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Thursday, 6 October 2016

Weekend Football Picks 2016 (October 6-8)

The World Cup Qualifiers take centre stage for the next few days and all eyes in the English media will be on Gareth Southgate who will be desperate for England to make easy work of Malta on Sunday before the much bigger tests against Slovenia and Scotland to come.

Other home nations like Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland will all be hoping for positive results over the coming days when they play two World Cup Qualifiers to almost have a third of the overall Qualifiers in the books. You can't earn Qualification now, but you can certainly lose it so it is a big week for every nation taking part in World Cup Qualifiers.

I am going to split the picks by the two Rounds so the 'Weekend Football' thread will cover Thursday through to Saturday and the 'Midweek Football' thread will begin on Sunday and cover through to Tuesday. It makes it the clearest way to sort through the picks without the thread becoming too large and will make it easier to understand when I have picked a team and when I might not have.

Last weekend was a terrible opening to October as I couldn't catch a break with missed opportunities preventing the picks continuing the momentum from September. I did warn about that happening, but that doesn't mean I am still not very disappointed with the opening weekend and I am expecting much better from the World Cup Qualifiers over the next few days.

I certainly don't want it to get worse after a solid start to the new season in the first two months and so the next three days is going to be important for me.

Republic of Ireland v Georgia PickThe 2-2 draw in Serbia is a huge result for the Republic of Ireland who arguably came into this set of Qualifiers as the fourth best team in the section. They will believe they have enough to split the likes of Austria and Wales, but the next few days are huge for Ireland who can't afford a single slip up ahead of the trip to Vienna next month.

It will be far from easy against Georgia who have shown they have improved defensively from the last set of Qualifiers. They might have been beaten easily in Poland, but Georgia lost narrowly in Scotland, Ireland and Germany and the home team are not likely to ever score a lot of goals to get away from any opposition they face.

I do think the Republic of Ireland will win this game, but they are being asked to cover too much when it comes to winning on the handicaps too. They have won 6 of 9 home Qualifiers which suggests they will find a way to break down the Georgia defence, but I think they might need to bide their time.

I wouldn't be surprised if they needed to wait until the second half to break down Georgia as they had to in the last set of Qualifiers when hosting them. However I think the better value might be simply backing Ireland to win by the narrowest of margins as 4 of their 6 Qualifiers against Georgia have ended with Ireland coming through with a one goal margin of victory.

They are just looking for the three points in this one and the Republic of Ireland could be forced to do that again and that has to be worth a small interest.

Ecuador v Chile PickThere are still plenty of points for both Ecuador and Chile to earn over the next thirteen months in these South American World Cup Qualifiers, but that doesn't take away the importance of this fixture. Both nations are trying to reverse some recent poor form in the World Cup Qualifiers and I think both teams are going to put together some attacking football to try and earn those three points.

Goals haven't been an issue for either Ecuador or Chile in their games, but the worry has been the amount they have conceded in their recent home/away games respectively in the World Cup Qualifiers.

Chile have conceded at least two goals in 4 of their last 5 away Qualifiers, but they have also scored at leas two goals in 4 of their last 6. On the other hand Ecuador had scored at least twice in every home Qualifier before being beaten by Brazil and now they have conceded at least twice in their last couple of games here.

Games between these nations have also produced goals with 3 of the last 4 ending with at least three shared out and I am surprised we are getting odds against quotes on there being at least three returned in this one.

Uruguay v Venezuela PickRecent games between Uruguay and Venezuela have been very competitive and it is a concern for me that Venezuela have been able to keep things tight against a team that have Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani to call upon.

A concern because I do think Uruguay are the better team and they have been playing very well in World Cup Qualifiers at home in recent months. They have been scoring goals for fun at home and Venezuela are a team that have conceded plenty of goals away from home.

It does feel like this is a game that Uruguay should dominate, but they have to make sure they are not gifting Venezuela a way into the match. Uruguay have failed to win their last 3 home World Cup Qualifiers against Venezuela, but might be catching them at the right time with the goals being scored.

With the goals being conceded, I can't help feel that Uruguay can become the latest team to beat Venezuela by at least a couple of goals and I will back them to do that at odds against.

Paraguay v Colombia PickThere is a clear advantage to home teams in the South American World Cup Qualifiers and I think Paraguay will feel they can use that against most of the nations in this section. However they have not enjoyed recent matches against Colombia and I think this could be quite the entertaining game between these teams who are only a point apart in the World Cup Qualifying Group.

Paraguay will point to the fact they have scored at least twice in their last 3 home games in the World Cup Qualifiers, but they have also conceded at least once in those games. Colombia have also scored in 3 straight away Qualifiers but have also conceded at least twice in back to back games on their travels.

Goals might be the order of the day again like they were when the teams met in the United States in the Copa America and I can see the importance of three points meaning both teams try to win the game.

Colombia might have the edge having beaten Paraguay four times in a row, but I am leaning towards there being at least three goals required to find a winner in this one. Both teams have shown they can score and concede goals in home/away games respectively in the World Cup Qualifiers and the odds against quotes for at least three goals looks too big.

Peru v Argentina PickThis has been a tough away game for Argentina in recent World Cup Qualifiers and they are going to have to do this one without Lionel Messi. There are still enough quality players in the final third to help Argentina in this one, but they will have to be careful against a Peru side that have been scoring goals at home.

Peru have scored a fair few goals at home in the Qualifiers, but Argentina have done the same. With both teams also looking vulnerable at the back, I think these teams might have the ability to combine for at least three goals in this one.

Peru need to get forward to remain in contention for the World Cup Finals and Argentina are hoping to bounce back from a 2-2 draw with Venezuela. That should mean both are aiming for the three points and I can't see why either team will sit back unless defending a lead late in the game.

I do think both teams will score though and then it is a case of looking for a winner and backing at least three goals to be shared out at odds against looks a decent runner.

Belgium v Bosnia-Herzegovina PickI am not a big fan of the appointment of Roberto Martinez, although I don't think he will be exposed until he takes Belgium to the World Cup Finals in Russia. This is a manager who thinks the defensive side of the game is a headache he can do without and ultimately that will be the reason I won't be backing Belgium to win the next World Cup with their 'golden generation' of players that will be almost at peak level by then.

However I do believe Belgium could go into the World Cup with a very strong set of Qualifier results behind them in one of the weaker sections in the UEFA Qualifying Groups.

Bosnia-Herzegovina won't be an easy team to beat, but not many would complain if they were the most difficult challenge by some distance that a top Seed would be facing. I don't think Greece, Cyprus or Estonia are going to get that close to Belgium and Martinez can improve his reputation for the casual fan with some strong results over the next thirteen months in the Qualifiers.

As you can imagine, I am backing Belgium to win this game and cover the Asian Handicap. They can score goals and Bosnia-Herzegovina conceded them at an alarming rate in the last set of Qualifiers. Bosnia-Herzegovina conceded at least twice in 4 of their 6 away games in the Euro 2016 Qualifiers and conceded at least three times in 2 of those including in Belgium.

No Kevin De Bruyne is a big blow for Belgium, but I think Eden Hazard can inspire them to a comfortable home win and I will back them to cover the Asian Handicap in this one.

Azerbaijan v Norway PickThere really isn't a lot between Azerbaijan and Norway and I think there won't be a lot between them when the game is played on Saturday afternoon. I am inclined to agree with the layers in this one and think Norway are going to have just enough to see off Azerbaijan and get back on the right road when it comes to any potential World Cup qualification.

I do think Azerbaijan are an improved team, but they might not have enough to see matches through to their conclusion even if they are harder to beat. They did lose 3 times out of 5 in their last set of home Qualifiers and earned a draw with Croatia, but it has been difficult for Azerbaijan to keep a clean sheet.

Norway lost at Italy, Croatia and Hungary in the last Qualifiers, but they won at Malta, Azerbaijan and Bulgaria and I think they can win here again. Recent form hasn't been the best but Norway can get back to winning ways with a battling three points here and can get back into contention in this tough Group with the win.

England v Malta PickFirst things first, England are going to win this game.

The bigger tests for Gareth Southgate will come in the next couple of World Cup Qualifiers, but he will be looking to keep any media heat off of himself by making sure his players produce a good performance on Saturday. There will have to be respect for Malta who proved tough to beat in the last set of Qualifiers when only losing 2-0 at Croatia, 2-0 at Norway and 1-0 at Italy.

However England tend to be a little more bullying when it comes to the Qualifiers and they do beat those they are expected to by handy margins in recent home Qualifiers. That has to be the reason the layers are asking England to cover plenty of goals in this one but I think there might be an argument to dutch them winning by 4 or 5 goals for a small interest.

Since 2004, only Andorra have lost by more than five goals in a Qualifier in England, but the likes of Andorra, Bulgaria, San Marino (twice), Lithuania, Northern Ireland, Kazakhstan, Croatia and Moldova have lost by either 4 or 5 goal margins.

In recent years only the 2-0 win over Estonia is a below par number of goals England have scored in a Qualifier and I think getting 2.62 on England winning by 4 or 5 goals looks a decent price. 4 of their last 10 home Qualifiers would have seen this come in as a winner and I think Malta will look to make life difficult but might struggle in the second half when tiredness sets in.

Poland v Denmark PickThis Group looks to be the most open one in the UEFA World Cup Qualifying section with Poland, Romania and Denmark all likely to believe they can come out on top.

Only Denmark won in the first round of games, but Poland should have done the same having blown a 0-2 lead at Kazakhstan. I am expecting Poland to bounce back having played very well at home over the last couple of years although Denmark are a side that can be tough to beat and need to be respected.

However I think the odds against quote is tempting enough to back Poland in this one having won 4 of their 5 home Qualifiers in the Euro 2016 Qualifying Group which includes wins over Germany and the Republic of Ireland who also made it to the Euro 2016 Finals.

I imagine this will be a tight game and there won't be a lot between them, but Poland can earn a vital three points that puts them back in a decent position in the Group going into another home game next week that they will be expected to win.

MY PICKS: Republic of Ireland to Win by One Goal @ 3.25 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Ecuador-Chile Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.05 William Hill (2 Units)
Uruguay - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.01 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Paraguay-Colombia Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.25 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Peru-Argentina Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.10 Coral (2 Units)
Belgium - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.97 Bet365 (2 Units)
Norway @ 1.91 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
England to Win by 4 or 5 Goal Margins @ 2.62 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Poland @ 2.10 Bet365 (2 Units)

October Update: 0-6, - 11 Units (12 Units Staked, - 91.67% Yield)

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 2016/1773-66-3, + 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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