Friday, December 30, 2022

EPL 2022/23 - Week 17

Wolves v Man Utd - Away

Bournemouth v Crystal Palace - Home

Fulham v Southampton - Draw

Man City v Everton - Home

Newcastle v Leeds - Home

Brighton v Arsenal - Away

Tottenham v Aston Villa - Home

Nott Forest v Chelsea - Away

Glad that EPL is back after an eventful World Cup! The race is on to catch Arsenal at the top as Arteta's men seem to have lost none of their sparkling form by overcoming West Ham last week. I like Spurs' chances against visiting Villa. Harry Kane will have to live with his missed penalty against France and I believe he has come back mentally stronger from the experience. Opponents beware! Villa are going to have better results with Emery as coach but they will miss Martinez in goal. The keeper is one of the best around despite his shameful acts during the WC. Same league as Suarez, just no class!

I like Newcastle's chances for securing a top 4 spot at the moment. The squad might be a little overstretched if they hit major injuries but they have been playing all the right notes lately. Manager Howe is just doing a supremely good job with them so far. They should have goals to spare against Leeds.

Before I leave, wishing you all a Happy New Year 2023!

Win: Tottenham, Newcastle

Friday, November 11, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 15

 Man City v Brentford - Home

Bournemouth v Everton - Home

Liverpool v Southampton - Home

Nott Forest v Crystal Palace - Away

Tottenham v Leeds - Home

West Ham v Leicester - Home

Newcastle v Chelsea - Home

Wolves v Arsenal - Away

Brighton v Aston Villa - Draw

Fulham v Man Utd - Away

Let's keep rolling with the Newcastle bandwagon, the current hottest team in the league. Chelsea are always a dangerous opponent but they are in a crust at the moment and should be good pickings for the Magpies. An outright win for the home team looks very likely and looks favourable at current odds.

Southampton finally dismissed their German manager and look very vulnerable on their trip to Liverpool. Salah has regained his scoring touch lately and he could be in for a big outing. He won't be going to the World Cup so there's little chance he won't be giving his all, as there is always the concern that avoiding injury will be on the minds of those going to Qatar.

Arsenal have been a refreshing surprise, having garnered some outstanding results since the start of the season. Arteta has had his young team firing on all cylinders and were it not for Man City's dominance, the Gunners would have been hot EPL favourites. Wolves is one of the easiest places to go to, and Arsenal will not want to miss on 3 assured points. 

Trifecta: Newcastle/Liverpool/Arsenal. 

Friday, November 4, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 14

 Leeds v Bournemouth - Away

Man City v Fulham - Home

Nott Forest v Brentford - Away

Wolves v Brighton - Away

Everton v Leicester - Draw

Chelsea v Arsenal - Home

Aston Villa v Man Utd - Away

Southampton v Newcastle - Away

West Ham v Crystal Palace - Draw

Tottenham v Liverpool - Away

It really looks that Man Utd are back under Ten Hag. They needed a result against Real Sociedad in mid-week and while they got the win, they came up short a goal to top their Europa League group. Going to win at Sociedad is not easy but the Red Devils did it. They are on an upward trend and should get better with time. They have a great opportunity to snatch full points against a struggling Villa side who will benefit with Unai Emery taking the help in mid-week. If there's a opportune time to play Villa, it's definitely now while Emery is getting to terms with the team as he will definitely improve them in the medium to long term. I see the Mancunians edging this.

Wolves are just playing terrible at the moment and if they keep that way, they look ripe for the descent. Brighton are a much better team on the road than at home and with an in-form Trossard, are very much able to take the spoils from this encounter.

I mentioned Southampton are a young improving team before and while they will be competitive, I don't think they have enough to match the surging Magpies. Newcastle are having their best Premier League period for a very long time and I expect them to over-power the Saints at the St Mary's stadium.

Win: Man Utd, Brighton, Newcastle

Friday, October 28, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 13

 Leicester v Man City - Home

Bournemouth v Spurs - Away

Brentford v Wolves - Home

Brighton v Chelsea - Draw

Crystal Palace v Southampton - Home

Newcastle v Aston Villa - Home

Fulham v Everton - Home

Liverpool v Leeds - Home

Arsenal v Nott Forest - Home

Man Utd v West Ham - Home

Quickly, keeping on the Newcastle bandwagon seems logical. The Magpies should have too much firepower for the Gerrard-free Villains. Newcastle look good contenders to secure at least a Europa league spot this season and with a little bit of luck, a Champions League spot does not look out of reach as well. I will double this with a Brentford win. The Bees host struggling  and still manager-less Wolves and Ivan Toney could solidify his England chances with goals and a convincing performance upfront.

Win: Newcastle, Brentford

Friday, October 21, 2022

EPL 2022/23 - Week 12

 Nott Forest v Liverpool - Away

Everton v Crystal Palace - Draw

Man City v Brighton - Home

Chelsea v Man Utd - Home

Aston Villa v Brentford - Home

Leeds v Fulham - Away

Southampton v Arsenal - Home

Wolves v Leicester - Home

Tottenham v Newcastle - Draw

West Ham v Bournemouth - Home

Is Arsenal for real this year? The Gunners are certainly surprising leaders for many (including me) and are currently riding some fantastic form. The team is young and motivated and Arteta is pulling the right strings at the moment. Who knows how long this will last but they look to be the main threat to Man City's dominance of the league. Going to Southampton is not going to be an easy stroll for the Gunners. I persist into thinking that Southampton are worth better than their current14th position. They have a young team too and they often need that clinical last touch to make the difference in their matches. I wouldn't be surprised if they overcome the Gunners, who at some point in the coming weeks, will falter in my opinion. 

Win: Southampton

Friday, October 14, 2022

EPL 2022/23 - Week 10

 Leicester v Crystal Palace - Draw

Fulham v Bournemouth - Home

Wolves v Nott Forest - Home

Tottenham v Everton - Home

Aston Villa v Chelsea - Home

Leeds v Arsenal - Away

Man Utd v Newcastle - Away

Southampton v West Ham - Draw

Liverpool v Man City - Away

Here's the shocker waiting to happen: Newcastle can go beat the Red Devils on Sunday! Man Utd are on a good run in the league since their difficult start. They made hard work of beating minnows Omonia in the Europa League in mid-week after creating countless number of goalscoring opportunities. This usually means either of 2 things; their strikers are off-form or the opposing keeper was having a field day. It was a bit of both actually. The profligacy in front of goal will definitely concern Ten Hag. Should the hosts fail to crystallize their efforts on goal, Newcastle are the kind of team that can make them pay. I was saying in an earlier post that the Magpies are now a solid team that cannot be messed with. They have strong individuals that play very well collectively under manager Howe. They have the firepower to cause trouble at Old Trafford and at current odds, they are taken to spring an almighty upset.

Win: Newcastle

Baaeed's swansong - bye to one of the all-time greats!

Mighty Baaeed takes to the turf one last time in Saturday's Champion Stakes and there is no doubt that he will bow out unbeaten with a 11-11-0 record. It will take something cataclysmically unusual to beat him. No opponent comes close; not Derby and King George winner Adayar, not a rising star like Bay Bridge, no-one in the field should trouble one of the greatest 8 to 10-furlong performers of all time. It will be of interestwhat kind of performance Baaeed has in store for the racing world at Ascot. Another explosive performance will elevate his Timeform ratings; maybe he could run Frankel and his own sire Sea The Stars close, starting the much-debated; who is the greatest thoroughbred of them all ?

Thanks for the memories, Baaeed!

Win: Baaeed

Friday, October 7, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 9

 Bournemouth v Leicester - Away

Chelsea v Wolves - Home

Man City v Southampton - Home

Newcastle v Brentford - Home

Brighton v Tottenham - Home

Crystal Palace v Leeds - Home

West Ham v Fulham - Home

Arsenal v Liverpool - Draw

Everton v Man Utd - Draw

Nott Forest v Aston Villa - Away

Crystal Palace was oh-so-close to deny Chelsea the win last week-end only to concede in injury time.  Although they are languishing near the relegation zone, the Eagles are getting better with every match but they currently lack the maturity and mental toughness to keep the score until the final whistle. I think they will make amends against Leeds this week-end. The visitors have not been convincing on the road and have relied many on their home matches for points. I see Palace edging this one.

Newcastle have started the season strongly and it's a case that money pays. Isak, their new striker might be missing, but the Magpies look solid in most departments. They have good home form and look set to maximize points against lower level opponents. Brentford is in that category and I see a logical win for the home team.

Win: Crystal Palace, Newcastle

Friday, September 30, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 8


Arsenal v Tottenham - Home

Bournemouth v Brentford - Away

Crystal Palace v Chelsea - Home

Fulham v Newcastle - Draw

Liverpool v Brighton - Home

Southampton v Everton - Home

West Ham v Wolves - Draw

Man City v Man Utd - Home

Leeds v Aston Villa - Away

Leicester v Nott Forest - Away

The jury is out on Graham Potter's move to Chelsea. For all the goodwill the ex-Brighton manager has accumulated in the past good years with the Seagulls, he has to convince his critics that he can manage a big team. I mean, the risks are enormous for Chelsea, dumping a proven UCL winner in Tuchel and replacing with an upcoming manager that has won nothing. Time will tell and Potter will definitely need time to settle in, so at this point, it might be worth going against Chelsea as well as Brighton, who will have to adapt to their new manager.

With that said, I think Crystal Palace look good value against visiting Chelsea. The Eagles have shown good form since the start of the season and Vieira seems to have some good managerial aptitudes. The hosts are certainly not easy to break down and they are bound to have chances against a team working on a new system. Looks worth going with an outright Crystal Palace win.

I like the way Southampton has risen from a difficult start as they are a young team playing some catching football. Obviously, results do matter and the Saints will do with some dose of efficiency from the chances they create. Everton are on the upside as well but they still lack quality in all areas. I give Southampton home advantage here and they should be able to secure full points against the Toffees.

Win: Crystal Palace, Southampton

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Arc 2022 - Japan at long last ?

ParisLongchamp hosts the greatest Flat race of the year on Sunday. There is nothing that comes close in terms of prestige and there is no doubt that its reputation would have been further enhanced if it could do without the deluge of rain that bestows upon the racetrack at this time of the year. Let's face it; countless champions have failed to act on the heavy ground and many have opted to bypass it altogether based solely on the underfoot conditions. It is what it is, the Arc is the most coveted of them all, particularly to the Japanese, who I believe, have a monstrous chance this year.

Ah... memories of Deep Impact, the greatest of all the Japanese thoroughbreds. How mismanaged he was, leading the pack, when he was the best closing finisher of them all. And he failed the drug test, pure incompetence from the trainer! And Orfevre, the mad genius, the most talented of them all. He was coasting 100 yards from the finish, you could have bet your life Japan had finally hit its holy grail. And the inevitable happened, and Japanese hearts had never been so broken. 

But the Japanese thoroughbred has arrived. Delta Blues and Pop Rock for a 1-2 in the Melbourne Cup. So many Japanese wins at the Dubai Carnival: Victoire Pisa, Heart's Cry, Almond Eye, Just a Way and recently Shahryar to name a few. Deidre winning the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood. And finally they conquered America with Loves Only You and Marche Lorraine last year.

The only bastion left is the Arc. So many seconds in there and this year could be the one when they make the long-awaited breach. They will be a 4-strong contingent: Titleholder, Deep Bond, Do Deuce and Stay Foolish. None of them is on a par with Deep Impact or Orfevre, but they might not have to be. Deep Bond probably does not belong but the other 3 can have their say.

Do Deuce is the 3-year old Japan Derby winner. He was somewhat disappointing in his prep race, the Prix Niel, finishing only 4th, but that was his first race after a layoff and should be in a better disposition with the cobwebs removed. Definitely has an outside chance.

Stay Foolish was mighty impressive winning in Riyadh and Meydan at the start of the year. He definitely has the experience for those big races. He is definitely suited for a bigger distance than a mile and a half but if it is a stamina-sapping contest, he might vie for the the places.

Then we have Titleholder, who I believe, could be The One. Like Stay Foolish and Deep Bond, this is a stayer with an abundance of stamina and winner of the Japanese St Leger. But this middle-class performer has a lot of class, matched with speed enough to win a top-class mile and a half race. He usually figures prominently or takes control of his races, submits his opponents to the ground by leading the line with blistering speed. It is almost obvious that he will take a serious option for the lead on Sunday and if he is 5 lengths clear entering the straight, it could be Sayonara baby time for Japan! This horse has the potential of setting fractions enough to demoralize the likes of an unproven-at-the-distance star like Vadeni!

Out of the rest of the pack, I will note the following 3 as the main contenders to Titleholder: Torquator Tasso, Alpinista and Luxembourg. Tasso is the reigning champion, the one who shocked the world last year by beating a strong field that included Tarnawa and Hurricane Lane. It was no fluke, Tasso was the best on the day, winning while having to cover a lot of ground on the outside. But the heavy footing was his best ally. If the conditions are similar this Sunday, Tasso has a major chance. And it doesn't hurt to have Dettori as rider. I think Tasso can and will run huge.

Alpinista has won 7 races on the trot and relishes the distance. She's beaten Tasso before and will get the advantageous 3 pounds allowance as a mare. If she continues on her fantastic form, she can be a proper danger to the males. Based on her record, she cannot be under-estimated.

Finally, Luxembourg, the favourite. Mighty impressive although beaten in the 2000 Guineas, he was struck with a big layoff due to injury. He's come back great, winning a Group 3 in a rather hard-fought manner and then the Irish Champion Stakes where he finally showcased all the good that connections throught of him. Being a Camelot, there is no doubt he will find the distance right up his alley. His profile going into the race looks very good. I think he will be in the whereabouts at the finish but it could be there are one or two that show better class on the day. 

Imagine the scene; Titleholder leading El Condor Pasa-style entering the mythical ParisLongchamp straight, and showing no signs of letting up. Roared on by the Japanese crowd in the stands, spurred by thousands in front of their tvs in the wee-hours of the morning, Jap time. Could there be a better climax to a race when he flashes past the post, champion-style? The expectation of a nation finally met. Their dream come true. The Holy Grail attained. Could Sunday be that day?

Win: Titleholder

Friday, September 16, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 7

 Wolves v Man City - Home

Brighton v Crystal Palace - Away

Newcastle v Bournemouth - Home

Tottenham v Leicester - Home

Brentford v Arsenal - Draw

Everton v West Ham - Home

There are bound to be a few surprises in this shortened week-end of EPL matches as teams have had their rhythm broken by last week's unplanned postponements. So, I can see Everton beat West Ham and Crystal Palace get the spoils at Brighton; the latter being more that the Seagulls are now a big question mark with the departure of manager Potter to Chelsea.

But I think that a shocker can come at the Molyneux where Wolves entertain league mighty Man City. The Citizens were arguably lucky to beat Dortmund in mid-week and the Germans should logically have come up with a draw at the very least. City were lethargic for much of the match and it only took the brilliance of Haaland to get them out of trouble. With that kind of performance, Wolves can certainly shock them. The hosts are strongly lacking in the goal scoring department but they keep their matches pretty close. If they come out strong and rattle a lacklustre City with a goal, who knows where that can lead ? At current odds, Wolves might be worth a hopeful punt.

I expect Newcastle to comprehensively beat Bournemouth. Their new Swedish striker Isak looks a very good and lively addition.

Win: Newcastle, Wolves, Crystal Palace

Friday, September 2, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 6

Everton v Liverpool - Away

Brentford v Leeds - Draw

Chelsea v West Ham - Draw

Newcastle v Crystal Palace - Home

Nott Forest v Bournemouth - Home

Tottenham v Fulham - Draw

Wolves v Southampton - Away

Aston Villa v Man City - Away

Brighton v Leicester - Home

Man Utd v Arsenal - Home

The visit of Man City can certainly spell the end of Steven Gerrard's Villa career as it would be interesting to see how the American owners take in another loss for the Villains. The visitors have started the season brightly, led by their new striker Haaland. The EPL has seen dominant strikers like Shearer, Van Nistelrooy and Henry to name a few, but Haaland looks on a par or even higher level. He's only just 22 but it seems he's ready to destroy all in front of him. He might be the missing piece for the all-elusive Champions League for the Citizens. I cannot see anything other than a visitor win at Villa Park.

Liverpool was oh-so-lucky to get full points against Newcastle in mid-week. They certainly are staggering along at the moment and not playing their flowing football of recent past. They are missing Mane, Salah looks off-form and Milner and Henderson are hardly world-beaters in midfield. That said, Klopp's men have been relishing the Merseyside derbies of late and Everton simply have not had the team to match them in recent years. It's hard to see any change to that trend in Saturday's early kick-off and Everton will be hard-pressed to get a point from that match. I think the Kops will edge this by the odd goal.

I have been pleasantly surprised by Southampton's play of late. I mentioned they would beat Chelsea in mid-week which they duly obliged. I thought they had enough chances to snatch a draw in their defeat by Man Utd in the previous match. All in all, the team is young and looks on the ascendancy. They can surprise Wolves at the Molyneux. I thought the Wanderers were disappointing not to beat a diminished Bournemouth team on wednesday and they are having problems clicking up-front. Going for a Saints win could offer good value here.

Win: Liverpool, Man City, Southampton

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 5

 Crystal Palace v Brentford - Home

Fulham v Brighton - Draw

Soton - Chelsea - Home

Leeds v Everton - Home

Bournemouth v Wolves - Away

Arsenal v Aston Villa - Home

Man City v Nott Forest - Home

West Ham v Tottenham - Draw

Liverpool v Newcastle - Home

Leicester v Man Utd - Home

West Ham have started the season poorly but their last away win at Aston Villa (previewed last week here) seems to have put them back on track. Surely, beating Villa is nothing to crow about these days but anything other than a win could have dampened confidence in Moyes' camp. On the other side, Spurs have started brightly and are still undefeated although they had a rather lucky draw at Chelsea a couple of weeks back. I think this match is heading towards a draw and if there is to be a winner, it will be the home team. So backing West Ham as a draw-no-bet or going for the draw look reasonable options.

I think the value this mid-week is Wolves as they visit Bournemouth. The latter have sacked manager Parker today, presumably off comments he made after their 0-9 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool on the week-end. With no-one to steer the ship, Bournemouth look vulnerable and are to be taken on. Wolves have shown great disposition of late and I liked their last away outing at Spurs where they were really on top for most of the match but lost to the decisiveness of the hosts. I see them as great value to beat the Cherries on Thursday.

Win: Wolves

Draw-no-bet: West Ham

Draw: West Ham/Tottenham

Friday, August 26, 2022

EPL 2022/23 - Week 4

 Soton v Man Utd - Away

Brentford v Everton - Home

Brighton v Leeds - Draw

Chelsea v Leicester - Home

Liverpool v Bournemouth - Home

Man City v Crystal Palace - Home

Arsenal v Fulham - Home

Aston Villa v West Ham - Away

Wolves v Newcastle - Away

Nott Forest v Spurs - Away

Who'd thought that Liverpool would still be winless entering the 4th week of the EPL season? It is still too early to come to a forgone conclusion but safe to say their chances of lifting the title are pretty much in tatters. They are missing the influence of Sado Mane up front and it will take time for Darwin Nunez to fill the gap left by the talismanic Senegalese. But the Kops should open their win counter on Saturday as they welcome Bournemouth.  

Spurs have a tough schedule of crammed matches coming up soon but they should be fielding their first eleven to notch full points against Nottingham Forest. Conte's men were arguably lucky to survive Wolves last week as they were under pressure for much of the match but these kinds of wins show the resolve of the team. They have match winners in Kane and Son and they go into matches thinking they can match up with the best of them. I see them putting Nottingham Forest to the sword and continuing their rich vein of form.

West Ham are a surprise rock bottom and the question is whether Moyes' time there has peaked after a couple of fantastic seasons. If they play anywhere like last year, they have the team to beat a struggling Villa side and finally rack up much needed points. They look value for the win at current market odds.

Win: Liverpool, Tottenham, West Ham

Friday, August 19, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 3

Tottenham v Wolves - Home

Crystal Palace v Aston Villa - Draw

Everton v Nottingham Forest - Draw

Fulham v Brentford - Draw

 Leicester v Southampton - Home

Bournemouth v Arsenal - Away

Leeds v Chelsea - Away

West Ham v Brighton - Away

Newcastle v Man City - Away

Man Utd v Liverpool - Draw

The arrivak of manager Conte has changed things at Tottenham. They are now a threat to any team. Their last-gap draw at Chelsea shows that the Italian has instilled some fighting spirit in them. And with Son and Kane, they are dangerous until the final whistle. Of course, Conte can have an irritating personality (ask Tuchel!) but he gets things done. They will easily beat Wolves in the early Saturday kick-off.

Man Utd v Liverpool is typically the Derby everyone wants to watch. Not many would have predicted that both teams would still be looking for their first win after 2 rounds of EPL. Even fewer would have foreseen the catastrophic start of the Red Devils given that they had a rather good pre-season under new manager Ten Hag. These are dark times at Old Trafford and there seems to be problems everywhere for the Mancunians. Liverpool will go as deserved favourites in this encounter and I don't see them losing this. The best hope for the home team is to snatch a draw and I think they can achieve it by the scruff of their neck. They look awesome on paper, but the product on the field is just atrocious. A hopeful draw for the home team can happen but if the Kops are their dominant selves, they'll be happy to prolong the hosts' misery and claim full points and bragging rights.

Win: Tottenham

Draw: Man Utd v Liverpool

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Juddmonte International - Baaeed going further than a mile

 All eyes will again be on Baaeed as racing's greatest horse in training goes further than a mile for the first time. Will he prove vulnerable at the extra distance? From how he's finished his races to date, it would seem that 10 furlongs should pose no problem to the superstar as he tries to emulate the great Frankel who did it admirably well 10 years ago. But beware of the Knavesmire; Golden Horn lost his unbeaten record there to Arabian Queen. In this year's edition, let's chuck away Sir Busker and High Definition who I don't think have a winning chance. 

Dubai Honour might not be among the creme de la creme but he can certainly aspire to places in Group 1's. He has disappointed in 2 races this season and unless he's been brought at his peak, he can be discarded as well. My feeling is that his period of strength will be more in the autumn, so this race is probably a stepping stone for him.

Mishriff is the old warrior that is always a menace in these races. He might fill the placings more often than not these days, but on a good day, he is able to pick up the pieces. I believe this is his optimum distance and if he's anywhere near his Eclipse form of last month, he could be primed for this. 

Native Trail is the dark horse of the race. He seemed to be stretched in the Eclipse, which aligns well with his sprinting pedigree, being a son of Oasis Dream. I think his optimal distance is a mile but given that connections persist to bring him at the mile and a quarter, we'll know definitely whether he is up to the task. If the race is ran tactically, he could a serious danger to Baaeed. I cannot see him out of the first 3.

Baaeed is so good that it is quite unimaginable that he will falter here. But if there is a race that he will be vulnerable, it is this one as he goes the extra distance. I still think he will get the work done. I expect Native Trail to come closest.

Dupla: Baaeed/Native Trail

Friday, August 12, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Week 2

Aston Villa v Everton - Home

Arsenal v Leicester - Home

Brighton v Newcastle - Draw

Man City v Bournemouth - Home

Southampton v Leeds - Away

Wolves v Fulham - Away

Brentford v Man Utd - Away

Nott Forest v West Ham - Away

Chelsea v Tottenham - Away

Liverpool v Crystal Palace - Home

I finished the last write-up saying that Lampard will be sacked by Everton; it is really a matter of when, not if. He was a fantastic Chelsea and England player but he still has to earn his laurels as a manager and so far, he hasn't shown much. But more importantly, Everton lack real quality in the squad and as things stand, I see them battling at the lower end of the table. They visit Gerrard's Villa on Saturday, a team that hasn't started well, going down two nil at Brentford on opening day. The Villains lacked sharpness upfront although they dominated possession. I see them edging this by the odd goal and look at Coutinho to shake things up at Villa Park.

Things have started badly for Man Utd, beaten at Old Trafford on opening day. The naysayers have been having a field week and you would think it's only doom and gloom for the Red Devils. What many seem to forget however, is that Brighton usually play their best football on the road. So the result, however unlikely, was no fluke or shocking. I see the Red Devils picking things up at Brenford and at current prices, I see them as value as outright winners. Brentford have started the season on a winning note but the bounces went their way against Aston Villa last week. If Man Utd show up with a good-to-go Ronaldo, they have every chance to claim the spoils.

Win: Man Utd, Aston Villa

Friday, August 5, 2022

EPL 22/23 - Preview & Week 1

 Fulham v Liverpool - Away

Bournemouth v Aston Villa - Away

Leeds v Wolves - Draw

Newcastle v Nottingham Forest - Home

Tottenham v Southampton - Home

Everton v Chelsea - Away

Leicester v Brentford - Away

Man Utd v Brighton - Home

West Ham v Man City - Draw

Hurray, football is back! Beware, this season is going to be different. There is the World Cup in December, which basically means that it will be a tale of 2 halves. The pre and post World Cup teams might very well be very different, which adds complexity to the determining the final outcome. With all said and done, it seems that Man City and Liverpool still look the strongest contenders for the title. From the pack, Arsenal and Tottenham look to have strengthened from last year. Chelsea have a lot to prove after an ownership upheaval and Man Utd cannot do worse than last season.

Man City are deservedly favourites on paper. The loss of Raheem Sterling cannot be underestimated but the arrival of superstar striker Haaland is a fantastic boost to their attack. The quality of Aguero has been seriously missed in the past couple of seasons and the Norwegian striker might be the missing piece of the puzzle for Guardiola's men to finally lift the Champions League. If they over-prioritize the UCL, the Citizens might be vulnerable in the league and hand a major advantage to rivals Liverpool.

The Kops have also lost a major player in Mane. I have reservations on Darwin Nunez making an immediate impact but Liverpool are still formidable in attack. Luiz Diaz will showcase more of his talent and Salah looks as green and determined as ever. This Liverpool team is almost a finished product and will surely fight on all fronts this season again.\

Confidence of Spurs fans have skyrocked since Conte has taken over managerial duties. The Italian knows how to win in the Premier League and gives the Londoners hope of glory should the above two fail. Son and Kane are the best duo in the business and look set to lead the charge up front. They have a good enough squad to make the UCL again this year and should improve on last year's tally.

I still have my doubts whether Arsenal have it to make the top 4 but they have reinforced shrewdly during the off-season. The arrival of Jesus from Man City gives them extra vivacity in attack and I expect the likes of Odegaard and Saka among others to have another strong season. Provided they are more consistent than last year, the Gunners should make the top 6.

Chelsea are in new territory post-Ambramovich era. I think their decline has started. The squad is aging although new boy Sterling is always a force to be reckoned with. I will be bold here and say that the Blues won't make the UCL this year. Odds of that look pretty good on the exchanges, I'll take them.

Man Utd had an annus horribilis last year and can only have a better season. From the sacking of Solksjaer, to the Greenwood problems, to the MacGuire and Rashford issues, to the appointment of Rangnick, all went bad. The only shining light was Ronaldo and even he wants to get out now. But the appointment of Ten Hag looks a step in a positive direction and it will be interesting if he can re-liven the squad. Finishing in the top 4 is certainly not a given but the early weeks should give an indication where this team is going.

As prediction, I see Man City winning the Champions League. They will leave the title to Liverpool. Spurs and Man Utd possibly take the UCL spots. And yes, Lampard will be sacked from Everton.

Friday, July 22, 2022

King George - Emily Upjohn tackles the boys

Although there will be some markee absentees, this year's King George reunites a top-class field of proven middle-distance performers. While Westover is the deserved favourite, the form looks very even and it will be no surprise if there is a hotly-disputed finish in the end. Here is my take on the field.

Broome - Surprised me when he landed the Group 2 Hardwick Stakes during Royal Ascot. Clearly, tactics played a big part in that race. He is one of those horses that is good enough to win an average Group 1 but not quite good enough to win a top one, which is the case on Saturday. Discard.

Mishriff - Second to Adayar in this contest last year. On his best day, can mix it up with anyone and he looked unlucky when a neck second in the Coral-Eclipse. Gets a new jockey in James Doyle and it will be interesting to see how the new pair gets along. He should be at the finish.

Pyledriver - Isn't quite up the level of some of the more prominent ones in this race but on his best day can aspire to a Top 3. Quite unlikely though.

Torquator Tasso - Shocking winner of the Arc last year. If he reproduces the form of that race, he should be head and shoulders above the field. But it looks more likely that his best form is on softer underfoot conditions and better suited for October racing. Has to be respected as an Arc winner but this race will go a long way confirming whether he was a fluke in the Arc or an actual force.

Westover - dominant winner of the Irish Derby and unlucky third in the Epsom Derby. He would not have won at Epsom but would have gone closer to the winner without the traffic problems. Clearly he is a colt on the upside and will benefit from the 3-year old allowance against the elders. The opposition is a far cry from what he encountered at the Curragh and he will have to show he can duke it out when challenged. 

Emily Upjohn - Unlucky to have lost her unbeaten tag in the Oaks. She is without much doubt the best middle-distance filly of the Classic division. She might become ever better with time and it will be interesting to see if she is ready to duke it out with the males at this stage. The weight allowance might give her the decisive advantage from the rest.

I will pick Mishriff, Westover and Emily Upjohn as a trifecta from this bunch. It should be a hotly contested affair between the three and I give a small preference to Westover over the other two.

Win: Westover
Trifecta: Westover/Mishriff/Emily Upjohn

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Royal Ascot - Day 4 - Is Inspiral ready ?

 The Coronation Stakes is the centerpiece race of day 4 of Royal Ascot and sees the return of Inspiral, last year's standout 2-year old filly. The daughter of Frankel was tipped to dominate the Classic division this year but has been tardy to start the year given that she has been slow to come to herself according to the Gosdens. Those are not encouraging remarks for a filly that is very short in the market against some top-class opposition.

Cachet took full opportunity of the absence of Inspiral to win the 1000 Guineas, and she did her reputation no harm by coming an unlucky second in the French version. She deserves respect and should be in the thereabouts.

Mangoustine beat Cachet in the French Guineas and looks set to run a big run as well. The French have a good record in this race with the likes of Watch Me, Qemah and Ervedya striking in recent years. She might prefer softish conditions to be at her best but she's got the class to win this.

Finally, I believe Prosperous Voyage could have a say in this tight contest having always been in the places in her 6-race career. She ran a cracker in the 1000 Guineas running on but unable to catch Cachet. She might benefit from the extra rest and if the leading fancies fail to fire, she can definitely be counted to pounced. 

At her best, Inspiral would beat all before her given her juvenile form.  While we know she will improve for the run, the question is whether she will be found wanting fitness-wise against primed opposition. Her price is way too short to consider, however good she might turn out to be. I'd rather go with Cachet and Mangoustine with Prosperous Voyage as an each-way punt.

Win: Cachet/Mangoustine

Each-way: Prosperous Voyage

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Royal Ascot - Day 3 - Stravidarius for one last hurrah

 It is a rare occurrence to see an 8-year old winner at Royal Ascot; it is even rarer to see 2 of them. Nature Strip thrashed all pretenders to ascertain himself as the best sprinter in the world on Tuesday. Another veteran Stradivarius, will try to put the younger brigade to the sword by winning the Gold Cup for the 4th time to equal the great Yeats. 

His 2 main rivals will be Trueshan and Kyprios. The former is the true king of the staying division but only when the underfoot conditions are on the softish side. The fact that the ground will be good to firm on Thursday means that he will probably not run at all. So, one down for Stradivarius. Kyprios is very possibly the up and coming stayer from the young generation. His pedigree is impeccable with Galileo as sire and a top-class Danehill mare as dam. He has relatively low mileage for a 4-year old and his last win in a Group 3 of over 14 lengths was visually impressive although it was in a 4-runner field. I am not sure he's ready for the punishing Gold Cup distance at this time of his career but if he takes it like duck on water, his younger legs might prove too much for Stradivarius. The latter will run his race and it is only a matter of whether Kyprios can take the mantle away from him. It's a toss-up really between the two although the public favours will certainly be going to the 8-year old; the roof will come time big time should he win.

Forecast: Kyprios/Stradivarius

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Royal Ascot - Day 2 - Bay Bridge looks exposed

 All selections hit the board on Day 1 and hoping that Day 2 brings the same amount of success.

The Prince of Wales Stakes looks disappointingly thin in my opinion but it looks to be a hotly contested race. I am somewhat surprised that the favourite is Bay Bridge and a short one to say the least. This New Bay colt is only a Grade 3 winner (albeit an impressive one) although he has a superior rating to the rest, which are mainly solid Group 1 winners. Bay Bridge is certainly progressive and could eventually be a Group 1 performer but until he proves himself at this level, I am tempted to lay him in this race. 

Shahryar is a serious Japanese invader and impressive winner of the Sheema Class in Dubai. The Japanese have conquered all in their late forays in international festivals starting with last year's Breeders Cup, then in Saudi Arabia, and eventually in Dubai. They are starting to conquer the world and the quality of their stock is as good as anywhere now. And they'll get better as they have shrewdly enhanced their broodmare quality. This son of Deep Impact must have a top chance.

State of Rest has proven a serious international traveller winning top-level races in the USA, Australia and France. He was third in the Tattersalls Gold Cup behind Alenquer but wasn't disgraced at all. He should be at the finish.

Lord North might be a step slower this year at the age of 6 but he's still proven to be a contender in his races. He finished behind State of Rest in the Tattersalls Gold Cup which leads me to think that the latter has more upside that this old warrior.

Grand Glory is a Group 1 winner in France but I think she's a few pounds short at this level.

I believe this will turn out to be a battle between Shahryar and State of Rest. Punting on both to win might be a good way to cover both and still win. 

Win: Shahryar/State of Rest

Monday, June 13, 2022

Royal Ascot - Day 1 - Megastar sprinters and milers

Day 1 of Royal Ascot has produced a fantastic race card with a few mega star names on show. Never since the days of Frankel has there been such anticipation in the opening race, the Queen Anne Stakes, where the exciting Baaeed will try to cement his reputation as a mile god and the best since the afore-mentioned Frankel. The unbeaten son of Sea The Stars will start at prohibitive odds but should put all opponents to the sword as usual and bag the much-coveted mile race. Similar to the Lockinge, Real World should prove best of the rest. The son of Dark Angel looks set to be to Baaeed what Excelebration was to Frankel; a high-class deputy, vied for second place.

The mile race for the Classic generation, the St James' Palace Stakes, will also be an opportunity for Coroebus to add to his glowing reputation as a serious upcoming miler. The Guineas towers heads and shoulders towards a quality field, My only reservation is that Godolphin jockey William Buick usually gets turned over when riding odds-on favourites, so hopefully for Coroebus' backers, he'll ride the odds-on favourite judiciously. If the son of Dubawi runs his race, there should be no qualms on him winning.

Finally, it's Australia v USA for sprinting bragging rights as Nature Strip takes on Golden Pal in the King's Stand Stakes. Wesley Ward is as bullish as ever on the horse he considers the best he has ever had but such exuberance from Ward has usually led to considerable disappointment before. Sure, he's won at Royal Ascot so many times that his horses need to be considered seriously whatever the bullishness or lack of. Nature Strip doesn't quite bring the aura or anticipation of a Black Caviar but he's a legitimate Group 1 winner and the best sprinter from Down Under. Australian racing is filled with average stayers but their sprinting stock merit serious consideration; they can hold their own against anyone else on turf. This match-up will be refereed by the locals led by Man of Promise from the Godolphin operation. The son of Into Mischief was somewhat disappointing on World Cup night at Meydan but can have a legitimate shot here should the 2 favourites fail to fire.

Win: Baaeed, Coroebus, Nature Strip
Win without Baaeed: Real World
Second, Place: Real World

Friday, May 27, 2022

UCL Final - Lucky Madrid on the way of Liverpool

The Kops and their fans must have given a huge sigh of relief when Real Madrid qualified for the final at the expense of Man City. Unless you believe, like a few, that there is an invisible hand helping Real in the UCL, there is every reason for Liverpool to rejoice meeting their opponents in this year's final; they have limped their way to this stage of the competition.

Real were oh-so-lucky to beat PSG in the last 16 stage. They were outgunned again against Chelsea but got unbelievably lucky to make it to the semi-finals. They should have been blown away by Man City but managed to find the goals at the right time to get to the final. Was that lucky or plucky, as I read somewhere? Probably both, but more so the first one. This team is certainly not as good as in the Christiano Ronaldo days but they are now being carried almost single-handedly by Karim Benzema. The Reds need to shutter the Frenchman to extinguish any hopes Real might have of winning.

Were it not for Man City, Liverpool might be contemplating an amazing quadruple. Klopp deserves his manager of the year award. By all regards, this Liverpool squad is possibly their best ever. I thought they would slip somehow late in the season but their depth has pulled them through. They are a hard team to beat. Mane and Salah aren't feeling the effects of their African Cup stint and still scoring important goals. Particularly Mane has scored so many match-winning goals that he has to be a leading contender for the Ballon d'Or. This Liverpool team should beat Real but on a given day, anything can happen. Jitters can hamper players, Real can get lucky (again). But if all is fair and square, the Kops should be the ones celebrating at the end.

Win: Liverpool

Saturday, May 21, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Final week - Man City won't slip

Man City should be crowned champions (deservedly) by the end of Sunday's matches. They should have bagged the title weeks ago but Liverpool were unbelievable in their challenge and City are lucky to have held a healthy cushion before easing in the end. I don't see a Gerrard miracle for his beloved Kops; Villa might keep it close for a while but in the end, the Citizens should prove too strong. 

Liverpool should beat Wolves handily as well as keep a view on the upcoming Champions League final against Real Madrid. Wolves are a team without much spine by all standards and will be keen to avoid a drubbing more than anything at Anfield.

I said it before and I see Spurs getting the final UCL spot in front of Arsenal. Conte will have done his job in securing that all-coveted spot. There are rumours of food poisoning among the Spurs squad but if they field their first team against Norwich, they should win. In fact, what is most important is for them to field a healthy Harry Kane and Heung-Min Soon.

Arsenal should have an easy match against Everton given that the latter secured their league safety in mid-week. The Evertonians celebrated as if they won the league after their win against Palace and I think they won't have much in the tank or spirit as they face a Gunners team whose main aim will be to win in the hope that Spurs falter at Carrow Road.

It will be either Burnley or Leeds that fall to the Championship on Sunday. Slight advantage to the former here as they host Newcastle as Leeds travel to Brentford. It has been amazing witnessing the fall of Leeds United after they captivated the Premier League only last year under Biesla's tenure. It proves the point that the Argentine can get the best out of a squad in one season but has nothing else to offer the next. Kind of like a horse making a huge run then having nothing more to give in the next ones.

Man Utd might secure sixth spot in front of West Ham but this is not a given. The Red Devils are horrible enough that Palace are good value to beat them. Hiring Rangnick was a mistake of huge proportions and I think heads at the executive level are the ones that should have fallen; at least more so than the Glazers themselves, which is what their fandom is looking for. The Hammers definitely have the team to go get 3 points at Brighton, so sixth spot is a live possibility for them.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 36

 Tottenham v Burnley - Home

Aston Villa v Crystal Palace - Draw

Leeds v Brighton - Away

Watford v Leicester - Away

West Ham v Man City - Away

Wolves v Norwich - Home

Everton v Brentford - Home

Newcastle v Arsenal - Home

Southampton v Liverpool - Draw

I firmly believe that Spurs will capture the 4th UCL spot. They should bag maximum points in their remaining matches against Burnley and Norwich. Arsenal has a tricky visit to Newcastle and I think they will drop points there. They might also drop more against Everton in their last match in case the Toffees are still fighting relegation at that stage. But the Newcastle one is where I think they will have their hopes of UCL qualification evaporated. 

Man City also have a tricky away visit to West Ham in their quest to wrap up the title. If they win this, they will win the Premiership. Easier said than done as the Hammers are rock solid and difficult to break. The Citizens just edged this encounter in the first leg in horrendous snowy conditions but the setup will be totally different this time. Guardiola's men just have too much quality and depth squad to make the difference. I think the blue side of Manchester will party after this match.

I like Everton's chances against Brentford. The stakes are high for the Toffees and they seem to have regained some form in the last few matches. Brentford have nothing to play for and have poor form on the road. The home team should edge this one and ensure survival.

Win: Man City, Tottenham, Everton

Win 4th spot: Tottenham

Friday, May 13, 2022

Lockinge - Real World challenge for Baaeed ?

Frankel was as peer-less as any horse that ever ran on turf and it is worthy of Baaeed's rising prominence that he's being dubbed as the best miler since Frankel. The unbeaten son of Sea the Stars cemented his reputation as the world's best miler by beating top-class Palace Pier is a fantastic duel in the QE2 Stakes last year. He might not be100% race-fit for his re-appearance in the Lockinge and odds-on is not really attractive but he's definitely the horse to beat.

I am not sure why Mother Earth and Alcohol Free are the next best-fancied in the market. To me, his main rival should be Real World. This progressive miler from Godolphin is Suroor's best horse and is u beaten on turf. All his defeats have been on dirt where his trainer has persisted in running him in pursuit of the biggest glories like the Saudi Cup and Dubai World Cup. Clearly, this son of Dark Angel does not relish the dirt and has strong form on turf. He might not beat Baaeed but he should be close by, particularly that his Meydan runs will help fitness-wise. I see Real World as fantastic value each-way, place, and in any match-bets against Mother Earth and Alcohol Free. The first-named always seemed unlucky in her races last year and has made an alright return this year winning a Group 3 at the Curragh. I believe she is a few pounds off Real World in ability. Alcohol Free needs soft ground to be at her best and she won't get it on Saturday.

Each-way, Place: Real World
Match bets against Mother Earth and Alcohol Free: Real World

Friday, May 6, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 35

 Brentford v Southampton - Away

Burnley v Aston Villa - Home

Chelsea v Wolves - Home

Crystal Palace v Watford - Home

Brighton v Man Utd - Draw

Liverpool v Tottenham - Draw

Arsenal v Leeds - Home

Leicester v Everton - Away

Norwich v West Ham - Away

Man City v Newcastle - Home

This past UCL midweek semi-final matches might prove decisive in crowning the Premier League champions this year. Liverpool overcame nervousness and Villareal to book their ticket to the UCL final. Imagine the confidence that the Kops are riding on at the moment. Man City stumbled unexpectedly against Real Madrid when they already had one foot in the final. Imagine how devastated they must be to have given the match away against the almost-always-lucky Spaniards. From the past seasons, we know for a fact when Guardiola's men take a tumble of that dimension, they can take a few weeks to recover. So it very much hinges on this questions this week-end. Can Liverpool overcome a dangerous Spurs team this week, the latter at loggerheads with Arsenal for the 4th UCL spot ? And will Man City have recovered enough mentally to beat an improving Newcastle side, something they would have no problem doing on a normal Sunday ? If they do and in convincing fashion, then I believe they will go on and retain the title, the only trophy left for them to look forward to. 

Liverpool have an arguably tougher assignment against Spurs because of the stakes for both. I mentioned before that I expect Liverpool to flounder at this stage but they still haven't done it. The adrenalin is pulling them forward at the moment. It reminds me of the Red Devils and their Treble year of 1999. I really hope the Kops win the UCL this year because, my personal opinion, Madrid winning it will be a travesty to football! They didn't deserve to win against PSG, certainly not against Chelsea and definitely not against City. I will grant them their fighting spirit but put aside all their on-field theatrics and talk of referee bias, they are by far overrated as a team playing in a poor league.  For the sake of football, Liverpool would be deserved winners but we'll get to that in due time. Much can happen before the final as the Kops will be huffing and puffing on all fronts while Madrid will be well-rested as they have already bagged La Liga.

Win: Man City

Draw: Liverpool/Spurs

Friday, April 29, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 34

 Newcastle v Liverpool - Home

Aston Villa v Norwich - Home

Southampton v Crystal Palace - Away

Watford v Burnley - Away

Wolves v Brighton - Draw

Leeds v Man City - Away

Everton v Chelsea - Away

Tottenham v Leicester - Home

West Ham v Arsenal - Home

Man Utd v Brentford - Home

I see Spurs making a decisive step forward in the race for tthe 4th UCL spot. Man Utd are out of the picture and I don't see Arsenal going to win at West Ham. Tottenham will host Leicester who had a tough mid-week match in Europe and I cannot see anything other than a home win here. Look for Son and Kane to again deliver the goals that will seal 3 all-important points for the Londoners.

I can see Liverpool dropping points at in-form Newcastle. It won't be an easy match for the Kops and the hosts have it well within them to gather at least a share of the spoils. That will be good news for Man City who should score by the bucketload against Leeds United. City should either extend or keep their lead at the top of the table by the week-end.

Win: Man City/Tottenham

Draw-no-bet: Newcastle

Friday, April 22, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 33

 Arsenal v Man Utd - Home

Leicester v Aston Villa - Home

Man City v Watford - Home

Norwich v Newcastle - Home

Brentford v Tottenham - Away

Brighton v Southampton - Draw

Burnley v Wolves - Home

Chelsea v West Ham - Draw

Liverpool v Everton - Home

Crystal Palace v Leeds - Home

Early kick-off match Arsenal against Man Utd will be huge in deciding the 4th UCL spot coveted by the Gunners, Red Devils and Spurs. At the moment, the Gunners have the advantage and I think they will blow away any remaining hopes Red Devils fans might still harbour. I mentioned Man Utd are a team on the skids last week and they duly confirmed that with a thrashing at Liverpool in mid-week. The talent is there but I now believe that Rangnick has proven not to be the right manager to put all that talent to good use. In fact, it is very possible in my opinion that had the club kept on with Ole, the results probably would have been better. It is to be seen whether the arrival of Erik ten Hag next year will improve things but one thing for sure is that the club is spent and done for the year. On the other side of the coin, the Gunners are battling and reaped an amazing win at Stamford Bridge in their last match. The team might lack the talent that Utd have on paper but the youngsters there are working their socks off to get results. Their battling qualities means that they are favourites to down out-of-sorts Man Utd. If they could put 3 against Chelsea, they will have no problem scoring against the Red Devils. Home win for this one.

Crystal Palace are a team with good form at home and they should have enough to overcome Leeds at Selhurst Park. Leeds are in a precarious position at the moment but they are sporting good form having won 3 out of their last 4 matches. Biesla almost ran the team to the ground for much of the season and Jesse March has righted the ship so far. The home team still needs a few more points to assure safety but they are showing good resiliency in their matches and playing more like a mid-table team. I see them edging this encounter and look good value at current odds.

Win: Arsenal, Crystal Palace

Friday, April 15, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 32

 Tottenham v Brighton - Home

Man Utd v Norwich - Home

Southampton v Arsenal - Away

Watford v Brentford - Away

Newcastle v Leicester - Home

West Ham v Burnley - Home

I've been wrong putting confidence in Man Utd the past couple of weeks and there is now hardly any doubt that the Red Devils are a team in disarray. Nothing has worked for them this season. Solksjaer left but interirm manager Ragnick didn't make the team better. Ronaldo came but the wins haven't followed. Varane came but the defence is as febrile as ever. Mason Greenwood has probably thrown away a promising career. Marcus Rashford looks devoid of any confidence on the pitch. I still doubt whether they can beat Norwich on Saturday; what should look like an easy 3 points might not look as straightforward given the rotten form of the home team. Still it's hard to see them lose this match; the Old Trafford fans must believe those players have some pride in themselves to try win a match in their pursuit for the 4th spot. That spot is probably elusive now but if they need a spark, then the Canaries are one of the easiest teams to play against. One last vote of confidence on Man Utd.

Newcastle are favoured against visiting Leicester for a few reasons. The Magpies have redressed their form lately and a starting to build a decent run at home. Leicester played in the Europa Conference in mid-week and will feel it fitness-wise. Sure, they scraped past PSV in a difficult match but there is a real lack of quality in their squad to rack up a series of wins in a short span. I see an outright home win here.\

Win: Newcastle/Man Utd

Friday, April 8, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 31

 Everton v Man Utd - Away

Arsenal v Brighton - Home

Southampton v Chelsea - Home

Watford v Leeds - Home

Aston Villa v Tottenham - Draw

Brentford v West Ham - Away

Leicester v Crystal Palace - Away

Norwich v Burnley - Away

Man City v Liverpool - Home

This might not be the title decider but it is definitely a 6-pointer that will give a massive boost to the winner of the Man City v Liverpool match. The Citizens will have home advantage although that might be a double-edged sword as that might actually put a greater chip on their shoulders. Form-wise, there is no contest that Liverpool have the edge although I really think that the time has come to hit the skids. I was mentioning previously that the Kops have forged out recent wins out of sheer will and luck and I don't think they will be able to maintain such cadence until the end. City have shown to be consistently good although they haven't been racking wins at the same rate, so they look the likelier to eke out a win here. 

Tomorrow's match at Goodison Park will be a good litmus test to know whether Man Utd are able to sustain the winning run needed to secure the 4th UCL spot that is seeming more and more elusive. It will also show whether I have been wrong in my assessment that they are too good to miss out on that final spot. Everton have been out-of-sorts with or without Lampard and if the Red Devils cannot capitalize on the home side's shortcomings, they will struggle against other teams until the rest of the season. I still think value to side one more time with the visitors here.

Win: Man Utd, Man City

Friday, April 1, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 30

 Liverpool v Watford - Home

Brighton v Norwich - Home

Burnley v Man City - Away

Chelsea v Brentford - Home

Leeds v Southampton - Away

Wolves v Aston Villa - Draw

Man Utd v Leicester - Home

West Ham v Everton - Home

Tottenham v Newcastle - Home

The title race has amazingly tightened and many pundits are actually tipping Liverpool to win it all. If that were the case, it would have been a monumental collapse from Guardiola's men as they seemed miles ahead just a few weeks back. I don't think they will bottle it though. I love it that the Kops have bridged the gap as backing City for the title has been made more affordable. Liverpool have been on a terrific run of late but even the hardest Kop fan will admit that they had a few lucky run-ins along the way. I think their challenge will peter out sooner than later particularly that Salah and Mane will be feeling the effects of their recent exhausting trips back home. I say back City to beat Burnley and for the title as well.

The race for fourth place is becoming more and more interesting and if Man Utd don't win it, they will only have themselves to blame. I think they are ripe for a serious run-in for the fourth spot but they have to make the difference on the pitch. It all starts against Leicester on Saturday and a comprehensive win is needed to show their serious credentials. I think they will show it.

Win: Man Utd, Man City 

Friday, March 25, 2022

Dubai World Cup Night 2022

 Yay, exciting times indeed as Meydan hosts Dubai World Cup night, which heralds the return to the Flat season! So much to look forward again this year, with the likes of Baaeed in England, Life in Good state-side and the possible coming of the Australians at Royal Ascot, to say the least. Here are my thoughts on the Meydan card.

Mubakker looks over-priced in the Godolphin Mile and looks a good each-way punt. He was gunned down over course and distance in his last race but the winner had the benefit of the rails. The son of Speightstown has one of the most solid forms in the field and should be in the thereabouts.

Manobo is a banker bet for the Dubai Gold Cup. The son of Sea the Stars should stroll in this company and get on to serious top-level staying races in Europe. This is a name to watch over the course of the year.

Man of Promise looks a winner for the Al Quoz sprint and the main danger could be his stable companion Creative Force. The son of Into Mischief has won twice convincingly during the festival and should be hard to beat if he has maintained his level of form. Creative Force is a Group 1 winner but might need the run after a 161-day absence.

I don't have much conviction for the UAE Derby but the chances are that it will either go to an American or Japanese-trained horse, based on the history of the race. In that regard, it could end up being a match between Combustion and Pinehurst.

The Dubai Golden Shaheen usually goes to a fast American horse and Dr Schivel and Drain the Clock look very well placed here. Wondrwherecraigis could be the other American playing spoiler here.

I like Schnell Meister from Japan to take the Dubai Turf. This is a proven Group 1 winner that looks to enhance Japanese reputations as top-class middle-distance runners. I doubt the American turf champion Colonel Liam is of the same standard.

The Dubai Scheema Classic looks a fantastic race and again here the Japanese look strong but the British can hold their own too. To have to pick from the quality bunch can be an excruciating exercise but Authority, Glory Vase, Alenquer and Dubai Honour have a great chance to add to their glowing reputations.

Life is Good could prove to be way too good in the Dubai World Cup. Unless this turns out to be an upset result like the Saudi Cup, this should turn out to be a duel between Life is Good and Hot Rod Charlie. I think the former is the best horse dirt in the world and has no-one within touching distance at the moment. He should win this and give Pletcher a first World Cup.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 29


Brighton v Liverpool - Away

Brentford v Burnley - Away

Man Utd v Spurs - Draw

Chelsea v Newcastle - Draw

Everton v Wolves - Home

Leeds v Norwich - Draw

Southampton v Watford - Home

West Ham v Aston Villa - Home

Arsenal v Leicester - Home

Crystal Palace v Man City - Away

Although they lost their last match against Newcastle, Southampton have one of the best form of recent weeks. They cannot be opposed as they host Watford, who look decidedly set for the drop. This should be a simple home win here.

I think Chelsea will lose points against the afore-mentioned Newcastle as the Magpies are also in red-hot form and there is a big question mark with Chelsea at the moment. Not on the pitch, but rather off the pitch with the Ambramovich saga. While these players are professionals, they are bound to be somewhat affected by the events hitting the club this week and the questions revolving around the change in ownership and potential bankruptcy etc. This is a distraction the players could do without but as things stand, they also have a difficult match-up against a rejuvenated Newcastle side that is rapidly racking up wins of late. The finance from the Saudis seems to be paying dividends and the team has strengthened during the transfer window. This is going to be a tight match and a spoil of the results could very well be on the cards.

Win: Southampton

Draw: Chelsea/Newcastle

Friday, March 4, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 28

 Leicester v Leeds - Home

Aston Villa v Southampton - Draw

Burnley v Chelsea - Away

Newcastle v Brighton - Home

Norwich v Brentford - Home

Wolves v Crystal Palace - Home

Liverpool v West Ham - Draw

Watford v Arsenal - Away

Man City v Man Utd - Home

Tottenham v Everton - Home

What looked like a facile route to the title a few weeks ago for Man City is no longer that certain with the gap now to 6 points from pursuers Liverpool with the latter having a game in hand.  This title race is far from over. And things could easily move in different directions this week-end as the Citizens host their city rivals Red Devils while Liverpool host West Ham. On paper, it looks like City have the greater chance of losing points but a Kop win against the Hammers is far from being a given. Liverpool have been on a tear lately, winning the Caracao Cup in the process but they have scraped through those matches rather than dominating them. I think some kind of comeuppance is in store for them and at current odds, West Ham look great value to snatch at least a point from Anfield. Be it as a draw-no-bet or outright win, it could be rewarding to side with the Hammers, who are in good form of late in their pursuit of the 4th UCL spot.

Win or draw-no-bet: West Ham

Friday, February 25, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 27

Leeds v Tottenham - Away

Brentford v Newcastle - Away

Brighton v Aston Villa - Away

Crystal Palace v Burnley - Home

Man Utd v Watford - Home

Everton v Man City - Away

West Ham v Wolves - Draw

Let's continue piling against the Leeds bandwagon, shall we? A 6-0 drubbing against Liverpool after a 4-2 defeat against Man Utd says it all that all is not good in Biesla's realm and as I was mentioning previously, the Argentinian tenure at the club looks very precarious indeed. They are conceding by the bucket-load these days and here comes Harry Kane and Son to pile on their misery. It's Spurs all the way for the win in this one.

I will double it up with a Newcastle win against Brentford. The Tyneside club have gotten into second gear lately with an influx of above-average players after waving their newly-found riches. On the other hand, Brentford are hurting to get points and I don't see things improving for them even though Eriksen might make his much anticipated debut after the drama at the Euros. This might end up in a draw but Newcastle can equally nick this one.

Then, triple it up with a Man Utd win against struggling Watford. The Red Devils march has started as I had mentioned in earlier posts. They need the full points to keep in touch with Arsenal for the final 4th spot. They should have too much class and firepower against the lowly visitors.

Win: Tottenham/Newcastle/Man Utd

Friday, February 18, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 26


West Ham v Newcastle - Away

Arsenal v Brentford - Home

Aston Villa v Watford - Home

Brighton v Burnley - Draw

Crystal Palace v Chelsea - Away

Liverpool v Norwich - Home

Southampton v Everton - Home

Man City v Tottenham - Home

Leeds v Man Utd - Away

Wolves v Leicester - Home

For this week, let's stick with Man Utd, shall we? It is a matter of time before the Red Devils are ignited and become the beast the talent in their squad is heralded to be. Ronaldo is back on the score-sheet and should have had a hat-trick in their last match against Brighton. Granted, his goal itself was sensational, I believe and I don't think world-class strikers could have triggered as quick in the same position. Love him or hate him, the Portuguese deserves his title of being the greatest goalscorer of all time. That said, Man Utd have created clear chances to indicate that their offensive machine is on the march, although their defence is as suspect as ever. Given they are going to Leeds should be comforting to the Mancunians as the hosts are one of most vulnerable in the league. Biesla has somehow lost the plot with his team this year and I wouldn't be surprised if he does not come back next year. It seems the Argentinian has brought the team to its max in the past season and they are no longer responding to his tactics. Given their system, the Peacocks have the ability to score but they also can concede by the bucket load as well. I see a high-scoring affair in this one and can't see anything past a convincing Man Utd win in the end.

Win: Man Utd

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 25

 Man Utd v Brighton - Home

These are turbulent times for Man Utd and the club are in a desperate need of a change in fortune on and off the field. Never mind the shocking lack of results on the field, they have to contend with the Mason Greenwood affair, reported changing room rifts and player discontent, not to mention uncertain futures for Ronaldo and other stars and the prime question who will be the next permanent manager. And let's not forget that the Glazers dumped a huge amount of stock at a discounted price not so long back. 

The positive news is that they are not losing matches. However, they are not winning them either and draws indeed do not help their push for a UCL spot. The arrival of Brighton later today can help them go back on a winning track. The squad is way too talented to be dismissed. Harry McGuire has been feeble at the back altely but he should be back to his dominant self sooner than later. No one doubts that Ronaldo will find his goal scoring touch again. Sancho is scoring, De Gea looks back on song. 

Brighton are no slouch, they have a good record on the road. They will certainly complicate things for the Red Devils as they are resilient, as they have shown against Chelsea lately. They cannot be dismissed but I can't see the hosts losing this one. With some luck and realism in front of goal, Man Utd have every chance to edge this encounter. At current market prices, they look a good deal as an outright win.

Win: Man Utd

Friday, January 21, 2022

EPL 21/22 - Week 23

 Everton v Aston Villa - Away

Brentford v Wolves - Draw

Leeds v Newcastle - Away

Man Utd v West Ham - Home

Southampton v Man City - Draw

Arsenal v Burnley - Home

Crystal Palace v Liverpool - Away

Leicester v Brighton - Home

Chelsea v Tottenham - Home

Rafa Benitez is out at Everton after the shortest-ever tenure as manager. He started the season well but a long string of winless matches sealed the Spaniard's fate. It is time to pounce against the Toffees as they are manager-less and Villa should go to Goodison Park with full guns blazing. Although he's already been heralded a managerial success, I think the jury is still out on Gerrard as manager. Who cares he won the title in Scotland? Any third-tier manager would win it either with Rangers or Celtic. Truth be said, Gerrard has started well at Villa and given his Kop background, he will need no motivation to pile on the Toffees' current misery. Villa should dominate proceedings from start to finish.

Win: Aston Villa