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

Friday, September 2, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 6

Everton v Liverpool - Away

Brentford v Leeds - Draw

Chelsea v West Ham - Draw

Newcastle v Crystal Palace - Home

Nott Forest v Bournemouth - Home

Tottenham v Fulham - Draw

Wolves v Southampton - Away

Aston Villa v Man City - Away

Brighton v Leicester - Home

Man Utd v Arsenal - Home

The visit of Man City can certainly spell the end of Steven Gerrard's Villa career as it would be interesting to see how the American owners take in another loss for the Villains. The visitors have started the season brightly, led by their new striker Haaland. The EPL has seen dominant strikers like Shearer, Van Nistelrooy and Henry to name a few, but Haaland looks on a par or even higher level. He's only just 22 but it seems he's ready to destroy all in front of him. He might be the missing piece for the all-elusive Champions League for the Citizens. I cannot see anything other than a visitor win at Villa Park.

Liverpool was oh-so-lucky to get full points against Newcastle in mid-week. They certainly are staggering along at the moment and not playing their flowing football of recent past. They are missing Mane, Salah looks off-form and Milner and Henderson are hardly world-beaters in midfield. That said, Klopp's men have been relishing the Merseyside derbies of late and Everton simply have not had the team to match them in recent years. It's hard to see any change to that trend in Saturday's early kick-off and Everton will be hard-pressed to get a point from that match. I think the Kops will edge this by the odd goal.

I have been pleasantly surprised by Southampton's play of late. I mentioned they would beat Chelsea in mid-week which they duly obliged. I thought they had enough chances to snatch a draw in their defeat by Man Utd in the previous match. All in all, the team is young and looks on the ascendancy. They can surprise Wolves at the Molyneux. I thought the Wanderers were disappointing not to beat a diminished Bournemouth team on wednesday and they are having problems clicking up-front. Going for a Saints win could offer good value here.

Win: Liverpool, Man City, Southampton

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 5

 Crystal Palace v Brentford - Home

Fulham v Brighton - Draw

Soton - Chelsea - Home

Leeds v Everton - Home

Bournemouth v Wolves - Away

Arsenal v Aston Villa - Home

Man City v Nott Forest - Home

West Ham v Tottenham - Draw

Liverpool v Newcastle - Home

Leicester v Man Utd - Home

West Ham have started the season poorly but their last away win at Aston Villa (previewed last week here) seems to have put them back on track. Surely, beating Villa is nothing to crow about these days but anything other than a win could have dampened confidence in Moyes' camp. On the other side, Spurs have started brightly and are still undefeated although they had a rather lucky draw at Chelsea a couple of weeks back. I think this match is heading towards a draw and if there is to be a winner, it will be the home team. So backing West Ham as a draw-no-bet or going for the draw look reasonable options.

I think the value this mid-week is Wolves as they visit Bournemouth. The latter have sacked manager Parker today, presumably off comments he made after their 0-9 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool on the week-end. With no-one to steer the ship, Bournemouth look vulnerable and are to be taken on. Wolves have shown great disposition of late and I liked their last away outing at Spurs where they were really on top for most of the match but lost to the decisiveness of the hosts. I see them as great value to beat the Cherries on Thursday.

Win: Wolves

Draw-no-bet: West Ham

Draw: West Ham/Tottenham

Friday, August 26, 2022

EPL 2022/23 - Week 4

 Soton v Man Utd - Away

Brentford v Everton - Home

Brighton v Leeds - Draw

Chelsea v Leicester - Home

Liverpool v Bournemouth - Home

Man City v Crystal Palace - Home

Arsenal v Fulham - Home

Aston Villa v West Ham - Away

Wolves v Newcastle - Away

Nott Forest v Spurs - Away

Who'd thought that Liverpool would still be winless entering the 4th week of the EPL season? It is still too early to come to a forgone conclusion but safe to say their chances of lifting the title are pretty much in tatters. They are missing the influence of Sado Mane up front and it will take time for Darwin Nunez to fill the gap left by the talismanic Senegalese. But the Kops should open their win counter on Saturday as they welcome Bournemouth.  

Spurs have a tough schedule of crammed matches coming up soon but they should be fielding their first eleven to notch full points against Nottingham Forest. Conte's men were arguably lucky to survive Wolves last week as they were under pressure for much of the match but these kinds of wins show the resolve of the team. They have match winners in Kane and Son and they go into matches thinking they can match up with the best of them. I see them putting Nottingham Forest to the sword and continuing their rich vein of form.

West Ham are a surprise rock bottom and the question is whether Moyes' time there has peaked after a couple of fantastic seasons. If they play anywhere like last year, they have the team to beat a struggling Villa side and finally rack up much needed points. They look value for the win at current market odds.

Win: Liverpool, Tottenham, West Ham

Friday, August 19, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 3

Tottenham v Wolves - Home

Crystal Palace v Aston Villa - Draw

Everton v Nottingham Forest - Draw

Fulham v Brentford - Draw

 Leicester v Southampton - Home

Bournemouth v Arsenal - Away

Leeds v Chelsea - Away

West Ham v Brighton - Away

Newcastle v Man City - Away

Man Utd v Liverpool - Draw

The arrivak of manager Conte has changed things at Tottenham. They are now a threat to any team. Their last-gap draw at Chelsea shows that the Italian has instilled some fighting spirit in them. And with Son and Kane, they are dangerous until the final whistle. Of course, Conte can have an irritating personality (ask Tuchel!) but he gets things done. They will easily beat Wolves in the early Saturday kick-off.

Man Utd v Liverpool is typically the Derby everyone wants to watch. Not many would have predicted that both teams would still be looking for their first win after 2 rounds of EPL. Even fewer would have foreseen the catastrophic start of the Red Devils given that they had a rather good pre-season under new manager Ten Hag. These are dark times at Old Trafford and there seems to be problems everywhere for the Mancunians. Liverpool will go as deserved favourites in this encounter and I don't see them losing this. The best hope for the home team is to snatch a draw and I think they can achieve it by the scruff of their neck. They look awesome on paper, but the product on the field is just atrocious. A hopeful draw for the home team can happen but if the Kops are their dominant selves, they'll be happy to prolong the hosts' misery and claim full points and bragging rights.

Win: Tottenham

Draw: Man Utd v Liverpool

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Juddmonte International - Baaeed going further than a mile

 All eyes will again be on Baaeed as racing's greatest horse in training goes further than a mile for the first time. Will he prove vulnerable at the extra distance? From how he's finished his races to date, it would seem that 10 furlongs should pose no problem to the superstar as he tries to emulate the great Frankel who did it admirably well 10 years ago. But beware of the Knavesmire; Golden Horn lost his unbeaten record there to Arabian Queen. In this year's edition, let's chuck away Sir Busker and High Definition who I don't think have a winning chance. 

Dubai Honour might not be among the creme de la creme but he can certainly aspire to places in Group 1's. He has disappointed in 2 races this season and unless he's been brought at his peak, he can be discarded as well. My feeling is that his period of strength will be more in the autumn, so this race is probably a stepping stone for him.

Mishriff is the old warrior that is always a menace in these races. He might fill the placings more often than not these days, but on a good day, he is able to pick up the pieces. I believe this is his optimum distance and if he's anywhere near his Eclipse form of last month, he could be primed for this. 

Native Trail is the dark horse of the race. He seemed to be stretched in the Eclipse, which aligns well with his sprinting pedigree, being a son of Oasis Dream. I think his optimal distance is a mile but given that connections persist to bring him at the mile and a quarter, we'll know definitely whether he is up to the task. If the race is ran tactically, he could a serious danger to Baaeed. I cannot see him out of the first 3.

Baaeed is so good that it is quite unimaginable that he will falter here. But if there is a race that he will be vulnerable, it is this one as he goes the extra distance. I still think he will get the work done. I expect Native Trail to come closest.

Dupla: Baaeed/Native Trail