Postcards from Siberia…
First of all I would like to offer my apologies for the lack of tips last weekend. I was taken away to Lithuania by my lovely girlfriend for my birthday so was not able to research the betting action properly. Those who follow me @TopTopTips on the Twitter will have seen two out of three land midweek for healthy profits.
There has been plenty of action in my absence from here so a brief summary is probably required:
1. Sunderland are the team in form, in fact they’re in the best form in the whole of the Premier League since O’Neill’s appointment.
2. Everton and QPR look to have made the biggest improvements to their squads and are worth watching.
3. Arsenal are dire, Man City need a comfortable win for confidence.
4. Fener and Gala in Turkey are out of form, Orduspor are doing great after Hector Cuper took over the managerial reigns.
5. Dortmund have come back looking back to their very best, title should be their title to lose.
6. Barca are vulnerable away from Camp Nou this year, Madrid like to give the opposition a headstart before beating them anyway.
Music this week comes from Sundowner with The War Is Noise.
QPR v Wolves, Saturday 1500
First up is the previously mentioned QPR now managed by Mark Hughes. Whilst I am distinctly of the opinion he is greatly over-rated as a manager he does get teams playing to their abilities, if not exceeding them. The signings QPR made before the transfer window closed have them looking a far better outfit than they previously did, and they really ought to comfortably survive. The likes of Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora may not see them pushing on to Europe, but they’re a lot more than the likes of Wolves or Blackburn have to offer. They raced into a 2-0 lead against Villa before surrendering it, but I would not expect them to do the same to a dreadful Wolves side.
Wolves are possibly the worst team currently playing in the Premier League and they didn’t do anything in January to make me think they’ll turn it round. Mick McCarthy has done well, in my opinion, to keep them around for more than one season with a side generally made up of Championship standard players. However, these things can’t continue when the players are not good enough and no major investment is forthcoming. I think this comes down to Big Mick not knowing much outside of the Championship as well as a lack of major investment behind the scenes. Regardless, I wouldn’t back Wolves at present and will be against them away for the forseeable future.
Back QPR at 1.95 with William Hill.
Chelsea v Man Utd, Sunday 1600
The big one this weekend has Man Utd travelling to London to take on Chelsea. I wasn’t involved in their midweek match away at Swansea, but with the team’s respective home and away records I certainly wouldn’t have touched Chelsea at under even money. This was borne out in them falling behind and only snatching a fortunate late equaliser through Jose Bosingwa.
As a lot of people mentioned last season and this, the squad is getting old together and a major overhaul is needed. I would be in no hurry to give Villas Boas the chop as he is signing some interesting young players, but there can be no doubt it could be a painful season this year, and possibly even next. They certainly will not relish the visit of United this weekend.
On to United, and as much as I have given them stick for having their worst team in years, they sit joint top with neighbours City as I write this. I struggle to commend anyone for this, it is more a damning indictment of the rest of the league at the moment. Ferguson may well have motivated his side well, but the glaring deficiencies are not being addressed so I’ll hold off from compliments until they are sorted. As mentioned though they are definitely grinding out results and will not fear the trip to Stamford Bridge.
Back Man Utd Draw No Bet at 2.05 with William Hill.
Hertha Berlin v Hannover 96, Saturday 1430
Back to the Bundesliga! I can only see one standout bet this weekend and that’s this one. Hertha Berlin are enjoying a return to the top league in Germany, but they are in danger of only making it a one season stay. They started off bad, improved a little, and are back to being horrendous again. They don’t score many goals and haven’t won in nine matches. In the German Bundesliga, most tgames are fairly open and goals fly in more than any other major European league. Having a lack of firepower can be enough to condemn a side, and Hertha look like they are condemned.
Hannover were one of last season’s success stories, promoting some young players and also changing to a hard pressing game that reaped rewards. They didn’t start at all well this time out, but have turned it round to now sit just outside the title picture. They have struggled away from home with only one win and a paltry six goals to their name in nine matches and this is probably the source of their issues. I think both sides would take a draw in this.
Back the Draw at 3.4 with Ladbrokes.
Chievo v Parma, Sunday 1400
Here is a classic match up of good home form takes on rubbish away form. Chievo were the shock success of the noughties in Serie A , they have hung around when many other big sides have come and gone and come and gone again. They haven’t thrown money around and have relied upon getting in the odd good foreign player and having plenty of battlers in their side. They have also made any side visiting their small stadium in Verona earn any points they get and that has continued this season. They have only lost two of nine at home this season with five wins and three draws, during this they may have only scored nine, but by only conceding seven they have earnt their points.
Parma have also survived when perhaps many expected them to fall after their benefactors Parmalat went bust in the late nineties. The days of signing the likes of Hidetoshi Nakata and Juan Veron are well gone and every season is a struggle for points, but they’re sticking around. They too rely upon a good home record and have struggled on the road. They have only won one of ten and lost six whilst scoring six and conceding a whopping twenty one goals. They are unbackable at the prices being offered for this.
Back Chievo at 2.37 at Coral.
Palermo v Atalanta, Sunday 1400
Now once again with a new manager, Palermo are starting to show signs of improvement. They managed a very creditable 4-4 draw away at Inter midweek, and after their horrendous away form before Xmas that should definitely be seen as a positive. The one thing they have always had is good home form and are eight wins and two losses from their ten home matches. They have also started banging in the goals after settling into their slightly tinkered formation with eleven in the last three. A push for Europe is definitely on the cards.
Atalanta have been hit and miss all season. They are not really any better home or away and can be quite unpredictable. They have however only won two of the last ten in Serie A and look out of luck for the most part. They have only scored one in the last four matches, albeit in a tough run, and are probably not looking forward to a trip to the south to take on home bankers Palermo.
Back Palermo at 1.83 at Stan James.
Gaziantepspor v Galatasaray, Saturday 1700
Last season one of my favourite teams to back was Gaziantepspor as they had an awesome home record, but this season they’ve struggled considerably away and sit dangerously near the bottom of the Super Lig. They have won five of eleven at home and only lost three with a positive goal difference, but away they’ve only a solitary win from eleven and six losses. They are unbeaten in the last four at home and have won three of those.
Gala are still top of the league, but only really due to Fenerbahce also being very poor of late. Gala have only won one in four since the Xmas break and have not impressed at all in any match really. They beat Ankaragucu 4-0 at home, but for Ankara this season think Wigan, but at least five times worse. Every decent side in the Super Lig should be putting at least three past them and Gala merely went through the motions in beating them. Milan Baros will also be suspended for this one and with him goes a significant goal threat.
Back Gaziantepspor Draw No Bet at 2.62 with Stan James.
Bursaspor v Orduspor, Sunday 1400
The form side in the Super Lig of late is undoubtably Orduspor and they travel to this season’s disappointment Bursaspor. Regular followers will know I’ve been against Bursa on a number of occasions this season and they’ve been good to us in terms of profit. After their two titles in a row and a decent push last season, they’ve fallen away drastically this time out. They currently sit in twelfth and have been ok at home, away has let them down. But, they are not scoring enough to see games out comfortably. This would be a concern for me and why I would still be loathe to be behind them at regularly short prices.
Orduspor were looking certain to be involved in the relegation scrap until appointing veteran manager Hector Cuper before Xmas. Since then they have been the form team in the Super Lig. They have not been beaten in seven and have won the last five. In that run they have also only conceded in two matches and look overpriced here to me. I would definitely want to be against the home side.
Back the Draw and Orduspor Double Chance at 2.0 with Boylesports.