It's that time of the week again and last weekend had us again back in decent profit after a couple of small losses on the bounce. My intention is obviously to provide as many winning tips as possible, but I would be very happy to continue with a profit all season as we've had some fun then and also made money whilst we're at it. Now, isn't that a feel good message?
Tottenham v Chelsea - Lose 2 points.
Fulham v Aston Villa - Win 2.49 points.
Real Sociedad v Atletico Madrid - Win 2.4 points.
Juventus v Napoli - Lose 2 points.
Borussia Dortmund v Schalke - Lose 2.5 points.
Hamburg v Stuttgart - Lose 3 points.
Genclerbirligi v Galatasaray - Win 3 points.
Besiktas v Trabzonspor - Win 3.75 points.
Total - Win 2.14 points.
Running Total - Up 13.39 points.
Music this week from The Bouncing Souls with True Believer.
Newcastle v West Brom, Sunday 1500
Two teams who have surprised for different reasons meet at St James Park on Sunday afternoon. Newcastle almost made the Champions League last season after going against nearly everyone's predictions and keeping up their form for the entire season. The spine of the side was particularly strong from the excellent young goalkeeper Tim Krul through to the forwards Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse from January onwards. Add to this the hugely improved centre back Fabricio Collocini and central midfield pairing of Cheik Tiote and Yohan Cabaye with flourishes from Hatem Ben Arfa too and it's a very decent first eleven. Sadly for their fans there have been injuries and poor form meaning they look nothing like the side they were last year. Coloccini has been injured, Ben Arfa out of form, Tiote a loose cannon and Demba Ba still seems in a strop that Papiss Cisse is often picked as the focal point of the attack. They have goals in them still, but they seem far more liable to leak them than they were.
West Brom have started the season fantastically well and made the appointment of perennial coach Steve Clarke as manager look an inspired decision. Everywhere the Scot has been as a coach there has been a recognised improvement in the defensive side of their game and it is no surprise that West Brom look secure at the back and organised throughout the team. Where they have improved also is in attack. Peter Odemwingie was always a threat when in form and he has looked good all season so far, Shane Long flickered last term and is looking a threat whenever he plays this season and the loan signing of Roman Lukaku looks a great bit of business. Having these three threats, and all offering different attributes, bodes very well for the season as they can change tact during matches by changing the forwards. I think Newcastle are a very short price looking at how both sides have played so far this season.
Lay Newcastle at 2.0 on Betfair. 2 points.
Chelsea v Manchester United, Sunday 1600
Both sides looked poor in defence for long spells in their Champions League matches this midweek. Chelsea had what may well turn out to be their toughest match in the group stage this week when away in Shakhtar Donetsk. The Ukrainian side have long been threatening to break out and do something in the Champions League and they made a statement against Chelsea. They won 2-1 and their attackers made Chelsea's defence look very ordinary. Whilst this should be of some concern for manager Roberto Di Matteo, he can take comfort in the fact that his attack has also looked lethal this season and there are few, if any, teams in the Premier League with an attack in as good form as Shakhtar's. Last weekend against Tottenham Chelsea allowed their London rivals over twenty shots, but still scored four goals themselves to come away with a 4-2 victory. They are currently passing every test put in front of them in domestic action.
If we're talking about poor defences then Man Utd's has to be discussed. They were at home to Sporting Braga of Portugal this week and contrived to go two goals behind and make a very ordinary side look brilliant. That they came back to win 3-2 should not disguise the truly horrendous display put in by all but their attackers. Jonny Evans may have scored, but he was once again showed to be no leader at the back and will be looking forward to Rio Ferdinand returning to partner him instead of Michael Carrick. Rafael still gives away chances, although he has improved, but Alex Buttner the new signing at left back looked dreadful defensively and a long way off replacing the declining Patrice Evra. With Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie fortunately looking very good up front they will think they have a chance of scoring, but I think you have to back a Chelsea side in such good domestic form.
Back Chelsea at 2.4 with Ladbrokes. 2 points.
Levante v Granada, Sunday 1500
This one is mostly because Coral seem to be taking a real punt on laying Levante. The market has almost entirely moved to below even money and they are still holding their price. Levante outperformed predictions last season and qualified for the Europa League in the end. They did this on the back of a very strong team ethic and everyone at the club pulling together. They have an intimidating little ground in industrial Valencia which sees them so far with three wins and a draw at home this season. Granada are still struggling to move away from the bottom after only just surviving last season by the skin of their teeth. They have won one and lost three away from home.
Back Levante at 2.1 with Coral. 3 points.
Torino v Parma, Sunday 1400
My one pick from Italy this week has Parma travelling to Turin to play Torino. Torino were promoted from Serie B over the summer and seem to have settled back in to the top league just fine. That they have always been the biggest side outside of the huge names in Italy has helped them secure funds to improve the side and also to attract players. They have also always drawn a very passionate support which makes matches against them at home tough for visiting sides in a country where such things are not that common. This has sadly not had the desired effect so far this term with a home record of won one, drawn one and lost two. They have scored and conceded three goals though to show that they are not being outclassed. They will have a good opportunity to get another win on the board here.
Parma have long since slipped from being challengers for the title in the late 90's and early 00's. Back then they were being bankrolled by Parmalat and since they went out of business the side has had to make do with a team without stars. They are a perennial mid tabel side now who occasionally slip nearer to the relegation fight. I doubt whether they will go down any time soon though as they are very well organised and excellent at home. The problem has been away form for many seasons now, in a similar vein to Fulham in the Premier League. This season has been no different with a draw and three losses so far. With only two scored and eight conceded in those four away matches Torino's tight defence should be able to cope.
Back Torino at 2.25 with BetVictor. 2 points.
Fortuna Dusseldorf v Wolfsburg, Saturday 1430
First up from Germany is promoted Fortuna Dusseldorf hosting Wolfsburg. Dusseldorf have started their season pretty well on their return to the Bundesliga. They sit happily mid table and have an excellent away record so far in particular, although they are yet to win a match at home. At home they go with three draws and a loss from four matches whereas they have won two, drawn one and lost one away from home. They are also coming off the back of three very tough matches with only a draw to show from them. They lost 5-0 at home to Bayern Munich last weekend too to compound a poor period. I could make a case though that that result with have little effect as they would not have expected to get anything from the match, let alone with Bayern in such excellent form.
Wolfsburg have started the season in dreadful form. The appointment of Felix Magath last season may well have had some immediate rewards in terms of steering them clear of the relegation zone, but it is now looking a terrible choice. The German was something of a hotshot around a decade ago, but his stock has fallen a long way since then. There was a drugs scandal around him at one point and all his eccentricities have since come to the fore. He is a manager who believes in constant punishment when players are out of form to somehow get a response out of them, but this is clearly not working and most of his players now seem to be in active revolt against the manager. They sit bottom of the table and rightfully so.
Back Fortuna Dusseldorf at 2.37 with William Hill. 2 points.
Schalke 04 v Nurnberg, Saturday 1430
Last weekend I put a fair stake on Borussia Dortmund to beat derby rivals Schalke at home only to be let down. I may well have underestimated this Royal Blue side so far. I had their position written down as slightly false in the league table, but having seen their two performances against Dortmund and Arsenal I think they may well be ready to kick on from last season in both the league and Europe. Last season they were heavily reliant on the goals of Klaas Jan Huntelaar and he had not started this term in quite such decent form, but he is still making a telling contribution. His hold up and link play is providing those around him with opportunities to score and create and he will be a wanted man again in January. They have played four matches at home so far and won all but a 2-0 loss to the imperious Bayern Munich. Take that match out and they have played three, won three and scored nine whilst only conceding one. That is quite some record.
Nurnberg have been a mid table fixture for a couple of years now, but are struggling at the base of the Bundesliga at this stage. They have actually performed far better away from home, picking up their only two victories on the road so far. Both these wins came in the first three matches though and they had lost four on the bounce before last weekends 0-0 draw at home to equally poor Augsburg. They are a team that look bereft of confidence and completely unable to pose a threat to the oppositions goal, which can't be good coming up against such a side as Schalke.
Back Schalke/Schalke Half Time/Full Time at 1.9 with SpreadEx. 2 points.
Kasimpasa v Besiktas, Friday 1800
I had read many pre-season predictions that Kasimpasa would be a side to watch as they had come up in style and added numerous experienced Super Lig players to their ranks over the summer. This has turned out to be the case so far with them slotting into the top division seemlessly and currently sitting in fifth position, above giants Fenerbahce and Besiktas. They have some imperious home form to thank for this position with three wins and a draw from their four matches with nine goals scored and only three conceded. Away from home is a different matter altogether, but they'll be a match for anyone who visits them.
Besiktas failed to beat Trabzonspor at home last weekend to leave us with a very healthy profit from that match. The problem they always seem to have is that they can't rouse themselves to match any side willing to make it tough for them. Trabzon wont let anyone have an easy ride and they showed Besiktas how to earn a point. That result leaves Besik in twelfth position in the table with only one victory at home and one away so far. They still possess enough match winners to beat most sides, but I can't have them as favourites in this at all.
Lay Besiktas at 2.45 on Betfair. 3 points.
Fenerbahce v Antalyaspor, Monday 1800
Another side who have started the season in excellent form are Antalyaspor. They currently sit behind only Galatasaray in the table and have looked very tough to beat. If you remove a 4-0 beating from Gala when they were down to ten men then they have only conceded six goals in eight matches and have scored fourteen, eleven of which at home in four matches. This is absolutely unheard of in Turkey outside of the big boys and has to be respected. They go two wins and two losses away from home to show they are a lot more unpredictable, but the problem they have had has been scoring when away. They have only conceded four goals in four away matches, but scored three.
Fenerbahce have not started the season as well as they would have wanted to with a pronounced target of regaining the league title from Istanbul rivals Galatasaray. They currently lie in sixth position and are not exactly going great in the Europa League either. Issues with star man Alex Da Silva overshadowed a lot of the season so far. The Brazilian captain of the side was dropped after having issues with the management of the club and this upset many players as well as a large contingent of the fanbase. They do go three wins and a draw from their four home matches with eight scored and one conceded to show it is their away form that is the issue. However comma I think it's worth giving Antalya a helping hand as I don't think Fener will find this easy.
Back the Draw -1 on Handicap at 3.6 with Boylesports. 2 points.