English Premier League
Arsenal 1-1 Tottenham Hotspur (Sunday 12pm)
This North London derby swung back and forth nicely in terms of momentum but was most notable for the excellent tactical approach adopted by visiting coach Pochettino. The Argentinian showed bravery to switch to a three-man defensive line, bringing in Wimmer alongside Dier and Vertonghen, while releasing his full-backs to play much more attacking roles. The rest of the side had a familiar look to it, with Dembele continuing to provide a talismanic presence in central midfield. The Belgian had an excellent game, but there were not too many a white shirt who didn’t.
Arsenal were almost at full strength but lacked rhythm for much of the contest, with the omission of Giroud raising some eyebrows after his last display from the bench in the league. From a trading perspective it was quite a difficult one to work in terms of Asian Handicaps and Total Goals due to the tightness and overall lack of chances, but a dearth of corners in the first half an hour meant that an opportunity opened up there following the first goal. The lesson here is that there is always something to trade on, even if you can’t find any joy on the biggest markets.
Spanish Primera Division
Sevilla 1-2 Barcelona (Sunday 7.45pm)
Sevilla were unable to repeat their trick of beating a title contender at their own game, although they played a full part in a very entertaining contest here. It was our belief that it would be tight and likely to be decided by one goal, which meant that backing Sevilla +1 returned stake, while our liking for the under 3.5 line actually paid off despite there being enough chances in the game for more than three goals.
The pattern of the contest was set due to Vitolo’s early opener, which meant that Barcelona had no choice but to throw caution to the wind at some stage. Without Pique and Alba they were always liable to concede chances at the other end, but a piece of finishing brilliance from Messi and a Suarez goal pulled them through and they probably should have scored one more on the balance of play. That is not to say that Sevilla did not have openings too, however, with N’Zonzi heading a corner wide from six yards with the goal gaping.
Portuguese Primeira Liga
Porto 1-1 Benfica (Sunday 6pm)
Our opinion on this one was that it was just too close to call, given the visitors’ better pedigree but poor teams news and the hosts being at full strength but also being named favourites by the market. Ultimately the outcome was as close as we had expected it to be, although our analyst fair score had the home side winning 1-0 on virtue of the opportunities they were able to fashion in the first half.
In the end it ended up being a half win for Benfica and a half loss on the suggestion of over 2.25 being worth a look due to the possible volatility of an early goal, although when Diogo Jota gave Porto the lead shortly after half time it did look to be on the cards. In the end Benfica left it until stoppage time to equalise from a corner, with substitute Lisandro Lopez scoring.
Lillestrom 1-0 Molde / Rosenborg 2-1 Bodo/Glimt / Tromso 3-1 Odd / Stabaek 3-0 Start (Sunday 5pm)
The final day in Norway was a little less hectic than the final day in Sweden in terms of goals, but it was still packed with drama at the top and bottom of the table. Lillestrom and Tromso both survived thanks to home wins over sides much higher in the league who had apparently switched off for the break a week too early, while Stabaek did what was necessary against bottom club Start and champions Rosenborg held up their end of the bargain to consign Bodo/Glimt to automatic relegation. Our view was that not much would change at in the relegation fight, as we expected that Bodo/Glimt might take a point, but at least we were right to believe both Lillestrom and Tromso would be safe.
English Premier League
Chelsea 5-0 Everton (Saturday 5.30pm)
Chelsea went to the top of the table on Saturday evening after a thrilling win over Everton, keeping their fifth clean sheet in succession and looking every inch a title challenger. Conte has happened upon a great blend and was able to name an unchanged team yet again, while Koeman’s visitors definitely missed the energy and industry of Gueye in midfield. We liked the home team at -1 and were comfortable after twenty minutes, with Everton’s decision to switch to a five-man defence backfiring. Truthfully they would have struggled to cope with this version of Chelsea in any shape, however.
Ones to Watch
Helsingborg 2-0 Jonkopings Sodra / Ostersunds FK 2-4 Gefle (Sunday 2pm)
Helsingborg and Gefle went head-to-head to make the relegation play-off instead of going down automatically and both continued their excellent late season form with wins. Gefle in particular caught the eye with their performance, but still drop out of Allsvenskan.
AZ 2-2 Ajax (Sunday 1.30pm)
This always looked a tough ask for Ajax off the back of their Europa League exploits, especially with AZ at full strength for the first time in a while. Our suggestion of backing the hosts at +0.5 deservedly paid off.
Bristol City 0-2 Brighton & Hove Albion (Saturday 5.30pm)
Chris Hughton’s team produced a very professional performance to take maximum points from one of the toughest away trips in the Championship. Their early goals meant that our suggestion of backing them early at DNB never looked in any doubt.
German Bundesliga 2
Eintracht Braunschweig 2-2 Hannover 96 (Sunday 12.30pm)
We thought the timing of this game suited the hosts and they really should have beaten the -0.25 Asian Handicap, creating much higher quality chances than Hannover throughout and ultimately deserving a 2-1 victory according to our analyst fair score.
Turkish Super Lig
Galatasaray 1-2 Istanbul Basaksehir (Friday 5pm)
Sneijder, Balta and Inan did all pass fit and the line did move to -0.5, which made Basaksehir even more of a value bet at kick-off. The surprise league leaders continued their immense start with a hard-fought and deserved win.