Back to form, sort of…
Well, I actually got a few last week, didn’t I? However, what I’d really like to have a little pre-tip moan about is Wednesday’s ‘football’ match between the ‘world’s greatest teams’. It was an absolute disgrace, and a stain on football in general. Rarely have I seen so much time in one match taken up by things other than football. The surrounding of the referee after every decision, making a flaming throw in look like it’s the most contentious decision ever made, I mean Jesus bloody wept. Everyone barring Leo Messi should be ashamed of that display. I would however, particularly like to single out four men for abuse. Those men are Dani Alves, Sergio Busquets, Angel Di Maria and Jose Mourinho.
The first three can all be lumped into a category simply titled, ‘Cheating Fuckers’. Alves and Sergio Biscuits are at this stuff every week and how the opposition fail to boot the dirty, face-holding, six time’s rolling over, little shits in the face is beyond me. I’m livid just typing this out. Di Maria whilst not quite as serial an offender, was on his back more than Jordan last night. Mourinho is the worst of the lot for me. I realise it’s all mind games, designed to deflect attention etc, but he truly is a despicable little prick. Trying to take any sort of moral high ground after presiding over an Inter win last year thanks to an offside goal is ridiculous in the extreme. That’s before you go on to his Porto team in the UEFA Cup and Champions League successes. Never have a team before or since spent more time delaying play through cheating. I, for one, hope UEFA throw the book at him, as football might be a quieter place, but an infinitely better one for me. Music this week comes from a new favourite of mine Matchbook Romance with Stories and Alibi’s.
Blackpool v Stoke, Saturday 1500
First up is the Blackpool trying to gain a rare win at home to a Stoke side with little to play for in the Premiership. I have seen a steady decline in neutral support for the Seasiders, possibly coinciding with people getting very bored with rent-a-quote Ian ‘Olly’ Holloway. I must admit, I originally liked him from a distance, but his ‘zany’ quips have worn very thin, and are now clearly a device to mask Blackpool’s horrendous form. They have always gotten better results away from Bloomfield Road, when teams were surprised by their commitment to attack. Now though, teams have realised if you soak it up and counter their attacks, then their defence, to put it politely, has been utter dogshit.
Stoke may well have one eye on the FA Cup final, but even their reserves are well schooled in the up and at ‘em style Pulis specialises in, and they should be far too strong for Rent-a-gob’s lot. Betfred are out on a limb at 2.62 on Stoke and I’d take the high trouser wearing man on with that.
Liverpool v Newcastle, Sunday 1200
Next up is Andy Carroll’s first chance to play against his ex-team. Whilst taking a couple of games to find his feet, the big man with the good touch now looks at home in the Pool side. At present, he is often feeding off lumps up field from the centre backs and holding the ball up, but you would imagine King Kenny is looking at proper wingers to supply him next season. Luis Suarez has also looked a quality signing and should be one to put in the small ‘transferred his ability from the Eredivisie’ pile.
He may not be scoring by the bucketload, but his inventiveness and flair have been a shining beacon in Pool’s often boring side and he has already picked up plenty of assists. Newcastle have looked a shadow of the side since Wor Andy moved in January. They are not the most exciting team in the absence of a real presence up front, Shola Ameobi as only proved he is anything but a Prem striker down the years. I really think we could see a hiding in this one. I would even take Pool at -1.5 Asian at 2.47 at Bet365 with some confidence after last weeks 5-0 win.
Manchester City v West Ham, Sunday 1600
Another match with a team currently looking out of sorts travelling to a tough away fixture. West Ham signing 68 strikers in January initially looked like it might pay dividends with a few wins picked up, including against Liverpool, but they have been sliding again recently. The defence still looks slow and cumbersome, and with Matt Upson as the senior centre half it’s no surprise really, and the strikers have stopped scoring. Man City have picked up a bit of form at just the right time it seems. They may well be looking forward to the FA Cup, and will rightly be favourites for it, but they all know Champions League qualification is all-important.
They will not be taking this match lightly and should brush the Irons aside in a ground where they have only tasted defeat twice all season and have conceded only 11 in 16 matches. With the Hammers strikers in such poor form, I’d back City to continue their impressive home form and Win To Nil. Skybet will give you a standout 2.37 on such a thing and I’d take that.
Levante v Sporting Gijon, Sunday 1600
We see two of the better post-Xmas sides in La Liga going head to head in Valencia on Sunday afternoon for this one. Levante looked doomed at Xmas. They’ve been skint for years, regularly fail to pay their players and haven’t made a real money buy in at least 3 years now. Luis Garcia’s appointment as manager in January has turned the side around. Before last week they had only lost to Real Madrid since 29th Jan and Atleti who beat them last week have also been much improved of late. Gijon, similarly, have been in great form this calendar year. Two losses since the end of Jan would back this up.
They have laboured to most of those though, and they are generally better in front of their own very passionate fans. I’m going to take Levante to win this one , but I’m not willing to put my balls on the line for it. The best price is currently is 2.2 with Stan James if you fancy following me in? I also think Felipe Caicedo is good value to score anytime at 2.62 with Paddy Power. He has been a man reborn under Garcia and often scores.
Toulouse v Lyon, Sunday 1600
A rare tip from Ligue 1 for you this week. With it being the business end of the season, and the title still very much up for grabs, we are seeing goalfests in matches, a rarity in France. There is five points between Marseille in first spot and Lyon in third, as well as PSG only three points behind Lyon chasing Champions League qualification next season. This is making teams chase victories all the way to the end of matches as well as looking to top up their goal tallys. Most games in Ligue 1 are boring, tepid, low-scoring affairs, so this is a welcome change for the poor souls that watch it.
Lyon and Marseille were involved in five goal matches midweek with Lyon sneaking a 3-2 win in the last minute through Yoann Gorcuff. Toulouse are a decent side themselves at home, but Lyon have scored 23 away from 16 matches and I would expect them to triumph, or to go down in a goal glut trying. You can pick up odds of 2.3 on Betfair on over 2.5 goals and just this once I’d advocate a sneaky punt on that.
Sivasspor v Gencerbirligi, Friday 1800
The first match in the Turkish SuperLig this weekend has Sivas hosting Genc. Sivasspor might have lost 2-1 away at Ankara last weekend, but they have been on an impressive run of form since looking relegated at Xmas. Genc themselves are unbeaten in four matches, but have been involved in games containing over 2.5 goals in seven of the last nine matches. Sivas have been involved in seven over 2.5 matches in their last 10 games too. Both teams usually nick a goal and with both needing wins to see off lingering fears of relegation we should see a few here I believe. The Turkish SuperLig is not high scoring in general so you can often find slightly improved odds on overs in goal markets if you look hard enough, and this is a good example.
In the English Prem I would imagine this to be a 1.8 shot on overs, but you can pick up 1.96 with Ladbrokes. Pick it up before it goes.
Trabzonspor v Gaziantepspor, Sunday 1700
Trabzon are still in the hunt for the title, but desperately need wins with Fener now ahead on goal difference. They are both on 70 points and can ill afford to do anything but win all their remaining games, as well as score the goals to make up the deficit. Gaziantepspor have been solid at home all season, but away form has been the downfall that has seen them outside pushing on for the title. With a record of 6-3-6 away from home they are far from mugs, but they have been beaten too often.
As mentioned Trabzon will be supremely motivated and Gaz have all but wrapped up qualification for the Europa League next season and can afford to drop points. I can see a relentless attack from a team that has scored 28 and only conceded 11 in 15 home games this season. Get on Trabzon -1.5 at 2.42 with Bet365 and watch the goals fly in.