Round 18 – English Premier League

This week as the results from last week showed the following results.

Me 10 pts  5 correct, 2 perfect
Dad 10 pts 5 correct, 2 perfect
Mum 6 pts 2 correct, 2 perfect
Brother 5 pts 3 correct, 1 perfect
Nephew 3 pts 1 correct, 1 perfect

Bit of controversy here though as I had an error in transcribing the results form my spreadsheet to the blog post.  I actually picked Swansea vs West Ham as a 1-1 draw so technically:

Me 11 pts  6 correct, 2 perfect
Dad 10 pts 5 correct, 2 perfect
Mum 6 pts 2 correct, 2 perfect
Brother 5 pts 3 correct, 1 perfect
Nephew 3 pts 1 correct, 1 perfect

In the interest of fairness I will keep that tally in my personal sheet but call this week a draw!  I’m actually quite impressed that the selections were as accurate as they were this week because the games seemed particularly tough with the balance of teams on and off form playing with opposing home/away advantage.  The good news is that I picked against Liverpool and Liverpool still lost.  Not only did they lose, they lost terribly and even Klopp thought about blaming things on what he had inherited from Mr Rodgers.

Who was More Influential Last Weekend?

The most shocking thing so far this year is probably Leicester being top of the table.  Perhaps the second most shocking thing this year is Jose Mourinho being sacked from Chelsea.  Not so far after that must be that Watford are 1 point away from Champions League places.  I can see Barcelona now in fear of having to book planes into East Midlands and Luton airport respectively!

Anyway, time for the picks:

Stoke 0 1 Manchester United
Aston Villa 1 1 West Ham
Bournemouth 1 1 Crystal Palace
Chelsea 2 0 Watford
Liverpool 1 1 Leicester
Manchester City 1 0 Sunderland
Swansea 1 0 West Brom
Tottenham 2 1 Norwich
Newcastle 1 1 Everton
Southampton 1 2 Arsenal

Stoke like to keep clean sheets and Trafford United don’t like to  pass the ball forward and I simply don’t see them scoring.  Over the course of 90 minutes, however, there is a small chance that someone from Stoke could put the ball in the net up at the wrong end to prevent a 7 game winless streak.  Manchester haven’t been this bad since Ron Atkinson was is in charge.  Question that everyone is asking though, is who will replace LVG?  I’m sure Giggsy is hoping its someone who sees him with a role – seems Pep or Mourinho would bring in their own assistants.  It is fun though to see a team with no direction on the field because they spent all their effort directing money into their accounts struggling.

Aston Villa need 10 wins apparently to have a chance of staying up according to their manager.   I’m not sure that he looked at the table and noticed that one game shy of half way through the season they have 1 victory.  They seem intent on trying to climb off the bottom one point at a time.  West Ham also like the single point so it’s hard to pick a winner.  So I won’t.

Bournemouth have been on a decent run beating teams that sound like they are top of the table, but aren’t.  After defeating Trafford United, Chelski, you would think they’d be Palace at home but Pardew somehow has the football club that he represents playing well and getting results even away from home.  I’m going to guess that Zaha uses all 8ft of his legs to accidentally leave it dangling around in the box so he can take a penalty-winning stumble.  I’m not saying he’s a cheat but he looks less stable than one excitable giraffe

Chelsea will turn the season around now that the Chosen one has left, right?  They must do.  One of the few wins Chelski managed in the first half was when Watford played ultra-defensively (a la Chelski parking the bus style) against the team that perfected the art of parking the bus.  This time out Dr House will be chasing lost causes for three quarters of the game before the Blues counter on the break and finish off the Hornets and moving them slightly close to Liverpool in the table.

Liverpool need a win after being thrashed and destroyed by the Moose last week. Leicester are not the team that have been giving others that opportunity especially with Vardy going up against Lovren (unless Klopp likes Kolo).  Another draw pick seems fair.

Manchester City didn’t look good in the week against Arsenal according to my sources; however, YaYa turned it on late in the game and Citeh have to live in the hope that one day he will actually play that way for some of the first 80 minutes.  It shouldn’t matter as Sunderland aren’t going to score anyway – a scuffed Sterling shot ought to be enough.

Swansea can’t win; however, last week the Bromwich had a player go all Roy Keane on the opposition which suggests that there is some dressing room acrimony going on.  Berahino will start but all he wants to do is impress suitors.  Pulis has done a bang up job of motivation by stating that this year he’s been garbage.  Time for the Welsh to beat the English again.

Spurs like to draw but this week they’re at home playing Norwich who like to give up goals.  it’s close only because Spuds like to dominate and never actually close out a game.  They do need another striker so maybe they’ll go after the disappointing Berahino.

Newcastle are appearing to be doing better.  Everton are consistently looking like they are doing better.  Neither are really doing well so another draw is the correct pick today.  Perez is one of the most overrated players in the league and it’s a sign of desperation that LVG and Trafford United are looking at him as a January signing.  Will be a huge coup if McClaren can get a pretty penny for him.

Southampton are at home.  Arsenal are away.   Two facts too many there.  Arsenal win.

Round 17 – English Premier League

Late again!

Started well last week with some perfect picks but then totally dropped off; hopefully this week will be better.   Of course I say this noting that I finally defeated my family!

Me 11 pts  5 correct, 3 perfect
Dad 8 pts 4 correct, 2 perfect
Mum 4 pts 4 correct
Nephew 4 pts 4 correct
Brother 4 pts 2 correct, 1 perfect

The scoring system is certainly imperfect (3pts exact, 1 pt correct) because you can see that you can get only 2 correct and still be tied for last!  I’m sure Aston Villa will be looking for a scoring enhancement in the near future that suits them like that!

I might have to setup a Google spreadsheet for these results because so far I’ve had their picks be in different formats :

Vertical half the point tallied:

nov
Lots of Scores and Points and Arrows and Stuff

Vertically, but legible because it’s printed:

19Dec
Nice an Printed but Who Uses Horizontal Fixtures?

And Orientation Challenged:

12Dec
How They Pick in Australia

So here are the picks for this week.

Chelsea 2 0 Sunderland
Everton 2 2 Leicester
Manchester United 1 2 Norwich
Southampton 1 2 Tottenham
Stoke 2 1 Crystal Palace
West Brom 1 1 Bournemouth
Newcastle 2 1 Aston Villa
Watford 2 1 Liverpool
Swansea 2 1 West Ham
Arsenal 2 1 Manchester City

Chelsea have replaced the “Chosen One” with the “Dutch Russian” which sounds like some kind of drink… perhaps it’s the one flavor of Vodka that Absolut hasn’t made yet…or have they?

Cheese Vodka?

Anyway, to the point.  Jose was the reason that Chelsea won the league – he’d admit that himself – so he must also be the reason that they are slumping dangerously close to the relegation zone.  He has to go but where to?  Hopefully he’ll take some time off and get his brain back together.  Maybe watch Chelsea win a few more games without him than they did with him.  Simple win.

Everton have been playing well but they’ve been drawing a lot and find themselves below nine other teams.  Should be a good game and I would expect Leicester to bang goals in against a dodgy Everton defense.  I find myself strangely saying that Everton will be better with Cleverley back as he brings width to the other side of the park to Deulefeu.  I expect Lukaku to continue his goal streak and go one more game towards the recent consecutive scoring game record of Vardy.  A draw seems likely.

Manchester United are poor.  Norwich are poor.  The difference is that one team is supposed to not be poor.  With Jose being shown the door the target can now be aimed directly at LVG and if he feels the pressure that will also be felt by the team…they are in danger of being the next Chelsea because even their good results were really drag-out-kicking-and-screaming results and not dominating performances.  Rooney need to be part of the reboot.  I do think Martial looks like the real deal but he’s just not on a real deal team yet.  My head says Man U but my heart says Norwich.

Southampton are not going in a positive direction and the Spuds have had some setbacks in their attempts to look like a real title challenging team.  They’re not, of course, but they should be making a run for the Champions League this year with the players starting to look good.  Erikson is better than you’d initially think based on stature  (small) and , Kane is better than you’d initially think based on stature and speed (large and lumbering), Dembele is better than you’d initially think based on historical performances and well Lloris is better than you’d initially think based on the fact that he’s a French goalkeeper*.   All that points to a Spuds win.

Stoke and Crystal Palace are equally matched but the home support advantage that Palace has are mostly sitting at home watching this week so I expect Stoke to edge it.

West Brom and Bournemouth are both struggling teams.  Bournemouth are on a run but for lower teams those runs peter out sooner rather than later.  Probably a draw which is a result neither really wants.

Newcastle and Aston Villa has to be game of the week for anyone that likes teams that “can do better”.  I don’t have much faith that Villa can do better (though 6 pts would suggest that it wouldn’t be hard).

Watford will win at Vicarage road by 2-1.  I am making this pick in the best interest of my relationship with Livi who insists that everytime I pick Liverpool to win they lose.  This way I get to pick my team (Go Hornets!) and get to brag about it all day long if they pull it off.  If they lose I’ll claim it was in the best interest of all concerned and I am happy for the Reds**.  It will undoubtedly be a draw.

Swansea are manager-less.  West Ham have Slaven Bilic.  I’d like to think that crazy would win out over no-one but there are 11 players on each team that still make the most difference (a fact that Jose failed to realize).  Like Chelsea, Swansea will experience a post-managerial-exist boost that should see them get all 3 points. The West Ham of 2015-16 are looking a lot like the West Ham of 2014-2015….  or like Russel Brand’s career…. scale to heights that bely their skill and then … well fall.

Big game of the week.

Arsenal will take on the Manchester Blues and win.  2nd Place at Christmas.  Seems Arsenal have found their home again “near the top”.  Time for the fans to call for the board to fire Arsene, boo Ozil, and lament lack of success again.  Spoiled.

 

*My brother will try to convince me that Barthez was good.

**Last week I called Trafford United the Reds.  I was corrected and told this was categorically wrong: Liverpool are the “Reds” and Trafford United are the “Red Devils”.  I do apologize for this mistake but the reason for my mistake lies with Pro Evolution Soccer for the Sony Playstation!  The franchise does not have team licenses so uses alternative team names and one of them was “Manchester Reds” to differentiate them from the “Manchester Blues”.   My wife found it amusing that I was playing as Hertfordshire vs West Midlands Stripes.  That’s my excuse and apology rolled into one.

 

Round 16 – English Premier League

Last week was a soul-crushing performance.

I could be talking about my picks or Liverpool at Anfield against the magpies!  This week looks like another tricky week which seems to be the new Premier League.  The days of the Top-4 seems to be ebbing into the distant past but I fully expect it to show up again at the end of the season when Arse-nal supporters once again complain that Arsene can not lead them to the promise land of a league trophy.  Fans can be quite shortsighted and not see what’s in the long term interest.  Granted my judge of managers is not spot on – I thought Brendan Rodgers was a great manager which was a terrible judgement – but I see the sacking of Garry Monk being a little cynical at this point of the season.  It’s almost a firing looking for that free morale kick-start that comes with a new gaffer; however, given that they have players showing a real lack of form it’s probably going to end in a morale killer that leads Swansea on a winter death march to insignificance.

They will be chasing Aston Villa down into the Championship.

How things change in a year!

I have a Long Future At Swansea

But then it’s not like it’s an unusual transition from Manager of the Month to manager of your remote control, manager of the house cat, or with luck manager of somewhere else.

I will have a long Future as the New Alex in Spain
I Will be Here At Chelski Forever – I am the Chosen One!(But I went to Napoli and got a gig in Real Madrid so the jokes on them!)
Sack me?  Only if you’re brave enough… 
This Award for Best Scarf? No?
Manager of the Decade for Getting this at Villa!

 

Remember me? I ended up in effing Russia! 
I Got This In the South!  And I Keep it in A Brown Bag
Remember my Name? {Family in Berkshire should know}
Lor’ luv a duck! if they gave me cash ter buy old pawtsmowf players we would ‘ave won europe. Know what I mean?
Won this for the club. The club is who performed. It’s not about anyone but this team and this club.
They’ll Never Find Anyone More Defensive Minded than Me! I’ll be here for a long time
I Will Defend This Trophy with my Entire Team
I’m STILL here… I am Chosen One

So on with the picks!

12/12/2015 Norwich 1 1 Everton
12/12/2015 Crystal Palace 2 0 Southampton
12/12/2015 Manchester City 2 1 Swansea
12/12/2015 Sunderland 1 1 Watford
12/12/2015 West Ham 1 1 Stoke
12/12/2015 Bournemouth 1 2 Manchester United
12/13/2015 Aston Villa 0 2 Arsenal
12/13/2015 Liverpool 2 0 West Brom
12/13/2015 Tottenham 2 0 Newcastle
12/14/2015 Leicester 1 1 Chelsea

Norwich didn’t show up last week when the ‘Ornets took them down and extended their run of poor form.  Arguably it’s more a case going on a poor run of not enough good players.  Everton have been a challenge to beat and Deulofeu and Lukaku are building up a nice partnership.  Romelu is half way to equaling Vardy’s Premier League scoring record and it won’t be a surprise if he keeps that record going.  Norwich will have to focus on taking the odd point at home so that extra effort at the beginning of winter will pay dividends of a point.

Southampton seem to be struggling; however, if you look at the form guide for the last 10 games?  They are actually head of the Citeh!  Only goal difference separates them.  Citeh have 8 points from their last 6 games which is only 4 more than Chelsea (and just writing that Chelski have 4 points in their last six games makes me smile).   Silva is back and Ya Ya is still pretty decent… Aguero will certainly score (if he’s not in Sturridge mode – hurt) and Bony will score if he start (because he has to sooner or later).  It’ll be tough but the Middle Eastlands team will come up good at home.

Sunderland don’t draw.  They win and they lose.  This is an improvement on their early season form which was “they lose”.  if the League table was based on the last 10 games, Watford would be in a automatic Champions League spot behind only Leicester City!  Watford also win and they lose.  Only 1 draw in their last 10.  This tendency to avoid a draw inevitably means this will be a draw.

West Ham were supposedly quite good against Trafford United last week.  Apparently quite good for West Ham these days is not scoring and not losing.  Stoke City have started showing some form and I think they should win but the tendency for West Ham to manage a boring draw is too strong for me to bet against it.

Bournemouth beat Chelski at Stamford Bridge.  That would have been unheard of a few years ago and was still a mild suprise last week.  I say mild but I don’t think a single pundit picked them to pull of a result.  This week Trafford United comes to town.  This means that Eddie Howe has control of the temperature and make it a nice cozy dressing room for the visitors:

Hey, Is It Warm In Here?

Don’t see the Reds losing in the League now that’s all they have to fight for.  I’m not sure how LVG can be considered a failure at this point – he took Manchester United into the final stages of the Europa League and it only cost 250m.  That’s more than Moyesy managed.

Aston Villa managed a draw last week.  This year Aston Villa either draw or lose which means that Arsenal will either draw or win.  The latter is just more likely.

Liverpool are better with Klopp but they’re still don’t look good with Benteke up front – he just doesn’t fit or find the space the same way Sturridge does.  Coutinho is back so the attacking situation looks better with him as a false 9 and Benteke on the bench.  Liverpool have been stingy at home (and away) so it’s probably going to be a 1-0 game for Liverpool but I just think that Klopp has a tendency to want a little more fun and will go out attacking a bit more.

Tottenham Hotspuds apparently ran riot in the week (I heard) in Europe.  Newcastly expended all their energy winning against Liverpool last week.  ‘Arry will probably score again and miss a stunning sitter.

Toughest game to pick this week is the league leading Leicester against the team predicted to be league leading Chelski.  So can Chelsea get a result against the rampaging Vardy and Leicester when they couldn’t beat Bournemouth at home (albeit to a dubious offside no-call)? Probably not but at this point I think Chelsea will be happy with a point and the knowledge that the Chosen One has taken his team further than Louis Van Gaal has take Trafford United.

 

Round 15 – English Premier League

Two weeks ago I was sent picks of my some of my family.  The net results were as follows:

Dad 8
Mum 7
Nephew 7
Brother 6
Me  4
Sister In Law 3
Niece 3

This is not slightly embarrassing.  It is disappointing; however, the difference is mostly I think due to some natural group thinking.  When multiple people are picking it’s quiet easy to be swayed by argument – such as the common 1-2 pick for Watford and Manchester United.   I know you’re thinking that there is no persuasion or psychological impact of choosing in a group but can you think of any other reason that my Sister in Law picked Spuds to win 5-0?  That’s my dad’s influence right there.

The next week there was a reduced participation and once again I fared…. well … poorly.  The only bright side is that my Dad didn’t beat me three weeks in a row!  I was considering providing him access to this crazy blog and having him have a go!

Mum 10
Nephew 6
Me 6
Dad 5

I will say Congratulations Mum – 10 pts is a great score, especially when as an Arsenal fan you felt compelled (like all of us) to pick them to win.

This week a similar thing has happened.  As you know I have a Liverpool fan as a reader (because you’re the only one that reads this blog I’m assuming you know yourself) has finally provided me with picks and instruction.   Every week I get told how my picks were rubbish so my strategy is to choose the same results as him.  That way he can be rubbish as well!  Of course he wants me to pick the Georgie boys against his Klopp superstars to help his team continue their stellar run.

A quick search for an image of Georgie Boys yields this:

Georgie Boys

Apparently an Australian show?  What I do know is that if they were really Geordie boys they would need a few additional layers of clothing.  The guy on the left would also be at risk of an arse-kicking for their ridiculous hair.

Then again maybe not:

I Got my Beer Belly Keeping Me Warm

So on with the picks.

12/5/2015 Stoke 1 1 Manchester City
12/5/2015 Arsenal 1 0 Sunderland
12/5/2015 Manchester United 1 0 West Ham
12/5/2015 Southampton 2 0 Aston Villa
12/5/2015 Swansea 2 2 Leicester
12/5/2015 Watford 2 1 Norwich
12/5/2015 West Brom 1 1 Tottenham
12/5/2015 Chelsea 3 0 Bournemouth
12/6/2015 Newcastle 0 1 Liverpool
12/7/2015 Everton 2 1 Crystal Palace

The Manchester team is not as good as people want them to be.  While many think this statement could apply to both the red and blue teams it should be noted that one of the teams is in Trafford with supporters in Berkshire.  Citeh will not have Kompany but he’s not been a top defender for some time – what’s critical is that Silva or Aguero are available and can have an impact.  With Yaya wandering around like he’s my age and Navas having to play more because Milner upgraded teams no team is more reliant on one or two players than the Citeh.  Besides of course Arsenal (and Alexis is out which makes todays pick a challenge) and Watford with Ighalo.  What can we say about Jesus Navas?  Let’s see.

Why did the Chicken cross the road?  To teach Navas how to cross.

Navas is so bad he couldn’t cross a bridge.

Jesus of Nazareth could walk on water, Jesus Navas struggles to walk on grass.

and my favorite:

Navas is one dodgy haircut away from being Aaron Lennon.

Arsenal are struggling with injuries; however, some key players are also returning and it’s time they stopped using the excuse – Ramsey, Ox, and Bellerin are all returning.  If Ramsey can return somewhere to his old form it should be enough to get past a Sunderland outfit that shouldn’t have a chance at the Emirates (is every stadium Emirates yet?)

Trafford United are playing at the Old Toilet and you know what I think?  The toilet is where West Ham will continue to flush away much of their good start to the season.  Another dull game, another dull result.  I know the fans say that it is results that matter but when you’re as big and rich as Manchester United it’s sad that your fans have aspirations that you play the way Liverpool play under Klopp.  Still, 1-0. 3pts.  LVG building a team for Ryan Giggs to take over and fail with.

Southampton have been poor and lost 6-1 to Liverpool in the Milk Cup; however, it’s the Milk Rumbelows cup so who really cares?  Ronald Koeman cares.  Of course, he’s now stupidly suggesting that Southampton won’t sell Mane for even a million pounds!  Has he not been watching the transfer windows recently?  Did he miss the boos and subsequent retorting chance midweek when Adam Lallana came to town?  Of course the team will bounce back because they are playing Aston Villa. In many ways, a crushing “who cares” defeat in midweek to Klopps red army in the Coca-Cola cup leaves confidence higher than a “we fought and wore our hearts on our sleeve” and lost to Watford game.

Swansea have been on a pitiful run. Leicester have been on a long purple patch.  All runs come to an end eventually so I’m tempted to end them both here.  I’ll probably watch to see if Vardy can score again or see if Leicester end the week on top of the table.  I’m going to bet against both but still see them garnering a point.

Watford are comfortably mid-table is what I keep reading.  Seriously?  Watford are one player being hurt from getting themselves in trouble.  The points tally is also not much higher than those below them.  Norwich?  They score but apparently Watford defend well and can score as well.  Time for the team playing in Gold to win a match at home and for Deeney to score again and prove he’s not playing one division too high. Norwich won both encounters last year but the teams are different now – this is a key test that will make me believe that staying up is possible.

Warning! There are moose crossing and coming to take home a win.   Even moose can do what Navas can’t!

moose
Moose Crossing

Gerry Francis knows a lot about Spuds and he’s helping West Brom figure out a tactic and he’s come up with a classic that everyone who watches football saw last week – take advantage of Kyle Walker and Danny Rose getting carried away up front and counter out wide.  Harry Kane is good but some recent flubs were more good for a laugh than goals.  {Comments include: that finish was the worst I’ve seen since the last series of Lost}

Bournemouth showed so much heart last week that if Tactics Tim (Sherwood) was their manager he would have been chuffed and proud but he’s not and they won’t repeat it.  Chelsea will probably win easily and Jose will starting the massive comeback that will try to get them into the Europa league.

Newcastle are bad.  Very bad.  If you look at the squad you wonder where they are good (and the answer is nowhere).  McClaren has tried talking them up, talking them down, talking like his team isn’t there (well they don’t always show up) and nothing has worked.  Klopp has brought fun and excitement back to Liverpool and that’s the only difference in the team.  Motivation, morale all have an impact in the workplace and football is just a workplace for these guys.  Liverpool will struggle though because you can’t thrash everyone and you shouldn’t get as excited as they did about a Littewoods Cup win in the week.

Last but not least.  Everton gave it away last week.  They won’t do it again.  Not at home.  Not with Martinez in charge.

Round 14 – English Premier League

Spent this week moving this to another server and getting my email sorted out so nothing much to say.  Besides, last week was so bad that I’ve lost all confidence 🙂

Aston Villa 1 1 Watford
Bournemouth 1 3 Everton
Crystal Palace 2 0 Newcastle
Manchester CIty 2 1 Southampton
Sunderland 0 1 Stoke
Leicester 1 1 Manchester United
Tottenham 2 1 Chelsea
West Ham 2 1 West Brom
Liverpool 2 1 Swansea
Norwich 1 2 Arsenal

I picked Liverpool to win this weekend so look for a rousing performance from Swansea!

Scouse Accents

For Livi.

This is a brief explanation of Liverpool accents for you.
This is a former player who exemplifies (to me) a Liverpudlian accent.

This is a Harry Enfield joke that will be offensive to all people from Liverpool. The lady is trying to be Cilla Black, a famous scouse singer who was part of a real show called “Blind Date”

This is what happens when a Danish person plays in Liverpool for 12 years. DO listen to this as he’s very funny and I found myself laughing out loud.

Round 13 – Premier League Picks

Bit of a rush today but I’m committed to getting this out!

Today’s picks are hard because I always want the Hornets to win and I always want the team from “near Manchester” to lose.  Unfortunately, this week I have to make the prediction that I hope more than any other I will make is totally off the mark:  Watford losing at the Vicarage Road stadium to the “mighty” reds…   a draw would be reasonable… but of course a win desired.

Manchester will be down a few strikers but after starting the season well, Gomes had a nightmare last week.  His blunder could be one of those that’s a season changer for someone in a position that doesn’t do well with fragility in the brain.  I’m betting on him coming back strong.

Rooney hasn’t been great and Manchester have made a habit of getting better results than they deserve.  Quique “Dr House” Flores has created an organized, structured, and hard to break down team who like to counter.   United struggle when the opposition opens up so I’m hoping that there’s a little buzzing around in midfield and a sting in Deeney this week that will provide a little spark and provide a point for the Moose men.  Man United will once again look disappointing but walk away without suffering a loss.

11/21/2015 Watford 0 1 Manchester United
11/21/2015 Chelsea 2 0 Norwich
11/21/2015 Everton 2 0 Aston Villa
11/21/2015 Newcastle 2 1 Leicester
11/21/2015 Southampton 2 1 Stoke
11/21/2015 Swansea 2 1 Bournemouth
11/21/2015 West Brom 2 2 Arsenal
11/21/2015 Manchester City 6 0 Liverpool
11/22/2015 Tottenham 3 1 West Ham
11/23/2015 Crystal Palace 1 1 Sunderland

I refuse to not pick Chelsea to win until they actually win.  At home against a Premier League newly promoted team has to be the best opportunity they could have seen coming.  Not sure who is going to score for them and not sure who’s going to successfully defend for them, but somehow they will come away with a 2-0 win.  Finally a week where they keep a clean sheet.

Aston Villa have been Horrible with a capital H.  Everton have been better and have had a hard season opening stretch. Deulofeu has been putting pin-point passes splitting the defense with Lukako finally putting together some goals.  I’m not sure what’s more certain – Aston Villa losing or Everton losing Deulofeu back to Barcelona when his loan is up.

Newcastle have turned the corner!  It’s about time Leicester will too.  It’s hard to imagine the Foxes in the top three going into the Christmas break so they simply have to lose.  Leicester have been leaky and Vardy is not fully fit so it’s time for Perez to prove he’s as good as the weekly commentators say he is.

Southampton and Stoke is a game that’s impossible to watch with both playing in red and white stripes.  It’s almost impossible to tell them apart.  Sunderland are simply no good.  They will therefore lose.  Sometimes it really is that simple.

Bournemouth are in a slump.  New promotion enthusiasm has waned.  Quality players have suffered season ending injuries.  The money tree can’t be harvested until the transfer window so it’s going to be a long downhill slog into the new year. Swansea have had their slide and will start to climb their way back.  Time for Gomis to get back on form.  Bet of the week is Gomis to bag a brace.

West Brom and Arsenal.  Everyone expects Arsenal to score at will.  No one expects West Brom to give up more than 1 goal at home under Pulis.  So some will be surprised and some won’t!  I expect the old tradition of picking 2-2 draws for West Brom to actually hold up this week.

The Citizens have been good and bad this year.   Most of the good is Aguero and Silva and most of the bad has been Bony.  Liverpool have Klopp – who won’t be a flop and Coutinho who has finally started to play a bit like Hazard should.   Still, a comfortable win for the Citeh as Yaya returns to some form moving forward and their 13 year old superstar puts together another great performance.

That’s the one that looks like a 13 year old, Prince Harry, and not the one that acts like a 13 year old, Sterling.

download

Prince Harry and De Bruyne

Tottenham have been in good form especially with their Haley Joel Osmont in good form.

Harry Kane and Haley Joel Osmont

West Ham got shown up last week by Watford’s moose men last week and my Dad would have me know that the Spuds are better than them.  This does not bode well for the Hammers who are going to slowly descend down into the second half of the table.  Dembele is finally proving he’s a great player (about time) and Lamela is finally proving he’s not a waste of space (about time) and Lloris is still a top keeper.

Crystal Palace and Sunderland is a game I won’t be watching as these are both teams I tend to avoid if possible. A draw seems a fittingly bad result.

Round 12 – Premier League Picks

 

Another week of predictions and another week realizing that it’s difficult to make good predictions every week.  I know that some Liverpool fans laugh at the weekly failures here in the same way that West Ham fans mock Mark Lawrenson’s rubbish predictions but it’s hard to predict some things that impact games.

It’s hard to know which week someone gets themselves sent off for an innocuous looking challenge:

It’s hard to know which week a referee feels empowered to do something ridiculous:

On with the picks!

11/7/2015 Bournemouth 1-1 Newcastle
11/7/2015 Leicester 3-2 Watford
11/7/2015 Manchester United 2-1 West Brom
11/7/2015 Norwich 2-1 Swansea
11/7/2015 Sunderland 1-2 Southampton
11/7/2015 West Ham 1-3 Everton
11/7/2015 Stoke 1-2 Chelsea
11/8/2015 Aston Villa 1-2 Manchester City
11/8/2015 Arsenal 5-2 Tottenham
11/8/2015 Liverpool 2-0 Crystal Palace

Bournemouth give it a go each week but have been killed by injuries to key players.  It’s hard to see them pulling out too many victories over the winter period so all the points they can gather now would be huge.  Newcastle are better than their position and are suffering because their manager is worse than his position – no decent manager would claim they could make Newcastle a top 10 European team, and he’s so old school I think he drags out subbuteo figures for his team talk.  I think the most important player on most teams is the goalkeeper and Newcastle are suffering at this position.  1-1 seems a boring yet fair result.

Watford will score early.  Watford will extend their lead.  Then Leicester will be Leicester and Vardy will beVardy and they will score 3 unanswered goals to confound everyone everyone again.

Manchester United have, despite winning, become a boring team to watch.  In fact, they are so boring it’s almost become a pain to hate them enough to care about their games.  West Brom used to be exciting but I’ll skip this one thanks.  Manchester United will continue their trend of scoring more points then they’re worth.  Time for Martial to go on a goal drought and once again to lament the fact the DeGea plays for the reds and keeps them in the game again.

Norwich gave a good run against Citeh.  Are Citeh worse than people think or Norwich better than people think?  Doesn’t matter because Swansea are rubbish.

West Ham could not have chosen a better time to go after Lawrenson than before they played the Hornets who taught them a lesson in shutting down the forwards and punishing the forwards trying to play as a defender – Andy Carroll should play up front where he belongs!.   Everton looked fairly strong with their little Barcelona Boy out wide whipping in wicked crosses (DeuLofeu) and Lokaku showing he’s more than just a big body with some good finishing last week.  I expect both trends to continue with West Ham starting their early descent down the table while Everton keep the dreams of Champions League alive for a while.

Stoke are a tough team and Chelsea are a mess.  Mourinho got a ban for reportedly telling the referees  “You [expletive] referees are weak… Wenger is right about you.”   Finally, he agrees with Wenger? The words were probably chosen so he could bring up the fact that Wenger did NOT get suspended for saying the same thing (and obviously  overlooking the fact that in his own care he was yelling while in the referee’s dressing room at half-time).  Chelsea will turn things around and I will pick them to win every week until I’m correct!

Aston Villa are bad.  Apparently they were better against Spurs.  That says everything when the final result was 3-1!  Manchester City will struggle but manage to eek out another victory.  The only certainty in this game is that if Sterling wins a penalty, Kolorov won’t be taking it!

The Derby!

It will be 3-1 really

And finally, the best for last – Klopp’s Liverpool will hand Crystal Palace one little duck and an egg.  Zaha will win a penalty in the game but it will be at the Kop end so the referee won’t give it 🙂

 

Australians/NZ and Their Funny Shaped Balls

Game of the Week

The All Blacks v Australia

The Kiwis put on a powerful display against South Africa dominating in most phases of the game with the exception of scoring.  Meanwhile Australia put in a winning performance against Argentina without really showing anything special.  Fully expect the All Blacks to be in the mood to win.

36-12

Easy.

I do like what they did the Opera House.

Wallabies by Light

Round 11 – Premier League Picks

Another tough prediction week.  Will Jose turn around a disappointing start to the season (though almost 1/3 of the way in it’s more than a “start”) that includes a mid-weak loss to Stoke in the Coca-Cola Capital Milk Rumbelows Cup?  I know that it’s a low priority tournament these days but Jose once counted the Charity Shield as a trophy so we know he wants to win it.  Meanwhile the same question can be asked of Klopp at the Kop.  Will he turn things around?

It has been predicted that Jose will employ a brand new defensive strategy.

Park the Bus
10/31/2015 Chelsea 1 1 Liverpool
10/31/2015 Crystal Palace 2 1 Manchester United
10/31/2015 Manchester City 2 0 Norwich
10/31/2015 Newcastle 2 1 Stoke
10/31/2015 Swansea 1 2 Arsenal
10/31/2015 Watford 2 1 West Ham
10/31/2015 West Brom 1 1 Leicester
11/1/2015 Everton 2 0 Sunderland
11/1/2015 Southampton 1 0 Bournemouth
11/2/2015 Tottenham 3 0 Aston Villa

Manchester United have been woeful but winning.  Crystal Palace has Zaha who just wins penalties.  Martial will score again and the commentators will rave about his aplomb and ice-water veins but they will struggle for superlatives when Zaha throws himself on to the ground on the edge of the area to earn a late game-winning penalty.  In other words, Manchester will pound Crystal Palace into submission with a Mata tour-de-force display….. they can’t be worse than last weekend.

Manchester City failed to score against their near-city rivals and are still missing key players.  Not quite sure how their best option is Bony but it’s going to be good enough against Norwich who are on the skids.  Of course Pellegrino may choose to go with Iheanacho who might continue his mid-week form and bang in a goal.

Newcastle lost 3-0 to Sunderland but it was really just one of those days where everything went wrong.   The plan this week can’t be the same dominate-get-man-sent-off-and-collapse.  Meanwhile Stoke lost to the buzzing Hornest but who are playing away.  A tight cagey affair that will leave some of Tyneside happy for a change.

This is one of those years where you look at Arsenal’s squad and  you think they could potentially win every game … that they don’t start Theo.  With Giroud up front they have a big body that complement Sanchez.  Given that some players haven’t really showed up yet (Aaron Ramsey where are you?) it’s looking like a good year for Arsene.  Of course, sooner or later Alexis will need a rest and those games will be a struggle for the rest of the team.

I’ve picked against my team too much this year.  My team that is doing better than expected and Ighalo is proving himself a real quality player: his goal scoring is obviously critical but it’s his holding play and strength on the ball that has been pleasantly surprising.  Andy Carroll might score with a header if the carrots are available.

I still love West Brom despite the fact that Tony is supposed to be the boring manager who has a reputation for defensive play.  I think there’s a difference between defensive play and defensive organization and commitment which is the Tony way.  Leicester have been on fire and it’s hard to see Vardy not scoring again . I don’t know if Claudio is making the difference this year or whether it’s just their established team continuing the form of last year.  Should be an exciting classic.

Roberto Martinez is getting dangerously close to putting a mediocre team on the field week after week.  I don’t know where his dynamic tactics disappeared to but there’s no longer a quick transition from the “wing back” and the style is a more traditional through the middle approach with Ross Barclay.  Time to let Deulefeo  start whipping in the ball for Lukako and get some goals.

Southampton are struggling a little, unsurprisingly given their talent exodus in recent years, but they are playing at home against a recently humiliated team that has some critical players missing.  It’s hard to see them not winning.

It would have been nice to see tactics Tim managing against his old team but the money-gods had other ideas and shipped him away.  It was too much too soon for Tim and really it was brave to even consider a position at a team that is still reliant on an aging player with dodgy knees that isn’t ever going to be the player he was at 20.  Gaby just doesn’t cut it anymore.  Harry Kane on a roll.. so a natural hattrick it is … left,  right, head.  Easy.