Friday, November 20, 2020

EPL 2020/21 - Week 9

Newcastle v Chelsea - Away

Aston Villa v Brighton - Home

Tottenham v Man City - Home

Man Utd v West Brom - Home

Fulham v Everton - Away

Sheffield Utd v West Ham - Home

Leeds v Arsenal - Draw

Liverpool v Leicester - Draw

Burnley v Crystal Palace - Away

Wolves v Southampton - Home

Everton is the team I have high hopes this week-end as they visit Fulham. After an electric start when they won their first 4 matches, the Toffees have now lost their last 3. I think they are due a win and a visit to strugglers Fulham is one of the best avenues to get back on track. During their losing streak, striker Calvert-Lewin has been on fire and I expect him to lead the charge big-time on Sunday. Cunning manager Ancelotti should have the right strategy to overcome any resistance from the home team.

Liverpool are in a spot of bother at the moment with injuries to defensive stalwarts Van Dijk, Gomez and Alexander-Arnold and star man Salah to mention a few. Dangerous Leicester are coming for a visit at Anfield and will really be looking to take the spoils here. Vardy will be relishing this clash and it won't be a surprise if the Foxes striker bags a few against the Kop's diminished defence. Manager Rodgers will be up against his old team and it will no surprise if the visitors edge this encounter or come away with a point. A draw-no-bet or outright win on Leicester can be rewarding.

Win: Everton

Draw-no-bet: Leicester

Friday, November 6, 2020

EPL 2020/21 - Week 8

Everton v Man Utd - Home

Crystal Palace v Leeds - Draw

Chelsea v Sheffield Utd - Draw

West Ham v Fulham - Home

WBA v Tottenham - Away

Leicester v Wolves - Home

Man City v Liverpool - Home

Arsenal v Aston Villa - Home

A big, big 6-point match this week-end between the 2 main protagonists for the title for many; it's Man City v Liverpool at the Etihad. Neither team is rolling at full-steam at the moment and are edging encounters by the scruff of their necks. Without any fuss, I will side with the hosts here. The Kops always have a hard time when they visit the Citizens and will miss talismanic lynchpin Van Dyke at the back. Newcomer Jota has bailed them in their past few matches but getting a result against Guardiola's team without the Dutch star looks like a tough mountain to climb. A home win will put City back in the race.

I think Sheffield Utd can go get a result at Stamford Bridge. The Blades have had encouraging results lately after a dreadful start to the season. They were edged against Livepool after taking the lead and they were one-nil losers to big guns City last week. A strong defensive display against Chelsea can help them snatch at least a point; the Blues are alternating see-saw results at the moment and might not be at full fitness after a Champions League outing in mid-week. The Blades look good value at current market odds for win and draw-no-bet.

Win: Man City

Win or Draw-no-bet: Sheffield Utd

Friday, October 30, 2020

EPL 2020/32 - Week 7

Sheffield Utd v Man City - Away

Burnley v Chelsea - Away

Liverpool v West Ham - Home

Aston Villa v Southampton - Away

Newcastle v Everton - Away

Man Utd v Arsenal - Draw

Tottenham v Brighton - Home

Fulham v West Brom - Home

Leeds v Leicester - Away

Man City should start getting on a good roll if they are to keep their title challenge live. The Citizens have hardly blazed out all firing out of the starting gates and have to start accumulating full points to keep up with rivals Liverpool. Going to Sheffield Utd presents Guardiola's men to start a winning sequence; the home team are struggling and look set for a relegation battle this year if their results don't improve. The Blades will need a repeat last week's performance at Anfield where they almost snatched a point but their main problem is that they are not banging enough goals upfront. This lack of firepower will be detrimental against a City side that has the potential to go rampant against the toughest of defences; the Citizens are hard to be out-scored. Looks like a definite away win.

I expect a close match between Man Utd and Arsenal. Both teams played and won in mid-week and will be keen not to lose this one. The Red Devils found it hard to break down a vulnerable Chelsea side last week and Arsenal are proving a resilient team under Arteta. I expect this match to be determined by the odd goal if there is to be a winner, but a draw looks very much in the cards.

Win: Man City

Draw: Man Utd/Arsenal 

Friday, October 23, 2020

EPL 2020/21 - Week 6

West Ham v Man City - Away

Fulham v Crystal Palace - Home

Man Utd v Chelsea - Home

Liverpool v Sheffield Utd - Home

Southampton v Everton - Away

Wolves v Newcastle - Home

Arsenal v Leicester - Home

Brighton v WBA - Home

Burnley v Tottenham - Away

Spurs are a team on a roll and they should have no trouble dispensing of struggling Burnley this game week. They lost 2 glaring points against West Ham last week-end, throwing away a 3-goal lead but rebounded well in midweek in their Europa excursion. Kane and Son are on fire and with Bale now in the mix, Spurs certainly have one of the most potent attacks in Europe. I mentioned before that Burnley are going to struggle this season unless they make massive reinforcements but these are not due anytime soon. Spurs should win this comfortably.

I think Fulham might finally get the win they crave as Crystal Palace come for a visit. The problem currently for the Cottagers is that they do not score enough but they seem to have done some good business during the transfer window and got an encouraging draw last week at Sheffield Utd. The visitors alter the good and the bad and depend heavily on star man Zaha for their good fortunes. If he is shackled, they become a bottom-tier team. This is a match home manager Parker will feel is up for the taking and at current odds, sound like a good win value proposition.

Win: Fulham/Tottenham  

Friday, October 16, 2020

EP 2020/21 - Week 5

Everton v Liverpool - Home

Chelsea v Southampton - Draw

Man City v Arsenal - Home

Newcastle v Man Utd - Draw

Sheffield Utd v Fulham - Home

Crystal Palace v Brighton - Away

Tottenham v West Ham - Home

Leicester v Aston Villa - Home

West Brom v Burnley - Home

Leeds v Wolves - Home

If there is one team that I think will do terrible in the coming weeks, at least before the January transfer window, is Burnley. The Clarets are 0-3 so far and things don't look to be improving soon following a rash of injuries and more importantly because of their ineptitude in the last transfer window. This is a seriously banged up team at the moment and other teams will relish to play them as they stand. West Brom have just garnered a point so far, albeit in a rather sensational match where they were leading 3-nil against Chelsea at half-time. Clearly the Baggies can score but they also have one of the most porous defences in the league. It's a big opportunity for them to bag up 3 full points against Sam Dyche's ailing team and I think they will take it.

Liverpool have crushed the life out of their Merseyside rivals Everton in recent years but tomorrow's derby might prove a different storyline. The Toffees are leading at the top of the table thanks to an unbeaten 4-game run. The turnaround in Everton's fortunes can be boiled down to 2 main factors; the arrival of Ancelloti and the renewed confidence up-front of Calvert-Lewin. The hosts won't be fazed by all the usual razzmatazz from rivals Liverpool who have been used to rolling over all lately. I can see an Everton win here, considering that the Kops are not in full gear yet.

Win: Everton, WBA

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Arc de Triomphe - History beckons for Enable

It seems the racing gods are with Enable. The heavy rains got rid of Love, the one many thought would scupper her aim for a 3rd Arc. Then, the race suffered the defections of the rest of the Ballydoyle contingent because of a feed problem! No Serpentine, Mogul, Japan or Sovereign to deal with. So what is left in the field that can potentially derail the Queen of the turf?

For that you need to find a true mud lark that will relish the heavy going of ParisLongchamp on Sunday. I cannot find any in the field. Sure, there are a few that have won on soft ground but beating Enable would require a specialist of heaving conditions. Persian King? Does not have the distance and will absolutely hate the ground. Royal Julius, Way to Paris, Gold Trip, Chachnak? Not good enough at this level. Deidre? Will not love the conditions and seems past her peak. Raabihah? Unproven on the ground and was not quite good enough to beat a respectable but no superstar Tarnawa.

This leaves In Swoop, Sottsass and Stradivarius as viable challengers. In Swoop is the German Derby winner who seems to love softish conditions. He was second to Mogul in the Grand Prix de Paris and being a 3-year old, will get some weight allowance in relation to the older generation. It's not certain he can be a force at this level but he has claims for a Top 4 finish.

Sottsass has disappointed me this year. He has won only one of this four races and his win was also not the most convincing. He finished around a length from Enable in last year's Arc and if he can reproduce that form, he can be a major force at the finish. He hit the line well in his last race against the likes of Ghaiyyath and Magical, suggesting maybe that he was coming to peak. He will need it if he is to beat Enable.

Stradivarius has been a splendid out and out stayer all this life and has shown stunning speed at a mile and a half in his career redirection. With some luck, he can certainly win at the distance at the highest level. The son of Sea the Stars is all heart and it seems the heavy going will play to his strength as he is the one with the least stamina concern. I expect him to fly at the finish as many in the field struggle to arrive home. He has won on soft going before so he should handle the conditions better than most.

Enable isn't as good a racehorse as last year according to John Gosden. It's understandable that she is past her zenith of her 5-year old season. But she has still proven an awesome force in her last couple of races and shown enough to suggest that she is near enough her best to win a top race like this. Her tactical speed means that she will be well placed throughout to produce a final flourish. She was beaten tactically in the straight last year and provided Frankie Dettori is not caught unawares again, he is still the best jockey to be on board. The heart hopes she wins, the mind thinks she will win in front of stable-mate Stradivarius.

Win: Enable

Place: Stradivarius, Sottsass

Friday, October 2, 2020

EPL 2020/21 - Week 4

Chelsea v Crystal Palace - Away

Everton v Brighton - Away

Leeds v Man City - Away

Newcastle v Burnley - Home

Leicester v West Ham - Home

Southampton v West Brom - Home

Arsenal v Sheffield Utd - Home

Wolves v Fulham - Home

Man Utd v Spurs - Draw

Aston Villa v Liverpool - Away

Leicester, Southampton and Wolves are obvious home weeks here. They can be merged into a trifecta. Leicester shockingly trounced Man City at the Etihaad last week-end; I cannot recall a team that kicked Guardiola's team so bad. The Foxes are a top 5 team and have lost none of last year's verve. With Vardy up front and Rodgers at the helm, this team cannot be underestimated by any means.

Southampton have had a difficult start but seem to have pulled their act together lately. The arrival of lowly West Brom will give them hope of another full points. The Baggies almost shock Chelsea last week, mounting a 3-goal lead at the half. Their downfall this year will be their hapless defence and it showed as they let in 3 in the second half. Saints striker Ings should have a field day on Sunday.

Wolves are showing a little bit of inconsistency since the start. I still think they will have too much for Fulham. The Cottagers are showing they are not of Premiership material and need significant reinforcement if they are to avoid the drop. I think Wolves will have a go at them from the start and polish their goal difference.

As a big surprise pick, I think Brighton can get something at Goodison Park. It's true that Ancelotti have Everton flying since the start and they again shone in midweek with another hat trick from Calvert Lewin. Brighton, on the other hand, were so unlucky not to pick at least a point against Man Utd. Hitting the post and crossbar 5 times and losing on a penalty kick as the last kick of the game just wrapped a wretched day for Albion. If they play with the same enthusiasm and heart, they can shock the home team that is set to miss Richardison in attack. the Seagulls look a decent double-chance (draw or away) value in the markets.

Win: Leicester/Southampton/Wolves

Double-chance: Brighton

Friday, September 25, 2020

EPL 2020/21 - Week 3

Brighton v Man Utd - Away

Crystal Palace v Everton - Draw

WBA v Chelsea - Away

Burnley v Southampton - Draw

Sheffield Utd v Leeds - Away

Tottenham v Newcastle - Home

Man City v Leicester - Home

West Ham v Wolves - Away

Fulham v Aston Villa - Home

Liverpool v Arsenal - Home

After last week's surprising defeat at home to Crystal Palace, there is some kind of urgency for manager Solksjaer to put the Red Devils back on track asap. A visit to Brighton might be the tonic they need to kick-start their season. Much of the past weeks has been centered about the "Sancho or no Sancho" question and all sorts of stories revolving around the competence of Utd supremo Woodward to close deals. Looking at it from a bird's eyes view, this man has brought in Paul Pogba via a world transfer record and the likes of big-money Alexis Sanchez and Harry Maguire. So to his detractors that are crucifying him for stinginess, I'm just saying the guy hasn't been particularly reticent to splash the cash. The Red Devils still have a quality first team that should have too much firepower for the hosts on Saturday morning.

The season is still young and Liverpool have shown that they will not relinquish their title without a fight. They are playing like a hungry team gunning for more. Arsenal have improved under Arteta but going to get something at Anfield is different fodder to what they've beaten so far. I expect this match to be a high-scoring affair actually, but as Leeds found out on opening day, the Kops are hard to be out-scored. This should be a terrific match to watch.

Leeds are playing kamikaze football at the moment, having scored and shipped 7 goals from the first 2 matches. The thing is they can score at any time with their potent attack spearheaded by a Bamford in sparkling form. They visit a Sheffield Utd team full of doubt and having yet to score. Biesla will relish this kind of match with 3 points for the taking. I think if the visitors can squeeze things on the defensive end, they can count on their attack to make the difference at the other end. Leeds are the value pick of the week-end.

Win: Leeds, Liverpool, Man Utd 

Friday, September 18, 2020

EPL 2020/21 - Week 2

Everton v WBA - Home

Leeds v Fulham - Home

Man Utd v Crystal Palace - Home

Arsenal v West Ham - Home

Southampton v Tottenham - Draw

Newcastle v Brighton - Away

Chelsea v Liverpool - Away

Leicester v Burnley - Home

Aston Villa v Sheffied Utd - Draw

Wolves v Man City - Home

Leeds showed amazing tenacity away to Liverpool last week and nearly came out of the encounter with a point. I cannot think of any away team scoring 3 goals at Anfield in recent years and that shows that Biesla's men will show their mettle to many teams this year. I believe Fulham's visit at Elland Road will be one of the Peacock's easiest matches of the year. They should finally taste their first EPL victory in years.

I also see an easy home win for Everton against visiting West Brom. Ancelloti's team impressed during their visit win against Tottenham and they could be strong for a Europa League spot this year. 

Chelsea hosting Liverpool is obviously the match of the week-end. The visitors could have some upper hand here as Chelsea are a rebuilding team that has yet to fully gel. Provided the Kops do not repeat the calamitic errors in their last match, they can come out on top. 

It would not impossible for Wolves to create a shocker against Man City. Guardiola's men will start as big favourites although the Wanderers did the double on them last year. Wolves have started the season well getting an away win at Sheffield Utd and should continue to have another fine season. The Citizens will be missing defensive lynchpin Laporte and striker Aguero and after their recent debacle in the UCL against Lyon, I feel it might take a few matches for them to get in their proper rhythm. It will be a tough match for both and it won't be surprising if the host team nicks this one again. At current odds, they look a value proposition.

Win: Leeds, Everton, Liverpool, Wolves


Friday, September 11, 2020

EPL 2020/21 - Week 1

An exciting new season of EPL beckons with many questions on the line:

- Will Liverpool still be as dominant? I think it will be very hard to wrestle the title from them.

- Will Man City be able to regain their lost crown? I think they will focus rather on the Champions League.

- Is Man Utd finally ready to challenge again? Sancho or not, I don't think they are on a par with the top 2. But Ole's job is on the line and he needs a trophy and a top 4 finish to hold on to it.

- Is Chelsea a threat after their summer spending? The Blues have been overly impressive in the transfer market but it will take time for them to gel. Lampard's job depends on the Blues being at the forefront from the start.

- How will Spurs do under Mourinho? Much will depend on the goalscoring prowess of Kane. He will need to keep banging the goals for Spurs to keep pace with the aforementioned.

- Have Arsenal's fortune finally turned under Arteta? The Spaniard is doing fantastic work for the Gunners but they will need a more talented squad to aspire a top 4 finish. 

- Finally, how will Biesla fare for newly-promoted Leeds? The Argentinian maestro is considered a coaching genius and Leeds will certainly cause trouble to some of the top teams above. Expect them to nick a win or two from them and I very well see Leeds being a mid-table team at season end.

Have a great season everyone!

Fulham v Arsenal - Draw

Crystal Palace v Southampton - Away

Liverpool v Leeds - Home

West Ham v Newcastle - Home

WBA v Leicester - Draw

Tottenham v Everton - Home

Sheffield Utd v Wolves - Home

Brighton v Chelsea - Away

Win: Tottenham/Chelsea/Liverpool

Friday, September 4, 2020

Racing galore

There's the UEFA Nations League for football fans, Italian Grand Prix for Formula 1 fans, US Open for tennis aficionados but this week-end is all about, at least for me, the racing; Enable is making her last British outing before a well-deserved retirement to the paddocks, the Kentucky Derby will finally run with an emerging superstar towering over all comers, and yet another race (this time in Paris) with serious aspirations of being the "best race of the year to date". 

So the September Stakes at Kempton will see queen Enable's last outing on British soil before her attempt to racing immortality in the Arc at ParisLongchamp. There is absolutely nothing to stop her in the field. No Group 1 challenger of any sort. Prince of Arran is a marvellous stayer but not a serious caliber at the mile and a half distance. Enable will win and only the manner of her win will matter; a gauge of whether she still has what it takes to be still reckoned as a potent force in a few weeks in Paris. She can be backed blind-folded bar any freak accident.

On the other side of the pond, Kentucky will hold its delayed Derby 4 months late due to the Covid-19. Tiz the Law is the only exciting name to pick from this rather dull 3-year old crop. He's won the shortened Belmont already and is very well on his way to the Triple Crown. Ok, naysayers are pointing to his 17th stall, from which no equine has ever won! That's fine, that makes his odds even more appealing. There's always a first to everything and post 17 is better than any of the inside posts. Tiz the Law is pretty much push-button and should be close to the pace before unleashing his kick in the straight. Unless he's on an off-day for some reason, he should be very hard to beat.

We've been talking about the race of the season so many times this season but the Prix du Moulin on Sunday clearly fits the bill. I mean, all 6 participants are legitimate contenders by all means. If only Kameko and Mohaather and Palace Pied had made it, it would have been the mile race of all seasons. I feel the winner will need an ounce of luck to prevail in this one and it could very well be a blanket finish. To pick one, I will go with Siskin; the best miler from Ireland and looks not to have peaked yet. This will be a treat of a race to watch.

Win: Enable, Tiz the Law, Siskin

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Juddmonte International - In pursuit of Ghaiyyath

Barring the absence of `the Queen` Enable,  York's Juddmonte International has assembled a high-quality field that promises to be one of the races of the season. The front-running monster Ghaiyyath is the deserved favourite, having gotten the scalp of no other than Enable herself in the Coral Eclipse. If the son of Dubawi has maintained his great form to date, he will be almost impossible to be headed. His camp certainly sound positive, which is not good news for the rest of the field.

Magical, the wonderful mare from Coolmore is unbeaten this year but her victories haven't been as eloquent as Ghaiyyath. The daughter of Galileo rarely runs a bad race but there always seem to be someone better than her in the top races. She might aspire to a placing.

Kameko, the Guineas winner, was oh-so-unlucky in the Sussex Stakes. He might still not have beaten the impressive winner Mohaather, but second place was ripe for the picking if he did not encounter traffic problems. Ten furlongs will be right up his alley and his weight allowance as a three-year-old gives him a live chance to be at the finish.

Finally, Lord North, this year's Prince of Wales Stakes winner, cannot be underestimated as he's also running an undefeated campaign this year. His progression from the handicap ranks to Group 1 winner is all the more remarkable and he should not be out of his league in this company. The way he won going away at Ascot was visually impressive and being trained by John Gosden gives more impetus to his chances. 

This is going to be a fantastic race to watch. Will Ghaiyyath falter in the straight or will the others be able to keep up with the torrid pace he customarily sets? The Godolphin star can put an exclamation point to his Arc aspirations with another dominant performance. I think he will.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

PSG - A trap called Atalanta

PSG fans must have thanked their lucky star when their team drew Atalanta in the next draw of the UCL. The Italian minnows were considered to be the Cinderella left in the tournament and the French could be heard voicing an "Enfin" to signal a new beginning or an end to their miserable and luckless past campaigns.

Fast-forward a few months later and the draw suddenly does not look so favourable for the French champions. Atalanta has been rocking towards the end of the Italian championship where they finished a very honourable third. More importantly, they have proven to be a match for any team in Italy and with a few more matches to spare, would have given Juventus a run for their money in the title run-in. Well organized and blessed with a potent attack that boasted the best goal difference in the Serie A, they cannot be considered minnows at this stage.

PSG are still going as favourites because of their pedigree and talented squad on paper. There are some cracks to consider though. Their superstar striker Mbappe will play but his level of fitness is questionable as he has just recovered from an ankle injury. Without him at his best, the potency of the PSG attack is highly diminished. But more importantly, the team might be missing a run-in of seriously competitive matches compared to their Italian counter-parts. Unlike most other major leagues, the French Ligue 1 was stopped with PSG handed the title. Their lack of competition showed when they had trouble overcoming the likes of St Etienne and Lyon in their last matches. That is not to say they won't beat Atalanta but it will just not be a straightforward affair.

At current odds, I see value favouring in some way Atalanta. For the risky, it might be worth side outright with Atalanta to go through. Or have them as a draw-no-bet option or with a 1-goal advantage on the asian handicap market. I find PSG odds too short at all levels.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Final Week - EPL 2019/20

The EPL comes to an end this Sunday with the dice still rolling for a few teams. They don't come more important than the clash between Leicester and Man Utd for a spot in next year's UCL.

The Red Devils have been in sublime form since the restart and although they seem to have sputtered slightly lately, they will go with the favours of the market in this crucial match-up. They certainly did not produce the dominant display that was expected of them in their last match against West Ham; they looked tired and devoid of any creative ideas. Against Leicester, this kind of performance will be lethal. The Foxes are not in great form themselves and will need a last hurrah at home to guarantee that final UCL spot. They are badly missing the injured Maddison in the middle of the park and seem to have an over-reliance on Vardy to score. How they will contain Bruno Fernandes and the dynamic trio of Rashford, Martial and Greenwood will be key to their chances. A win is required for the hosts and they will need to ensure they are not trailing in the match. If Utd produce their form of a couple of weeks back, they will be hard to beat. It will be a testament of the mental toughness of this team if they can pass this hurdle convincingly. I think they will.

Chelsea need at least a draw to ensure UCL qualification but Wolves is not going to be easy to overcome. I am not at all convinced with the quality of the Blues at the moment. Take Pulisic and goalscorer Giroud out of the equation and I think they will have struggled mightily in the last few games. If Kante comes back to boss the midfield on Sunday, that gives them a leg up but the French will certainly not be at 100% fitness. It might be worth going for a visitor win here or maybe Chelsea will work tooth and nail to cling to a draw if they are at pains against tenacious Wolves.

I think Watford and Bournemouth will accompany Norwich and go down. Obviously, no one knows the inside details but the Hornets sacking manager Pearson last week looks as dumb a decision as any. Putting an interim manager days before facing Man City proved the dumbness of the decision as they shipped in 5 goals that put them in relegation zone because of inferior goal difference! I don't see them getting a decision at Arsenal. Maybe a draw can save them but it will be a hard-earned draw.

I don't see Bournemouth getting the miracle they need to stay up. They will have to go beat Everton and hope for Aston Villa and Watford to falter. The Cherries have been a great to watch  in the EPL for the past years but it looks a tall order for them to stay up.

Friday, July 24, 2020

King George 2020 - Enable for the 3-peat

What a disappointing field in this year's King George! Three-horses are surely tactical affairs but I just cannot see Ballydoyle's Sovereign playing the party pooper here. This will be a match-race between Enable and Japan.

Back in the Coral Eclipse, I penned that Japan could have the upper hand on Enable as he had the benefit of a run. It turns out that both played second fiddle to Ghaiyyath with the mare prevailing a head over the Ballydoyle representative. Enable's run was eye-catching as it showed she still had it in her to play at the highest level at an age where many think horses are past their peak. Japan's outing was honourable confirming he's indeed one of the best from the older brigade this year.

Listening to their trainers, it seems both will have improved from their Coral Eclipse showdown. The King George seems to have been Japan's target for a while so he's bound to be close to his utmost peak on Saturday. Enable's main aim is the Arc, so this will be a springboard for her to peak come Arc time. Who the extra 2 furlongs will benefit the most is anyone's guess; many think that it will favor Japan but Enable has a sterling record at the mile and a half. She is the reference from a mile and a quarter to a half.

This looks to be a close one. I see Enable three-peating here. Japan is a worthy opponent but there is no-one at the level of Enable. At least, until she runs into something called Love maybe in the Arc...

Win: Enable