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

Watford’s New Manager

In a bizarre beginning of the season, Watford’s old manager quit after taking the team as far as he could (that was 2 wins, apparently) !

So bring on the Continental replacement Oscar Garcia!

Oscar-Garc-a-009.jpg

Turns out that a single game, a 1-0 loss to Charlton, was enough to send him to the hospital with chest pains.  Are we that bad?

In all seriousness, get well soon, we kind of like having someone steering the wandering ship.

 

September 17, 2014 – Champions League

More games?

AS Roma 1-2 Spartak Moscow

The Russian teams are always talented and the second tier Italian teams are always overrated.  This yields a win for Vlad.

Bayern Munich 1-0 Manchester City

I think these two will beat each other at home, as simple as that.  Man City is a little rough at the moment and need some smoothing.

Ajax 2-1 PSG

I always want Total Football to beat Total Money.

Barcelona 2-0 Nicosia

Best team in Spain?  Best player in the world? Nicosia?

Chelsea 2-1 Schalke

I like Chelsea to win the tournament but Germany is on a roll right now (call them butter.. *yawn*)…still they will pip it at home.

Maribor 1-0 Lisbon 

I don’t really like the Portuguese teams all that much.

Bilba0 1-0 Shakhtar 

With everything going on in the Ukraine at the present time I don’t think that the focus will be there.

Porto 3-0 Borisov

I don’t like the Portugalese 😉 teams – well except Porto that is.

 

September 16, 2014 – Champions League

I’m not even sure who plays for who in the Premier League any more so trying to figure out what the team at Ludogorets Watsifluzy has is impossible.  When it comes to Europe I’m still thinking like it’s the golden days of European football.  Starting when Liverpool were rampant and travelling away to Juventus meant you were likely to lose, back when S.Bucharest could beat the likes of El Tel’s Barcelona on penalties, and AC Milan were the best team in the world.  Even as recently as a few years ago I could tell you the Top 5 Italian teams and the only 3 relevant Spanish Teams…. so that being said the predictions must follow!

Juventus v Malmo
It’s been a while since Juventus were the biggest spenders (on referees’ bonuses) and a while since they were fairly harshly punished… but they appear to be on the mend and should have no hard time taking down Malmo.
2-0

Olympiakos v Athletico Madrid
Once up on a time Greece were the country that had that one good team and that was the end of the discussion.  Then they won the Euro tournament as a nation and we thought things would change.  We’ve been wondering how they did that ever since.
The better team is Madrid and even without Costa it’s hard to rule against them.  Finally, it’s not all Real but I could be wrong…I probably am.
1-2

Liverpool v Ludogorets Razgrad
Rasgrawho are not a team with which I am intimately familiar.. or at all.  Liverpool are a team who this year are showing tendencies to over and under achieve.  I doubt that they will allow a Ludugorwhogor? to win but I’m not going to expect anything too much.  I’m sure Ballotelli will be blogged about again for either doing nothing AND maintaining his cool… or scoring and not maintaining his cool and getting an early shower.
2-0

Real Madrid v FC Basel
FC Basel are always a tough draw and when grown men play against a whimpering, crying Ronaldo they have a chance.  Not sure if they’ve finally accepted the end of Iker or not… either way, a shock that isn’t.
1-2

AS Monaco Bayer v Leverkusen
I remember Monaco with Hoddle and for that reason alone I’m going with them for a score draw.
1-1

Benfica v Zenit St Petersburg
Every year brings the idea that some cold climate team, some Russian team will live up to their huge expectation so it’s reasonable to predict this could be the year.  Each year we also try and make Benfica be the team they used to be – one that could travel in Europe with great success.
Neither will be the case and it will play out to a boring 0-0 draw.

Borussia Dortmund v Arsenal
I guess this is the big game for Arsenal who have to start achieving something in Europe beyond showing up.  Borussia is a key opponent in their group and a 1-1 draw will be a satisfactory return from Germany.  I expect the new boy, Welbeck, to step and make a good showing.
1-1

Galatasaray v Anderlecht
It used to be that going to Galatasaray was mostly about surviving.  Not surviving and getting a result. No, it was about surviving.
Show up, play to 0-0 draw and gtfo of there!
0-0

Week of September 13, 2014 – Premier League Picks

This week finally sees the end of the International fixtures and as an England fan I can’t express how happy that makes me.   What was especially nice was that I went last week without  a single pick in error – I did not get a single premier league pick wrong!

13-Sep 2014  
Arsenal 2-2Manchester City
Sunderland1-2Tottenham Hotspurs
Stoke City3-1Leicester
West Bromwich Albion
2-2Everton
Chelsea
3-1Swansea City
Crystal Palace
2-0Burnley
Southampton3-2Newcastle
Liverpool3-0Aston Villa

Danny Welbeck makes his debut for the Gunners.  I said he was a good buy and now it’s his chance to prove me wrong.. he’ll miss a couple of sitters but he’ll no doubt score one late on and we can all pretend like maybe his England career is on the ups.   Ramsey will be disappointing but that’s because he’s going to be busy running the midfield that for once won’t have their way as Ya Ya is on the other team.   That task is hard enough fully healthy and more challenging on a gimpy ankle that will slow him down to Wilshere like pace.  Jovetic and Fernando are out (that’s one underrated and one overrated player) so could be balanced by bringing in a rather average Lampard.  Mangala? Who the heck knows…. these teams defend like no one else… so 2-2 (though it’s hard to ignore the thumpings last year).

Spuds got whipped last week so this will see a turnaround – if not I will descend into picking against them on a regular basis.  Sunderland is boring. I want them to lose.  That’s good enough reason for me to go Spurs on this one away from home.  Besides I don’t think Spurs have lost to Sunderland in 4 years against the stripes… if only they could say that about more teams!

Leicester are like a boy with night terrors – they can’t get through a weekend with a clean shit.  Stoke have a giraffe playing for them who once a year pops a corker.  This might be the week. Kasper will continue to be a disappointment to Peter the Great.

West Brom are playing Everton and they are due a 2-2 draw – seriously, this is the week it happens… I might be wrong – that could be the next game.   Lukaku is a rhino up front and will totally bulldoze his way to the ball from well executed corners.   WBA will somehow fluke an undeserved couple of penalties in the last minute (in other words, it’s 2-0 but my match fixing Malaysian friend insists I put  2-2).

Swansea have started the year well but they haven’t yet played against Costa!  He will be as deadly as Torres has been these last couple of years ( he already has been – I think 4 goals was more than Torres put togethe anyway).  Cesc will be man of the match and score 1 while Hazard slaps in a couple more.  The chosen one will talk about being small horses in a race of big men or something.

Crystal Palance and Burnley meet in what is perhaps the fixture of the weak.  What a pun.

Fraser Forster will prove what a goalkeeper he is by singlehandedly only letting in 2 goals to the rampant Magpies.   Southampton will prove that they are not pretenders by putting a few past an average Newcastle team.  How is Newcastle both rampant and average?  It’s the Pardew way – you look great going forward and terrible at all other times.

So Livi wanted me to pick against Liverpool so that they will have a good chance.  He’s finally convinced himself that my Jedi mind tricks have enabled me to alter the course of the Reds results through my predictions.  Sorry mate, Liverpool are going to take Aston Villa to the woodshed … 3-0 is not as bad as it could have been.

BET OF THE WEEK:  Three different players to score for Liverpool in one game:  Balotelli, Sturridge, and Sterling.   Should get great odds on that.

14-Sep 2014  
Manchester United
2-0Queens Park Rangers

Manchester United have spend the national debt of a small nation to buy a bunch of players who are adept at making money are keen to prove how much money they can make. It’s all about the results for these guys, the results of their investments and the returns on their portfolio.  They will dominate because they are playing QPR.  Disappointing to see that Fellaini, Smalling and Jones are all out because it would have been nice to see them put out their strongest squad.

One hopes that Daley Blind plays like his name – with no vision.

15-Sep-14
  
Hull City2-2West Ham United

Hull and West Ham remind me of West Brom.  Never was a 2-2 draw so certain.

Euro Championship

So the European Championship started and I didn’t make any predictions but the one I did make privately came true… Internationals just make me miss the EPL.

This did go semi-viral and make me laugh though.

Poor Woy being shown up by Arsene!

 

 

Almunia Set to Retire

I admit it – I liked Almunia.

Now he’s finally retiring after a discovery that he had a dodgy ticker.

Thanks for the Penalty Save against Leicester !

 

Almunia
Almunia Prays for a Better Defense

Transfer Ratings

Last week was a miserable failure for making picks as I didn’t go with the instinct or the gut. I knew Man City would be a let down – I said it. I knew Man U would struggle against Burnley – I said it. I said that I underrate Villa and overrate Hull.

Those are excuses for a poor showing.

Well guess what? Now I have a better excuse – after this transfer day deadline, I have no idea who signed with who.

Is Cleverly at Everton or Villa? Loan or sale?

What about Borini? He’s at Liverpool? I thought he started at Sunderland on loan from Liverpool?

Falcao is at Arsenal? Chelsea? What -Manchester United you say? That explains the loan – keep it inside the Financial Fair Play numbers.

So who won and who lost?

Best Signing

Ben Arfa – Hull getting a skilled player from Newcastle with something to prove.  I expect this to be a successful pairing of player and club.

Best Risky Signing

Mario Balotelli – No denying his talent.  Go big or go home.  Literally.  if he doesn’t pan out send him home.

Best I Didn’t See That Coming Signing

Danny Welbeck – I don’t and haven’t really rated Danny in a long time.  When I first saw him I thought it was terrible that Man United were bringing through great talent (Cleverly made me realize it wasn’t always the case) because I saw a youngster who was fast, big, powerful, and a force and someone who would make the Reds better.   Over the years he just never got better.   Arsenal without Giroud needed a forward – and truth be told, with all the flair and guile they have, I think they just need a target man.  He is no RVP, he is no Henry, but I remember when Ian Wright used to bang them in for fun.. maybe Danny, given the starting position will make a difference.  He’s a better option than Podolski.

I expect him to be a positive impact and keep a healthy Giroud out of the starting team (he was already not starting).  I expect him to bang in 20 goals this year.

Worst Signing

It’s going to be one of Daley Blind (I played for over-achieving boring boring Holland and LVG likes me), Falcao (who like Supergrass is In It for the Money), or Di Maria.  It’s not that they are all bad players, far from it, it just seems that they’re trying to convince us that Manchester United is relevant by spending big and looking relevant.  To be relevant you win on the pitch.    Should have picked up a ore solid foundation at the back.

Best Under The Cover Of Night Signing

Benjamin Sambouli – Tottenham let in 3 against Liverpool this past week and it’s nice of me not to remind them how many they let in against the Reds last year.  The manager knows his stuff and clearly he favours the high-press and would have looked specifically for a player to fit the system (unlike some other managers).

Best Signing That Didn’t Happen

Sami Khedira – recovering from a knee injury, recovering from a World Cup injury and now a torn thigh.  Seems the man was born to be hurt!

Promotion on the Horizon for Udinese B?

Impressive start to the campaign for Watford (4W 0D 1L). This all looks good and it looks like we’re ready to get rolled over in the premier league but as everyone in St Albans knows, the season always starts better than it ends with the Hornet Moose.

Four wins in the Championship! But within them is a 3-0 loss to a top contender in Norwich and a disappointing Milk Cup (aka Capital One Cup aka Coca Cola Cup aka Littlewoods Cup…) to a third tier Doncaster. But this year could be different as the dreaded draw column has a 0! Under normal rules Watford carve out enough draws to be considered a for a degree in cabinetry (homonym joke for the win!).

Go on you Hornet Moose! Prove me wrong – make it a good season, wire-to-wire.

Week of August 30, 2014 – Premier League Picks

This week feels like I could be well off the mark on many fronts.  I’ve not been keeping in touch with the news as I should being busy spending too much time outside getting sun.  I feel like maybe a little over-exposure has me making the wrong choices.  I feel like a drunk guy accidentally walking into a brothel – pretty sure that every decision is a bad one.

30-Aug-14  
Burnley1-2Manchester United
West Ham0-3Southampton
Swansea City2-2West Bromwich Albion
Newcastle United1-1Crystal Palace
Manchester City2-0Stoke City
QPR0-1Sunderland
Everton1-2Chelsea

Manchester United are not good and now they’re 60 million pounds poorer and not much better.  Money should have been spent shoring up a team and building some stability.  Not enough quality with pace – RVP and Rooney don’t have the burst.  Ashley Young continues to be a liability and poor old Danny Welbeck and Juan Mata must be wondering where their careers are going (while Cleverly must still be wondering how his career is even still around.  Welbeck deserves a move to become a first eleven player but with an unwillingness to sell him to a Top 6 team (which is really any one of about 9 teams) and everyone below that not able to afford his 80,000 a week salary it looks like Danny will see more bench time.  Mata, I feel for you..  you knew when to fold them at Chelsea but the next hand you’re drawing dead.   Burnley, not good enough though and the United will finally win.

Southampton are not great, they’re certainly not 3-0 away from home great, but I want West Ham to be 3-0 at home bad.

It’s a theme.  I like the Albion, I really do.   I have had a soft spot for them since big Cyrill was their best player.   I always have them playing great football in my mind, able to score but then conceding.  Looking back over the last couple of seasons of picks I probably have them drawing 2-2 every week.   Odds are I’m going to get it right at least once.

Newcastle are the team that you never know who might show.   They are simultaneously fun and exciting, and piss poor.   Neil Warnock is in the euphemistically titled “technical area” – which basically means shouting box for the northerner.  It is also that area that Pardew should continue to stay away from.  Both teams are hit and miss, both managers are hit and sometimes connect…. but both are overrated.  Don’t expect either to last the season but my gamble for the week:  Warnock to be gone by Christmas.   Fairly fun draw will be had.

After a good win against the Liverpool (a team with higher hopes than they’ve had since … wow, it’s been that long….) the team from Manchester can be expected to put in a dire performance and not win.  Against Stoke, I fully see the dire performance happening – luckily, it’s Stoke and that’s still good enough for a 3 pointer.  These are the games that will make the difference at the end of the year (sorry, I need on sports cliche per week to be taken seriously).

A good start to the season will see Sunderland avoiding the need for late season magic again.  QPR should enable anyone playing them a small contribution to that good start – who saw Spurs top of the table?  Still, it will not be as easy for the stripes as it was for the Y*d Army last week.

I really want Everton to win against Chelsea.  I really want Lukaku to score a great pair of goals and run around shirt off pumping his chest in front of the chosen one.  I also want Watford to be consistent, Manchester City and Liverpool to get a typical Chelsea draw in the Champions league and it’s not going to happen.   Hate that Chelsea will win but they will win.

31-Aug-14  
Aston Villa1-2Hull City
Tottenham Hotspurs2-1Liverpool
Leicester City1-3Arsenal

I will continue to pick against Aston Villa until it becomes clear they are not as bad as I want them to be.   I will continue to overrate Hull until they prove that they are worse.

So this week will see the key fixture be held in London as Spurs host Liverpool.    It’s early season but these are the games that will make the difference at the end of they year (recycling cliches is efficient).   I think Liverpool are still looking for that edge, that confident spark they had last year.  Finding it against the new Spurs team will be difficult.  Two of the best managers in the league right now will make this an interesting discussion on tactics but it’s the 11 on the field that make the difference.   In this game it will be Lloris making saves and Adebayor showing up.  The result will be in the favour of the home team despite a mostly dominating performance by the Liverpool midfield – who will once again fail to capitalise on possession.   It’s goals that win….  missing Suarez? That will be the question asked even though Sturridge nets yet another.

Leicester at home is a good fixture for anyone looking for an away win.  Arsenal have been hit or miss this year but Alexis (he’s called that now?) scored midweek so maybe he might be better than a new Theo.  Expect Ramsay to be on form again.  Domination has everyone talking about a possible London 1-2-3 in Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs (conveniently forgetting Man City and a Liverpool team that will make up ground).

Bet of the Week:  Warnock to be fired by Christmas.  West Brom to finally draw 2-2.   Check Paddy Power for odds.