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Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2019 (August 17-19)

The first round of Premier League Fixtures are in the books and it can be very easy to get carried away from one set of results and make swe...

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Midweek Football Picks 2019 (April 23-24)

This is the second half of the Double GameWeek Fantasy Players will be looking to in the last really big push you can make in all of the Leagues you are involved in.

My Fantasy Weekend was not too bad thanks to the use of the 'Bench Boost' chip that has seen me earn 65 points and with all but one of my fifteen players involved with teams who are set to play for a second time within GW35.

That is about as positive as this Easter Weekend was thanks to Manchester United's terrible effort in the embarrassing 4-0 defeat at Everton on Sunday. The only saving grace is that none of the other three teams chasing the remaining two Champions League spots in the Premier League were able to win and two of those were also beaten this Weekend along with United.

Somehow United remain alive, but the Manchester derby is up next and that is going to have a big impact in both club's seasons. Manchester United can get themselves firmly back inside the top four if they can beat both Manchester City and Chelsea in the coming days at Old Trafford, while Manchester City are still in the pressurised situation of needing to win all of their remaining four Premier League games if they are going to defend their English title for the first time in their history.

Both Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal also play over the next couple of days and the race in the top six looks the most intriguing in the Premier League down the stretch. Cardiff City will be hoping Brighton and Southampton are beaten in their games in hand this week if there is going to be a real chance for them to escape the relegation zone with three games remaining so the next two days to bring together some key fixtures.


There will be no Fantasy Football selections in this post because no changes can be made before GW36 which begins on Friday once again this week. That Weekend Football post should be up some hours before the deadline although I am sure most will have already been targeting the Liverpool players ready to face Huddersfield Town on Friday evening.


Below you can read my thoughts on the way I think the four re-arranged games in the Premier League will go this week.


Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton Pick: The Champions League Semi Final spot has been secured by Tottenham Hotspur, but they don't want to be in a position where they have to win that competition to return to the top European tournament next season. Over the next few days Tottenham Hotspur can really take control of one of the top four places by winning their two games at new White Hart Lane and they can then begin to prioritise their Champions League ties with Ajax.

Losses for Manchester United and Arsenal on Sunday has eased the pressure on Tottenham Hotspur, but Mauricio Pochettino won't be offering excuses if his team continue to drop points. The away form has been miserable since the end of January so there is pressure on them to perform at home, but entering the new Stadium has been a boost for the entire club.

They have played 3 games here in all competitions and Tottenham Hotspur have won all of those without conceding a goal. They were pretty comfortable winners over both Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town and now face a goal-shy Brighton team.

Brighton will at least have earned a bit of confidence back after picking up a goalless draw with Wolves this past Saturday to end a run of 5 consecutive losses in all competition. However it is yet another game without a goal for Brighton and that is going to be the main concern for them in their fight to avoid the drop.

Chris Hughton will want his team to defend well and look to capitalise on any nerves or tension Tottenham Hotspur may be feeling in their bid to finish in the top four. It looks a long shot for Brighton though and I think Tottenham Hotspur have enough talent in the final third to break down a Brighton team that have been giving up plenty of chances in recent games.

At odds against I think backing the home team to win with a clean sheet is the best way to approach this fixture.


Watford v Southampton Pick: There are a few Premier League games that had to be rearranged for this week and the one at Vicarage Road looks like it is full of potential as a fun one for the neutrals to enjoy.

Both Watford and Southampton are being managed by two attack minded coaches and their recent performances have backed that up. Watford have been in very good form at home before the unfortunate 0-1 defeat to Arsenal, but they can bounce back with another big result in their bid to get into the top seven and earn a spot in the Europa League.

They will be tested by Southampton despite the 3-1 defeat the visitors suffered at Newcastle United on Saturday. Poor finishing really let Southampton down and they continue to create a lot of chances and are playing much better than their 16th place in the Premier League table would suggest.

Ralph Hasenhuttl has found a system that gets Southampton playing with real positivity going into the final third and they have enjoyed success here at Vicarage Road in the recent past. They will definitely pose some problems when getting forward, but Watford will be looking to get after a vulnerable Southampton defence and I think both teams are going to get on the scoreboard in this one.

The draw doesn't really do a lot for either team, although it would be more accepted by the visitors. However I think both elevens will be searching for the three points and we may see a game that sees three or more goals shared out.


Wolves v Arsenal Pick: Both Wolves and Arsenal will be trying to bounce back from disappointing results this weekend as they chase ambitions that are still very much within their grasp. Wolves are chasing 7th place and can take a big step towards that if they can win their next two League games, while Arsenal are still very much in the fight for a top four Premier League finish and a return to the Champions League.

They may have both lost some ground as far as those goals are concerned this past weekend, but this is a big chance to get some momentum back behind them with four games left to play.

Wolves have been very good at home and they will believe they created enough chances to beat Brighton in the poor goalless draw on Saturday. Those chances should come against a vulnerable Arsenal team who have not been at their best away from home for much of the season despite the 0-1 wins at Watford and Napoli in their last couple of games on their travels.

Those clean sheets will give Arsenal some confidence, but Wolves have been strong at home and I do think the way Unai Emery's team will try and play will suit the home team. With the likes of Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota in the side, Wolves will believe they will score goals here, but Arsenal can also create problems and I think both teams are going to contribute to a good game of football.

It may not be the focus of the neutrals on Wednesday evening, but this Premier League game can see both teams score and I will back them to perhaps produce at least one more than that on the day. At close to odds against, I will back at least three goals to be shared out in this one.


Manchester United v Manchester City Pick: There have been very few times watching Manchester United where I have been as devastated seeing a performance like the one they produced in the hammering at Goodison Park on Sunday. There was no fight and no desire from the players who allowed Everton to do what they want and the scoreline did not flatter the home team at all.

I would expect some serious discussions to have been had by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, his coaching staff and the players after the manner of the defeat on Easter Sunday. The comments made by Solskjaer were telling in the post-match conference, but now he will be demanding a reaction from the players in the Manchester derby in what is the first of two big games at Old Trafford this week.

You would have to think there is going to be a reaction from the players ahead of a very big game, while the top four places are still within the grasp of Manchester United who host Manchester City and Chelsea this week. I would expect a number of changes to the starting line up Manchester United use in this one, but the minimum the fans are going to be expecting is some desire and pride to wear the shirt which was missing on Sunday.

I think Manchester City will head to Old Trafford expecting a reaction from the home team too and the 4-0 Everton win might not have been a good result for the Premier League title chasing team. Now Pep Guardiola will know Manchester United can't be any worse and the fans will play their part so he will look to set his Manchester City team up to control the tempo of the game.

Losing Kevin De Bruyne to an injury could be a massive blow for Manchester City, but the likes of Leroy Sane and David Silva were rested on Saturday. Those two could step up to give Manchester City some freshness in the final third and this is a team who have not been giving up too many chances of late which makes them a tough team to knock out of their stride.

Manchester City have also continued to create chances and I think they are going to be too good for their rivals in this one, although Manchester United look a huge price here. It is funny to think Manchester City are a shorter price than Barcelona to win at Old Trafford and I would not be surprised if some are looking to back United to bounce back and show they are much better than what they produced at Goodison Park.

However I have to be concerned with a lack of home goals in big games this season. Manchester United have hosted Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Barcelona at Old Trafford and produced a grand total of two goals. Both of those came against Arsenal, while the three European teams mentioned and Tottenham Hotspur have all won with a clean sheet at Old Trafford so far in the 2018/19 season.

You can't just blame Jose Mourinho's tactics either as half of those games have come under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and very little was created in the draw with Liverpool and the defeats to PSG and Barcelona. The pace in the forward positions may see Manchester United have some success in this one against Manchester City who have played a lot of football in the last three months, but this is a team who have kept clean sheets at Wembley Stadium against Spurs and at Anfield and the Emirates Stadium.

I would love to be wrong and I am not one of those Manchester United fans that would rather lose this fixture to avoid giving the Premier League title to Liverpool. Ultimately United need to finish in the top four and that means needing to win this game after losing to Everton, but I think they are someway short of the very best teams and the lack of goals in the home games against those teams is a major concern.

Manchester City could be the latest to profit from that and have won on their last 2 visits to Old Trafford. This time they may be able to secure the three points with a clean sheet which looks a very big price, although I will be at Old Trafford cheering on the home team and looking for an upset that reignites the push for Champions League Football.

MY PICKS: Tottenham Hotspur Win to Nil @ 1.95 Bet Victor
Watford-Southampton Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.83 Bet Victor
Wolves-Arsenal Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.91 Bet Fred
Manchester City Win to Nil @ 2.87 Bet Victor

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