Friday, August 17, 2012

Kickstart to the season

This is it, start of what promises to be another cracker of an EPL season. Spanish La Liga starts too on Saturday with the expectation that Barcelona and Real Madrid will run away from the pack, a la Frankel. Here are some of my predictions for the first week-end.

Arsenal v/s Sunderland. This is a first serious test for Arsene Wenger and his team. Not just because it's their first match post-RVP, it's also against Martin O'Neil, who's a master giant killer. If the Gunners haven't fully recuperated from the departure of their talisman, they will be made to pay by the visitors. It's a real tricky match for the hosts and there's no certainty that they will come up with the 3 points.

Man City v/s Southampton. The Citizens start their championship defence with a rather easy game against newly-promoted Southampton. Easy 3 points for the hosts here, with in-form Tevez certain to be at the fore-front of things.

Everton v/s Man Utd. The Red Devils always have a hard game at Goodison Park and it will certainly be the case again for their opening game. They might be lucky if they catch an Everton that is not in full-flow at this stage. But the reverse might be true as well. The RVP transfer will certainly have given the squad a big boost. They should either draw or win this game, so a draw-no-bet on the Red Devils looks safe.

Real Madrid v/s Valencia. Real had a really good pre-season winning all their games State-side, but this is not going to be an easy 3 points for the hosts. Their core players have only recently started serious training, so Mourinho will count on a few fringe players to make their mark. Still, their quality should be enough to overcome a Valencia team that is in a rebuilding stage this year. They have at least 6 new acquisitions and will take time to gel as well. Madrid should be able to get the vital 3 points here.

Barcelona v/s Real Sociedad. This is the league debut for new Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova. It is widely expected that the previous assistant coach will continue the highly-successful and formidable system of play of the Blaugrana. That being the case, Barcelona should be headed for the easy win. A note of prudence though that Guardiola lost his first league game in charge of Barcelona. Lightning rarely happens twice though!

The value of the week-end is in racing State-side where Lady of Shamrock looks hard to beat in Saturday's Del Mar Oaks. The winner of the American Oaks is a leading player among the Classic female contingent on turf, having been only beaten once on the surface after a rough trip. She should be in the first 3 and is a Place recommendation.

Win: Man City, Real Madrid, Barcelona

Draw-no-bet: Man Utd
Place: Lady of Shamrock

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