Weekend Preview – 21/10/16

Highlights

English Premier League
Chelsea vs. Manchester United (Sunday 4pm)
Jose Mourinho is again the man in the spotlight this weekend, which is just how he likes it. The Portuguese takes his United team to Stamford Bridge for the first time and it will be interesting to see what kind of reaction he gets. It will be even more interesting to see how he sets his team up, as he may not wish to be predictable and name the exact same eleven as for Monday’s successful trip to Anfield. They should still adopt a similar approach against another high-level opponent who, like Liverpool, also play three in attack, but they are sweating on the fitness of Smalling and his absence could be significant.

Meanwhile Chelsea rightly brushed Leicester aside on Saturday, scoring early from a corner and then never looking back. Antonio Conte has found comfort in his favoured 3-4-3 formation, with the influence of Moses down the right being especially noticeable. He and Pedro terrorised Leicester, freeing up space for Costa and Hazard to do the damage in the first half. Ultimately, backing Mourinho to repeat his trick as a big game underdog seems sensible enough here, but real comfort could be found in the under 2.25 line.

Italian Serie A
Milan vs. Juventus (Saturday 7.45pm)
In years past this would have been an enormous fixture and undoubtedly top of our pile, but the shine has most certainly worn off in recent times. However, Milan are looking revitalised and can welcome star striker Bacca back from injury as they seek to leapfrog Roma into second with a surprise win. In addition to this the hosts have also had the benefit of a free week due to a rare season without European football, while Juventus were winning a tough match with Lyon in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

The visitors really aren’t producing their best performances in the league at the moment, but they keep getting results and are comfortably topping the table yet again. A trip to an in-form Milan will ensure the strongest line-up possible, which should mean returns for Alves, Bonucci, Khedira, Pjanic and Higuain. Despite this, the -0.75 Asian Handicap line in favour of Juventus looks punchy and there could be some merit in backing the home side at that level, with the under 2.5 also favoured.

Spanish Primera Division
Sevilla vs. Atletico Madrid (Sunday 3.15pm)
The big shame of this game is that it overlaps with Chelsea versus Man Utd, because it should be a fascinating watch. Both clubs have fully fit squads, meaning they could – and should – name their absolute best elevens, while both are coming into it on the back of significant travel in the Champions League during the week. Sevilla have the benefit of an extra day to prepare in addition to home advantage, but the hugely in-form Atletico are still favoured by the odds makers to the tune of a -0.5 handicap. There is absolutely no doubt that Atletico are the pedigree side in the contest, but it is hard to be truly confident in them at that mark. It may be cliché to say in a fixture involving Simeone’s team, but perhaps looking at the under 2.25 (or even 2.5 @ 1.84) is the way to go in these circumstances.

Netherlands Eredivisie
Feyenoord vs. Ajax (Sunday 1.30pm)
Much like the Sevilla match, what makes this one so exciting is that there appears to be so little to separate the teams. Feyenoord are top with a perfect record of 27 points, while their Europa game on Thursday night was at home. Ajax are not far behind their arch rivals in the standings (5 points), but had a punishing 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo and might be without the in-form Schöne here. This means that the -0.25 handicap awarded to Feyenoord looks fair – even slightly attractive – though they would probably take a draw if offered one. If Schöne passes fit then we would probably steer clear, but if he misses out then there could be some value in backing the hosts DNB.

French Ligue 1
PSG vs. Olympique Marseille (Sunday 7.45pm)
Once upon a time this would have been the marquee game of the French season, but Marseille are such a pale shadow of their former selves these days that anything but a PSG win would be a big surprise. The hosts are at full strength and should take the game seriously, while the visitors have been given a huge boost by the completion of their US takeover and Rudi Garcia being appointed as their new manager. In the circumstances we like the look of over 3 goals here, because neither side will lie down and both are better when attacking.

Ones to Watch

United States MLS
LA Galaxy vs. Dallas / Colorado Rapids vs. Houston Dynamo (Sunday 9pm)If Colorado achieve anything less than a win then Dallas will take the MLS Supporters’ Shield. They also need to rack up the goals in case Galaxy hold the Texans to a draw, which should make for a great spectacle.

Norwegian Tippeligaen
Brann vs. Molde (Saturday 5pm)
Molde are still in with a chance of third and finally building momentum, which could spell trouble for second-placed Brann.

Austrian Bundesliga
Rapid Wien vs. Austria Wien (Sunday 3.30pm)
Rapid won the first Vienna derby of the season 1-4 in enemy territory and are substantial favourites for this one.

Greek Super League
Olympiakos Piraeus vs. PAOK (Sunday 6.30pm)
PAOK have high hopes this season and are unbeaten, with our Fair Score system believing they should have a perfect record.

Swiss Super League
Lausanne Sport vs. Sion (Sunday 3pm)
Second host third, with Lausanne suffering from poor team news and Sion on a deserved unbeaten run in their last six.

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