Weekend Preview – 16/12/16

Highlights

Italian Serie A
Juventus vs. Roma (Saturday 7.45pm)
For the second consecutive week the game of biggest interest comes from Serie A and involves Roma, with Luciano Spalletti’s side heading to Turin to face Juventus. Last time out they overcame Milan 1-0 at home to create daylight between the two teams in second and third, but this time they are looking to reduce the deficit to the only team above them. Juventus have a four point lead and have surprisingly been over the natural goals line in four out of five recent league games, while their team news is improving all of the time with Barzagli back to bolster the defence and Dybala ready to start up front.

Roma are still without Peres and Florenzi, but Salah could make the bench and both Paredes and Totti should be back to add to the options available to the manager. The market currently has the lines set at -0.75 on Juventus and 2.5 goals, which is hard to argue with, and Juventus have been backed in steadily since the open. We would take the hosts on at -0.5 based on their superior team news and because they’ve won their last 24 home league games, but we’ll dodge the total goals.

Recommendation: Juventus -0.5 @ 1.80

English Premier League
Manchester City vs. Arsenal (Sunday 4pm)
Pep Guardiola and his players went some way to quelling the questions around his methods with a 2-0 win over Watford in midweek, but despite a fairly strong performance in terms of territory and chances the result was not completely convincing. City are still without Aguero, Fernandinho and Kompany, while Gundogan has joined them on the sidelines with a knee injury that looks set to keep him out until next season. Arsenal have no Cazorla and continue to miss his creative influence in the middle of the pitch, while Mustafi and Ramsey are both absent again too.

This is not an ideal time for Guardiola’s defence to come up against Wenger’s attack, which makes a goals line of 2.75 look attractive, but we find it difficult to trust either team enough to support them in the Asian Handicap market. Still, if pushed we would back Arsenal for the simple fact that they can be had at +0.5 and have beaten their natural handicap lines 44% of the time this season, compared to City’s measly 31%.

Recommendation: Arsenal +0.5 @ 1.85 and Over 2.75 @ 1.94

French Ligue 1
Monaco vs. Olympique Lyonnais (Sunday 7.45pm)
There is not usually much in Ligue 1 to get the pulse racing, but Monaco continue to surprise and delight this season. They are now averaging 3.12 goals per game following their 0-4 win at Bordeaux, which came off a tiny -0.25 handicap. This was then followed up by a 7-0 demolition of Rennes in the cup on Wednesday, while visitors Lyon were labouring to a penalties defeat to Guingamp at the same time.

Given the respective performance levels of these two sides in 2016/17 it’s a bit of a shock to see Monaco as short as -0.5, but Lyon are in their best run of the season and have a completely healthy squad to choose from. In addition to this the Total Goals line of 2.75 looks a bit off, with basic averages of the two teams closer to 3.5. Unsurprisingly we like the hosts and the overs here.

Recommendation: Monaco -0.5 @ 1.95 and Over 2.75 @ 1.90

Dutch Eredivisie
Ajax vs. PSV (Sunday 3.45pm)
Two of the Netherlands’ three dominant teams meet here, with a draw the outcome that neither want due to Feyenoord hosting Vitesse and being expected to pick up yet another three points. PSV have the momentum in terms of their actual and fair form, which means that an Asian Handicap of -0.25 on Ajax owes everything to their home advantage. The big team news question mark is over Guardado, who has been out since early November but has a chance of making the bench, while for Ajax only Viergever is missing due to suspension. Both sides have come in Under 2.5 a lot more than usual recently, which explains why the line looks low on first sight, and we will back that trend to continue.

Recommendation: Under 2.5 @ 1.95

English Premier League
Everton vs. Liverpool (Monday 8pm)
The first Merseyside Derby of the season sees Everton on a high after their thrilling comeback win over Arsenal, while Liverpool enter off a routine 3-0 victory at Middlesbrough. A natural handicap of -0.5 on the visitors makes sense, given that they are second and Everton eighth, but we like the look of the goals here, which can be bought for close to 1.80. It’s hard to imagine that either side will fail to hit the net, especially if Matip fails to pass fit for Liverpool, and we’ll bank on this game having a decisive outcome instead of ending 1-1.

Recommendation: Over 2.5 @ 1.79

Ones to Watch

German Bundesliga 1
Hoffenheim vs. Borussia Dortmund (Friday 7.30pm)
Dortmund continue to flounder this season, sitting in sixth ahead of their trip to the surprisingly high-flying Hoffenheim. The market has set this one at +0.5 on the hosts and with a goals line of 3.25, and we feel like Hoffenheim on the double chance represents solid value on form.

Recommendation: Hoffenheim +0.5 @ 2.05

German Bundesliga 1
Leipzig vs. Hertha BSC (Saturday 2.30pm)
The other game of interest in the Bundesliga revolves around whether Leipzig can bounce back from their first defeat of the season by beating Hertha, who are right behind them in the table. With Compper back we think this is probable, but are not confident enough off a -0.75 mark.

Recommendation: N/A

Spanish Primera Division
Barcelona vs. Espanyol (Sunday 7.45pm)
Both teams are near enough full strength for the Catalan Derby, with Neymar back from suspension for the hosts and Leo Baptistao expected to pass fit for the visitors. Perez could miss out with a knock, but even if he does we still like Espanyol to beat the +2.75 handicap.

Recommendation: Espanyol +2.75 @ 1.83

Portuguese Primeira Liga
Sporting CP vs. Sporting Braga (Sunday 8.15pm)
The home side unluckily lost their big game with league leaders Benfica last weekend and should be fully motivated to make amends against a manager-less Braga side, who are occupying their typical spot of fourth. At first glance the -1.25 looks wide, but we’ll gladly take on the -1 instead.

Recommendation: Sporting CP -1 @ 1.70

Australian A-League
Melbourne City vs. Melbourne Victory (Saturday 8.50am)
The second Melbourne Derby of the season unsurprisingly has the home side on a -0.25 handicap, with a typical A-League goals line of 2.75. City’s Cahill being a doubt is the biggest worry for this recommendation, but Kamau is set to return and Rojas has passed fit for the visitors.

Recommendation: Over 2.75 @ 1.95

*Odds accurate at time of writing

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