Another weekend with only minimal profits, but that keeps us ticking over very nicely. Those of you that follow @TopTopTips on Twitter will also have the chance to add/lose more too. Last night's Champions League matches being the first time I've had a plain losing day in a while now. It hurt, but these things will happen, it pays to remember we are 'gambling' at the end of the day.
Liverpool v Swansea - Lose 2 points.
Huddersfield v Wigan - Lose 2 points.
Real Valladolid v Atletico Madrid - Lose 2 points.
Catania v Bologna - Win 2.1 points.
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Greuther Furth - Win 2.8 points.
Mainz 05 v Schalke 04 - Win 1.37 points.
Antalyaspor v Karabukspor - Win 2.3 points.
Trabzonspor v Fenerbahce - Win 1.39 points.
Totals - Win 3.96 points.
Running Total - Up 49.6 points.
Music this week from The Ramones with Sheena Is A Punk Rocker, a true classic!
Reading v Wigan, Saturday 1500
Wigan, I hate betting on Wigan. This one seems too good to miss though. Reading really struggled in the first half of the Premier League season and looked absolute certainties to be relegated back down to the Championship after just a season. Thanks to the takeover by a Russian millionaire they were linked with numerous big money players from that area like Andrei Arshavin in January to bolster the squad for a push up the table. However comma none of these 'big names' materialised and manager Brian McDermott invested in lower league players with a bit of fight and hunger, the right thing to do in my opinion. Results have also begun to turn around with the defence beginning to look a lot more sure-footed and the attack really threatening. The main threat in attack has without a doubt been the arrival of Adam Le Fondre in the latter stages of matches to prey on tiring opposition legs. He's no all round star, but he is a predator and is certainly grabbing some goals. The never-say-die attitude they have displayed in numerous comebacks also shows the spirit in the squad has not been dented and even if they take a while to get going they should have too much for Wigan.
Wigan again took my money last weekend by soundly beating Huddersfield away in the FA Cup. I've professed numerous times how much I dislike betting on games involving them, but I'll go back this time and if I'm undone again then they're back on the 'do not bet' list. They do have some players with excellent ability in their squad and this showed last weekend against a side towards the bottom of the division below. The likes of Jordi Gomez, James McCarthy and others certainly can pass a ball around, but they're not cut out for a relegation battle, and that's where Wigan find themselves time after time. They concede too many due to this constant lack of grit and they haven't had a regular goalscorer to give them some breathing room either, they'll be in the scrap again this season.
Back Reading at 2.7 with BetVictor. 2 points.
Norwich v Everton, Saturday 1500
Norwich have been very good to me over the past eighteen months, due in no small part to being underestimated by the bookmakers in their first season back in the Premier League. They have to rely on battling to get every point as they definitely do not have many players that you would consider 'Premier League quality', but they get on with this most weeks. Their only real cerebral player is Wesley Hoolahan, and the diminutive Irish international is the point where most attacking play goes through. The rest of the side is made up of players from the lower leagues and bargain buys from Premier League clubs like the central defensive pairing of Sebastien Bassong and Michael Turner. The basis of their tactics is that everyone has a role and they are pretty rigid about sticking to these roles, in many ways they are the anti-Wigan and the results they get seem to back this approach up. They're not in world beating form, but if they can deal with Everton's physical approach, and they should be able to match them, then they can get something from this match.
Everton are still in the hunt for the fourth Champions League spot, although they'd probably concede they'll be likely to fall short. They started the season in exceptional form and have experienced a couple of rough patches, one of which was recently. They now go for a very physical attacking approach with Nikola Jelavic out of form and the first eleven by starting with Victor Anichebe being backed up by Marouane Fellaini. These two are huge physical specimens and fully capable of bullying anyone who isn't on top of their game against them. Fortunately for Norwich they have two rather large centre backs themselves helped out by Alexander Tettey in defensive midfield to cope. Everton's problems of late have come at the back with Johnny Heitinga having been very poor. The Dutch international seems to always be a moment away from a dreadful error and they will need to be verycareful as Norwich do have a good winger in Anthony Pilkington who will expose him given the chance.
Lay Everton at 2.1 on Betfair. 2 points.
Celta Vigo v Granada, Sunday 1600
This one jumped out at me immediately. You may have spotted me following Granada's recent good run so I will continue with that this weekend in La Liga. Celta Vigo didn't start the season too badly, but as time has worn on they look increasingly like a side more fitted to the Segunda division. They find themselves third bottom at the moment and struggling for any sort of result. Their home form is actually the only reason they aren't cut adrift, as they are wretched away from home, but they haven't won a home match since early January either. In fact they are now six matches without a win and have not scored more than once in any of those either. They look increasingly short of confidence and certain to be involved in the relegation scrap.
Granada weren't looking too hot themselves before the winter break, but have been excellent since the return to action in January. They are still bottom half of the La Liga table, but are a whole six points clear of the relegation spots and in good form, they will be hoping for a couple more results in this run to pull further clear. They beat Real Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna before losing from in front against Barcelona last weekend and should be full of confidence still after only being undone by Lionel Messi's continued brilliance. They go won four, drawn one and lost seven away from home, but the odds seem far too short on Celta Vigo to me.
Lay Celta Vigo at 1.9 on Betfair. 2 points.
Atalanta v Roma, Sunday 1400
Atalanta were a side I had my eye on for a while too due to an excellent home record in Serie A, but they seem to have been lacklustre of late. This has seen them drop down the table and they are now in fifteenth position of twenty sides. They should be clear of relegation worries, but they could yet get dragged in if they continue as they are. Their home form reads won five, drawn three and lost four so far with twelve scored fourteen conceded. It's easy to pick out that a lack of goals is making them susceptible to losses as they will struggle to get two if they concede even one. Their last home in was in early December and they've played five since then at home and have in fact only got one win away at the awful Palermo in their last nine matches. A side completely out of form.
Roma dispensed with manager Zdenek Zeman recently after he failed to get them back to the all out attacking, team-destroying unit they were in his first spell at the club. He had sorted out them as an attacking force, but had alienated Daniele De Rossi as well as leaving the side hopelessly exposed at the back. He's made no secret of his approach being to always try and score more than the opposition though so really the Roma hierachy shouldn't have been too surprised. Aurelio Andreazolli has been given the managers role for now after being in the back up staff for a number of years and seems to have the side ticking over nicely. There's plenty of talented players there so if he organises the defence better and reinstalls a bit of dressing room harmony they should do much better. A brilliant win against Juventus last weekend should give them a boost.
Back Roma at 2.51 at Pinnacle Sports. 2 points.
Hannover 96 v Hamburg, Saturday 1430
Hannover are one of the sides in Germany that feature most regularly in this column. They are exactly the sort of side I like to be on the side of when the odds are appealing. They're a good side, consistent and have an excellent home record. If you can spot small runs of form for sides with quality players then that can be very profitable, and I try to, but reliability is key I think to long term gains. Hannover fit the bill when they're at home as they're plenty good enough to make even the best Bundesliga sides work for any points they get when visiting. This season so far they go seven wins, two draws and two losses at home with twenty three scored and fourteen conceded. In the Bundesliga both of those are excellent records and they haven't lost at home since mid-November.
Hamburg were a lay nearly every week last season for me as they were being priced on name alone a lot of the time when their form was such that they were very nearly relegated. If you look at the side they had then it was also very apparent there was no quality there at all either. This season started off just as poorly and the board stepped in to appoint a new manager and bring back huge crowd favourite Rafael Van Der Vaart to give the whole place a boost. This seems to have worked wonders as Hamburg are now within striking distance of a Europa League spot for next season. Their away form goes won three, drawn three and lost five so far with thirteen scored and fifteen conceded. I think they're to be opposed here.
Back Hannover 96 at 2.5 with Bet365. 2 points.
Borussia Monchengladbach v Borussia Dortmund, Sunday 1430
The battle of the Borussia's! Both sides are also still involved in UEFA competitions as I right this too with Monchengladbach due to play away at Lazio this evening. Monchen have been a very hit and miss side this season after taking a much more attacking approach to matches following the sale of star man Marco Reus to Dortmund over the summer. Last season they were able to defend in numbers and count on Reus scoring the goals to win them tight matches. With him out of the team though they seem to now be going for a more all round attacking approach which has seen some great and terrible results so far. They do go five wins, three draws and just two losses at home so far with nineteen scored and thirteen conceded. This seems to suggest that the attacking is not quite as much of a thing at home where opponents are less likely to attack and leave space to exploit. They have actually won three of the last four at home with just 3-3 thriller with Leverkusen as the draw.
Borussia Dortmund's focus for this season has clearly been the Champions League, and they are well positioned to go through to the Quarter Finals after a 2-2 draw away at Shakhtar Donetsk last week. This has led to them being fifteen points behind Bayern Munich in the league though and they have particularly suffered after midweek matches. They have actually won four from five since the winter break though, with a horrible 4-1 loss at home to Hamburg the blot on their record. They've been scoring plenty and with a week off European football they may well look to get some confidence in the side with a resounding win. I think the money here has to be for goals. Dortmund have nothing to lose really and their best approach is to pour forward anyway.
Back Over 2.5 Goals at 1.78 with Ladbrokes. 2 points.
Istanbul BB v Eskisehirspor, Saturday 1130
Firstly I would like to say how disappointed I was with Galatasaray in the Champions League this week, but those that watched it will know just how bad they were so I'll keep my opinions to myself! Suffice to say the Super Lig still has plenty of catching up to do in terms of tactics and discipline in the grander scheme of things.
On to the first match. Istanbul BB have at times looked a side with a chance of breaking into the top parts of the table and making a fist of getting into Europe. Unfortunately such is the disparity between the giants and the rest in Turkey it is likely to remain a dream without serious investment from outside. They used to have an excellent home record and they are still mostly hard to beat when on their own ground. A record of won three, drawn three and lost four may not look great on paper, but they've seldom been outclassed completely. They beat a perfectly good Bursaspor side 4-1 at home a fortnight ago to show the results they are capable of. That they followed this two losses on the spin goes to show they're not good enough for any length of time. This is purely a value bet though.
Eskisehirspor have a very good record in overall historical terms in Turkey and were a side I followed a lot when I was first looking at the Super Lig over two years ago. That season they were incredibly good at home and qualified for Europe. After a mixed start this season they really got going, but have recently fallen away again. A chronic problem of theirs had been a lack of goals, but they seem to have cleared that up now at the expense of a previously tight defence. They have only won two of the last nine and those were against sides even more out of form. I think they have to be opposed as decent favourites in this match.
Lay Eskisehirspor at 2.45 on Betfair. 2.5 points.
Sivasspor v Besiktas, Saturday 1700
Sivasspor went through some major upheaval the season before last with some strange foreign signings (including Darius Vassell!), but seemed to dispense with all that almost immediately and get back to basics. This served them well last season as they hovered around the top end of the table before settling down comfortably mid-table in the end. This season had a slow start, and the previous flow of goals stopping was a major factor, but now they seem back on track. Their home record stayed very good even with this slow start and reads won five, drawn four and lost just two with eighteen scored and thirteen conceded. They're figures of a side just below Euopean places and they're let down by a poorer away record. Since the winter break they have only won two matches, but there was an excellent 2-1 away victory at Fenerbahce which shows their quality.
There looked likely to be only one side capable of stopping Galatasaray retaining their Super Lig title before the winter break and that was Besiktas. Unfortunately since they returned the Istanbul giants have reverted to type and inconsistency seems very likely to deny them any sort of challenge. I will always be dubious of them at short prices as they are an incredibly flaky side and got my fingers burnt a couple of times in their good pre-winter run, but I stand by my assertion that over time those prices will be wrong. I've made enough money laying them to be confident of that. They're not bad away and have got a couple of wins since the break, but they've also started to show ill discipline and I don't think the price is justified in this.
Lay Besiktas at 2.35 on Betfair. 2.5 points.