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Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (February 8-17)

The English Winter Break is in play for the first time this season and I think it has not gone as well as the Premier League and the top clu...

Friday, 20 November 2015

Weekend Football Picks 2015 (November 21-23)

The Premier League and other big European Leagues are back in action again this weekend after yet another international break and thankfully that is the last one we will have to suffer through for a couple of months at least.

Of course the main talking point of the last couple of weeks have been the atrocities that were committed in Paris. It was disgusting watching events unfold last Friday night, especially as I felt it was a real attack on Western culture.

Going to the football, watching a concert or meeting friends in a bar has been a regular occurrence for me in my life so those attacks really hit home for me.

This week I have a few picks from the Premier League games to be played over three days and I am hoping that I can find some form. It has been a miserable opening for my picks as I seem to be a little behind the curve and I have to look to get better to start improving results.

Hopefully that will begin this week and move through the next few months.

Chelsea v Norwich City PickThis has had to have felt like a long two weeks for Jose Mourinho as he looks to get Chelsea moving forward consistently. Any lapse in the Champions League would likely see the move made to replace him as manager, but Chelsea failing to make that competition a season after winning the Premier League would likely be too much too.

There are already a healthy 13 points between Chelsea and the top four and that means they can't have any more slips. However, they don't exactly make the most appeal on the trust-meter considering the way they have played at home, although I do think Norwich City might be a 'nice' way to return after the international break.

As much hard work as Norwich City will put into the game, they do not have the same level of quality of Southampton and Liverpool to really think they can upset Chelsea here. Crystal Palace also have more in the final third and I think Alex Neil might be concerned with the way Norwich City have defended in their last few games to think they can keep Chelsea at bay.

With the way Chelsea have been playing, it might not be a big surprise if this is another tense afternoon for the supporters who are at Stamford Bridge, but I think the home side make it slightly easier than that. I look for them to use their attacking talents to create enough chances, earn a measure of good fortune which has been missing of late, and defend well enough to secure a win by a couple of goals.

Everton v Aston Villa PickI can understand why Everton have been set as such a strong favourite to beat Aston Villa this week, although it would take a braver man than me to back them at such a short price. As impressive as Everton were in dismantling Sunderland 6-2, their defensive problems in the absence of Phil Jagielka is a concern and Aston Villa have actually found goals easier to come by away from home than they have at home.

It is quite easy which way I am leaning in this game and that is backing both teams to score at least once. As I said, Aston Villa have found it easier to get on the scoreboard away from home and have hit the back of the net in six of their seven away games in all competitions.

With Everton earning very little in terms of clean sheets at home, Aston Villa can score at Goodison Park and give themselves a chance of earning some vital points.

However, it is hard to see Aston Villa doing that with a clean sheet of their own as they have failed to earn one of those since the beginning of the season away from home. Everton certainly have goals in them going forward and backing both teams to score in this one looks a decent way to get involved in this one.

Swansea City v Bournemouth PickIt has been a strange couple of months for Swansea City and I do wonder if the players have lost some faith in Garry Monk and have almost downed tools. The results would indicate that, but Swansea City have played well in games where they have ultimately come up a little short and I think that is a big reason Monk was not dispensed with in the international window as some suggested he would be.

The fans will be expectant this weekend and a failure to win this game would perhaps be the final straw for Monk as manager at The Liberty Stadium.

Swansea City should have the edge against a Bournemouth team that have lost some key figures to injury and have not looked the same side since Callum Wilson went down for the majority of the season. Wilson looked like he could be a consistent scorer at this level, while Tommy Elphick's injury means they have lost a leader at the back.

Bournemouth have conceded at least two goals in five of their last six away games in all competitions and it is going to be difficult for them to pick up too many points in that kind of form.

The home advantage should give Swansea City the edge and if they can perform as they did against Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal I would expect the team to get better results than they did in those games. Swansea City look a decent enough price at just under odds against and I think they can win this one.

West Brom v Arsenal Pick: Coming out of the international break can be difficult for some of the top teams in the Premier League as the managers won't see many of their players for those two weeks. That is the case for Arsenal who are also looking at the mental state of the likes of Laurent Koscielny and Olivier Giroud who were part of the French national team over the last week through the traumatic events in Paris.

Tony Pulis and West Brom would also have seen a number of players away for international duty and they will be looking to go a little better than they have when facing the top teams so far this season. In home games, West Brom have been beaten by the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Leicester City and have conceded at least three goals in each of those losses.

Everton are another team that has scored three goals at The Hawthornes and Arsenal have been producing the kind of attacking football to certainly follow suit.

In saying that, West Brom have scored at least two goals in three of those defeats I have spoken about and they can give Arsenal something to think about defensively. The clean sheets might suggest Arsenal are defending very well, but Swansea City and Watford both had their chances and the away side had to ride their luck a little bit.

Games between West Brom and Arsenal have been close in recent years, and goals have been hard to come by. However, this game could see at least three goals shared between these teams with the way things have been going in their home/away games respectively and backing that looks a decent price.

Manchester City v Liverpool PickThis is the game of the weekend in the Premier League and it looks like one that could be very entertaining for the neutrals who will settle down to watch on Saturday evening.

There will be some quiet confidence in both dressing rooms ahead of the game especially as Liverpool went to Chelsea and won, while Manchester City have been very strong at home.

Both managers will also be hoping their star strikers will be able to return to the squad for this game- both Sergio Aguero and Daniel Sturridge are key to Manchester City and Liverpool chances of success this season, but both do need to be looked after having missed far too much football over the last eighteen months.

The edge on recent form suggests Manchester City will have a little too much quality for Liverpool, but it might be a competitive game in which both teams score at least once. Manchester City have won 5 in a row at home, but they have conceded in each of those games and haven't had a clean sheet at home since the end of August in any competition.

Liverpool have scored in 5 of their last 6 away from home and they will be tough to beat with a 5 game unbeaten run away from home. However, this team was dismissed at Old Trafford and I think they will lose for the second time in Manchester this weekend.

However, I think a small interest on Manchester City winning a game in which both teams score looks the best way to get on the home team. Both teams have scored in each of their last 7 games against one another and the last two Manchester City wins at The Etihad Stadium have come in games in which both teams have scored and I like that occurring this weekend too.

Crystal Palace v Sunderland PickWhen the Sunderland job became available, there were a lot of voices suggesting it may be a poisoned chalice and not an appealing option. It was a surprise that Sam Allardyce decided to take on the task considering the position Sunderland were in and the problems they have been having and the manager hasn't experienced much of a honeymoon period at The Stadium of Light.

Allardyce has been critical of the defending that his side have produced and they have looked very poor away from home. Sunderland are conceding too many goals and not scoring enough, the worst combination, and I think they will have a very tough time replicating their 1-3 win at Crystal Palace that was secured last season.

This time around Crystal Palace look a much tougher proposition than under Neil Warnock and I do think the home team will have too much for them.

One problem for Crystal Palace is that they have struggled with the expectation of attacking at home under Alan Pardew, although that might be changing too. They earned a solid win over West Brom here and only some bad luck prevented them from dominating and beating Manchester United in their last game here.

The Eagles have pace, attacking intent and goals in the final third and I think they will prove too good for Sunderland who must think the January transfer window can't come quick enough. I do think Sam Allardyce will make them a tougher side to beat, but he has to hope Sunderland are still in touch with the teams outside of the bottom three in six weeks time to really make the impact he wants.

It might be difficult to keep Crystal Palace at bay in this one though and I like the home team to win this by a couple of goals.

MY PICKS: Chelsea - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Everton-Aston Villa Both Teams to Score @ 2.00 Betway (2 Units)
Swansea City @ 1.91 Paddy Power (2 Units)
West Brom-Arsenal Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Manchester City Win and Both Teams to Score @ 3.30 Stan James (1 Unit)
Crystal Palace - 1 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)

November Update: 2-3, - 2.18 Units (10 Units Staked, - 21.8% Yield)

October Final16-25, - 13.51 Units (79.50 Units Staked, - 16.99% Yield)
September Final29-30-3, + 4.18 Units (117.5 Units Staked, + 3.58% Yield)
August Final16-31-1, - 24.34 Units (94 Units Staked, - 25.89% Yield)

Season 2015/1661-86-4, - 33.67 Units (291 Units Staked, - 11.57% Yield)
Season 2014/15159-208-5, - 20.22 Units (647 Units Staked, - 3.13% 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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