Friday, February 3, 2023

EPL 2022/23 - Week 21

 

Everton v Arsenal - Away

Aston Villa v Leicester - Home

Brentford v Southampton - Home

Brighton v Bournemouth - Home

Man Utd v Crystal Palace - Home

Wolves v Liverpool - Draw

Newcastle v West Ham - Home

Nott Forest v Leeds - Draw

Tottenham v Man City - Home

 

This could be the week where Arsenal crushes the league. With 5 points to spare with a game in hand, the Gunners look in total control of their destiny. Sure, Man City have the capacity to claw back the gap but Arsenal are looking strong at the moment and showing no signs of slowing down as many, including myself, thought they would.

Against a club in disarray like Everton, Arteta's men will be gunning for full points and will be disappointed not to do. After all, the Merseyside outfits are still looking for a new manager after sacking Lampard. This should be a canter for the visitors. On the other hand, Man City have an arduous match waiting for them at White Hart Lane. The fact that they did not reinforce the squad before deadline day can be seen as a negative. But losing Cancelo to Bayern is what will truly hurt the team for the remainder of the season. That was a shocker of a loan move as the Portuguese was arguably an untouchable on the first team just a while ago. A loss of form has turned that privilege on its head and there doesn't seem to be a natural successor for the versatile defensive back. While the Citizens will go in as favourites to get the away win, there is still a live possibility that they require some time to re-adjust filling the void left by Cancelo. It could be Arsenal 8 points ahead by the end of the week-end and that will be too much of a tall order for Guardiola's men to pick up.

Win: Arsenal

 

 

 

 

Friday, January 20, 2023

EPL 2022/23 - Week 20

 Liverpool v Chelsea - Home

Bournemouth v Nott Forest - Draw

Leicester v Brighton - Home

Southampton v Aston Villa - Away

West Ham v Everton - Home

Crystal Palace v Newcastle - Away

Leeds v Brentford - Draw

Man City v Wolves - Home

Arsenal v Man Utd - Home


An Arsenal vs Man Utd fixture used to be one of the hotly contested matches in the not-so-distant era of the Ferguson and Wenger days. We talk of intense rivalries in derbies but the feud between the 2 clubs and particularly their managers was as intense as ever been witnessed in the Premier League. Add to the mix the 2 non-compromising captains in Keane and Vieira and the matches were certainly extraordinary. 

With Arsenal now strongly in command at the top of the league and the Red Devils showing signs of renaissance under Ten Hag, Sunday's fixture will bring some air of nostalgia to their fans. Arteta has brought new life and hope to the Gunners through a judicious selection of young guns playing free flowing football reminiscent of the Wenger days. Odegaard, Martinelli, Saka are playing with an energy level that is packing a punch through defences while Partey is the strong midfield anchor the Gunners have been looking for in recent years. The defence is strong too and goalkeeper Ramsdale is a proven number 1 that should be England's as well. 

Man Utd got their 10-game winning streak snapped in mid-week at Selhurst Park where they were rather unfortunate to concede the tying goal in extra time. More importantly though was the loss of Casemiro for this match due to a yellow card. The Brazilian is arguably the Red Devils' most valuable player after Rashford so far this season. He is the midfield lynchpin they have been looking for since Roy Keane. Arsenal looks certain to score without the presence of Casemiro giving cover to the back four. In fact, one way Man Utd can sneak a victory out of this is with strong physical play to break the dynamic threat posed by the Gunners' forwards. I sense that the Arsenal attack will overwhelm whatever resistance the vistors can offer and claim a comprehensive win; one of the big steps remaining towards the coveted title.

Win: Arsenal

Friday, January 13, 2023

EPL 2022/23 - Week 19

 

Man Utd v Man City - Home

Brighton v Liverpool - Away

Everton v Southampton - Home

Nottingham Forest v Leicester - Home

Wolves v West Ham - Home

Brentford v Bournemouth - Home

Chelsea v Crystal Palace - Home

Newcastle v Fulham - Home

Tottenham v Arsenal - Draw


I mentioned a while back that Chelsea might have commited folly replacing a Champions League winning coach like Tuchel with the unproven Potter. Seems the results of the past few gameweeks are indeed showing that Chelsea have embarked on the wrong path and unless their results start improving drastically, he might be out the door sooner than later. The coming of Crystal Palace give the Blues a first-rate opportunity to get back to winning ways and I think they will. Against Fulham in mid-week, Chelsea seemed buoyed by new arrival Felix until the loanee got sent off in the second half which led to their defeat. Crystal Palace are a team playing with little confidence at the moment and this should end up in a much-needed 3 points in the bag for the home team.

Man Utd are in hot form and their Derby against Man City will put their title credentials to the test. Rashford is playing with supreme confidence, bagging goals from everywhere. Martial is due a goal soon and wouldn't surprise me if he is on the scoresheet (if he plays). Rivals Man City are still the favourites to land the league title again although the gap with Arsenal is starting to get worrying. They lost to Southampton in mid-week and I have a feeling that all is probably not right in their setup at the moment. Still, they never go beaten in advance particularly with striker Haaland leading the charge. I believe this will end in either a draw or the home team edging this.

Win: Man Utd, Chelsea

Sunday, January 1, 2023

EPL 2022/23 - Week 18

Brentford v Liverpool - Home

Arsenal v Newcastle - Away

Everton v Brighton - Home

Leicester v Fulham - Home

Man Utd v Bournemouth - Home

Southampton v Nottingham Forest - Away

Leeds v West Ham - Home

Aston Villa v Wolves - Home

Crystal Palace v Tottenham - Home

Chelsea v Man City - Away


Arsenal have opened a 7-point gap at the top and the way they are playing, they will take some stopping. They have a huge nugget this week against upcoming powerhouse Newcastle. Although the Magpies fired blanks against Leeds, they are by no means push-overs; they have the team to frustrate the strongest teams particularly on their travels. This is going to be a major test for the young gunners and it will give them a world of confidence to keep striving at the top if they pass this. I believe this is going to be a close one and wouldn't be surprised if the visitors nick it in the end.

West Ham are on a bad losing streak and it wouldn't be a surprise if manager Moyes is given the boot to change the club's fortunes. Leeds will be buoyed by their excellent draw at Newcastle and can certainly compound the visitors' misery. The Peacocks have been involved in a few high-scoring matches and I can see them outscoring a Hammers team that has been mainly hurt by their inability to find the net consistenly of late.

Win: Newcastle, Leeds

Friday, December 30, 2022

EPL 2022/23 - Week 17

Wolves v Man Utd - Away

Bournemouth v Crystal Palace - Home

Fulham v Southampton - Draw

Man City v Everton - Home

Newcastle v Leeds - Home

Brighton v Arsenal - Away

Tottenham v Aston Villa - Home

Nott Forest v Chelsea - Away


Glad that EPL is back after an eventful World Cup! The race is on to catch Arsenal at the top as Arteta's men seem to have lost none of their sparkling form by overcoming West Ham last week. I like Spurs' chances against visiting Villa. Harry Kane will have to live with his missed penalty against France and I believe he has come back mentally stronger from the experience. Opponents beware! Villa are going to have better results with Emery as coach but they will miss Martinez in goal. The keeper is one of the best around despite his shameful acts during the WC. Same league as Suarez, just no class!

I like Newcastle's chances for securing a top 4 spot at the moment. The squad might be a little overstretched if they hit major injuries but they have been playing all the right notes lately. Manager Howe is just doing a supremely good job with them so far. They should have goals to spare against Leeds.

Before I leave, wishing you all a Happy New Year 2023!

Win: Tottenham, Newcastle

Friday, November 11, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 15

 Man City v Brentford - Home

Bournemouth v Everton - Home

Liverpool v Southampton - Home

Nott Forest v Crystal Palace - Away

Tottenham v Leeds - Home

West Ham v Leicester - Home

Newcastle v Chelsea - Home

Wolves v Arsenal - Away

Brighton v Aston Villa - Draw

Fulham v Man Utd - Away


Let's keep rolling with the Newcastle bandwagon, the current hottest team in the league. Chelsea are always a dangerous opponent but they are in a crust at the moment and should be good pickings for the Magpies. An outright win for the home team looks very likely and looks favourable at current odds.

Southampton finally dismissed their German manager and look very vulnerable on their trip to Liverpool. Salah has regained his scoring touch lately and he could be in for a big outing. He won't be going to the World Cup so there's little chance he won't be giving his all, as there is always the concern that avoiding injury will be on the minds of those going to Qatar.

Arsenal have been a refreshing surprise, having garnered some outstanding results since the start of the season. Arteta has had his young team firing on all cylinders and were it not for Man City's dominance, the Gunners would have been hot EPL favourites. Wolves is one of the easiest places to go to, and Arsenal will not want to miss on 3 assured points. 

Trifecta: Newcastle/Liverpool/Arsenal. 

Friday, November 4, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 14

 Leeds v Bournemouth - Away

Man City v Fulham - Home

Nott Forest v Brentford - Away

Wolves v Brighton - Away

Everton v Leicester - Draw

Chelsea v Arsenal - Home

Aston Villa v Man Utd - Away

Southampton v Newcastle - Away

West Ham v Crystal Palace - Draw

Tottenham v Liverpool - Away


It really looks that Man Utd are back under Ten Hag. They needed a result against Real Sociedad in mid-week and while they got the win, they came up short a goal to top their Europa League group. Going to win at Sociedad is not easy but the Red Devils did it. They are on an upward trend and should get better with time. They have a great opportunity to snatch full points against a struggling Villa side who will benefit with Unai Emery taking the help in mid-week. If there's a opportune time to play Villa, it's definitely now while Emery is getting to terms with the team as he will definitely improve them in the medium to long term. I see the Mancunians edging this.

Wolves are just playing terrible at the moment and if they keep that way, they look ripe for the descent. Brighton are a much better team on the road than at home and with an in-form Trossard, are very much able to take the spoils from this encounter.

I mentioned Southampton are a young improving team before and while they will be competitive, I don't think they have enough to match the surging Magpies. Newcastle are having their best Premier League period for a very long time and I expect them to over-power the Saints at the St Mary's stadium.

Win: Man Utd, Brighton, Newcastle


Friday, October 28, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 13

 Leicester v Man City - Home

Bournemouth v Spurs - Away

Brentford v Wolves - Home

Brighton v Chelsea - Draw

Crystal Palace v Southampton - Home

Newcastle v Aston Villa - Home

Fulham v Everton - Home

Liverpool v Leeds - Home

Arsenal v Nott Forest - Home

Man Utd v West Ham - Home


Quickly, keeping on the Newcastle bandwagon seems logical. The Magpies should have too much firepower for the Gerrard-free Villains. Newcastle look good contenders to secure at least a Europa league spot this season and with a little bit of luck, a Champions League spot does not look out of reach as well. I will double this with a Brentford win. The Bees host struggling  and still manager-less Wolves and Ivan Toney could solidify his England chances with goals and a convincing performance upfront.

Win: Newcastle, Brentford

Friday, October 21, 2022

EPL 2022/23 - Week 12

 Nott Forest v Liverpool - Away

Everton v Crystal Palace - Draw

Man City v Brighton - Home

Chelsea v Man Utd - Home

Aston Villa v Brentford - Home

Leeds v Fulham - Away

Southampton v Arsenal - Home

Wolves v Leicester - Home

Tottenham v Newcastle - Draw

West Ham v Bournemouth - Home


Is Arsenal for real this year? The Gunners are certainly surprising leaders for many (including me) and are currently riding some fantastic form. The team is young and motivated and Arteta is pulling the right strings at the moment. Who knows how long this will last but they look to be the main threat to Man City's dominance of the league. Going to Southampton is not going to be an easy stroll for the Gunners. I persist into thinking that Southampton are worth better than their current14th position. They have a young team too and they often need that clinical last touch to make the difference in their matches. I wouldn't be surprised if they overcome the Gunners, who at some point in the coming weeks, will falter in my opinion. 

Win: Southampton

Friday, October 14, 2022

EPL 2022/23 - Week 10

 Leicester v Crystal Palace - Draw

Fulham v Bournemouth - Home

Wolves v Nott Forest - Home

Tottenham v Everton - Home

Aston Villa v Chelsea - Home

Leeds v Arsenal - Away

Man Utd v Newcastle - Away

Southampton v West Ham - Draw

Liverpool v Man City - Away


Here's the shocker waiting to happen: Newcastle can go beat the Red Devils on Sunday! Man Utd are on a good run in the league since their difficult start. They made hard work of beating minnows Omonia in the Europa League in mid-week after creating countless number of goalscoring opportunities. This usually means either of 2 things; their strikers are off-form or the opposing keeper was having a field day. It was a bit of both actually. The profligacy in front of goal will definitely concern Ten Hag. Should the hosts fail to crystallize their efforts on goal, Newcastle are the kind of team that can make them pay. I was saying in an earlier post that the Magpies are now a solid team that cannot be messed with. They have strong individuals that play very well collectively under manager Howe. They have the firepower to cause trouble at Old Trafford and at current odds, they are taken to spring an almighty upset.

Win: Newcastle

Baaeed's swansong - bye to one of the all-time greats!

Mighty Baaeed takes to the turf one last time in Saturday's Champion Stakes and there is no doubt that he will bow out unbeaten with a 11-11-0 record. It will take something cataclysmically unusual to beat him. No opponent comes close; not Derby and King George winner Adayar, not a rising star like Bay Bridge, no-one in the field should trouble one of the greatest 8 to 10-furlong performers of all time. It will be of interestwhat kind of performance Baaeed has in store for the racing world at Ascot. Another explosive performance will elevate his Timeform ratings; maybe he could run Frankel and his own sire Sea The Stars close, starting the much-debated; who is the greatest thoroughbred of them all ?

Thanks for the memories, Baaeed!

Win: Baaeed

Friday, October 7, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 9

 Bournemouth v Leicester - Away

Chelsea v Wolves - Home

Man City v Southampton - Home

Newcastle v Brentford - Home

Brighton v Tottenham - Home

Crystal Palace v Leeds - Home

West Ham v Fulham - Home

Arsenal v Liverpool - Draw

Everton v Man Utd - Draw

Nott Forest v Aston Villa - Away


Crystal Palace was oh-so-close to deny Chelsea the win last week-end only to concede in injury time.  Although they are languishing near the relegation zone, the Eagles are getting better with every match but they currently lack the maturity and mental toughness to keep the score until the final whistle. I think they will make amends against Leeds this week-end. The visitors have not been convincing on the road and have relied many on their home matches for points. I see Palace edging this one.

Newcastle have started the season strongly and it's a case that money pays. Isak, their new striker might be missing, but the Magpies look solid in most departments. They have good home form and look set to maximize points against lower level opponents. Brentford is in that category and I see a logical win for the home team.

Win: Crystal Palace, Newcastle

Friday, September 30, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 8

 

Arsenal v Tottenham - Home

Bournemouth v Brentford - Away

Crystal Palace v Chelsea - Home

Fulham v Newcastle - Draw

Liverpool v Brighton - Home

Southampton v Everton - Home

West Ham v Wolves - Draw

Man City v Man Utd - Home

Leeds v Aston Villa - Away

Leicester v Nott Forest - Away


The jury is out on Graham Potter's move to Chelsea. For all the goodwill the ex-Brighton manager has accumulated in the past good years with the Seagulls, he has to convince his critics that he can manage a big team. I mean, the risks are enormous for Chelsea, dumping a proven UCL winner in Tuchel and replacing with an upcoming manager that has won nothing. Time will tell and Potter will definitely need time to settle in, so at this point, it might be worth going against Chelsea as well as Brighton, who will have to adapt to their new manager.

With that said, I think Crystal Palace look good value against visiting Chelsea. The Eagles have shown good form since the start of the season and Vieira seems to have some good managerial aptitudes. The hosts are certainly not easy to break down and they are bound to have chances against a team working on a new system. Looks worth going with an outright Crystal Palace win.

I like the way Southampton has risen from a difficult start as they are a young team playing some catching football. Obviously, results do matter and the Saints will do with some dose of efficiency from the chances they create. Everton are on the upside as well but they still lack quality in all areas. I give Southampton home advantage here and they should be able to secure full points against the Toffees.

Win: Crystal Palace, Southampton

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Arc 2022 - Japan at long last ?

ParisLongchamp hosts the greatest Flat race of the year on Sunday. There is nothing that comes close in terms of prestige and there is no doubt that its reputation would have been further enhanced if it could do without the deluge of rain that bestows upon the racetrack at this time of the year. Let's face it; countless champions have failed to act on the heavy ground and many have opted to bypass it altogether based solely on the underfoot conditions. It is what it is, the Arc is the most coveted of them all, particularly to the Japanese, who I believe, have a monstrous chance this year.

Ah... memories of Deep Impact, the greatest of all the Japanese thoroughbreds. How mismanaged he was, leading the pack, when he was the best closing finisher of them all. And he failed the drug test, pure incompetence from the trainer! And Orfevre, the mad genius, the most talented of them all. He was coasting 100 yards from the finish, you could have bet your life Japan had finally hit its holy grail. And the inevitable happened, and Japanese hearts had never been so broken. 

But the Japanese thoroughbred has arrived. Delta Blues and Pop Rock for a 1-2 in the Melbourne Cup. So many Japanese wins at the Dubai Carnival: Victoire Pisa, Heart's Cry, Almond Eye, Just a Way and recently Shahryar to name a few. Deidre winning the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood. And finally they conquered America with Loves Only You and Marche Lorraine last year.

The only bastion left is the Arc. So many seconds in there and this year could be the one when they make the long-awaited breach. They will be a 4-strong contingent: Titleholder, Deep Bond, Do Deuce and Stay Foolish. None of them is on a par with Deep Impact or Orfevre, but they might not have to be. Deep Bond probably does not belong but the other 3 can have their say.

Do Deuce is the 3-year old Japan Derby winner. He was somewhat disappointing in his prep race, the Prix Niel, finishing only 4th, but that was his first race after a layoff and should be in a better disposition with the cobwebs removed. Definitely has an outside chance.

Stay Foolish was mighty impressive winning in Riyadh and Meydan at the start of the year. He definitely has the experience for those big races. He is definitely suited for a bigger distance than a mile and a half but if it is a stamina-sapping contest, he might vie for the the places.

Then we have Titleholder, who I believe, could be The One. Like Stay Foolish and Deep Bond, this is a stayer with an abundance of stamina and winner of the Japanese St Leger. But this middle-class performer has a lot of class, matched with speed enough to win a top-class mile and a half race. He usually figures prominently or takes control of his races, submits his opponents to the ground by leading the line with blistering speed. It is almost obvious that he will take a serious option for the lead on Sunday and if he is 5 lengths clear entering the straight, it could be Sayonara baby time for Japan! This horse has the potential of setting fractions enough to demoralize the likes of an unproven-at-the-distance star like Vadeni!

Out of the rest of the pack, I will note the following 3 as the main contenders to Titleholder: Torquator Tasso, Alpinista and Luxembourg. Tasso is the reigning champion, the one who shocked the world last year by beating a strong field that included Tarnawa and Hurricane Lane. It was no fluke, Tasso was the best on the day, winning while having to cover a lot of ground on the outside. But the heavy footing was his best ally. If the conditions are similar this Sunday, Tasso has a major chance. And it doesn't hurt to have Dettori as rider. I think Tasso can and will run huge.

Alpinista has won 7 races on the trot and relishes the distance. She's beaten Tasso before and will get the advantageous 3 pounds allowance as a mare. If she continues on her fantastic form, she can be a proper danger to the males. Based on her record, she cannot be under-estimated.

Finally, Luxembourg, the favourite. Mighty impressive although beaten in the 2000 Guineas, he was struck with a big layoff due to injury. He's come back great, winning a Group 3 in a rather hard-fought manner and then the Irish Champion Stakes where he finally showcased all the good that connections throught of him. Being a Camelot, there is no doubt he will find the distance right up his alley. His profile going into the race looks very good. I think he will be in the whereabouts at the finish but it could be there are one or two that show better class on the day. 

Imagine the scene; Titleholder leading El Condor Pasa-style entering the mythical ParisLongchamp straight, and showing no signs of letting up. Roared on by the Japanese crowd in the stands, spurred by thousands in front of their tvs in the wee-hours of the morning, Jap time. Could there be a better climax to a race when he flashes past the post, champion-style? The expectation of a nation finally met. Their dream come true. The Holy Grail attained. Could Sunday be that day?

Win: Titleholder

Friday, September 16, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 7

 Wolves v Man City - Home

Brighton v Crystal Palace - Away

Newcastle v Bournemouth - Home

Tottenham v Leicester - Home

Brentford v Arsenal - Draw

Everton v West Ham - Home


There are bound to be a few surprises in this shortened week-end of EPL matches as teams have had their rhythm broken by last week's unplanned postponements. So, I can see Everton beat West Ham and Crystal Palace get the spoils at Brighton; the latter being more that the Seagulls are now a big question mark with the departure of manager Potter to Chelsea.

But I think that a shocker can come at the Molyneux where Wolves entertain league mighty Man City. The Citizens were arguably lucky to beat Dortmund in mid-week and the Germans should logically have come up with a draw at the very least. City were lethargic for much of the match and it only took the brilliance of Haaland to get them out of trouble. With that kind of performance, Wolves can certainly shock them. The hosts are strongly lacking in the goal scoring department but they keep their matches pretty close. If they come out strong and rattle a lacklustre City with a goal, who knows where that can lead ? At current odds, Wolves might be worth a hopeful punt.

I expect Newcastle to comprehensively beat Bournemouth. Their new Swedish striker Isak looks a very good and lively addition.

Win: Newcastle, Wolves, Crystal Palace