Friday, September 30, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week 7

Everton v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Swansea v/s Liverpool - Away win
Hull v/s Chelsea - Away win
Sunderland v/s WBA - Home win
Watford v/s Bournemouth - Home win
West Ham v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
Man Utd v/s Stoke - Home win
Leicester v/s Southampton - Draw
Tottenham v/s Man City - Draw
Burnley v/s Arsenal - Draw

I think Chelsea has a good opportunity to get back on track as they make the travel to Hull. Conte's men are coming off losses to tough teams Liverpool and Arsenal and should find the Tigers more to their liking. The Blues will need to pounce on any counter-attacking chances they are offered and the likes of Hazard and Costa, who have been conspicuously silent of late, have enough class to tilt the result in the visitors' favour.

As a value punt, I also like West Ham's chances against Middlesbrough. The Hammers are not as bad as their horrendous start of the season suggests, and can start off some kind of form against the promoted team. As expected, Karanka's men are struggling to find their foot in the EPL and the Hammers have the firepower to blow past the visitors and claim a much-needed win.

Win: Chelsea
Win: West Ham

Friday, September 23, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week 6

Man Utd v/s Leicester - Home win
Bournemouth v/s Everton - Away win
Liverpool v/s Hull - Home win
Middlesbrough v/s Tottenham - Draw
Stoke v/s WBA - Draw
Sunderland v/s Crystal Palace - Draw
Swansea v/s Man City - Away
Arsenal v/s Chelsea - Draw
West Ham v/s Southampton - Away
Burnley v/s Watford - Home

The team in form at the moment is Liverpool and they seem to have an easy task this week-end against Hull. Klopp has re-invigorated the Kops by leaps and bounds and with some consistency, they can go very far this year. They seem to be as dangerous as in the Suarez-Sterling-Gerrard days as they are suffocating teams at the moment as Leicester could attest last week. Home win without much doubt.

I will side with Southampton as my value punt of the week. I must say that I was seeing the Saints struggling this year with the departure of Koeman and some first-team regulars. But French coach Puel has imposed his methods that seem to be working well and they are a team can will cause problems to any opponent. They are travelling at the right time to the London Stadium to face a West Ham team in crisis. Slaven Bilic is running out of options with his under-performing squad and they have worryingly conceded 8 goals in their last 2 league meetings. The well-organized Saints can definitely pounce on the Hammer's defensive frailties and snatch at least a point in this encounter.

Win: Liverpool
Win (or draw-no-bet): Southampton

Friday, September 16, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week 5

Chelsea v/s Liverpool - Draw
Hull v/s Arsenal - Draw
Leicester v/s Burnley - Home win
Man City v/s Bournemouth - Home win
WBA v/s West Ham - Away win
Everton v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
Watford v/s Man Utd - Away win
Crystal Palace v/s Stoke - Home win
Southampton v/s Swansea - Away win
Tottenham v/s Sunderland - Home win

Man Utd are on a 2-game losing streak under Mourinho but I cannot see it going to 3. Against City, they were second best and deserved to lose. Against Feyenood in the Europa League, they did not field their best XI, and were entitled to come back empty-handed. It will be different business as they travel to Watford where they were lucky to come out with full points under Van Gaal last season. This Watford team is nowhere as good as last year's team under Kiko Sanchez. They scored 4 unanswered goals to shock West Ham last week but having been 2 goals down early shows that they are will be apt to concede against heavy firepower. Zlatan could have a field day there. Man Utd look value for the win.

The long punt of the week goes to West Ham who are having a difficult start to the season. I expect things to improve now that Payet is fully back after his Euro exertions. The Hammers should have beaten Watford last week after going 2 goals up before melting down in the stretch and conceding 4. If they can muster some of their mental resolve from last season, they can surprise this average West Brom side that have also started hesitantly. Under Pulis, WBA will always be hard to break at home but the Hammers have the ability to play big spoilers here. An outright win or draw-no-bet on them could pay dividends.

Win: Man Utd.
Win (or draw-no-bet): West Ham

Friday, September 9, 2016

EPL 2016/17 - Week 4

Man Utd v/s Man City - Home win
Bournemouth v/s West Brom - Away win
Arsenal v/s Southampton - Home win
Burnley v/s Hull - Draw
Middlesbrough v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Stoke v/s Tottenham - Draw
West Ham v/s Watford - Home win
Liverpool v/s Leicester - Home win
Swansea v/s Chelsea - Draw
Sunderland v/s Everton - Away win

The Manchester Derby easily dominates this game week. Although it's too early in the season to gauge the significance of a win or defeat for both, this is a 6-pointer match that will impact the confidence of the winner and loser going forward, not least right to bragging rights in the city of Manchester!  I give home advantage to the Red Devils here. First, Mourinho rarely loses a home fixture, so Old Trafford will definitely be made a formidable fortress for the occasion. Second, it is obvious that this City team is not a finished product under Guardiola and will find the hosts as different material to the lesser teams they have overcome through sheer class in the opening fixtures. The Red Devils defence will be relieved not to face Aguero with the Argentinian striker missing the next few games through suspension. It all points towards either a draw or a win for the hosts and a draw-no-bet on them looks great value.

For a value bet, I like the chances of Everton as they visit Sunderland. Koeman is a top coach and I see better things for the Toffees compared to last year. He will inject tight defence and dynamic play into this talented Everton team and I see them getting better as the season progresses. I certainly think they won't lose this match and for some risk it might be worth going with them winning outright, or have them as a safer draw-no-bet.

Draw-no-bet: Man Utd.
Win (or draw-no-bet): Everton

Sunday, September 4, 2016

England - Road to recovery or further failure?

Back blogging after a good holiday break!

England starts a new era with Allardyce as new manager in a few hours as they visit Slovakia for the World Cup qualifier. Allardyce for England? I might have to eat my words in the future but the news of this got me thinking that this is one of the worst and reckless decisions, among many others, made by the FA. What has he won? Has he ever played or managed in a Champions League match? How many England caps? Anything he won as a manager or player? Nothing. Arguably, his greatest achievements have been to avoid relegation with Bolton and Sunderland and throwing long bombs in order not to lose to Arsenal. The decision to hire Big Sam seems short-sighted and desperate. It had to be an Englishman and among the candidates, he must have been the least worst in the eyes of the pickers.

But could it be that this is exactly what this England team needs after years of failure with supposedly talented teams? Keegan, Capello, Ericksson, Hodgson to name a few, all failed. So maybe getting a manager on the opposite side of the spectrum, i.e, one that has never managed any star-studded squad, is what this under-achieving team needs? Maybe he is the one to put in some mental toughness that seems to be lacking in the current squad? These qualifiers will tell.

It would be a sight seeing England throwing long balls or parking the bus to get a result against nations like Belgium and Germany. It could very well be the new mantra is to focus on the result and let the talent or football go to waste. The nation won't care of the football if it wins some silverware. But Allardyce's selection is a mighty gamble that raises a lot of questions and the spectre of even more hardships for the national team. We will get an indication of whether hope or despair is in sight against Slovakia today.