We are back for Soccer Saturday in the new year and on to another round of club football, frisking the fixtures for good opportunities to start of the year in a profitable manner.
Tottenham come into this game in after getting back on the winning track by winning their last 2 games against Leicester and Sunderland. Prior to that they have struggled to win any of their first 3 games of the new year 2016. Tottenham have finally got goals flowing in not only form Harry Kane but also from their creative midfielders in Lamela, Chadli, Eriksen and Ali. Pochettino truly believes that his Tottenham team should hold on to their Champions League spot and make an impact next season in that competition. Tottenham’s area to improve has to be defensively, where they have conceded in 4 out of their last 5 games.
Tottenham will feel that a clean sheet might be around the corners against a Crystal Palace team who have failed to find the back of the net in in 5 out of their last 6 games in all competitions. Their regular forwards have been injured such as Gayle and Bolasie while other forwards have been injured and are struggling to find their form in Chamakh, Campbell and Wickham. Their midfield is quite a creative one that has pace and creates chances for the forwards especially Puncheon and Zaha on the wings and Cabaye from the midfield. Palace will hope that their home crowd will bring some momentum to this team that has been struggling and even lost recently to a poor Aston Villa side to showcase their struggles.
I am backing Tottenham on the Asian Handicap for some insurance incase of a draw.
Barcelona come into this game after a string of form that would make any side envious as they have failed to lose a game in any competition for 24 straight games including 6 straight wins on the trot. With their 3 pronged attack of Suarez, Messi and Neymar; there seems to be no team that is able to stop their offence in recent times scoring 44 goals out of the 50 that Barcelona have netted in the league. They have won 5 out of their last 6 games by more than 2 goals so far and their defence has also sharply improved with them conceding only 2 goals during those 6 games.
Malaga have been on the rise improving their form that have moved them towards mid-table in the league; but they have been bought a little reality check with a draw against lowly Las Palmas and a loss to Sevilla last weekend. They have struggled to score in the league with just 15 goals in 20 games and have also sold of forward Amrabat to Watford now, which will leave them with a little less creating of goals. Malaga’s decent defence has seen them survive in mid-table with a lot of draws as a result.
Barcelona on the Asian Handicap would have resulted in a winner in 7 out of their last 9 games, and I expect them to continue with some positive results today.