Weekend Preview 31/03/17

Highlights

English Premier League
Arsenal vs. Manchester City (Sunday 4pm)
Sky Sports 1
Club football returns with a couple of massive games from the English Premier League, beginning in North London at The Emirates. Given Chelsea’s dominance in the table this fixture is more pertinent for the battle for a top four spot than the title race, but the on-going drama surrounding Wenger still makes it essential viewing. The Frenchman welcomes back Ozil but is without the reliable Cech, while Cazorla continues to be missed in the centre of the park. Ospina never really convinces and this is immediately a good psychological boost to City, who are only without Gundogan and Jesus again.

It seems like Guardiola has a few of his key starters not at full capacity, while there is also the distraction of a trip to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night for the visitors to contend with, but there should be no question about rotation given the current circumstances in the standings. With City expected to be at absolute full strength and looking more and more dangerous up top, we have to back them on the handicap in addition to taking the overs, with the big hope that their finishing isn’t as poor as it was against Liverpool last time out!

Suggestion: Manchester City DNB @ 1.70 and Over 2.75 @ 1.78

English Premier League
Liverpool vs. Everton (Saturday 12.30pm)
Sky Sports 1
The next big stop in England is the Merseyside Derby, which looked so nicely poised until the recent bout of negative team news that has taken the shine off it a little bit. Lallana has joined captain Henderson on the sidelines for Liverpool, while Everton are without Coleman, McCarthy, Schneiderlin and Funes Mori after a disastrous international break for Ronald Koeman. With Jurgen Klopp missing two of his key men and his Dutch counterpart missing three automatic starters plus a direct backup, things are pretty even in terms of an overall negative, which makes the Asian Handicap line hard to stomach.

Taking everything into consideration we priced this up as a much more even contest, but the market seems to be penalising Everton’s news more harshly than Liverpool’s. As such there is definite value in taking the visitors on a massive +1 line, while there’s a big temptation to combine this with an Under 3 trade. However, as this effectively doubles the risk of a tight, low-scoring encounter then it’s best left to the brave.

Suggestion: Everton +1 @ 1.72

Italian Serie A
Napoli vs. Juventus (Sunday 7.45pm)
BT Sport 1
Serie A has arguably been the most entertaining league to watch this season and there’s yet another huge encounter this weekend, as leaders Juventus head to third place Napoli, who are still just about in the title race. What gives this one an extra edge is that the same two teams meet at the same venue three days later for the second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final (which Juventus lead 3-1).

Napoli are currently ten points off Allegri’s men and so have to go all out for the win, while Juventus could probably settle for the draw that would keep Roma at least six points behind in second. The team news sees the home side set to be full strength, while Juve have big concerns over Dybala and Mandzukic, with the former set to start on the bench for a big offensive weakening. The improving Pjaca is also absent.

Suggestion: Napoli DNB @ 1.80 

Dutch Eredivisie
Ajax vs. Feyenoord (Sunday 1.30pm)
Sky Sports 5
This is the game that could decide where the Eredivisie title ends up this season and is another huge test for Feyenoord, who effectively knocked PSV out of the race in the last big game we highlighted from the Netherlands a few weeks ago. This time around their task looks harder but it is priced as such, with Ajax currently half-goal favourites. The visitors are missing Vilhena, Elia and Kongolo for an overall weakening, while star striker Dolberg is a 50/50 doubt for Ajax and would move the line massively if not in the starting eleven. We’ll gamble on him missing out or not being quite fully fit by backing Feyenoord to get the draw that would pretty much seal their first championship since 1998.

Suggestion: Feyenoord +0.5 @ 1.96  

Portuguese Primeira Liga
Benfica vs. Porto (Saturday 8.30pm)
BT Sport ESPN
Porto are right behind Benfica in the table, with just one point separating the city rivals. That sets this game up beautifully and both teams being almost completely healthy helps things too. Benfica look set to be without Grimaldo again, but Porto are recovering Pereira and can name their strongest eleven in their usual 4-4-2. In fact this looks set to be 4-4-2 against 4-4-2 and with both sides in almost identical form and with everything to play for it should be a cracker. We don’t think there’s anything to separate them, so we’ll back Porto on a plus handicap.

Suggestion: Porto +0.25 @ 1.81

Ones to Watch

German Bundesliga 1
Hertha BSC vs. Hoffenheim (Friday 7.30pm)
BT Sport 2
Two of the three big surprise packages in Germany meet again and are effectively going head-to-head for the final Champions League place. Naturally it’s incredibly even, being priced DNB, but Hoffenheim currently have an advantage of five points and could happily take a draw, so we’ll go with the unders.

Suggestion: Under 2.5 @ 1.80

English Championship
Reading vs. Leeds United (Saturday 5.30pm)
Sky Sports 1
There have been a number of huge games in the Championship play-off race recently and this is no different, with fourth hosting fifth. Neither side are completely cemented in the top six just yet and so neither can afford to lose, which makes the small goal line look quite attractive.

Suggestion: Over 2 @ 1.78

French Ligue 1
Nice vs. Bordeaux (Sunday 8pm)
BT Sport Extra
Nice are desperately clinging onto the coattails of Monaco and PSG, but have lost ground lately due to poor team news above all else. They are without Cyprien, Plea and Baysse here, while Bordeaux are in their best form of 2016/17 and fully capable of getting at least a draw.

Suggestion: Bordeaux +0.25 @ 1.96

German Bundesliga 2
Hannover 96 vs. Union Berlin (Saturday 12pm)
Bet365
This is a very big fixture in terms of the title race, with Hannover the pre-season favourites but Union currently leading the pack. The hosts have a new manager bounce, but the visitors have deservedly won six in a row and can currently be backed on a small plus handicap.

Suggestion: Union Berlin +0.25 @ 1.93

Austrian Bundesliga
Rheindorf Altach vs. Salzburg (Sunday 3.30pm)
Bet365
The big surprise at this stage of the season is that Salzburg are only seven points ahead of second place Altach. This looks a difficult trip for the leaders, but their hosts have stuttered lately and are not in the same class, while they also have the poorer team news.

Suggestion: Salzburg -1 @ 1.99

*Odds accurate at time of writing

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