Friday, December 2, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week 15

Man City v/s Chelsea - Home win
Crystal Palace v/s Southampton - Home win
Stoke v/s Burnley - Draw
Sunderland v/s Leicester - Away win
Tottenham v/s Swansea - Home win
WBA v/s Watford - Home win
West Ham v/s Arsenal - Home win
Bournemouth v/s Liverpool - Away win
Everton v/s Man Utd - Draw
Middlesbrough v/s Hull - Home win


Man City against Chelsea is without doubt the highlight match of the week-end. For all their irresistible form of late and their winning run sequence, I think Chelsea will dive right back to reality after this road trip. I cannot see them win this match, and if they get lucky they might sneak out a point. But there is a big chance that Man City will overpower them in all departments and get the all-important 3 points. The thing with the Blues is that they are dominant at Stamford Bridge where they suffocate their opponents with their fluid football from start to finish. They cannot perform at the same level when visiting top-level teams. They need control and possession of the ball as they rely on incisive through balls to beat defenders. They will not get those kinds of opportunities against Guardiola's men. The one weakness of the home team is the unsettling of their central defending positions; Kompany is crocked yet again and Otamendi is the only reliable rock there. Still, I see an outright home win here.

I see West Ham snatching something out of their match against Arsenal. The Gunners fielded a totally unrecognizable second-string team in their midweek league cup match against Southampton and there is no doubt that Arsene Wenger wants his team totally fit and focused on the Premier League. With main man Sanchez having been on a non-stop run since the summer, it is clear that concerns regarding his freshness are legit. The Gunners are not as potent when the Chilean is not firing on all cylinders. The Hammers definitely have the capacity to match the visitors. With Payet, they are supremely dangerous on dead-ball situations. Their form has improved slightly of late but it is more a matter of urgency for them to earn points in order to get out of their precarious league position. I really like the outright win and double chance value on the Hammers in the exchange markets as they cannot see them lose this match.

Win: Man City, West Ham
Double Chance: West Ham


Friday, November 25, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week 14

Burnley v/s Man City - Away win
Hull v/s WBA - Draw
Leicester v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
Liverpool v/s Sunderland - Home win
Swansea v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Chelsea v/s Tottenham - Home win
Watford v/s Stoke - Home win
Arsenal v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Man Utd v/s West Ham - Home win
Southampton v/s Everton - Draw

I see lots of home wins this week. Liverpool should blow out Sunderland. I cannot think of a better 'banker' win. Sunderland will do well to keep this a low score but I don't think they will. Arsenal should overcome Bournemouth although I don't think it will be a thrashing as with the Reds. The Gunners are puffing of late and a tough mid-week match against PSG is bound to leave stamina questions for this match. Still, I think Wenger will just sneak through with the all-important 3 points.

I expect Man Utd to confirm their renewal of form by beating the struggling Hammers. The Red Devils were oh-so rampant against Arsenal in their last league match but failed to win but they confirmed their good disposition by thrashing Feyenood in mid-week. Something seems to have clicked nicely during the Arsenal match and Mourinho's men could be on a roll now. Another home win.

It might be worth chancing with Swansea to give manager Bradley his first EPL win. Visiting Crystal Palace are a team capable of the best and worst; in other words, they are not a reliable team to have any confidence at all. At current odds, going with a Swansea win or Double chance (win or draw) could be rewarding.

Win: Liverpool, Arsenal, Man Utd, Swansea
Win or draw: Swansea

Friday, November 18, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week 13

Man Utd v/s Arsenal - Home win
Crystal Palace v/s Man City - Away win
Everton v/s Swansea - Home win
Southampton v/s Liverpool - Home win
Stoke v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Sunderland v/s Hull - Draw
Watford v/s Leicester - Draw
Tottenham v/s West Ham - Draw
Middlesbrough v/s Chelsea - Away win
WBA v/s Burnley - Home win

The big match this week-end, without doubt, is at Old Trafford for yet another Mourinho - Wenger showdown. The Portuguese near-flawless record against his nemesis is well documented and I see the pattern staying unchanged after this match. It's true that the Gunners have been flying of late, but a view of their recent outings suggests that their good streak is about to end sooner than later. Mourinho will be pumped up not to lose against a despised rival and will resort to whatever means, including parking the bus, to stutter the potent of the Gunners attack. Another piece of bad news for the Gunners is the potential absence of Alexis Sanchez. I cannot see the Red Devils losing this one; they either will win or draw.

I also see Liverpool dropping points as they visit Southampton. I mentioned a couple of weeks back that it would be difficult for them to maintain the form and tempo they have been enthralling the league since the start. The St Mary's is a tough place to go to and the Kops can expect a serious fight until the final whistle. I like the home team's odds here for an outright win but a draw-no-bet looks reasonable as well.

Win or draw-no-bet: Man Utd, Southampton

Friday, November 4, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week 12

Bournemouth v/s Sunderland - Home win
Burnley v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Man City v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
West Ham v/s Stoke - Home win
Chelsea v/s Everton - Home win
Arsenal v/s Tottenham - Away win
Hull v/s Southampton - Draw
Liverpool v/s Watford - Home win
Swansea v/s Man Utd - Away win
Leicester v/s West Brom - Home win

Chelsea are on a roll and Everton could be having a long afternoon at Stamford Bridge. The Blues boasts a stellar home record against leading teams this season including 3-0 and 4-0 thrashings of Leicester and Man Utd respectively. Hazard, Pedro and Costa just seem to find an extra step in front of their supporters, which is not always the case on their travels. After a very strong start, Everton have gone back in the ranks lately but will rely on ex-Chelsea striker Lukaku to do damage at the front end, although it won't be easy against Courtois. It is possible The Toffees can snatch a draw in this one but it might be worth going for the outright home win here, given the market odds.

The match of the week-end will be at the Emirates for the London Derby between the Gunners and Spurs. Both teams had different fortunes in their midweek UCL encounters. Arsenal struggled to go beat minnows Ludogorets while Pochettino's men lost at Wembley to Bayer Leverkusen. The Gunners are on a good streak but I think they can be vulnerable against their resilient rivals here. Spurs have proven to be a tough team to beat even without their main striker Kane. While the England striker might make his comeback after injury, the visitors' strength relies on the coherence of their defensive and midfield corps. If Tottenham can withstand the attacks of Sanchez and Ozil, a deciding goal at the other end is definitely within their reach. Spurs as a Double Chance (Draw or Away) or Draw-no-bet look to be great value plays.

Win: Chelsea
Draw-no-bet or Double-Chance: Tottenham

EPL 2016/17 - Week 11

Bournemouth v/s Sunderland - Home win
Burnley v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Man City v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
West Ham v/s Stoke - Home win
Chelsea v/s Everton - Home win
Arsenal v/s Tottenham - Away win
Hull v/s Southampton - Draw
Liverpool v/s Watford - Home win
Swansea v/s Man Utd - Away win
Leicester v/s West Brom - Home win

Chelsea are on a roll and Everton could be having a long afternoon at Stamford Bridge. The Blues boasts a stellar home record against leading teams this season including 3-0 and 4-0 thrashings of Leicester and Man Utd respectively. Hazard, Pedro and Costa just seem to find an extra step in front of their supporters, which is not always the case on their travels. After a very strong start, Everton have gone back in the ranks lately but will rely on ex-Chelsea striker Lukaku to do damage at the front end, although it won't be easy against Courtois. It is possible The Toffees can snatch a draw in this one but it might be worth going for the outright home win here, given the market odds.

The match of the week-end will be at the Emirates for the London Derby between the Gunners and Spurs. Both teams had different fortunes in their midweek UCL encounters. Arsenal struggled to go beat minnows Ludogorets while Pochettino's men lost at Wembley to Bayer Leverkusen. The Gunners are on a good streak but I think they can be vulnerable against their resilient rivals here. Spurs have proven to be a tough team to beat even without their main striker Kane. While the England striker might make his comeback after injury, the visitors' strength relies on the coherence of their defensive and midfield corps. If Tottenham can withstand the attacks of Sanchez and Ozil, a deciding goal at the other end is definitely within their reach. Spurs as a Double Chance (Draw or Away) or Draw-no-bet look to be great value plays.

Win: Chelsea
Draw-no-bet or Double-Chance: Tottenham

EPL 2016/17 - Week 11

Bournemouth v/s Sunderland - Home win
Burnley v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Man City v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
West Ham v/s Stoke - Home win
Chelsea v/s Everton - Home win
Arsenal v/s Tottenham - Away win
Hull v/s Southampton - Draw
Liverpool v/s Watford - Home win
Swansea v/s Man Utd - Away win
Leicester v/s West Brom - Home win

Chelsea are on a roll and Everton could be having a long afternoon at Stamford Bridge. The Blues boasts a stellar home record against leading teams this season including 3-0 and 4-0 thrashings of Leicester and Man Utd respectively. Hazard, Pedro and Costa just seem to find an extra step in front of their supporters, which is not always the case on their travels. After a very strong start, Everton have gone back in the ranks lately but will rely on ex-Chelsea striker Lukaku to do damage at the front end, although it won't be easy against Courtois. It is possible The Toffees can snatch a draw in this one but it might be worth going for the outright home win here, given the market odds.

The match of the week-end will be at the Emirates for the London Derby between the Gunners and Spurs. Both teams had different fortunes in their midweek UCL encounters. Arsenal struggled to go beat minnows Ludogorets while Pochettino's men lost at Wembley to Bayer Leverkusen. The Gunners are on a good streak but I think they can be vulnerable against their resilient rivals here. Spurs have proven to be a tough team to beat even without their main striker Kane. While the England striker might make his comeback after injury, the visitors' strength relies on the coherence of their defensive and midfield corps. If Tottenham can withstand the attacks of Sanchez and Ozil, a deciding goal at the other end is definitely within their reach. Spurs as a Double Chance (Draw or Away) or Draw-no-bet look to be great value plays.

Win: Chelsea
Draw-no-bet or Double-Chance: Tottenham

Friday, October 28, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week 10

Sunderland v/s Arsenal - Away win
Man Utd v/s Burnley - Home win
Middlesbrough v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Tottenham v/s Leicester City - Home win
Watford v/s Hull - Home win
WBA v/s Man City - Away win
Crystal Palace v/s Liverpool - Home win
Everton v/s West Ham - Home win
Southampton v/s Chelsea - Home win
Stoke v/s Swansea - Away win

It's hard to imagine Arsenal leaving any points on the table as they did against Boro last week-end. Simply put, Sunderland find it hard to get a win, let alone a goal, so the Gunners should have too much for them here.

I think Liverpool is due for some slip-up soon. They were very lucky to scrape a win in their last away match against Swansea. Palace manager Alan Pardew is certainly no stranger to upsets and I really see value in an Eagles win or a draw-no-bet firmly in their favour.

Win: Arsenal
Draw-no-bet or Win: Crystal Palace

Friday, October 21, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week 9

Bournemouth v/s Tottenham - Home win
Arsenal v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
Burnley v/s Everton - Away win
Hull v/s Stoke - Home win
Leicester v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Swansea v/s Watford - Home win
West Ham v/s Sunderland - Home win
Liverpool v/s WBA - Home win
Man City v/s Southampton - Home win
Chelsea v/s Man Utd - Away win

I see some value siding with a few outsiders here. Bournemouth are big underdogs at home to visiting Spurs and it would be no surprise if the home team wins this match. They blitzed Hull last week and their home form so far is more or less solid. Spurs are still unbeaten but there's definitely the feeling that that streak won't hold long. They have scraped draws lately and look vulnerable particularly after playing away mid-week in the UCL. For value, a win or draw-no-bet with the Cherries could reap big rewards.

I also see Swansea having a good result as they host Watford. New manager Bob Bradley is a good manager who will definitely up the fortunes of the Swans. They came close against Arsenal for his baptism of fire but I see them getting better results as the season progresses. Watford is well within their grasp and again here, an outright win or draw-no-bet should be a winning ticket.

Finally, Man City should overcome the Saints to put an end to their win-less streak. The fact that both teams played in mid-week nullifies any fitness advantage but Aguero will be all guns blazing as he was mostly on the bench against Barcelona. Southampton are a tough team to overcome but City should have too much firepower in this one.

Win: Man City, Bournemouth, Swansea

Friday, October 14, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week 8

Chelsea v/s Leicester City - Home win
Bournemouth v/s Hull - Home win
Arsenal v/s Swansea - Home win
Man City v/s Everton - Home win
Stoke v/s Sunderland - Home win
WBA v/s Tottenham - Draw
Crystal Palace v/s West Ham - Home win
Middlesbrough v/s Watford - Home win
Southampton v/s Burnley - Home win
Liverpool v/s Man Utd - Home win

You will have seen that I foresee a lot of home wins this week-end. Coming back from the international break is always treacherous but the fixture list has really pit many strong teams playing at home, hence the bias. There might be more value in doing some exotics or multiples here; Southampton and Man City look bankers on paper as they host Burnley and Everton respectively. Bournemouth to beat Hull is by no means certain, but can pay good dividends if coupled with the bankers.

Stoke looks a value punt on its own as Mark Hughes' men try to get their season started against Sunderland. If they can hit the same kind of home form as last year's, the Potters should comfortably overcome the equally-struggling visitors.

Multiples: Man City / Southampton / Bournemouth 
Value win: Stoke

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Arc de Triomphe 2016 - Postponed to the test

This year's Arc looks wide open with a few that have legitimate aspirations to win and the fact that Chantilly will be the temporary venue to the world's greatest race, only adds to the intrigue. I will pick 4 names from the 16-runner race, the quartet from which I believe the winner will emerge. Postponed, Found, Makahiki and Harzand.

Postponed is the deserved favourite going into the race; the son of Dubawi is unbeaten in 4 races this year and has proven himself the world's best middle-distance performer. This 5-year old is clearly flourishing with age and has been showing consistent top-class form over the past couple of years that makes him a difficult one to oppose in any race. There are not many chinks in his armor and it's pretty much a guarantee that he will be in the thereabouts at the finish. I cannot see him out of the first 4.

It is a staggering fact that Found has been runner-up in 9 Group 1 races. Much was expected of the daughter of Galileo this year after she had blown away Golden Horn in last year's Breeders' Cup. While she has only won one race out of her seven races this year, she has mostly been in the thereabouts to finish runner-up in most of them. Her not being good enough, or just being an unlucky second is a matter of interpretation, but what is beyond doubt is that she is of the top drawer and can land this race. It could very well be that she is an autumn filly; after all she was third in this race last year before brilliantly lowering Golden Horn's colours in the US. A big player in my books.

Is Makahiki the one to break Japan's curse in the Arc? Will he be the one redeeming his illustrious sire's defeat ten years ago to this day? Japan's best have always fallen short in dramatic circumstances at Longchamp and the roof will come down if Makahiki can end years of Nippon hurt. He seemed to win the Prix Niel in hand but I would have been more convinced if he had won more with more to spare; in other words, I wasn't as impressed as others were. I can't see him at the level of his sire or Orfevre but if he produces a career best and no-one else is showing on the day, maybe he is the blessed one from the land of the rising sun.

Harzand is the subject of ultra-confident whispers from the Dermot Weld camp and that is enough to decipher that the Derby winner will be at the peak of his powers on Sunday. He came out injured in his last race at ten furlongs but this will ideally suit him. A 3-year old, he will benefit from a non-negligible 3 pound allowance. He is a serious grinder and I see him punching his way through the field in the last 200 yards as the others run out of stamina. 

As mentioned, I believe the winner will come from the above. Unless some kind of Solemia strikes again. A top performance from Postponed will make him difficult to beat. On form, he should prevail and another plus is that he is drawn best of the four. Makahiki has the class to cause an upset should things fall rightly into place for him and it is by no means a stretch to think that the son of Deep Impact will finally deliver to the Japanese their Holy Grail.


Win: Postponed
Win (value): Makahiki


Friday, September 30, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week 7

Everton v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Swansea v/s Liverpool - Away win
Hull v/s Chelsea - Away win
Sunderland v/s WBA - Home win
Watford v/s Bournemouth - Home win
West Ham v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
Man Utd v/s Stoke - Home win
Leicester v/s Southampton - Draw
Tottenham v/s Man City - Draw
Burnley v/s Arsenal - Draw

I think Chelsea has a good opportunity to get back on track as they make the travel to Hull. Conte's men are coming off losses to tough teams Liverpool and Arsenal and should find the Tigers more to their liking. The Blues will need to pounce on any counter-attacking chances they are offered and the likes of Hazard and Costa, who have been conspicuously silent of late, have enough class to tilt the result in the visitors' favour.

As a value punt, I also like West Ham's chances against Middlesbrough. The Hammers are not as bad as their horrendous start of the season suggests, and can start off some kind of form against the promoted team. As expected, Karanka's men are struggling to find their foot in the EPL and the Hammers have the firepower to blow past the visitors and claim a much-needed win.

Win: Chelsea
Win: West Ham



Friday, September 23, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week 6

Man Utd v/s Leicester - Home win
Bournemouth v/s Everton - Away win
Liverpool v/s Hull - Home win
Middlesbrough v/s Tottenham - Draw
Stoke v/s WBA - Draw
Sunderland v/s Crystal Palace - Draw
Swansea v/s Man City - Away
Arsenal v/s Chelsea - Draw
West Ham v/s Southampton - Away
Burnley v/s Watford - Home

The team in form at the moment is Liverpool and they seem to have an easy task this week-end against Hull. Klopp has re-invigorated the Kops by leaps and bounds and with some consistency, they can go very far this year. They seem to be as dangerous as in the Suarez-Sterling-Gerrard days as they are suffocating teams at the moment as Leicester could attest last week. Home win without much doubt.

I will side with Southampton as my value punt of the week. I must say that I was seeing the Saints struggling this year with the departure of Koeman and some first-team regulars. But French coach Puel has imposed his methods that seem to be working well and they are a team can will cause problems to any opponent. They are travelling at the right time to the London Stadium to face a West Ham team in crisis. Slaven Bilic is running out of options with his under-performing squad and they have worryingly conceded 8 goals in their last 2 league meetings. The well-organized Saints can definitely pounce on the Hammer's defensive frailties and snatch at least a point in this encounter.

Win: Liverpool
Win (or draw-no-bet): Southampton

Friday, September 16, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week 5

Chelsea v/s Liverpool - Draw
Hull v/s Arsenal - Draw
Leicester v/s Burnley - Home win
Man City v/s Bournemouth - Home win
WBA v/s West Ham - Away win
Everton v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
Watford v/s Man Utd - Away win
Crystal Palace v/s Stoke - Home win
Southampton v/s Swansea - Away win
Tottenham v/s Sunderland - Home win

Man Utd are on a 2-game losing streak under Mourinho but I cannot see it going to 3. Against City, they were second best and deserved to lose. Against Feyenood in the Europa League, they did not field their best XI, and were entitled to come back empty-handed. It will be different business as they travel to Watford where they were lucky to come out with full points under Van Gaal last season. This Watford team is nowhere as good as last year's team under Kiko Sanchez. They scored 4 unanswered goals to shock West Ham last week but having been 2 goals down early shows that they are will be apt to concede against heavy firepower. Zlatan could have a field day there. Man Utd look value for the win.

The long punt of the week goes to West Ham who are having a difficult start to the season. I expect things to improve now that Payet is fully back after his Euro exertions. The Hammers should have beaten Watford last week after going 2 goals up before melting down in the stretch and conceding 4. If they can muster some of their mental resolve from last season, they can surprise this average West Brom side that have also started hesitantly. Under Pulis, WBA will always be hard to break at home but the Hammers have the ability to play big spoilers here. An outright win or draw-no-bet on them could pay dividends.

Win: Man Utd.
Win (or draw-no-bet): West Ham

Friday, September 9, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week 4

Man Utd v/s Man City - Home win
Bournemouth v/s West Brom - Away win
Arsenal v/s Southampton - Home win
Burnley v/s Hull - Draw
Middlesbrough v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Stoke v/s Tottenham - Draw
West Ham v/s Watford - Home win
Liverpool v/s Leicester - Home win
Swansea v/s Chelsea - Draw
Sunderland v/s Everton - Away win

The Manchester Derby easily dominates this game week. Although it's too early in the season to gauge the significance of a win or defeat for both, this is a 6-pointer match that will impact the confidence of the winner and loser going forward, not least right to bragging rights in the city of Manchester!  I give home advantage to the Red Devils here. First, Mourinho rarely loses a home fixture, so Old Trafford will definitely be made a formidable fortress for the occasion. Second, it is obvious that this City team is not a finished product under Guardiola and will find the hosts as different material to the lesser teams they have overcome through sheer class in the opening fixtures. The Red Devils defence will be relieved not to face Aguero with the Argentinian striker missing the next few games through suspension. It all points towards either a draw or a win for the hosts and a draw-no-bet on them looks great value.

For a value bet, I like the chances of Everton as they visit Sunderland. Koeman is a top coach and I see better things for the Toffees compared to last year. He will inject tight defence and dynamic play into this talented Everton team and I see them getting better as the season progresses. I certainly think they won't lose this match and for some risk it might be worth going with them winning outright, or have them as a safer draw-no-bet.

Draw-no-bet: Man Utd.
Win (or draw-no-bet): Everton

Sunday, September 4, 2016

England - Road to recovery or further failure?

Back blogging after a good holiday break!

England starts a new era with Allardyce as new manager in a few hours as they visit Slovakia for the World Cup qualifier. Allardyce for England? I might have to eat my words in the future but the news of this got me thinking that this is one of the worst and reckless decisions, among many others, made by the FA. What has he won? Has he ever played or managed in a Champions League match? How many England caps? Anything he won as a manager or player? Nothing. Arguably, his greatest achievements have been to avoid relegation with Bolton and Sunderland and throwing long bombs in order not to lose to Arsenal. The decision to hire Big Sam seems short-sighted and desperate. It had to be an Englishman and among the candidates, he must have been the least worst in the eyes of the pickers.

But could it be that this is exactly what this England team needs after years of failure with supposedly talented teams? Keegan, Capello, Ericksson, Hodgson to name a few, all failed. So maybe getting a manager on the opposite side of the spectrum, i.e, one that has never managed any star-studded squad, is what this under-achieving team needs? Maybe he is the one to put in some mental toughness that seems to be lacking in the current squad? These qualifiers will tell.

It would be a sight seeing England throwing long balls or parking the bus to get a result against nations like Belgium and Germany. It could very well be the new mantra is to focus on the result and let the talent or football go to waste. The nation won't care of the football if it wins some silverware. But Allardyce's selection is a mighty gamble that raises a lot of questions and the spectre of even more hardships for the national team. We will get an indication of whether hope or despair is in sight against Slovakia today.