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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, 30 September 2016

Weekend Football Picks 2016 (September 30-October 2)

What a week for English Football and I don't mean the fact that every team playing in European competition came back without falling to defeat either!

Big Sam Allardyce, the England manager appointed in August, was sacked after being caught in a newspaper sting which has affected managers and assistant managers through the top two Divisions.

I was a fan of the Allardyce appointment, but that doesn't mean I thought he was whiter than white although I don't think he had a leg to stand on once he was caught selling his services to the 'foreign businessmen' he had just met. In light of that one incident alone I am sure Allardyce might have been given the support to keep him in the England job, but this is the latest in a long line of dubious activities around him and there is no way anyone can suggest this was a one off mistake.

That ultimately was enough to make his position untenable and Allardyce had to fall on his greedy sword at a time when his sole interests should have been doing the job he wanted for all his life. For so long Allardyce has seemingly got away with issues that he has been challenged with and I think he believed he was never going to be caught with his hands in the till until now.

The next few months are going to be interesting to see if the FA make any regulations to oust the potential corruption that is rife in the game, while the papers will concentrate on who will be the next England manager. Gareth Southgate takes over for the next month and the three World Cup Qualifiers to be played in that time and I do wonder if he will remain in charge until next summer at the very least.

September proved to be a very good month for the picks and put the season in a strong position. However October and November have proven to be tough months for my picks in the last couple of years so I won't be getting overexcited about this start.

Instead I will look to focus and get October off to a solid start this weekend.

Everton v Crystal Palace PickThe opening game of the Premier League weekend comes on Friday night again this week in the final round of games before the two week international break. This has the potential of another really good Friday night game after the Chelsea v Liverpool game last week and it is the other side from Merseyside that will be involved.

Everton have made a very good start under Ronald Koeman, but I have felt they have taken advantage of the set of fixtures given to them. The bubble might have burst somewhat when Koeman made changes to his starting eleven in the English Football League Cup which led to an upset at the hands of Norwich City.

A stronger team came out last weekend and were beaten at Bournemouth, but being back at home should give Everton enough confidence they can go into the break with three more points added to the board.

I do think Crystal Palace will play their part though as a team in strong form with 3 consecutive wins behind them in the Premier League. The signings of Christian Benteke and Andros Townsend look to have improved Alan Pardew's options and both players have been important in their 3 game winning run in the League with important goals.

Crystal Palace have scored 9 goals in their last 3 League games and they have the pace to cause Everton plenty of problems and I am looking for an exciting game. Both teams have pace and goalscoring threats in the final third and both are led by Belgian strikers who have been scoring goals in Romelu Lukaku and Benteke.

Last season it may have ended 1-1 here, but the fixture here has usually reached the three goal mark in the last few seasons. In fact 6 of the previous 7 games at Goodison Park between Everton and Crystal Palace had reached that mark before last season and I can see both teams scoring in this one too.

Both Koeman and Pardew won't put the breaks on their sides in this one either as I think they will both believe it is a game from which they can take three points. With the way both have performed in attacking areas over the last month, I am expecting at least three goals in this one and will back that to happen.

Hull City v Chelsea PickThere was a lot of praise for Antonio Conte after the start made by Chelsea, but I have been saying for a while that I felt their results had not been an indication of the performances being produced. I really didn't fancy Chelsea at home against Liverpool and I still think The Blues are a little overrated going into this weekend as a short favourite to win at Hull City.

However I couldn't back Hull City who have been overrated themselves after a very good start and who have been giving up far too many chances for a team that had opened the season with 3 wins in all competitions. They have struggled since then and were hammered by Arsenal and Liverpool over the last two weeks with red cards affecting their game plan in both games.

Another red card in the first half is not going to make it easy for this small squad who might be glad of the two week break between this and the next Premier League game to catch their breath. At the KC Stadium Hull City will be expected to try and attack but that might play into the Chelsea hands who have plenty of pace in the counter attack.

As a Hull City fan you have to feel there will be chances to be created in this one against a defensive unit that has looked very vulnerable. The return of John Terry would be huge for Chelsea, but they have only kept 1 clean sheet all season and Hull City have scored in 2 of their 3 home games in the League and in each of their last 4 in all competitions.

My lean is towards Chelsea earning a narrow win, but I think they are going to have to score at least twice to do that. They have conceded at least twice in their last 4 games in all competitions and Hull City will cause them some problems with the set pieces from Richard Snodgrass already a big part of their attacking plans.

It just looks another game where both teams can score and there should be enough chances for the teams to combine for at least three goals in this one. Neither Hull City nor Chelsea can look to their defensive performances with much confidence at the moment and I will look for this Premier League game to feature at least three goals this weekend.

Manchester United v Stoke City PickSome of the performances still need improving for Manchester United who continue to be a work in progress under Jose Mourinho who is trying to change the mindset of the players. He will be desperate to put another win on the board on Sunday to try and keep the pressure on the leaders while also giving Manchester United some momentum to take into the international break.

The fixtures coming out of that break are very difficult with games against Liverpool, Fenerbahce, Chelsea and Manchester City over a ten day period in three different competitions. Manchester United would like to go into those with 4 wins in a row behind them and they are facing a Stoke City team that have looked out of sync through the first two months of the season.

No one would have tipped Stoke City for relegation and no one in positions of power are panicking about a poor start to the season. However the fans will be a little concerned and will be looking for Mark Hughes to turn things around very quickly.

It is not likely to happen at Old Trafford with Stoke City proving to be much easier to play against these days and having a really poor record in this Stadium. They have lost on their last 13 trips to Old Trafford and were beaten 3-0 here last season and the changes to the way you can defend set pieces certainly makes the Stoke City team look even more susceptible to conceding goals from those situations.

The worry for Hughes has to be the way his Stoke City have tended to collapse in recent games and I do think they could have a long day in the office. The early start after the late Thursday game is not ideal for Manchester United but they have shown they can score goals and I think Stoke City might struggle to contain them if they fall behind in this one.

Stoke City have now conceded at least four goals in half of their last 12 Premier League games and were beaten 4-1 at Crystal Palace two weeks ago. I think this one might not get as out of hand as that, but I expect Manchester United to be too strong on the day and I will back them to win this by a couple of goals, the third time in four Premier League games at Old Trafford under Jose Mourinho.

Leicester City v Southampton PickThis might not be a live game on Sunday, but it certainly looks a Premier League game in which both Leicester City and Southampton will believe they can take the three points. I expect both managers will feel that way as they get set for a two week break from the Premier League having come off solid European performances.

Southampton have kept 5 clean sheets in a row which makes them a tough test for any team in the Premier League. They had won 4 in a row before the draw in Israel on Thursday and many of the first team players were rested so they could be ready for this game at the King Power Stadium without the travel making them too fatigued.

This is a Stadium in which Leicester City have played well this season and is perhaps hidden by the poor away performances in the League. They have scored plenty of goals at home and have won 3 of their last 4 games here in all competitions and I expect The Foxes to be a little too good for Southampton on the day.

There won't be much between the teams and I can't imagine it being settled by anything other than a single goal margin. If Leicester City can score first I think they will be hard to peg back and backing them to win at odds against looks a tempting enough price in this one.

Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City PickThe Premier League has produced a number of really high-scoring games through the first two months of the season and that is shown by the statistics where the top fourteen clubs are averaging 2.50 goals or better in their games so far.

I have picked a couple of other matches where I am expecting the teams to combine for at least three goals and this is the third of those games this weekend.

Both Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City have had some issues defensively that the other will expect to expose on Sunday in the second live game on the day. Even without Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur have shown they can score goals although this is a big test for them against a team that has been rampant in the Premier League.

However the most vulnerable area of the Manchester City team remains the defence and they have now conceded in their last 5 away games in all competitions. They didn't look impressive in that area against Celtic and Tottenham Hotspur have the quality in the final third to hurt them.

On the other hand, Manchester City have scored at least twice in every away game they have played under Pep Guardiola and looked a big threat every time they came forward against Celtic. I do think Tottenham Hotspur are a better team than Celtic and the absence of Kevin De Bruyne will likely have a bigger impact in this game than it did on Wednesday, especially with Nolito out as well.

In saying that, Manchester City will continue to play in the style Pep Guardiola will be expecting and that means a lot of attacking football with perhaps some lapses at the back. With the way their games have been played this season coupled with Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City being a fixture that has produced goals and I will back at least three goals to be shared out in this game on Sunday afternoon.

Burnley v Arsenal Pick: The final game of the Premier League weekend is a big one at the top and bottom of the table and it is a big question for Arsenal to answer. After some stunning results of late, this is the kind of game that Arsenal would fail to win in previous seasons, but doing it here will show the rest of the Premier League that they are ready to challenge for the title.

Going to Turf Moor won't be easy for any team and Burnley have already beaten Liverpool and Watford here with the former result looking very impressive. However I think they might have caught Liverpool cold and this is a team that doesn't really score enough goals and will be challenged by an Arsenal team that are flying in front of goal.

There is pace and creativity in the Arsenal final third and I think they are the kind of team that will give Burnley a lot of problems unless Sean Dyche's men get an early goal as they did against Liverpool. At some point I would expect Arsenal to turn up the pressure and that to eventually wear down Burnley in this one.

The layers aren't taking any chances with the Arsenal price though and that is a concern. They are being asked to cover two goals for a full payout on the Asian Handicap but I do think Arsenal are capable of doing that in their current form and they did crush Hull City away from home two weeks ago, albeit helped out with the Jake Livermore sending off.

I am impressed with the Burnley home results so far this season, but Arsenal can become the second team to win at Turf Moor in the Premier League and I do think they are playing well enough to cover the Asian Handicap here.

MY PICKS: Everton-Crystal Palace Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.80 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Hull City-Chelsea Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.75 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Manchester United - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.05 Bet365 (2 Units)
Leicester City @ 2.25 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur-Manchester City Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.75 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Arsenal - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.84 Bet Victor (2 Units)

September Final43-28-1, + 35.17 Units (133 Units Staked, + 26.44% Yield)
August Final31-38-2, - 9 Units (124 Units Staked, - 7.26% Yield)
Season 2016/17: 73-66-3, + 26.17 Units (257 Units Staked, + 10.18% Yield)

Season 2015/16133-174-2, + 0.89 Units (669 Units Staked, + 0% 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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