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The Season To Be Jolly

Last weekend saw some well needed profit which will hopefully put us back in the black before Xmas and with a few weeks to rebuild our bank. Those who follow @TopTopTips on the Twitter will also have so far made some decent extra reddies on the Champions League, which has been very profitable for us this season so far. There has also been good money made on the Europa League and I will be giving out a few more selections for that too.

 

Week Fourteen

QPR v Southampton - Win 2.06 points.

West Brom v Chelsea - Win 2.04 points.

Deportivo v Levante - Win 1.48 points.

Napoli v AC Milan - Lose 2 points.

Hannover 96 v Freiburg - Lose 2 points.

Monchengladbach v Stuttgart - Win 1.75 points

Eskisehirspor v Fenerbahce - Void.

Antalyaspor v Besiktas - (changed to Over 2.5 Goals at 1.95 on Twitter on Saturday) Win 1.8 points.

Total - Win 5.23 points

 

Running Total - Up 1.74 points.

 

Music this week comes from Union 13 with The Game.

 

Aston Villa v Arsenal, Saturday 1730

 

Aston Villa look like they finally be turning a corner under Paul Lambert after the long, slow fall they have been in since Martin O'Neill's last days and the disastrous reign of Alex McCleish. They're not going to be pushing for European football any time soon with the players at Lambert's disposal, but they do seem to be settling into a system that is capable of giving most sides a tough time. A big part of this has coincided with the return to the side of Steven Ireland. The Irishman was touted as a huge prospect when at Manchester City but a fragile ego seemed to have left him scrabbling around for the odd substitute at both Newcastle and Villa. Lambert has taken him under his wing and restored him to the role behind the striker and he is thriving again. The striker is Belgium's Cristian Benteke and whilst he may not have Darren Bent's ability to squeeze out a goal, he offers far more to the team with his physicality and aerial ability. He currently looks a handful for any opposing side and Arsenal still have a weakness for physical approaches and in the air from set pieces so presumably Lambert will look to exploit this.

 

Arsenal presently seem to be in a small run themselves. This should be tempered by analysis of the matches though for me. If you watch the North London derby against Tottenham you will see that whilst Spurs had a full side out they came close to scoring three times in fifteen minutes before Emanuel Adebayor's absolutely ridiculous challenge saw him sent off. It's not too much of a stretch in my opinion to think that Spurs would have added to their tally with eleven men and gone on to win that match. Then last night against Montpellier, a side who are struggling in the generally poor Ligue Un in France, they had plenty of possession but failed to make it look threatening for the entire first half. That they eventually won 2-0 was more of a damning verdict on Montpellier than any particular achievement. The three things that have been positive in the last couple of weeks are the form of Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud alongside the return to fitness of Santi Cazorla. Walcott was a constant threat to Spurs and Giroud now has nine goals for the season after finding his feet and the team playing to his strengths. Cazorla has quickly established himself as the metronome of the side that dictates the rhythm and the side seems to only play well when the Spaniard does. If Villa can shackle Cazorla they will greatly disrupt Arsenal's play.

 

Lay Arsenal at 1.75 on Betfair. 2 points.

 

Swansea v Liverpool, Sunday 1330

 

It's a full schedule on Sunday with the Europa League being played midweek. Swansea have had a topsy turvy season so far, which is probably to be expected with a new manager and quite a few new additions to the side. Michael Laudrup shone at Getafe as a manager where he dragged the tiny Spanish side into European competition on a meagre budget, but he then failed miserably at Mallorca under the same restrictions. The jury is definitely still out on him and he will want to make a success of his time in Wales. His side started the season in some style with back to back wins done with no little style and plenty of goals. This could not continue forever and the Swans went through a five game spell without a win. They are not getting outclassed very often though, they are picking up plenty of draws, but they need to improve if they are to avoid getting dragged down the table. They go won two, drew three and only lost one at home so far to show that no side gets an easy game over the border. With players like Michu, Pablo Hernandez and Ki Sung-Yueng in the side that's no great surprise, it is finding a way to get the best out of them every week that will determine Laudrup's success.

 

Liverpool seem to have found a way of supplying Luis Suarez regularly and it has seen something of an upturn in results for the most part. With the Uruguyan far and away the best player in the current side it is Brendan Rodgers best hope of turning results around to play to his strengths and especially if he wants to hang on to his job long enough to turn things around. Suarez can appear very wasteful at times, and I have criticised him previously for this, but there is probably no player in the division that Liverpool would rather have. He may well be something of a dislikeable character, but that can also be used to motivate him and to draw those around him to the cause of rehabilitating him. For this I will give Rodgers credit. Apart from that though he has failed to convince me his time at Swansea was not a one off success after a dreadful spell at Reading previously. The jury is out and if Swansea can shackle Suarez or he has an off day then Liverpool's odds will look very short.

 

Back Swansea at 2.62 Draw No Bet at Coral. 2 points.

 

Rayo Vallecano v Mallorca, Saturday 1500

 

There's not many inspiring prices this weekend in Spain, and truth be told this is simply the most appealing of what's there. Rayo Vallecano have been very entertaining both this season and last with their commitment to attacking at all times providing plenty of thrills. This can on occasion lead to defeats in matches they are expected to win, but this has happened more away than at home. It also means they don't draw many matches, only one so far this season home or away. They have actually struggled for goals themselves as they lack a finisher in attack and this somewhat damages their chances, but they're up against a pretty uninspiring Mallorca side. 

 

Mallorca currently hover just above the relegation spots and I'd not expect them to pull clear this season, they have every chance of going down too. They don't score enough goals and are absolutely dire when away from home. They have a record of played six, drawn three and lost three away with not a win to their name. They will not be looking forward to this trip at all.

 

Back Rayo Vallecano at 2.2 with BetVictor. 1.5 points.

 

Torino v Fiorentina, Sunday 1400

 

Torino returned to Serie A over the summer and have been something of a mixed bag. They've not been outclassed in any match so far, and have picked up a couple of excellent wins along the way, but they draw too many matches away and don't score enough goals. They've only scored more than one in a match in two games, take these two matches away and their record is scored 5 in eleven. So whilst they obviously can turn it on, I would not be backing them to do so. They have only one win in their last seven matches played and desperately could do with a positive result before all the draws start slipping to defeats.

 

Fiorentina are probably the surprise package of the Serie A season so far. They appointed Vincenzo Montella over the summer as manager and he brought in no less than nine new players to revamp the side. Many would have expected a side that has been up and down recntly, with a new young manager and lots of new players to possibly struggle to string performances together, but Montella has greatly enhanced his burgeoning reputation by getting results already. They currently lie in third position in the table and look likely to be involved in Europe next year in some capacity. They have won five matches on the bounce both home and away and are the side noone wants to face at the moment with goals coming from all over the pitch. They have to be backed at these odds.

 

Back Fiorentina at 2.45 with BetVictor. 2 points.

 

Mainz 05 v Borussia Dortmund, Saturday 1430

 

Mainz have become a semi regular feature in the column as they are a settled side who are hard to beat. This season we've had mixed results with them, but I'm going to take a chance on them again. The reasoning behind this is that they are a very organised side who press teams and look for mistakes to be exploited as they wear the opposition down. For this reason they have had some very impressive results against the best sides in recent years and look destined to feature in European competition again next season. The fact they are out of the Europa League does mean they get a rest on weeks when other sides play their European matches. They have an excellent home record so far this season of played five, won four and lost just one. In this time they've also scored eight goals and only conceded two so far to make it an intimidating place for opposition sides.

 

Borussia Dortmund have looked better in the Champions League this season after a fairly disappointing showing last year. This does seem to have impacted their league form though, with them often looking tired after a midweek match. This is probably no huge surprise as they rely on pressing teams for ninety minutes and they have had a very tough group to qualify from in the Champions League. They currently sit in fourth position in the Bundesliga and they may have already accepted that they will not be getting a third title in a row with Bayern Munich pulling so far ahead already. With an away record of played six, won two, drawn three and lost one this will probably be the reason they fail in that challenge if it continues. I think they have to be opposed here.

 

Lay Borussia Dortmund at 1.66 on Betfair. 2 points.

 

Augsburg v Borussia Monchengladbach, Sunday 1630

 

Augsburg currently sit bottom of the Bundesliga with just one win all season home and away. They struggled after being promoted all of last season and narrowly escaped relegation, but it looks very likely that this year they will return to the Bundesliga II. It is not hard to locate their problems, they don't score nearly enough and concede far too many. They have played twelve matches and only scored eight goals whilst conceding twenty two so far. Their sole win came at home to Werder Bremen on one of the away sides off days that can see them looking as poor as anyone in the division. They have now been beaten by two goals in each of their last three matches too and they look ridiculously underpriced in this.

 

Monchengladbach have completed a full about turn to be this seasons most exciting side for the neutral with forty one goals scored in matches involving them. This change of approach in the absence of star man Marco Reus has seen mixed results and has them in mid-table currently. These mixed results are perfectly illustrated by a record of two wins, two draws and two losses in both the home and away columns to show they are capable of any result at any time. They were on a run of three unbeaten matches before succumbing 2-1 at home to Stuttgart last weekend and should still fancy their chances against the divisions most awful side.

 

Back Borussia Monchengladbach at 3.2 with BetVictor. 2.5 points.

 

Gaziantepspor v Istanbul BB, Sunday 1400

 

First up from the Super Lig is Istanbul BB's trip to Gaziantepspor. Gaziantep have had a few seasons where they made challenges for the European positions before falling away late on in the season. This is not unfamiliar in Turkey where the squad sizes aside from the giants are pretty small and players tire quickly. This season however comma Gaziantep have struggled to gain wins and sit just above the relegation zone desperate for points. They have a record of three wins and three losses at home so far with nine goals scored and seven conceded. This goes to show that they are still capable of beating anyone on their day, but you're gambling on them turning up.

 

Istanbul BB were another side that has given the big boys something to think about in recent seasons. They had a very good home record two seasons ago that dragged them through and then after Xmas last season they started looking more likely to pick up wins away from home. They currently sit one position above their opponents on Sunday and for them it is their away record that is their strong suit. They have played six, won three and lost three away and similarly to Gazinatep can not be particularly relied upon. Their has been seven goals for and six against in those matches though and I think looking at both sides mixed records and ability to score and conced it has to be a goals bet here.

 

Back Over 2.5 Goals at 2.05 with Paddy Power. 2.5 points.

 

Trabzonspor v Eskisehirspor, Monday 1800

 

Trabzonspor are another side that have featured regularly in the column this season due to the reliability of their results. They are very good at home with four wins, one draw and a solitary loss from six matches, but they still haven't found a regular way of scoring goals. They have scored just eight in those six matches and their strength can be seen in them only conceding three in the same timeframe. That they have managed to get four wins at home is something of a surprise to me as they have not looked entirely convincing to me. The only side they have scored more than one against are the two newly promoted strugglers and this will be much more of a test.

 

Eskisehirspor fell away horribly last season after a good start and they almost made Europe the season before that too. The issue they had for both seasons was a lack of goals forcing them to eke out numerous one nil victories, but left them susceptible to plenty of draws as they could not pull away from sides. They have actually scored plenty at home this season, but seem to set up differently away and look to shut games down and play for a tight match. This is back to the way they used to play home and away so is not too much of a stretch for the players either as they are well used to it. They only have one win away so far to go with two draws and three losses, but they have not been well beaten in any of them. They're in decent form and Trabzon look a little short to me.

Lay Trabzonspor at 2.02 on Betfair. 2 points.

Matt Howard

 

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