Friday, February 8, 2013

EPL week-end - Man Utd can crush the league

It does not look as though the internationals that took place on Wednesday will have much bearing over this week-end's matches but it will certainly boost each single player that took part in England's beating of Brazil at Wembley (except maybe for blundering Gary Cahill). That was an impressive performance by the Lions and long may live the the midfield axis of Wilshere and Gerrard. Even with Neymar, Brazil is not the Samba team of old. In particular, when you have David Luiz from Chelsea as your rock at the back, there is a reason for Scolari to worry about his defence.

Man Utd can crush the league on Sunday if their main opponents fail to register full points. Everton are the visitors at Old Trafford and the Toffees inflicted their hosts a blow on opening day of the season by beating them by the minimum score at Goodison Park. David Moyes is one of my contenders for Manager of the Year as he's making them perform at a consistently high level since the start of the season. They are led by the mercurial Fellaini who's building himself a great goalscoring ratio for a midfielder. Man Utd rarely lose both home and away matches to the same team and they will want to make sure that the visitors are no exception to the rule. The Red Devils are in good form and seem to have Rooney back to his near-best. My only concern with them is that they are bound to have an eye on next Wednesday's Champions League game at the Bernabeu. It will not be surprising if Sir Alex Ferguson were to alter team selections on Sunday, given that they have a stronghold in the league and that the Champions League still remains a trophy he covets. Although this game looks to be tight, I do not see Man Utd losing this and they look good value as a Win at current market odds. In addition, whether their main rivals win or not on Saturday, I believe in continuing backing them for the title.

Tottenham v/s Newcastle. Spurs got a big blow recently over the injury of their main striker Defoe who's bound to miss at least their next few games. Adebayor is back from the African's Cup but is not certain to feature. Still, they are still potent in attack with the likes of Lennon, Dempsey and Bale. Newcastle go to White Heart lane on the back of 2 consecutive wins to give some breathing air to manager Pardew. They seem to have replaced the loss of Demba Ba with newcomer Sissoko who beat Chelsea on his own last week by scoring 2 goals on his debut. The Magpies are still missing mazy winger Ben Arfa and although they will play with renewed confidence I find it hard to support them against a strong Spurs team. Spurs are a draw-no-bet selection.

Stoke v/s Reading. The hosts are still going through some rotten form and there is no better way for them to get their season on track than playing at home against a lowly team. The Potters showed some of the defensive resilience they have been renowned for in recent years against Arsenal last week although they lost by the minimum score. Reading have gathered points here and there lately thanks to the late heroics of diminutive striker Le Fondre. The rest of the team will have to pitch in big time for their fair record to continue. I don't see a lot of goals in this one but I see this as a great opportunity for Stoke to start a good run.  They are a draw-no-bet selection.

Southampton v/s Man City. The Saints seem to be warming well to new manager Pochettino although the change looked an unfair sacking of ex-manager Nigel Adkins. Southampton have very good form at home and are led by in-form striker Rickie Lambert. They will pose problems for this City side who will be welcoming back their powerhouse midfielder Yaya Toure and possibly their defensive mainstay, captain Kompany. In Toure's absence, David Silva has been running the show but has not been served by the profligacy of their main strikers in front of goal. The problem with the Citizens this season has been their indifferent level of form. They can be outstanding in one game and capable of playing poorly in the next. They have the ammunition to win this game but even if they do, I don't think it will be by much. Looking at the market, Southampton with a 1 goal handicap lead is the selection.

Aston Villa v/s West Ham. How many more chances does Villa need more to finally register a win? It's bound to come one day, and it could very well come against West Ham on Sunday. Striker Benteke is on fire and is Villa's main hope. They cannot afford to lose against the Hammers or else this must surely be the sack for manager Paul Lambert. The Villains are recommended as a strong draw-no-bet against an average West Ham side.

The other games look capable of ending in any result and going for the draw in them might be rewarding.

Win: Man Utd
Draw-no-bet: Tottenham, Stoke, Aston Villa
+1 Goal Handicap: Southampton.

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