SOCCER Saturday is back in December, and I really need to have a good weekend in order to turn this minor blip in form around.
England Premier League
West Ham DNB to beat Sunderland @ 1.87 (Ladbrokes) – 2.5 points
West Ham have truly out done themselves so far this campaign marching into 4th spot in the league table and surely other than the players, the credit must go to Big Sam. Sam Allardyce had to change around his team and his style of play, instead of direct, for more flair, strong winger play and through balls. The player who has blossomed most in this change in style has been Downing, who has been given a free role behind the strikers to roam around to create the ball as he sees fit; and is among the West Ham’s player of the season if you ask me.
West Ham are now able to welcome back Diafra Sakho who has been outstanding for them, and was the player of the month back in October; and he came back with a goal last time around against Swansea. He also has hit-man Andy Caroll back among the goals; so there is a good scoring effort and team spirit rolling through the Hammers to have their best Premier League finish in many years.
Sunderland also must get some credit, after getting smashed by Southampton, have managed to keep 5 out of 7 games under 2.5 goals. The only difference were the 3-1 win by them away to Palace and the 4-0 mauling they had by Manchester City. Sunderland’s biggest issue while being defensive and is slowly being worked out; has largely come from the offensive end. While their are in 14th place; are the second lowest scoring team in the Premier League with 13 goals just ahead of Burnley who netted 10.
This will be a tight encounter considering the mini-revival that Sunderland have on the defensive end, but the recent form that the Hammers have shown, is something you cannot ignore, and backing them at DNB in this game is tremendous value.
Chelsea AH-2 to beat Hull City @ 2.00 (Bet365) – 2.5 points
Chelsea are sitting at the top of the table leading Man City by 3 points; but have dropped 5 points in their last 2 games, that has seen them struggle and needing to turn things around now in order to maintain the lead with the chasing pack who have now closed the gap.
Chelsea will miss Courtois; but have a superb replacement in Cech. The only major news is Fabregas is suspended for a 5th yellow card; and I expect Ramires to fill in nicely for him in the middle of the park. Diego Costa needs to get back into scoring form, as he has been slightly off form after he had been injured. He can be will supported by the likes of Oscar, Hazard, Willian and Schurrle have been in good form to support him up front. Chelsea have won 5 straight games at home including smashing Tottenham, West Brom, Arsenal to name a few on their home games.
Hull have been struggling and last won a game 2 months ago against Crystal Palace at home in October. They have improved defensively slightly, but not been able to find the back of the net in order to get positive results out of their matches. They have scored 15 goals in 15 games, which is probably showcasing why they have grabbed 7 draws (2nd highest in the league) and sitting in the relegation zone as well. Hull have managed just one win away from home, and don’t seem to have the confidence within them to try something different to churn out a good result.
I expect Chelsea to start this game in a really attacking way, and Mourinho will know that any other result against smaller teams will not hold his team in good stead heading into the busy Christmas schedule.
Spain La Liga
Getafe v Barcelona – Over 3 Asian Goal Line @ 1.78 (Bet365) – 3 points
Barcelona needs to keep up with the wins in order to match up with the performance of Real Madrid who have a 5 point despite having played one fixture more, and Barcelona who have finally turned on their magic in recent weeks, look solid in order to continue their scoring performances.
Barcelona games have had at least 3 goals in 6 out of the last 7 games, which has seen them win all 7 games as well. A big reason for that has been their goal scoring form as they have smashed 3 against PSG, 5 against Espanyol, 4 against Huesca, 4 against APOEL, 5 against Sevilla and 2 against Almeria. The mid-week game against PSG was a brilliant one as far as Barca’s confidence is as all 3 of Neymar, Messi and Suarez landed up scoring, which should give them great confidence. With Barcelona away for the Club World Cup, a win against Getafe tonight and against Cordoba the following week, will put Barca up by 1; despite a game more but being in the lead will put pressure on Madrid when they are back.
Getafe have been fairly average and are in 12th in the table not winning a game in the last 4 rounds with their last victory coming against Deportivo. The last meeting between the sides however was a 2-2 draw but Barcelona have beaten them 6 games in a row before that. They don’t seem like they will do much this year as they have scored only 11 goals in 14 games. What is even worst at home, they have scored only 3 goals in 7 games; which shows you what is going to probably happen in this game tonight.
I expect a Barcelona smashing tonight; the -2 Asian handicap is also good value; but I am taking this pick looking at Barcelona’s recent trend of conceding goals in the last few games and want to insure myself incase this is a 2-1 Barcelona victory.
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