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Saturday, 5 December 2015

Weekend Football Picks 2015 (December 5-7)

The start of a very busy December both domestically and in Europe with some big games coming up begins this weekend. I have a small piece with a few thoughts from last weekend's Premier League games which can be read here.

That covers a few thoughts about two strikers who have been struggling in Wayne Rooney and Diego Costa, while this could be a big weekend for Steve McClaren who is under immense pressure as manager of Newcastle United.

Southampton v Aston Villa PickI might have fancied Liverpool were going to be too good for Southampton in the Capital One Cup, but I couldn't predict the complete capitulation the home team would suffer despite going ahead inside the first minute. A 1-6 home defeat is a humbling experience and Ronald Koeman will be demanding Southampton end their recent 3 game losing run and bounce back immediately this week.

The Dutchman might not have been able to pick out a better fixture than facing bottom club Aston Villa at home, especially considering how poor the latter have been in recent weeks. Remi Garde's appointment has done nothing to stem the negative tide against Aston Villa and it is hard to see how this club will survive.

Conceding at least two goals away from home is a recipe for disaster and it hasn't worked out well for Aston Villa who have lost their last 7 away games. The 4-0 thumping at Everton last time out was not a flattering scoreline for the home team and Aston Villa look to be in big trouble.

They have to travel to the south coast believing the game Southampton played on Wednesday may have a sapped a few legs and give Aston Villa a chance. However, I can't help think of the goals the away team are conceding on their travels while it might be even more difficult for Aston Villa without the likes of Micah Richards and Ciaran Clark at the heart of the defence.

A late goal prevented Southampton beating Aston Villa by at least two goals when they met in the League Cup and I do think the home team have the edge. Confidence might not be high, but Aston Villa are a poor team and Southampton should have the talent in the final third to create chances and win this one fairly comfortably to end their 3 game losing run in all competitions.

Swansea City v Leicester City PickIt has been a strange Premier League season at times and one of the stories that is hard to really get a read on is the sudden collapse of Swansea City. Some good performances haven't been rewarded with the results they deserved, but Swansea City have to be concerned by their slip down the League table.

In fact it might be suggested that Garry Monk will be removed as manager of the club if Swansea City were to be beaten by high-flying Leicester City and this is far from an easy game for the home team.

The counter attack that Leicester City have thrived upon is very effective away from home and that has shown in their unbeaten run on their travels. It has produced chances and goals and Leicester City have scored at least two goals in their last 5 away games in the League while they have won 3 of 4 games on their travels because they have managed to push a bit further and score another goal.

Leicester City have scored three times at West Brom and Newcastle United heading into this game and they will certainly feel they can do some damage against a team that has conceded at least two goals in 3 of their last 4 games at home.

This should be a game that does see chances at both ends with the way Leicester City have been playing. Claudio Ranieri is refusing to put the handbrake on his team and they have responded with plenty of goals and attacking verve which should see Leicester City create chances here.

However they have looked vulnerable at the back and you can't ignore the fact their clean sheet at Newcastle United was their first away from home this season. Prior to that Leicester City had conceded at least twice in 3 of their previous 4 away games and Swansea City have players that can score goals against them.

Either way it would be a surprise if there aren't goals in this one and backing at least three to be scored looks the way to get involved.

Watford v Norwich City Pick: At the start of the season, most would have tipped this up as a relegation six pointer, although Watford won't be taking their positive start as a reason to relax. It is a bigger game for Norwich City who could put a nice gap between them and the bottom three with a victory on Saturday, but they have not been in as strong form as the home team, although that won't intimidate them.

A similar set of players came here and helped Norwich City to a 0-3 win, part of two they had over Watford last season by the same scoreline. However it is Watford who have taken to the increase of level in the Premier League in better shape than Norwich City even if Alex Neil isn't convinced they have gotten the points they deserve.

It is actually quite difficult to pick a winner and this looks a game where both teams will understand the importance of the three points. This is still early enough in the season to think both Watford and Norwich City can play with the freedom that comes with looking for a win rather than later in the campaign where every point seems to count a lot more and tension can make managers believe they 'must not lose' rather than push on for a win.

Both teams will feel they can cause problems going forward but have looked a little suspect defensively at times.

The layers aren't expecting Watford and Norwich City to be able to provide the entertainment in terms of goals being scored, but this is a fixture that has regularly been able to do that including twice last season in the Championship.

With both managers likely going to push to earn a vital three points, I can see both teams scoring and there being a winner so backing at least three goals looks to have more legs than the layers believe.

West Brom v Tottenham Hotspur PickWhen you think of a Tony Pulis managed team, the tendency is to think of low-scoring games and a hard to beat side, but West Brom have actually been involved in some cracking games at home.

The pressure is certainly on Pulis to give his team more energy at home rather than on their travels when they can sit back and try and frustrate their hosts. While there have been a couple of low-scoring games here, one of those against Sunderland, 5 of 7 League games at The Hawthornes have seen at least three goals shared out and this is a fixture that has produced goals in the past.

3 of the last 4 games played between West Brom and Tottenham Hotspur here have seen at least three goals going in and I have a real belief this could be another.

West Brom have some pace and energy in the final third that can make them dangerous, but they have also struggled to defend efficiently at times. However they showed in the 2-1 win over Arsenal that the team have character and won't wilt and go away if they fall behind.

It has to be said that Tottenham Hotspur are not the inspired attacking team of a few years ago but are now much better at grinding out results. They won't leave massive spaces open by sending too many men forward, but Tottenham Hotspur will believe they are capable of winning here as Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton and Leicester City have and all of those teams scored at least three times.

I am not sure Tottenham Hotspur can reach that total themselves, but West Brom have shown they can give the top teams problems on their day with the win over Arsenal last time here. That saw all three goals scored in the first half of that game and I do think these two teams have a better chance of reaching three goals shared out than the layers may believe.

Chelsea v Bournemouth PickIn normal years you would say a Chelsea home game against Bournemouth is the perfect game for the home to get ready for a vital Champions League game days later. While I still believe Chelsea will win this game, it is not as straight-forward in a season when The Blues have already had more losses than they would expect through the course of a season.

I am expecting Chelsea to be too strong having won 3 of their last 4 games at Stamford Bridge in all competitions and Bournemouth's pretty poor away record. The 1-0 win over Norwich City showed signs Chelsea were getting back to their best and I just have this feeling that someone is going to take a thumping from them here sooner rather than later.

There were enough chances in the Norwich game to win two different games and Chelsea should give Bournemouth plenty to think about. Eddie Howe won't go gung-ho here but he will give his players the chance to express themselves and that hasn't worked out for Bournemouth who don't defend as well as they need to at this level.

Bournemouth have conceded at least twice in their last 6 away games in the Premier League and I do think Chelsea have begun to find their feet with their defensive shape. John Terry could be back to strengthen them there and Bournemouth have yet to replace Callum Wilson as effectively as they would have liked.

I think there is enough of an edge here in favour of Chelsea to think they will win this by a couple of goals at least and I will back them to do that.

Everton v Crystal Palace PickThis is the last game in the Premier League this weekend and I have a feeling the best could be saved for last as I am looking at both teams giving this a right good go.

Everton have been very impressive of late and entertaining the masses with goals going in regularly at both ends of the pitch. They have pace to burn and Ross Barkley and Romelu Lukaku are arguably the two most in form players in the Premier League in their current positions. Both have been scoring goals and creating goals, but Everton might still feel they should have had more points on the board.

The side might have won their last couple of games at Goodison Park, but Crystal Palace look the most dangerous of recent visitors. Everton beating Sunderland and Aston Villa should be easier games than Crystal Palace although the absence of Bakary Sako and Wilfried Zaha takes away a big threat.

Neither played here last season in Crystal Palace's 2-3 win here and this game does feel like it will produce goals. Everton have been scoring and conceding at a rapid rate, while Crystal Palace have shown what they can with wins at Chelsea and Liverpool already.

I think the way Everton are playing that this will be an open game and an early goal could really spark things into life. Backing at least three goals to be scored looks like the way to go in what looks a cracking match on paper.

MY PICKS: Southampton - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.15 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Leicester City-Swansea City Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.90 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Watford-Norwich City Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
West Brom-Tottenham Hotspur Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.30 Betfair Spotsbook (2 Units)
Chelsea - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.85 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Everton-Crystal Palace Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.83 Boyle Sports (2 Units)

December Update: 2-2, + 2 Units (6 Units Staked, + 33.33% Yield)

November Final: 11-19-1, - 12.94 Units (51 Units Staked, - 25.37% 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 2015/1672-105-5, - 46.61 Units (342 Units Staked, - 13.63% 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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