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Saturday, 10 November 2018

Weekend Football Picks 2018 (November 10-11)

The next international break begins at the end of this weekend but there are some big Premier League games to be played both at the top and bottom of the table.

Games are split between Saturday and Sunday this week with five of the ten games set to be televised. After this we will see the final games in the UEFA Nations League over the next two weeks before the Premier League resumes and gets set for an extremely busy six weeks where eight rounds of Premier League fixtures will be played not to mention the League Cup Quarter Finals and Match Day 6 of the Champions League and Europa League competitions.

During the international break I will have another short piece about Manchester United after a really good run of results, although the mood around the club could change depending on how the Manchester derby goes on Sunday.


Cardiff City v Brighton Pick: The opening Premier League game of the weekend is going to be played in front of the television cameras in the early Saturday afternoon slot and it follows on from Monday Night Football in seeing a relegation candidate hosting an important game.

Huddersfield Town were able to beat fellow relegation threatened Fulham on Monday Night Football and Cardiff City have to be targeting a win in this one against a Brighton team who have not travelled well at this level over the last fifteen months.

It is hard to really believe in Cardiff City who have lost 8 of their last 9 games in all competitions and have continued to concede far too many goals in the Premier League. They did 'only' concede once in the home defeat to Leicester City last weekend, but the previous 5 home games had seen Cardiff City concede at least twice in each.

Only in the game against the defensively challenged Fulham did Cardiff City manage to earn a win, but they will still believe in their ability to win games at the Cardiff City Stadium where they have scored 8 of their 9 League goals. Neil Warnock will know Cardiff City need to be better at both ends of the field, but they are playing a Brighton team who can struggle as much as Fulham when it comes to defensive performances.

That could sound like a weird statement considering they had recorded 3 clean sheets in a row prior to the 3-1 loss at Everton last weekend. However Brighton have conceded at least twice in 4 of their 6 away Premier League games and this is a team who will offer opponents chances.

Cardiff City have created chances at home but perhaps don't have the consistent and reliable goalscorer Warnock will be looking to bring in in January. I expect they will create more opportunities here, and I also like Brighton's chances of causing a few chances of their own.

At a big price I am going to look for the attackers to just show a little more composure against defensively weak teams and I will back at least three goals to be shared out here.

Fantasy Star: Victor Camarasa- goals have been a problem for Cardiff City all season, but Victor Camarasa could be the key for them to unlock Brighton having hit the bar against Leicester City last weekend.

Alternative: Glenn Murray- he is Brighton's main goal-scoring threat and should have at least one or two chances to add to his six League goals scored this season.


Huddersfield Town v West Ham United Pick: It was absolutely imperative for Huddersfield Town to return to winning way sooner rather than later and the win over Fulham will be a huge boost for the entire club ahead of the next international break. Backing it up with another home win before the upcoming two week break will really put Huddersfield Town in a positive frame of mind, although much depends on which West Ham United team turn up.

As hard as Huddersfield Town work and the heart and determination the players have, you do have to wonder if there is enough quality here to survive in the Premier League. However opponents can't take a win over Huddersfield Town for granted and they have to make sure they match the intensity of the home team and that is where I can find it difficult to trust West Ham United.

You have to say this is a club that has been up and down for a number of years now and West Ham United really are a team that can be so strong against the big clubs one week and then be upset as a favourite in the next.

The 4-2 win over Burnley last weekend was a very important result for West Ham United to snap a 4 game run without a win. They have not been as strong in terms of results away from home, but West Ham United have been creating chances in their last 3 away Premier League games and arguably deserve more than the 4 points they have earned in those games.

Mark Noble's sending off at Leicester City changed the pattern of that game, while West Ham United should have at least earned a draw at Brighton with the chances they created.

If they can do that here at the John Smith's Stadium, West Ham United can return the three points as the favourite here. They did the League double over Huddersfield Town last season and West Ham United look a team who can score goals both at home and away which could be tough for the home team to match in this fixture.

Huddersfield Town should have plenty of confidence coming into this one off a win over Fulham, but West Ham United should also be feeling pretty good about themselves. If The Hammers play as well as they did at Brighton and Leicester City before the Noble sending off I would think the visitors from East London can edge out Huddersfield Town.

However I will back West Ham United on the Asian Handicap which will return half the stake in the event of a draw. That accounts for the inconsistency that West Ham United display regularly, but I do think they have enough goals to win a fixture like this one and make sure they are moving in a positive direction going into the international break.

Fantasy Star: Marko Arnautovic- in any game you fancy West Ham United to well you have to think the Austrian is going to be the main threat for them.

Alternative: Declan Rice- he is set as a defender in the official game but plays further up the field and so can be a threat to score as well as keeping a clean sheet.


Leicester City v Burnley Pick: Playing Premier League Football is a real privilege for players but they will not be used to coping with the kind of emotions that Leicester City have had to in the aftermath of Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha's passing in the helicopter crash of two weeks ago.

Some of the emotion may have been expressed in the 0-1 win at Cardiff City last weekend, but it is a different story when Leicester City return to the King Power Stadium for the first time since the 1-1 draw with West Ham United.

This is a chance for the fans to express themselves and it could make it a difficult atmosphere for the players who will want to honour their owner in the best possible way. Leicester City coped with the pressures magnificently last weekend, but being back in the Stadium where the helicopter crash was just yards away is a whole different story.

The Foxes could be helped by their opponent Burnley who have been in pretty miserable form. Aside from the 4-0 win over Bournemouth, Burnley have not really impressed this season and they have been giving up some great chances to opponents even in games where they have avoided defeat.

In their last three Premier League games teams have not been as wasteful against Burnley and that has seen Manchester City, Chelsea and West Ham United all beat Burnley comfortably. All of those teams scored at least four goals and all won by at least a two goal margin with the defeat to West Ham United being of particular concern.

Burnley could be missing some key players in defensive areas for this one too which will make it that much more difficult to produce a better effort at that end of the field.

Leicester City should be able to expose those defensive shortcomings and I think they can produce a big performance at home in a game where the owner won't be far from the minds of the fans or the players. An impressive attacking display will be the best way for Leicester City to honour those that passed away two weeks ago and I will back The Foxes to win this game by a couple of goals on the day.

Fantasy Star: Jamie Vardy- on a day when there will be plenty of emotion in the Stadium, Leicester City will want to impress and Jamie Vardy should earn a few chances against this Burnley defence.

Alternative: Demarai Gray- the home team should create chances and Demarai Gray scored last week and could be the main attacking threat outside of Vardy with James Maddison injured.


Newcastle United v Bournemouth Pick: You had to feel that Newcastle United would have taken a win in any way possible heading into the League game with Watford last week and the three points are massive in giving the players some confidence after a really poor start to the season. The Magpies had been one of two teams who had yet to win a Premier League game before last weekend, but both they and Huddersfield Town managed that and it has lifted Newcastle United out of the bottom three.

It was a good win for Newcastle United, but no one will deny they were very fortunate Watford had left their shooting boots at home. The Hornets created a number of very good chances and Newcastle United are going to have to defend a lot better if they are going to contain Bournemouth.

The Cherries are coming in off a loss, but they created a huge amount of chances against Manchester United last weekend. Eddie Howe will be well aware that Newcastle United don't pose the same sort of attacking threat as Manchester United do and he will be doing all he can to remind his players about how well they have played to open the 2018/19 season.

Bournemouth have won their last 2 away League games emphatically and I do think they can make the long journey to the North East and cause plenty of problems for their hosts in this one. They should fashion chances and Bournemouth have shown a clinical side by scoring seven goals in their last 2 away wins at Watford and Fulham.

They have also won on their last 2 visits to St James' Park and I do favour the away side to make it a hat-trick of wins here. Bournemouth have looked stronger than Newcastle United and I think the home team will have to ride their luck in a similar manner to last week if they are going to win this game.

I will back Bournemouth on the Asian Handicap which will return the stake in the event of a draw. Newcastle United should be a more confident team with a win under their belt, even if it was a fortunate one, and backing Bournemouth that way is a respect to the home team perhaps turning their form around.

However I think Bournemouth may have too many goals for Newcastle United and I will back the visitors here.

Fantasy Star: Callum Wilson- an England call up this week was reward for Callum Wilson's fine start to the 2018/19 season.

Alternative: David Brooks- I like Bournemouth's chances to win at Newcastle United for a third visit in a row and David Brooks has scored in the last two away games Bournemouth have played in the League.


Southampton v Watford Pick: About the only thing you could say with any positive connotation for Southampton last weekend was they did create some very good chances against a Manchester City defence that has been tough to breach this season. They managed to score, albeit through a penalty, but a lack of composure in front of goal prevented Southampton from at least doubling their tally on the day.

The less said about the defending the better though.

Mark Hughes has a difficult week to try and keep the positive attacking intent going while making sure his team are much better defensively than they were at the Etihad Stadium. It is fair to say that Southampton won't face an attack like Manchester City's too often, but Watford created plenty of chances at Newcastle United last weekend to suggest they pose a danger.

Southampton have continued to show they can create chances, but the lack of confidence in the final third is clear to see.

The layers haven't ignored that either and that is what makes backing at least three goals to be shared out by these teams appealing to me this weekend. Watford have really shown an attacking intent and should be scoring more goals than they have away from home, while Southampton are perhaps underachieving at St Mary's.

Neither team can really point to their defence and be convinced they are going to have enough to keep a clean sheet and I do think there will be enough chances to see at least three goals shared out here. I know it is hard to really trust attacks that have not been scoring as many goals as they should be, but you can't keep missing the opportunities they are and I think both Southampton and Watford will have enough in the final third to hurt the other.

At the price I think backing at least three goals to be shared out is worth an interest.

Fantasy Star: Danny Ings- he looks the main threat for Southampton and will need to be the star for the home team.

Alternative: Jose Holebas- I have picked goals here, but you can't completely ignore the home team's struggles. Jose Holebas has also been a creative force for Watford so has potential assist and clean sheet capabilities here.


Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur Pick: The live offering from Saturday afternoon in the Premier League sees Tottenham Hotspur play the day before any of the three teams above them take to the field. This will be seen as a big chance to put some pressure on those teams by producing yet another away victory, but it won't be easy at Selhurst Park as Arsenal found out to their cost two weeks ago.

Tottenham Hotspur will believe they are a superior team to Arsenal, especially as some of their injuries are beginning to clear up. The midfield is shorn of important players this weekend, but Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen's returns cannot be underestimated.

Jan Vertonghen's absence has been difficult to deal with for Spurs who have conceded too many goals without their defensive leader. Mauricio Pochettino has tried to change things around, but Crystal Palace will believe they can at least pose some significant questions of their own when they drive forward with the ball.

At the moment The Eagles have been lacking a little spark in the final third with the team heavily reliant on a moment of magic from Wilfried Zaha. Much of their attacking threat comes through the winger and the focus for Tottenham Hotspur will be trying to limit the damage he can do.

However I do think Crystal Palace can cause some problems for a Tottenham Hotspur team who have struggled for clean sheets of late. Hugo Lloris is back in goal and can be a key shot-stopper, but there has been a raggedness to the defending and Crystal Palace could be a real threat from set pieces in this one too.

On the other side of the field I fully expect Tottenham Hotspur to have chances of their own and Harry Kane looks to be in form with three goals over the last eight days. With both Alli and Eriksen set to start, Tottenham Hotspur have a real threat going forward and this could be another Premier League game that sees at least three goals scored this weekend.

Both teams should have the opportunities to get on the scoreboard and I don't think either will be settling for a draw until we get into the last fifteen minutes of the game. Even then I would imagine Tottenham Hotspur will be pushing forward if they need to win and both teams have shown enough in the final third to believe they can combine for three or more goals against the defences they are facing this weekend.

Fantasy Star: Christian Eriksen- Harry Kane is in form, but Christian Eriksen can be a real creative influence and has scored the winner on this ground before.

Alternative: Kieran Tripper- he is an potential creator of goals and Tottenham Hotspur could earn a clean sheet here if Crystal Palace are not at it.


Liverpool v Fulham Pick: It is hard to imagine Liverpool being as poor as they were in Belgrade when they take to the field for the early Sunday kick off and Fulham's best hope may be that the home players are perhaps not as awake as they would be for a later kick off.

That certainly feels like a long shot and I think Liverpool are going to be far too good for Fulham in this Premier League game.

Liverpool have scored four goals in their last 2 games at Anfield and they look to have found their feet at home, although there is still some room for improvement for Liverpool's attacking talents. The returns of Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson and Xherdan Shaqiri may just freshen things up enough to get the best out of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah and Fulham haven't defended anything near the level you would want if you are thinking of containing this Liverpool team.

Even the attacking side of things have been a chore for Fulham in recent games and they were pretty miserable at Huddersfield Town on Monday Night Football. A goal shy Huddersfield Town team created some good chances against Fulham, which has to be a concern when ramping up the attacking quality to Liverpool's level.

This is a big handicap for Liverpool to cover simply because they have to score at least three goals to have a chance of doing that. Defensively Liverpool have looked good enough to keep a clean sheet in this fixture as Fulham perhaps look to dig in and contain their hosts, but that is a big ask for Fulham who have conceded at least three goals in League games against Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City an Arsenal this season.

The latter two teams both won by margins of at least three goals and that is the gap Liverpool have created in their last couple of games at Anfield in all competitions. West Ham United and Southampton are two other teams who have been beaten by wide margins at Anfield already this season and I do think there will be a response from Liverpool after the hugely disappointing defeat in Belgrade.

Liverpool have beaten Fulham 4-0 in each of the last 2 games between these clubs at Anfield and it would not be a huge surprise if the same scoreline comes out of this one.

Fantasy Star: Roberto Firmino- he looks close to getting back amongst the goals and should lead the line after Daniel Sturridge fluffed his chances against Red Star during the week. Any of the front three for Liverpool could be picked though.

Alternative: Xherdan Shaqiri- Jurgen Klopp has employed a 4-2-3-1 system in the last couple of home games and Xherdan Shaqiri has been a big influence in that. Was rested on Tuesday so could be in line to start here.


Chelsea v Everton Pick: The long trip to Belarus could potentially be a problem for Chelsea as they prepare for this Premier League game on Sunday, but they had a relatively comfortable win over BATE Borisov in a game that shouldn't really have taxed the players.

Eden Hazard got an important hour into his legs as he returns from a back injury and Chelsea look to have a strong squad to pick from in this League game at Stamford Bridge.

They have been very good at home and Chelsea are scoring plenty of goals at Stamford Bridge which should be putting Everton under pressure. As well as Everton have been playing, they have been in the middle of a decent fixture list and have taken advantage of that.

Everton have been beaten at both Arsenal and Manchester United in the League and the next three away games are at Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City which will really test Marco Silva's team. They have conceded twice in the defeats at the Emirates Stadium and Old Trafford and I think Everton will find it very difficult to contain Chelsea who have scored at least three goals in 3 straight wins at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues have also been very strong when hosting Everton in recent years and I do favour them to win this game. Everton could cause some problems with the way they have been playing and they did do that to Arsenal and Manchester United, while they have had a week to prepare instead of having to travel to Europe as Chelsea have had to.

It could make Everton a little more competitive for longer, but they have not travelled as well as they have played at Goodison Park. I think Chelsea will be the latest to expose the vulnerabilities of this Everton team who have conceded plenty of goals in away games and I will back the home team to cover the Asian Handicap on Sunday.

Fantasy Star: Alvaro Morata- the Spaniard is a confidence player and has been amongst the goals, although still liable to a big miss. Chelsea should create big time chances for him though.

Alternative: Ross Barkley- not entirely convinced he starts, but would love to get one over his former club and will play up the pitch.


Arsenal v Wolves Pick: This fixture will be kicking off at the same time as the Manchester derby as Arsenal entertain Wolves and look to keep up with the top four teams in the Premier League table.

The home team are the favourites to win this fixture as they seem to be in better form than Wolves, but the latter have been really unfortunate during their 3 game losing run in the Premier League. They showed tremendous fight in the 2-3 loss to Tottenham Hotspur last weekend and Wolves arguably could have gotten a lot more from their last 2 League defeats to Brighton and Spurs.

Wolves have already played both Manchester clubs this season and avoided defeat and I think the system put out by Nuno Espirito Santo is going to give them every chance of earning something from this Premier League fixture.

It won't be easy against an Arsenal team who had been flying at home before drawing their last 2 games here in all competitions. In fact Arsenal have now drawn 3 of their last 4 games in all competitions at the end of an 11 game winning run.

Arsenal have a real attacking threat and they can quickly put things together as they have shown with quick strikes against Everton, Watford and Leicester City here. In each of those three home wins Arsenal have managed to score two goals in the space of four minutes and that is something teams have to deal with as The Gunners seem to be able to turn the screw once they score.

This Wolves team may have conceded 6 goals in their last 3 League games, but they are better than that and I don't think they will continue to produce poor defensive performances. They only conceded once in their games with both Manchester clubs and I think Wolves do have the attacking threat to challenge this Arsenal backline who have been improved in their last couple of games here.

Much will depend on how clinical Wolves are as they have created enough chances on their travels to score many more than the 3 away League goals scored so far. If they can take their chances I would be surprised if Wolves lose by more than a goal and they could even earn a surprise point.

Backing the away side with the start on the Asian Handicap is my selection here.

Fantasy Star: Raul Jimenez- the Mexican was excellent last week and can back up that performance. I fancy Wolves to get something here so backing a Wolves player to be the difference is not a surprise.

Alternative: Mesut Ozil- was rested during the week and a lot of the good Arsenal have produced tends to come through Mesut Ozil. He had scored in back to back League games at the Emirates Stadium before last weekend and will be the key if Arsenal are going to get back to winning ways.


Manchester City v Manchester United Pick: Both Manchester clubs recorded big wins in the Champions League on Wednesday, but that won't matter now as the first Manchester derby takes place on Sunday from the Etihad Stadium.

A couple of weeks ago Pep Guardiola spoke about the title contenders and it was noted that Manchester United were not mentioned, but another home loss to their rivals will mean there are only 4 points between these clubs going into the final international break of the calendar year.

The recent performances from Manchester United may not be the most encouraging for this huge test, but the results have been coming and there has been a real display of hunger and determination from the players. Second half performances at Chelsea, Bournemouth and Juventus have been improved and Manchester United have come from a goal down to win 2 of those games and draw the other.

Manchester United have now scored at least twice in 7 of their 8 away games played in all competitions in the 2018/19 season but my biggest fear is that the results have been much better than what the side have really deserved.

Chelsea, Bournemouth and Juventus all had big chances to finish off Manchester United before the fightback and this Manchester City team don't look like they are taking many prisoners at the moment.

Of course there will be some encouragement taken into this fixture from Manchester United's last 3 visits to the Etihad Stadium where they have won twice in that time. That includes coming back from 2-0 down to win 2-3 here and spoil Manchester City's planned Premier League title celebration and I think that is a result that won't have been forgotten by Pep Guardiola or the players.

It should mean Manchester City are more focused on what Manchester United are capable of if they are allowed to hang around. The recent results from United will have underlined that point to the Manchester City team and backed up by that result back in April, but it is hard to imagine a side creating as many chances as Manchester City are will allow a lead to slip for the second time in two seasons against their biggest rivals.

Much will depend on how clinical Manchester City are because Manchester United are simply not defending to a level Jose Mourinho would find acceptable. Poor finishing let down Bournemouth and Juventus when they had Manchester United on the rack, but this is a Manchester City team who have scored 12 goals in their last couple of games at home over the last eight days.

My prediction is that Manchester City are going to be too strong for Manchester United and likely win by a couple of goals on the day. I've been wrong believing Chelsea and Juventus would beat my team, and I would happily be wrong again so this is a game I simply will watch and hope United can do it.

My heart says United, but my head and all the signs are pointing Manchester City here as Manchester United can't keep getting away with some of the defensive performances they have. I really think everything will depend on how clinical Manchester City are and my feeling is that they have circled this game for some time to make a point after losing from 2-0 up on the day they could have been crowned Champions in April 2018.

It will need some luck for Manchester United to get something from this one, but at some point the fortune of Chelsea and Juventus will run out and I have a feeling that could be the case this weekend.

Fingers crossed I am wrong!

Fantasy Star: Sergio Aguero- how weird to think Sergio Aguero has started just one of the five Manchester derby games under Pep Guardiola and had a total of 14 minutes in the two League games last season. He is very much the number one striker for Manchester City right now and has scored 8 goals against Manchester United.

Alternative: David Silva- the Spaniard has been in great form and will be key to unlocking this Manchester United defence. The erratic performances of Jose Mourinho's men could leave spaces for Silva to exploit.

MY PICKS: Cardiff City-Brighton Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.60 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
West Ham United - 0.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Bet365 (2 Units)
Leicester City - 1 Asian Handicap @ 1.85 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Bournemouth 0 Asian Handicap @ 1.83 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Southampton-Watford Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.10 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Crystal Palace-Tottenham Hotspur Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.80 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Liverpool - 2.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.85 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Chelsea - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.00 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Wolves + 1 Asian Handicap @ 1.80 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Manchester City - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.80 Bet Fred (0 Units)

November Update: 12-15, - 8.66 Units (54 Units Staked, - 16.04% Yield)

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