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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Midweek Football Picks 2016 (April 19-21)

The Premier League looks to be hotting up at the top and bottom of the table after the weekend results which have reignited the title race as well as the relegation one. This week is a 'make up' week for a number of teams who had games in hand and could have a big impact when it comes to the top four and the bottom three in the League table which should keep the neutrals intrigued over the next three days.

This weekend is another which has seen the League schedule disrupted thanks to the four teams who are featuring in the FA Cup Semi Final, but the focus for most will be on this week's Premier League games first.

Newcastle United v Manchester City PickThis is a game that will have big implications at the top and bottom of the Premier League and both Newcastle United and Manchester City will be desperate for the three points. The win for Newcastle United over Swansea City on Saturday will give the team and The Toon Army plenty of confidence, but they have to be better defensively to avoid a defeat.

The 3-0 scoreline looks a comfortable day for Newcastle United, but that doesn't tell the full story when it comes to the chances Swansea City had with the game at 1-0. Those chances will be taken by players in from like Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero and Manchester City look to be a team rounding into form at the right time to avoid missing a Champions League place.

Manchester City had their own 3-0 win on Saturday as they impressively dismissed Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and seven goals in their last couple of away games in the Premier League shows the confidence this team has.

They have also loved visiting St James' Park in recent years with their last six away games at this ground ending with Manchester City wins by at least two goals each time. With the way they are performing in front of goal, Manchester City should have the chances to get on the front foot in this one and I do think they are able to come through and take away the three points.

It should be quite a test for Manchester City if Newcastle United are encouraged by their fans after the win on Saturday. However it is one I think they can come through with some confidence and I think Manchester City cover the Asian Handicap.

West Ham United v Watford PickIf this game was played over the weekend, you would think it would be a tough one for West Ham United against a Watford team that have made life difficult for some teams. However, the midweek fixture means it is likely that this one means a lot more to West Ham United and I think they can win with something to spare.

There is no doubt that the Watford attention has shifted to the FA Cup Semi Final now they have reached the 40 point mark in the Premier League. It has already been announced that changes will be made to the starting eleven for this one as they focus on that game on Sunday and West Ham United are playing well enough to take advantage.

Slaven Bilic will be hoping his team can at least defend better than they have been in recent games which has cost his team a number of points. He will also be hoping for better refereeing decisions as West Ham United try and exert some pressure on those teams in the top four of the Premier League table.

West Ham United score plenty of goals though and I think they can give this Watford team a lot of problems through the contest. There will be players in the away line up who will be hoping to persuade their manager they deserve a start in the Cup Semi Final, but the motivation is all on the side of West Ham United and I expect that will show up on Wednesday.

It hasn't been too often that West Ham United have won by a comfortable margin this season, but I am looking for them to cover the Asian Handicap in this one as they move to within 4 points of Arsenal in the top four.

Liverpool v Everton PickBoth Liverpool and Everton have a number of injuries in their squad going into the final Merseyside derby of the season, but the fans won't be looking for excuses as to why their team did not perform. The bigger factor might be the FA Cup Semi Final that Everton are due to play on Saturday against Manchester United and that could mean Roberto Martinez takes no risks with his big players.

It is a big risk for Martinez personally because the fans are already disillusioned with his time as manager of the club as Everton have fallen off the standards set by David Moyes. Winning the Cup might relieve some of the pressure on Martinez, but basically rolling over for Liverpool and then losing to Manchester United in the Semi Final might mean curtains for him as manager here in the summer.

That means Martinez has to play a fine balancing act, while Jurgen Klopp can look to keep the momentum behind his team. Liverpool have shown some real determination in recent games, no more so than when coming back to beat Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League Quarter Final, and I think the momentum is firmly behind them.

However they can't take Everton for granted as they have been very difficult to beat away from home in the League all season. On the other hand, Everton look a team riddled by knocks and injuries and a much changed team might struggle to make the impact their fans will be hoping for at Anfield.

It makes it hard to see anything other than a home win in this one and the layers have been shortening the Liverpool price ever since the weekend games were in the books. I will back the home team to win this live TV offering from Wednesday night and stay on track for a place in Europe through their League position.

Manchester United v Crystal Palace PickThe rollercoaster of performances under Louis Van Gaal continued for Manchester United as they struggled to see off Aston Villa at Old Trafford following a very strong performance at West Ham United days earlier. The important factor was that Manchester United did win as they can't afford any more slip ups when it comes to trying to finish in the top four in the Premier League table.

That looks to be the deciding factor in whether Louis Van Gaal is given an opportunity to see out his final year of his contract as manager. Even winning the FA Cup won't be enough on its own and the pressure is on Manchester United to earn the three points and stay with the two teams above them.

It might be a good time for Manchester United to run into Crystal Palace who have been earning points in recent games to keep them out of the relegation battle developing behind them. Those points have meant Alan Pardew is confident enough to make changes to his team as he focuses on the FA Cup Semi Final that his side are playing in on Sunday.

While the fringe players will be looking to make a statement of their form to stake a claim for a FA Cup Semi Final spot, it also means players are perhaps unsure of tackles to avoid suspensions. I think Crystal Palace would take a point from this game now and I expect they will look to defend through the game to earn that point.

That should mean Manchester United dominate the possession but the key will be finding the breakthrough to stay with the top four. I think a stronger Manchester United team than the one Crystal Palace will send out can do that and they can then look to their strong defensive record at Old Trafford as helping them earn the three points.

Backing Manchester United to win a third straight game at Old Trafford without conceding is the call at odds against.

Arsenal v West Brom PickIt has to be considered another disappointing season for Arsenal who might not have too many better chances to mount a successful title challenge as they had this season. Once again they have gotten into the second half of the season and then fallen away and now the fear has to be that Arsenal might fall out of the top four with Manchester United potentially breathing down their neck.

The boo boys were out in force at the end of Arsenal's 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace but it might be a more positive evening for them on Thursday against West Brom. While Crystal Palace have been earning positive results, West Brom have lost 3 of their last 4 Premier League games and the players might be looking forward to the end of the season already.

This is not a ground that West Brom have enjoyed playing at in recent seasons and they were hammered here 4-1 last season, while you have to expect Arsenal will have a response to the result on Sunday. In all honesty they should never have been stuck at 1-0 when Crystal Palace scored their late equaliser and more composure in the final third might have led to a fairly comfortable Arsenal win.

Arsenal do have goals in their side once they get into a free flowing mode and being out of the title race might just loosen their players up as it has in previous years. There might be some pressure on them if both Manchester City and Manchester United win their League games on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, but Arsenal should take advantage of a West Brom team playing out the string.

I think Arsenal will be too good on the day and I believe they win this by at least two goals.

MY PICKS: Manchester City - 1 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Bet Victor (2 Units)
West Ham United - 1 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Liverpool @ 1.73 Bet365 (2 Units)
Manchester United Win to Nil @ 2.40 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Arsenal - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)

April Update10-7, + 4.62 Units (34 Units Staked, + 13.59% Yield)

March Final22-17-2, + 9.06 Units (80 Units Staked, + 11.33% Yield)
February Final30-23-2, + 20.82 Units (105 Units Staked, + 19.83% 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 2015/16129-168-2, - 8.49 Units (652 Units Staked, - 1.30% 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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