Friday, April 27, 2012

Decisive time

The big news going into the week-end are the imminent departure of Guardiola from Barcelona. I really hope he gets to manage an EPL team on his return. What he's achieved at Barcelona, particularly the kind of football they play and preach, is unbelievable.

The EPL reaches its crescendo with the upcoming Manchester Derby that will most possibly determine the season's winner. It's been a wild ride with momentum change from one club to the other and the match is really a 6-pointer. Clear advantage is for Man City at the present since they are at home and are on a winning run. It will be interesting to see what frame of mind the Red Devils are in, after their confidence-sapping game against Everton last week. Their main problem is their leaky central defence of Evans and Ferdinand. Vidic is a big missing element in that rear-guard. But obviously, Alex Ferguson's men always rise to the occasion when backed to the wall, and it would be of no surprise if they controlled the game and actually left with the 3 points. Man City's hopes rest mainly on the power of their Argentinian forwards in Aguero and Tevez. These 2 can wreck havoc in any defence, and will certainly have their opportunities to test de Gea. This game looks to be a cracker and hopefully the referee won't play any decisive role in the outcome. I think the Citizens will edge this in the end, but this is just my hunch.

Wolves are relegated as I've been repeating they would for weeks now. I think it's still ok to go against them and Swansea look good value to continue the visitors' winless run under manager Connor. The selection is Swansea as a draw-no-bet.

I also like West Brom's chances as it hosts Aston Villa. If I were to guess another team to be relegated, I think Villa would be prime contenders. The Villains still have some blind faith in manager Mc Leish, and that could prove their undoing. How ironic that he relegated their fierce rivals Birmingham last year, and he's about to relegate them now. Villa is an awful team to watch and their cause is not being helped by the continued absence of their prolific striker Darren Bent. West Brom as draw-no-bet is the recommendation.

My value punt of the week-end goes to Wigan against Newcastle. The Latics have performed admirably of late but they still have to gather points to secure themselves from relegation. Newcastle is my pick for overachieving team this year and they are certainly in contention for a Champions League spot. They will go to the DW Stadium with hope and confidence with individuals such as Cisse and Ben Arfa, who have the capacity to influence a game on a moment's brilliance. I will opt for Wigan here because they can make it hard for visiting teams to play their regular rhythmic football, as Man Utd has attested a couple of weeks back. I recommend Wigan as a draw-no-bet.

In La Liga, Real look set to put their mid-week UCL disappointment behind them when they host Sevilla. The Los Blancos are a sure win here as they march towards the title and that's the recommendation.

It's tough to gauge Barcelona's visit to Rayo.  The hosts are a tough nut to crack at home and will pose problems should the Catalans be not fully focused on the game, for obvious reasons. On the other hand, it could be that the visitors will show extra motivation to win the remaining games under Guardiola. Should Real not bag the 3 points during their earlier match, then Barcelona will try to pounce, but that I cannot see that scenario happening. It's just better to have a punt at Real's games at the moment, because they are the ones with the motivation to go all-out; the carrot is dangling in front of them.

Win: Real Madrid
Draw-no-bet: Swansea, West Brom, Wigan

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