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NBA Picks November 2017 (November 20-30)

The Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns made up for a couple of bad breaks I had a couple of nights earlier when they decided to get into a posit...

Monday, 20 November 2017

Midweek Football Picks 2017 (November 21-23)

This week we get into Match Day 5 of the Champions League and Europa League which means teams are beginning to rotate their squads as they have gotten into a position where the goals have already been achieved.

I am mainly speaking about the leading contenders and the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United and Arsenal have already booked their place in the Knock Out Rounds of their respective European competitions.

The English clubs have a ridiculously busy December coming up which is already on the mind of the managers and so getting a chance to rest players is very important with plenty of rotation to come in the weeks ahead.

I have written a short piece about Manchester United ahead of the game against Newcastle United which can be read here.

Now onto the picks from the Match Day 5 fixtures in the Champions League and Europa League which are played in the next three days.

Besiktas v Porto Pick: With a place all but confirmed in the Last 16, Besiktas can earn themselves not only a definite place in the Second Round but all secure top spot in the Group if they can avoid defeat on Match Day 5. A defeat would put the pressure on Besiktas with a final game to come in Leipzig, especially if the German side have won at Monaco on Match Day 5 too, but Besiktas have to be feeling confident of their chances of earning the necessary result.

They have already beaten Porto 0-3 in Portugal and Besiktas have been a tough team to play in Istanbul where they will host this game on Tuesday. Besiktas are now unbeaten in 7 home Champions League games and they are unbeaten in 11 in all European competitions which shows they are a team that have to be respected.

I am not convinced the layers have done that by making them the underdog at home against Porto even though a point is enough for Besiktas to achieve all of their goals. Recent form has not been the best for Besiktas either which would be a concern, but they have remained hard to beat at home.

Porto may have won 4 in a row heading into this one, but they have won 1 of their last 4 away Champions League games and this is a side who have lost at Leipzig and Leicester City over the last twelve months. Copenhagen were another who earned a result against Porto and I will back Besiktas with what looks a generous start on the Asian Handicap.

That would return a portion as a winner even if the game ends in the draw which may suit both clubs, but I think the more likely winner is Besiktas and they should not be an underdog against a team like Porto at home.

Spartak Moscow v Maribor Pick: With Sevilla and Liverpool expected to win this Group at a canter, Spartak Moscow have been reminding the other clubs that they did come into the draw as a Number 1 Seed. A 5-1 hammering of Sevilla has given Spartak Moscow a chance to make it through to the Last 16, but anything less than a win at home against Maribor may not be good enough for them

Third place and a Europa League place have been all but secured for Spartak Moscow which means they can look at the two teams above them, although it does have to be said that a home loss to Maribor could potentially put third place in jeopardy.

That is not what Spartak Moscow will be thinking, but they will be hoping they can win this game which is played before Sevilla and Liverpool kick off later in the day. Winning will mean there is pressure on those two sides with the losing team having Spartak Moscow breathing down their necks and I do think the Russian Champions can win this fixture with relative comfort.

Spartak Moscow have been in much improved form compared to the start of the Champions League Group and they have won 4 of their last 5 home games in all competitions. All of those wins have come by at least two goal margins including the 5-1 hammering of Sevilla on Match Day 3 which reignited their push for a Second Round place.

They are hosting a Maribor team who have lost half of their last 6 away games in all competitions and all of those losses have come by the same 3-0 scoreline. A couple of those were in this Champions League Group and Maribor will likely be on the back foot in a bid to try and frustrate their hosts.

I am not sure they can hold Spartak Moscow throughout the ninety minutes and eventually Spartak Moscow can prove to be a little too good in the final third. With the goals being scored by the home team, I will look for Spartak Moscow to win this one and cover the Asian Handicap.

Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham Hotspur Pick: When the Champions League Group Stage was drawn, Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspur were both expected to challenge one another for the berth behind Real Madrid into the Last 16. Things have not gone to plan at all with Tottenham Hotspur already through to the Last 16 and likely to win the Group and Borussia Dortmund on the brink of exiting the competition.

Things have not gone well for Borussia Dortmund domestically either as they have conceded far too many goals of late both at home and away. In fact Dortmund have not won any of 4 home games in all competitions and have lost 3 of those while conceding three times in each defeat which has to give Tottenham Hotspur the belief they can earn the upset.

It is hard to know how much belief Borussia Dortmund have at the moment with their attacking style leaving them open for the counter attack. They know they need to win their last 2 Champions League games and also that Real Madrid fail to beat APOEL in Cyprus if Borussia Dortmund are to get through and I can't imagine the players have much more expectation of that happening than I do.

It's a long shot to say the least, but Borussia Dortmund won't want to exit European Football completely so their last couple of games do mean something to them having drawn twice with APOEL as they look for a 3rd place finish at the least. They could be facing Tottenham Hotspur at the right time with the latter perhaps thinking not to risk some of their big name players.

Tottenham Hotspur can win this Group by beating APOEL at home next month and while they will want to secure top spot as soon as possible, Mauricio Pochettino has to be thinking not to risk Dele Alli and Harry Kane in this one. Neither looked fully fit in Tottenham Hotspur's loss at Arsenal and there are big Premier League games ahead which suggests they could be rested here.

They have also not been the best travellers in away European games and I do think the situation could favour Borussia Dortmund with Tottenham Hotspur perhaps thinking they can get some rest for their big names. With APOEL to come at Wembley Stadium, Tottenham Hotspur can still win this Group even if they don't win here in Dortmund and I think the home team will have the better of the chances.

The goals being conceded by Borussia Dortmund is a real worry, but as I have said, it does feel like they are catching Tottenham Hotspur at a good time. At home Borussia Dortmund will go on the attack and I will back them to win this game and at least put themselves in a strong spot to finish 3rd in the Group for the Europa League fallback place.

At odds against Borussia Dortmund are just about a tempting enough price to be backed to win this one.

Manchester City v Feyenoord Pick: The Champions League Group looks well in hand for Manchester City, but they will want to keep the momentum going knowing the next Premier League game isn't until Sunday afternoon. That does give Pep Guardiola more options with his rotation of his squad, but Manchester City have to feel a win at home on Tuesday will likely be enough to win the Group with Shakhtar Donetsk travelling to Naples.

That is not good news for Feyenoord who have not been in the best of form and have already seen at first hand how good Manchester City can be when crushed 0-4 in Rotterdam earlier this season. There is a clear differential in quality between these teams and that gap is only widened when you consider the form of the two sides going into this one.

While Manchester City have continued to showcase their dominance, Feyenoord are simply trying to find some form and the results have continued to be a little erratic. They have already lost 3-1 at both Napoli and Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League away games in this Group and in both games Feyenoord were clearly second best which won't offer a lot of encouragement when heading to the Etihad Stadium.

A trip to Manchester will hold some nerves for the Feyenoord players having lost 4-0 at Manchester United in the Europa League Group Stage almost exactly twelve months ago.

One hope could be the likely changes Manchester City will make to their starting eleven knowing the big games come thick and fast over the next few weeks. I can see a few players rotated out of this one, but some real quality will still begin this game with the likes of Nicolas Otamendi, Danilo, Yaya Toure, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero all potential starters.

I don't suppose there will be wholesale changes as Manchester City look to win the Group on Match Day 5 and with the next League game not scheduled until Sunday afternoon. The strength certainly lies with Manchester City in this one and I think they can record another big win over Feyenoord on Tuesday.

The layers are now beginning to ask Manchester City to cover some big Handicaps after their blistering start to the season, but I think they can win this one by at least three goals on the day. Pep Guardiola won't want his team to play any other way than looking to get forward and score goals and I think his team can do that here even with the expected changes in mind.

Sevilla v Liverpool Pick: Spartak Moscow will be playing earlier in the day so both Sevilla and Liverpool will know by kick off whether the Russian Champions have picked up the three points which will take them to 8 points in the Group. If that has happened, Liverpool (8 points) and Sevilla (7 points) will understand the importance of this fixture or have to face a pressurised Match Day 6 situation.

Out of the two teams I would imagine Liverpool feel in a more comfortable spot knowing they are hosting Spartak Moscow on the final day while Sevilla will have to show they can earn a win away from home when travelling to Maribor. However I don't think there will be any thought as to the Match Day 6 permutations and instead the full focus has to be placed on this fixture.

It could be a really good game with both Sevilla and Liverpool likely looking to get forward wherever possible, while neither is defensively that secure. Sevilla have conceded in their last 3 home games overall and in 4 of their last 5 home Champions League games, but on the other hand goals have been no problem for the Spanish side either.

Liverpool themselves have scored 13 goals in their last 4 games overall which has led to wins in each of those and Jurgen Klopp will want his team to play one way. With Mohammed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane all ready to go, Liverpool will feel they can paper over the defensive problems with their attacking play.

It is all pointing to what could be a third game between Sevilla and Liverpool which features plenty of goals in the last eighteen months. The two previous games have had four goals shared out and Sevilla and Liverpool are in the kind of form where they can hit that number again in what should be an attacking game throughout.

I would be shocked if both teams don't score at least once, but the attacking quality on display and some of the defensive issues should mean there are plenty of chances throughout the ninety minutes. There have been lots of goals in this Group and I will look for at least four to be added to the books in this one.

Qarabag v Chelsea Pick: There could have been a lot more pressure on Chelsea on Match Day 5 if Atletico Madrid had won their two games against Qarabag as was expected. However Atletico Madrid failed to win either game and that means Chelsea are 5 points clear of 3rd place despite their 3-0 loss at Roma last time out.

Winning the Group will be difficult having lost the head to head with Roma, but Antonio Conte is not going to be concerned with that at the moment. Instead the key is to make sure Chelsea can book their place in the Last 16 and ensure Match Day 6 is not a stressful one where he has to use his key players ahead of a busy December in the Premier League.

The likes of Eden Hazard and Alvaro Morata are essential to Chelsea and the final Champions League game will be seen as a potential rest day for those players. That does mean they are likely to get a start here in Azerbaijan where Chelsea know a win over Qarabag can confirm their Last 16 spot.

The issue is clouded by the fact that Chelsea travel to Anfield on Saturday afternoon and Conte will be well aware that Liverpool are playing the day before. However he will likely pick a strong team in the hope that Chelsea can get into a strong position in this game before bringing the big names off as Conte did at The Hawthorns on Saturday.

I mean no disrespect to Qarabag who held Atletico Madrid twice, but I do think they have already overachieved. The 6-0 loss at Stamford Bridge will motivate the players to show they are better than they did on that day, but the conditions should be cool enough for Chelsea to be able to enjoy their football here.

Roma were in a really strong position very early in Qarabag and had chances to win that game by a wider margin than they did, and I think Chelsea are in good form. Both Hazard and Morata look like they feeling very confident and the return of N'Golo Kante cannot be underestimated and I think Chelsea will secure a pretty comfortable win here.

Qarabag will look to make life difficult for Chelsea, but I think the speed Chelsea have in the forward areas and the all around confidence around the club helps them win by a couple of goals on the day.

Anderlecht v Bayern Munich Pick: This Group is on the brink of being decided with Bayern Munich having made it through to the Last 16 along with Paris Saint-Germain. It will take something remarkable to happen for Bayern Munich to win the Group now, while the same can be said for Anderlecht if they are going to make it through to the Europa League ahead of Celtic.

With little on the line for Bayern Munich, I do have to wonder about the kind of team that will be picked ahead of a trip to Borussia Monchengladbach in the League. A number of changes were made when the German giants visited Celtic on Match Day 4, but Bayern Munich were still too good on the day to confirm their spot in the Last 16.

I expect changes will be made in this one too, although perhaps not as many as was made in the game in Celtic. This time Bayern Munich come in with more confidence having taken control of the Bundesliga again and I do think they will play an eleven that should be far too good for Anderlecht.

It has been a difficult season for Anderlecht who have taken some heavy losses in the Champions League already and look certain to be exiting European competition months after reaching the Europa League Quarter Final. The concentration will return to domestic matters as Anderlecht look to work their way back into contention, although the Play Off system in Belgium does mean they have plenty of time to get things right.

They have lost 3 of their last 6 home games in all competitions and Anderlecht have to be worried about the defensive performances when being visited by an attacking team like Bayern Munich. Changes may make this a closer game than it would normally be, but I will back Bayern Munich to win this one by a couple of goals on the night.

Atletico Madrid v Roma Pick: My biggest concern for Atletico Madrid is the mindset the players will have if Chelsea are able to win in Qarabag as I expect them to do earlier in the day. That result will mean Atletico Madrid are on the brink of exiting the Champions League and will need the Azerbaijani Champions to earn a shock result at Roma as well as Atletico Madrid winning their final two Champions League games.

The two draws with Qarabag have really hurt Atletico Madrid and left them 4 points behind Chelsea in 2nd place in the Group with a couple of games left to play. With Roma hosting Qarabag in the final Champions League game, they may arrive here with a nothing to lose attitude and it does put the factors together which could be working against the home team.

It has been a disappointing time for Atletico Madrid in their new Stadium and they had to settle for another draw at home over the weekend when hosting Real Madrid. The performances have left them well short of Barcelona domestically and this early Champions League exit, which looks very likely now, will be a real blow for Diego Simeone who decided to stay on as manager in the summer.

If Atletico Madrid are feeling down then they will struggle, but I can't help feel Roma are a touch over-rated for this fixture. The Italian side don't need to win and I don't think they would have seen their hosts so short if this match had come earlier in the Group.

Anyone who saw Atletico Madrid in Rome will know they were the better team on the day and I do think Simeone will want to give his team a fighting chance to get through to the Last 16 even if Chelsea have won. At home Atletico Madrid have yet to win in the Champions League in this new Stadium, but in recent years they have been dominant at home in the competition.

On the other hand Roma have tended to be a poor traveller more often than not and I will back Atletico Madrid to keep the pressure on the Italian side going into Match Day 6 with a victory in this one.

Basel v Manchester United Pick: Squad depth is something Jose Mourinho feels can help Manchester United close the gap to Manchester City in the Premier League and he should have every chance to spread the playing time in the remaining Champions League games. After securing four wins in the Group, Manchester United have almost certainly won this Group and that should mean rotation is in play for the remaining two games.

Strong teams are likely to be picked for the games against Basel and CSKA Moscow in order to build some momentum, but Mourinho is not likely to risk players who are needed for the big Premier League games around these final two Champions League Match Days.

In saying that, I do think the depth does mean a strong Manchester United line up can be picked for this trip to Basel and I think Manchester United can win here.

Basel have to be respected having crushed Benfica 5-0 at home earlier in the Group, but that was a day in which almost everything that could go wrong went wrong for the Portuguese team. It is harder to ignore the fact that Basel have lost 3 of their last 4 home Champions League games including against Arsenal in December 2016.

CSKA Moscow were able to win here and I think Manchester United are a stronger team even with the likely changes that will take place. I would still expect the likes of Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to take part and Manchester United have shown they can produce away from home in European competition with the tactics Jose Mourinho puts out.

The side have a 7 game unbeaten run away from home in Europe and Manchester United have won 5 of those games. It would have been 6 if not conceding a late equaliser at Anderlecht in the Europa League Quarter Final, while Manchester United have won 3 away European ties in a row.

The odds on a Manchester United win have to be influenced by the likely changes to keep the team fresh for the Premier League games to come over the next seven days. However I am not convinced Basel have enough to challenge Manchester United here and even a changed team can secure another three points and a place in the Last 16 as Group Winners.

Paris Saint-Germain v Celtic Pick: I don't think anyone will be surprised to learn that Paris Saint-Germain are 6 points clear in the French domestic League as they are also one of the favourites to win the Champions League. While already through to the Last 16, PSG are still making sure of a top spot finish and a win over Celtic may be enough for them to confirm that barring a truly heavy loss at Bayern Munich on Match Day 6.

That is not likely to happen in the form Paris Saint-Germain are in and they will feel like they are too strong for Celtic. They have already won easily in Glasgow and Paris Saint-Germain have made short work of the Group to this point with four straight wins and 17 goals scored with clean sheets across the board.

There may be some changes to the starting eleven for this one, but I do think Paris Saint-Germain can earn yet another win with a clean sheet in this one and have been seduced by the odds against quote on that happening.

That is nothing against Celtic, but this is a side who have failed to score at the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the last fifteen months. While Brendan Rodgers will always want his side to give it a go, I do think the top clubs can use that against Celtic and I think Paris Saint-Germain are able to win relatively comfortably.

Celtic have almost secured a Europa League spot which was the goal for Rodgers and so this is a 'free hit' for them which can make them dangerous. However Celtic have not been in the most convincing of form in recent weeks and I find it hard to see how they can raise their game to the level required in this one.

The only doubt is how seriously Paris Saint-Germain will take the fixture, but they have not let up in the Champions League so far. They do go to Monaco on Sunday which is a distraction, but Paris Saint-Germain have learned about the importance of winning Groups for a 'kinder' draw in the Second Round and I expect that will keep them focused.

Knowing Monaco is next might mean Paris Saint-Germain are even more motivated to make sure they don't allow Celtic too much encouragement and I will take them at odds against to win this with a clean sheet.

MY PICKS: Besiktas + 0.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Spartak Moscow - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.76 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Borussia Dortmund @ 2.25 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Manchester City - 2.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Sevilla-Liverpool Over 3.5 Goals @ 2.50 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Chelsea - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.02 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Bayern Munich - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.76 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Atletico Madrid @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
Manchester United @ 2.05 Bet Fred (2 Units)

November Update: 13-10, + 10.36 Units (41 Units Staked, + 25.27% Yield)

October Final: 35-41-2, - 7 Units (152 Units Staked, - 4.61% Yield)
September Final: 28-30-3, + 2.06 Units (115 Units Staked, + 1.79% Yield)
August Final: 30-34, - 5.63 (108 Units Staked, - 5.21% Yield)

Season 2017/18 Update: 93-105-5, - 10.57 Units (375 Units Staked, - 2.88% Yield)

NBA Picks November 2017 (November 20-30)

The Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns made up for a couple of bad breaks I had a couple of nights earlier when they decided to get into a position to score a meaningless basket as time was beginning to run out.

It means another winning week in November and I am going to put the remaining NBA Picks for this month in this one thread. It will be the featured post for much of the remainder of the month, although later this week the College Football, and NFL Weekly Picks will take that spot for a few days.

Monday 20th November
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Detroit Pistons Pick: The Cleveland Cavaliers continue getting into big holes and rallying effectively enough and that has led to four straight wins heading in this new week. That has helped the Cleveland Cavaliers move two games above 0.500 after a really inconsistent start to the season although this is a different level of competition to the majority they have faced in their winning run.

While the New York Knicks have been playing well, the wins over the Dallas Mavericks, Charlotte Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers are not as good as they may look on paper. Both the Hornets and the Clippers had the chance to knock off the Cleveland Cavaliers if they had played with more belief in the second half and belief is not going to ever lack from the Detroit Pistons.

Detroit are 11-5 this season and showed their belief in what they are doing by rallying from a big deficit to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday evening. I do wonder if that is going to have sapped some energy for a team playing a back to back and for the third time in four nights, especially when you think there has been travel involved too.

It won't take a lot of motivation to get up for playing the Cleveland Cavaliers, but this is a tough spot for the Pistons with the limited rest and at the beginning of a tough run of games. A quick stop back home before heading off for more road games is never a comforting experience for players although a 7-1 record on home court has to give the Detroit Pistons more reason to believe they can produce a statement win.

Visiting Detroit has been difficult for the Cleveland Cavaliers in recent games here, but the Cavaliers should be well rested as they continue searching for the first truly solid 48 minute experience on the court. There have also been definite signs that the Cavaliers are beginning to get onto the same page on the Defensive side of the court, even if the quality of opposition have contributed to the improving numbers.

Cleveland have continued to shoot the ball well enough and their three point shooting could be a real difference maker in this one. The Pistons will like to dominate in and around the paint and can be effective there, but the three point shot is a big part of modern day NBA and the Pistons have not been as clinical from that distance as their visitors have been.

I would expect Detroit to get the better of the rebounding, but the turnover problem for the Cleveland Cavaliers may not be exploited as well as the Pistons would like.

The Cavaliers do tend to pick up their play in games like this one and they are 10-4-1 against the spread in their last fifteen road games at a team with a winning record. While Detroit have tended to play well in the second of a back to back spot, the emotional win at the Minnesota Timberwolves has to have caused some fatigue which makes this a tough spot for them.

Opposing Detroit at home has not been a very good move so far this season for anyone as the Pistons are 5-2-1 against the spread at the window in their eight home games. The home team has covered in the last five in this series, but the Cavaliers look in a good spot to break that run and I will back them to win on the road as the small favourites.

Los Angeles Clippers @ New York Knicks Pick: This has been a really trying time for the Los Angeles Clippers who have lost their last eight games in a row including the first two on their current road trip. They should have won at the Cleveland Cavaliers a few days ago, but the Clippers ran out of energy in a blow out loss to the Charlotte Hornets and I do have to be concerned for them.

Defensively it has been a mess in recent games for the Clippers who traded away Chris Paul in the off-season as they looked to just transition a team who had fallen short in the Western Conference. Doc Rivers usually preaches the importance of the Defensive side of the court, but the Clippers have allowed triple digits in each of their eight losses and have not had the Offensive output to prevent defeats.

There is some encouragement for Rivers and the Clippers on Monday as they should have Patrick Beverley back in the line up. While Beverley is a solid enough Point Guard Offensively, his real strength lies on the Defensive side of the court and the return may just help the Clippers close a few holes that have been really opened up in his absence.

Beverley is probable for this one and the Clippers will need him when they face off with the New York Knicks. The Knicks are another team who should have knocked off the Cleveland Cavaliers over the last week, but like the Clippers they blew a big lead and were beaten late on.

It has been a positive start to the season regardless of that setback, but the Knicks are looking to bounce back from a blow out loss at the Toronto Raptors. Being back at home helps as the players have thrived in the intensity of Madison Square Garden where they are 7-3 this season and a return home may be the boost the Knicks are looking for.

This is a team who have played better on the Defensive side of the court than most expected, while they have found a groove Offensively through Kristaps Porzingis who has taken over as the 'King of New York' from Carmelo Anthony. Porzingis has been shooting the ball very effectively for much of the season and the New York Knicks will also feel they have the size to dominate the boards which makes them a very difficult team to knock off at the moment.

New York have been very good to back at home where they are 8-2 against the spread this season and I do think being an underdog in this one will not be an issue for them. That will change the mindset of the players when they read that they are being dogged at home and I think it may be the extra inspiration the Knicks need to win this game outright.

Los Angeles Clippers do have a very good record against the New York Knicks here, but better versions of their teams have arrived here in recent years. The Knicks have covered in their last six at home and their last four off a loss while the Clippers are 1-7 against the spread in their last eight games.

At the moment I feel the Clippers are a touch over-rated and even a returning Patrick Beverley may need a couple of games to get himself back to full tilt. Taking the points with an underdog who I think can win this one outright has to be the way to go.

Tuesday 21st October
Two blow out wins for the teams I picked made it a very good start to the final NBA Picks thread in November.

There is only the one game scheduled on Tuesday, while there won't be any games played on Thanksgiving Day when the NFL takes centre stage. I do have a pick from the one game to be played on Tuesday.

Chicago Bulls @ Los Angeles Lakers Pick: They may be two of the biggest names in the NBA, but the Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls are some way away from the glory days. Both teams have decided to blood some young, talented players, but that has led to some tough results to open the 2017/18 season and neither team looks like one that will be playing in the post-season, as least not this time around.

Out of the two teams, it does feel like the Lakers are a little further along the evolution of creating a strong team than the Chicago Bulls who began their transition this offseason. That has shown up in the early season results, although you can't ignore the fact that inconsistent performances have been the norm for both teams.

The Lakers did win their last game against the Denver Nuggets and they will be feeling better than Chicago who lost at the Phoenix Suns in the opener of another road trip for the young team. There were some positive moments from the Bulls, but they continue to suffer Defensively and that could be a problem for them in this one.

The Bulls are allowing too much room from the field and giving up over 50% in terms of field goals is simply not going to get the job done for Chicago. They have struggled from when it comes to defending the three point shot too, although the Lakers have been erratic from that range and may not be able to exploit those problems as much as they would like.

However I do think the Lakers can enjoy the shooting lanes that they will see in this one while they have been a little stronger than Chicago on the Defensive side of the court. A problem can be the turnovers, but the Lakers should have plenty of success when they are looking after the ball.

Los Angeles also should have an edge on the board with Brook Lopez likely to have the bigger impact than brother Robin Lopez in this game. With the Defensive problems Chicago have been having, losing out on the number of possessions battle with the Lakers is not likely to pay off for them.

The underdog has been barking loudly in recent games in this series with a 19-9 record against the spread in the last twenty-eight. Neither team has been good at the window when it comes to facing teams from the other Conference, but I do like the Los Angeles Lakers as the home favourite in this game.

It can be difficult to trust a young team like the Los Angeles Lakers who won't be used to winning back to back games, but I like them more then current Chicago Bulls team. The Lakers have played more effectively in more games than the Bulls and I will back them to cover the spread here.

MY PICKS: 20/11 Cleveland Cavaliers - 2 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
20/11 New York Knicks + 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
21/11 Los Angeles Lakers - 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)

November 20-30 Update: 2-0, + 1.82 Units (2 Units Staked, + 91% Yield)

November 13-19 Final: 6-5, + 0.46 Units (11 Units Staked, + 4.18% Yield)
November 6-12 Final: 5-4, + 0.55 Units (9 Units Staked, + 6.11% Yield)
November 1-5 Final: 2-0, + 1.82 Units (2 Units Staked, + 91% Yield)

October Final: 12-10, + 1.05 Units (22 Units Staked, + 4.77% Yield)

Sunday, 19 November 2017

ATP World Tour Finals Day 8 Picks 2017- Men's Final (November 19th)

There was one really big surprise in the ATP World Tour Finals Semi Finals played on Saturday as Roger Federer was beaten by David Goffin for the first time and after a dominant first set.

I am not convinced Federer was at 100% as he seemed to be favouring his leg, but it was still a huge surprise.

How many people would have gone into the 2017 season and predicted the last match on the Tour would have been between Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin? The winner may see this as the boost they need in their career to perhaps take the next step at the Grand Slam level, although I still think it would be a huge ask for either Dimitrov or Goffin to become a Slam Champion barring something like the injuries that have been at play this year which gave us the final eight we had in London.

That's the way it goes sometimes, but I think the likely challengers for the Slams will be much deeper going into 2018 and so it will be tough for either of the Finalists to take that step and add a Major to the CV. However, this is a big boost for the confidence and players have been able to progress with a belief in what they are doing off the court making the difference on it for them going forward.

Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 games v David Goffin: I backed Grigor Dimitrov to get the better of David Goffin when these two players met in the Groups earlier this week, but he is now being asked to cover an additional game on the handicap.

The match earlier this week was very one sided as Dimitrov dominated, but I think there will be more nerves at play in this one with a big prize on the line. I also don't think David Goffin can play as poorly as he did in that Group match, although there is a little similarity with the situation.

A few days ago Goffin went into the Group match having beaten an injured Rafael Nadal in three tough sets and he failed to overcome the emotion of that. Now he has come through in three sets against another legend in Roger Federer and I do wonder if he is going to have the same kind of let down and against the same opponent.

Dimitrov has enjoyed the match up with Goffin and has shown he can get his teeth into the return games which makes him the clear favourite to win this match. You just don't ever know how Dimitrov will react to the sense of expectation that will be on his shoulders and that is my biggest concern when it comes to this number as I do think he will get the yips down the stretch.

However I think Dimitrov will be able to get into a strong position with the way he has been taking the opportunities that have been presented to him. He has been winning sets by wide margins which has allowed Dimitrov to cover the games even when forced into a third set and I do think David Goffin will have some emotional let down after a big win on Saturday.

It's a tough one with the Dimitrov nerves likely to play a part, but I think he can win this one 6-3, 6-4 and take home the biggest prize of his career so far.

MY PICKS: Grigor Dimitrov - 3.5 Games @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

ATP World Tour Finals Update: 8-6, + 2.76 Units (28 Units Staked, + 9.86% Yield)

NFL Week 11 Picks 2017 (November 16-20)

Time has been an issue this week which means the Week 12 Picks is all I am concentrating on and those are below.

Detroit Lions @ Chicago Bears Pick: The Detroit Lions have been given life in the NFC North thanks to the injury sustained by Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers and they are the leading chasers after Minnesota Vikings in the Division. Only 2 games separate those two teams, but the Lions have won two games in a row to stay with the Vikings and have already secured a road win over them this season.

The Lions will also be hosting Minnesota in four days time and that has to be a factor when they head to Soldier Field to take on the lowly Chicago Bears. It looks like John Fox is very much on the hot seat in Chicago having guided the team to 3-6 so far this season and making some questionable decisions which contributed to a home loss to the Green Bay Packers last week.

However it does have to be said that the Chicago Bears have the talent to overcome Fox and thus be a very competitive team that has to be respected. They have shown that many times this season and being the home underdog has to inspire players against an opponent who may be overlooking the Bears to a Thanksgiving Day game that could decide the destination of the NFC North.

As well as Detroit have done to get back above 0.500 and continue the chase of the Minnesota Vikings, this is a team that have looked a little one dimensional Offensively and that is something the Chicago Bears will be looking to oppose. The Lions have simply not given Matthew Stafford any kind of consistent run support this season and fumbles from the Running Backs have only contributed to the problems.

It is unlikely to change against the Bears Defensive Line where the strength of the Defensive unit lies. With the Bears likely able to contain either Ameer Abdullah or Theo Riddick running the ball, it will be up to Stafford to continue playing at the high level he has produced his last two games.

Stafford is capable of making all the throws, but this week he is not facing a weak Secondary like he has carved up over the last couple of weeks. This time Stafford will be put under pressure by the Chicago pass rush and it will be a challenge for his Receiving options to get themselves open which could mean the Lions have a few drives stalling or ending with the Field Goal rather than the Touchdown.

The Chicago Defense has really not played badly at all this season, but they have spluttered Offensively which is a real problem for them. It is a learning curve for Mitchell Trubisky at Quarter Back, but one that has been made more difficult with the likes of Zach Miller injured and little Receiving help.

Unsurprisingly Trubisky has been under immense pressure up front as he goes through his reads in a rookie season and the passing yards have simply not been there. The Quarter Back will have to be wary throwing into a Secondary who have thrived on turning the ball over in the last couple of games, and Trubisky will be leaning on the likes of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen coming out of the backfield to help him in checkdown spots.

However both Howard and Cohen could have a decent day running the ball too and that will give Chicago the chance to earn an upset here. They have played well as the home underdog, and that Thanksgiving Day game for Detroit looms large on the horizon.

Chicago are 8-2 against the spread in their last ten games and face a Detroit team who have struggled when playing on the grass. The Bears have also bounced back from losses by going 9-4 against the spread in their last thirteen following a loss and the underdog has gone 4-1 against the spread in the last five in this series which all points to taking the points with the home team.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cleveland Browns Pick: It has been a long time since the Jacksonville Jaguars were favoured to win by more than a handful of points when they are playing on the road. That is the situation for them this week and the Jaguars are trying to win for the third time in a row which would see them take control of the AFC South after Tennessee were beaten at the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday Night Football.

There has been something of a rivalry created this week after comments made by Jacksonville Safety Tashaun Gipson which have earned national prominence. Gipson started his career with the Cleveland Browns but signed with the Jaguars prior to the 2016 season and was speaking about how much he wants the Jaguars to destroy Cleveland this week.

It is a strange situation when you think this is not a Division rivalry and the Cleveland Browns are hardly a Play Off threat at 0-9, but Gipson might feel disrespected by something by his former team and did not pull away from the comments later in the week. Gipson also is playing in a Defensive unit that is as good as any that plays in the NFL and taking on this Cleveland team he will believe in his team mates to secure a big win on the road.

Since Marcell Dareus arrived in a trade from the Buffalo Bills, the Jaguars have strengthened their Defensive Line and become much tougher to run against. Indianapolis, Cincinnati and the Los Angeles Chargers all have struggled to establish the run and that could be an issue for Cleveland who will be looking to run the ball and give their inexperienced Quarter Back a chance to make some plays.

DeShone Kizer has had his ups and down at Quarter Back in his rookie season and it does feel like Cleveland may already be looking for their next hope to be the franchise Quarter Back for the future. If the Browns are not able to run the ball as they have been, the Jaguars are going to bring a fierce pass rush which could rattle Kizer all day long and I think the Quarter Back will find it tough to move the chains.

It wouldn't be a big surprise if Gipson is able to find himself at the end of an Interception, but his hope that Jacksonville can score 40 points here is much tougher to see.

Leonard Fournette is expected to miss this game for the Jaguars, but they have been able to run the ball pretty effectively with TJ Yeldon picking up the slack. However this may be a difficult day for the Running Backs as Cleveland's Defensive Line have been very strong up front and this spread means believing in Blake Bortles at the Quarter Back position.

With the Jaguars unlikely to rip off big gains, Bortles will be asked to make plenty of plays with his arm and he is a hard player to trust. Recent games have seen Bortles at close to his best, but he feels never too far away from a big time Interception or two and last week the Jaguars won without much help from Bortles.

Bortles has been well protected though and he has shown he can make some big plays with his arm and I do think he can have a decent day for the Jaguars. As long as he doesn't make too many mistakes, Jacksonville could move the chains effectively and I think they can cover this spread despite how motivated Cleveland will be after Gipson's comments.

I am just having difficulty to see how the Browns can score enough points to stay with the Jaguars and I do think the turnover battle will be won by the road team. Last week the Cleveland Browns continued their struggles against the betting window with another failure to cover and the Jaguars are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven road games.

Cleveland are just 3-11 against the spread in their last fourteen home games and I think the Jaguars can produce a cover of a number they don't usually have to deal with on the road. I will look for the Defensive unit to make some plays to help the Jaguars pull away in this one and cover as the favourite.

Washington Redskins @ New Orleans Saints Pick: The NFC South looks like it is going to be a very competitive Division through to the end of the regular season with three teams above 0.500 with over half the games played. At the moment it is the New Orleans Saints who lead the way with seven straight wins behind them after a 0-2 start to the season, but they are only half a game ahead of the Carolina Panthers and 2 games clear of the Atlanta Hawks in this tough Division.

The NFC East is also a tough Division, but it is one that the Philadelphia Eagles have taken control of. That means the other teams in the Division are already beginning to think of Wild Card spots and one of those are the Washington Redskins. However they are 4-5 so far this season and can't afford to drop another game to a potential rival for a Wild Card spot, although the Redskins also have a distraction to avoid.

They have been placed in the third Thanksgiving Day game against the New York Giants this season and Washington have to make sure they are not preparing for that one mentally. The fact they are facing one of the most in-form teams in the NFL should help with that although I do think the Saints have proven to be 'for real'.

I wasn't always convinced about that, but the dominant win at the Buffalo Bills last week was a hugely impressive performance. The Saints have found some real balance on the Offensive side of the ball which could be huge for them in this one as Drew Brees continues playing like one of the best Quarter Backs in the League and a dynamic pair of Running Backs have sparked the Saints on the ground.

Both Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara have made use of the touches they have been given with both also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield which makes it so hard to defend against the New Orleans Saints. The Washington Redskins have some talent on the Defensive side of the ball which could make them dangerous with an under-rated Secondary and a fierce pass rush.

However there have been some signs against Washington which New Orleans should be able to exploit. Ingram and Kamara should be able to get the run established which will slow down the pass rush and bring up the Safeties and from there Brees should be able to find enough holes in the Secondary to help the Saints move the chains and force the Redskins into a shoot out.

The problem for Washington has to be that they have lost some big time Receivers and Kirk Cousins has seen the likes of Terrelle Pryor and Jordan Reed banged up. Cousins is also now facing one of the most improved Defensive teams in the NFL this season as the Saints have been able to get to the Quarter Back and have an improved Secondary.

Throwing the ball against New Orleans has proven to be difficult, while the weakness in stopping the run has not been exploited as the Saints have scored enough points to force teams to take to the air. Even then, Washington have not run the ball well enough to believe they can have a lot of success doing that and Cousins may be forced into a couple of mistakes which allows the Saints to pull away from them in this one.

The Redskins are 5-0 against the spread in the last five in this series, including a blow out win over the New Orleans Saints just two seasons ago. I doubt Sean Payton and Drew Brees have forgotten that and the Saints are 4-1 against the spread in their last five home games and 9-1 against the spread in their last ten against a team with a losing record.

Washington have played well on the road, but they are 1-5 against the spread in their last six overall and I like New Orleans to win and cover this spread at home.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Denver Broncos Pick: It has been a really disappointing year for the Cincinnati Bengals who have dropped to 3-6 and look lost in their bid to make the Play Offs. I don't think they will be keeping Marvin Lewis as Head Coach with such a poor season about to be put into the books and now they play a third consecutive road game when they travel to Mile High.

A poor season for the Cincinnati Bengals is being matched by the Denver Broncos who have simply not been able to reproduce what they did when winning the Super Bowl two seasons ago. A blow out loss in front of a national audience last week has to have embarrassed the Denver Broncos who are now 3-6 and in serious trouble of missing the Play Offs for a second season in succession.

They have since turned to Brock Osweiler after Trevor Siemian struggled at Quarter Back and the Denver Broncos are hoping Osweiler can at least keep the Offensive unit on track after a strong performance against the Patriots. It was the Defensive and Special Teams unit that let them down a week ago and Denver have to feel a better performance from those two units can see them win this game.

There have been signs on the Cincinnati Defensive Line of wear and tear over the course of the regular season and that has seen teams able to rip off a few more runs than they had been. It is important for the Denver Broncos who will look to CJ Anderson to put the team in strong down and distance and Anderson could have a decent day in the office with the Broncos Offensive Line happy when it comes to run blocking.

It is possible that will slow down the Cincinnati pass rush which has been effective and give Osweiler the chance to put some play-action passes down the field to the likes of Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. He was hitting those two well last week and Denver could have some success moving the chains this week, although it won't be consistent by any stretch of the imagination.

However it may be more consistent than what the Cincinnati Bengals are able to bring to the field in a season in which one Offensive Co-Ordinator has already been fired. The Bengals have really struggled with one of the poorer Offensive Lines in the NFL and it goes to show how important the line of scrimmage can be in this sport.

There are still some strong skill players on the Offensive side of the ball, but Cincinnati have not been able to provide them the space to excel. The running game has been almost non-existent at times and now they face a Denver Defensive Line who have something to prove after the last few games.

With the struggles on the Offensive Line, it is hard to see how Joe Mixon having a really big game on the ground and that keeps the pressure on Andy Dalton at Quarter Back. Time has been limited for Dalton in the pocket and now he has the additional stress of knowing AJ Green is likely to be blanketed by a strong Secondary who are much tougher to throw upon than they have shown.

Dalton has been led into some mistakes and those could be critical in a game where the two Offensive units on display are merely asked not to make mistakes. Unfortunately that is the case for both teams but Osweiler has been a little more careful with the ball and I think he can put Denver in a position to win this game.

The Broncos have won six of their last seven against Cincinnati including in each of the last two seasons. This is the chance to make amends for a really bad performance against the New England Patriots when Special Teams and poor Defense let them down and I expect a much better all around effort from the Denver Broncos which can help them win this game and cover the number.

MY PICKS: Chicago Bears + 3 Points @ 2.00 BoyleSports (2 Units)
Jacksonville Jaguars - 7 Points @ 1.86 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
New Orleans Saints - 9.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Denver Broncos - 2.5 Points @ 1.86 BoyleSports (2 Units)

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Weekend Football Picks 2017 (November 18-20)

Thank goodness we will not have to sit through another international break for a few months because these last two weeks have been very, very boring.

The football played in that time didn't help with so many matches ending goalless and I can't say I am disappointed that we are back to the bread and butter of domestic football this weekend.

The World Cup Finals will be fun... But the lead up has been a chore and the injury to Phil Jones while representing England once again highlights the nonsense of the friendly games that seem to be littered throughout the calendar year.

It's over now, so I am going to move on, but I can completely understand where Jose Mourinho was coming from when wondering what England were up to in pushing Jones through the pain barrier for a friendly game.

Speaking about Jose Mourinho and Phil Jones leads me to placing the link to my latest short piece about Manchester United. A difficult October has seen the criticism raise up, but Manchester United can get back on track in November before two more huge games against Arsenal and Manchester City which will determine the kind of goals United can aim for over the rest of the season.

You can read that short piece about Manchester United in my latest United Corner here.

Last time out in the Premier League, the eight picks made all returned as winners and I am hoping the international break has not ended my momentum. The picks from the Weekend Premier League games are below.

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur Pick: The final international break of the 2017 calendar year is now behind us and the Premier League return with a bang when the North London derby opens the next round of fixtures. The next six weeks are going to be an intense time with plenty of football in the top flight of English Football scheduled between now and the first few days of the 2018 calendar year.

Managers will be looking to guide their players through those tough stretches and will be hoping to avoid the injury bug. Mauricio Pochettino may be glad of the international break in that regards as his Tottenham Hotspur squad has the likes of Dele Alli and Harry Kane nursing knocks, although the manager expects both to be available this week after being withdrawn from the England squad.

Both are key to the successes that Tottenham Hotspur can have, but Pochettino won't want to risk Alli and Kane and potentially lose them for the big stretch through December. However this is a huge game and both players should be ready to go against an Arsenal team looking to bounce back from their 3-1 loss at Manchester City.

The break has given the chance to a few players to get over injury concerns of their own and Arsenal have also benefited from the likes of Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey being given a rest by their national sides. A strong Arsenal team is expected to line up as they look to defend a long winning run at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League, although they are faced by a Tottenham Hotspur team who have been very strong on their travels.

The goalkeeping situation would be a concern for Pochettino if Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm miss out again. With Toby Alderweireld expected to miss out, Tottenham Hotspur may not be as strong at the back and Arsenal have to try and take advantage of that with their attacking talent that is available.

That has probably contributed to the home side being a narrow favourite, but Tottenham Hotspur will feel they can challenge an Arsenal team who have looked vulnerable at the back. Both teams should have their moments and this has all the makings of a very close game.

It may not be a huge surprise that two teams who are closely matched do have so many competitive matches against one another. The last 3 at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League between these teams have ended in draws, while 4 of the last 6 North London derbies in the Premier League have seen the points shared.

Coming out of the international break into such a big game can be tough, and it won't be a big surprise if these teams end up cancelling one another out. Having a small interest in the draw from the first live game of the weekend looks the way to go in this one.

Bournemouth v Huddersfield Town Pick: Games like this one could prove to be so critical come April/May as the Premier League comes to a close and I don't think that is lost on Eddie Howe or David Wagner. It's hard to label games as 'must win' in November, but you can imagine certain fixtures have been circled by the managers and this has to be one that both Bournemouth and Huddersfield Town have looked to as one they can win.

The home advantage could be key to the outcome with Huddersfield Town clearly showing they are a much different proposition at home than on their travels. Goals have been hard to come by for The Terriers on their travels and defensively they have not been as tight as they have found themselves at the John Smith's Stadium.

A team like Bournemouth have the attacking power to take advantage of that and Eddie Howe will certainly feel they can win games like this at the Vitality Stadium. They had some real momentum going into the international break and the only worry for Howe is that the two break has snapped some of that.

Even with that in mind, Bournemouth have looked like an improving team and I think the absence of Christopher Schindler does weaken the Huddersfield Town rearguard. I can imagine they are set up to restrict Bournemouth and frustrate them, but the home team have played well enough and have the likes of Joshua King and Jermain Defoe to sniff out the chances.

The lack of goals has to be a concern for Huddersfield Town having failed to score in their last 5 away games in all competitions. On the other hand Bournemouth do create chances and I think they can take one which can lead to another important three points for a team climbing away from the bottom three.

Burnley v Swansea City Pick: It may be something of a surprise to note that Burnley and Swansea City have earned more points on their travels than they have at home in the Premier League this season. That makes the almost odds on quotes for Burnley to win this fixture less appealing than they may have initially looked, especially as Swansea City have shown some battling qualities away from home.

Paul Clement's men have narrowly been beaten at West Ham United and Arsenal and it has to be said they are facing a team who are not going to blow you away with their football. Goals have been a problem for both Burnley and Swansea City which suggests there won't be a lot between them and so the odds for the home team are not that appealing.

In saying that, Burnley have more momentum going into the international break than Swansea City which may play a part in this one. Defensively Burnley have shown they can be very tough to break down and they won't want to offer Swansea City too much encouragement in this one.

The problem is that Burnley can look a little predictable going forward which should mean most teams are fairly comfortable with what they are facing. While Swansea City have had their issues defensively at home, they have only conceded 3 times in 5 away games in the League and the players will have the confidence of having done the League double over Burnley last season.

I am actually finding it harder to separate them than the layers, but I am not convinced enough to back an out of form Swansea City with the start either. This is the kind of fixture that could easily be decided by a single goal and I do think it could be worth backing one or fewer goals to be shared out for a small interest.

An early goal can quickly change the whole dynamic of the fixture, but I think both Burnley and Swansea City will be looking to keep things tight and can have success doing that. 4 of the last 6 games between these teams in over recent years have finished with one or fewer goals scored including 3 in a row before Swansea City's 3-2 home win over Burnley last season.

Goals have come at a premium in Burnley home and Swansea City away matches this season and I will look for another tight game to develop here.

Leicester City v Manchester City Pick: The international break can be difficult for clubs to deal with as players are sent around the world to represent their nations. That is a particular concern for the top clubs in the top European Leagues who have the majority of their squad away from home and may be the biggest factor in slowing down a Manchester City team who have been rampant so far this season.

That hasn't been the case so far with Manchester City coming out of the last two international breaks with a 5-0 win over Liverpool and a 7-2 win over Stoke City. However both of those games were played at the Etihad Stadium and it is a different challenge when having to travel for a fixture with limited preparation time.

They are also facing a Leicester City who have played well in recent games and look to feel better under Claude Puel since he has taken over Craig Shakespeare. However The Foxes have not played one of the top teams in their recent run and it is hard to ignore the fact they have been beaten by Chelsea and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium in the Premier League this season.

In both games Leicester City have fallen a couple of goals behind before getting back into the game, but a slow start against Manchester City is much harder to retrieve with the way Pep Guardiola's men have played. You have to also consider that Leicester City have played six home matches against the teams that finished in the top six last season over the last eleven months and have lost 5 of those.

3 of Manchester City's 5 away Premier League wins have come by a single goal margin including a late winner at Bournemouth. However West Brom needed an injury time goal to get back to 2-3 in a home loss to Manchester City and this is a team who can create enough chances to really put Leicester City in a difficult spot in this one.

I just think Claude Puel may play this one a little too cautiously and allow Manchester City to dictate the play which is exactly where they are dominant. While they can cause problems on the counter attack with the pace in the starting eleven, Manchester City should be too strong and can score the goals to win this one.

The likes of Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool have all scored at least three times in their visits to Leicester City over the last eleven months. Manchester City have managed that number in their last couple of away games and I will back them at odds against to do the same here.

Liverpool v Southampton Pick: One of the big concerns for Jurgen Klopp is the injuries the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane have had to deal with throughout the 2017/18 season so far. His Liverpool side may have overcome those by remaining on the edge of the top four in the Premier League and almost progressing through to the Champions League Last 16, but Klopp will need a full squad to keep the momentum going.

Sadio Mane has returned from Senegal duty with another hamstring complaint and may have to miss out this week as Liverpool have struggled to get their four big name attackers onto the field at the same time. This week Philippe Coutinho should return, but Liverpool look plenty short to win this game.

As inconsistent as Southampton have been, they have proven to be a tough nut to crack at times. They certainly have the quality to raise their game when facing some of the best teams in the Premier League, and Southampton will be confident when you think how they played against Liverpool last season.

The Saints did not concede a goal in 4 games against Liverpool last season and beat them twice, while in recent years they have only lost 1 of 5 visits to Anfield.

Very rarely have Southampton been completely outclassed, but they are a hard to team to trust when they have been as inconsistent in front of goal as they have been. Instead you have to imagine Southampton will be looking to frustrate their hosts as they did in all 4 games last season and that could pay off with Mane missing.

Scoring goals remains an issue for Southampton who have just 9 all season in the Premier League. As poor as Liverpool have looked defensively, the majority of the poor performances have come away from Anfield and Liverpool have kept 3 clean sheets in a row here in all competitions.

With the head to head and the teams coming out on Saturday, I am surprised the oddsmakers have priced up one, or both, of these teams failing to score at odds against. The Liverpool defence has played better at home while Southampton can frustrate Liverpool when at their best and putting those factors together makes me feel that one of these teams, at least, are not going to score on Saturday.

West Brom v Chelsea Pick: There were some major questions about the Chelsea players when they bounced back from a 3-0 loss at Roma to beat Manchester United 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League days later. The international break likely came at the wrong time for Chelsea who will be hoping Eden Hazard can overcome a knock he picked up with Belgium, but Antonio Conte will be looking for his side to start producing some consistency.

The Blues had won 4 of their last 5 games going into the international break, but some of those performances were not the most convincing. However Chelsea have faired pretty well away from home in the Premier League and now head to a West Brom team who are lacking confidence and have a manager of their own under pressure.

Tony Pulis' brand of football is far from pleasing on the eye but it has been effective in keeping the likes of Stoke City, Crystal Palace and West Brom in the Premier League. However there are signs that it is no longer producing the points at the same rate and West Brom have been awful over their last 20 Premier League games spread over two seasons.

The Baggies have earned just 12 points from a possible 60 in that time and produced a win just twice, while West Brom have not looked as secure defensively. That could be a problem in this one, although West Brom have scored in 4 of their last 5 Premier League games at home and have to feel they can challenge this Chelsea backline that is likely to be missing David Luiz again.

A problem for West Brom is the lack of belief and I do think Chelsea are going to get the better of them, although I don't want to back them to cover the Asian Handicap. It will need a win by at least two goals for Chelsea to return a full winner in this one and that may be difficult if West Brom do create chances like they did against Watford and Manchester City.

This is also a Chelsea team who have conceded goals and it is pointing to a game which features at least three goals shared out. That is priced up at odds against and this does feel like a match in which both teams will score with every chance of seeing a winner which is more likely to come from Chelsea.

6 of the last 7 Chelsea away games in all competitions have featured at least three goals, while the last 3 at The Hawthorns for West Brom have done the same. At odds against I will look for at least three goals to be shared out on Saturday.

Manchester United v Newcastle United Pick: The second live game in the Premier League on Saturday comes from Old Trafford as Manchester United look to bounce back from a disappointing 1-0 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. This is a big couple of weeks coming up for Manchester United who are trying to keep tabs on Manchester City ahead of the first Manchester derby of the 2017/18 season.

Over the next eight days Manchester United will play twice at Old Trafford where they have been dominant so far this season. Games against Brighton and first Newcastle United are ones that Manchester United can ill afford to drop points and performances here suggest they won't be dropping points.

Manchester United have been confident at Old Trafford compared with last season and that has resulted in 8 straight wins in all competitions. They have created chances and scored 24 goals in those games, while defensively Manchester United have looked comfortable.

Phil Jones may not play this weekend, but Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling can produce a solid enough partnership to contain a Newcastle United side who have not been blessed with a lot of goals. Newcastle United have scored 4 goals in their last 6 Premier League games and could be missing Christian Atsu in this one.

Losing Jamaal Lascelles would be a blow for them from a defensive standpoint too as Rafa Benitez is sure to try and make life as difficult as possible for their hosts. The Magpies have yet to visit one of the top Premier League clubs this season and I think it will be a real test for them against a Manchester United team who have been very good at home.

Romelu Lukaku was back in scoring form for Belgium during the two week break and he looked sharp. It has been tough for him in recent away games with the way Manchester United have been set up, but this is a game in which Manchester United will look to get on the front foot and I think he will get his chances to snap out of his recent scoring drought at club level.

In recent games Manchester United and Newcastle United have played some close and competitive matches at Old Trafford, but the home team look considerably stronger now. A look at the starting line up from their last match against one another at Old Trafford in August 2015 shows how much Manchester United have improved compared to Newcastle United.

I expect that show up on the scoreboard in this one and I will look for Manchester United to cover the Asian Handicap.

Watford v West Ham United Pick: Maybe it has something to do with the horrific nine months of watching Manchester United under the guidance of David Moyes, or perhaps it is his ill-fated time in charge of both Real Sociedad and Sunderland, but I am not sure what West Ham United were thinking appointing him as their new manager.

The West Ham United fans seem to be wondering the same thing and there is plenty of negativity around the club which will only be removed if The Hammers can put some wins together. The next couple of weeks are so important for West Ham United to get on track before facing the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal in consecutive Premier League games.

David Moyes has insisted the first part of his time with his new club is going to be working on the defensive side of the field as West Ham United have conceded far too many goals. That is going to be tested by Watford who have seen Marco Silva enhance his reputation to the point of having Everton try to come for their manager.

Silva's employers have refused that approach and he will continue trying to help Watford play the kind of football that has been receiving plenty of plaudits. Unfortunately the results have not matched the performances of late and injuries in defensive areas have seen Watford concede too many goals in recent games.

That is an area West Ham United will try and exploit, but the visitors have issues of their own that Watford will feel they can take advantage of. The Hornets have looked good in the final third and I do think they will have their chances even with Troy Deeney suspended.

It is an important game for both teams and the television cameras may be broadcasting an entertaining Sunday afternoon affair. I do think Watford are the more likely winners, but defensive problems and the home loss to Stoke City and failure to beat Brighton as the favourites at Vicarage Road put me off.

Add in the fact West Ham United have produced better away from home than at the London Stadium of late and Watford look a short price here. However I do think there will be at least three goals shared out between the teams with the way both have defended and attacked in recent games and I don't think Moyes will have had the time to stamp his defensive plans for The Hammers.

Backing at least three goals looks a decent price in this live game and I will look for the teams to reach that mark.

MY PICKS: Arsenal-Tottenham Hotspur Draw @ 3.70 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Bournemouth @ 1.86 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Burnley-Swansea City Under 1.5 Goals @ 2.70 Betfair Sportsbook (1 Unit)
Manchester City Over 2.5 Team Goals @ 2.05 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Liverpool-Southampton Both Teams to Score- NO @ 2.00 Paddy Power (2 Units)
West Brom-Chelsea Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.15 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Manchester United - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.98 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Watford-West Ham United Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.95 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)