Sportswarbler

Warbling. Opinion. Insight. Advice.

Football tips for the weekend

Here’s my bets for Saturday..

Aston Villa v Norwich – DRAW @ 3.75

Aston Villa v Norwich – Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.1

Aston Villa v Norwich – 1-1 Correct Score @ 6.5

Blackpool v Brighton – Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.96

Cardiff v Burnley – Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.62

Reading v Fulham – Fulham to win @ 2.6

Stoke v Sunderland – DRAW @ 3.4

Wigan v West Ham – Wigan to win @ 2.29

 

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EUROPA League Match Predictions – 4 October 2012

Anzhi Makhachkala BSC Young Boys AWAY
Rubin Kazan Partizan HOME
Neftchi PFK Inter AWAY
FC Fehérvár Sporting CP AWAY
Sparta Praha Athletic Bilbao AWAY *
Ironi Kiryat Shmona Olympique Lyon AWAY **
Panathinaikos Tottenham Hotspur AWAY
Lazio Roma NK Maribor HOME
Rosenborg BK Bayer Leverkusen DRAW
Metalist Kharkov Rapid Wien HOME
Hannover 96 Levante UD DRAW
FC Basel KRC Genk DRAW
Helsingborgs IF Twente Enschede AWAY
Liverpool FC Udinese Calcio HOME
Atlético Madrid Viktoria Plzeň HOME ***
Académica de Coimbra Hapoel Tel Aviv AWAY (AH+)
Bor. Mönchengladbach Fenerbahçe DRAW
Olympique Marseille AEL Limassol HOME **
Newcastle Girondins Bordeaux AWAY *
Club Brugge KV CS Marítimo HOME
Steaua Bucuresti FC København DRAW
Molde FK VfB Stuttgart AWAY
PSV Eindhoven SSC Napoli AWAY
AIK Solna Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk AWAY
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Weekend Football Preview and Tips

Some decent betting propositions this weekend. Let’s start with the two big clashes of the premiership weekend, Man Utd v Spurs and Arsenal v Chelsea.

Manchester United v Tottenham

Manchester United seem to have rediscovered their mojo from somewhere and when they get into their stride they usually take some stopping. Tottenham themselves are finding the gears and are capable – on paper at least – of troubling the Reds. From somewhere, Man Utd have found enough in the locker to string together six wins on the bounce and I can see that becoming seven when the table is redrawn on Sunday night. I fancy Man Utd will concede a goal at some point but still go on to win this game.

Arsenal v Chelsea

Every great Arsenal side had a great defence at its heart, and the current incarnation is looking pretty good in that department. They beat Man City last week although some of the gloss was taken off that performance by City slipping up to Villa in the cup midweek. Podolski will prove to be a great purchase although he’ll never be as prolific as Van Persie but that’s no bad thing if there’s more support upfront and a different end game.

Chelseacame out of the blocks quickly and I don;t see them fading. They have some great new additions to the squad and having Lampard back to his best is a bonus. Eden Hazard could be one of the players of the season. There’s early London bragging rights at stake but a point apiece wouldn’t be a disaster at this juncture in the season and I think the spoils will be shared.

Norwich v Liverpool

I really hope, for Liverpool’s sake, that Brendan Rogers is given time – and I mean the term of his contract – to embed his philosophy and playing style. But in the modern game, immediate results are the only currency that buys you time and they look in short supply. The Reds looked better second half against West Brom midweek but they’ve got to do it week in, week out in the league.In truth, its not a great Liverpool squad and they do have issues in the Forward line. Norwich are proving difficult to beat but they’re just not winning enough. I wouldn’t back Liverpool just yet and the most likely full-time result is another draw at Carrow road. I can’t see there being a goal-fest but under 2.5 goals doesn’t appeal much either as 2-1 is my second choice of scoreline after 1-1.

Everton v Southampton

The mighty Whites (Leeds United to you) deservedly knocked Everton out of the League Cup midweek but that performance aside, Everton have looked solid this season. Southampton finally got some a win on the board  against Villa but this is altogether trickier. Everton should win – but at big odds-on I’m not interested. I’d rather have £1 on Piennar to score first than risk £20 on the home win – both would make the same return.

Sunderland v Wigan

This is an intriguing game. Sunderland remain unbeaten all season yet – with four draws in four games – they oly have four points to show for it. In several games they’ve led for long periods of the game only to concede a late equaliser. Fletcher looks a great buy but he’s a one-man goal machine at the moment and one goal is seldom enough these days to secure the points. You never quite know what to expect from visitors Wigan – sometimes world-beaters, often mediocre, sometimes stinkers. The Latics thrashed West Ham in the cup midweek but rarely string great performances together (unless its relegation great escape time). I hope I’m wrong but this looks more like a draw than a win for either side…. but that all depends on which Wigan side turn up.

Fulham v Manchester City

Now this will be a serious test of City’s credentials and title aspirations. Fulham are playing their best football for several years and are formidable at Craven Cottage. Martin Jol has got his squad aiming high and full of self belief, they are on a hat-trick of wins and won’t be afraid of the Citizens on home turf. It’s hard to believe that the East Manchester outfit have shipped an average of two goals a game in the league and they can’t calim to have key defenders missing. That’s doesn’t bode well when you consider Fulham are the joint-top goal scorers in the premiership. I wouldn’t be afraid of putting down hard cash on a Fulham victory, but the safer bets are both teams to score and over 2.5 goals. You have to think City will always score – and right now they look even more likely to concede at least one.

Reading v Newcastle

Reading need to find points from somewhere – and quickly. They are looking like one of those fighters-occasional-winners teams that don’t accumulate points and gradually lose touch with the teams above them. Last season, Newcastle were under-rated throughout and not given the credit they deserved even when the points and position were there for all to see. It seems the same is happening again this season. They are better than every team outside the big five, and yet they’re still vying for favouritism with Reading. They have a strong attacking line-up, a creative midfield, and solid defence. I expect Newcastle to win and they rate a decent bet in the outright market.

Stoke v Swansea

The Swansea engine is in meltdown currently following tame losses against Villa and Everton. They just scraped past Crawley 3-2 in the league cup midweek, having been behind twice. In contrast, Stoke have been consistently good so far this season without the points return they perhaps deserved. I fancy Crouch will score in a Stoke home win – possibly to nil.

Highlights from the Championship and lower leagues

Barnsley to beat Ipswich

In my opinion, this is one of the best bets in the Championship at the weekend. Barnsley have made a moderate start to the season, winning 3 and drawing 1 of their opening seven games to sit tenth in the league. They’ve picked up some good scalps in the process too including a massive 5-0 away win at Birmingham last weekend. In contrast, Ipswich are in the relegation mire with just five points from a possible 21 and one win to their name. Paul Jewell’s tenure is under threat and desperation is creeping into their play. Barnsley are tough to beat at Oakwell – unbeaten this season – and they will warm to the task against one of the weakest sides in the division.

Huddersfield to beat Watford

Watford are better than their league position would suggest but they face a Huddersfield side who are flying at the moment. They are a free scoring side and their defence is a bit tighter than last season too. Simon Grayson’s style of play and management is starting to embed itself and the results are pleasing. I fancy the Hornets to get stung by Town in another high scoring game.

Hull to beat Peterborough

Hull are 3 wins from 3 games at home, scoring 8 goals and letting in only 2. They face a Peterbrough side struggling for any sort of form home or away and can extend their winning home run to four on Saturday. The Posh have lost all seven games this season and I cant see that changing this week.

Wolves to beat Sheffield Wednesday

Since their opening day defeat away at Leeds, Wolves have gone from strength to strength and have won four of their last six league games – their only defeat coming away at Cardiff. At home they are undefeated and face a Wednesday side who have lost their last four games and will do well to avoid making it five losses on the spin.

Brighton to beat Birmingham

The Blues will still be smarting from their 0-5 home drubbing by Barnsley last weekend and now travel to the south coast to face a Brighton side who are top of the league, unbeaten at home, and have won their last five matches straight. Their wins have included some big results including 5-1 against Barnsley and 3-0 against Sheffield. I expect Brighton to account for a troubled Birmingham side.

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Champions League Football – Group Preview and Round 1 Picks

Group A – FC Porto, Dynamo Kiev, Dinamo Zagreb, Paris St. Germain

Dinamo Zagreb will be tougher to beat than many anticipate and will pick up points at home. Ultimately, though I think they will do well to avoiding finishing bottom of a moderate group.

Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kiev will fancy their prospects of toppling PSG and/or Porto and claiming one of the top two qualifying places. They are flying in the home premier league and I think they will share the spoils in their critical match-ups against PSG and Porto. It’s a tough call but I just think they might snatch second place. They start their campaign away at PSG and a point there will be a big springboard for a successful campaign.

Paris St. Germain is a big club that has underperformed domestically and been absence from this competition for the past eight years and I for one had to double check that statistic because it seems unfathomable for such a big club not to have qualified from the French league 1for so long, but the big investment from the middle east is starting to pay off.  It goes without saying expectations will be high but it may also be a wake up call to their owners what it takes to be successful in the ECL – it took Chelsea a long, long time before lifting the trophy last year. PSG have a classy squad but they need to perform on the big stage and I think they will. Ibrahimovic may score in the first game against Kiev but I fancy that game will finish 1-1. Should come through in a tight finish from Kiev and Porto.

FC Porto are the regulars of the ECL with more appearances than any club – including Man Utd and Barcelona – so they know all about qualifying and, if anything, they have a better squad this year. But they failed to get out of the group stages last season and I am predicting the same this time (3rd) but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they topped the group either – much depends on PSG and whether they are ready for the big test. Porto need to win their opening game against Zagreb as it should be the easiest match on paper.

Group B – Olympiakos, Montpelier, Schalke 04, Arsenal

Lets start with Arsenal who, despite the loss of RVP, look in good form coming into the ECL. It’s a tough group – but with the exception of Man Utd’s group, they all are – but I still make Arsenal favourites to top the table and qualify relatively comfortably.

The biggest challengers to Arsenal are likely to be Schalke 04 and French champions Montpellier. Schalke have started their domestic season well and their squad is solid enough and will be difficult to beat on their home ground and I think they’ll take second spot behing the Gunners. Montpellier could be the ones to surprise but they will need to leave their league form behind as they have got away to a terrible start in ligue 1, but this may just be the distraction they need.

Olympiakos are a reliable benchmark for an Arsenal side that beat them twice last year at this stage of the tournament. They missed out on progressing from the group stages by justa  point last season so they are capable of causing an upset.

Group C – AC Milan, Malaga, Zenit St Petersburg, Anderlecht

One of the tightest groups of the eight (that award does to group D), but AC Milan will be favourites to come through with Zenit and Malaga fighting it out for second spot. If Milan maximise their home points tally, they should come through by 3 or 4 points, but Malaga and St Petersburg have the potential to shock. I still think it’s between those two for second place and the opening game in Spain could be pivotal, especially if Zenit pick up more than a point.

Group D – Real madrid, Manchester City, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund

The most exciting and tightest groups in my opinion. Man City will be better in their second ECL campaign, but they’ll need to be as they are up against more experienced campaigners who can play a bit too. They face Real Madrid in the Bernabeu in their opening game and that might be the best time to play the Whites given their indifferent start in La Liga. It could be a classic but I rather suspect it will be a tight game and a point for City will feel like a victory. Dortmund are City’s big rivals for qualification and they will expect to defeat Ajax in the opener but all the games will be tight and home form will be crucial.

I think Madrid will come out top and City may just pip Dormund for the runner up spot.

Group E – Juventus, Chelsea, Shakhtar Donetsk, FC Nordsjaelland

Champions Chelsea start their defence in a tough-ish group but will still expect to come through and possibly should be favourites to top the table. Juventus will be a real challenge but I expect Chelsea to pick up maximum points at the Bridge and that will be enough. Shakhtar could surprise and will make Juve work for second spot and Nordsjaelland will battle hard ad give their supporters a year to remember, but ultimately will find points very hard to come by.

Group F – Bayern Munich, Valencia, Lille, Bate Borisov

One of the easier groups to predict. Bayern will top the group, Valencia and Lille will do battle for second… Valencia should just have enough.

Group G – Barcelona, Benfica, Spartak Moscow, Celtic

Some of the best football will come from this group. Celtic, needless to say, are really up against it after pre-qualifying but will enjoy the journey if not the final destination. They will need to pick up 7 or 9 points at home and try to squeeze points from their travels. Easier said that done against three strong outfits. Moscow and Benfica should be battling for second spot and I fancy last season’s quarter-finalists Benfica to progress out of the group – they might be the only side to take points off Barcelona too.

Group H – Manchester United, Braga, Galatasaray, CFR Cluj-Napoca

This should be a relative stroll for Man Utd – provided they can better their current premiership form and put last year’s disastrous campaign behind them. Second spot should be between Spartak and portugese side Braga – not much in it, Braga probably just favourites but I’m siding with Galatasaray to leverage the greater home advantage.
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Weekend Football Preview – 15-16 Sep 2012

Upper league football returns after the World Cup Qualifiers recess and the break won’t have come too soon for some of the early season strugglers.

Norwich v West Ham

That leads me nicely into the lunchtime game – live on ESPN –  between Norwich and West Ham. Both teams have played  Championship football in the last couple of seasons so will be acutely aware of the priority of survival.

Norwich has drawn two of their opening three games (not including the 2-1 league cup win over Scunthorpe) both 1-1 after their opening day stuffing by Fulham 5-0. In contrast, West Ham have won both of their games – both at Upton Park -since their opening day thumping 3-0 by Swansea. It’s too early in the season to draw any meaningful trend but its not difficult to see that West Ham are better at home and attack is their best part of defence, whereas Norwich have tightened up tactically since the opening game and this has nullified their attacking game too.  The best bets look to be both teams to score and a score draw.If pushed I’d probably favour 1-1 over 2-2.

Arsenal v Southampton

Funny old game, football. After the Gunners’ first two games without scoring a goal (and without conceding either), Wenger was past it and needed to be replaced, Van Persie could never be replaced and no one could see where the goals or points were going to come from. Suddenly an away 2-0 victory over Liverpool and the talk is of Champions League football and an abundance of talent coming back to fitness.

I do think Arsenal’s defence could be their greatest asset this season and they create too many chances for the goals not to flow. But I also think the poor state of Liverpool is as much to do with Arsenal’s Anfield win and both sides have some way to improve.

I think Southampton will make this tough (against many of their former team mates) but Arsenal will persevere, probably not sealing the win until late on. Another clean sheet for the gunners? Yes, I think it will become a personal mission for the defence and they will want to keep the sequence running.

I’m going for an old-fashioned 1-0 to the Arsenal .

Aston Villa v Swansea

A Villa side that don’t  score anywhere near enough (even when Bent is in form) against an attack minded Swansea side that are full of goals. Last season the Swans won this fixture 2-0 and I can see a similar scoreline this time round.

Swansea to win is one fo the bets of the day. Early candidate for find of the season, Michu, looks exciting, constantly getting in the box and looking to get “on the end of the ball” so 3.75 for anytime goalscorer looks fair value too.

Manchester United v Wigan

Man Utd have stumbled out of the blocks but luckily for them their rivals haven’t left them too far behind. They were deservedly beaten by Everton first week and both United victories since have had a fat slice of luck about them (3-2 against Fulham and Southampton). In contrast, Wigan have started brightly to their own standards. But before we get carried away, when the Wigan coach drives into Old Trafford it’s as if a spell transforms the team into invertebrates who just want to take their punishment and get the hell out of there. This could be the game that gives United a much needed clean sheet and some shooting practice, but purely on current form it could easily be another banana skin. I think Man Utd will win but not by the margin of previous years – and they may concede again too. The Champions League starts next week so United will be keen to rest players and put this one to bed early.

Fulham v West Brom

Craven Cottage isn’t the fortress it has been been in recent seasons (more to do with Manager), and West Brom certainly aren’t the cannon fodder they once were – in fact they deserve the “most improved” achievement for August. This smells like a draw, but West Brom shouldn’t be 3/1 – their form and style of play in the first three games deserves more credit – so the value play has to be for the Baggies them to win again.

Stoke v Manchester City

Man City take on Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium next Tuesday in the Champions League and it will be interesting to see a) what side mancini puts out for this game; and b) how the players perform with that game so near on the horizon. Playing a Stoke demands 100% concentration and I can see City slipping up in this game. Michael Owen may get a run out for the Potters and although he might ot be match sharp, he still knows how to bang in the goals and his “Little and Large” partnership with Crouch will be fascinating. Man City havent won any of the last five meetings at the Britannia Stadium and I think that will continue on Saturday.

I reckon a hard fought 1-1.

QPR v Chelsea

QPR are getting better….but then again, when you start off with a 5-0 loss to Swansea on the opening day, that’s not difficult. They are trying to buy their way up the table…like Chelsea of old… but it will take time for the side to gel and the results to go their way. They almost managed to take a point from Man City last time and they’ll need to shwo the same determination this time. Chelsea have been solid this year – Hazard looks a fine investment and Lampard is enjoying something of a revival. I think Chelsea will win but only by the odd goal – Lampard to score again, probably from the spot! Chelsea have a Champions League game midweek so team selection may be a factor.

Sunderland v Liverpool

Sunderland should be favourites for this one. Liverpool lack confidence and a game plan, whereas Sunderland are solid, dependable and have strengthened their squad sensibly. I can see Liverpool struggling to score again here and Sunderland look certain to notch at least one.

Home win – possibly to nil.

 

 

 

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