Week of November 29, 2014 – Premier League Picks

Well, the last November games are here… and then it’s the December crunch where I have to remember to post more than once a week.  But without further ado, let me roll out this weeks picks. I’m aiming for a 100% record this week but I’ll settle for for the current form of most of Arsenal’s midfield – average.

 

29-Nov-14  
West Bromwich Albion1-2Arsenal
Swansea City 2-0Crystal Palace
West Ham United 1-1Newcastle United
Queens Park Rangers 2-1Leicester City
Manchester United2-0Hull City
Liverpool2-0Stoke City
Burnley1-0Aston Villa
Sunderland1-3Chelsea

 

30-Nov-14  
Southampton1-1Manchester City
Tottenham Hotspur1-2Everton

 

 

It’s The December Crunch

Every year the season kicks off and we watch the games played counter creep up.   There are surprise results (West Ham in the Top 4) and there are the normal state of affairs (Chelsea and Manchester City at the top) and the truly bizarre (Newcastle move relegation to Europe with a few wins on the bounce) and finally there is the slow formation of the table into something that starts to make sense.  Teams are drifting into position and trends are beginning to set.  Away form, home form, lack of goalscoring, defensive frailties, all have taken off their masks to reveal themselves.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the weekly feeling that this is the week that Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool will turn things around and the week that Southampton will continue to stay high up the table.

wic

Even without having a World Cup in Qatar during the winter this year things are going to be thrown up and mixed up.

Take Southampton, as an example, they have 11 games in 42 days and it starts this week with Manchester City, Arsenal, and Manchester United (unfortunately, I still consider them a decent team).  They are playing 11.29.2014 and 12.03.2014 which is quick turnaround but nothing like the Crystal Palace and Chelsea on 12.26.2014 and 12.28.2014.   This period clearly favors the larger squads and is one of the reasons that being in the bottom 3 now doesn’t bode well.   It also favors teams that don’t get mixed in other events – Liverpool have s similar schedule with the Milk Cup (which I recommend they try and win) and Champions League games thrown in as well.

Seems that the team that will benefit will be Manchester United, and oh how I hate that.

Week of November 22, 2014 – Premier League Picks

It’s been so long since the last picks I’ve forgotten who’s who and who’s where in the Premier League.  I think Chelsea is top.  I think Spurs are still crap.  I think Liverpool are underperforming and I think I recall West Ham were in the top half?

Oh well. Just quick picks today without any snark.  I may add some while watching the games – but I won’t change my picks.  I was late getting to this today. I checked my traffic today and I’m the only one who cares what I write anyway.  I don’t believe anyone actually comes to this site from outside of my luxurious office, perhaps one day I’ll live tweet matches, follow people, sell out.  I’ll be like the Manchester United of blogs – for now I’m happy being the Racing Club Warwick of blogs (their reserves at least).

22-Nov-14  
Newcastle United2-1Queens Park Rangers
Stoke City2-1Burnley
Manchester City 2-1Swansea City
Leicester City1-1Sunderland
Everton1-0West Ham United
Chelsea2-2* (2-0)West Brom
Arsenal3-2Manchester United

 

24-Nov-14  
Crystal Palace1-2Liverpool
Hull City 1-1Tottenham Hotspur

 

25-Nov-14  
Aston Villa1-2Southampton

 

 

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.

Six Points Per Manager Equals

Watford are averaging six points per manager this year.  Normally that sounds bad… but this year it puts us top!

w

 

Like the good old glory days of Iveco!

 

Look at Mo Johnstone!  He looks 15!  My claim to fame is adding him to the Watford wikipedia page.
Recognize Wilf, Nigel, Johnny B, Sherwood, Kenny, but some of these players have faded to the land of memories past.

Thank god the short shorts era came to an end.

Week of October 18, 2014 – Premier League Picks

It has been a while since the last pick – something to do with International fixtures and qualification for a tournament still 2 years off.    Some interesting results – Northern Ireland 2-0 winners over Greece was a surprise despite how poor Greece have been in recent years; Germany earning a hard earned draw against the Republic of Ireland perhaps was a big tournament hang-over.  But perhaps the big shock of the period was Joe Hart winning man of the match against San Marino ? Or LVG proving how valuable he is through absence as Iceland scored a 2-0 victory over the orange people.

 

18-October 2014  
Manchester City4-1Tottenham Hotspurts
Newcastle United 2-1Leicester City
Southampton 2-0Sunderland
Everton 2-0Aston Villa
Crystal Palace0-3Chelsea
Burnley1-1West Ham
Arsenal3-1Hull City

If the premier league operated on a multi-year multi-legged system then Spurs would be heading into leg 3 needing to play catch up to the tune of 11 goals (I think – I lost count because I had shoes on).  I do think Spurs will get better despite reading that Pochettino hasn’t turned things around yet .  I’m not sure what ESPN’s Adrian Melville is thinking but given that he originally called him Pochetinetto, I don’t think it matters.

Won’t be as easy this week as Man City are going to rest YaYa and we know he more or less picks up the team and carries them to a title with occasional help from Kompany, Silva, and Aguero.  Without his heavy lifting they will find it hard to score 5 goals but they will manage 4.   A clean sheet will be broken by Adebayor who will run down the other to his adoring Spurs fans despite there still being a 3 goal deficit.

Newcastle fans are waiting for their first win.  Alan Pardew is waiting for his first redundancy check.  It won’t happen as Newcastle once again come to the rescue of their manager in dire straits.  Papiss Cisse will add to his tally – maybe he’s back on track?

I thought Southampton were good and then they fail to get a result against the Spuds?  But then Sunderland are boring and will try and bore us all to tears with another draw.  I’m sure that Sunderland are a mandatory score draw pools pick but this week the Saints will rise to the occasion and score a couple of quick goals and sit back and laugh at the effort of a team who needs to, but doesn’t know how to score try and score.  Bit like this guy.

Score? Who me?

Everton are about a teens worth of places this year where they were last year and people are starting to doubt the tactical brain of Roberto Martinez.  Perhaps the bar was set too high this year for Everton but they are currently limboing well under the half-way table.   Time to pick it up, time to keep possession, time to realize that Lukaku is a beast who just needs to be fed the ball the way David Moyes to get his team to play the ball… knock it into the box, put it in the net.  Besides, Villa were my pick to go down, time for them to prove me right by not showing up again.

Chelsea area a team I hate.  Diego Costa is a player I despise (he’s good on a team I hate).  The game will be a bland 0-0 a the half.  After 70 minutes Jim Beglin (or whoever is commentating) will utter the words – “Chelsea, have shut down and look like they are settling for a point”… then Diego will score a quick goal, setup another for Hazard, and then Crystal Palace will just decide to kick out at someone in the box and give a penalty.

West Ham have changed for the better due to the classy management of Sam Allardyce… or just because they’ve played some better games. Meanwhile, Burnley have a grand total of 2 points which puts them in danger of being early relegation favorites.  Those 2 points include a last minute draw against Leicester so it’s not looking good.  But Burnley will not go down without a fight and will play like Alan Pardew’s job is on the line.

Not sure who’s playing for Arsenal (Ozil is out, Ramsay is out) but I do know who they are playing and they’re a team I have over-estimated for a couple of years.   So, at home? I have to go with the Arse,  I wouldn’t want to play with the Arse at home? Would you?

19-October 2014  
QPR1-0Liverpool
Stoke City 2-2Swansea City

Livi wants me to pick QPR because he thinks that I can remotely influence the results through the massive anti-Liverpool bias of this blog.  I can’t do that but I can pick a draw because once again Sturridge is out and it’s hard to see where goals are coming from.  I don’t see QPR scoring so it seems only a scoreless draw will do.   If Rodgers can figure out how to play with Balotelli, thinkgs may be different but it’s not clear that will get worked out.  Balotelli is working hard but lacks the clever movement that a team trying to pass the ball into a net needs.. if he moves over to the slow lane and lets Sterling pass him on the inside they may sneak a goal.

Stoke are a decent team but I want to underrate them.   Swansea are an average team but I want to pretend they still play the football that Laudrup instituted.  Technically, Stoke are favorites to win but I like Swansea to hang on and steal an away point.   Why?  Because I think that Mark Hughes has been safe far too long – I prefer him when he’s like Alan Pardew – fighting for his job, underachieving (or overachieving if you believe he shouldn’t have a job in the Premier League).

20-October 2014  
West Bromwich2-2*Manchester United

The fans from London are starting to chant and support their team and the trip to Birmingham is half of their normal journey so they should be energized and ready to be singing when they’re winning.  Manchester United are kind of like a boy who wets his bed (can’t keep clean sheets) but it’s hard to pick against them when they have a lot of class moving forward.  For the more artsy-fartsy of you, I was going to say that Manchester United were like multiple Saatchi exhibits of Traci Emins work (I apologize for this).

Bed (No clean sheets to be found here)

 

 

Watford’s Newer Manager

Seems like only weeks ago we were welcoming our new manager – Oscar.   Well here we are again.

Billy McKinley

Welcome! To the third manager in a month?

Your Mission Impossible, should you choose to accept it, is to not finish lower than the league position in which you took over.

Good Luck.

Watford Position