Friday, August 30, 2013

EPL Week 3

My thoughts on this week-end's football matches.

Cardiff v/s Everton. Obviously, like everyone else, I was shocked that Cardiff got all 3 points against Man City last week. They capitalized on their corner kicks late in the game to make the difference. But I seriously think it was more a case of the visitors gifting victory to them; their defending in the absence of defensive rock Kompany was just a shambles. That said, the Bluebirds have shown great fighting spirit and will be a force to reckon with when playing at home. Everton were pegged back by a stubborn West Brom side last week and are somewhat distracted by the bids for Fellaini and Baines from Man Utd. No doubt that they will be weakened if they lose one or both of their star players. However, the duo have been sparkling in the opening games, so there does not seem to be any problem with their actual states of mind. I see value going with the Toffees as a draw-no-bet here.

Crystal Palace v/s Sunderland. Both teams came close to their first wins of the season last week, only to be pegged back late in the second half. They look poised to do battle at the wrong end of the table and will appreciate getting full points from the match. This should be a low scoring affair with the possible winner edging it by a single goal. Better to stay on the sidelines on this one.

Man City v/s Hull. Even without their captain Kompany, the hosts should win this one. They cannot afford to drop silly points like in Cardiff last week.

Newcastle v/s Fulham. It is understandable that the Magpies want Demba Ba back in some capacity, because they are truly lacking up front. On the positive side, they will have their playmaker Cabaye back for this match. How settled or unsettled he is after interest from Arsenal, remains to be seen. Although Fulham will be missing goalkeeper Stekelenburg, I do fancy their chances to get at least a point from this match. In Berbatov, Rodallega and Bent, they have enough firepower to cause damage to put Pardew's men on the backfoot. They are the value draw-no-bet selection of the week-end.

Norwich v/s Southampton. I need to see more of these 2 sides to make an honest opinion of the quality of the sides. Norwich are always potent at home. Southampton was slightly disappointing in not overcoming Sunderland in the last round and it is possibly a case of getting some of the new players settling in. On the fence.

West Ham v/s Stoke. Hard to see Stoke stealing this after their rather laborious start to the season. I expected more of them against Crystal Palace last week as they had to really dig in to overcome the Eagles. The Cottages should be a tough nut to crack at home this year and they should either land or share the spoils. I have them as draw-no-bet.

Arsenal v/s Tottenham. The Gunners have racked 3 wins in a row after their opening day debacle. Spurs have won all their 4 games without conceding any goal. Their first 2 EPL games have been game winners by newcomer Soldado on penalties. Unlike many of the previous editions, I think this match looks set to be a low scoring affair. Spurs will be missing Bale again, but I like their current odds with a 1-goal advantage.

Liverpool v/s Man Utd. The Kops got match winners from Sturridge in their opening games and it will be a good test to see where the team is really at when they take on the champions. If Sturridge is shackled, it is not clear where the goals will come from the hosts. I thought Man Utd was very solid defensively against Chelsea on Monday. No doubt that with the presence of captain Vidic, they are more secure at the back and can initiate their flowing football more confidently. Rooney seems to have put to bed his resignation to leave the club and with his spirits in good order, can create havoc to Liverpool. Unlike many others, I have yet to be convinced of the quality of this Liverpool side. I don't think they are among the top 5 teams yet. At current odds, I see value in siding with Man Utd as draw-no-bet.

West Brom v/s Swansea. Anelka should return to bolster the Baggies line-up but they will dearly be missing goalkeeper Foster. Like WBA, Swansea are still looking for their first win and I believe they can capitalize on the injury issues facing the hosts to conjure up the 3 points. I think it great value to chancing with Laudrup's men for the straight win.

Win: Man City, Swansea
Draw-no-bet: Fulham, West Ham, Man Utd.
+1 Handicap: Tottenham

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