Week of December 21, 2014 – Premier League Picks

Stream of consciousness this week… as usual… so keep the expectations the same as Burnley’s when reading… low.

Just a couple of weeks left until we get to the post Christmas table and the plethora of predictions and prognostications that come with it.   The so called “Curse of Christmas” that says the bottom club always gets relegated (except when they don’t – West Bromwich and Sunderland just last year with their improbable come-back).    Of course, back in 2005-6 Watford has one win by Christmas and proceeded to go down back into First Division.

Last year was good for Liverpool fans: Suarez scored the most goals in a calendar month (10) and Manchester United stunk it up with back to back lossed.  This year? Well Liverpool might not want to talk about it too much…

That Stink is not my Diaper, it’s My Team

So how will things go this week?

20-Dec-14  
Manchester Citeh2-1Crystal Palace
Tottenham Hotspuds 2-0Burnley
West Ham United1-1Leicester Foxes
Southampon1-1Toffee Men
Q.P.R.2-2The Bromwich
Aston Villa 1-3Man U
Hull Tigers1-2Swansea

Manchester City’s owners have tried to make it clear they have a long term plan.  A youth program that has Paul Scholes concerned about the future of his team.  Now the bosses are updating the University of Manchester’s Owens Park Campus.  I can say first hand that it needed updating back in 1990’s…  The point is, perhaps it’s time that we gave the owners credit for more than just pumping money into a team.  I know it galls Man United fans but recent history points to the reds being more dependent on revenue streams than ever.   Two shirt sponsors?

Anyway, Crystal Palace are a tough nut to crack and drew against a stubborn Stoke City team last time out.  Citeh are missing key players Aguero, Negredo (yes, I count him) and it’s getting tough to see where the consistent platform is.. fortunately, they have Silva playing again.  He’s the little engine that can and with movement that frees up the space for Ya Ya to move forward and really be the attacking threat he should be.  They’ll take advantage of the big African before his nation comes calling for some tournament overseas that wrecks many an EPL game.

Last week the Spuds finally won against 10 men and have moved all the way up to 7th spot.  Pochettino must really know what he’s doing now.   I see Burnley and I see a team that has less wins than Q.P.R. and that’s not good.  Another 3 pts will have us discussing the reality that the Y*d Army might actually be travelling to Europe next year.

I finally gave West Ham their due and West Ham continue to win.  It has to end because it has to end, doesn’t it.  There was a time when even the fans wanted Fat Sam “You Kill Football” Allardyce..so what is it?  Maybe it’s their “attacking” coach?  It might be, it might not, but if my wife was in charge she would approve of the attacking coach.

Gratuitous Shot of Handsome Man

I think the Foxes will eek out a draw.

Southampton have been on a slide of late – which comes as no surprise with their schedule – but they need to halt it and they’re going up against a team that’s position is higher than its play deserves, but lower than their team should be.  I think this will be a thoroughly entertaining game with both teams looking for a win to try and position themselves for success at the end of the Christmas run.

Queens Park Rangers and West Brom are two teams at the wrong end of the table.  For one it is no surprise but for the other there was hope that they could start to cement their position in the Premier League.  I expect this will be as dour a 2-2 draw as you can get 50-50% possession all in the middle of the park, 6 shots on goal 5 on target and 4 goals.  I won’t know because I’ll be watching the other side.

Aston Villa are finally in the bottom half but keep pulling out the odd victory (2-1 over Leicester a couple of weeks ago).  At half time they will be winning and the conversations will go both ways:  are Villa better than their possession?  are the team from near Manchester not as good as their six consecutive wins suggest?  Did we call the recovery too soon?  Nope – second half is dominant possession with a trio of goals and more talk that LVG is manager of the year….

Hull failed to score against West Brom. Swansea have failed to beat anyone recently.  It’s a toss up but Swansea are better than Hull and that should count for something.  I think it’s surprising to see Hull so far down the table.. if Leicester can pick up a surprise win against West Ham then Hull will be crowned winner of the Christmas Curse.

14-Dec-14  
The Magpies2-1Sunderland
Liverpool1-2Arsenal

Newcastle are are officially in trampoline mode defeats at the front end of the season with speculation of manager of the football clubs future… followed by victories, manager of the month to a disastrous result against Arsenal and Spurs in the Milk Capital Coca-Cola Cup (4-0?  Didn’t no Spurs had 4 goals in them!).  So this is another key point in the season – a home game against local rival  at a pivotal time.  Will Pardew be hero or villain? Will Newcastle sink or swim….are we repeating last year?  I think not, Newcastle will hover mid-table and it starts with a win.

The big game this week is Arsenal and Liverpool home of the fkw.  I’m tired of picking Liverpool to do anything.  Against Basel Brendan played a defensive team (if you could figure out what he was trying to do at all) and I don’t see that he has much of a plan other than praying that Sturridge is as good as we know he can be.  That’s the most damning statement I can make – we can keep blaming the injury to Sturridge for Liverpool’s poor form but can that really be the cause?  I guess Arsenal blamed last year on Ramsey being hurt.. and City are lining up the Aguero excuse … and even Arsenal are looking at Koscielny as an excuse.. yes….Koscielny??

Well it’s a bad week for Brendan and they will lose.

22-Dec-14  
Stoke City1-1Chelsea

Chelsea are away against a decent Stoke team.  Jose would never admit it but would take a solid 1-1 draw on the heels of a bitter defeat.

 

This week’s hotseat:

hr

 

Would be Brendan but I think there’s patience to see how things progress with Sturridge.

 

 

Week of December 14, 2014 – Premier League Picks

So it’s already the weekend and there are some key games this week.  For those players that are playing one game at a time, this is that game at that time.

13-Dec-14  
Sunderland1-0West Ham
West Bromwich Albion2-2Aston Villa
Leicester City 1-3Manchester City
Crystal Palace1-1Stoke City
Chelsea 4-0Hull City
Burnley 1-3Southampton
Arsenal2-1Newcastle

I picked West Ham last week after my brain insisted that their run of form can’t be a fluke.  This week my brain insists that West Ham just aren’t that good.   Are they good enough to beat a team that has managed just two wins this whole year?  I would hope so.  But they won’t.

Every week I’m convinced West Brom will play well and score 2 good goals only to allow their opposition in to level it up.  Every stopped clock is right twice a day.. this prediction might hold once a season but I feel very good about it this week.  Local derby, at home and the undeniable truth that West Brom need to start moving up the table as much as I expect Aston Villa to move down the table.

It’s hard to see Leicester putting up much of a game against a team from Manchester (despite winning at the team from near Manchester 5-3 earlier in the season) with Sergio in the team; but the Kun Aguero is out and Dzeko is again set to take a starring role as the under-appreciated goal-scoring machine he is 48 in 114… now if he could finish as well as he gets chances, it would be closed to 90 in 114.  He’s like a loaded gun that gets jammed rather frequently but is quite effective if it actually goes off.   I think Silva is back though and that bodes well because his movement frees up Ya Ya and makes him more effective.  David Silva is the little engine that can and does – he could setup Dzeko ten times.. so I expect at least two goals.

Crystal Palace will draw with Stoke and of all the games being televised this should be one of the least watched.   Stoke work hard as a team, Crystal Palace work hard as a team.  All that hard work sounds like a grind it out draw.

Chelsea lost last week.  Hull have won only one game in their last ten.  Time for Chelsea to show their dominance once again.  I do hope they hit a long injury spell in their second team so that the FA Cup game against Watford in January will be fair.  For this game, the result is going to be as lopsided as a rubber faced male post-stroke.

This is a critical game for Southampton ( aren’t they all? No they aren’t).  Suffering two losses in a row against top teams could dent confidence at a time when they have more tough matches scheduled over winter.   Points against the top teams are bonus, losses against the lower teams is poor form.  I fully expect a comfortable win though to show that they are still European material.  If they lose?  Expect a lot of chatter and a potential downswing in expectations.

Arsene was going to be Alan Pardew but he went to Europe and fixed all the negativity by winning with Podolski (guy needs more starting time).  I know Newcastle are playing decent football but Arsenal should still hold on for the victoire!  Allez-Giroud!

14-Dec-14  
Manchester United 2-2Liverpool
Swansea City 1-1Tottenham Hotspurs

This week’s Alan “I’m a part of this club and not being fired” Pardew award goes to a rather surprising entry this week.  Brendan Rodgers is looking at a team sitting almost at the top of the table, the top of the bottom half of the table.  He’s looking at a team that got bounced from Europe with a lackluster must win game.   There has been chatter about team selection, team style, and team substance.  Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson (no creative juices really flowing there) are playing while Mallela sits on the bench.  Meanwhile,  Rickey Lambert is on the bench with Balotelli.  It’s not the fact that they’re not playing, it’s the fact that this is what BR has brought in to the club.  Ouch.

Looks like BR has got his cannons ready to fire at the arch nemesis team from near-Manchester.

I will press the Launch button if pressed.

So this week, being in the Alan Pardew seat means that his team gets a result against Manchester United at the old toilet?  No..

What is there to say about the disappointing Spurs?  Basically that they’re really no more or less disappointing that any other team in terms of position, mid-table.  That said, they are disappointing because there were high expectations set with Soldado scoring in Spain, Dembele once looking like one of the most gifted possession midfielders in the league, and the likes of Lamela showing speed in the gaps.  Kyle Walker got hurt, Soldado stopped scoring, and Ryan Mason become the play-maker.  That just does not look very good.  Soldado scored so maybe there is a run coming? I’m not sold so I give them a tough draw.   Money at the bookies should be on “My Name is Harry Kane” scoring the equalizer late on.

Bookmaker Tip:  Combination bet on 1-1 with Kane scoring.

15-Dec-14  
Everton 2-0Queens Park Rangers

While Rodgers is enjoying the current hot-seat, Martinez gets to watch his team continue to struggle: 18 pts from from 15 games is a bad record but that’s really not the worst of it. Everton are below Aston Villa and the “Chosen One” Mourinho is looking like a genius in getting great value from Lukaku.  I haven’t given up on on him yet – he’s young, he’s big, and he has potential.  I’m hoping he doesn’t end up being like Kevin Campbell – always so close to being great (37 goals in 130+games doesn’t scream disappointment but not very mind blowing) but Everton and Martinez need him to start showing up consistently.

They’re playing QPR though, so while the game will be tough, I see them pulling out a decent victory.  So….Martinez, be careful, the APP is looking for it’s next manager.

Not the Alan Parson Project
Not the Alan Parson Project

Week of December 7, 2014 – Premier League Picks

Another December week and some interesting notes taken away from the mid week.

Firstly, I need to quit picking against West Ham – maybe they really aren’t relegation fodder?  Secondly, I need to quit picking against Aston Villa … nah, this week was an anomaly against a more mediocre team.  Liverpool maybe turning the corner?  Everton still going in a straight line?  Spurs showing up at the weekend before disappearing again.

Perhaps most gratifying to my prognostication ego;  a poor start to the winter for Southampton – losses to Arsenal and Citeh – and it’s not looking to get easier any time soon; a Manchester United team shaking off it’s early season stuttering.  Let’s see if the form holds!

6-Dec-14  
Newcastle United1-1Chelsea
Tottenham Hotspur1-0Crystal Palace
Stoke City1-2Arsenal
Liverpool 1-0Sunderland
Hull City2-2West Brom
Queens Park Ranger 1-1Burnley
Manchester City2-0Everton

Alan Pardew, latest bookmakers favorite for Manager of the Year, stays at home to take on the current undefeated top of the tablers, Chelski.   According to the “Chosen One”, Newcastle play a lot of games like friendlies; however, they make an effort to try against his team which is the burden of being the best.  It’s not often the Jose throws compliments around so I think a  back-handed one is better than nothing.  It does perhaps indicate a certain wariness about the trip up North.

Pardew says that it will be impossible for Chelsea to remain undefeated this year.  I don’t disagree but I am not sure that the Magpies have what it takes to take a victory.

Friendlies? We don’t play Friendlies…

Spurs beat Everton last week and Soldado scored!  No doubt somewhere a very lucky punter won a bet on that gamble!  Then they got trounced by Chelsea.  So which Spuds will show up this week?  Winners or Losers?  It’s hard to say but the result is probably more dependent on the play of the Eagles.  It’s hard to be positive about a team that lost to Aston Vill, so Spurs it is.  Barely.

Arsenal are a good team that have had poor form.  Alexis and Danny Welbeck are beginning to work well together.  Giroud scored a cracker against Manchester United so it’s easy to think they’re prime to have a positive winter.  It will be tough but despite people’s opinions on the frailties of Arsenal’s defense, Mertesacker is a World Cup winner and Chambers is not too bad.   While it took a last ditch effort against 10 to beat Southampton, they beat Southampton.

Liverpool are another team destined to eventually get going.  It’s shocking to look at the table and see them in the top 10 but they are there and I think are definitely priming for a run back to the top 5.  A tough Sunderland team will keep it tight.

Hull and West Bromwich are two teams.   Two teams two goals each in a tie.  Sounds fair but not a good result for either as they are both lower in the table than they would want to be at this stage of the season.

Queens Park Rangers are in the position they’re likely to occupy for a long time: bottom three.  Burnley are in the position they’re likely to occupy for a long time: bottom three.  Burnley have been playing fairly well and have started finding the net again (it’s right there between those posts!) so it’s a good chance to try and make a gap between them and their fellow relegation candidates.   It’s one of those days that fate interrupts and reminds them that both of them deserve to be near the bottom and forces a last gasp equalizer from QPR.

Everton have been disappointing this year and it’s hard to see where things will change.  I predicted a big year for Lukaku but it doesn’t seem that he’s able to be the constant threat that you need a goalscorer to be.  He’s a slightly less complete Welbeck which isn’t something that you’d try and build a future on.   Manchester City have been finding ways to win.  YaYa and Sergio are both a constant threat to score and that’s the difference between the teams.   Both of them will make good on at least one threat each.

7-Dec-14  
West Ham2-1Swansea City
Aston Villa1-1Leicester City

West Ham will win.  I’m now convinced that this is not just a fluke – they keep winning!  The Swans are just not as consistent and this week is a down week.

A derby game of sorts.  A clash between the team at the bottom of the table and the team that I think might end up near the bottom of the table.  It’s not going to be long before Lambert is going to start feeling the pressure.  It’s now nine games without a win for the Foxes – a run that Villa snapped against Crystal Palace on Tuesday night.  In this game there are no winners.

 

8-Dec-14  
Southampton 2-3Manchester United

Southampton can’t lose three in a row, can they?  Why yes they can, and they will.  Manchester United will play their famous 2-4-2-1 formation and outscore the Saints in a back and forth dual (in case you’re wondering, I only count the three defenders as 2/3 of a player each).

And in the holiday spirit… a kind of “who will they sell next?”

Open a Door and Receive a Player!

 

 

Week of December 2 and 3, 2014 – Premier League Picks

Ugh… it’s December and I have to remember to update these picks during the middle of the week.

Manchester United are set to benefit from the December Crunch; however, Stoke are an organized and annoying team that I think will be organized and annoying and hold the Reds to a pretty non-satisfying tie.  1-1.

Swansea are one of those cusp teams that look good and play nice but can then lose any week.  Any week that they’re not playing QPR, that is. 2-1

Liverpool are going to turn it around.  No really, they will. There is all this talk of Gerrard being “past it” being “too old”.  Well if Fat Frank can score goals for city there’s no reason that Stevie G can’t for Liverpool.   I did a search to see how old he looks and was surprised to find he still looks quite youthful! 1-2

Old Stevie G

I’m not sure about Newcastle.  Now that Alan Pardew has take his team away from the drop zone into a title chasing new position in just  few weeks, it’s tough to know what they will do next..surely lose a few and here him talk about “the football club” and “this club’s fans” in the context of relegation and firing once again.  It can be convenient to not name the club you’re managing on the off chance you end up somewhere else.  But Newcastle can beat bottom team Burnely, despite their positive run.

The Wests are playing… the Brom and the Hammers.  This has 2-2 written all over it.

Crystal Palace and Aston Villa had opposite runs last year.  The Palace fighting off relegation and Aston Villa fighting for a win.Should be an engaging team but I’m continuing to put all my faith in Villa going down. 1-0

2-Dec-2014  
Manchester United 1-1Stoke City
Swansea City2-1Queens Park Rangers
Leicester City1-2Liverpool
Burnley1-2Newcastle United
West Bromwich Albion2-2West Ham United
Crystal Palace2-1Aston Villa

Tough games for all but this is the second game in a treacherous run for the Arsenal Feeder team  Southampton – I truly wonder where they will end up at the end of December.  if they retain a position in the top 3? Chalk them in for Champions League.

A tough Sunderland team held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw so this is a great chance for Manchester City to pick up some points on the leaders.  Ya Ya is running into some decent form, appearing in and out depending on who he has to try and carry.  Aguero is always good for a goal – some real form from Navas, or a little more penetration in the final third and they should put in a hatful of goals.  Will be tough to keep a clean sheet with Kompany out .   This is not the high-flying city of last year – this is the barely good enough Chelsea version of City. 1-0

Everton a poor loss at the weekend to a struggling (but higher up the table than you’d think)  Spuds.  If you listened to the interview with Roberto Martinez you’d think it was down to them not playing their best, Spurs playing better, and just some mistakes here and there.  Roberto – you’re not working as a TV analyst anymore!   It’s actually quite refreshing to hear straight talk from the boss.  Everton at home against a poor Hull side?  Should be a win.   Fully expect a “superlative” goal from Ross Barkley so we can continue in this believe that he’s a top international and future hope for England. 1-0.

This Game we Will be Thumbs Up!

Arsenal will come out on top this week on the simple basis that they can’t continue to not win.  Southampton won’t drop too far..but this is going to be a rough patch for Ronald K and his boys.

Chelsea are too good for an average Spurs team though nothing would bring me more Premier league joy than the Y*d Army taking it to the Blues and crushing them.  Never bet with your heart! My brain says it’s a no brainer which leaves me to wonder what I should be using to choose this result. 2-0

3-Dec-14  
Sunderland 0-1Manchester City
Everton1-0Hull City
Arsenal 2-1Southampton
Chelsea 2-0Tottenham Hotspur

 

Week of November 8, 2014 – Premier League Picks

I really should figure out a way to automate the making of this site.  Every week creating a table to capture results and then hours of dedicated analysis before taking the remaining time quickly hacking together the text because it’s late takes an awful long time.  Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to predict that Spurs are going to be rubbish.

I started this site to capture the picks and commentary I used to make every Friday afternoon in 10 minutes over instant messenger in the office.  It was less serious and far more silly but that’s what made it charming and funny.  Perhaps next week I’ll go back to the old format and just cut and paste the discussion in here – it’ll be like “Men In Blazers” only it will be “Men In Business Casual” in separate cities finding each other to discuss the happenings of Liverpool and Watford football clubs.

It was fortunate that Levi reminded me this week that there were games – for some reason I thought this was an empty week.

Coming soon I will create a summary post.  I’ve done well some weeks and poorly others- I think it will be interesting to come up with a method of actually calculating how well (or not) I’ve done.  Anyway…moving on because I’m at that stage where I’m quickly hacking something … like Paul Scholes trying to make a tackle !

This is not going to end well
This is not going to end well
8-Nov-14  
Liverpool1-1Chelsea
West Ham United1-0Aston Villa
Southampton2-0Leicester City
Manchester United3-1Crystal Palace
Burnley0-1Hull City
Queens Park Rangers1-2Manchester City

So this week I promised Levi that I would pick against Liverpool as my prior selections have obviously had a negative impact on the game (much less than Sturridge’s absence, apparently).  I really want to pick Chelsea with my brain.  I really want to pick Liverpool with my heart (more because it hates Chelsea than loves Liverpool).  So what am I supposed to do?  Brendan rested half of his squad against Real Madrid in the week.   This has been reported as a move that makes this game more important than it is: there is no justification needed for mid-week team selection.  Liverpool had the ability to rest players throughout the year and stay fresh because European football was something they watched and didn’t participate in.. who am I kidding? Suarez gone.  Sturridge out.  Jordan Henderson playing more like the average player he is. Liverpool isn’t as good, end of discussion.   Are Chelsea showing signs of sputtering?  I don’t think so but Anfield is worth -1 goal for the opposition and Chelsea park the bus against bigger teams on the road. 1-1

If they lose? I suggest Liverpool focus on the Milk Cup.

West Ham and Villa.  For you a little poem:  Roses are Red.  You play in Claret and Blue.  Both of you are rubbish.  That’s enough of you two.  Benteke out as a result of the red card against Spuds last week and that doesn’t help – 3 games for touching the face of someone putting their head in your face seems harsh to me.   1-0

Southampton have been playing well with their famous skilled players that include England international Nathaniel Clyne.  Leicester are in a free fall since they left Manchester United on the tail end of a 5-3 whupping.  2-0

Manchester United have benefited from some weak play at the top of the table that has kept them in touch with the top 4 putting them higher in the table than they deserve.  Crystal Palace are bad but Neil Warnock will organize them for battle and try and play a stifling game.  It won’t work.  Manchester United seem to be playing better with the now superb signing of Fellaini reaping rewards as he clearly is their best player (well he was a couple of weeks ago).  As long as they keep their cool they will breeze by the London team.  Rooney will probably score because there is an international coming up and , you know, got to give the England fans hope that we can win. 3-1

Burnley.  Roses are Red.  You play in Claret and Blue.  You are rubbish.  That’s enough of you.  Hull City Tigers are a tough team and will eek out a win.  I won’t know if the game is good or not because these are two teams I generally avoid when picking who I want to watch at the weekend.  0-1.

Manchester City took advantage of a small(ing) error by Manchester United last week and appeared once again to be turning the tide.  Then they went to Europe and walked around and let CSKA beat them in Champions League.  Let’s keep it simple and assume that Pellegrini knows how to have a Roy Keane type moment scare or stir his team into action.   They are nothing like the team of last year and yet are still the only real challenge to Chelski so it’s important that they turn it around.  Ya Ya was the best player in the league last year – this year he’s not even the best player on the team and it shows.   He shows flashes of brilliance, like the pass that broke open Man U, but flashes of laziness with weak efforts from distance.  I suspect any flash is good enough to beat QPR.

Flash Gordon
Flash Gordon
Public Flash
Public Flash

Well maybe not any flash, but one flash of brilliance from YaYa or Sergio ought to be plenty.

Flash of Brilliance..
Flash of Brilliance..

It won’t though and they’ll win a hard earned 3 pts with a late goal.

8-Nov-14  
Sunderland0-1Everton
West Bromwich Albion2-2Newcastle United
Tottenham Hotspur2-1Stoke City
Swansea City 2-2Arsenal

 

 

Everton are inconsistent and looked poor last week.  Sunderland are inconsistent now (though consistently drawing early on) and won last week.  Form says that Everton will win.

West Bromwich and Newcastle are two teams that just scream entertaining game when paired up.  It’s going to be end to end with lots of goals and ultimately Alan Pardew gets a result away from his now adoring fans!   2-2 seems a fair and good result.

I suggest Spurs focus on the Milk Cup.  It’s pretty clear that this week Harry Cane will start for the Spuds which can only mean they find a new way to look bad for the first half with Harry failing to score or get a shot in.  At half time they will bring him off and Adebayor or Soldado (not sure who will be benched with Harry on) will come on and look like Marco Van Basten and score a cracker that breaks the game open and sets up another that brings the game home.  A late consolation can’t ruin the weekend but now Pochettino will have anothe striker crisis.   Everyone makes career choices they regret – I think he wishes he was back at Southampton where the winning is easy.  2-1.

Arsenal get Wolcott back. Arsenal have Giroud in training.  Arsenal have Sanchez playing like he’s the buy of the year.  It’s all looking up!  But then they get on the field and it doesn’t gel and come together.  Swansea aren’t a bad team, and at home you have to think they have a good chance.   Especially when you consider Arsenal’s defense is just not a good solution and is struggling to keep the goals out.  Letting in 3 against Anderlecht had Piers Morgan begging Kompany to join (until they lost to CSKA).  They’ll do well, score 2 and draw.

Fin

 

 

Week of November 1, 2014 – Premier League Picks

It’s halloween and I’m sure many people in Spain are dressed up as the vampirous Mr Suarez.

Vampire Suarez

It is a shame that it’s so easy to make fun of Suarez because it really negates how much Liverpool miss him this year, especially with Sturridge hurt and Balotelli playing like he wants to hurt Brendan’s chances of actually fielding a winning team.   Early this week Mr Suarez (in a losing effort) showed off his seemingly unlimited skills while making us forget he missed a chance earlier in the game.  Of course if the guy with the skilled feed wasn’t such a flat out A1 idiot none of this would be discussed in the first place.

 

1-Nov-14  
Newcastle United1-1Liverpool
Leicester City2-2West Bromwich Albion
Stoke City1-1West Ham United
Hull City1-2Southampton
Everton2-1Swansea City
Chelsea3-0Queens Park Rangers
Arsenal3-1Burnley

Liverpool are not the same team as they were last year and nor apparently are Newcastle.  Alan Pardew is rapidly moving from zero to hero and losing his position as favorite to get the sack to Gus Poyet and Harry Redknapp who’s looking more and more defeated.. almost as much as his team feels defeated…and more to the point, how he used to feel at Spurs a few years ago.

Harry is now Favorite for the Sack

So with teams going in different directions, it’s only fair to assume they will meet in the middle.  1-1.  Question is, who will score the goal for the reds? Will it be Balotelli? Will Markovic show up?  I still think Liverpool are a team that will improve as the season goes on and the young players buy into his system.  Oh, and they give up on Balotelli and the Englishman who can’t score.

Midlands derby.  Leicester and West Brom duke it out like two teams in the middle of the table.  Rough, quick, an “advert for the English game” as the commentators say.  Game will be split and honours shared.

It’s about time someone put West Ham in their place – that place being anywhere in the lower half of the Premier League (or preferably the lower divisions).  The Giraffe might be lanky but scoring for him is a tall order…. geddit?  That joke is as good as this score draw bore draw will be.

There is a part of me saying “Pick the Home team, Pick the Home team” and there is another piece of me saying “Hull are rubbish, Steve Bruce is a crap manager”.  Looks like I think that Steve Bruce is crapper than playing at home is an advantage.  To be fair to Steve Bruce, he has them mid table and fighting week in and week out… to be unfair, I wonder if this is the week he literally pops and explodes on the field.

Everton are going to be in the right half of the table (or is that top half) after winning against a decent Swansea team.  Lukaku is going to score and Everton will continue to make Goodison park a place that no one wants to go by channeling their inner David Moyes.   Martinez will dial back the passing and rely on the long ball over the top which will fail until his big forward pops up to score from a set piece.  A right proper English goal for the Belgian.

Chelsea will beat QPR into a pulp.  The scoreline will stay on the classy side of a massive defeat because everyone knows that Hazard can get lazy..

Arsenal are in need of a win because Arsene is beginning to hear the rumblings of the crowd again… they want him out (because they want Bruce Rioch or George Graham back?).  Meanwhile he will use the magic of his mind to make the referee miss obvious and flagrant fouls in the same way he does but it doesn’t work as Jack Wilshere does his best impression of an impetuous Gascoigne and gets himself sent off for two yellow cards created  by refusing to brake as he runs towards an enemy combatant.  It will be after Sanchez has scores twice and Theo comes on and adds a little pace (and a goal) so it won’t matter in the long run.  Sanchez will enjoy his new role as a free roaming player and start to show off what he can offer in the right position.

You Will Not Send Off My Players
2-Nov-14  
Manchester City3-3Manchester United
Aston Villa1-2Tottenham Hotspur

I had already forgotten the 5-2 whupping of last year but still remember the 5-1 drubbing of yesteryear put on by the young Maine Road kids that failed to live up to subsequent expectations.  Neither teams knows how to defend and bot teams know how to score.  End to end… will be a thriller with two goals early, two goals late and the false hope of a decider for a short period in the middle.   It will always be United chasing the game but that will suit LVG who will claim that they are hoping to reach the standard of their neighbours as they are tired of being the second best team (almost) in Manchester.  Fans of the Reds are happy with the result and will enjoy the 2 hour ride back to London.

I do not want to pick the Hot Spurts away… but this is the Villains opportunity to blow another game and drift down the table.  No idea who can score for Spurs but I’ll venture a guess and say Eriksen because he’s the only forward they have.  Soldado will probably score a penalty as Lamela gets fouled in the box.

3-Nov-14  
Crystal Palace1-0Sunderland

I don’t really watch Monday games.  This one I really won’t even try to watch.  Yawn.

Week of October 24, 2014 – Premier League Picks

It’s already another week – seems the days are crammed closer together than the table; just a quick glance at the table shows that the gap between 1st and 2nd is the same as the gap from 4th to 17th.  Crazy.

We’re still early days and there’s a lot that will change: West Ham will not finish in a European position, Everton won’t be in the basement half of the division, Watford will have a new manager (perhaps).  A lot of things won’t change: Chelsea and City dominating the top of the table with the only question being which one of them clinches the title.   Chelsea in particular have been dominant and I’m sure many have Costa winning the golden boot and the team striding away like Arkle (even carrying the extra weight of José’s antics).

Chelsea Leading From the Front

So it’s very late and I want to make the picks nice and quick today.

24-October 2014  
West 'am0-2Manchester Citeh
West Brum2-2*Crystal Palace
Soonderland1-2The Arse
Liverpool2-1Hull City Tigers
The Saints1-1Stoke
Swansea2-1Lester

What does the Championship and a workman’s tool belt?
Both should have Hammers in them.

Unfortunately, we have to see the claret and blue struggling in the Premier League. What’s that you say? They’re 4th?  Well that’s going to come to a quick end in this week as they face the Citeh.   Aguero is not playing like he wants to be the PFA Player of the Year and the team around him seems to be happy to play along with it.   West Ham, it’s just one loss, but a couple of those on the bonk will see you where you belong… alongside teams that share your eye for colour.  0-2

av
Trick Question: Which one of these teams will end in the bottom half?

West Brom will win this week against a Crystal Palace team that is experiencing the end of a long honeymoon.   2-1

It is shocking to realize that despite the early season promise of Arsenal and the predictions of Man United’s demise  that Arsenal behind the Devils and are only 3 points ahead of Sunderland!  A total of 11 points in 8 games is dismal and I crown Wenger as Prince Pardew… the next man to have his head on the chopping block.  Arsenal charge a fortune for their fans to watch just-good-enough-ocrity and it’s finally reaching tipping point when the win rate is well under 50%.  Sunderland got thwacked 8-0 by a rampant Southampton next week.  There’s no indication that was anything but an anomaly but that doesn’t mean they have a chance, either.  1-2

I should point out that picking any results other than a draw when two teams have combined for 10 in their first 16 games is not paying attention to statistics.

Livi wanted me to pick Hull.  I won’t do it.  I can’t do it.  Not because Liverpool are good.  Because I don’t think Hull are anything much to worry about, especially at Anfield. 2-1 but it could be more if Balotelli shows up this week after I spend the week discussing how overrated he is based on performances thus far.   Rodgers has hinted at a January sale – but who would want him?  Think he would work in the Championship, so maybe Watford will use him  – he’s at least as good as Deeney, right?

The Saints scored 8 against Sunderland last week.  Won’t happen again.  There’s a cliche that says winning makes you complacent – maybe that will hold true, maybe it won’t.  What I do know is that Stoke are a tough side that scare people with their mean play – winning about the same number of games that they lose and draw.  That’s a bad joke about being average/mean.  1-1.

Swansea are high up the table where they seem to think they belong. Leicester beat Manchester United this year which is enough for me to like them a little; however, that has no impact on my selection: Leicester just ain’t no good.

25-October 2014  
Tottenham Hotspurts2-1Newcastle Un-United
Burnley0-2Everton
Manchester United2-1Chelsea

Spurs are mid table and they will win against the current Pardew team that seems to be over-performing and trying to keep him employed.  Every week Spurs has issues – whether it’s hapless marking in the box, failing to score, failing to pass to people on the same team… but this week?  This week they will dominate the game and win 2-1 with a goal that is as spectacular as this:

But that’s nothing new

Everton played in their silly Euro Trash competition while Burnley had the opportunity to sit it out and drink a cuppa tea.   Everton started poorly but they should win 2-0.

Manchester United against Chelsea should be a good game but it won’t be.  General consensus is that Chelsea will dominate but I don’t see how they can win when they are going to shut-down and play counter football.  Man U will just park in their half next to the Chelsea bus.  Boring Boring Chelski!  They’ll equalize but Manchester will press and score.
This is my least favorite game of the year.

27-October 2014  
Q.P.R.0-0Aston Villains

Finally Aston Villa area heading in the direction I predicted, down.

Week of October 4, 2014 – Premier League Picks

Another week has passed by and I’m sitting here late on a Friday wondering why I signed up for this.  This week I’m in Philly PeeAy to checkout a concert that might not happen and the “other” football as the Eagles play the St Louis Rams to the theme of Rocky…..

Fly Eagles Fly….  could be something that Crystal Palace Try.

And here we go.  I’m very tired so not thinking 100% straight…

4-October 2014  
Swansea City2-1Newcastle United
Hull City1-2Crystal Palace
Sunderland1-1Stoke City
Liverpool2-2*West Bromwich Albion
Leicester City2-1Burnley
Aston Villa0-3Manchester City

If there was a competition for longest tenured manager in the league, Alan Pardew would have a silver medal podium-finished (we could even say he medalled if you like changing how the English language works).   Unfortunately, the competition that Alan Pardew is in – is the Premier League were he doesn’t have a realistic chance  playing with a team no knowing if they are coming or going (I sense a bathroom humour joke somewhere here).

Swansea haven’t been setting houses on fire they’ll put more fuel on the fire… and win 2-1

I’ve said that I overrate Hull and so this is the week that I finally give in and go against the grain.  This week the Eagles will fly!  1-2 despite the fact that a Steve Bruce team is acting rather un-Steve Bruce like team and banging in the goals.

If ever a game said draw it would be Pictionary but if ever a premier league game could speak to us and assure us that a draw is coming it has to be Sunderland – Stoke. Expect a turgid affair. 1-1

Liverpool has been downright disappointing so far this year.  I thought that Suarez was the best player last year and it always looked like it would be hard for Liverpool to eek out the same number of goals (and free kicks).   I did think they would win and do well but it was predicated on Sturridge being healthy.. and then Balotelli showing up with goals rather than just pure workrate.  Neither has happened but this week they will finally get some goals from the possession.. maybe Balotelli’s hard work will pay off. 2-0  [Though I always pick WBA to draw 2-2]

I Feel Like Alan Pardew with a Better Contract!

Leicester City have heart.  Burnley had theirs ripped out by a rampant West Brom.   Love the baggies but the Foxes are going to bag it with Schmeichel Junior proving too good. . 2-1

Here we are.  The dreaded Aston Villa pick… oh how I want you in the bottom three but I am drawn to you through some unknown force… you are my bane, my kryptonite… and you will lose at home by 3 goals scored by a little Argentinian and a tall B & Hian.  Time to put Fat Frank back on the bench and let him rest his old legs.  0-3

I think we’ve seen the best of Villa for the year.  A few losses on the bounce being served soon!

5-October 2014  
Manchester United3-2Everton
Tottenham Hotspur2-1Southampton
Chelsea2-1Arsenal
West Ham2-0QPR

Manchester United will be without the league’s most temperamental player – Rooney.  Slowly the liability of his actions is being questioned more than his contribution to the game.  Three to the good moving powerfully forward and two to the … bad? as they can’t handle the Toffeemen in the back.  I slowly think Manchester United are  turning things around and soon they will be challenging for that Europa League place.  3-2

I Feel LIke Alan Pardew

The Spuds.   They are increasingly looking lost as Pochettino realizes that he can’t make his players play the way he wants.: that is,  Well.
He decides to install the long ball a little and the direct approach.  Get the ball in the box.  Get it in the net.  I actually think that’s the team speech – we’ve finally reached  that point where we recognize that someone needs to explain to Soldado what his role is.

They’ll go up 2-0  but Spurs will do everything in their power to haunt their fans so will they try switching a defender for a goalkeeper to see if the referee would notice.

Chelsea are at home.  Livi told me to pick them to win.  Who am I to argue.  Chelsea 3 (Costa will score again) Arsenal 1 (Cashley makes it on as a late sub and forgets which side he’s on)

West Ham and QPR is the biggest London derby this week and one that I don’t care about.  I’ll say 2-0.

I was Alan Pardew Last Year

 

Week of September 27, 2014 – Premier League Picks

Well I didn’t pick any of the Milk Capital Littlewoods Rumbelows Cup games this week because I was recovering from the terrible picks that were made last week by yours truly (and to be fair, by most people betting as well).

As for excuses?  I have none, but I would like to point out that I had picked against the Villains and predicted them to be bottom three… and after not playing to form (i.e. winning) I finally went out on a limb and took them against a non-dominating Arsenal.   What were the odds of Ozil showing up? DW finding the net? And an Own goal in three minutes?
Low.

Yes, low, about the same as Liverpool being crushed by the Hammers and the Spuds not showing up.

But while you might think that this is me preparing to make picks….

Blindfold Picking

It’s very easy to be critical from your point if you don’t step up and make picks yourself.

Captain Hindsight

But enough of last week, here’s to a new better week featuring the awesome derby that everyone waits for every year as it’s never a dull game and always has that element of unpredictability.  It will be a close game and I’d say that both Arsenal and Spurs will fancy their chances of winning, if that was the game I was talking about.  This week is the Anfield Merseyside derby…. probably the one first-half of the season can’t miss game that I will certainly be tuning into if I can wake up early enough.

It’ll be a corker whether you feel that Everton spend the game hacking Liverpool

Everton Foul Liverpool!

Or you think Liverpool spend the game hacking Everton.

Liverpool foul Everton!

But here go the picks…..

27-Sep 2014  
Liverpool1-1Everton
Southampton 3-1Queens Park Rangers
Sunderland1-1Swansea City
Manchester United3-1West Ham United
Chelsea1-1Aston Villa
Hull City0-1Manchester City
Crystal Palace2-1Leicester
Arsenal2-0Tottenham Hotspur

Liverpool haven’t been performing up to par but neither have the Toffee men so this appears to be destined to be a hard working graft of a draw.   Liverpool will try to play a decent game but will never get started as this is the Merseyside Derby which is played in Fast Forward for 90 mins.  I still remember Duncan Ferguson scoring back in the day so I’m going to support the theory that a large tank of a forward will get in there, ride a few challenges and put the ball away early.  Liverpool will initially panic because they don’t have the Captain Fantastic of old but the old Captain Wastastic (TM).. but they will drag themselves forward for most of the game and finally get a Kop end penalty that will be heavily debated for the next week from the top to the bottom of the Wirral.

So who sold all their star players after firing their manager and yet are still 2nd?  Clue: It’s not QPR and they don’t play in blue and white.   Swansea will see off a below average QPR handily.

Sunderland have not started as well as they finished last year, unsurprisingly, and they need to turn it around before the praises of Gus Poyet become a distance memory as they fade into the chorus of boos that the fervent Northeastern fans will start rain down on the field.  Swansea are an organized outfit with lots of attacking prowess so it will become a clash of cultures that will end in a score draw.

Manchester United spend 150 million squids to get three goals against Leicester.  Money well spent, you’d think!   This week their attacking potential will rise again; however, their defense will continue to be worse than average but West Ham are worse than worse than average despite proving they could easily contain a Liverpool team.   I want to pick with my heart and say West Ham will steal a draw but my head says that Manchester United can’t be this bad.  And some days I do want my brother to be happy even if it means the Old Toilet hosts a win for the evil team from Trafford.

I will continue to overrate Hull and think Manchester City are favorite for the title by predicting a tight and close 1-0 victory for Yaya who finally tries to prove he’s worth a birthday cake.

Chelsea against the Villains is the game that I dread picking most of all this week because I hate Chelsea and would love nothing more than their bus to get a puncture; however, they’re playing my nemesis of picking, Villa.  My head says go strong for Chelsea because they’re the better team but my heart says that if I did that Villa would screw me.  So with that, a draw, a totally one-sided should be 5-0 draw.  Don’t take that to the bookies.

Leicester and Crystal Palace were both favored for the bottom of the table but the Foxes are trying to their hardest to prove everyone wrong by turning in some strong performances, as well as a once in a lifetime effort to come back from 2 down twice against a team that is probably playing Falcao more than their entire squad (on his season long wait to move to Juve).  It’s still important for both of these clubs because things change quickly and we can still expect the two of them to be fighting for their lives next year.  Leicester will regret not moving into the top 5 and consolidating a good victory from last week.  That’s real commentator speak right there – you consolidate wins in that world.

I wouldn’t say that Arsenal are struggling, exactly (did they care about the Milk Cup?), but I would say that the Spuds are exactly that, struggling.  I don’t see anything changing in this game as a weakened Arsenal team deal with a stubborn Spurs who try and push everything through Lamela.  On the bright side, Spurs will not give up a late game winning goal… on the down side it will be an early game winning goal  that will see them falling further back of the leaders.

 

Sorry Dad.. Mum owns you…
28-Sep 2014  
West Bromwich Albion2-2Burnley

West Brom will feature in yet another 2-2 draw for like the umpteenth week in a row except they will not let Burnley score more than half their total…so the Baggies let the fans leave the Hawthornes pleased with a 2-1 win.  That doesn’t seem significant but it will end up playing a huge role late in the year when people look at the bottom of the table and wonder if their 35 points will be enough to survive another  year fighting for survival.   Another TV pundit cliche included for you.  You’re welcome.

29-Sep 2014  
Stoke City2-1Newcastle United

Another week passes, another week Alan Pardew wonders if he will be axed.  Not sure what the Newcastle fans want – other than to be the bigger team they actually seem to believe they are (but aren’t, if it’s not obvious).   The Magpie fans still talk about Malcolm McDonald, Paul Gascoigne, Chris Waddle, and Faustino Asprilla? like that means anything.  Since Shearer hung up his boots to creosote his fence not a lot has happened here to make this team worth more than 4 sentences.. so I’m out.

This weeks can’t lose bet:  the Spurs are not going to go to Europe, get odds off better than even and put all you can afford to lose on it.

See you next week.

Week of September 20, 2014 – Premier League Picks

Another week another set of picks.   Didn’t do too bad last week but I’m going all out this week to get 100% of my picks in.

20-Sep 2014  
Queens Park Rangers2-1Stoke City
Newcastle United2-1Hull City
Swansea City3-3Southampton
Burnley0-2Sunderland
Aston Villa2-1Arsenal
West Ham United1-2Liverpool

It’s very hard to think a team based around Joey Barton and managed by Harry Redknap have a chance but it’s not every week that time plays a team featuring the likes of Stephen Ireland: Stoke.   To be fair, Stoke aren’t bad considering their star attraction being a Giraffe in studs.   I do rather like Arnautovic and he’s doubtful with a foot injury so I think it’s going to be a home team holding off a hard working, tough slogging, not scoring team.   It’s going to be 2-0 very late with someone sneaking a goal in the last few minutes against the run of play giving this the look and feel of a typical Spuds game.

I will continue to underrate Hull City and overrate the offensive prowess of Newcastle – I seem to always think they are going to put in 3 goals… but where are those goals coming from? Remi didn’t sign permanently and Alan Shearer retired years ago.  Fortunately for Newcastle Ben Arfa is ineligible to play in this game and allegedly Abel Hernandez found the going tough in his first game – I guess he needs to hit the gym with Man U’s Luke Shaw.

Swansea are exciting and attacking.  Southampton are exciting and attacking.  I think only a 3-3 draw would be fitting for this two Europe dark horses and this despite the fact that Fabianski and Forster are two of the better men standing between the jumpers…  I’ll be watching this one.. and I won’t be surprise if at the end of the game I’ll turn to the better half and say “That could have been 10-10”.

Burnley are boring. Sunderland are stupid.  That’s how a five year old would summarize this game and it’s how I will too.  Sunderland have 3 draws this year.. time for a victory.  I hope that Jose Altidore manages to score – he’s not a player or flair or skill but he’s a hard worker and deserves something.  He’s like the American second-rate Danny Welbeck.

Aston Villa are at home and have come off a good win and will be filled with confidence about a great year (because I picked them to go down).  A good result early in the year in 2013 seemed to set to derail Arsenal, who despite calls for Wengers head, rode out the storm and went on a tear.  With three draws and a win it’s easy to make it sound that Arsenal are doing well by calling them undefeated; however, they got crushed in Europe in the week and I’m not sure confidence is at a high.   DW will bang home another, Aaron Ramsey will play a decent game but it will be a 1-1 draw until Szczesny has a Calamity James moment and allows an easy goal.

Calamity James in Cover Up
Calamity James in Cover Up

The horse that is Andy Carroll always wants to show up against his old team but due to a lower leg injury he’s being taken out back and shot.   Liverpool should not have a hard time against West Ham with a deep stock of offensive talent but this is West Ham.  This is the team that bore anyone including the opposition.  Liverpool sorely miss Sturridge – which is just a nice way of saying that they miss Suarez!  Expect the Last of the Italian Mohicans to score and for Sterling to wrap it up with fine finish that merely makes us wonder why he can’t do it for Woy’s Boys in a national shirt.

21-Sep 2014  
Tottenham Hotspur2-2West Bromwich Albion
Leicester City1-2Manchester United
Manchester City3-1Chelsea
Everton1-0Crystal Palace

This week will see West Brom score a 2-2 draw with the Spuds.  Most of the Spuds rested in the week so they should be fresh to play and with Lamela probing and Dembele running the deep attaching midfield they should be a sure thing for cracking in two goals (Erikson with both).. West Brom will, of course, keep it close and have the Y Army praying that an own goal equalizer isn’t going to ruin another dominating performance.  Lloris will make a key save at the death to prove his value.  (2-1)

I want Manchester to go down; however, after last weeks drubbing of QPR it’s clear that they are now eyeing the League title.  With Mata in goal scoring form we can surely expect great things.

Signs of the Times: Even West Bromwich Albion have a team made up of foreign talent – welcome Esteban Cambiasso!  I remember when the most exotic player Leicester had was Gary Linker after he came back with his vacation tan!.

Still Tanning is Mr Walkers Crisps himself

Manchester City haven’t played all that well and it seems that my pick for surprise player of the year is – surprise – hurt again (Jovatic).  With Dzeko out as well they have the problem of relying on Aguero to actually play which isn’t a bad idea as he’s always scoring goals.  Ya Ya Toure has been discussed as a potential transfer window move and has been underperforming so this is the week he will finally show his class.  Ya Ya will not want Fabregas to have any time on the ball and will dominate the Spaniard.  Diego Costa can’t continue on the same pace, it’s at the Etihad so it has to be a home win for the Citeh.   I’m not confident on this pick because it appears that Fat Frank might play against his old team and that doesn’t bode well.. the big question is whether Mangala will play and which Demicheles will show up.

Everton will be playing a team that is relying on Chamakh to provide goals! I think he was less successful at Arsenal that the lesser Ya Ya so keeping a clean sheet should be easy.  Layton Banes, or Layton Beighnes, or Leyton Beines,  or Leighton Baines will score the winner and we will marvel at how disheveled he can look even when he is doing his best Daniel Day Lewis impression.

Leighton Baines

Daniel Day Lewis