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Saturday, 27 October 2018

Weekend Football Picks 2018 (October 27-29)

Another round of Premier League games are set to be played this weekend beginning on Saturday and going through until Monday evening.

The ten games are split up with six matches being played on Saturday, three on Sunday and the final League game of the weekend moved to Monday because Wembley Stadium is being used by the NFL on Sunday.

It's actually irritating as it meant Manchester United's home game with Everton had to be moved into the Sunday slot that should have been Tottenham Hotspur versus Manchester City before it was announced that new White Hart Lane is far from ready to host Premier League Football.


Brighton v Wolves Pick: I think both managers will be very pleased with the way their Brighton and Wolves players have been playing and that despite Wolves going down to an upset loss in their last Premier League game.

Regardless of that result, Nuno Espirito Santo will likely keep faith with the starting eleven who have been much better than they were last weekend. He will be demanding a response though, even though Wolves are not going to have things all their own way at the Amex Stadium.

Chris Hughton didn't show he was feeling any pressure as manager of Brighton, but he had to be a little concerned with a run that had seen his team win just 2 of their last 18 games in all competitions. The wins over West Ham United and Newcastle United have eased the concerns Hughton may have had, but the manager will be the first to admit there is still more his team can offer.

It may be difficult against a resolute Wolves team who have been tough to breach all season. That task becomes all the tougher without Glenn Murray who shouldn't be risked after being knocked out cold in the 0-1 win at St James' Park last weekend.

Pascal Gross could be back to provide a creative spark for the home team, but Brighton have not been blessed with a lot of goals and it will be very hard for them to win this game as far as I am concerned.

Wolves have created more chances than Brighton in their recent games, but they are still lacking that little bit of composure you would want from the forward players. I also think Brighton will test the rearguard in front of their own fans, but the slight edge has to be given to Wolves who have produced big results after their previous defeats this season.

The away team have scored in their last 4 games on their travels and I do think one goal could be enough to win this one. With the chances Brighton have allowed teams to create against them there is every opportunity for Wolves to score two or more goals for the first time away from home in the Premier League too.

Murray's absence could be the key and I will back Wolves on the Asian Handicap which is essentially a 'Draw No Bet' selection.

Fantasy Star: Matt Doherty- last week was a tough one for Wolves, but you can't sleep on the tactics which makes clean sheets and assists a real possibility from a wing back.

Alternative: Jonny- I am sticking with Wolves this week and I would say either wing back is potentially worth selecting.


Fulham v Bournemouth Pick: Fulham fans and the owners of the club will always be grateful for what Slavisa Jokanovic has done for the club in bringing them back to the Premier League, but that doesn't mean they are going to wait too long to make a change in the managerial office if they feel that is what they need to do.

There is pressure on Jokanovic to turn things around for Fulham who have slipped into the bottom three after losing 3 straight Premier League games. It isn't just the losses that will have people questioning the manager, but the naive tactics have left Fulham exposed defensively and it is no surprise they have conceded as many as 12 goals in their last 3 Premier League games.

Even the defeats to Everton and Arsenal could be forgiven, but Fulham blowing a 0-1 lead to lose 4-2 at goal-shy Cardiff City is a really concerning result.

Returning home should make Fulham feel better, but they were beaten 1-5 by Arsenal in their last game at Craven Cottage. Now they have to face a Bournemouth team who will look to get on the front foot and cause more problems for Fulham and it will be very difficult for the home team to contain their visitors.

Bournemouth may not have scored last weekend, but they did hammer Watford 0-4 in their last away game and they made a very fast start that day. The squad looks fit and healthy and they have had a week to recharge ahead of this fixture which makes Bournemouth even more dangerous.

However Eddie Howe's men are far from convincing at the back themselves and Fulham do play an attacking style that they do feel will reap rewards in the weeks ahead. Fulham have definitely looked more threatening going forward when they are playing at Craven Cottage and that should make this an entertaining game.

The layers recognise the chance of that happening so they have shortened the price on seeing three or more goals in this one. However I still think it could be worth picking seeing at least four goals scored in this fixture.

3 of the last 4 Fulham games have featured that number of goals and 4 of the last 6 Bournemouth games have done the same. With the teams likely wanting to get forward in this one, an early goal could really spark the fixture and I will back seeing four or more goals shared out.

Fantasy Star: Aleksandar Mitrovic- it sounds like Slavisa Jokanovic has two games to save his job, but he could do that if his striker can take the inevitable chances that should come his way.

Alternative: Joshua King- there are a number of attackers who could be worth a play but you can't discount how poor Fulham have been at the back so picking a Bournemouth forward isn't a bad shout.


Liverpool v Cardiff City Pick: There has been some criticism of the Liverpool performances over the last few weeks but I do think this is still a team capable of putting the weaker teams to the sword as they showed in their comfortable Champions League win during the week.

The failure to beat Chelsea (twice), Napoli or Manchester City would have just tempered some of the increasing expectations around Liverpool, but if they continue beating those teams they should then they will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.

One of those clubs visit Anfield on Saturday and it will be very difficult for Cardiff City to contain this team whose front three all scored on Wednesday.

Neil Warnock is going to demand hard work and defensive organisation from his team to try and stifle Liverpool and they did leave Tottenham Hotspur with a 1-0 defeat earlier in the month. Cardiff City created some decent chances at Wembley Stadium and they scored when visiting Chelsea, but the 4-1 loss at Stamford Bridge is closer to what I would expect here.

Liverpool have scored at least three goals in over half of their 7 games at Anfield this season and it is a daunting test for Cardiff City who have conceded four or more goals against Chelsea and Manchester City. Arsenal managed three in Wales and I think Warnock may end up writing this off at the end of ninety minutes.

Cardiff City's chances of survival in the Premier League don't rest on getting results at grounds like this and I think it will be a containing effort for as long as possible for them. However Liverpool could go on a real goal-scoring run with the fixtures they have coming up and I think they win this one by a comfortable margin on the day.

Fantasy Star: Mohamed Salah- three goals in the last seven days suggests the forward is back to his best.

Alternative: Sadio Mane- also scored during the week against Crvena Zvezda and should have chances against a Cardiff City team who have conceded four at Chelsea and five at home against Manchester City.


Southampton v Newcastle United Pick: I don't think anyone can be surprised that the layers are expecting a low-scoring Southampton win when these teams meet in the Premier League on Saturday, but I am going to go against the statistics here.

I am not blind to the fact that both Southampton and Newcastle United have struggled for goals all season as they have both scored just 6 goals in 9 Premier League games. However the chances have been coming in recent games for Newcastle United and Southampton have also looked close to beginning to find a consistent goal-scoring threat.

The home team certainly have the kind of players you would expect to make an impact on the scoreboard with Charlie Austin and Danny Ings decent enough at this level. That is more than can be said for Newcastle United, but they just needed to be a little more clinical and they would have gotten something out of the game against Brighton last week.

There will be some tension around the players in what is considered a big game for both clubs and I do worry that could stifle the play, but these clubs have tended to match up well with one another. Goals have flowed when Southampton and Newcastle United have met and I do think both Mark Hughes and Rafa Benitez will want their teams to get forward and pick up points in what they will perceive to be a winnable game.

Southampton home games have seen the side get forward and create chances, but they have also looked vulnerable defensively. It is difficult to believe in two teams who have struggled to score goals as much as these two have, but the chances have been there and that makes seeing three goals or more a very big price here.

Fantasy Star: Danny Ings- Southampton are desperate for goals but this is the player who looks most likely to provide that.

Alternative: Kenedy- Newcastle United have been a little unfortunate in their last couple of games, but Kenedy has scored in one of those and hit the bar in the other. If they are going to score, Kenedy could be in the midst of anything good that happens for The Magpies.


Watford v Huddersfield Town Pick: At the start of the season you have to think both Javi Gracia and David Wagner would have targeted matches like this one as being all-important to ensure Watford and Huddersfield Town do not get relegated from the Premier League.

The expectation may have increased at Watford thanks to a very strong start to the Premier Leagues season, but Gracia is looking to instil some consistency into his team. They've had a run of 5 games with lots of wins and then 5 games without a victory already this season, but the win over Wolves last weekend may spark another good run.

Watford are a team who have looked very dangerous going forward in the first three months of the season and they will believe they can expose what has been a vulnerable Huddersfield Town team.

However you can't take anything for granted in this fixture because Huddersfield Town have found a little more success away from home than they have at the John Smith's Stadium. The Terriers have scored in all 4 away games in the Premier League this season which includes visits to Manchester City, Everton and Leicester City so Watford will have to be fully concentrated.

Huddersfield Town have also scored first in their last couple of away games, while Watford have lost back to back games at Vicarage Road to Manchester United and Bournemouth.

It certainly suggests the visitors can play their part here, but I do like the way Watford have been playing even through their run without a victory. They have created plenty of chances and I think Watford will be focused by the way they were embarrassed by Huddersfield Town here last season.

Backing the home team to win in a game featuring two or more goals looks an attractive enough way to approach this fixture.

Fantasy Star: Roberto Pereyra- he had not scored since August, but Roberto Pereyra was back on the scoresheet last week and is a big threat for Watford from set pieces too.

Alternative: Troy Deeney- the striker should be back to lead the line for Watford and he may not have a better opponent to end his Premier League goal drought.


Leicester City v West Ham United Pick: The live game on Saturday afternoon from the Premier League comes from the King Power Stadium and both Leicester City and West Ham United have to feel they are capable of producing the football to win.

It might be surprising to hear that considering both have lost back to back Premier League games either side of the international break but both Leicester City and West Ham United have offered enough encouragement in those losses to believe they can get back to winning ways sooner rather than later.

The injury to Andriy Yarmolenko is a blow for West Ham United and I think that is going to just take away some of the attacking creativity in the side. With the other injuries in the squad it could mean West Ham United are slightly short of attacking players this weekend and the defence is not that reliable.

Leicester City have to be a little more clinical when the chances come their way but they are creating enough to think they can get the better of their visitors on Saturday afternoon.

It was West Ham United who won the corresponding fixture last season, but I think Leicester City have a little more about them all around when they meet here on Saturday. I imagine it will be a tight game with chances for both teams, but I will look for Leicester City to be the slightly more clinical when those chances are presented and they can win this game.

Backing them on the Asian Handicap will at least return half the stake in the event of a draw.

Fantasy Star: James Maddison- the playmaker has been hugely influential for Leicester City and will likely be on penalty duty if Jamie Vardy's rumoured absence is confirmed.

Alternative: Kelechi Iheanacho- he might only have scored one goal this season in the Premier League, but Kelechi Iheanacho may be leading the line for The Foxes without Vardy.


Burnley v Chelsea Pick: This is not a live game on Sunday but the game has been scheduled for this day as Chelsea have been involved in Europa League action on Thursday.

With Eden Hazard potentially absent the trip to Turf Moor looks a little more difficult for Chelsea considering how influential the Belgian attacker has been for the club all season.

However I do think Maurizio Sarri's tactics will continue to put Chelsea on the front foot and they do have enough talent to break down a Burnley team who have not been as effective defensively as they were twelve months ago. Teams are not just creating chances against Burnley, but they are creating big chances and this Chelsea team have been scoring plenty of goals throughout the course of the season.

Burnley are well rested which makes them dangerous, but Chelsea were not overly taxed when they beat BATE Borisov at home on Thursday evening. The home team have not been a deep attacking threat and will have to rely on free kicks and corners to try and break down this Chelsea defence which has looked decent enough this season.

It worked for BATE Borisov, but I think this is a tough ask for Burnley who have already been beaten comfortably by Watford and Manchester United at Turf Moor. The home side may be unbeaten in 2 in front of their own fans, but are still not convincing and I will back Chelsea to win by a couple of goals on the day with or without Eden Hazard.

Fantasy Star: Willian- doubts surround Eden Hazard and his availability for this fixture which means most things could go through Willian.

Alternative: Marcos Alonso- he was rested on Thursday and the left back has continued to be a threat going forward in the new formation set up by Maurizio Sarri. A clean sheet bonus could also be available against a goal-shy Burnley team.


Crystal Palace v Arsenal Pick: The first of two live televised games on Sunday comes from South London as Arsenal look to continue producing the clinical football that has been a major factor in their 11 game winning run.

Defensively there remain some big questions that have yet to be answered and I think we are going to know a lot more about Arsenal in the coming six weeks when they face some of the other big six clubs.

At the end of the day they still need to be respected for the wins they have been producing and some of the football has been very pleasing on the eye. The Gunners managed to rest some key names in the Europa League on Thursday and they should be ready to go when they visit a goal-shy Crystal Palace team are beginning to look desperate for a win.

The 2-0 defeat at Everton was a bitter pill for Roy Hodgson to swallow last Sunday especially as Crystal Palace missed a penalty at 0-0 and were level going into the final five minutes. A lack of goals is beginning to be a real worry for Crystal Palace and they are not in the kind of form they would want to take into the upcoming fixtures which look very difficult on paper.

Crystal Palace facing four Premier League games in a row against the top six from last season and having scored the second fewest goals in the Premier League is a tough place to begin to produce results in those games. With Arsenal scoring at least twice in every away Premier League game, I am struggling to see how Crystal Palace win this fixture.

Arsenal have won on 4 of their last 5 visits to Selhurst Park and they have scored plenty of goals in those trips. I expect that to continue this weekend and will back The Gunners to have too many goals for Crystal Palace and they can win a game featuring two or more goals.

Fantasy Star: Alexandre Lacazette- he looks to be the lead striker for Arsenal who have been scoring plenty of goals.

Alternative: Mesut Ozil- another who was rested in the Europa League and is fresh off a hugely influential performance in the 3-1 win over Leicester City.


Manchester United v Everton Pick: There was lot of huff and puff from Manchester United in the second half of their 0-1 defeat to Juventus during the week, but it was an eye-opening experience for everyone watching. If there was any doubt about how far away Manchester United are from the elite of European Football then there isn't any more.

Juventus dominated the first half and could have won by a wide margin if they saw fit.

Jose Mourinho continues to place the blame anywhere but at his own door and there is a pressure to get a response from his players when they host Everton on Sunday. Anything less than the three points and even the top four looks like it could be a long shot for the club which is a sharp decline from where they finished in the 2017/18 season.

At least Manchester United have played better in their last couple of Premier League games, but the worry is that the first half has been allowed to drift before the players produce a much stronger first half. Manchester United have now been trailing at half time in 4 of their last 5 games in all competitions and the only exception was the goalless draw with Valencia.

Both Newcastle United and Juventus have led at half time in the last couple of games at Old Trafford which is something that shouldn't be lost on Marco Silva and his Everton team.

Everton's results have been much stronger at home, but they gave Arsenal plenty to think about in a 2-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium when finishing let them down. They will offer a threat in this one going forward and the Manchester United defence has been far from watertight, while Everton have scored at least twice in 3 of their 4 away Premier League games this season.

Both teams scoring is a really high possibility here when you consider it would have been a winner in 3 of the 4 home Manchester United games and 3 of the 4 Everton away games. However it may be a better play to back at least three goals to be shared out as neither team is likely to sit back on a 1-1 until very late in the game when the visitors may believe that is a positive result.

I think Manchester United will find a way to win this fixture, but they are hard to trust at the moment and any victory will need to come in a game that features goals considering the defensive mishaps. Everton have not exactly looked strong at the back considering they have conceded at least twice in 3 of their last 4 away Premier League games too and backing goals looks the best way to go about this.

Fantasy Star: Anthony Martial- in goal scoring form and likely to begin out on the left again this weekend.

Alternative: Gylfi Sigurdsson- Manchester United are far from defensively sound and the Icelandic midfielder has four goals from his last five League appearances. Has scored at Old Trafford before and a threat from set pieces.


Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City Pick: The postponed move into new White Hart Lane meant there was a knock on effect for fans not just of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, but also on Everton and Manchester United. A fixture that had been picked for Saturday television coverage had to move into the vacant spot left by Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City who had to move their original Sunday game to Monday evening.

That is because Wembley Stadium is being used on Sunday for the last NFL game to be played in London in the 2018 season.

It might make the conditions tougher for the players on Monday because the pitch can be cut up in NFL games and twenty-four hours doesn't seem enough time to restore it to pristine condition. At least it won't be raining though so I don't anticipate either manager having too many complaints about the playing surface even if the situation is not ideal.

Tottenham Hotspur certainly feel the delay to the move to the new Stadium is having an effect on their performances and both Liverpool and Barcelona have won here handily already this season. With the injuries in the Tottenham Hotspur squad, Manchester City are right to be favoured to match those wins, although they look significantly shorter than I would have imagined.

It does say a lot about where these two teams stand at the moment even in light of Tottenham Hotspur winning 4 straight Premier League games. Those have come against Brighton, Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur have been far from convincing in any of those and now take a big step up in level of competition.

When that has happened this season Tottenham Hotspur have lost to Liverpool and Barcelona. Both of those teams scored at least two goals, but Liverpool had enough chances to get closer to the four that Barcelona managed against Spurs.

Manchester City may have dropped four points away from home, but they could easily have won both games at Wolves and Liverpool. The performances have been good and Manchester City have matched up very well with Tottenham Hotspur having beaten them twice last season and scoring seven goals combined in those wins.

On current form I can't see anything but a Manchester City win but they are short enough.

With the goals in the side and the amount of chances Tottenham Hotspur are giving up without leader Jan Vertonghen at centre half I think Manchester City win a game that features at least two goals. I would expect Manchester City to match the total Liverpool and Barcelona have both reached and I just don't think Tottenham Hotspur have the same level of belief when they have faced the top clubs so far this season.

Manchester City look too quick, too creative and in stronger form of the two teams and I will back the defending Champions to record another victory over Spurs.

Fantasy Star: Raheem Sterling- scored three times against Tottenham Hotspur last season and Manchester City will likely look to his pace to break down the Spurs backline here.

Alternative: Benjamin Mendy- his ability to get forward and earn assists can't be ignored. Manchester City have also earned clean sheets at Arsenal and Liverpool this season.

MY PICKS: Wolves 0 Asian Handicap @ 1.75 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Fulham-Bournemouth Over 3.5 Goals @ 2.40 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Liverpool - 2.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.95 Bet365 (2 Units)
Southampton-Newcastle United Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.40 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Watford & Over 1.5 Goals @ 2.30 Boyle Sports (2 Units)
Leicester City - 0.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.91 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Chelsea - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.85 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Arsenal & Over 1.5 Goals @ 2.05 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Manchester United-Everton Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.85 Bet365 (2 Units)
Manchester City & Over 1.5 Goals @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (2 Units)

October Update: 25-27-1, - 1.93 Units (104 Units Staked, - 1.86% Yield)

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