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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...

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Weekend Football Picks 2016 (February 6-7)

The big story coming into the weekend football in the Premier League is the top of the table clash in the Premier League to open this round of fixtures as Manchester City host Leicester City.

There is no doubting this is the acid test for Leicester City who go to The Etihad Stadium this weekend and then visit The Emirates Stadium next weekend as to whether they can sustain a Premier League title challenge. If Leicester City can pick up four points from their next two games, Leicester City might actually be heading into the final round of fixtures in February as the favourite to win the title, something I could not have imagined at the beginning of the season.

The last game of the weekend might have been expected to have much bigger consequences than what we have when Chelsea play Manchester United. However there are renewed reports that Jose Mourinho has been asked to take over at Old Trafford this summer and that should cast a shadow over the game involving his last club and possibly the next club Mourinho manages.

I have little doubt that Sky will look to that angle as a way to promote what is an underwhelming game with both Chelsea and Manchester United underachieving. However, I do think it could be one of the better games of the weekend as two teams with a big need to earn the three points meet one another.

It is the 6th February... The Flowers of Manchester will be remembered on the 58th Anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster.

Manchester City v Leicester City Pick: The top of the Premier League is up for grabs when Manchester City meet Leicester City at The Etihad Stadium and this looks a very intriguing game.

I do think the absence of the likes of Vincent Kompany and Kevin De Bruyne is a big blow to Manchester City while we still don't know for sure how the players are responding to Manuel Pellegrini announcing his departure at the end of the season. They looked poor in the second half at Sunderland, but Manchester City did win that game and they are a much stronger team at home.

Manchester City have won seven of their last eight games at home in all competitions and it is tough to stop them winning games if they are scoring at least three goals in each as they have in those seven wins. Everton did earn a goalless draw here, but Sergio Aguero looks in much stronger form at this point and I think they will test an improved Leicester City defence.

I also do have a lot of respect for Leicester City who have won the most away games in the Premier League at this moment in time. However, they might have just begun to hit a wall on their travels as Leicester City were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw at Aston Villa and were beaten at Liverpool on Boxing Day.

Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez both have the kind of pace to really hurt this Manchester City backline, but I think Leicester City will need to be at their very best defensively to stay in this game. The counter attack will make Leicester City very dangerous and they will have their chances as I think Manchester City will dominate the ball and they aren't as good defensively without Kompany.

However, Manchester City are scoring a lot of goals at home at the moment and I think they will win this game. Clean sheets have been a problem for Manchester City so I do think Leicester City will play their part, but ultimately I fancy the home team to sneak the victory on Saturday.

Liverpool v Sunderland PickThere are a lot of positives that Sunderland can take out of their performance against Manchester City and reaching those levels consistently will give them a great chance of avoiding the drop. The games at the Stadium of Light have been more competitive from Sunderland's view, but this is a team that has to improve markedly on their travels if they are to get out of the bottom three.

Conceding too many goals is a big problem for Sunderland away from home but they are going up against a Liverpool team that have just struggled of late. It has been hard for them at Anfield where the expectation is Liverpool getting forward and scoring goals, but Jurgen Klopp doesn't seem to have a lot of faith in Christian Benteke and the false nine isn't working as it should.

Liverpool have actually failed to score the last three times they have played Premier League opponents at Anfield and I think it might be asking too much for them to win this one by more than a single goal. That is if they win at all and Sunderland must be looking at this game and thinking there are 'surprise' points to be had to help them in their battle against relegation.

This has been a tough fixture for Liverpool in recent seasons as they haven't turned it into three point as often as they like. The players are still trying to figure what exactly Klopp wants from them and not having the focal point up front has been tough to deal with.

If Sunderland can just defend properly, they will have a chance to get something out of this game. The side have a decent recent record at Anfield and backing Sunderland on the Double Chance to avoid losing has to be worth a small interest, especially when considering Liverpool have won 1 of their last 6 games here against Premier League opponents.

Stoke City v Everton PickThis is a really big game for both Stoke City and Everton for different reasons- Stoke City can't afford to let a promising season fizzle out in February, while Everton need to keep the pressure off of Roberto Martinez from the stands.

It was a contrasting week for the two teams as Stoke City lost both games played while Everton moved into the FA Cup Fifth Round before crushing Newcastle United.

Goals have surprisingly become a problem for Stoke City in recent games, but they are facing an Everton team that does concede goals. John Stones is out which makes them a little more vulnerable and Stoke City will be able to create chances through an inspiring front four that haven't sparked as well as they could in recent games.

On the other hand I think Everton will be confident they can create chances themselves even if Romelu Lukaku is potentially out. Ross Barkley has been in strong form and Stoke City look vulnerable at the back without Ryan Shawcross who is likely out until the end of the month.

These two teams played a very entertaining game when they met at Goodison Park five weeks ago and I can see this match being similar. Both teams should have chances to get on the scoreboard and backing there being at least three goals at odds against looks an appealing option.

Tottenham Hotspur v Watford PickWhen you think about it, it would be just like Tottenham Hotspur to get into this position of being considered genuine Premier League title contenders and then lay an absolute egg of a game. The form at White Hart Lane has been a lot more mixed than away from home and Watford have proved they are anything but an easy out for any team in the Premier League.

The away team have a dangerous front two that will test this Tottenham Hotspur defence that is amongst the best in the Premier League. That should keep Tottenham Hotspur focused who had a much more comfortable game during the week than Watford and I do think the likes of Dele Alli and Harry Kane are in very strong form that does give the home team the edge.

One trend that might not be easy to ignore is the fact that Watford have failed to score in their last couple of away games in the Premier League.

It has to be a concern for Watford who have put in so much effort over the last seven days in their last couple of games and I think Tottenham Hotspur can take advantage. My concern is the way that Spurs have played at White Hart Lane in recent games as they have struggled with the balance between attack and defence, but this is a young team full of confidence and the momentum behind them is hard to ignore.

I just think Tottenham Hotspur are going to be a little too strong on the day and I like them to win this one by a couple of goals.

Southampton v West Ham United Pick: This was originally set to be played on Monday Night Football, but West Ham United are involved in a FA Cup Fourth Round Replay this week meaning it was shifted to the late Saturday slot.

It looks a good game between Southampton and West Ham United who are both chasing European places from their Premier League form. Both teams are in the top half of the table and I think Southampton are about par as to where their goals were for the season, while The Hammers are overachieving.

Even though I think this is an intriguing game, it might not be one that sees too many goals scored by the teams involved. Both Southampton and West Ham United have been defending well and I can see this one being a tight game that could struggle to reach the three goal mark.

When they meet at Upton Park, the goals do tend to follow this fixture, but it has not been the case when the fixture is played on the South Coast. Last season it was a goalless draw, the second in a row since Southampton returned to the top flight, and the last six times they have played one another here we have seen two goals or fewer shared out.

With both teams knowing the importance of the three points on offer, I believe this fixture could see the teams cancel one another out and I will back there being two or fewer goals in the game.

Bournemouth v Arsenal PickI have to say the neutrals watching this game on Sunday should see plenty of good football as both Bournemouth and Arsenal look to impose their passing style against the other. There is pace and quality in the final third for both clubs too and I think there will definitely be goals in the game.

That looks an appealing price at odds against on first glance and I wouldn't be surprised if we see at least three goals shared between them.

However, the more appealing angle for me is backing Arsenal at a big price to win here.

This is actually a bigger price than Manchester United were to win at Bournemouth although the home team is arguably in better form now than they were in December. However, Bournemouth had won at Chelsea the week before that game against Manchester United and I have to think Arsenal would be a lot shorter if they had held on to beat Liverpool when leading 2-3 into the final minutes of that game at Anfield.

Arsenal would have definitely been shorter if they had taken one of a number of great chances against Southampton at home during the week and I think they will win this game if they create half as many chances. Bournemouth will allow Arsenal to play their football which is a big danger and the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez did everything but score on Tuesday.

Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United have won by wide margins here and I think Arsenal are capable of becoming yet another London team to earn the three points in this part of England. Bournemouth will likely play their part and I wouldn't be surprised if Benik Afobe pops up to score, but Arsenal have too much attacking talent to be held off the scoreboard again and I like them to win here.

Chelsea v Manchester United PickThe layers are not expecting a lot of goals when Chelsea meet Manchester United on Sunday in the second live game of the day, but I do think they might be missing something.

This is an important game for both teams but Chelsea have less to lose with their top four ambitions gone. Guus Hiddink is likely to ask his team to get forward and pressure Manchester United with Diego Costa leading the line unlike the game at Old Trafford where they played with a false nine.

And goals at Stamford Bridge have not been in short supply as Chelsea have scored at least twice in their last 6 games here in all competitions. However they haven't been winning games because Chelsea have kept a single clean sheet in their last 5 games at Stamford Bridge and have conceded at least twice in 3 of their last 4 games.

Defensively they have looked suspect and this Manchester United team have actually scored more away goals than they have at home in the Premier League. They scored 3 at Newcastle United and at Derby County recently and 4 of Manchester United's last 6 away games have seen at least three goals shared by the teams.

Last season it did end 1-0 to Chelsea here, but the previous 4 Premier League games here between these teams had produced at least three goals. Anyone who has seen the last two times Chelsea and Manchester United have met should not have missed the chances that have been created even if the goals have not followed and I can see a big price looking overpriced at the end of this one.

MY PICKS: Both Teams to Score and Manchester City to Win @ 3.20 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Draw or Sunderland Double Chance @ 2.88 Coral (1 Unit)
Stoke City-Everton Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Southampton-West Ham United Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Arsenal @ 2.05 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Chelsea-Manchester United Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.45 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)

February Update: 4-2-1, + 3.66 Units (14 Units Staked, + 26.14% Yield)

January Final19-13, + 17.56 Units (61 Units Staked, + 28.79% Yield)
December Final15-23, - 9.32 Units (64 Units Staked, - 14.56% 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 2015/1687-128-5, - 38.37 Units (467 Units Staked, - 8.22% 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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