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.