Not quite as successful a time on the internationals in this break as many of the favourites failed to beat the handicaps set for them and laboured in a lot of cases. If you were also following @TopTopTips on the Twitter you will have gained some back on this Tuesday's matches.
Russia v Portugal - Win 3.74 points.
Serbia v Belgium- Lose 3 points.
Switzerland v Norway - Lose 3 points.
Colombia v Paraguay - Win 1.71 points.
Ecuador v Chile - Win 1.9 points.
Treble - Lose 2 points.
Total - Lose 0.65 points.
Running Total - Win 11.25 points.
Music this week from Nekromantix with Dead Girls Don't Cry.
Tottenham v Chelsea, Saturday 1245
First up this week is the London derby between Tottenham and Chelsea in the early kick off on Saturday. Extra needle is added to an already highly fuelled match with the presence of Chelsea's former manager Andres Villas Boas in the oppositions dugout. Although in the main the media have tried to portray the Portugese as some sort of bumbling clown since he dared upset the senior Chelsea players and 'stole' their beloved Harry Redknapp's job, he has had a great start at Spurs. It may have been a bit turgid in the opening couple of matches, but since then they have really started playing and got a brilliant win at Manchester Untied to confirm this. They have now won the last four matches on the spin and should go fine for the forseeable future, injuries permitting. This is the worry for Villas Boas, he has a squad very thin in certain areas. Fortunately so far players like Jermaine Defoe are grabbing their chance to be back staring and putting the effort in to show they are worthy of a place in the side in the long term.
Chelsea have been the form team so far this season. They are seemingly back to grinding out victories when needed and with the addition of Eden Hazard and form of Juan Mata they also now possess players who can open opposition defences up. Frank Lampard has now also been assigned a less advanced role to compensate for his legs now being a lot less likely to withstand an entire match going up and down the pitch. With both he and John Obi Mikel in front of the defence it does give me a feeling they are there to be attacked. I'm yet to be convinced Mikel is anything but plain average and Lampard is not known for his defensive nous leaving John Terry and David Luiz exposed at times. A nippy forward like Defoe may well get openings with Gareth Bale laying the chances on. I think it's worth a poke at a Spurs side in very good form.
Back Tottenham at 2.68 on Betfair. 2 points.
Fulham v Aston Villa, Saturday 1500
Fulham look a much more attacking side under Martin Jol than they were under previous managers Roy Hodgson and Mark Hughes. He has benefitted from being able to build from a backline that has been pretty settled for two years and has the organisation that comes from experience of playing together. The loss of midfielder Moussa Dembele late in the transfer window to Tottenham was definitely a blow, but they don't seem to have been thrown too far off course because of it. This could in no small part be credited to the signing of Dimitar Berbatov. The Bulgarian has never been short of skill or technique and Jol has chosen to play him in a withdrawn linking role which seems to be having a good effect on the side. Play is all going through him and this also no doubt helps a player who likes to be in control of play and tempo. Their away form is still to be worked out, but they're very good at home.
Unfortunately for new manager Paul Lambert the problems Alex McCleish left behind him when departing have not been easy to fix. There is still a lack of effort or flair at times and Lambert really needs to eradicate this if Villa are to avoid once again getting sucked into a relegation battle. With the latest rumour emerging that Darren Bent has been very upset by his dropping for new signing Cristian Benteke in attack it seems the atmosphere is only going to be poor until January when Lambert will hope to remove some deadwood and unhappy players from his squad. Villa have only won one match this season, and none away from Villa Park, and I fail to see how they will get anything here.
Back Fulham at 1.83 at William Hill. 3 points.
Real Sociedad v Atletico Madrid, Sunday 2030
An interesting test for an Atletico Madrid side who are still unbeaten and are joint top of La Liga with Barcelona. Real Sociedad have won three from three so far, but when you look at the sides they have been up against it makes it a little less intimidating. They have beaten an out of form Zaragoza, the currently awful Atletic Bilbao and newly promoted Celta Vigo in a narrow win. The bookmakers still seem nervous of the notoriously flaky Atletico when compiling, but I think they could well be the real deal if they can keep their star men fit. This is especially true of Colombian striker Falcao who is probably the world's most in demand pure striker presently. He will get chances against this defence and he will take them too.
Back Atletico Madrid at 2.2 with Boylesports. 2 points.
Juventus v Napoli, Saturday 1945
A top of the table clash between Juventus and Napoli on Saturday evening in Serie A. Both sides currently remain undefeated going into this match and sit joint top on nineteen points apiece. Juventus may not have manager Antonio Conte on the bench for matches at present whilst he serves a ban from before his current job, but they have nevertheless started in imperious form. They are built on a tight defence and midfield with attackers who are all capable of firing when in the side. They do not possess loads of flair though and have often relied upon Fabio Quagliarella to come on in games where they are struggling for a bit of his magic to decide matches. I think this could well be a tight match that may well end in a stalemate due to neither coach wanting to lose.
Napoli have really come on in leaps and bounds in the last three seasons since manager Walter Mazzari came on board and introduced something of a 3-5-2 system back into Serie A. He has been aided in no small part by a brilliant scouting network in South America unearthing him gems in attack like the now departed Ezequiel Lavezzi, Eduardo Vargas and the prolific striker Edinson Cavani. Cavani is only really rivalled by Falcoa in Spain for me as an out and out striker and would be a great signing for any side that could prize him away. There is also influential captain Marek Hamsik in midfield bombing up and donw and popping up with his share of goals too.Basically it is a very well rounded team that is yet to concede on the road this season and will win Serie A sooner or later if they don't sell off all their prized assets.
Lay Juventus at 1.75 on Betfair. 2 points.
Borussia Dortmund v Schalke 04, Saturday 1430
The two form sides in the second half of the Bundesliga last season play in Dortmund this Saturday afternoon. Dortmund seem to have developed a habit of having to play their way into seasons and catch up with Bayern Munich, who traditionally go off like a rocket, and this season has been no exception. They struggled to justify very short prices early on and only now are beginning to show what they are capable of. This has possibly been a lot to do with replacing Shinji Kagawa with Marco Reus in attacking midfield. The Japanese player was often heavily involved in everything at the point of attack last season and the side has finally begun to look like they now know how to utilise Reus' more direct style. I think the young German is a better player and will show that Dortmund have improved the side with his signing. The international break has seen both sides lose players, but Dortmund's have had very good games, in particular Reus, and should come back full of energy.
Schalke were tipped by many to kick on this season and join Dortmund and Bayern at the peak of the table making a real challenge. Unfortunately the form of Bayern has seen them already seven points clear of Schalke. Scalke do currently lie two points ahead of Dortmund, but I have yet to see anything to suggest they are playing well enough to maintain a challenge, they look lethargic at times. Last season they were very reliant on Klaas Jan Huntelaar's excellent form in front of goal and with him not quite getting going yet they don't look as able to kill teams off, which may well haunt them at a later date in tough matches such as this.
Back Borussia Dortmund at 1.7 with Blue Square. 2.5 points.
Hamburg v Stuttgart, Sunday 1630
Hamburg were finally a backable proposition for me in my last blog and they came out on top at excellent odds of around 2.7 for us. After eighteen of the worst months in their history it finally seems that they are capable of decent performances. In saying this they have been reliant upon goalkeeper Rene Adler justifying the potential he is often cited as having and keeping them in some matches. Then there is the signing of Rafael Van Der Vaart which seems to have given the whole club the lift it was designed to do. They are by no means a club about to push right on, but they're worth following for now whilst spirits and results are so good I think.
Stuttgart tend to start badly and sometimes do not get going until after xmas, this looks like it may be one of those seasons. They have only won one match so far and their goal difference reads scored seven and conceded fourteen so far. They are in trouble at the wrong end of the table and don't look likely to turn it around soon. There needs to be some sort of change at the club, be that manager or more senior, as the whole place is devoid of anything positive at present. I'm not a huge believer in betting purely on confidence, but the gulf in the atmospheres at both clubs tempts me here.
Back Hamburg with Coral at 2.3. 3 points.
Genclerbirligi v Galatasaray, Friday 1800
First up in the Super Lig is a very tough away game for reigning champions Galatasaray at Genclerbirligi. Gencler have had a very good home record over the past few seasons and possess enough firepower to find themselves towards the top of the table and with an outside chance of UEFA competitions most years. This season they have started very well and currently sit third in the table and actually able to leapfrog Gala with a home victory. They are unbeaten at home in three matches and have scored eight whilst only conceding two to demonstrate how well they can play. This is definitely not the match Gala would want with minimal time with their players after many were in international action on Tuesday night.
As mentioned Gala always lose numerous players to international duty and in a league where this is not the case for most clubs this can provide the lesser sides with an improved chance of victory. Gala currently sit top of the table, but signed off with a loss at Orduspor before the break and were not looking at all assured at the back all season. The loss of club captain Tomas Ujfalusi has seen the defence noticeably less organised and they are conceding far too many to justify short prices away from home like this.
Lay Galatasaray at 2.0 on Betfair. 2.5 points.
Besiktas v Trabzonspor, Sunday 1700
The 'other two' in Turkey's big four meet on Sunday evening in Istanbul. Besiktas for me are roughly similar to Tottenham of seasons gone in that they have the talent, but are not a team to stake your house on. They are unreliable basically. There will be weeks where they blow sides out of the water, normally when their high wage experienced foreign players can be bothered, and then they'll surrender to a poor side away the next match. In this match they should be more likely to give a good account of themselves due to the calibre of the opponents and the fact they are always a better side when at home in Istanbul. They are struggling a bit for goals though and Trabzonspor don't give many away so they may have a task on their hands.
As mentioned Trabzon have kept it very tight at the back so far this season, possibly to over compensate for the loss of the man responsible for over half their goals last season. Burak Yilmaz has left a large hole in attack for the Black Sea outfit and they are yet to find out how to replace his goals. They do sit in sixth position in the table however comma this is mainly due to three wins and a draw from four home matches. They are yet to win away from home and have two draws and a loss away so far. I'm not sure that Beisktas have the firepower to beat the leagues best defence so I'm going to split stakes on two markets for this one.
Back the Draw at 3.25 with BetFred. 1 point.
Back Under 2.5 Goals at 1.75 with Bet365. 2 points.
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