Friday, January 11, 2013

EPL Preview

Finally, the EPL is back! No offence to the FA Cup, but there are no certainties when punting on the Cup games, and punting can turn out to be a very speculative exercise.

This week-end will be as competitive a fixture as I can remember. There aren't much between the opposing teams and it would be no surprise to see a lot of drawn matches or one single goal settling many results.

Fulham v/s Wigan. This is a battle between 2 teams with some amount of injury problems. I fancy the visitors to get a result here. They are a disciplined side who excel in breaking down an opponent's attack. They are well capable of exposing Fulham's failings at the back, particularly on the counter-attack. I will go for Wigan with a +1 goal Handicap.

Reading v/s West Brom. Reading's best chance of survival this season is to get maximal amount of points at home where they have proved to be prolific scorers. West Brom are one of the over-achieving teams of the year and they have a decent record on the road. They could win this game if they can keep the hosts quiet for a long duration of the game. For safety here, I will select the Baggies with a +1 goal Handicap.

QPR v/s Tottenham. Rangers are a tough team to predict. They can lose silly games at home against the likes of West Brom and Liverpool, then stun Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. They are a team loaded with problems and lack of depth and cohesion, and I am not certain that even Harry Redknapp can keep them afloat this year. My feeling is that if Spurs are at the very best, they should win this game. They have no injury worries and Gareth Bale could have a very big game here. Spurs is a draw-no-bet selection.

Stoke v/s Chelsea. I watched Chelsea's defeat at home to Swansea on Wednesday. What a woeful performance and the worrying fact is that Benitez had fielded his first team. Torres is not even worth a tenth of his 50 million pound tag. In fact, he's not even worth newcomer Demba Ba. When the Senegalese came on, he enlivened the Blues' attack and created their only chances of the game. Chelsea have to start with Ba to have any chance of winning this game. Still, a full-strength Stoke will make things difficult for them at the Britannia stadium. I believe there's value going with Stoke as a draw-no-bet.

Man Utd v/s Liverpool. It will be surprising if this game does not deliver fireworks; it's between the fiercest rivals in English soccer, even though Liverpool haven't won the league for the past 25 years or so! They will have to rely on Suarez to get something out of this game. The Uruguayan is in tremendous form and will be keen to wreak havoc in the generous Man Utd defence. As they've done all year long, the hosts will rely on Van Persie to settle things and he's been an absolute bargain buy for the Red Devils. He's scored the winner against Man City and it would not be stretching to see him net again in this derby. Man Utd is a draw-no-bet selection; they will particularly not want to lose at home to their rivals and have the attack to outscore them. The hosts just need to stay away from red cards and neutralize Suarez.

Draw-no-bet: Man Utd, Stoke, Tottenham
+1 Handicap: West Brom, Wigan

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