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A Correction To Start

Welcome to another weekends tipping one and all. It has been brought to my attention, mostly by the extremely good numbers, that calculations of the running total are slightly skewed! I will update it to give a true reflection this week in the running total.

Week Six

West Ham v Sunderland - win 1.56 points.

Man City v Arsenal - win 2.4 points.

Real Betis v Espanyol - win 2.2 points.

Udinese v AC Milan - win 3.8 points.

Hamburg v Borussia Dortmund - lose 3 points.

Elazigspor v Bursaspor - lose 3 points.

Sivasspor v Kasimpasa - lose 2 points.

Weekly Total - win 1.96 points.

Running Total - win 7.92 points.

Music this week is another new one to me, and it's The Riot Before with Fists Buried In Pockets.

Arsenal v Chelsea, Saturday 1245


London's most successful sides of the last decade meet at The Emirates in Saturday's early kick off. Arsenal have confounded many pre-season pundits predictions by starting the season off exceptionally well. Possibly the most impressive part of this has been the new defensive solidarity they are displaying with Steve Bould now moved to assistant manager duties. When you have two young full backs like Carl Jenkinson and Kieron Gibbs playing it is all the more impressive that they seem so organised. The signing of Per Mertesacker had also been ridiculed in many quarters, but so far he too has shown the reason why he has as many caps for the German national team as he does. Arsenal have not had an easy start either with trips to Liverpool and Manchester City already navigated with a sound win at Anfield and a draw that could well have been a win at the City of Manchester Stadium. Throw in the thrashing of Southampton and Wednesday night's annihilation of Coventry by a largely reserve side and at the moment you have to respect the Gunners. All this being said I think general quotes of 2.1 are a bit too tight for me.

Chelsea have also impressed for the most part and sit top of the table. They have had a much easier start and it has been their attack, rather than defence, that has been the most impressive part of the side for a change. Eden Hazard has looked a very good player and Oscar also impressed immensely when given a full run-out against Juventus with two goals to his name. That match showed their flaws for all to see though. The defence has got old together and is given very little protection by a central midfield pair of Frank Lampard and John Obi Mikel. Lampard is still a neat enough player in possession, but he never has been able to defennd well and Mikel has not shown anything like the ability to justify his huge fee from Manchester United many years ago. Throw in the fact that Roberto Di Matteo does not convince me at all as a top level manager and his tactics smell of telling the best players to go out there and get on with it. This lack of tactical nous will contribute to the goals conceded column being higher than usual.

Back Over 2.5 Goals at 1.9 with BoyleSports. 2 points.

Sunderland v Wigan, Saturday 1500


Sunderland have featured a fair bit in the column already this term and that's mainly due to the fact I think it's very easy to predict how a Martin O'Neill side will play. He's not a manager for unnecessary flair in his teams and will always look to avoid defeat both away and against better sides long before thinking about possibly winning. They rely a lot on a strong physical presence in attack and also a player who is comfortable with all aspects of being a forward and this is probably why they were willing to pay so much for Steven Fletcher. I will always argue he is never a £15million forward for me, but I can see he has a lot of value in this side. His record so far is exceptional and the team is set up to supply him with numerous chances which so far he is snapping up. The defence will always again be a physical lot and the full backs will not be asked to support the attack unless miles in front. This lends itself to a sound defensive record that should be the case for the whole season.

Wigan are the same as they ever were, largely unpredictable. The policy of buying other clubs rejects and technically sound foreign names has continued under Roberto Martinez. He has not been afraid to throw players into the side who may not be given a chance at other clubs and sometimes they look inspirational, but other times they look terrible. The Spanish centre half Ivan Ramis has looked a shocking player so far, but Martinez is persisting and I fail to see how he will come on with the history of Spanish defenders in English football. You also have Franco Di Santo who looked a terrible prospect at Chelsea and also for most of last season at Wigan too. However, some games recently he's looked a player and can obviously turn it on when he wants. I don't see this game being anywhere near open enough for them to get anything though.

Back Sunderland at 2.0 with Totesport. 2 points.

Real Sociedad v Athletic Bilbao, Saturday 1900


Athletic Bilbao were often present in tips last season, but have looked a shadow of the side so far this time out. There is a theory that goes round that manager Marcelo Bielsa can only be effective for a season before players grow tired of his constant nagging and demanding nature. This certainly seems true with them only winning one of five so far. Real Sociedad have started the season ok, especially after last seasons travails and sit just above Bilbao in the mid-table area. They are two from two wins at home though and look very backable at prices to me.

Back Real Sociedad at 2.4 with Paddy Power. 1 point.

Fortuna Dusseldorf v Schalke, Friday 1930


Fortuna Dusseldorf are still unbeaten after five matches having been promoted from the Bundesliga II over the summer. The managers policy seems to have been to sign up every player that impressed him in their promotion season from the second division and so far it has looked inspired with no egos and huge efforts going in from every player. They have also had three very tough matches out of five, coming out of games with Borussia Monchengladbach, Freiburg and Stuttgart with a win and two draws. The most amazing statistic for me is that they are still yet to concede a goal in a league as notorious for goals as the Bundesliga. They will probably tail off to finish nearer to mid-table than the top, but I think they're worth following at the moment.

Schalke have also started well and sit one place above Dusseldorf. They were soundly beaten 2-0 by a Bayern Munich team at home last weekend, but this should be tempered by the blistering start the Munich giants have made. They have scored ten in their five matches, but also shown their weaknesses by conceding five goals in that timeframe. They are also yet to come up against a side as defence minded as Dusseldorf and could well get a shock if the promoted side can continue playing as they are.

Lay Schalke at 1.98 on Betfair. 2 points.

Werder Bremen v Bayern Munich, Saturday 1430


Werder Bremen have started the season displaying much the same form they have every season for as long as I've kept an eye on them. They are definitely from the Ossie Ardiles tactical school of attack first and attack second. They tried sorting the defence out briefly last season, but found it was unfixable and they just scored less and lost more so have returned to as they were. They have a symetrical record so far of won two, drawn one and lost two and have scored nine and conceded eight to back up my point about their tactical approach. They will be approaching this nervously I would imagine. No side is playing as well as Bayern Munich at present.

Munich have gone off like a train this season, much as they did this time last year. They have played five, won five, scored seventeen and conceded just two. They always had the players to go on a run like this, their attack is unrivalled in most of Europe and with the addition of Javi Martinez in defence/midfield over the summer they have improved an already excellent team. The added bonus for manager Jupp Heynckes is that the large squad he has now seem perfectly able to step into the side and fight for their places. This is particularly shown by the current form of Toni Kroos who may well have been expected to become a bit part with Martinez addition, but has stepped up to be man of the match last weekend when he had a chance. I don't see them getting beat any time soon, certainly not by a team as open as Werder Bremen.

Back Bayern Munich at 1.6 on Betfair. 3 points.

Inter Milan v Fiorentina, Sunday 1945


Another week with just one pick standing out as value to me in Italy. AC Milan finally broke the winless curse of the new Milan stadium by beating Cagliari in midweek. However, this was the first win for either Milan side since the relaying of the turf and with attendances well down with both sides a shadow of their recent selves. Inter appointed youth coach Andrea Stramaccioni last season to replace Claudio Ranieri and he has had mixed results so far. He seems unsure of what his best side is and the same can be said of formation and it shows with there being no regularity in the levels of performance at all. They won away at a poor Chievo side in midweek after losing 2-0 at home to an equally poor Siena side at the weekend to emphasise the point somewhat.

Fiorentina had decent expectations of this season with the return to fitness of star man Stefan Jovetic and then keeping hold of him over the summer transfer window. They've not been great away from home so far, but sit in mid-table so far with ideas to push on for Europe as the season progresses. I would certainly put them level on ability with Inter and AC Milan, if not perhaps better due to a much more settled defence than either Milan side. I can't back INter at home at these odds so they have to be a lay for me.

Lay Inter Milan at 2.15 on Betfair. 2 points.

Eskisehirpsor v Istanbul BB, Sunday 1400


First up in the Super Lig this week is two of the sides to establish themselves as the best of the rest in recent years. Both built this up on the back of good home records and excellent defensive records to match, but both have slid somewhat in recent times. Eskisehir have become very hit and miss in particular and have already conceded nine goals in five matches to somewhat destroy their previous form. I'm not sure whether it has been a concerted tactical change to try and score more leaving them more exposed, or simply a weakening of the side, but they are not making current odds seem justified at all.

Istanbul BB had an amazing home record for the past two seasons right up until the very end of last season when suddenly their away form picked right up. So far this season they have not won at home, but have won both away games with a five to zero deficit. Again I am a little uncertain as to how exactly this was achieved besides becoming a more attacking side away. This approach is still very rare in Turkey (to go for an away win) and it may be as simple to explain as other teams still are unsure how to deal with being on the back foot at home.

Lay Eskisehirspor at 1.98 on Betfair. 2 points.

Trabzonspor v Mersin Idman Yurdu, Sunday 1700


I'm going for much the same reasoning in this game. Trabzonspor are a more than decent side, but they are still struggling to replace the goals Buruk Yilmaz has provided for the last two seasons in attack. This is no small task with the Turkish striker responsible for more than half the sides goals last season. He was a greedy player so many thought Trabzon could even be improved as a team with his departure, and they still might, but at present they look a side in transition. I can't trust them at such short odds.

Mersin are possibly the only other side outside the big three that go far win away from home apart from Istanbul BB. This can provide some very interesting scorelines in a country not renowned for high scoring encounters. In two away games so far they have scored four and conceded five and with their poor home form sit second bottom. I don't think this is a true reflection of how they've been playing though and certainly don't make Trabzon 1.5 favs.

Lay Trabzonspor at 1.5 on Betfair. 1 point.

Back Over 2.5 Goals at 2.0 with Stan James. 1 point.

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