Saturday, December 30, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 21

Bournemouth v/s Everton - Away win
Chelsea v/s Stoke - Home win
Huddersfield v/s Burnley - Draw
Liverpool v/s Leicester - Home win
Newcastle v/s Brighton - Away win
Watford v/s Swansea - Home win
Man Utd v/s Southampton - Home win
Crystal Palace v/s Man City - Away win
WBA v/s Arsenal - Away win

Win Accumulator: Man Utd/Watford/Watford

Monday, December 25, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 20

Tottenham v/s Southampton - Home win
Bournemouth v/s West Ham - Draw
Chelsea v/s Brighton - Home win
Huddersfield v/s Stoke - Home win
Man Utd v/s Burnley - Home win
Watford v/s Leicester - Home win
West Brom v/s Everton - Draw
Liverpool v/s Swansea - Home win
Newcastle v/s Man City - Draw
Crystal Palace v/s Arsenal - Home win

Can anyone stop this Man City juggernaught? They might not get beaten but a draw looks the realm of possibility. After all, not so long ago, they struggled to overcome the likes of Southampton, West Ham and Huddersfield in a string of 2-1 victories. It is reasonable to expect that they will drop points on some of their road travels. Their visit to Newcastle could be one of those. Benitez' men were on a wretched run and last weekend's win at West Ham brought some much-needed confidence to the club. The Magpies started the season reasonably well and have made it difficult for teams to break them down in many matches. If City go to St James Park in festive spirit, they could be in trouble. That's not to say that they won't go and blast their way to another dominant victory; they have the capacity for that in abundance, but any lack of focus could be lead to their first cock-up. At market prices, a double-chance (win or draw) on Newcastle might pay dividends.

Win or Draw: Newcastle

Thursday, December 21, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 19

Arsenal v/s Liverpool - Away win
Everton v/s Chelsea - Draw
Brighton v/s Watford - Away win
Man City v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Southampton v/s Huddersfield - Away win
Stoke v/s West Brom - Draw
Swansea v/s Crystal Palace - Draw
West Ham v/s Newcastle - Home win
Burnley v/s Spurs - Away win
Leicester v/s Man Utd - Draw

The way things are going it looks like Man City are sailing away comfortably to the title. But they will falter at some point. It will be stretching it too much to think they will throw it away though. There is actually more of a chance that they set the marker for killing the race in the earliest fashion. On Saturday, it will be a matter of how many goals they subject Bournemouth to for another dominating display.

Liverpool are going to the Emirates in a rich vein of form and I think there are chances that they won't get out of there empty-handed. Arsenal are far from having hit top gear so far and it seems they have been scraping through their matches for a while. Clearly, their best player Sanchez is not as inspired or commandeering as in previous seasons. I believe the Gunners will be caught out at home by some heavy-duty teams this year; Man Utd did the job a couple of weeks back and others will follow. The Kops are hammering opponents at the moment and will give any team, including Man City, some serious opposition. At current market prices, I see value in picking them either as straight winners or as a draw-no-bet selection.

Win: Liverpool

Friday, December 15, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 18

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

I see a lot of home wins on Saturday and the away wins will come on Sunday. Arsenal should handily beat struggling Newcastle, Chelsea should prove too strong for Southampton and Watford should confirm their current form by beating Huddersfield.

On Sunday, Man Utd and Liverpool are strongly fancied to keep up with the pace at the top and they should have no trouble overcoming bottom-of-table teams such as West Brom and Bournemouth.

Accumulator: Arsenal/Chelsea/Watford/Man Utd/Liverpool

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 17 (Wednesday matches)

Newcastle v/s Everton - Draw
Southampton v/s Leicester - Home win
Swansea v/s Man City - Away win
Liverpool v/s West Brom - Home win
Man Utd v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Tottenham v/s Brighton - Home win
West Ham v/s Arsenal - Home win

Friday, December 8, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 16

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

A huge 6-point match decider is on the cards at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday for the Manchester Derby. Most people think that this season's champion will come out of Manchester and I could not agree more; if there is any team that will stop the Guardiola juggernaut of Man City, it will be the Red Devils. I disagree with the markets on this one, though; Man City's odds are way too short in my opinion. For all their dominance since the start of the season, their last 3 league matches have resulted in 3 tight wins of 2-1, all won in the closing stages. That means that the Citizens have laboured whenever teams have shut the door. Against Man Utd, they will go against a manager known for parking the bus extremely well. That is Mourinho's forte when he is playing more talented teams. Man Utd have recently proven lethal when soaking up the pressure to deliver the knockout blow; ask Watford and Arsenal. Sure, they will be missing suspended Pogba in midfield but they have played without the Frenchman to good effect before his return from injury. Man City's defence is there for the taking, particularly on the counter-attacks and I believe the crowd will roar the home side to victory on Sunday. If they don't win, a draw-no-bet on the home side looks very enticing as well.

Sam Allardyce will right the ship at Everton but they are travelling to Anfield in the worst possible moment as Klopp's team are the hottest in the league. Goals can come anywhere from the quartet of Mane, Salah, Coutinho and Firminho. No doubt Sturridge needs to go elsewhere to find playing time. The most the visitors can look for is a hopeful draw but I think the Kops are just too strong at Anfield. Home win.

Finally, I see Crystal Palace getting another rare win against visiting Bournemouth. Their form has sharpened considerably in recent weeks with the arrival of Hodgson and the return of Zaha. Their unfortunate problem is that they have the most profligate striker in the league in Benteke. The Belgian international can score beauties when on fire but he has a record of spurning good goal scoring opportunities as well. Bournemouth look like a team on the wane and it is a massive opportunity for the Eagles to ramp up some much-needed points.

Win: Crystal Palace, Liverpool, Man Utd

Friday, December 1, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 15

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

If Man City were unable to extend their lead after the midweek matches, they have another great crack at this over the week-end. They have the easiest task on paper given that they host the Hammers that are quite simply a team in disarray right now. It seems the only hope for Moyes' team is to maximize points at home because they are simply atrocious on the road. Although the Citizens' have won their last 2 matches at the death, they should find Sunday's match an easy offering on paper and should come out on top even in first gear.

The value of the week-end looks to be Leicester who will look for consecutive home wins after dispatching Spurs in midweek. Visitors Burnley are in good form and are sure to keep the match close. Many expect the match to be close, explaining the juicy odds on offer for a straight Foxes win or a draw-no-bet on them. I believe either one will pay at the end of ninety minutes.

Finally, Southampton could finally be getting an away win consolation after coming close to causing an upset at the Etihad. Not only did they succumb with the last kick of the match, they also hit the crossbar and had excellent chances to score against the Citizens. Bournemouth should prove a somewhat easier affair for Pellegrino's men and a draw-no-bet looks decent value at current prices.

Win: Leicester, Man City, Southampton

Monday, November 27, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 14

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

I think Man City will extend their lead at the top after this set of mid-week matches. They are almost a banker to handily beat the visiting Saints as there seems nothing stopping them at the moment. Sterling cannot secure a a place in the first team, yet he delivered them victory in their tough last encounter at Huddersfield Town. Their squad is so deep that the winner can come from anyone from the bench. Although they managed to tire off Everton in their last match, the Saints are still finding their feet under new manager Pellegrino and I cannot see them causing an upset here.

I also see City rivals Man Utd struggling as they visit in-form Watford. The Hornets are my surprise team of the season so far and last week's dismantling of Newcastle at St James Park confirm them as outside contenders for a European spot at the end of the season. They are well managed under manager Silva and always have at least a goal in them. As he often does, Mourinho will be parking the bus and hope for effective counter-attacks and set-pieces. This means a paucity of goals and the odd goal making the difference in the end. This match could go either way but it would not be surprising that the Red Devils will be losing costly points at the end this encounter. A draw-no-bet on the Hornets looks value here.

Liverpool look a happier team away from Anfield. I think this has to do with the way their system works, relying on the speed of Salah, Mane and Firmino. Their dynamic play should play wonders against a team like Stoke that tend to impose themselves in slow tempo matches. At market prices, going for a straight Kop win looks the best value.

Win: Liverpool, Man City
Draw-no-bet: Watford

Thursday, November 23, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 13

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

Everton is the team to focus on again. Even their staunchest supporter would agree that they were let go out of jail against Crystal Palace last week-end. Not counting a dubious penalty and the numerous occasions the Eagles wasted to secure the win, David Unsworth would be reeling on yet another defeat as caretaker manager. That they got thrashed in their next game in the Europa League 5-1 against visiting Atalanta only reinforced the sentiment that this club is in big trouble. So their trip to Southampton comes at a good time for the hosts who themselves are in a spot of bother. Manager Pellegrino is under fire having won only 3 out of the first 12 EPL matches. The manager probably needs more time to get his team to perform and it does not come easier than to start with the Toffees. Got to go for the straight home win here as they have enough quality to overcome a team on the verge of meltdown.

I also like Leicester's chances against West Ham. I think Claude Puel is a decent manager who will somewhat get the Foxes back on track towards the middle of the table. They visit the Hammers who arguably were unlucky not to score on a few chances against Watford last week. Moyes has to score an early win in his Hammers managerial career but I am not sure it can come against the resilient visitors. At current odds, I would go for a visitors' draw-no-bet.

I see wins for both Manchester teams. Man Utd were pretty awful in mid-week but it was expected that Mourinho would field a defensive team to secure the draw. What they did not expect was Basle to score in the waning minutes of the match. The Red Devils are still in control of qualifying and I doubt Mourinho would still be sleeping on this match. At home, their record is strong and I cannot see Brighton winning one at Old Trafford. With Pogba and Zlatan now back, the ammunition is aplenty in the Red Devils' camp and they should have enough to secure the win. Same for Man City, who were pretty poor in the UCL win against Feyenood. That match almost put me to sleep. But with their first team restored, Guardiola's men should have too much firepower against the hosts.

Finally, Spurs should see off a manager-less West Brom easily in a match where Harry Kane could be having a field day. An accumulator involving Man Utd, Man City and Tottenham should reap dividends.

Accumulator: Man Utd/Man City/Tottenham
Win: Southampton
Draw-no-bet: Leicester

Friday, November 17, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 12

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

Call it Everton-bashing or whatever but unless the evidence shows otherwise, it seems rewarding to go against the Toffees these days. In the last weekday, we opted for Watford to pull a good result at Goodison Park and they came oh-so-close, letting go of a 2-goal lead and missing a penalty on top of that. Whether that win has rejuvenated David Unsworth's team remains to be seen but for that, they will have to show more than their 3-goal spurt and lucky win against the Hornets. They visit a Crystal Palace team on the upside, a club which I believe Roy Hodgson will improve as the season progresses. At this juncture of the season and based on form, the home team appears to have all the favors here and at current market prices, look a value win punt.

Man Utd welcome back Ibra and Pogba and should have too much firepower against the visiting Magpies. It's Mourinho against Benitez yet again but this time the Spaniard does not have much in his arsenal to realistically oppose the deep Red Devils. The home team must win this to keep tabs with their cross-town rivals Man City and should bag the 3 points.

Can David Moyes turn things around at West Ham? Maybe, but he is in with a tough baptism for his first match at Watford. It is not uncommon that players will give 110% to make a first good impression for their boss' first game but the Hammers are a talented pool of players with no chemistry. I see Moyes turning on a defensive display here but in the end Watford have enough in them to pull away with full points.

Win: Crystal Palace, Man Utd, Watford

Friday, November 3, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 11

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

Man City served up another terrific display in mid-week by dominating a highly-talented Napoli team in the UCL. The 4-2 score might be a little flattering given that Napoli had chances to make the difference during a tight match but the win reflected nonetheless that the Citizens are for real in both domestic and European league this season. I cannot see Arsenal beating them this week-end for many reasons and I'll just name 3: better squad, Guardiola, and fitness.

City have the deepest and most talented squad in the EPL and they are on form. Arsenal have in-out players like Ozil and Ramsey that can drift out of matches when the going gets tough. The home team will have the non-negligible advantage of an extra day rest from their mid-week exertions. But the balance mainly tilts to the Citizens at the managerial level. Guardiola is more tactically astute than Wenger and will know how to exploit whatever team Arsenal have to offer. At the end, this could end in a drubbing. Arsenal will feel great coming away with a hard-earned point in this one but I think City will prove too strong and secure another full points.

It's Mourinho back to Chelsea again. The champions are reeling at the moment and injuries haven't helped their cause. The return of Kante last week was a big plus though, as the Frenchman protects his defence like no other in the league. It's hard to see Red Devils winning this though as Mourinho's tactical approach to those big games has traditionally been to park the bus unless scored upon. Maybe if they get a lucky opening goal, they can hold on for the win. But chances are that Chelsea will do most of the heavy lifting and create the goalscoring chances. This could very well end up in a drub draw but I see value going for a draw-no-bet with Conte's men.

Finally, how about taking Watford to pile more misery on Everton? The Toffees played to another loss in the Europa league and Watford have proven to be no easy fodder since the start of the season. The visitors will relish playing an out-of-sorts Everton team that seems devoid of direction under caretaker manager David Unsworth. Watford for the win or draw-no-bet look good value.

Win: Man City, Watford
Draw-no-bet: Chelsea

Friday, October 27, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 10

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

Through the Ferguson times, Man Utd were hand and heels above Spurs. How times have changed since the Scot has left asTottenham have bettered the Red Devils in the final standings of the past seasons. This year, they look on a dead-even keel as far as squad strength is concerned, as both are considered the likeliest to catch Man City, should the latter falter, that is. It looks like Saturday's match at Old Trafford will have consequences not just in table standings but also on the mental well-being of both squads as they chase Guardiola's men. A Man Utd win will appease the possible un-rest that has seeped through the club after their defeat at Huddersfield. Mourinho's post-match comments could be seen as throwing the players under the bus and it seems another negative display in his eyes will send the Portugese in unravel mode, with the all too familiar destructive consequences as seen during his Chelsea days. Once Mourinho loses it, the team falters as well. A convincing win however will put the Red Devils back on the strong march they have forged since the start of the season. For Tottenham, losing Kane for this match is a big blow. The England star has been the best striker on earth for the late while and in the form of his life. Without him, Spurs are not the same team. However, they have come close in their recent visits at Old Trafford and there is the best Spurs squad coming to Manchester in years. Pochettino has the tactical acumen to happily get a draw out of this match. I don't think Man Utd will lose this and on all accounts, a draw-no-bet on them sounds value. Even better value could be going for the straight draw match.

An accumulator with Winx winning the Cox Plate will bring in 20% extra. The superstar mare from Down Under looks a banker to notch her 3rd straight Cox Plate. I just cannot see anything in the field at Mooney Valley getting close to her. Only my opinion, but I rate her higher than Enable or Cracksman or anything the turf world has to offer over middle distances. I just can't wait for her possible Royal Ascot visit next year.

Accumulator :(Win: Winx Draw: Man Utd/Spurs

Friday, October 20, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 9

Chelsea v/s Watford - Draw
Huddersfield v/s Man Utd - Away win
Man City v/s Burnley - Home win
Newcastle v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Stoke v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Swansea v/s Leicester - Home win
Southampton v/s WBA - Home win
Everton v/s Arsenal - Home win
Tottenham v/s Liverpool - Away win

It is not far-fetched to think that, the way that Man City are playing, it will not be a matter whether they will beat Burnley but rather by how many goals will win. They have been on a tear and although their goal spree will come to an end sooner than later, it is hard to fathom anything other than another dominant display from Guardiola's men here. A City win has to be in any accumulator.

Newcastle look to be a team on the upside and will be looking for full points as they welcome Crystal Palace. Roy Hodgson's men shocked champions Chelsea last week-end and the return of their talisman Zaha was more than ominous as the former Man Utd player bagged in the winning goal. Sure, the Eagles are better than their current standing and Zaha will play a big part in their resurgence as the season progresses. However, Newcastle are in good vein of form and Benitez has his players playing with such confidence that it will be a negative outcome for them not to bag the 3 points here. I certainly cannot see them lose this match and it looks best value to go for the all-out win with the hosts.

Win Double: Man City/Newcastle

Friday, October 13, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 8

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

Liverpool against Man Utd is always high up there among the biggest matches of the season, no matter that the Kops haven't tasted titled glory in decades and managers have come and gone over the years. The hosts have had their ups and downs since the start of the season but this will be the first real test for the rampant Red Devils. The big thing for Liverpool these days is that Coutinho has been back with a bang since the "Barcelona" episode. Even though rumors of his departure for Catalonia for the January deadline are persisting, the Brazilian has been banging in goals lately, which would have brushed off any misgivings the Red fans might have held towards him. The unfortunate thing for the Kops is that they are without Mane due to injury. When the Senegalese is back, Liverpool will truly be kicking from all corners. Man Utd are unbeaten so far but it is no secret that that their opponents so far have been of lesser quality. Still, getting the points and goals as they have been doing, should help in their quest for another title. Mourinho will most probably park the bus at Anfield and rely on counter-attacking forays with the likes of Rashford, Martial and Lukaku to sneak one or more goals at the other end. I very much see a scenario where the hosts find it hard to break down the Utd defensive wall and the Red Devils chancing their luck on rapid counters. The Liverpool defense has yet to show any kind of stability or robustness and the Red Devils have ample quality at the front end to score. I think the value punt here is to go for either a Utd win or a draw-no-bet.

For accumulators, I see easy wins for top guns such as Man City, Spurs and Chelsea. I see the Blues prolonging Palace's woes even further although the bright light for Roy Hodgson's men is the return of Zaha. It will help them in later games but not against Chelsea.

Win: Man City, Tottenham, Chelsea
Draw-no-bet: Man Utd

Friday, September 29, 2017

Arc de Triomphe 2017 - Enable a cut above

Sunday's Arc de Triomphe looks vintage with some proven top-class performers challenging to win Flat racing's most prestigious prize. Towering over the field will be Enable, Europe's new racing queen and carrying the same colours as the likes of Dancing Brave, Frankel and Arrogate. Of the 18-runner field, I will retain 5 names: Cloth of Stars, Brametot, Dschingis Secret, Winter and Enable. That is not to say that some of the others don't have live chances; the likes of Zarak, Ulysses and Order of St George could spring an upset if all conditions turn right for them.

Enable is the best middle-distance filly of the Classic generation by far. She has crushed all on her way from 10 to 12 furlongs. She even trounced males in the King George. She is proven on easy and hard surfaces and only an accident in running would be able to stop her winning, in my opinion. She has drawn stall 2 and as long as her rider Dettori does not get her boxed in, she should be very hard to beat.

Brametot is the dark horse of the race. This son of Rajsaman has an electric turn of foot that has put some top-quality milers to submission. There are 2 issues with him. First, he can lose the race at the start as he is prone to lose several lengths leaving the stalls. In a 12-furlong race, that might not matter as much as a mile race. Second, he is unproven at the distance and his pedigree suggests that he will be stretched stamina-wise. If both issues are no impediment whatsover on race day, this top-proven miler could let his class speak and be a contender at the finish.

Not much was expected of Dschingis Secret, Germany's best middle-distance performer, when he met Satono Diamond in an Arc trial, the Prix Foy. The way he easily bested the field on that day puts him under consideration. After all, he also beat Godolphin's Group 1 winner Hawkbill in Germany in his previous race. The ease in the ground will be Dschingis Secret's best asset on Sunday. The more the rain, the better the chances for the son of Soldier Hollow. He should be considered in any exotics.

Cloth of Stars surprised a few when second in the same Prix Foy that Dschingis Secret won. It was after all his seasonal return after taking the summer off. The way he finished indicated that more is to come for this son of Sea the Stars. It also showed he had lost none of this ability that saw him win 3 Group races in France in the spring. Trained by the master Andre Fabre, he should be in great condition to pounce race day and is a good contender to make the frame.

Finally, I have got to mention Winter, the best filly miler of the Classic generation. Like Brametot, the big question mark is the distance. After conquering all at the mile distance, she tasted defeat at her first foray at 10 furlongs. Ballydoyle came up with many reasons for the defeat and even if she had won on that day, there would still rightly have been doubts about her stamina for a race like the Arc. Although she is by Galileo, her damsire is Choisir, a pure sprinter. She is the chosen one by Ryan Moore from the Ballydoyle brigade and her class will bring her through but whether that is enough to be a major factor in the end remains to be seen. I don't think she can trouble Enable at this distance.

Win: Enable
Place: Cloth of Stars
Top 4 (if heavy ground): Dschingis Secret

EPL 2017/18 - Week 7

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

A big 6-pointer match is at play at Stamford Bridge and although this is too early to be a title-decider, it will give a mental edge to the winner going forward. Man City have been dealt a big blow as Aguero will miss this match due to injuries sustained in a road accident. Gabriel Jesus is more than an able deputy though and has a sparkling record since joining the Citizens last year. For all its spectacular football and offence, tough matches against teams like Chelsea are the ones that Man City need to win or draw in order to be genuine tile contenders. They blasted not least than 5 goals in their recent encounters against mediocre opponents but the real test of their mettle and mental aptitude is against top teams. Conte's men are riding a serious piece of form as demonstrated by the weekly win at Atletico Madrid in the UCL. Not many teams can boast dominating Simeone's men on their own turf and come away win the win on top of that. Really, Chelsea Italian's coach has shown again the top tactician he is. It's hard to see a visitor's win here; Conte will have an answer to Guardiola's possession football and I see Hazard hitting the visitors with dangerous counter-attacks. City are strong but an outright home win or a safer draw-no-bet on the home team look good value.

Man Utd and Arsenal should easily win their encounters against feeble opponents. Maybe coupling them with a West Ham win could pay dividends. Manager Bilic is on a tight rope and a loss could definitely signal an end to his Hammers career. I don't see them losing against Swansea and although a draw is a viable result, coupling a Hammers win with the two power-houses mentioned above looks a good value-risk proposition.

Win: Chelsea
Accumulator: Man Utd/ Arsenal/West Ham

Friday, September 22, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 6

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

If there is a draw match in the offing, I would go for West Ham against Tottenham. The home team are finding their footing and I think it is a matter of matches until they hit close to top gear. It is not surprising that Bilic's big-money signings are taking some time to make their mark but the team will get better as the season progresses. Chicharito always has a goal in him and with the likes of Carroll and under-fire Arnatauvic up front, the Hammers have ample ammunition in the forward department. Spurs are in good form and were it not for their abysmal home record at Wembley, they should have been right near the top of the league. This should be an evenly contested match and going for the draw seems value here.

Man City is a banker to beat the visiting Eagles. Roy Hodgson will improve Palace but I don't see how they can get a result at rampant City. The visitors will do well to keep the score reasonable in this one. Probably the better value is to couple both of Manchester sides to win. Man Utd are in for what seems a tough assignment at Southampton. The Saints are always a strong side to contend with at the St Mary's but the Red Devils are playing out of their skin at the moment that they can very well find a way to win this encounter. Mourinho's men have tended to wear down their opponents in the last third of their matches and will be heavily favored even though the score might be tight for much of the match. Mentally it will do wonders to the Red Devils if they can keep up with rivals City on points at the end of this week-end.

Draw: West Ham v/s Tottenham
Win Accumulator: Man City/Man Utd

Friday, September 15, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 5

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

Arsenal's and Arsene's problems will compound this week-end as they visit Stamford Bridge. After a false start, Conte's men have quickly racked up the wins and seem to be gaining momentum even without its best player in Hazard. After 2 consecutive defeats, including a severe drubbing at Liverpool, the knives were out on Wenger. The Gunners somewhat righted the ship by winning against modest opposition like Bournemouth and Cologne, but Chelsea will be an entirely different beast. The good news for Arsenal is the recent return to match fitness of Sanchez and the Chilean will get better as the matches go by. But that should not be enough to get a win at Stamford Bridge and Conte's men are fancied for the outright win.

Spurs are also showing good form as they have trounced Everton and Dortmund in their last matches. As I mentioned before, Wembley will never be the fortress White Hart Lane has been to them in the past years. However, their new temporary stadium will give them a better home feel as the season progresses. Against a Swansea team still looking for some direction, Harry Kane and co should ride their form and bag another 3 points.

Everton are a shambles at the moment and coincidence or not, it seems to have started with the off-field problems of captain Rooney. The former United legend returns to Old Trafford and it will be interesting to see the kind of welcome he receives. Pogba will be out for the Red Devils and while it is always a worry for Man Utd fans whenever Fellaini gets the call-up as a starter, they should have too much for the struggling visitors. In fact, ex-Toffee man Lukaku could prolong the misery of Koeman's team.

Throw in Liverpool in an accumulator and this could be rewarding. The Kops dominated Sevilla from top to bottom in their European encounter but failed to take their chances for the win. Coutinho will probably return for the Reds and I reckon he will be short of match fitness after a forgetful summer. In the end, Klopp's team should have too much firepower and I cannot see Burnley escape Anfield with a point.

Accumulator: Chelsea, Man Utd, Tottenham, Liverpool.

Friday, September 8, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 4

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

It's been only 4 weeks of matches and already managerial changes could very well be under way in some clubs. Frank de Boer is definitely among the ones in the firing line this week-end as his struggling Crystal Palace side visit Burnley. The Eagles are 0 for 3 under his stewardship and with the way they have been performing, it would take a serious gamble to think that things will be improving drastically in the immediate future. The future under de Boer does not look good and going to a place like Turf Moor on Sunday does not look good either. Although they lost their home opener to WBA, the Clarets have been sporting good form at home since last year, which was the main reason they kept up in the standings. Burnley should be keeping that solid home record on track this week-end. Home win.

Man Utd have been flying from the start but Stoke represent a first real test for them. Not many teams come out of the Brittania happy and most are made to work to get anything out of there. Typical of Mark Hughes' sides, the Potters will focus on physical football to disrupt their superior opponent. However, the visitors are playing with such confidence at the moment and if the international break has not dampened their enthusiasm or dominance, they should find a way to break the home side in the end. Away win.

I've been giving positive vibes on West Ham since the start. Ok, they lost all their first 3 matches, albeit all on them were away matches. Manager Bilic is rightly on the hot seat and he could be the one booted next. I think he will be unless they get a positive result against Huddersfield. The Hammers have strengthened their squad with some big-name signings and they need at least a point over the week-end. Nothing else will do for Bilic. Allthough Huddersfield have yet to concede, with Chicharito up front, there is every confidence the home side will score. At current odds, it might be worth going with a draw-no-bet selection on the Hammers.

Win: Burnley, Man Utd
Draw-no-bet: West Ham

Friday, August 25, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 3

Bournemouth v/s Man City - Away win
Crystal Palace v/s Swansea - Away win
Huddersfield v/s Southampton - Draw
Newcastle v/s West Ham - Away win
Watford v/s Brighton - Home win
Man Utd v/s Leicester - Home win
Chelsea v/s Everton - Draw
West Brom v/s Stoke - Home win
Liverpool v/s Arsenal - Home win
Spurs v/s Burnley - Home win

One thing that I don't like with Spurs this year is that they will play all their home matches at Wembley and not at White Hart Lane. As last week's loss to Chelsea demonstrated, not playing on their real home turf could be detrimental to their title chances. They had an impressive record at White Hart Lane over the years, a place where it was tough for any opponent to go gather points. At Wembley, they are certainly less of a threat and they will lose points because of that. That said, against Burnley this week-end, they should be able to pick up full points. The Clarets shocked everyone by beating Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on opening week-end but it is hard to see them doubling on that. Home win.

Man Utd are firing on all cylinders and Leicester are visiting Old Trafford at an in-auspicious time. Zlatan is coming back for the Red Devils but it remains to be seen whether he will enhance and not hamper the growing team chemistry under development at the club. Leicester gave a ton of trouble in their visit to Arsenal a couple of weeks ago and are a team that never goes down without a fight. Vardy, in particular, can score any time. But it's hard to go against the home team here; they are playing with full confidence and will need the full points if they are to be taken seriously as title contenders. Home win.

For a value punt, I am again turning to West Ham.They almost got something out of their visit to Southampton last week and were it not for the Arnatauvic red card, they could well have sprung an upset. With Chicharito already proving his mark, their chances against newly-promoted Newcastle look good. I see the match ending either in a Hammers victory or a draw and it might be rewarding to go all out for the visitors to prevail. Away win.

Win: Spurs, Man Utd, West Ham

Friday, August 18, 2017

EPL 2017/18 - Week 2

Missed the opening week due to an extended holiday but with the dust firmly settled and the intentions of the teams on open display, we are better armed to gauge their actual capacities. Here's to a new season hopefully as profitable and successful as the previous one.

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

Man Utd are on high spirits after they opening day destruction of West Ham. The Red Devils should be live contenders this year. There is the Mourinho factor, of course; the Portuguese usually wins on his second season in charge of a new team. Their pre-season preparations have gone very well. And last but not least, they are a better squad than last season having been reinforced by the likes of Lukaku, Matic and Lindelof. Unless there is a meltdown from Mourinho, which you can never discount, the Red Devils should be in the Top 2. That said, they seem to be buzzing with confidence and provided they are not as overly-confident as they sound, they should come away with 3 vital points when visiting Swansea. Away win.

Liverpool's chances of Premiership glory seem to have been rocked at the very start with the imminent going-out of their best player, Coutinho. Without him, they are a lesser team, no doubt. Still, they should have too much for a Crystal Palace team that I believe is destined to play in the lower end of the table this season. Home win.

Spurs v/s Chelsea is already a 6-pointer early in the season. Title holders Chelsea were rocked last week in a shocking loss at home to Burnley. Many have already said it and I also believe it; Chelsea won't win the title this year. They won last year because of their 13-match unbeaten run which included snatching many lucky points. Conte is a top manager but his team does not look as good or motivated as last year. The loss of Matic and Costa will be felt. Spurs haven't had a great pre-season and they have been so far relatively quiet on the transfer market. Still, they are a formidable team and this could be the season they end years of hurt. No doubt that last year they would have won the league if Chelsea hadn't had that long winning run. There is bad blood between these 2 teams and at the end, I expect Spurs to prevail. Home win.

As a value proposition, pay attention to West Ham. True, they got hammered by Man Utd last week but this is a much better team than last season. Chicharito and Arnatauvic will score goals and Hart can bring stability at the back even though he will have his occasional blunders. Bilic just needs to keep everything together but they look set for some upsets. It could definitely come in the form of a positive result at Southampton.

Win: Man Utd, Liverpool, Spurs, West Ham

Friday, July 28, 2017

King George - A blooming rose among the thorns

What a terrific line-up for the King George! Top-drawer names make this contest wide open and the soft conditions could be the deciding factor in determining the winner. First, let's remove the wheat from the chaff; Desert Encounter, Maverick Wave, My Dream Boat and Sixties Song could aspire to places but it is difficult fathoming any of them coming out on top.

Highland Reel is Mr Exemplary who rarely runs a bad race. This globetrotter has an exquisite travel record and is the title holder of the race. His last run on soft ground was in Dubai in which he finished at the tail end of the field. That does not bode well for him if the conditions remain soft on Saturday. He will need at least good ground to retain his title.

Idaho is the full-brother to Highland Reel and although he has yet to bag a Group 1, he is a horse on the upside that can spring a surprise with some luck. He is clearly the stable's second pick but will run with his own chances and cannot be dismissed as a place chance.

Jack Hobbs is the dark horse of the race. Not because we don't know much about him but because if he clicks as expected on soft ground, he will be involved at the finish line. If the ground conditions don't suit, he could come out with the same stinker as at Royal Ascot.

Ulysses beat Barney Roy in an epic battle in the Coral-Eclipse and is another horse on an upward curve. There is the niggling thought with him that he might have run his race of the season already and I am not entirely sure that 3 weeks rest will be enough to get over his exertions at Sandown. The 12 furlong distance, although within his usual realm, might overstretch him in this case.

Like his Godolphin counter-part, Benbatl comes in with some question marks. There is no doubt in my mind this son of Dubawi is top-class and potentially best over a mile-and-a-quarter. The way he finished so well in the Epsom Derby leads me to believe that it was his class carrying him all the way through; he will need lots of it to overcome these seasoned mile-and-a-half older colts. If all things fall for him, it won't be a shock if he were to prevail and I see him potentially as a value top 4 pick.

Finally, the blooming rose among the lot; Enable is easily the staying filly of the Classic generation, having bagged 2 Oaks in spectacular fashion already. As with all John Gosden horses, the words from the trainer's mouth are so vital; in this case, the vibes from the connections are ever so bullish. That means the filly is ready to go. She is packed stamina-wise and will benefit from a weight allowance from the colts. The fact that she only raced a fortnight ago could be a factor, albeit a small one in my opinion, as she won that race in a canter. She looks set to emulate the mighty Danedream, the last filly to win the race.

Win: Enable
First 4: Benbatl

Friday, July 14, 2017

Enable and Caravaggio to enhance their reputation

The big splash of summer racing is already under way and some of the big guns are out this Saturday to confirm their glowing reputation.

Enable looms large in the Irish Oaks. After her demonstration at Epsom, it's hard to see anything in the race that would go past her. She has proven stamina, the ground will be to her liking, she has had ample days of rest and connections are airing positive and confident vibes. It's is hard to find any negative, if any; unless it's a ring-rusty Dettori coming back from injury that is the hope of the naysayers. I actually think she will be carrying the Italian to the finish. She only has to reproduce near her Epsom form to bag this and I think she will.

Caravaggio towers over the sprinting field in the July Cup. I try not to get swept in the hype that so often accompanies Ballydoyle horses but this son of Scat Daddy is really a bullet speedster. I penned before that his win at Royal Ascot was just visually amazing; he produced a stunning turn of foot to get the better of a really good sprinter in Harry Angel. He will beat the Godolphin flag bearer again. This time though he will have to contend with battle-hardened older types in the likes of Limato and The Tin Man. The fact that he will be dispensed of weight relative to the latter, gives him a big advantage. Caravaggio looks set to add to his remarkable trophy collection yet again.

Win: Caravaggio, Enable

Friday, July 7, 2017

Coral-Eclipse Stakes - Classic Generation to the test

The Coral-Eclipse is the first serious clash between the Classic generation and the older brigade at the intermediate distance of 10 furlongs. This is a race where this year's 3-year olds can confirm themselves as a very solid bunch. It is just too bad that the creme de la creme of the older division will not be there; there will be no Minding, no Jack Hobbs, no Almanzor to name the least. I thus expect a 3-year old to rule this and the three obvious from the list are Barney Roy, Eminent and Cliff of Moher.

Barney Roy is undoubtedly a top-class miler. He avenged his only loss in 4 outings by convincingly beating Churchill (and a bunch of others) at Royal Ascot. They way he has finished his races suggests that a mile and a quarter will not be too much of a stretch for him. While he is very much on the upgrade, his main challenge is to remain relaxed; he will need to in order to see out the distance. On his best form, he is the horse to beat.

Eminent ran very well in finishing 4th in the Derby and the mile and a quarter looks his optimum distance. While he got beaten in both British Classics, he was not disgraced by any means. He is a very good 3-year old which I believe will run a big race on Saturday.

Cliff of Moher hit the front in the Derby only to touched off by Wings of Eagle in the final strides. This prompted the Ballydoyle connections and many to conclude that he did not fully see out the full mile of a half of Epsom. I have my reservations on that; if he had come out on top, chances are that mostly everyone would have said he is a proper 12 furlong horse. I think he is and he just got outgunned by a better out-and-out stayer on the day. I am not convinced the Coral-Eclipse distance is his best one.

From the older generation, mention goes to Ulysses who ran a respectable race at Ascot but does not seem to have the class to be amongst the very top. I see it as a battle between Barney Roy and Eminent, with a slight preference going to the former.

Win: Barney Roy
Place: Eminent

Friday, June 23, 2017

Royal Ascot - Day 5

What a race the Commonwealth Cup was and if only Harry Angel and Blue Point had reversed placings, that would have been quite a perfect evening. As it turns out, Caravaggio stamped his authority on the 3-year old sprinting division and there is nothing much between the 2 other Godolphin top sprinters as well. Can't wait for a re-match between these 3 again.

The showpiece of the last day of Royal Ascot is the Diamond Jubilee where the older sprinting brigade vie for bragging rights. One name looms large here and it is Limato. The well-liked son of Tagula will get his much-favoured fast ground on which he can put his turn of foot into deadly effect. He hasn't raced since his flop at Meydan and the excuse there is that although they were running in the desert, the ground was officially yielding on race day. If he has held anywhere his form of the past 2 years, he should be very hard to beat.

Win: Limato

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Royal Ascot - Day 4

Benbatl obliged as expected and Order of St George was just unlucky not to make it a nice double. Benbatl is definitely a horse to follow over the course of the year, he can be dangerous from a mile to a mile and a half.

The Commonwealth Cup is the center of attraction of Day 4, if not of the entire meeting. This is a regal clash of the best sprinters of the Classic generation, a mouth-watering clash between the best from Godolphin and Ballydoyle and Wesley Ward, the American trainer re-known for some of the fastest runners ever to grace Ascot. Look the winner from no other than the first 4 names on the race card; Blue Point, Bound For Nowhere, Harry Angel and Caravaggio.

Blue Point and Harry Angel represent a very strong challenge from Godolphin in a sprint division that is not usually their forte. But these 2 are genuine Group 1 performers and would be sharing favouritism were it not for the presence of the mighty Caravaggio. Out of the 2 colts from the Royal Blue silks, I give preference to Blue Point for 2 reasons; he's beaten Harry Angel before although it must be said that he was more favourably weighted on the occasion. Second, he will be fresher after 51 days of rest compared to 27 to his Godolphin counterpart. In a match race, I would go with Blue Point.

Then, there's Bound For Nowhere, whose claim to fame has been videos of him giving Lady Aurelia all she can handle on the morning gallops. If he is not usually blown away from Lady Aurelia on the track, he must good. With his trainer's fantastic record at Ascot, it would be no shock if he were to prevail.

And last, mighty unbeaten Caravaggio, the fastest ever from Ballydoyle. A son of Scat Daddy, a source of top-class horses with pure brazen speed, despite a short-lived stud career. You have a feeling that if he is on his game, there is not one mentioned that will be able to stop him. His seasonal appearance was another display of dominance that signaled he has lost none of the ability shown as a juvenile. He has yet to show any kind of chink in his armour. At evens, he looks still value.

Win: Caravaggio
Harry Angel v/s Blue Point: Blue Point
Place: Blue Point

Royal Ascot - Day 3

To the words of the Racing UK commentator, Usherette "should have won" and duly so. Barzalona got stuck sleeping along the rails and the the gaps opened too late for the Godolphin filly. Too bad but that's racing unfortunately.

I like the chances of Benbatl in the Hampton Court Stakes which runs in the next half an hour. This is a high-class son of Dubawi who pleasingly surprised me in finishing 5th in the Derby. Class saw him through in staying on in that race. Certainly, only 19 days rest is a concern going into this race but if he reproduces his form, he should be playing a major role here. I like him an an each-way option.

Order of St George looms large in the Gold Cup. There is talk about him emulating the great Yeats but he needs to get this one in the bag first. If he's on song, there is nothing in the race that can trouble him. O'Brien's horses should be picking things up after a slow start and none have a better chance than Order of St George.

Win: Order of St George
Each-way: Benbatl

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Royal Ascot - Day 2

Barney Roy and Lady Aurelia duly obliged on Day 1 and Godolphin are certainly on fire, having snatched a nice treble while Ballydoyle came up empty-handed. This will have sprung Sheikh Mo's operation in an upbeat boot after the off-field turmoil of late and I reckon there's more to come from the boys in royal blue at this meeting.

Dream Castle came up a honourable 5th in the 2000 Guineas and I think it will come up to its optimal distance of 7 furlongs in the Jersey Stakes. The son of Frankel showed green-ness on his seasonal debut in the Greenham when second to Barney Roy but showed better disposition in the Newmarket showpiece as it kept on and finished around 3 lengths off Churchill. Clearly, this is a smart colt that belongs in Group company. I believe it has live chances for a top 3 finish.

The Duke of Cambridge Stakes looks to be 3-way battle among French raider Qemah and the 2 Goldolphin fillies Laugh Aloud and Usherette. The former is a dual Group 1 winner who finished second on her seasonal return and has never been out of the first 3 in 9 outings. Laugh Aloud, from the John Gosden yard, is in top form having won her last 2 outings by a combined 8 lengths. She absolutely annihilated a Group 3 field at Epsom and her chances for hitting a hat trick of wins is real. My preference goes to the mare Usherette as she is battle-hardened at the top level and won this race last year. She hasn't won in 2 outings this year and somewhat disappointed in finishing 3rd in the 9 furlong Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan in her last race. She is proven as Ascot and this mile race will be more to her liking. There noises from connections are bullish and I think she stands to run a big race.

The Prince of Wales' Stakes is the showcase race of the week for many but there seems to be a lack of star power this year. Sure, Jack Hobbs and Highland Reel are Group 1 winners but bar these 2, the form looks bare. It is hard to gauge Jack Hobbs' form at the moment, having been rested since his Meydan win. Highland Reel almost always runs his race but it is a doubt whether 18 days rest since his win in the Coronation Cup will be enough to prevail. French raider Mekhtaal and Stoute's Ulysses are both on the upgrade and can spring a shock here. I will stay on the fence on this one but it could pay to go against market leaders Jack Hobbs and Highland Reel in this one.

Win: Usherette
Each-way: Dream Castle

Monday, June 19, 2017

Royal Ascot - Day 1

"WINGS OF EAGLES"!!! Hope you got on this Derby touch at 40/1 as mentioned on these pages. Certainly the biggest punt ever mentioned here yet. With the Derby done and dusted (and the result celebrated as it should be!), we now move focus on Ascot week, the highlight for many of the Flat season. Here are my thoughts on some of the races.

In the Queen Anne Stakes, Ribchester is a warm odds-on favourite. It's true this is not a vintage renewal and the races misses the allure of superstar milers of the past. My only concern with Ribchester is that winners of the Lockinge don't have a good record in this race over the past years. My speculation is that Lockinge winners peak early in the season and are exposed thereafter. If there is a horse that can trouble the Godolphin horse, it's Lightning Spear from the Simcock stable. This son of Pivotal was a clear second in the Lockinge on his seasonal return on his less-favoured soft surface. The better conditions at Ascot will be to his advantage but whether that is enough for him to make up the 3 lengths gap from Ribchester remains to be seen. At current odds, Lightning Spear looks like a solid each-way punt.

In the St James Palace Stakes, it's hard to see beyond the 2 market leaders Churchill and Barney Roy, arguably the 2 best milers of the Classic crop. Churchill reigned supreme in both Guineas beating the same Barney Roy at Newmarket and fellow Godolphin miler Thunder Snow at the Curragh. The son of Galileo has a near-flawless record and is the deserved favourite of the race. Should he falter, Barney Roy looks set to pick up the pieces. He still managed to be one length or so off Churchill at Newmarket while struggling with the undulations of the course. Having stayed away from the Irish showpiece, he will be well rested for this race. His connections are bullish and I certainly cannot see him out of the first 2 spots; he will either win or come out second to Churchill.

Wesley Ward, the American trainer with an amazing record at Ascot, is in again and this time with his strongest contingent yet. I think he is in a big shout to add to his tally. In the Coventry stakes, the odds of Arawak look very appealing. The trainer has found a niche of running precocious fast American colts against less-developed European counterparts and Arawak can do him justice yet again. Might be worth an each-way punt.

In the King's Stand stakes, there is a lot of buzz around Ward's Lady Aurelia and if the very fast daughter of Scat Daddy is on song, there is not one of the 17 runners that will match up with her blazing speed. Bar an accident, she should repeat as a Royal Ascot winner.

Win: Lady Aurelia
Win or Top 2: Barney Roy
Each-way: Lightning Spear, Arawak

Friday, June 2, 2017

UCL final 2017 - Juventus on the cusp of greatness

I've gone against Real Madrid the last 2 times they won the UCL final and both times they lifted the cup. However, I am more confident in the chances of Juventus, their opponents this year, than I was with Atletico Madrid, their city rivals they beat on both occasions.

Juventus has simply crushed Serie A for the past years. No team comes close to them. They started their dynasty with Pogba and Vidal and although these have left for richer pastures, the team has remained dominant in Italy. Super coach Conte has gone but newcomer Allegri has done an equally remarkable job to maintain their domestic supremacy. Europe is something they have not conquered during that period and it would be the icing on top for this team.

It is well documented that the Italians, however traditionally dominant at home, have a relatively poor record in the European Cup. Only 2 wins out of 8 finals is a stigma they desperately wish to erase. Contrast that to rivals Real Madrid which are going for their 12th win in the competition. But the past is the past and there are strong reasons to believe that this might be the year of the Old Lady. Their defence is their biggest strength. Ask Messi and the full-powered Barcelona which were brushed aside without scoring a scoring goal in the quarter finals. Ask the young Monaco team, re-known for their attacking flair and dynamic, which could only find the net once against the vaunted Italian defence. This is a very balanced team with workhorses like Marchisio and Khedira supporting the talented cast of Dybala, Higuain and Mandzukic upfront. There is no superstar they have to rely on, the whole is bigger than sum of the parts, where each part fits into a system devised by an astute manager. This is a big contrast to Real Madrid.

The Los Blancos rely on one man, Ronaldo. Take him out of the equation on a match of this significance and this team will struggle to find goals. Except maybe Ramos, their captain superlative that has been getting well-timed goals out of nowhere in their past finals.  The Whites are full of talent but they are not a balanced team. They will struggle to open up the organized and defensively-minded Italians. However, with goal-thirsty Ronaldo, they cannot be dismissed in any match.

It seems to me that the time of the Italians has come. Time for Juventus to confirm their supremacy in Europe, beyond Serie A. Time for Buffon to finally lift the coveted cup, the only one missing from his glorious resume. Time for a team other than Real or Barcelona, other than Messi or Ronaldo, to win the UCL final.

Investec Derby - Ballydoyle's least favoured can ring the till

This year's Derby is so open that more than three-quarters of the 19-runner field has a legitimate chance to win it. It is the realm of speculation to try to pick the winner. There are gaps in all the resumes and there is not really a horse that stands out; an Australia, an Authorized or a Camelot.

Ballydoyle runs six, with five of them by Galileo. Looking at the markets, there could be huge upside siding with the non-Galileo one, Wings of Eagles, currently at 60/1! What I really like about this colt by Pour Moi, a Derby winner in its own right, is the way he finished the Chester Vase, one of the best trials for the Derby in my opinion. He came third but with seemingly a lot of petrol in the tank. The mile and a half of Epsom will be right up his alley. Twenty-three days rest is perfect. The only downside is his jockey booking, Beggy, who rides the left-overs, however well-bred, for Ballydoyle. His strike rate is abysmal. Provided the Ballydoyle tactic is not to steer Wings of Eagles as a suicidal pacemaker for the rest of the stable runners, it would not surprise me to see this son of Pour Moi flying late at the finish. Beggy just needs to have him relaxed till then. Those might be big asks but at 60/1, I will be willing to take a small each-way flutter on a quite capable horse.

Each-way: Wings of Eagles

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Investec Oaks - Rhododendron on the path of Minding

Football is almost winding down with only Saturday's UCL final left and which I shall get to later. The Classic generation takes center stage in the next few days with the running of the Oaks and Derby.

We have been starved of the superpower clashes between Godolphin and Ballydoyle in the last few years. The Irish connections have simply been overwhelming by far and their reliance on the best progeny from home stallion Galileo have made them rather peer-less. Godolphin have honourably countered with the sons and daughters of Dubawi and Shamardal, and this year are throwing in some decent high-class types to stem the Irish onslaught.

Friday's Oaks pits Galileo's Rhododendron against Dubawi's Sobetsu for middle-distance bragging rights among the fillies. Rhod goes into the race as deserved favourite and there are many things to like about Ballydoyle's number one hope. This will be her 7th race and is the most experienced of the field. She's never been out of the first 3. More importantly, her breeding suggests that the Epsom's stiff mile and a half won't be a problem for her. Encouragingly, she came out second in the Guineas, having met trouble in running. She might not have won against eventual double-Guineas winner Winter but she could hardly have shown better form going into this race. Rhod is the filly to beat and if she runs to her ability, she should win.

Sobetsu's participation in the Oaks owes to the rain. She loves easing conditions and her target was actually the Prix Diane but the recent rainfall have re-routed her to Epsom. Her last win in the Group One Saint-Alary was visually impressive. She is definitely top notch and the connections are high on her hopes of winning but I will give you 3 reasons why she won't. It is questionable whether she will handle a mile and a half. She was initially trained for the 2100 metres of the Prix Diane and might be found wanting with the extra 300 metres. Her optimum distance might actually be a mile and a quarter. Her stamina concerns are compounded by the fact that she will only be on 19 days rest since her last start. Lastly, although some might say that juvenile form does not count as much, she was well beaten in her encounter against Rhod in the Group One Dubai Fillies' Mile last year. Her only hope to come on top will be the softening conditions but Rhod and some others will not mind that as well.

Juddmonte is represented by 2 Nathaniel fillies in Natavia and Enable, the latter bagging the Chesire's Oaks in impressive fashion. She is proven at the distance, will be well rested and will have Frankie Dettori in the saddle. She looks to be the main danger to Rhod.

Win: Rhododendron
Place: Enable
Won't win (Lay): Sobetsu

Friday, May 19, 2017

EPL 2016/2017 - Week 39

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

Curtain call for the EPL which Chelsea won in a canter. Their sequence of 13 consecutive wins in the early part of the season just broke the backbone of its pursuers. Although all the talk at the start of the season was about Guardiola, Mourinho and Klopp, it was Conte who impressed in keeping the togetherness and composure of his Blues team. By coming out a solid second again, Spurs' Pochettino proved that their runner-up spot last year was no fluke and that Tottenham are a team to be reckoned with in the next few years.

The 4th final UCL spot is what is left for grabs on the last day. Livepool will beat Middlesbrough, that is a banker. Arsenal and Man City have more difficult matches as the former entertain Everton and the Citizens are on a trip to Watford. City need a point to secure their spot and it is difficult to see them getting out of Vicarage Road without a point. Guardiola has disappointed many in his first season and it will be disastrous if he can't get his team in the UCL. I think with the help of striker Jesus, the Citizens will be firing on all cylinders on Sunday.

This is bad news for Arsenal who must win against the Toffees to have any chance of getting 4th spot. Easier said than done as Koeman's men are no push-overs by any means. Their match could very well be academic as Man City and Liverpool probably won't lose any points. It will be a tale of too little too late for Wenger's men.

Win: Liverpool, Man City

Thursday, May 11, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 38

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

Spurs will certainly not be winning the league this year but they over-achieved again for a second year running. They go as clear favourites against visiting Man Utd on Sunday. With the Europa league final being their game of the season, Mourinho will ring the changes big-time in Man Utd's remaining 3 matches. The final is their best hope of securing UCL football next season and might very well be the Portuguese's only chance to keep his job. If Liverpool or Man City were to stumble prior to the Spurs match, Mourinho might include in a stronger team to attempt bagging the 3 points but he definitely will not be fielding his best XI. Tottenham always make it hard against Man Utd and their home form is very strong. I cannot see Pochettino's men lose this and while a draw-no-bet might be the safer option, going all-out with the home team looks a rewarding proposition.

Arsenal have garnered a glimmer of hope of securing UCL football by winning their last couple of matches and getting closer to fourth spot. They will hope for Man City or Liverpool to lose points while they win their remaining matches. Tougher said than done as they travel to Stoke's bet365 Stadium (ex-Brittania) which has so often been a graveyard for the biggest teams. Hughes' team always poses problems for the Gunners and I see this being another struggle for Wenger's team. The problem with the Gunners is managerial and mental. That double whammy means that they rarely win matches where they are not able to express their football; i.e. against teams that focus on just shutting them down. Think Mourinho's teams, Allardyce teams, and Hughes' teams. They have all relished stifling the flair and creativity of Wenger's teams for which the Frenchman has lacked proper response. Arsenal are not the force they once were and their reliance on Sanchez means that they are very exposed once the Chilean is shackled. I see value in siding with Stoke outright or as a safer draw-no-bet.

Win: Stoke, Tottenham

Friday, May 5, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 37

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

Hull have a great chance to bag full points as they entertain relegated Sunderland. This is a massive opportunity for the Tigers to move away from Swansea and the final relegation spot. I don't think they will squander it. Their form has been relatively good lately and they have shown strong form at home where they have shown to scrap points. They should beat Sunderland.

Arsenal are in disarray but they will benefit from circumstances as they host Man Utd. The Red Devils seem to have put all their eggs in the Europa basket to secure UCL qualification. They already have a leg in the final as they went to beat Celta Vigo yesterday. The injuries to the team will most probably prompt Mourinho not to field his best team at the Emirates in view of next week's Europa return leg. On the other hand, the Gunners need to get to the final fourth spot if they are to play in the UCL next year, however minimal their chances look. Wenger typically does not win against a Mourinho team but I cannot see him lose this encounter either. A draw might be the likelier result but Arsenal could also grab the full points by the smallest margin. So, a draw-no-bet on the hosts could be rewarding in the end.

Win: Hull
Draw-no-bet: Arsenal

Friday, April 28, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 36

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

Although Hull have raised their heads above water lately, they have a tough task going to the St Mary's where the Saints have rock-solid form. The Tigers have some great home form of their own which could very well save them from the drop but they have shown difficulties getting points on the road. Both teams are well managed and organized but Southampton have much more firepower at their disposal. Although they lost their last match against league leaders Chelsea, they still managed to score two at Stamford Bridge to keep the match close for a long while. Hull will probably play for the draw here in order to suck an important point out of this encounter but I think Southampton have enough in them to make the difference in the end.

I cannot see Arsenal getting a win against arch-rivals Totteham at White Hart Lane. The Gunners were arguably lucky to down Leicester in mid-week after a freak Huth own-goal. They were muted for much of the match by the champions. It seems Wenger's team is just running out of steam and ideas for a while now. Spurs were also lucky to bag the full points against Crystal Palace on that day. They are contending for the league and that definitely gives them an extra spring in their step. They have strong form at home and several match-winners with the likes of Kane, Ericksen, Ali, Son to name a few. A draw-no-bet is the safest way to go here but going all-out with a Spurs win might be more rewarding in the end.

Win: Southampton, Tottenham

Monday, April 24, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 35 (Part 2)

Chelsea v/s Southampton - Home win
Arsenal v/s Leicester - Home win
Middlesbrough v/s Sunderland - Home win
Crystal Palace v/s Tottenham - Draw
Man City v/s Man Utd - Draw

After booting Spurs out of the FA Cup over the week-end, Chelsea are bound to land a double blow to their London rivals by distancing themselves further in the race to the league title. Conte's men will certainly have a spring in their step after their qualification to the FA Cup final. Southampton are no slouch and will make their chances to score at Stamford Bridge but it is hard to see the Blues not bagging the 3 all-important points. They have been hit by injuries with the likes of Alonso and Cahill but managed to win without starting their best eleven against Tottenham. That says a lot about their frame of mind for the remaining matches. The result might be close but I see Chelsea edging this encounter.

I also see Boro getting a much-needed win against Sunderland. This is a 6-pointer for 2 teams battling relegation; Sunderland look doomed in my opinion but Boro still has a ray of hope as long as they win these kinds of matches. Much will depend on Negredo and Defoe to make a difference at both ends of the pitch. I give Boro home advantage here and can't see them losing this.

Win: Chelsea, Middlesbrough

Friday, April 21, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 35

Bournemouth v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
Hull v/s Watford - Home win
Swansea v/s Stoke - Home win
West Ham v/s Everton - Draw
Burnley v/s Man Utd - Home win
Liverpool v/s Crystal Palace - Home win

It looks the best way for Man Utd to get a UCL spot next year is by winning the Europa League where it has currently secured a semi-final spot. Their remaining league fixtures look very challenging and their struggles will be compounded by the fact that they seem to have lost leading goal-scorer Ibrahimovic for an extended period of time, if not for the season. I see them losing points at Burnley this week-end for many reasons. The hosts have strong form at home, which is what will probably secure them from relegation. The Red Devils will feel the effects of their hard-fought over-time Europa League win and will be without their top striker as mentioned above. Mourinho will definitely ring the changes and his best XI will definitely not start the match. I see value in going with Burnley as draw-no-bet at current market prices.

I also see Hull overcoming Watford. I mentioned last week that Watford have nothing to play for and will show vulnerability in the remaining fixtures. Hull have the urgency to keep fighting to stay up and they need full points in these types of encounters. It might be worth going for the all-win with the Tigers.

Win: Hull
Draw-no-bet: Burnley

Friday, April 14, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 34

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

Spurs have a great opportunity to close the gap with Chelsea this week-end. I see lots of goals in their match against Bournemouth, a team they should over-power to snatch the 3 points. The Cherries can give back a battle of their own and have goal scoring abilities but their weak defence will give Ali, Kane and Son nothing to fret about.

I can see Swansea getting a shocker result at Watford. The Swans are still in the bottom three but they have produced combative matches lately and they have a sense of urgency about them. The same cannot be said of the Hornets who basically have nothing to play for and that has been translated in their recent matches.

Another shocker in the cards could be West Brom against Liverpool. The Kops were oh-so-lucky to come away with a win at Stoke thanks to 2 glorious minutes from their Brazilian superstars. I doubt lightning strikes twice for Klopp's men who are certainly not firing on all cylinders. West Brom are a tough nut to crack at home and it would not surprise me a bit if they overcome the favoured Kops.

Finally, I see Man Utd putting a brake to Chelsea's run to the title on Sunday. It is clear that there is a deep animosity between Mourinho towards Conte and Chelsea. The Red Devils are playing for the 4th UCL spot and although they don't win enough, they are a tough team to beat. If they were less profligate at the net, this team should be in second place right now. Chelsea are not plain-sailing at the moment; they are overly reliant on Hazard to turn matches around while striker Costa seems to be stuck in some lull on and off the field. I don't see the hosts losing this and their odds of a win look very enticing. At the very least, they will get a draw.

Win: Tottenham, Man Utd, West Brom, Swansea

Friday, April 7, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 33

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

What Spurs achieved last week against Swansea was not short of spectacular; banging in 3 goals from the 85th minute when a goal down, and reigniting their title hopes in the process. Without Kane, they are less of a goal-scoring threat but the likes of Son, Eriksen and Ali have shown that they have goals in them as well. Spurs' confidence will be sky-high as they host Watford and I can see the three above carrying them again to victory. The visitors are a mid-table team that are safe from relegation and too far for a European spot; in other words, they don't have much to play for and their form has been rather indifferent. Spurs' urgency towards catching Chelsea should give them the necessary boost to bag the important 3 points here.

I like Man Utd's chances as they visit Sunderland. The Red Devils have been draw-match specialists under Mourinho but they have the ability to make the difference by the odd goal on the road. Having Ibrahimovic up front definitely gives them more confidence and chances to score. On the other hand, Sunderland seem to be going on the way down and Moyes' mid-week off-field antics haven't helped with the drama with the Black Cats. The Red Devils are very much in the hunt for a UCL spot and they need full points here. I think they will.

Win: Man Utd, Tottenham

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 32

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

Champions Leicester are on fire since Ranieri's sacking. They host a Sunderland team in shambles. Vardy could bang in a few here. Hard to see any result other than a home win.

I also see home wins for Liverpool and Arsenal. The Kops seem to have gotten their swagger back after the derby demolition of Everton on Saturday. They could be missing Mane but the likes of Coutinho, Firmino and Wijnaldum could prove too handy for the likes of Bournemouth's errant defence. Arsenal need to pick up their form one way or another soon and the fact that they managed to come back and tie Man City over the week-end will have them some confidence. Wenger has a bulls-eye on his back right now but the Frenchman has proven before that his team could get results when it looked really down. The coming of West Ham seems an ideal opportunity for the Gunners to gather some much-needed momentum.

Win: Leicester, Liverpool, Arsenal

Friday, March 31, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 31

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

Everton hasn't won a derby match at Liverpool for ages and I wonder if this is the year they finally crack their hoodoo. With Koeman at the helm and the team being in fine form, this is possible. Add to this a Liverpool team with recent see-saw results and Brazilian duo Coutinho and Firmino being probably short physically after being rushed from Brazil, I believe a surprise result could very well be in the cards. One thing that strikes out when looking at the managerial history of Ronald Koeman is that he often gets great results with his under-dog team in big matches. He has the knack of making his team deliver on the big occasion and it doesn't get any bigger than the Merseyside derby for the Evertonians. Liverpool are on their tip-toes at the moment and they will be missing Lallana through injury. With Lukaku in fine form, I see the Toffees with some chance of making the difference at Anfield.

Chelsea should reinforce their grip on the title by winning again this week-end and seeing their closest pursuers lose ground. I see Spurs losing points at Burnley; Arsenal and Man City are bound to share spoils. Man Utd should bag full points against West Brom as they try to ascertain the final 4th UCL spot.

Win: Everton, Chelsea, Man Utd

Friday, March 17, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 30

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

Most of the matches look even this week and there will probably be more drawn matches than usual. It will be interesting to see the impact of the European matches in mid-week notably on Leicester, Man Utd and Man City.

Leicester will be on a high after overcoming Sevilla and making it to the last 8 of the Champions League. I think they have a tough away trip to West Ham with both teams in need of points to get away from the relegation zone. While the Foxes have excelled in the UCL, their form in the Premier League has been terrible although they seem to have found a new lease of life after the sacking of Ranieri. I still think they are vulnerable on this trip though as they could be feeling the effects of the euphoria of the defeat of Sevilla. It might be worth going all out on a Hammers win or a draw-no-bet on the home team.

Chelsea have the title wrapped up bar accident and if they are ever to fail, I see Spurs as the most competent challengers to pick things up. It's true that they will be missing Kane to injury but the likes of Son and Ali have goals in them. Pochettino's men are a team on the upside and have rock solid form at home. They are difficult to break down. Southampton are no slouches as well and will certainly make it difficult for Spurs but in the end, I see the home team either edging or drawing this.

Win: West Ham
Draw-no-bet: Tottenham

Friday, March 10, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 29

Bournemouth v/s West Ham - Draw
Everton v/s West Brom - Home win
Hull v/s Swansea - Home win
Liverpool v/s Burnley - Home win

A paltry set of matches to contend with this week-end. Liverpool should beat Burnley provided they show the same enthusiasm and urgency they did against Arsenal last Saturday. I also like Everton's chances against visiting West Brom. The Toffees are in good form and nearly nicked a result at White Hart Lane last week-end. They should overcome a Tony Pulis' team that has been having suspect form on the road of late.

Win: Liverpool, Everton

Friday, March 3, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 28

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

Harry Kane's sparkling form will be of huge benefit to Spurs when they host a rejuvenated Everton on Saturday. The England striker scored a first-half hat trick last week to maintain his team's challenge near the top of the table. The home team will need all to overcome the Toffees who have been enjoying a series of positive results as of late. It seems that Koeman has finally succeeded getting his team into his system after a dry spell. With Barkley and Lukaku full of confidence, the Toffees will have their chances to find the net in this match. However, Tottenham have a strong record at home and will make chances of their own. England midfield Alli has been a little under fire lately after his sending-off in an Europa league match but he is the dynamo in midfield that can turn a match around. Spurs will need him for their title challenge but also to make a difference in this match. I see the home team edging this one, so the punt is for a home win.

Man City should have too much for Sunderland to handle. With Jesus gone for the season, Aguero has regained his role as No 1 striker for the Citizens and the confidence in his play seems to have picked up lately. Sunderland might hold on for a while but in the end, I cannot see anything other than Guardiola's men celebrating.

Win: Tottenham, Man City

Friday, February 24, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 27

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

I like Hull's chances when they host Burnley on Saturday. Marco Silva is bringing a different continental approach to the Tigers and the players seem to be responding well with some honorable performances since his appointment. There is more fight in them and they can find ways to score as well. Burnley are coming into this match on the shock of a defeat to Lincoln at home in the FA Cup. They have an absolutely terrible away form and although I think they will win one of these days on a road trip, I cannot see it happening this week-end. I see it rewarding to go for Hull for the outright win.

Champions Leicester are in turmoil and the sacking of Ranieri in mid-week won't appease things, at least in the short term. This team is terribly missing Kante in the middle and with the likes of Mahrez and Vardy not reproducing last year's irresistible form, they are more a bottom than top-level team this year; however, as a whole, they are surely better than being a relegation team which is why their current standing baffles and has seen their Italian manager sacked. Liverpool will be visiting the Foxes like hungry wolves. The Kops have had their poor run of their own lately but I see them picking things up from now on. Coutinho is too good to remain quiet and once he starts firing, the whole team will dance to his tune. They have a great chance of grabbing full points against a deeply-wounded and manager-less Leicester team.

Win: Hull, Liverpool

Friday, February 10, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 26

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

It seems best to side with the Manchester teams this game week. I will again go against Watford knowing fully well that I was on the wrong side of their last 2 wins. Against Arsenal they were arguably lucky to get 2 quick goals against an uncharacteristically poor opponent. Against Burnley, they played with one extra man for the most part of the match. The problem with Man Utd at the moment is their profligacy in front of goal. Besides Zlatan, everyone else is finding it hard to be clean in front of goal. Once they rectify their shot to goal ratio, they will be more lethal. The Red Devils are on a good run and I just cannot see Watford doing another Arsenal shocker here. Home team win.

I think Man City are also turning the corner. The arrival of Gabriel Jesus has given this team a second life. They should have too much against a Cherries team that are conceding goals by the bucket load. If Man City take their chances, they could be hammering at least 3 goals on this road trip. This should be a comfortable City win.

Win: Man Utd, Man City

Friday, February 3, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 25

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

Watford may have stunned Arsenal last week but I have a feeling that they will flounder at home to Burnley. This may appear as a long shot but Burnley's profile going into this match makes some appeal. They are on a great winning run and their last loss of late was a last-gap one at the Emirates where Alexis Sanchez broke the deadlock in the 8th minute of injury-time. Watford will prove a lesser nut to crack and I really think Dyche's men can take something out of this match. A draw might be a more sensible choice but going with the visitors at current prices might prove very rewarding.

Man City should be making ground up again this week-end as they entertain Swansea. Newcomer Jesus has already made a refreshing and solid impact and the Citizens could be on a winning run here. Spurs should also get back to winning ways when they host Swansea.

Win: Burnley, Man City, Tottenham