Friday, November 16, 2012

Football preview

Had a good round last week-end with 8 correct selections out of 10. As usual, I stayed away from the mid-week international friendlies which I believe are a waste of time punt-wise.  Zlatan Ibrahimovic's 4th goal against England was however, worth a look and is one for the ages.

The greatest goal I have seen (just my opinion) is Negrete's bicycle kick, outside the box, in World Cup 86 in the match between Mexico and Bulgaria. Zlatan's overhead kick was also outside the box, actually further from goal, at a full 30 yards. Whether he's a choker in big games or not, no one can doubt that the Swede can score wonder goals; recall the brushed side-heel one he scored against Italy in the 2004 European Championship.

Back to League football where Chelsea and Man City are huffing and puffing at the moment and Man Utd have seized the opportunity to comfortably shoot up at the top of the EPL in recent weeks. Here are my thoughts on this week-end's round of matches.

Arsenal v/s Tottenham. The hosts are beset by injuries and uneven form, so they might be upset here. Much of their chances will reside on whether Walcott can play or not. Tottenham will certainly be giving them all they can handle. This Derby looks set to result in a lot of goals, and I will go with a safe selection of Tottenham with a +1 goal handicap.

Liverpool v/s Wigan. Much depends on what type of Wigan shows up. They were disappointing in losing at home to WBA last week-end. Suarez is on fire for Liverpool but it remains to be seen how long more he can shoulder the goal scoring responsibilities for the club. The result of this match can go either way.

Man City v/s Villa. Got to go with the hosts here, even though they are struggling mightily. European Cup failure, I believe, is weighing heavily on the players' and manager's minds. I have changed my mind about this Villa team; under Lambert, they have become a decent and much better side than under the McLeish regime. Benteke can cause problems for the City defence. Still at the end, I cannot see the Villains taking the 3 points, and I see City as a safe draw-no-bet selection.

Newcastle v/s Swansea. Newcastle came up with a nugget at home to West Ham last week-end and it would be surprising if they suffered 2 successive home defeats, even though they will be missing some key players in Cabaye, Coloccini and potentially striker Cisse. I will trust them with a draw-no-bet against a Swansea team that have a few injury issues of their own. if fully-fit, Demba Ba could be set to end his goal drought of the past couple of games.

QPR v/s Southampton. QPR will not have as good an occasion to aim for 3 points here than against lowly Southampton. If they are to survive the relegation battle, this is a must win for them. They are getting a few key players back and should enjoy a better remaining part of the campaign. Southampton are struggling on the road and will be equally keen to capitalize on any chances Rangers will provide them. I give QPR home advantage here and have the hosts as a draw-no-bet.

Reading v/s Everton. This could very well be yet another win for Everton. They have been impressive since the start of the season, and are led by an inspiring Fellaini. Reading will have to come up with their A-game and their usually-flaky defence will be put to the test against the powerful Toffees. Everton is another draw-no-bet selection.

West Brom v/s Chelsea. The Baggies showed they were a good force to reckon with at home when they went toe-to-toe with Man City a few weeks ago, albeit with one extra man. Chelsea will have to be at their best to get the win. This match can go either way, so I'll sit on the fence on this one.

Norwich v/s Man Utd. Last year, the Red Devils were somewhat lucky to snatch victory with the game's last kick through the ever-green Ryan Giggs. I think they will re-iterate this year with another win. Van Persie, Chicharito are on fire and even though Rooney might miss the call, they are sufficiently potent in attack to make the difference. The visitors are a win selection.

Fulham v/s Sunderland. This is the game where Sunderland could spring a shock. They nearly did it at Goodison Park last week and it would not be a stretch to think that they can go and beat a Fulham team that is leaking goals in abundance in their last matches. Sunderland with a +1 handicap is the value bet of the week-end.

West Ham v/s Stoke. Stoke like parking the bus on the road; West Ham have good form at home. This could very well end up in a draw. I'll abstain on this one.

In the rest of Europe, I see wins for Inter, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Dortmund, Bayern and PSG.

Win: Man Utd, Inter, Real, Barcelona, Valencia, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, PSG
Draw-no-bet: Man City, Newcastle, QPR, Everton,
Handicap +1: Tottenham, Sunderland

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