We're now at 7 weeks profit on the spin and looking good. A nice cushion to take us into the tail end of the season, and I'd like to think that the bets have become better along with my eye for value. This leads on to this weeks lesson; always keep learning. In gambling, as in life, you should analyse as much as possible good and bad things and attempt to improve going forward.
Newcastle v Chelsea - Win 2.06 points.
Wigan v Southampton - Win 1.6 points.
Osasuna v Celta Vigo - Win 2.2 points.
Nurnberg v Monchengladbach - Lose 2 points.
Bayer Leverkusen v Dortmund - Win 2.4 points.
Besiktas v Karabukspor - Win 2.3 points.
Bursaspor v Galatasaray - Lose 2.5 points.
Totals - Win 6.06 points.
Running Total - Up 44 points.
Music from Living With Lions and My Dilemma.
Norwich v Fulham, Saturday 1500
A favourite team of mine at points both this season and last has been Norwich City. After a dreadful start under Chris Hughton this season they turned things round to the extent they embarked on a ten match unbeaten spell, before again struggling. This period of poor results seemed to come around the Xmas period when those in the Premier League with smaller squads will always feel the pressure of so many matches. Add in the fact that Norwich don't truly possess players of outstanding quality and it's not easy for them to get results when efforts are lacklustre. This period looks to me like it might well be easing though with a couple of better results again of late. I say of late, I really saw a much improved side against Spurs and QPR. Spurs have been excellent all season and were held to a fortunate 1-1 draw at Carrow Road before they restricted QPR to almost no chances at Loftus Road. I think they've got enough energy to assure themselves of safety in the coming weeks.
Fulham's horrendous away form is a huge weight around their necks, and has been for the previous three managers. Mark Hughes, Roy Hodgson and Martin Jol have all tried different approaches and different sides, but the one constant has been the dreadful form they've exhibited. I believe it is something like three wins away from Craven Cottage in three seasons, and they've really struggled in recent matches anyway. The loan signings Jol has made all have good pedigree, but they are not the sorts you would look to to grind out tough wins in hard matches. I think baring in mind this away form and Norwich's pick-up the home side look good odds.
Back Norwich City at 2.3 with BoyleSports. 2 points.
Sunderland v Arsenal, Saturday 1500
Martin O'Neill's last two spells as a manager have showed that whilst he may no longer be one of the best in the business, his sides are generally tough to beat. He is generally inclined to only really go for a few goals in matches at home he is confident of being the better side in and this will not be one of those. This being said, only a very foolish manager would try to go at an Arsenal side who are still adept at picking teams off given the chance. The tactical approach I have mentioned has seen his side only conceding twelve goals in twelve home matches, which is a very good record for a side in a lower mid-table position. I also like the look of his new midfield signing Alfred N'Diaye from Bursaspor. The physically imposing midfielder looks an excellent prospect and already like he has taken to the Premier League in his four outings so far.
Arsenal have seemingly gone backwards in the past couple of seasons under Arsene Wenger. I will always have brilliant memories of the side he built around Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry, but he looks increasingly out of touch at times. His refusal to change system, or bring in true top class players, used to look like a worthwhile crusade when so many excellent players were emerging from his youth sides. But barring the excellent Jack Wilshere, there has been very little to get excited about lately. Some of his signings have come in for undue criticism in my opinion, but they are nowhere near a top level side any more and are not be relied on in a tough away match at odds on for me.
Lay Arsenal at 1.91 on Betfair. 2 points.
Deportivo v Granada, Saturday 2100
There is again very little standing out to me in La Liga this week. I looked at backing Levante as I have done numerous times, but they look like they're generally old legs are creaking so I'll leave alone and monitor this week. The worst side in La Liga have been Deportivo La Coruna and they look set for a return to the Segunda division in the summer. They do have all three of their victories at home so far, but they have only one of those this year so far and have lost their last four matches.
Granada are the other 'feeder' club for Udinese, alongside Watford in England, and have won promotion and stayed up since the arrangement was agreed. They are by no means a great side, but they are possibly a goalscorer away from really pushing on towards the upper sections of the table. They've actually won three away matches and I think they're too long in this one.
Lay Deportivo La Coruna at 2.14 on Betfair. 2 points.
Atalanta v Catania, Sunday 1400
It's a simple question of home and away records for my only Serie A tip this weekend. Atalanta have possibly exceeded many expectations in Italy in the last season and a half by making themselves pretty comfortable in the countries top division. This has been built on the back of an excellent home record and being extremely tough to beat. Any side that comes to tehir stadium and emerges with a win will be certain to have earned it. They go five wins, two draws and four losses at home. In these matches they have also only conceded twelve goals, which should probably exclude the freak 5-1 mauling they took from Torino back in November. If we lose that result they concede less than a goal a game and that's an excellent starting point for a mid-table side.
Catania have been involved a couple of times recently on here as they also have built a reputation for being a fearsome prospect at home. They have already beaten Fiorentina, Roma and Lazio at their ground to climb to seventh in the table. However comma they have been let down by a poor away record which will be likely to prevent them from pushing any higher up the table and challenging for European football. They go won two, drawn three and lost six away from Sicily. They have also conceded a whopping twenty goals in those eleven matches. Taking into account Atalanta's defence and the chances the attackers are likely to get I think you have to be against Catania here.
Back Atalanta Draw No Bet at 1.61 with Ladbrokes. 2 points.
Hannover 96 v Hoffenheim, Saturday 1430
First up from the Bundesliga is a former column favourite side. Hannover have spent the last few seasons putting together a side who are very clear in their tactics and were very reliable to beta the teams they should and make it tough for the better sides, sometimes springing a shock. Unfortunately, this season their performances have dropped off bit and they are currently languishing in mid-table obscurity in tenth position. This has mostly been down to a real dip in away results though, their home form has remained excellent. In ten home matches they go six wins, two draws and two losses so far. They have gone for a fairly attacking tactical system at home which has seen them scoring twenty two goals in those ten matches and conceding fourteen. With any attacking formation there is an element of risk that you'll be caught out at the back, but so far it seems Hannover have struck a good balance. Since the winter break they have won their solitary home match and lost both away games. They should take great heart from the performances in those two away matches though, narrowly being on the wrong side of a 5-4 result at Schalke and also being beaten by two goal in the last five minutes last weekend at Bremen.
Hoffenheim were something of a fairytale story for neutrals when they climbed Germany's league system and reached the Bundesliga. In their own country though they have been pretty unloved due to the money bieng pumped in by a sole benefactor being against the norm for football clubs. This being the case, many have enjoyed seeing them steadily dropping down the table since their initial burst in their first season in the top flight. This has now happened to such an extent they look certain to be at least involved in a promotion/relegation play-off if not outright relegated to the Bundesliga II. Their tally of sixteen points is dreadful and they have been particularly awful on their travels. Their away record reads won one, drawn one and lost seven with eleven scored and twenty one conceded. It would be fair to say they've looked slightly more organised since the winter break, but Hannover should be trusted to get the job done.
Back Hannover 96 at 2.25 with BetVictor. 2.5 points.
Augsburg v Mainz 05, Sunday 1630
Possibly the second side I've most followed in Germany in the past eighteen months in Mainz under their excellent manager Thomas Tuchel. The young German has instilled a terrific work ethic in his side which can be seen in the constant pressing and harrying they produce every match to wear sides out and then take advantage. This has seen them regularly involved in the European qualification spots and they are in fifth spot and well placed to again compete in the Europa League. They don't have an awesome away record, but they do still have one of the best goals against records away so they're not getting turned over at all. They go won three, drawn two and lost five with thirteen scored and fifteen conceded so far. It's not great, but Augsburg are thankfully worse.
As mentioned Augsburg look doomed to return to their, probably rightful, place in the Bundesliga II this summer. They did excellently to survive in the end last season for another crack at the top sides, but they look out of their depth too regularly and are second bottom with just fourteen points. They have been equally poor at home and away with mirroring records of won one, drawn four and lost five from ten matches. They've conceded fifteen in those ten at home, which isn't actually that bad in a high scoring league like the Bundesliga, but their goals for of seven is the real issue.
Lay Augsburg at 2.8 on Betfair. 2.5 points.
Karabukspor v Bursaspor, Saturday 1700
Both weekends since the winter break in Turkey I've been behind Karabukspor and they've served me well. A personal betting plan of mine is to try and spot good runs of form early from decent sides outside of the 'names' in foreign leagues. There's no weight of money at an English bookmaker in general for these sides so the odds are much more likely to be slightly out and represent a value bet if my picks are correct. And since they'll nearly always be good value, you would expect to come out on top in the long term from betting these sorts of selections anyway. Karabuk are exactly right for this as a mid-table side who don't get beaten easily at all and have the ability to give any side in Turkey a game, as evidenced by beating Galatasaray at Gala earlier in the season. They have actually picked up more points on their travels so far, but they have played eleven away compared to nine at home. IN these nine home matches they go three wins, three draws and three losses with seven scored and ten conceded. They are definitely part of the current trend to go all out away from home in Turkey and those goal figures show how tight they keep it at home in general.
Bursaspor slightly spoiled an almost perfect weekend last time out by holding Galatasaray to a draw in Bursa. They're still a decent side, but they are now way off the team they were when emerging with serious backing to win the Super Lig a few years ago. Their policy of recruiting abroad looks as flawed as the approach Besiktas had taken in the past four years and they would do well to go back to basics. They actually sit a place above Karabukspor as things stand and are something of the leagues draw specialists. They have ten draws in total from just twenty matches so far. They seem to be able to scrap to a draw, and also just as liable to let a side back in for a draw so I think there's reason to back such an eventuality again in this.
Back the Draw at 3.4 with Bet365. 2 points.
Sivasspor v Trabzonspor, Sunday 1130
As mentioned above, it's worth keeping an eye out for little runs of form from decent sides. This appears a case in point here for Sivasspor after an excellent away win at Fenerbahce last weekend I would expect them to kick on a little bit now. If you look at their home record so far then they've already been very good, although they were beaten 2-1 recently by a Mersin Idman Yurdu side who do seem to specialise in away upsets. Their home record is won four, drawn four and lost just twice with sixteen scored and thirteen conceded. For a mid-table side those are not bad figures at all, although the goals against shows they will give a side chances. Thankfully most teams in Turkey struggle for goals so they're not going to get punished all that often.
Trabzonspor have been a side I have been happy to oppose most weeks this season. Another thing I'll often look at is being against sides that struggle for goals if the odds are right to do so. Trabzonspor have been a fixture in the upper echelons of the Super Lig forever it seems and are certainly one of the big four names most would associate with Turkish football. This can see the odds given by English bookmakers possibly over-estimating their level, as they have done often this season. Sines selling Burak Yilmaz to Galatasaray over the summer they have failed to replace his goals at all. The side was built to supply him and it shouldn't really come as a surprise that with half the sides goals removed they've struggled to cope. They also have one of the worst away records in the top half of the table with won two, drawn three and lost four so far with eleven goals scored and conceded. I can't have them as marginal favs in this.
Lay Trabzonspor at 2.82 on Betfair. 2.5 points.