Saturday, 28 November 2015

Weekend Football Picks 2015 (November 28-29)

It was another mixed week for the English teams involved in European competition or should I say that it was a decent week for all the clubs that don't play in Manchester.

Manchester City might be through to the Second Round in the Champions League, but their defeat to Juventus means they are likely to go through as a Second Seed meaning potentially a big game against the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in the Last 16.

At least they are through though.

Manchester United's home draw with PSV Eindhoven has left them in a remarkably vulnerable position in what looked to be a weak Group. In a couple of weeks Manchester United visit Wolfsburg knowing a defeat would see them out if PSV are able to avoid defeat at home to CSKA Moscow, while a draw is only good enough if PSV fail to win.

In saying that, a Manchester United in in Germany would mean they go through as a First Seed, but Louis Van Gaal has taken a lot of criticism in recent weeks which are unlikely to be quietened down by yet another goalless draw.

For the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea, their destiny in qualifying for the Last 16 will come down to the final day and both teams winning will give them a great chance of doing that. Of course Arsenal have the more difficult task needing to beat Olympiacos away from home by at least two goals or by scoring at least three goals, while Chelsea will win their Group if they can beat Porto at home.

Both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur won games on Thursday in the Europa League which has put them through to the Last 32 in that competition. Those two teams will win their Groups if they can avoid defeat in their final games and they will be favoured to do that in a couple of weeks time.

Aston Villa v Watford PickThings are looking in a big mess at Villa Park and I am struggling to see how Aston Villa get out of trouble with a novice Premier League manager like Remi Garde at the helm. Defensively they are conceding far too many goals and there is still a lack of a consistent threat in the final third.

After flirting with relegation over the last few seasons it does look like Aston Villa are going to have a big problem escaping the bottom three this time around. With the way the financials of the club are working, Aston Villa are going to miss out on the big television deal in the top flight next season and might just struggle to make a quick return to the top flight like teams like Leeds United and Nottingham Forest.

The lack of goals is a real issue and missing both Jack Grealish and Gabby Agbonlahor is a problem for them this week.

Watford have also been performing effectively away from home and were unlucky not to get more out of their game at Leicester City in their last one on their travels, while even last week it was a late goal that helped Manchester United win at Vicarage Road.

The away side have scored two goals in half of their six away games in the Premier League and getting to that mark is going to give Watford a great chance to earn the three points here and move half-way to safety. I don't get Watford being an underdog here despite a historically poor record at Villa Park because those games have happened far enough in the past to be changed this season.

Just out of principle a small interest on the away team has to be warranted to win at Villa Park and give Remi Garde no doubt as to the size of the task in front of him.

Bournemouth v Everton PickYou can't doubt there has been an improving set of results and performances from Everton over the last few weeks, but they have to find a way to take their form from Goodison Park onto their travels. Everton have lost at Arsenal and drawn at West Ham United in their last couple of away games, which are not embarrassing results, but they need to start earning some wins to really make a consistent move up the League table.

This is the kind of game a team that wants to finish in the top four or top six should be looking to win, especially as Bournemouth have struggled at both ends of the field thanks to injuries. Bournemouth show plenty of quality in the middle third of the pitch, but they showed a lack of composure when the chances came their way against Newcastle United in their last game here and that has to be a concern.

I would think that Bournemouth will start scoring goals if they keep creating the chances because their luck has to change in front of goal, but it's hard to be confident in them at the moment.

I do think Bournemouth will cause Everton a few problems in this game, but I think the away side are beginning to take their chances and they might have a little too much for them in front of goal. Everton are not always the most trustworthy team to back on their travels, but a small interest at big odds is warranted.

Manchester City v Southampton Pick: Manchester City have a chance to reclaim top spot in the Premier League at least for a few hours when they play on Saturday afternoon. After back to back disappointing defeats this week, it is important for Manchester City to try and get some momentum behind them ahead of the busiest month in the English football calendar.

Injuries have been an issue for Manchester City and Joe Hart is the latest to suffer having had to come off against Juventus and he is a doubt for this game. David Silva is a potential returnee though and Manchester City might look to outscore a Southampton team that has plenty of pace up front to expose a team missing the likes of Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Vincent Kompany at the back.

Graziano Pelle is suspended though and that might prevent Southampton from really finding their way to the upset.

The Saints were also beaten last week against Stoke City at home but they are unbeaten in 5 away games which includes a win at Chelsea and a draw with Liverpool. They won't be intimidated about coming here and I expect this to be a close game with both teams having their chances to score goals.

I still think Manchester City will have a response to their consecutive losses this week and might just end up on the right side of a exciting game where both teams score at least once.

Sunderland v Stoke City Pick: Sunderland battled very hard on Monday Night Football and they then got a bit of luck to help themselves to a 0-1 win at Crystal Palace. That win would have given Sam Allardyce some confidence that his team can remain in touch with those outside of the bottom three and he can bring in key players in January to ensure Sunderland can avoid relegation again.

This week is going to be a test for Sunderland who have to find the right balance between attack and defence at The Stadium of Light. Away from home it is much easier to sit back deep and wait for the counter attack, but fans at home won't be so easily accepting of such tactics even in such a difficult position.

Sunderland also face a Stoke City team that has performed very well away from home and have kept five clean sheets in a row on their travels. Stoke City have had four wins in that run, all by the same 0-1 scoreline, including at Southampton last weekend and The Potters won't be worried about having to travel for a second week in a row.

This hasn't been a happy hunting ground for Stoke City in the last few years although they did win a League Cup game here last season. At the odds though, I can't ignore the way Stoke City have performed away from home and I like them to win here.

Leicester City v Manchester United PickNot many would have picked Leicester City versus Manchester United as being a match between the top two teams in the Premier League at the end of November, but that is the case this weekend. By kick off it could have changed with Manchester City able to overtake both teams by winning their 3pm game against Southampton, but that doesn't change the fact that Leicester City and Manchester United lead the rest of the League coming into the weekend.

This is a big game for Manchester United and Louis Van Gaal who won't have missed the poor reaction from the Old Trafford crowd after yet another laboured display that resulted in a goalless draw.

The manager might be surprised by some of the reactions considering where his side are in the Premier League table, but there isn't a strong feeling that Manchester United can win the title. This is a very difficult test for the side against a Leicester City team that is blessed with pace up front and seemingly are not anxious about any football game they play.

Claudio Ranieri has refused to put the handbrake on his team which does mean Leicester City offer up chances to other teams and he won't mind if Manchester United dominate the ball as they can. That will allow Leicester City to slip out on the counter with room for the likes of Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez to exploit space with their pace and I really do think the home team have the capability of their first statement win of the season.

However, Arsenal showed that the top teams should find spaces to exploit against Leicester City too and so goals looks the best way to get onto this game. That's not been a very good way to get into Manchester United games, but at least their away games have been a little more exciting than those at Old Trafford and Leicester City can make this a real contest.

I wouldn't put off anyone who thinks Leicester City can win this game because I certainly believe they can, but I do see both teams scoring and so backing goals looks a more positive way of getting involved in the game.

Tottenham Hotspur v Chelsea PickThe early kick off can play havoc on some of these Premier League games and the midday kick off hasn't impressed Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino who is rightly aggrieved.

His team won't be returning from Azerbaijan until Friday morning and he makes a point as to why this game wasn't allowed to be played on a Sunday afternoon or Monday evening, but television companies have overrode those concerns.

Pochettino is not making excuses and has to be confident with his Tottenham Hotspur side quietly moving up the Premier League table and earning some crushing wins at White Hart Lane in recent games. Tottenham Hotspur hammered West Ham United here last Sunday and they have also put Manchester City to the sword at White Hart Lane so they will be very confident of beating Chelsea.

That is a Chelsea side that has struggled away from home in the Premier League although they have also been a little unfortunate at times. Losing John Terry is a big blow considering they have had back to back clean sheets this week and keeping another here will be a difficult test, although Chelsea have shown they are creating chances at the other end too.

All in all it looks the making of an exciting London derby, one that Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have produced many times in recent years. I am concerned the players make 'sleep walk' through the first half with the early start, but I think both teams are looking effective when they get forward and perhaps not totally convincing at the back.

With that in mind, I think backing at least three goals to be shared out looks like a good chance of hitting. I am leaning towards Tottenham Hotspur using their home advantage to find the victory which looks an appealing price, but Chelsea have looked decent this past week so I'd rather stick with the goals from this match.

Norwich City v Arsenal PickIf you truly have ambitions of wanting to win the Premier League, visits to Norwich City have to be the kind of games you win especially off the back of a disappointing Premier League defeat. This is going to be a real test of Arsenal's title winning credentials having lost at West Brom and fighting through a host of injuries, but it is one that I would expect them to pass.

For all of the hard work that Norwich City will put into the game I don't think they have the necessary quality in the final third against the very best teams. At home they will offer a challenge, but Arsenal have managed their games here at Carrow Road with three wins in four visits and they have players like Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez that can unlock tight defensive formations.

At home Norwich City will need to offer more in the final third themselves and that space that Arsenal should have can be exploited by The Gunners.

The defeat at West Brom was a disappointment, but Arsenal had won 3 in a row away from home in the Premier League before that and all three wins have come by wide margins. I think Arsenal have enough quality in the final third to be able to come through by at least a couple of goals here too and I will back them to do that by asking them to cover the Asian Handicap.

MY PICKS: Watford @ 2.90 William Hill (1 Unit)
Everton @ 2.50 Coral (1 Unit)
Manchester City to Win and Both Teams to Score @ 3.10 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Stoke City @ 2.50 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Leicester City-Manchester United Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.15 Betfair Sportsbook (2 Units)
Tottenham Hotspur-Chelsea Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Arsenal - 1 Asian Handicap @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)

November Update9-14-1, - 8.94 Units (41 Units Staked, - 21.80% Yield)

October Final16-25, - 13.51 Units (79.50 Units Staked, - 16.99% Yield)
September Final29-30-3, + 4.18 Units (117.5 Units Staked, + 3.58% Yield)
August Final16-31-1, - 24.34 Units (94 Units Staked, - 25.89% Yield)

Season 2015/1661-86-4, - 33.67 Units (291 Units Staked, - 11.57% Yield)
Season 2014/15159-208-5, - 20.22 Units (647 Units Staked, - 3.13% Yield)
Season 2013/14164-185-3, + 15.84 Units (577 Units Staked, + 2.75% Yield)
Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)

Thursday, 26 November 2015

College Football Week 13 Picks 2015 (November 26-28)

This is the final week of the regular season for many teams and it is all about becoming Bowl eligible and working into Championship Games that are going to have a big impact on which teams play in the final four National Championship Play Offs.

It is the time of the season when one defeat could be fatal to teams and that is how the Ohio State Buckeyes have to feel after losing at home to the Michigan State Spartans which is almost certainly ending their chances of defending their National Championship.

The Big 12 has a couple of big weeks too with their top teams in danger of cannibalising themselves, although they would have received a big boost when the Oklahoma Sooners were placed in the top four by the committee last week. However, they have a big game against rivals Oklahoma State this week and a defeat in that might see the Big 12 overlooked for a Play Off place for the second season in a row.

One team that might be upset are the Notre Dame Fighting Irish who were knocked out of the top four, but they can put together an impressive resume by beating Stanford this week. That would mean wins over Stanford, USC, and Navy this season with the sole loss to Clemson, by a mere two points, not looking at all bad if the Tigers were to win the ACC without losing a game.

So what are my current Play Off Rankings, meaning which four teams do I think will make up the National Championship Play Off:

1) Clemson Tigers- an unbeaten ACC Champion won't be overlooked.

2) Alabama Crimson Tide- one loss SEC Champion who have won some big games since the surprise defeat to the Mississippi Rebels.

3) Oklahoma Sooners- the defeat to the Texas Longhorns seems to be forgotten and this team is flying especially if they can beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys on the road this week.

4) Notre Dame Fighting Irish- if they win at Stanford, the one loss Notre Dame team is going to be tough to ignore... Especially when you think the one loss came against the only unbeaten team in the nation.

Looking In- Iowa Hawkeyes, Michigan State Spartans, North Carolina Tar Heels, Stanford Cardinal.

Week 13 Picks
I wasn't impressed with how my Week 12 Picks went in College Football after seeing the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets basically hand a win to the Miami Hurricanes with turnover after turnover, and both the Oklahoma Sooners and Notre Dame Fighting Irish blowing big leads to win by narrow margins.

Those three teams should have seen at least two cover without mistakes and sloppy play (the Fighting Irish also had a number of turnovers in the red zone which almost cost them the game) and would have ensured another decent week.

Instead it was the worst week of the College Football season and frustrating times for me personally. The season total is still in good shape, but I don't like terrible weeks like this and am looking for an immediate response in Week 13.

Texas Tech Red Raiders @ Texas Longhorns Pick: It has been a disappointing season for the Texas Longhorns and one that is coming to an end with a losing record regardless of how this game goes down. They come off the bye week looking to at least give Charlie Strong some breathing room in the off-season, but the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders looks a tough one on paper.

This is a series that the Longhorns have dominated in recent years, but the spread has moved from Texas being a small favourite into a small underdog. I would have loved to have taken Texas Tech as the underdog, but I still like them in this spot.

Texas Tech should have enough balance on Offense to give Texas plenty to think about, while the latter are going to be using back ups at Running Back which might give the former a chance to slow them down.

Both Defenses will have their problems, but I think the balance on the Offensive side of the ball gives Texas Tech the edge and I think they can end a six year losing run in the series by winning this game on Thanksgiving Day.

Troy Trojans @ Georgia State Panthers Pick: This is the last home game of the season for the Georgia State Panthers and they have surpassed expectations already this season. However the Panthers could easily be looking ahead to a big game with Georgia Southern next week although the public don't care and are heavily behind a small home favourite.

I am being contrary though and I think the Troy Trojans can come off their bye and win here having been competitive in recent games prior to that break.

Troy have won beaten Georgia State the last couple of years and the Trojans look like they match up with their opponents pretty effectively on both sides of the ball. The balance on the Offensive side of the ball should mean Troy are able to move the chains more effectively than the high-octane passing Offense of Georgia State who are facing a pretty good Secondary.

The Trojans are 4-1 against the spread on the road this season and Georgia State are 0-2 against the spread as the home favourite over the last couple of years.

Oregon State Beavers @ Oregon Ducks Pick: Gary Andersen has a proven record as a Head Coach but it was a surprise he decided to leave Wisconsin to take over at Oregon State. To say it has been a tough season for the Beavers is an under-statement and now they take on rivals Oregon who have won five in a row.

Even with that in mind, the Ducks look like they are being asked to cover a very big spread even if this game is being played in Eugene. UCLA, Washington and Arizona have all blown out Oregon State to such an extent that they would have covered this huge spread, but you have to think the Beavers are motivated to perform against Oregon.

Oregon State have managed to do that and make things somewhat difficult for Oregon and they haven't been beaten by a bigger number than this spread since 2005. Andersen's style means the Beavers will look to run the clock with their running game and they can keep Oregon's Offense on the sidelines although the quick-strike Ducks Offense can score very quickly to give them a chance to cover in this one.

Of course the Ducks will win, but this still looks too many points and I look for Oregon State to make their rivals at least work for the win.

Baylor Bears @ TCU Horned Frogs Pick: At the start of the season, this looked to be the game that was going to decide the Big 12. However injuries have played their part for both teams to drop at least one game and both Baylor and TCU look to be on the outside of the National Championship Play Off this season.

Neither team is using their starting Quarter Back with Baylor down to third choice Chris Johnson who had been playing as a Wide Receiver while TCU will go with Bram Kohlhausen.

Both players showed they are more than a little capable with big performances in Week 12 and this is going to be a close game. The spread shows that too, but I do like the Horned Frogs to put in one huge effort in their final home game of the season and earn some revenge for their defeat at Baylor last season which cost them a National Championship Play Off berth.

TCU haven't lost here since the end of the 2013 season when Baylor won here, so I do like them in the home underdog spot where they are 2-0 against the spread since 2013. Both teams will score plenty of points, but the Horned Frogs Defense showed they might be able to make enough stops to help the team come through.

Iowa State Cyclones @ West Virginia Mountaineers Pick: I made a point of mentioning that the West Virginia Mountaineers are not the best home favourite to back a couple of weeks ago when I picked them to cover against the Texas Longhorns. In fact I have backed West Virginia two weeks in a row and they have come through so you might think I will look to back them yet another time.

Actually no... This week I like the underdog Iowa State Cyclones to cover as they look to give Paul Rhoads the perfect send off having found out the Head Coach will be let go after this game. Rhoads is adamant he is leaving some tremendous talent for the Cyclones, although Iowa State have disappointed the last three years under his watch.

However the Cyclones have been largely competitive in their games and games between these teams have been tight the last three seasons. Both teams should move the chains effectively through the game and a turnover or two might make all the difference, but that effectiveness also means it looks like the Cyclones are getting too many points in this one.

If you look at the way they have performed against the schools they have both already faced in the Big 12, you can see the Cyclones are capable of surprising the Mountaineers. With the motivation to give Head Coach Rhoads a good send off, I like them to cover with the two Touchdown start.

Ohio State Buckeyes @ Michigan Wolverines Pick: The defence of the National Championship won last season was ended in disappointing fashion for the Ohio State Buckeyes who had at least two players declare for the NFL Draft. Ezekiel Elliot was not very complimentary on his way out of the door, but he can make amends in a huge rivalry game as the Ohio State Buckeyes head to 'The Big House' to take on the Michigan Wolverines.

Both teams will be thinking what might have been having lost in difficult circumstances to the Michigan State Spartans. This game could still have tremendous meaning if the Spartans were to lose to the Penn State Nittany Lions on the same day, but otherwise it is down to bragging rights which is still huge for both Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh.

The Defensive units are the key for both teams and that is an area where I feel the Buckeyes are playing better of the two taking to the field. Of course Michigan can raise their game having gotten over their loss to the Spartans with that defeat very fresh for Ohio State, but I think the Buckeyes are the better team and they have dominated this rivalry in recent years.

There looks to be a little more on both sides of the ball for the Buckeyes and they are 4-1 against the spread in their last five visits to Michigan. The public are completely split on the game, but I am going with the additional talent level on the side of the Ohio State Buckeyes to make the difference and win the game.

Maryland Terrapins @ Rutgers Scarlet Knights Pick: The season can't end quick enough for the Maryland Terrapins who have lost eight in a row and will be employing a new Head Coach between seasons. Even then, Maryland have outgained three of their last five opponents and have had a couple of hard luck losses which makes it a big surprise they are the underdog getting almost a Field Goal worth of points.

They certainly shouldn't be dogged against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights who are banged up and who would be in a long losing run if not for having the Army Black Knights on the schedule last week.

Even that victory couldn't snap a run of seven straight games where Rutgers have been outgained and you simply can't keep getting away with that. Maryland do look a team that matches up well with them on both sides of the ball and that could be key here as I expect them to be able to move the chains and stall drives effectively.

Maryland will also play with revenge having been beaten at home by Rutgers last season and I will take the points on offer in this one.

Georgia Bulldogs @ Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Pick: This is a big rivalry game but both Georgia and Georgia Tech would have hoped there would be more on the line than bragging rights. Neither team will look back at the 2015 season with too many positives, but the players should still want to end the season in the right way and not have to hear from the other over the next twelve months.

For Georgia it is perhaps more important having been beaten in overtime at home last season. The Bulldogs haven't had much luck in terms of injuries and Mark Richt is perhaps going to be out of the door as Head Coach after the season is completed, but they have played well to put together three wins in a row.

They also faced Georgia Southern last week so would have had good practice for the triple option run by Georgia Tech, especially one that might be run by the back up Quarter Back. Justin Thomas is banged up at least and the Yellow Jackets have had a miserable season with just one win in their last nine.

Georgia have to be careful as that one win came against a quality team like Florida State, but Georgia Tech have found too many ways to lose and I like the Bulldogs to win and cover. The road team is 10-1-1 against the spread in the series while Georgia are 7-0 against the spread in their last seven here so I like the Bulldogs to extend both trends.

Duke Blue Devils @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons Pick: The public are very much in love with the Duke Blue Devils winning and covering on the road this week, but the sharps have backed Wake Forest which has seen the spread shrink. I am little surprised the money is on the home team considering they have lost five in a row and rarely been competitive.

The Demon Deacons would have put in a huge effort to try and compete with the Clemson Tigers last week so it is hard to imagine them picking themselves up to play the Blue Devils outside of the State rivalry. However Wake Forest have been struggling Offensively and might not get a lot of joy from the Duke Defensive unit which does give a considerable edge to the road team.

The balance on the Duke Offense also gives them an edge I feel and I do think they are the better team even if they have lost four games in a row. That run was sparked by a controversial defeat suffered against the Miami Hurricanes when the officials cost Duke the victory having missed at least two penalties in the winning Touchdown.

Yes, Duke haven't played as well as they would have liked since then, but they have been too good for Wake Forest in their last three games too. I think the Blue Devils are too good on both sides of the ball which makes it difficult to see how Wake Forest can compete with them and I like Duke here.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ Stanford Cardinal Pick: The Notre Dame Fighting Irish were knocked out of the top four of the Play Offs last week in the latest released Rankings following a sloppy win over Boston College. They do have a chance to pick up some more votes this week if they can go to the Stanford Cardinal and beat them on the road, but Notre Dame are banged up some more having lost their starting Running Back and Corner Back last week.

It has been a season of injuries for Notre Dame and Brian Kelly might be left wondering what could have been if they are left out of the Play Offs. Their one loss to the Clemson Tigers remains a strong one with that team unbeaten, but the Fighting Irish are unlikely to overcome two losses which makes this game a big one.

Next man up has been the policy for Notre Dame this season and DeShone Kizar has to pick up his play if his school are going to win this game. Kizar was pretty terrible against Boston College last week but the Eagles have perhaps one of the best Defenses in the nation and I would expect a better performance from the Quarter Back this week.

Of course Stanford have their Pac-12 Championship Game next week having already lost twice this season which should keep them out of the National Championship Play Off. Winning this game might inspire some votes if other results go their way over the next two weeks, but it looks unlikely that Stanford would be invited in and I wonder if the focus is on the Championship Game instead.

The Cardinal do match up with the Notre Dame Defense and I can see Christian McCaffrey perhaps show why he is considered the best Running Back in the nation by his Head Coach David Shaw. McCaffrey should have a big game but this looks like one that is going to be decided by three points either way and that makes the points being offered to Notre Dame look attractive to me.

Notre Dame have covered in two in a row as the underdog and I am looking for them to make it three in a row this week and perhaps steal a win that could propel them back into the top four of the Play Offs.

Oklahoma Sooners @ Oklahoma State Cowboys Pick: After losing to the Baylor Bears last week, you might think the Oklahoma State Cowboys are going to be feeling sorry for themselves this week. That loss is likely going to keep Oklahoma State out of the Play Offs this season, but they won't have missed the fact that rivals Oklahoma are in the top four and knocking them off would be a huge achievement for the Cowboys.

Revenge will also be on the mind for the Oklahoma Sooners who were beaten in Norman last season and know the importance of not dropping this game. However that created some nerves in their home win over the banged up TCU Horned Frogs last week and I think the Sooners are going to have a very difficult time this week.

The Sooners Defensive unit is the best in the Big 12 and that gives them an edge, but getting a Touchdown start for the home team is still hard to ignore. The underdog has covered three in a row in the series and Baker Mayfield might not be at 100% even though he has passed the concussion protocol.

Looking at the bare facts suggests the Sooners are the better team, but Oklahoma State will be highly motivated and at home and that is hard to ignore. The Cowboys don't have anything to lose at this moment but everything to gain and the Sooners did look nervous in their win last week when TCU began to make the comeback.

With the Touchdown start, the Cowboys should be able to keep this competitive and perhaps end Oklahoma's season by beating them and knocking them out of the National Championship Play Offs.

MY PICKS: Texas Tech Red Raiders - 1 Point @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Troy Trojans + 1 Point @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Oregon State Beavers + 35.5 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
TCU Horned Frogs + 1.5 Points @ 2.00 William Hill (1 Unit)
Iowa State Cyclones + 14 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Ohio State Buckeyes - 1 Point @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Maryland Terrapins + 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Georgia Bulldogs - 4 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Duke Blue Devils - 3.5 Points @ 2.00 Betfair Sportsbook (1 Unit)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish + 3.5 Points @ 2.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Oklahoma State Cowboys + 7 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

Week 12: 3-7, - 4.10 Units (10 Units Staked, - 41% Yield)
Week 117-4, + 2.33 Units (11 Units Staked, + 21.18% Yield)
Week 10: 4-5, - 1.36 Units (9 Units Staked, - 15.11% Yield)
Week 9: 3-6, - 3.29 Units (9 Units Staked, - 36.56% Yield)
Week 85-6, - 1.33 Units (11 Units Staked, - 12.09% Yield)
Week 711-3, + 7.10 Units (14 Units Staked, + 50.71% Yield
Week 68-5, + 2.49 Units (13 Units Staked, + 19.15% Yield)
Week 56-7, - 1.50 Units (13 Units Staked, - 11.54% Yield)
Week 48-4-1, + 3.26 Units (13 Units Staked, + 25.08% Yield)
Week 36-4, + 1.57 Units (10 Units Staked, + 15.70% Yield)
Week 25-4-1, + 0.68 Units (10 Units Staked, + 6.80% Yield)
Week 17-6, + 0.48 Units (13 Units Staked, + 3.69% Yield

Season 201573-61-2, + 6.33 Units (136 Units Staked, + 4.65% Yield)
Season 201475-82-2, - 13.39 Units (172 Units Staked, - 7.78% Yield)
Season 201365-49-2, + 8.49 Units (124 Units Staked, + 6.85% Yield)
Season 201254-59-1 - 7.11 Units (114 Units Staked, - 6.24% Yield)

Season 201163-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)

NFL Week 12 Picks 2015 (November 26-30)

On Thursday we have Thanksgiving Day in the United States which means there is a slate of Football and Turkey for fans on that side of the pond.

I'll be visiting a friend, which has become something of a tradition, and catching the first two games with him while enjoying the food that he will have been preparing for much of the day. It's usually good fun catching up with friends and watching some NFL which is on at a very reasonable time, but it is especially fun with the host a Dallas Cowboys fan.

The three games this year look decent too and obviously the big news out of the final game is that Brett Favre will have his number retired at Lambeau Field at half time of the Chicago Bears game at the Green Bay Packers.

Week 12 Picks
The Week 11 Picks looked to have hit the buffers with some bad luck not helping as the Atlanta Falcons blew a 14-0 and 21-7 lead thanks to Matt Ryan's inept decision making which cost the team a seven point lead.

It was followed by the Arizona Cardinals also blowing a fourteen point lead in the second half of their win over the Cincinnati Bengals and the week was completed with a push from the Buffalo Bills at New England thanks to some huge open Touchdown passes missed by the Bills.

So instead of what should have been a winning week, Week 11 produced a slight loss although the season remains in the positive. However, I do need some luck to fall my way to make sure the positives for the season are not erased over the last six weeks of the regular season and ahead of the Play Offs.

Philadelphia Eagles @ Detroit Pistons Pick: The rumours continue to swirl that Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles are heading for an acrimonious split in the off-season. Kelly was given full control of the roster in the last off-season but the Eagles have looked a mess far too often this season although they are still in contention in the NFC East and have a legitimate shot at making the Play Offs for the second time in three seasons under Kelly's guidance.

A couple of weeks ago Philadelphia won a big road game at the Dallas Cowboys to move back to 4-4, but consecutive home losses to teams like the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have dampened enthusiasm. In fact the Eagles crowd are never far from showing their disgust and there was a real tension in the blow out loss to the Buccaneers.

However, the Eagles are only a game behind the NFC East Division leaders and the loss to the Buccaneers might just have been a game in a bad spot for Philadelphia. Mark Sanchez is likely to start this game at Quarter Back for the second time in a row as Sam Bradford is still being troubled by a shoulder injury and the concern with Sanchez is that he is something of a turnover machine.

It was a ill-advised throw that cost Philadelphia the game against the Miami Dolphins and Sanchez has to be better if the Eagles are to win here. He is facing a Detroit Lions Defensive unit that has looked good since coming out of their bye week in slowing down the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders, while Sanchez might not be given much help from DeMarco Murray who has been accused of 'lacking effort' at Running Back.

Ryan Matthews isn't likely to return this week, but Sanchez could have some success throwing against this Secondary that might just have raised their level the last couple of weeks. Detroit do get pressure up front so Sanchez has to be careful of rushing his throws or the 'strip-Sack' but I can see the Quarter Back having a better outing than last week.

Matthew Stafford is another Quarter Back who might have a big day on Thanksgiving Day after seeing what Jameis Winston did to this Defense in Week 11. That is an easy suggestion to put together though and I don't think this Eagles team is going to allow such a slack effort to come about for a second game in a row.

There are a couple of differences with this Detroit Offense compared with Tampa Bay- the first is that they haven't been able to put together a consistent running game so are unlikely to rip off huge gains as Doug Martin did in Week 11; the second is the Offensive Line has struggled to protect Stafford effectively and one of the strengths of the Eagles Defense is in the Defensive Line and getting pressure on the Quarter Back.

Stafford will have success throwing against this Secondary when he does have time, but the Eagles can stall drives much like Green Bay and Oakland have been able to. The Packers Defensive unit is better than Philadelphia's but Oakland's isn't and I think some big plays on this side of the ball will give Philadelphia the edge in the first game on Thanksgiving Day.

The spread has made a big move from last week's results and Detroit have gone from the underdog to being favoured to win. However, I think the Eagles will bring it together in this one and this is a big move in favour of the Lions who had been awful prior to their last couple of tough wins.

Detroit haven't been a great team to back on Thanksgiving Day over the last few years and backing the road underdog to keep it close and perhaps win outright is my pick. The public are very much behind a small home favourite in this Thanksgiving Day opener, but I want to go against them here.

Carolina Panthers @ Dallas Cowboys Pick: This spread has been jumping all over the place as two unbeaten teams meet up in the second of the three Thanksgiving Day games on Thursday.

What? New England aren't involved in this game, but the Dallas Cowboys are actually 3-0 when Tony Romo has played this season after winning in Week 11 and they are looking to knock off the Carolina Panthers who are at 10-0. The Cowboys failed to win a game without Romo but they remain just two games outside of the Division lead in the pretty terrible NFC East and will be looking to build momentum with Romo back at Quarter Back that could potentially lead to the Play Offs.

Dallas will have to be at their best to beat the Carolina Panthers who have the inside track to the Number 1 Seed in the NFC and have Cam Newton playing at such a high level that many are tipping him for the MVP award.

Newton threw five Touchdown passes last week, but he will have to watch out for ex-Carolina Panther Greg Hardy who has to be motivated to show he is more than a distraction for the Cowboys. The Quarter Back is no longer looking to rely on his legs to make plays but he is capable of doing that and might need to in order to help the Panthers establish the run.

Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert have been the predominant Running Backs for the Carolina Panthers and they might have some success running the ball. However the Dallas Cowboys are back to full strength at Linebacker and can certainly slow down the Panthers on the ground and try and force Newton to beat them with his arm, although he has shown he has the capabilities to do that.

The Cowboys will believe they are getting sufficient pressure up front to at least stall drives from Newton although they have to keep an eye on the Quarter Back when he gets out of the pocket and looks to move the chains on the ground. That pressure from the likes of Hardy, Tyrone Crawford, Jack Crawford and DeMarcus Lawrence can help the Cowboys limit what Carolina do Offensively and give their team a chance to win this game.

Carolina will also have a strong pass rush on display as Charles Johnson is back this week to join Mario Addison and Kony Ealy in getting pressure on the newly returned Tony Romo against one of the best Offensive Lines in the NFL. It might be down to Romo as Carolina have been able to limit the damage done on the ground and so the Cowboys could be reliant on their Quarter Back making big plays through this game.

Dez Bryant might not have a huge day being covered by Josh Norman, but Dallas are a better passing Offense with Romo at Quarter Back as he is able to scramble around and make some big plays. The likes of Jason Witten, Terrance Williams, Gavin Escobar and Cole Beasley might not have had much success without Romo, but the starting Quarter Back makes them all better and Dallas could have success moving the chains.

The public seem to be very much behind Carolina, but the sharps have moved this spread in favour of the Dallas Cowboys and I like the latter too. Dallas are in a more desperate spot and the Cowboys are 8-5 against the spread on Thanksgiving Day in recent years.

I would expect the Cowboys Defensive unit to step up and make a couple of big plays too. It would have been much nicer to take the Cowboys as the underdog, but I am fading the public here again as Dallas get back into the NFC East with a vital win over the current Number 1 Seed in the NFC.

Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers Pick: The Green Bay Packers didn't need Aaron Rodgers to tell their fans to 'R-E-L-A-X' as he did after a couple of losses in consecutive weeks like he did last season, but they did come out with a huge win at the Minnesota Vikings last week. That has put the Packers back in control of the NFC North and they will like to cement that position by beating the Chicago Bears in the final Thanksgiving Day game.

It is going to be an emotional night at Lambeau Field as Brett Favre will return to have his number retired as he is finally brought back into the Green Bay Packers family. I expect that will inspire Aaron Rodgers to want to show the Packers that their present Quarter Back can proudly sit alongside Favre in the history books and I am expecting a big showing from him.

This season hasn't produced the Offensive numbers that Rodgers has done in recent seasons, although he has still protected the ball very well. The loss of Jordy Nelson in the off-season was always going to be a big blow, while some lament the lack of a consistent threat at Tight End in the passing game even if Richard Rodgers is improving all the time.

Rodgers has been under more pressure of late behind his Offensive Line as his Receivers have sometimes struggled to break free of the coverage and Davante Adams is a little banged up again. However the Bears pass rush hasn't been the most consistent so I expect the Quarter Back to have time to make his throws and will certainly make some big ones down the field.

He will be aided by the rejuvenation of the running game which came alive in the win over Minnesota thanks to Eddie Lacy's best game of the season. Lacy and James Starks provide a decent one-two out of the backfield and if both are performing to a high level it will make life easier for Rodgers and his Receivers to find their connections. Green Bay should be able to establish the run as Chicago perhaps focus their attention on the passing game and the question for the Bears is whether Jay Cutler and the Offense can keep up.

Cutler's Offense will be boosted by the return of Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery who are both expected to come through the injuries that have kept them out. While Jeremy Langford has played well in relief of Forte, Jeffery is a huge target for Cutler in the passing game and he will need all the help he can get after watching how Green Bay's Defensive unit have played the last two weeks.

It would be tough for a healthy Forte to really establish a running game, but both Forte and Langford provide a safety blanket for Cutler in the passing game too. That will be important for the Quarter Back who has limited taking Sacks this season by getting the ball out of his hands quickly, but the Packers Defense has been flooding the backfield in their last couple of games which is going to be a concern for Cutler.

However, I expect Cutler will make some big plays to a returning Jeffery although the big concern is whether he can steer clear of the turnovers that have blighted him in games against Green Bay. It was a pick that cost Chicago the first game between these rivals and I can see that being the reason the Bears fail to cover against them again.

Green Bay have covered in four in a row against Chicago and I do like their chances to do that on Thanksgiving Day too with Aaron Rodgers helping win the turnover battle by limiting mistakes compared with Jay Cutler. The balance on the Offense and the high level of play from the Defense should give Green Bay the edge and the Packers remain a very strong home favourite to back.

The backdoor cover is a concern with the way the Bears have been playing in recent weeks, but the disappointing home loss to Denver is a setback in confidence. I'd expect Green Bay to win this by at least ten points and I am looking for them to cover.

MY PICKS: Philadelphia Eagles + 2 Points @ 1.95 William Hill (2 Units)
Dallas Cowboys - 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Green Bay Packers - 8 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (2 Units)

Week 11: 3-4-1, - 1.38 Units
Week 103-6, - 5.54 Units
Week 96-2, + 8.08 Units
Week 80-1, - 1 Unit
Week 72-4, - 4.23 Units
Week 63-5-1, - 3.33 Units
Week 53-5-1, - 3.48 Units
Week 44-3-1, + 2.24 Units
Week 38-2, + 9.03 Units
Week 24-5, - 1.71 Units
Week 15-2-1, + 6.46 Units

Season 2015: 41-39-5, + 6.14 Units
Season 201477-80-2, - 8.47 Units
Season 201386-70-2, + 22.27 Units

Season 2012- 4.78 Units

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Midweek Football Picks 2015 (November 24-26)

I'll be honest, I can't seem to get out of my own way when it comes to the football picks this season with so many games seemingly going far away from where I expected them to.

Only a few of those have been down to bad luck so I can't even point to that, but they have simply been bad picks and I have to be better.

Last season wasn't great, but the previous years have been positive so unless the Premier League and Champions League have literally changed something fundamentally, I expect improvements.

Arsenal v Dinamo Zagreb Pick: Arsenal's home win over Bayern Munich last month has given them an outside chance of making it through to the Second Round of the Champions League. The two opening losses to the weaker teams in the Group has given Arsenal a mountain to climb and they do need help from the Bavarian giants, but The Gunners should have a chance to qualify for the next Round in the next couple of weeks.

First off they need to beat Dinamo Zagreb at The Emirates Stadium and I expect they are going to be far too good for the Croatian Champions. A 2-1 defeat in Zagreb was a huge surprise result for Arsenal, but they should have been well ahead in that game prior to going behind and then losing Olivier Giroud to a first half red card made it a very difficult challenge.

Injuries are a big problem for Arsenal at the moment, but their attacking threat through Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud should pay off against a team that really isn't up to this level.

Dinamo Zagreb might dominate their domestic League, but they won't face teams like Arsenal too often and were crushed by Bayern Munich in their visit to Germany. If Arsenal can get their noses in front in the first half hour of this game, I would expect them to take revenge over Dinamo Zagreb with a comfortable win and then keep an ear out for the result of the Bayern Munich-Olympiacos game which will be played at the same time.

Barcelona v Roma Pick: Barcelona are coming in off an almost perfect performance when they crushed Real Madrid 0-4 away from home in the Spanish Primera Division. That result will make Barcelona strong favourites to retain their title, especially with Lionel Messi back after a two month absence, and now they will focus on booking their place in the Champions League Second Round.

A win on Tuesday will ensure Barcelona win the Group regardless of what happens in the other game in the section and they look a team with a lot of confidence behind them. Messi is expected to start to build his match fitness and Roma will do well to stay with them in the Nou Camp.

Roma are very much looking to book their place in the Second Round too and a win on Tuesday will make them favourites to follow Barcelona into the Last 16.

This is not a team that travels very well in the Champions League and I think it is a big test for Roma to take on a rampant Barcelona who have been keeping clean sheets and scoring plenty of goals. A defeat isn't the end of the road for Roma, although the permutations for qualifying to the Second Round will be clear at the end of the evening.

I struggle to see Roma keeping up with the Barcelona attacking quality and with the confidence the home team has and I will back the defending Champions to win by a couple of goals.

Maccabi Tel Aviv v Chelsea Pick: A really disappointing season to this point for Chelsea can show some light at the end of the tunnel if they can move through to the Second Round of the Champions League. Chelsea are a club in turmoil, or so it seems from outside of Stamford Bridge, but a victory in Israel coupled with a Dynamo Kiev failure to win in Porto will be enough for Jose Mourinho's side.

They should be too good for Maccabi Tel Aviv who have been overmatched in the Group Stage of the Champions League having surprisingly come through the Qualifiers. Maccabi Tel Aviv have lost all four games in the Group by at leas two goals including home defeats to both Dynamo Kiev (0-2) and Porto (1-3).

My one concern in backing Chelsea is that they haven't won any of their last 6 away games in all competitions and even that last victory came at League One Walsall.

Only one of their last ten away Champions League games has seen Chelsea win the game by more than a single goal, but they will have taken some heart from the performance in the 1-0 win over Norwich City. With the home side not likely to prevent at least two goals being scored against them, I do think Chelsea will be able to win this by a couple of goals on the night and will back them to do so.

CSKA Moscow v Wolfsburg PickThis is a big game for both CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg and the importance of the three points from the fixture will not be lost on either team. For CSKA Moscow it is much more simple than it is for Wolfsburg as any defeat means they will be out of the Champions League regardless of what happens in the other game later in the evening and even a draw might not be good enough for them.

That should mean CSKA Moscow look to get on the front foot in this one and they have been a team that can score goals, although recent form has been a real concern for them.

For Wolfsburg a defeat might not be the end of the road, but they will have a keen interest in the other game being played at Old Trafford, especially as they face Manchester United at home to end the Group Stage. Wolfsburg might feel confident of their chances at home to beat United, but they have struggled away from home which is a concern in this fixture.

Wolfsburg have lost 5 of their last 6 away games in all competitions including conceding twice at both Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven. A lack of goals has to be a bother for the away side having failed to hit the net in 3 of their last 4 away games, but this is a game which should feature both teams looking to get forward to score the goals that will take them potentially through to the Second Round.

You have to remember that CSKA Moscow have conceded at least once in their last 12 away games in the Champions League, but have also scored in 10 of their last 11 at home. If this game does get to 1-1, I don't think either team will settle for that result and will still look to secure the win and so backing at least three goals to be shared in the early game on Wednesday looks the call.

Juventus v Manchester City PickThis is almost a 'nothing to lose' game for both Juventus and Manchester City in terms of being knocked out of the Champions League, but the importance of winning the Group will not be lost on either team. However, both teams seem to be ones that will look to make things happen rather than sitting back and hoping things happen and so there could be some entertainment for those watching.

Juventus at home will be expected to get forward, but Manchester City have shown that they not a side that will look to settle for a point and instead will look to play attractive attacking football.

For Manchester City the concern has to be the absence of Vincent Kompany which has seen the team concede far too many goals. However the return of Sergio Aguero means they have a focal point who can score goals and I think the layers might have got it a little wrong with their lack of expectation for goals.

Neither side has any reason to step back in this one and I think both teams will score at least once and there could be spaces to exploit as the game wears on. Winning the Group is so important for both teams that I think they will search for the win until the end of the game and I can see at least three goals shared by these teams for a second time this season.

Malmo v Paris Saint-Germain PickIt is going to be an emotional time for Zlatan Ibrahimovic returning to Malmo even if he won't say as much in the media. The fans are certainly going to give their national hero a big ovation before Malmo look to earn a surprise win over Paris Saint-Germain that will give them an outside chance of moving into the Second Round of the Champions League at PSG's expense.

That is a big ask for Malmo having to beat PSG and Real Madrid in consecutive games and this is a team that has struggled to compete with the top teams in the Champions League over the last couple of years. Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Real Madrid have all won here by the same 0-2 scoreline and Paris Saint-Germain are certainly of that level of team.

Malmo will certainly try to make life difficult for their visitors and the conditions in Sweden means there is snow and cold that Paris Saint-Germain need to deal with.

However, I am not convinced that it is going to be enough to put these teams on an equal setting and Paris Saint-Germain should be too good on the day. It wouldn't surprise me if Ibrahimovic scores the winner in this one, but I think backing PSG to become the fourth team in the last two Group Stages to win here with a clean sheet looks to be the call.

Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven PickManchester United and PSV Eindhoven both have a very big opportunity to get through to the Second Round of the Champions League and this could be the pivotal game to decide which one of those teams are able to do that. It is arguably more important for Manchester United to win the game with a visit to Wolfsburg to come, while on the other hand PSV Eindhoven could overcome a loss by beating CSKA Moscow at home in their final game and hope Manchester United beat Wolfsburg.

In all honesty PSV Eindhoven can't rely on that to happen as a win would almost give Manchester United a reason to rest some players in the final game at Wolfsburg knowing qualification is assured. Of course Manchester United will want to win the Group to avoid the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Second Round, so the pressure is on United to win this game and get into a position to do so.

Both home wins in the Champions League have come after facing some adversity and that has to be a concern for Manchester United fans. CSKA Moscow could easily have gone a goal ahead just thirty seconds before Wayne Rooney scored the winning goal in Manchester United's last game at Old Trafford, while Wolfsburg took the lead here.

However, both teams are arguably better than PSV Eindhoven and the Dutch Champions have conceded at least two goals in each away defeat in the Group. PSV were 3-0 down at CSKA Moscow before fighting back for a 3-2 loss and they were beaten 2-0 at Wolfsburg, while Manchester United outplayed them for much of the first half in the first game of the Group.

That injury suffered by Luke Shaw seemed to affect Manchester United badly, as you would expect, but I expect the team to be a little more ready this time. Manchester United might not be the most exhilarating team to watch at this moment of time, and they do have a big Premier League game at leaders Leicester City on Saturday, but I still think the home team win this by a couple of goals.

PSV Eindhoven have conceded too many on their travels in the Group so far and even in the Dutch League they have been poor defensively. While they have had the quality to make up for that in the Eredivisie, it has been harder in the Champions League and I like Manchester United to win by a couple of goals.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Madrid PickAfter keeping Rafa Benitez in the role of manager for the foreseeable future, Real Madrid will be looking for an immediate reaction to their 0-4 home defeat to Barcelona by confirming top spot in their Champions League Group. Shakhtar Donetsk are expecting a backlash from Real Madrid and they have struggled to match Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid in earlier games in the Group and might find it difficult again.

I fully expect Benitez to go back to basics after seeing his side concede seven games in the last two games and making sure Real Madrid are solid at the back.

That could be a key to their performance in the Ukraine as their attacking threats should provide a way to goal to secure the win and Real Madrid have kept clean sheets in all four Champions League games.

As well as Shakhtar Donetsk have done in the past in this competition, they have failed to score in three of four games in the Group and were beaten to nil by Paris Saint-Germain here. They have also failed to score in half of their last six Champions League home games which have all been played away from Donetsk and I think a small interest on Real Madrid bouncing back in the correct manner from their El Classico humiliation has to be taken.

That small interest should be on Real Madrid wining this game with a clean sheet and that is what I will back.

Monaco v Anderlecht PickThis Group has been tight from the beginning, but we might finally get some separation on Match Day 5.

Home advantages could be key in the two games to be played this week and it is Monaco who I believe will have a little too much for Anderlecht in this game. A win for Monaco would virtually assure them of a place in the Last 32 on Thursday ahead of their final game in London against Tottenham Hotspur and I think they will just about get over the line to get that.

Monaco have won 3 in a row at home by narrow 1-0 margins, but they should be too good for Anderlecht who have lost 4 in a row away from home in the Europa League. Losses in Qarabag and Tottenham Hotspur won't inspire much confidence in the Anderlecht squad and I think Monaco will prove a little too good on the night and earn a vital three points in the Group.

AZ Alkmaar v Partizan Belgrade PickThis should be a tense game for both AZ Alkmaar and Partizan Belgrade who will be desperate for the three points in order to aid their ambitions of getting through to the Last 32.

For AZ Alkmaar things are very simple as they look to win this game and then hope to do the same in their last game at Athletic Bilbao, who may have qualified by then, to give themselves a chance to get into the next Round. On the other hand, Partizan Belgrade are trying to snap a 2 game losing run in the Europa League which has set them back in the Group after opening up with back to back wins.

Partizan Belgrade had an impressive win at Augsburg earlier in the Group, but generally have been poor travellers in European football. With AZ Alkmaar being a pretty strong home team both domestically and in European football I think they can be backed at odds against to win this game and get back into contention in the Group.

Lazio v Dnipro PickNeither Lazio nor Dnipro can point to recent form to suggest they are going to win this game, but the home side have the benefit of knowing a draw is good enough for them to get through to the Last 32. Now I am not expecting Lazio to play for the draw as they would like to win the Group too, but it does mean the onus is on Dnipro to find the win here and that means Lazio can pick them off on the counter-attack.

This has been a strong ground for Lazio for the majority of the season and even the two recent poor results here might not have dented their confidence too much.

They have won all 3 home games in European football this season and Lazio are facing a Dnipro team that has struggled on their travels even during their run to the Europa League Final last season. I can see a situation where a desperate Dnipro are perhaps picked off late in this one as they try and stay alive in the Group and I like Lazio to win this game and erase their last couple of performances in front of their own fans.

Celtic v Ajax PickThis is a huge game for both Celtic and Ajax as they look to keep their Europa League dreams alive and the pressure would certainly be amped up on both teams if they hear news of Fenerbahce leading against an already qualified Molde team.

A draw doesn't do anything for either Celtic or Ajax so it is hard to imagine either team really sitting back and hoping things happen for them. The game between them earlier in the Group was an exciting one and all of Celtic's games in the Europa League this season have seen plenty of goals shared out.

That hasn't been the case for Ajax since the opening 2-2 draw with Celtic, but they have to get something here and will certainly pose some problems when going forward. Defensively they can be caught out at times and the fact that neither team is looking to draw this game should keep the intensity up throughout.

With the importance of earning the three points, gaps could certainly open up as this game is played and I like the chance of there being at least three goals for a fifth consecutive Celtic Europa League game.

Liverpool v Bordeaux PickThe Europa League is clearly a competition that Jurgen Klopp is looking at to build momentum in the Premier League and he has made it clear it isn't a hindrance to what he wants to achieve at Anfield.

Form has certainly improved of late, although Liverpool's style might make them a more effective away from home in the immediate future. In fact their recent run of wins have mainly come on their travels, but Liverpool know Bordeaux need to win this game to give themselves a real chance to move into the Last 32 so they might be able to hit the French side on the counter.

You do have to think Liverpool will pick a strong team to make sure they are through with a game to spare and able to rest players ahead of the Christmas schedule next month. I think the home team will be confident and likely have a significant edge in the contest against a team that will be pushing late on to try and win the game.

I can see a situation where Liverpool are leading going into the final twenty minutes of the game and then able to hit Bordeaux on the break to win this by a couple of goals. I'll back Liverpool on the Asian Handicap to win this by a couple of goals knowing a one goal win will return the stake.

MY PICKS: Arsenal - 2 Asian Handicap @ 1.85 Bet365 (2 Units)
Barcelona - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 1.75 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Chelsea - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 1.83 Bet365 (2 Units)
CSKA Moscow-Wolfsburg Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.80 Stan James (2 Units)
Juventus-Manchester City Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.05 Bet365 (2 Units)
Paris Saint-Germain Win to Nil @ 2.10 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Manchester United - 1.25 Asian Handicap @ 2.10 Bet Victor (2 Units)
Real Madrid Win to Nil @ 4.00 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Monaco @ 1.95 Bet365 (1 Unit)
AZ Alkmaar @ 2.00 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Lazio @ 1.83 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Celtic-Ajax Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.75 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Liverpool - 1 Asian Handicap @ 1.83 Bet Victor (1 Unit)

November Update3-8, - 8.58 Units (21 Units Staked, - 40.86% Yield)

October Final16-25, - 13.51 Units (79.50 Units Staked, - 16.99% Yield)
September Final29-30-3, + 4.18 Units (117.5 Units Staked, + 3.58% Yield)
August Final16-31-1, - 24.34 Units (94 Units Staked, - 25.89% Yield)

Season 2015/1661-86-4, - 33.67 Units (291 Units Staked, - 11.57% Yield)
Season 2014/15159-208-5, - 20.22 Units (647 Units Staked, - 3.13% Yield)
Season 2013/14164-185-3, + 15.84 Units (577 Units Staked, + 2.75% Yield)

Season 2012/13+ 4.42 Units (415 Units Staked, + 1.07% Yield)