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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, 27 October 2017

Weekend Football Picks 2017 (October 28-30)

Another big week of football is set to begin on Saturday as the next round of domestic League games are played before a pivotal Match Day 4 round of Champions League games. Then we get into one more round of domestic football before the final international break for several months which will be much appreciated by most fans.

The picks from this weekend's Premier League games are below.

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur Pick: The Premier League opens up this weekend with the best game in this round of fixtures as 2nd placed Manchester United host 3rd placed Tottenham Hotspur and so far it is goal difference that is the only thing that separates them.

Something has to give this weekend as Manchester United have won all 4 League games played at Old Trafford, while Tottenham Hotspur have won all 4 away League played. Goals have not been a problem for either side at home/away respectively, while both teams have looked strong defensively too.

There won't be much between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday with the two managers likely to approach this cautiously. Being at home should mean Jose Mourinho is a little more adventurous with his team, while Mauricio Pochettino will try and hit Manchester United on the counter attack as he sat his Tottenham Hotspur side to do to Real Madrid.

With Romelu Lukaku and Harry Kane leading the way for both teams there should be plenty of quality on display, but I do think Manchester United can get the better of Tottenham Hotspur here.

Recent performances haven't always been the best, but Manchester United have not played those games at Old Trafford where they have felt very comfortable this season. A Tottenham Hotspur side missing Victor Wanyama and Mousa Dembele should not be as dominant in the middle of the park and I do think Manchester United have enjoyed playing this side in recent years.

They have shown that with 3 straight wins over Tottenham Hotspur at Old Trafford and I do think Manchester United have defended well enough to cope with the quality the away team will be bringing. Lukaku's familiarity with Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld from his time with the Belgian national team will help the Manchester United striker and I do think Mourinho will get a reaction from his team.

Tottenham Hotspur did earn a very good result at Real Madrid in their last away game, but other matches have not come against the best teams and I think that may show up here. It won't be an easy game for Manchester United or Tottenham Hotspur, but I will look for United to have a little more in the final third at both ends of the field and I will back them at odds against to win this fixture.

It won't be many occasions when Manchester United will be this kind of price to win a game at Old Trafford and I will back them to do that here.

Arsenal v Swansea City Pick: Arsene Wenger won't mind the likes of the two Manchester clubs and Tottenham Hotspur getting the majority of the headlines in the Premier League as Arsenal look to climb back into contention in the Division. The manager will be looking for Arsenal to keep up the strong form at the Emirates Stadium this weekend as he looks for some momentum to take into the fixtures against Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur which come after this one.

Home form has been key for Arsenal in recent months and they are going for a 10th straight League win at the Emirates Stadium. A well rested side should take to the field on Saturday as Arsenal look to back up their exceptional performance when dismissing Everton last Sunday.

They should have the majority of the play against a Swansea City team who have lost 4 of their last 5 games in all competitions after exiting the League Cup during the week. A lack of goals has to be a real concern for Paul Clement, although Swansea City have shown some toughness on their travels this season.

After riding their luck at times, Swansea City have had clean sheets at Southampton, Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League this season. Even the goal conceded at West Ham United came in injury time but that does mean Swansea City have not scored in 3 of their 4 away League games.

The side do have a really good record at the Emirates Stadium in recent years with back to back wins before the 3-2 loss last season. However I think Swansea City have been fielding a declining starting eleven and I would be surprised if Arsenal are not able to break them down and win this game.

The layers feel the same with a big Asian Handicap for the home team to cover after their performance at Everton, but I do think that ignores how difficult Swansea City can make life. This is a team who forced Tottenham Hotspur to draw a blank and sitting deep may just frustrate the home side.

However it is Arsenal who I expect to make most of the running and the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil were in very good form last Sunday. I expect them to find the breakthrough and I believe Arsenal can keep Swansea City at arm's length in this one.

Arsenal have won 9 in a row at home in the League and 7 of those wins have come with a clean sheet including the last 3 in a row. I feel they can do the same here despite the defensive errors that were made last weekend and I will back Arsenal at odds against to win with a clean sheet.

Liverpool v Huddersfield Town Pick: Jurgen Klopp has to be feeling the pressure from the fans and owners alike in the wake of yet another defensively inept performance from his Liverpool side in a 4-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend. This is a big week coming up for the German manager to try and build some momentum as Liverpool host Maribor and travel to West Ham United after this fixture against Huddersfield Town.

The visitors have to head to Anfield with renewed confidence after beating Manchester United last weekend, although you can't ignore how poorly Huddersfield Town have played on their travels recently. They have not won, or scored, in 4 consecutive away games in all competitions since the 0-3 win at Crystal Palace on the opening weekend, while Huddersfield Town have lost 3 of their last 4 on their travels.

Playing Liverpool might seem the perfect chance to at least snap the run of failing to score, but that would be ignoring the fact that Liverpool are much better at Anfield. Their attacking play means teams are not as confident of attacking Liverpool here even if the home team do have mistakes in the defensive ranks that can be exploited.

Huddersfield Town may look to take advantage of the counter attack with some pacy players in the final third, while set pieces are likely to be where they are at their most dangerous. However, Liverpool have kept clean sheets in 5 of their last 6 Premier League games at Anfield including in 3 of 4 here this season.

It is actually a lack of goals which has prevented Liverpool having more points on the board at Anfield as they have only once scored more than a single goal at this ground in the League. The home team should have chances to improve that record this weekend, but asking them to cover the Asian Handicap may be asking too much considering Liverpool only scored once against Crystal Palace and Burnley.

I am not convinced Huddersfield Town can keep Liverpool out though and the best way to back the home team here may be to back them to win with a clean sheet. It is a decent price because of the way Liverpool have defended in some games, but the headlines may have ignored the stronger defensive record at Anfield and the lack of goals in the Huddersfield Town squad.

I think Liverpool might have worked on the defensive side of things this week and I will back them to win with a clean sheet.

Watford v Stoke City Pick: With clubs showing signs of becoming a little trigger happy with their firings of managers, this week is a big one for Mark Hughes as he looks for his Stoke City team to show some life. Slipping into the bottom three and then entering a two week international break may see Stoke City make a decision on Hughes that they have been rumoured to be thinking about at numerous times over the last twelve months.

Another slow start has to be a big disappointment for Stoke City who have lost 5 of their last 6 in all competitions. They have been particularly disappointing away from home where Stoke City have lost 3 in a row and now they face a Watford side who have to be playing with plenty of confidence.

Watford could easily have come into this weekend off the back of a win at the home of the Champions, but Marco Silva will still be encouraged by how his team have been performing. The only concern here is that Watford have not been firing at home so far this season, although that may have something to do with a fixture list which has seen the side host Liverpool, Brighton, Manchester City and Arsenal.

Stoke City can't really be bracketed with those teams when you think Watford's failure to beat Brighton was much to do with being reduced to ten men after 24 minutes. Watford have shown they have goals in the squad and I expect they can expose some holes in the Stoke City defence which has seen The Potters concede at least twice in 3 away games in a row.

There is some mental obstacles to overcome for Watford having failed to win any of their last 3 home games against Stoke City. They have lost back to back League games to them at Vicarage Road, but I think Watford are in the superior form and look a side that can score goals.

I expect that could see them to the three points this weekend and at odds against the home team have to be backed to get the better of Stoke City here.

West Brom v Manchester City Pick: The biggest question in this game has to be how much the 120 minutes played on Tuesday will have taken out of the Manchester City legs and whether West Brom can take advantage of that having had a week to prepare for this fixture. It wasn't a completely second string team that Pep Guardiola picked during the week with the likes of Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero playing the full match and others like John Stones, Kyle Walker, Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus all being involved.

Premier League clubs have to be inspired by the way Wolves played in that League Cup tie at the Etihad Stadium especially as the Championship leaders had their chances to score and win the game.

Belief is such a big factor in playing against Manchester City, but West Brom could be lacking some of that after a poor run of form. You know Tony Pulis will be looking to make sure his team are organised and hard to beat, but West Brom could be without Craig Dawson and Jonny Evans which is a huge blow for their chances in this one.

West Brom could cause some problems with their set pieces and they are a team that will employ long ball tactics to shift the pressure and look for the pace in the final third to cause problems. However it is difficult to see how West Brom can contain Manchester City having found themselves on the losing end against this opponent in 12 straight matches.

That includes 6 straight wins for Manchester City at The Hawthorns with the last of those coming in the League Cup in September. Manchester City have found the quality in the final third to break down Tony Pulis' organisation and the two missing defenders might make it that much more difficult for The Baggies to contain a rampant Manchester City side.

Manchester City have won by at least a two goal margin on 3 consecutive visits to West Brom and they scored seven goals against them in the Premier League last season. With the goals Manchester City have been producing at the moment, it is hard to imagine a situation where they don't have enough to see off West Brom with some comfort here.

I will look for Manchester City to win by at least two goals for the fourth time in a row in the Premier League on this ground.

Bournemouth v Chelsea Pick: In most cases teams at the top of the Premier League must enjoy playing Bournemouth who will try and play their football under Eddie Howe. That is much better than facing a team who are going to sit in and try and make life difficult and Chelsea will be looking to show they are the superior team on the day.

It hasn't been smooth sailing for Chelsea, but Antonio Conte has to be happy with the response of his side who have won twice over the last seven days. Coming from behind to beat Watford has to be particularly pleasing for the manager and Chelsea will be confident they can keep the run going as they head into a big week when they face Roma in the Champions League and Manchester United in the Premier League next weekend.

This does feel the perfect opponent to keep the winning run going despite Bournemouth beating Stoke City and Middlesbrough in their last couple of games. As much as Bournemouth will try and get forward and score goals, the space they will provide Chelsea has to be very encouraging for the away side.

That has proven to be very useful in 1-4 and 1-3 wins at the Vitality Stadium over the last two seasons, while Chelsea also beat Bournemouth 3-0 at home last season. Bournemouth have been involved in a few high-scoring games against the top teams because of their style which will be to try and get forward, but for the most part they have ended on the wrong end of the result.

Bournemouth have to feel they can cause problems after seeing how well Watford performed against Chelsea last weekend, but I am not sure the home team have as much quality or conviction going forward. They have shown they can still score goals though and I think the problems defensively will be exposed by a Chelsea team who have scored nine goals in their last 3 games.

Both teams are likely to find the net and I will look for this fixture to produce the goals it has over the last two seasons and back at least four to be shared out by Bournemouth and Chelsea.

Brighton v Southampton Pick: The television companies love to label their Sunday Premier League offering as being 'Super' but I am not sure the neutrals will be that impressed with the two offerings this weekend. The south coast derby at least brings in some additional intrigue to this fixture between Brighton and Southampton, but anyone who has watched these two teams even a couple of times this season will know what to expect.

Both Brighton and Southampton have been guilty of some serious struggles in the final third although both teams will feel their most recent performances will at least suggest something different. That is especially the case for Brighton off the back of a 0-3 win at West Ham United, although I think it may be asking a lot for this game to be filled with a lot of excitement.

Neither manager will be that bothered if that is the case as they are looking to make sure they keep picking up points and moving their teams away from any relegation battle. That makes this game more important for Brighton with home form expected to be key to any survival plan they put together and this is a side who have played well at the Amex Stadium in recent weeks.

Brighton are unbeaten in 4 home games in all competitions and would have had 4 consecutive wins if not for a late penalty for Everton last time out here. That makes them dangerous for a Southampton side who haven't travelled well, although The Saints are always a threat with the inconsistent performances they can produce from week to week.

There won't be a lot between these teams and one goal could easily be enough to secure the points when you think how well they can defend. However I think home advantage is likely going to give Brighton the slight edge and you can back them with the start on the Asian Handicap which does make them appealing here.

The start will at least return half the stake as a winner if Brighton are to avoid a defeat here, while a win for the home team is not out of the question. I think Brighton are a big price to do that, but will have the security of returning a profit with a draw too. I just think being at home gives Brighton enough momentum to get forward against a Southampton side who gave up plenty of chances to Huddersfield Town in a recent away game there, but I expect Brighton to be a little more confident in front of goal after their win at the London Stadium.

Burnley v Newcastle United Pick: The prices for this Premier League live offering on Monday night immediately surprised me as Burnley are a home underdog against Newcastle United. That may have made more sense if Newcastle United had made a flying start on their travels after Burnley have just hit a wall at Turf Moor in recent months, but that is far from the case.

The Burnley home form has been inconsistent in recent months after using it as the foundation for avoiding relegation in the 2016/17 season. This time around Burnley have been much stronger on their travels, while I also feel the price is factoring in the chances of Sean Dyche perhaps having his head turned after being linked with the vacant job at Everton.

Dyche doesn't seem the kind of character that will let much distract him from his work though and I expect Burnley to well prepared for this one.

There may not be a lot of goals with both Burnley and Newcastle United under the guidance of managers who will make them difficult to beat and I don't think there will be much between them. Both have not been at their best at home/away respectively but Burnley have shown they are tough to beat here and I can't have them as the underdog.

As long as Burnley defend like they can, I do think they are capable of winning this one. The chance to back them at odds against knowing the stake is returned in the case of a draw looks hard to resist and I think Sean Dyche shows his professionalism by making sure his side are fully prepared.

Newcastle United can be difficult and inconsistent to read, but I will look for Burnley to edge them out on Monday night.

MY PICKS: Manchester United @ 2.20 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Arsenal Win to Nil @ 2.20 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Liverpool Win to Nil @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Watford @ 2.07 Sporting Bet (2 Units)
Manchester City - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.77 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Bournemouth-Chelsea Over 3.5 Goals @ 2.75 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Brighton + 0.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.84 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Burnley + 0 Asian Handicap @ 2.11 Bet Victor (2 Units)

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