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