart enough to know that this is a vulnerable Manchester United team coming to town and he will want his men on the front foot.

The first game of the last Premier League weekend was a dud, but this should be much more fascinating and I won't be surprised at all if both teams score in an entertaining game that could go either way.

Manchester City v Stoke City Pick: Manchester City look to be a team playing with supreme belief that they will find a way to win matches and I think it is going to be difficult for Stoke City to do enough to earn a point.

The question then becomes how long can Stoke frustrate the home team in a bid to perhaps find a surprise result. Last season they lasted until the 70th minute before Yaya Toure broke the resistance, but Stoke City have struggled here recently and had lost 4 of their previous 5 games at the Etihad Stadium by the same 3-0 scoreline.

With the attacking talent at the disposal of Manual Pellegrini and the full strength available to the Chilean, I think this game is going to end more in line with recent fixtures and the 1-0 could be an aberration.

It will all depend on how long Stoke can hold out, but an early goal conceded could make this a long afternoon for Mark Hughes at a club where he managed and I think Manchester City are clinical enough to win this one comfortably.

Swansea v West Brom Pick: August can be a tough month to really make a profit simply because there isn't a lot of form to back up picks and you can only go with pre-season expectations. It is then easy to read too much into one result and expect a team to continue playing at that level and I am a little disappointed with the prices for a Swansea win in this game.

However, I do think the Swans are the more likely winners as I feel they have more players capable of creating/scoring a goal out of nothing compared with West Brom. The latter look set for a tough season in the Premier League and I do think they are going up against a confident Swansea team that will want to go into the international break off the back of four straight wins.

It certainly won't be an easy game for Swansea considering I don't fully trust this team to break down opponents that may come into the Liberty Stadium to soak up the pressure. They did manage to do that against Burnley last weekend and I do feel they will produce something special that separates the two teams.

West Brom ended last season with some real struggles on their travels and I believe Swansea inflict their first defeat of the new campaign on Saturday.

West Ham United v Southampton Pick: There is every chance that this could prove to be one of the most entertaining games of the weekend as both West Ham United and Southampton have shown their ability to get the ball down and play some quality football in the early portion of the new season.

With a little more luck in front of goal, West Ham would have won all 3 games they have played this season, but penalties have been a particularly issue after the shoot-out defeat against Sheffield United. That followed Mark Noble's penalty miss against Tottenham Hotspur which would have given West Ham the lead against ten men, but the result at Crystal Palace should give them confidence.

As well as Southampton have played against Liverpool, the result against West Brom at home has to be a concern and I think they are a touch over-rated to be coming to West Ham as the favourites this weekend.

West Ham have shown they can get after teams in the early season form and I think they will give Southampton plenty to think about. There is every chance that West Ham make it three wins in a row over the Saints at Upton Park, especially if they keep creating the chances they have so far this season and a small interest on the underdog is advisable.

Everton v Chelsea Pick: Everton threw away two points last week with their inexplicable collapse from 2-0 up against Arsenal with less than ten minutes to play. Now they have to pick themselves up to face one of the favourites for the Premier League title.

Chelsea have made a solid start to the new season but this is the toughest test they will have faced by some distance and the Blues could be missing Diego Costa this week.

They also have a poor record at Goodison Park to say the least in recent seasons and anything less than a A performance could see the Chelsea 100% come to a screeching halt.

We have seen so many teams come to this ground and fail to win the game if they are not at their very best and Chelsea may need Didier Drogba to lead the line if Costa can't go. The midfield will create chances but Everton will also be attacking at will and I think these teams may need to split the points this week.

Leicester City v Arsenal Pick: There have been some signs that Arsenal are getting better going forward, although they still look like they need someone to lead the line with Olivier Giroud missing out for the foreseeable future.

However, a concern for Arsene Wenger will be how vulnerable they look defensively and there was an element of fortune in the last few minutes against Besiktas that they didn't concede the goal that would have knocked them out.

They are now going up against a Leicester City team that have conceded twice in each of the first two matches in the Premier League and I do think Arsenal are capable of getting to that number again. On the other hand, Nigel Pearson would have seen enough going forward in those two League games to believe they can also cause Arsenal plenty of problems and I expect this Super Sunday contest may feature some goals.

I honestly do think both managers will feel they can win this game and there should be chances at both ends. At the end of the day, Arsenal should be the more clinical with the talent they can call upon, but they haven't been that good in either of their first two away games this season and I will pick this game to feature at least three goals.

MY PICKS: Burnley-Manchester United Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.95 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Manchester City - 2 Asian Handicap @ 2.10 Pinnacle (2 Units)
Swansea @ 1.92 Coral (2 Units)
West Ham United @ 3.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
Everton-Chelsea Draw @ 3.40 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Leicester City-Arsenal Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.92 Pinnacle (2 Units)

August Update7-17, - 13.76 Units (41 Units Staked, - 33.56% Yield)

Season 2013/14164-185-3, + 15.84 Units (577 Units Staked, + 2.75% Yield)
Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

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