Unfortunately last weekend saw the ending of the fantastic streak we've been on. This sad occasion was always bound to come and thankfully losses were not bank busting either. Let's get back to winning ways!
Everton v Reading - Lose 2 points.
Sunderland v Fulham - Win 1.04 points.
Tottenham v Arsenal - Win 2.8 points.
Osasuna v Athletic Bilbao - Lose 2 points.
Catania v Inter Milan - Lose 2.5 points.
Borussia Dortmund - Lose 1.5 points.
Eskisehirspor v Galatasaray - Win 1.82 points.
Kayserispor v Mersin Idman Yurdu - Win 1.6 points.
Totals - Lose 0.74 points.
Running Total - Up 48.9 points.
Music this week from The Menzingers with Good Things.
Norwich v Southampton, Saturday 1500
There are FA Cup Quarter Finals this weekend, but I think there's two good bets in the Premier League so I will stick with that. First up is a column favourite, Norwich, hosting a Southampton side under relatively new management. Norwich looked one of the worst sides in the division for the first few weeks of the season before turning it around to such an extent they were second to only Barcelona on an unbeaten run right up into December. The Xmas period was a struggle for them again, and I think a lot of that could be put down to fatigue. Chris Hughton has certainly enhanced his managerial credentials by turning the sides fortunes around and he has done it in the main using the same players as much as he possibly can. Outside of the major players who have the cash to build a squad this is not unusual and the thick and fast nature of matches at Xmas seemed to leave them listless. This being said they have only lost to Liverpool (their bogey side), Chelsea and Manchester City. They've struggled for goals at times, but the defence holds out well enough at home to a side who seem unsure of what they're up to at present.
Southampton shipped out manager Nigel Adkins recently to bring in Manuel Pochettino. The Argentinian had done very well at Espanyol under difficult conditions, but this season had seemed to be a year too much and he was dismissed for a poor start. He has got Southampton looking a more 'modern' side tactically, plenty of pressing high up the pitch, shorter passing etc. But, this has not reaped many wins so far for him, although it has seen lauded performances against both Manchester sides. Away from home has been a problem for them all season with a record of won two, drawn three and lost five so far. They are also still only a win above the drop zone and you'd imagine that pressure will begin to become obvious soon too, especially in a supporter base who liked the previous managerial incumbent.
Lay Southampton at 3.1 on Betfair. 2.5 points.
Liverpool v Tottenham, Sunday 1600
The big match in the Premier League this weekend for the casual viewer would appear to be this one on Sunday afternoon. In reality Liverpool's season is all but over really as they would have to far exceed their seasons results so far to qualify for Europe now. They do seem to have perfected a style that beats sides, and often very comfortably, who are not as good as them, but struggle against anyone in the top seven or so. This might seem an obvious thing to say, but the likes of Sam Allardyce play a style more likely to upset the big boys without guaranteeing results against similarly placed sides. Liverpool's home record on goals scored and conceded looks excellent on paper, but the goals for column has been hugely inflated by three matches against Norwich, Fulham and a reserve Swansea side. All good wins, but not an indicator of a side whose home is a fortress. These things into account makes odds on look very skinny to me.
Tottenham are becoming one of the more reliable betting propositions in the Premier League under Andres Villas Boas. His side are very well organised and this aids them in conceding the fewest shots to the opposition in matches in the entire division. They are also currently on an unbeaten streak dating back to the 9th December against an Everton side that was flying. They have struggled more in physical match ups than against passing sides, which does not bode well for Brendan Rodgers Liverpool. They are now up to third and look nailed on to keep that position to me, even with a tough run of matches coming up. They'll still be flying from the derby win against Arsenal last Sunday and Villas Boas has shown his rotation for the Europa League has been spot on so far with Inter Milan to play tonight. There's only one bet here I think.
Lay Liverpool at 1.92 on Betfair. 2 points.
Real Valladolid v Malaga, Saturday 1700
Only one match catches my eye as usual in Spain this week. Real Valladolid have kept themselves clear of relegation worries for most of the season now and should be looking to string a few results together and make an effort at European qualification with little else to distract them. Their home record reads won five, drawn and lost four with twenty three scored and eighteen conceded so far. They conceded three each to Barcelona and Real Madrid though so remove them and it's twelve conceded in eleven, not bad at all. They've been a little rusty since the winter break, but have only lost to Atletico Madrid in the last five league matches. Those twenty three scored at home shows they're capable of getting goals.
Malaga are back in action next week in their Champions League last sixteen tie with Porto. After a narrow 1-0 loss in Portugal they will fancy their chances since they have an excellent home record this season. Fortunately for their opponents this weekend they are not blessed with the largest squad. This should see them resting numerous players, such as star man Isco, in an attempt to enhance their European chances as much as possible. They've struggled away from hoe anyway with a record of won five, drawn three and lost four with ten scored and conceded. This lack of cutting edge away, combined with Valladolid general tightness at the back, means I think they're under-priced at present.
Back Real Valladolid at 2.5 with Ladbrokes. 2 points.
Udinese v Roma, Saturday 1945
Looking purely at respective home and away records this would be my NAP this weekend if I went in for such things. Udinese are finally succumbing to the selling off of their best players for the past three summers and are not putting up a challenge for the Champions League spots. They sit in ninth position in the league at present, but do possess one of the better home records in Serie A. They have a record of won seven, drawn five and lost just once in Udine so far, with twenty one scored and just twelve conceded. They have only let in one goal in their last five home matches in Serie A, with matches against Napoli, Fiorentina and Inter Milan in amongst those. All of those sides possess forwards of real quality and this mean defence is a reason to be watching their results. If you want to lay sides then I like to do so when they play a side with a good defensive record as I think you're significantly reducing your risk by doing so.
Roma dispensed with manager Zdenek Zeman and his gung-ho approach and have settled down a bit since, as well as restored a happy atmosphere within the squad. For better or worse the key men are still Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi and with both restored to the side all is much better at the moment. They actually have the best goals scored record in the entire division both overall and away from home, but this is tempered somewhat by the second worst overall goals conceded and third worst away goals against too. The fact Udinese have kept out some very good sides this season and of late makes me confident they can frustrate a Roma side who can be terrible if things don't go their way early on. I certainly don't price this one with Roma as favourites so they're a big lay for me.
Lay Roma at 2.62 on Betfair. 3 points.
Chievo v Napoli, Sunday 1400
In a rare move I am going to put two bets up from Serie A this week as I think they're both excellent value. I do keep a close eye on goings on in Italian football, but I'm not always sure there's a huge deal of value in prices. Chievo have traditionally relied upon their form in their small home ground to keep them out of the lower reaches of the table and this has again been the case this season so far. At home they go five wins, five draws and three defeats. This is the second best record in the bottom half of the table and their goals against score of thirteen is up there with the very best in the entire division. That they've only scored fifteen would be a worry to back them for a win, but the defence again makes me look at a lay of their opponents.
This weekend the visitors are Napoli who have been steadily falling away from leaders Juventus in their title challenge. They two sides met in Naples last weekend and played out a 1-1 draw that suited the Turin side a lot more. The problem Napoli are having is that with Edison Cavani going through a dry spell in front of goal they have noone stepping in to pick up the slack. For all the industry and assists their midfield supply, it is all aimed at laying on chances for the Uruguyan striker to finish the moves off and he is not doing so. Two goals in the last eight matches has led to poor results and four consecutive draws. The team have only scored twice in those last four matches too to show the pressure is telling.
Lay Napoli at 2.1 on Betfair. 2 points.
Mainz 05 v Bayer Leverkusen, Saturday 1430
Regular readers will know that Mainz 05 have been a side I have taken a keen interest in in the last two seasons in Germany. They've had fairly steady results in the main in this period and have qualified for the Europa League under promising manager Thomas Tuchel. That he is widely tipped to succeed Jurgen Klopp should he leave Dortmund should give you an idea of his abilities. His side have not been quite as successful this season, but they are again within striking distance of a Europa League spot on minimal investment. Their home form is won six, drawn three and lost three so far with seventeen scored and only twelve conceded. They have had a few draws lately, but have only lost to Bayern Munich since mid-December.
Bayer Leverkusen were in second spot in the table for a long time, but have fallen away a bit to let Dortmund back in. They don't have the largest squad in Germany by any means and this has definitely contributed to them not being as dominant in matches as they were early on in the season. They have an away record of won four, drawn four and lost four so far and have not won away since before the winter break, in fact they've drawn blanks against sides with mean defences. They don't justify being such heavy favourites for me.
Lay Bayer Leverkusen at 2.5 on Betfair. 2 points.
Borussia Monchengladbach v Werder Bremen, Saturday 1430
First up from the Bundesliga this weekend is another column favourite in Monchengladbach hosting a struggling Werder Bremen side. Gladbach have featured a few times recently so followers will have seen my assessment of their change of approach after Marco Reus departed to Borussia Dortmund in the summer. They were heavily reliant on his class to be the difference last season and he dragged them through enough matches to make the Europa League this season. They exited that competition in the last round to Lazio in a narrow defeat and so are fully rested for this match. Their home record this season is won five, drawn four and lost only two with twenty scored and fourteen conceded. That goals against record is good for Germany and they've conceded seven of those in matches against Werder and Leverkusen. They're a good side who have the odd dreadful defensive performance, I'm hoping against a struggling side this won't be another occasion.
Werder Bremen are now in serious danger of being relegated to the Bundesliga II over the summer. That they have stuck with manager Thomas Schaaf for so many seasons is commendable, but he has done little to suggest he can change tactics from the all out attack he has used in previously successful seasons. The difference this season is that the overall quality of the side has been reduced and they are being exposed on the break every week. Their away record is won three, drawn two and lost seven so far with twenty one scored and almost a league high conceded total of twenty eight so far. They've lost three on the spin now and look a side in serious danger to me.
Back Borussia Monchengladbach at 2.4 with YouWin. 2 points.
Istanbul BB v Kayserispor, Saturday 1200
Just one from Turkey this weekend, although I tend to take a side in the Monday matches too (follow @TopTopTips on Twitter for that). Istanbul BB had an excellent season two years ago when I first started looking at the Super Lig for betting purposes. A lot of this was down to an excellent home record that almost carried them to the Europa League spots. Sadly their small squad was insufficient in the end and they fell slightly short late in the season. This term they've been in the bottom half of the table, but have shown signs of their record improving lately. At home they go won three, drawn four and lost four so far and there have been some embarrassing results such as the loss to bottom side Akhisar two weeks ago. However comma they are unbeaten in three matches now and have twice got goals in the last five minutes to draw to show they're plenty determined enough still.
Kayserispor's home record was commented on last weekend and they came up trumps for us with a 2-1 victory over the awful Mersin Idman Yurdu. I was worried about backing a mid-table Turkish side at odds on and I'm still unsure it was the right price. Fortunately we got away with it, but I'll think hard before putting one up that is similar again. Their away record is nowhere near as good anyway with them recording four wins, a draw and seven defeats so far. This is the reason they're no higher in the table and twenty five goals conceded away tells it's own story.
Back Istanbul BB at 2.6 with StanJames. 2 points.
Posted by Matt Howard