12:30 Bournemouth vs Manchester United
15:00 Cardiff vs Leicester
15:00 Newcastle United vs Watford
15:00 West Ham vs Burnley
15:00 Everton vs Brighton
17:30 Arsenal vs Liverpool
19:45 Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Tottenham
15:00 Manchester City vs Southampton
16:00 Chelsea vs Crystal Palace
20:00 Huddersfield vs Fulham
Bournemouth vs Man Utd-2
Cardiff vs Leicester-1/gg
Everton vs Brighton-1X/gg
West Ham vs Burnley-1
Arsenal vs Liverpool-2/gg
Arsenal vs Liverpool: Are Arsenal Premier League title contenders?
Are Arsenal Premier League title contenders? They can certainly test unbeaten Liverpool in Saturday evening’s showdown at the Emirates Stadium.
We should find out a little bit more about the Premier League title race – and the related chase for a top-four spot – on Saturday evening at the Emirates.
At the start of the season, few would have expected Arsenal to have 22 points after 10 games but they have started well under new manager Unai Emery.
They come into this game unbeaten in eight in the league (13 in all competitions) but you can legitimately ask, ‘who have they actually played?’ since their August 18 defeat to Chelsea. Certainly none of the ‘Big Six’.
In the same period, Liverpool have won at Spurs, held Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and drawn at home to Manchester City.
Liverpool firm favourites
Such results show why Liverpool continue their recent dominance of the Gunners by winning the game – Arsenal last beat the Merseysiders in April 2015.
Yet Arsenal are sure to have their backers and a big reason for that is they clearly have a serious goal threat.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored more league goals than any of Liverpool’s renowned front three, while Alexandre Lacazette has also impressed.
Arsenal cut through both Fulham and Leicester recently playing some scintillating football and while clearly they face better quality here, if they can continue to knock the ball around with such confidence, they should trouble a team which has conceded only four goals so far.
How good is Reds’ defence?
When they have faced quality opposition, Liverpool have usually let goals in. They conceded at Spurs and Chelsea, while only a woeful Riyad Mahrez penalty stopped Man City from finding the net against them. In Europe, PSG scored twice at Anfield, while Napoli also breached a backline which has admittedly looked much improved since the arrival of Virgil van Dijk in January.
It is also worth noting that towards the back end of last season, with van Dijk in the ranks, Liverpool conceded at least twice against Manchester United, Spurs, Roma (twice) and Real Madrid.
Whether you put Arsenal in such a bracket is, it’s key to how you will bet in this one, but their attack is more than good enough to find the target.
Whether they can keep Liverpool out is another matter entirely.
Injury concerns for hosts
Arsenal have already conceded 13. They certainly haven’t been helped by injuries and they continue to be a concern ahead of this match.
Of particular significance are problems in the full-back positions with both Hector Bellerin and Nacho Monreal doubtful for this one due to hamstring issues.
Full-back is not an area you want to be papering over cracks in against Liverpool where Sadio Mane and Mo Salah always look ready to wreak havoc. Bellerin’s pace would definitely be a big loss in attempts to deal with the in-form Mane, not to mention marauding left-back Andy Robertson.
Liverpool’s worries are fewer with Jurgen Klopp’s summer business really beginning to bear fruit with Fabinho and Xherdan Shaqiri now looking real starting options.
This is Arsenal’s biggest test for two and a half months and in that period they’ve done almost everything asked of them. It’s not too difficult to draw the conclusion that they are a better side now than they were when losing to Man City and Chelsea in August and expect them to at least challenge the supposedly superior team.
As already suggested, goals can be expected – Arsenal will come up with a strong tactical plan, as City did at Anfield, to thwart their opponents.
For those who like historical stats, the goal totals in the last five meetings between these two have been 6-4-4-7-6.
Arsenal can fight back
So what should be the betting approach to this one?
Arsenal haven’t led at the break in any of their matches thus far with 75% of their goals (18 of 24) being scored in the second half. At the other end, they’ve conceded 62% of goals in the first half.
Liverpool’s stats are almost the complete opposite – they have led at the interval eight times out of 10 so far, while 60% of their goals have come in the first half.
They tend to fly out of the blocks, swamping their opponents with their pressing game, the Anfield clash with Man City being a case in point, albeit strong start wasn’t rewarded with a goal on that occasion.
It is that pressing which is often blamed for Liverpool’s poorer second halves as energy levels drain.
If that happens again, the statistical evidence suggests Arsenal could make them pay.
The Gunners have also shown greater resilience this season – no team has won more points (7) from losing positions.
Bournemouth vs Manchester United: Cherries value to halt Red Devils recovery
In-form Bournemouth take on a tentatively resurging Manchester United at the Vitality Stadium in Saturday’s early live encounter.
Following a 2-1 victory at home to Norwich on Tuesday night, with a somewhat weakened side, Bournemouth have reached the last-eight of the Carabao Cup for the second season in-a-row (where they’ve been drawn away to Chelsea for the second season in-a-row) and following their straightforward 3-0 win at Craven Cottage on Saturday, they’ve now won eight of their last 12 Premier League games and they’ve cemented their position in sixth place in the table.
The Cherries are unbeaten at the Vitality Stadium in their last nine matches in all competitions and they’ll be looking to keep their fourth clean sheet in-a-row in the Premier League for the very first time on Saturday. Has there ever been a better time to be a Bournemouth fan?
The bad news, if indeed there is any, is that they don’t have a great record against Saturday’s opponents, Manchester United. Indeed, it was United, back in April, that were the last team to win at the Vitality and having won their first game against the Red Devils in the Premier League in December 2015, Bournemouth have lost four of their last five against them. A 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in the 2016/17 season being the only reprieve.
United on the road to recovery
After a very shaky start to their Premier League season, which saw the Red Devils lose two of their first three fixtures – away at Brighton and 3-0 at home to Spurs – the ‘United in big trouble’ narrative is starting to lose a bit of oxygen and they’ve lost just one of their last seven Premier League fixtures – away to West Ham at the end of September.
All is far from rosy in the Mourinho camp though. Defeat in the Carabao Cup at home to Derby, along with an uninspiring 0-0 draw with Valencia and a defeat to Juventus in the Champions League at Old Trafford have been disappointing results but since coming back to win 3-2 at home to a dire Newcastle team, having been 2-0 down after 10 minutes on a day rumours were rife that Mourinho was getting the boot, regardless of the result, United are starting to fight for each-other and slowly but surely they’re improving.
They weren’t entirely convincing on Sunday at home to Everton but they ground out a result (won 2-1), with Anthony Martial finding the net for a third Premier League game in-a-row, and they were unlucky not to get all three points at Stamford Bridge two weeks ago when Ross Barkley levelled the game 2-2 in injury time.
There’s no denying that they’re going in the right direction but it’s very easy to pick holes in their performances and their defence is not the only negative. Star striker, Romelu Lukaku, isn’t firing at all and he probably won’t even make the starting line-up again and their reliance on World Cup winner, Paul Pogba, is huge.
Bournemouth the play with draw insurance
Bournemouth can lose Saturday’s tie 3-0 and they’ll still be above United in the table. After ten games last season, the Cherries had just seven points, 12 fewer than their current total after ten, and they’re not just outscoring their opponents, they’re also conceding fewer. Bournemouth’s start to the season has been considerably better than last season’s but United’s has been substantially worse, especially at the back.
After ten games last season United had kept eight clean sheets, this season they’ve kept just one and after ten games last season they’d conceded just four goals, this season they’ve let in 17! The Red Devils first ten games yielded 23 points last season, this time around they’ve accumulated 17.
Both sides are at fascinating junctures. A win for the Cherries will maintain momentum and if they can keep things tight at the back again, belief in Eddie Howe’s more pragmatic approach will strengthen. In contrast, United’s tentative recovery feels fragile and Mourinho isn’t out of the woods yet. He’s drifted from the long odds-on he was matched at to be the Next Manger to Leave but with Manchester City away next up on the fixture list a victory here would be a huge fillip.
Historic form between the two sides is arguably the only way a solid case can be made for the visitors and whether they’re advancing fast enough to be backed here at just a shade of odds-against is highly debatable.
On current form, Bournemouth are arguably the slightly stronger side and it’s tempting to back them to win at almost 3/1 in the outright market but taking the insurance of money back in the Draw no Bet market makes sense.
Even though they’ve scored 19 times already (seven times more than ever before at this stage in the Premier League), Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth are the stingiest they’ve ever been at the back and more than five hours of football have been played since the Cherries last conceded in the Premier League. The goals might not be quite as free-flowing as the stats and markets suggest.
Manchester City v Southampton
Defending champions Manchester City will look to cement their position as Premier League leaders on Sunday afternoon when struggling Southampton arrive at The Etihad.
Riyad Mahrez scored the only goal of the game as Manchester City won 1-0 against Tottenham in a scrappy Monday night encounter to consolidate their position at the top of the Premier League after 10 rounds of action. The Citizens deserved the points but could and should have avoided an anxious finale.
David Silva and Raheem Sterling both spurned second-half opportunities, while Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris saved twice from Sergio Aguero. City restricted Tottenham to limited chances but were fortunate Erik Lamela wasted a golden opportunity in front of an open goal in the dying embers of the encounter, as the ball bobbled up on the terrible pitch.
Nevertheless, Pep Guardiola’s group ground out their 40th Premier League success in 48 matches since the start of last season despite Kevin De Bruyne starting from the bench alongside Leroy Sane. Ilkay Gundogan could return to the starting XI as City prepare for their third fixture in 13 days on Sunday.
Southampton struggling to score
Southampton manager Mark Hughes was left frustrated after seeing his Saints side fail to score for the fifth successive Premier League match when being held to a 0-0 draw with Newcastle at St Mary’s last Saturday. The result means the south coast club are winless in six and entrenched in the bottom-half.
Southampton midfielder Mario Lemina went closest to breaking the deadlock midway through the first half but his clever flick struck the post, whilst Shane Long and Jack Stephens both went close. Visiting goalkeeper Martin Dubravka produced a string of fine saves to preserve Newcastle’s clean sheet.
Hughes’ outfit had 22 attempts in total and reduced the Magpies to zero on-target efforts as their barren streak extended. The visitors may amend their regular 4-4-2 to a more defensively-minded 4-1-4-1 system on Sunday, as they have done when taking on Chelsea and Liverpool already this season.
City to silence the Saints in victory
Manchester City have W7-D1-L1 of their last nine Premier League meetings with Southampton, churning out W7-D1-L0 in their most recent eight contests against the Saints on home soil. The hosts are just 1.12 to extend that hot streak by clinching another three points on Sunday at The Etihad.
Southampton have accrued just nine Premier League victories from 58 outings since the start of last season, failing to score in 26 of those matches. Considering the Saints recent goalscoring woes, plus the fact they’ve scored four of their six goals via long-range efforts or penalties across 15 hours of action, it’s easy to oppose Mark Hughes’ men here.
Southampton are currently scoring via every 24 shots and with City shipping just goals in their opening 10 games – only one side in Premier League history has conceded fewer at this stage.
Chelsea v Crystal Palace: Blues may take time to secure win
Wednesday’s scrappy win in the Frank Lampard Clásico is unlikely to stop Maurizio Sarri ringing the changes on Sunday, but the Italian will no doubt have been pleased enough with what he saw. It’s now 15 games unbeaten since the start of the season, and it’s always helpful to maintain momentum in the cup competitions, especially when it keeps squad players fit and interested.
The Blues now refocus their attention on the Premier League, and with last weekend’s demolition job at Burnley still fresh in the memory, they’ll be confident of adding three more points to their tally against a struggling Crystal Palace side.
The expected return of Eden Hazard, fit again after a minor injury, only furthers their cause; the Belgian has five goals in Chelsea’s last four league games at Stamford Bridge. Pedro is likely to be the man to miss out (he is also nursing a knock), while Álvaro Morata will be hoping to build on a lively display at Turf Moor.
Palace lack goal threat
The season is still young, but Crystal Palace will be relieved that so many other sides are performing so badly. The Eagles have not been impressive since the start of October, the midweek League Cup loss to Middlesbrough their fifth game without a win in all competitions, yet still find themselves up in 14th at the start of the weekend thanks to the travails of Southampton, Newcastle, Huddersfield et al.
Goalscoring continues to be Palace’s biggest weakness: they’ve already drawn six blanks this campaign (all competitions) and two of their seven league goals have been penalties. Much was made of Christian Benteke’s iffy form last term, but Jordan Ayew hasn’t been much of an improvement, and Roy Hodgson must be wondering why none of his midfielders are chipping in in open play; Andros Townsend and James McArthur in particular are well capable of contributing, but are leaving Wilfried Zaha to do too much.
Given the disparity in form between the sides, it’s no shock that Chelsea are firm favourites here. The Blues may have lost two of the last three league meetings between the sides, but they are a different proposition under Sarri and it would take a brave punter to oppose them here.
14:30 Augsburg vs Nuernberg
14:30 Wolfsburg vs Borussia Dortmund
14:30 Bayer Leverkusen vs Hoffenheim
14:30 Bayern Munich vs Freiburg
14:30 Schalke 04 vs Hannover 96
17:30 Hertha Berlin vs RasenBallsport Leipzig
14:30 Borussia M.Gladbach vs Fortuna Duesseldorf
17:00 Mainz 05 vs Werder Bremen
Leverkusen vs Hoffenheim-1/gg
Bayern vs Frieburg-1
Schalke vs Hannover-1
Wolfsburg vs Dortmund-x2/over/gg
Herthaberlin vs Leipzig-1X
Wolfsburg v Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund may have dropped two precious points last weekend, but they have still made a remarkable start to the campaign. New coach Lucien Favre has managed to get his ideas across to his players surprisingly quickly, and there is clear evidence that his carefully coordinated attacking plans are being followed by a group of incredibly talented forwards. Jadon Sancho, Marko Reus, Paco Alcacer and Christian Pulisic (who was excellent in the midweek cup win over Union Berlin) are all thriving, and even Mario Gotze has recently been brought in from the cold.
The defence remains a concern, and it may be the leaks at the back that prevent BVB from taking the Meisterschale away from Bayern. Dortmund have conceded multiple goals in four of their last eight games in all competitions, and it was the late concession of a needless penalty that cost them in the 2-2 draw with Hertha Berlin on Matchday Nine.
Wolfsburg have had a great week. They won 3-0 at Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga, and beat Lower Saxony rivals Hannover 2-0 in the DFB Cup. However, they were comfortably beaten at home by Bayern Munich recently, and they were hammered at the Volkswagen Arena by Dortmund last season. They haven’t won any of their last four home games.
Schalke v Hannover
Schalke are slowly rebuilding their season, and they have plenty of work to do to climb clear of the relegation zone, let alone move closer to the European qualification places. Subsequent goalless draws against Galatasaray and RB Leipzig have shown that Domenico Tedesco’s side can be competitive against good opposition, and a penalty shootout win at Koln in the cup shows they have fighting spirit, but now they must show they can overcome weaker sides in games they are expected to win.
Hannover arrive in Gelsenkirchen having been dumped out of the DFB Cup by local rivals Wolfsburg, and having won just one of their nine league games so far. Coach Andre Breitenreiter is coming under increasing pressure, and a trip to his former club Schalke might not do him any favours. Hannover have taken just a point from their last four Bundesliga away games, and they haven’t won on the road in the top flight for over a year.
Monchengladbach v Fortuna Dusseldorf
It’s been a grim few weeks for Fortuna Dusseldorf. The Bundesliga 2 champions arrived in the top flight on the crest of a wave, but that feelgood factor has largely evaporated. Only goal difference separates F95 from the bottom of the table, they have lost their last five league games, and they have leaked 17 goals in that time. A midweek cup win at Ulm was all very well, but it doesn’t solve any of the club’s major problems.
Borussia Monchengladbach have had a hellish week. They were thrashed 5-0 at home by Rheinland rivals Bayer Leverkusen in the DFB Cup, having lost 3-1 at Freiburg in the Bundesliga. That said, the Foals should be far too strong For Dusseldorf here – they have won their last seven Bundesliga home games, scoring 21 goals in the process, and they are taking on a team that has leaked 21 goals in nine league games.
12:00 Leganes vs Atletico Madrid
15:15 Real Madrid vs Real Valladolid
17:30 Valencia vs Girona
19:45 Rayo Vallecano vs Barcelona
11:00 Eibar vs Deportivo Alaves
15:15 Villarreal vs Levante
17:30 SD Huesca vs Getafe
17:30 Real Sociedad vs Sevilla
19:45 Real Betis vs Celta Vigo
20:00 Espanyol vs Athletic Bilbao
Leganes vs Atl Madrid-X2/gg
Real Madrid vs Real Valladolid-1/over
Valencia vs Girona-1/gg
Rayo Vallecano vs Barcelona-2/gg
Real Madrid v Real Valladolid
Real Madrid parted company with their manager Julen Lopetegui on Monday, bringing to an end one of the great five-month career trajectories in football history. From pain with Spain to his slow-motion march towards the Berbabéu trapdoor, Lopetegui has seen all his dreams go up in smoke in double-quick time. Still, at least Madrid were respectful and classy in their goodbye statement. Oh no, wait.
With their move for Antonio Conte on ice for now – Sergio Ramos will be delighted – Madrid will be led by Santiago Solari this weekend. And while a home game against newly-promoted Real Valladolid looks like the ideal clean slate on paper, Los Merengues would do well not to underestimate their visitors.
With 10 games played, Valladolid sit sixth – just five points off the summit. They’re unbeaten in six and, most stunningly of all, actually sit above their hosts in the Liga table. That clearly has plenty to do with Madrid’s struggles, but it’s a remarkable achievement given the disparity in resources.
Will they win this weekend? It’s unlikely: Madrid shook off some dust in the Copa del Rey in midweek (4-0 vs Melilla) and a new-manager bounce could be in the pipeline. But we don’t expect the away side to be overwhelmed, with a low-scoring game possibly in store. Valladolid’s 10 games have produced just 16 goals (six of them in one game) .
Rayo Vallecano v Barcelona
No Lionel Messi, no problem: that was the bottom line of Sunday’s Clásico, won in thrilling style by Barcelona. The Blaugrana ran riot against their old rivals, putting down a major marker in the title race despite the absence of their talisman.
Messi has made a surprisingly early return to training this week, but won’t play this weekend. That’s probably still just about good news for Rayo Vallecano, but if Luis Suárez is at it again, the relief may be short-lived; the Uruguayan, after a so-so start to the campaign, looked hungry and sharp against Madrid.
Rayo have found the going tough on their return to the big time. Their one win came against fellow new boys Huesca, but it’s been slim pickings since then, and they’re probably going to have to get used to the view from the relegation zone unless an improvement is seen soon.
For all that, Rayo have scored in all but two of their games, and could contribute to an exciting match on Saturday night. Raúl de Tomás has scored in three of his last four home games, picking up from where he left off last season, and will fancy his chances against a Barça defence that always gives up chances.
Ernesto Valverde will recall the players he rested in the Copa del Rey in midweek, and will want to see his side maintain the Clásico momentum ahead of a trip to Internazionale on Tuesday. If they do, the goals could flow.
Villarreal v Levante
Villareal have massively underperformed so far this term, with just two league wins to their name so far. Both of those have come away from home, and results at the Cerámica provide real cause for concern: they’ve claimed two points from a possible 15, scoring just twice. They’re as fragile as their stadium name would suggest.
Their goalscoring hopes haven’t been helped by an injury to Carlos Bacca, while Karl Toko Ekambi is also a doubt this weekend. With the midfield not exactly full of goals, that means a lot rests on the shoulders of Gerard Moreno, who has yet to find his best form.
A midweek Copa del Rey draw with Almería won’t have helped confidence levels, which could be important against a buoyant Levante side. The Frogs have won four league games on the spin and have now collected a whopping 41 points since the arrival of Paco López – more than any club apart from Barcelona in that time period.
Their tails are up, with playmaker José Luis Morales and striker Roger Martí both in fine form. 5.90 is a tempting price for them to win this one, but we’ll play it a bit safer and back them with a goal start on the Asian handicap, meaning we’d only lose if Villarreal triumph by two clear goals or more.
14:00 Inter vs Genoa
17:00 Fiorentina vs Roma
19:30 Juventus vs Cagliari
11:30 Lazio vs SPAL 2013
14:00 Chievo vs Sassuolo
14:00 Sampdoria vs Torino
14:00 Parma Calcio 1913 vs Frosinone
17:00 Bologna vs Atalanta
19:30 Udinese vs AC Milan
Inter Milan vs Genoa-1/over
Fiorentina vs Roma-1X/gg
Juventus vs Cagliari-1/over
Udinese v Milan
There are slim pickings in what looks to be a fairly uninspiring weekend in Serie A, with Roma’s trip to Florence and this game in Udine the two fixtures which stand out.
Based on Milan’s propensity to concede goals, We can back Both Teams To Score here, and that looks to be a fairly healthy proposition. Milan are the only side in Serie A this season not to keep a clean sheet, and there are reasons to think that Udinese can at least score against them.
They have a front line of recent Azzurri debutant Kevin Lasagna and the in form Rodrigo De Paul, and Milan look so vulnerable defensively that you have to believe that Udinese can create chances. But they’re also vulnerable at the back, picking up just one point from their last five games, conceding at least twice in each of those matches.
Milan look solid favourites to win this at around even money, but they’re not a team to rely on, fortunate in the extreme to beat Genoa in midweek, and while I feel that they’re improving, it’s a tortuous process. Julio Velazquez has a tough task on his hands in Udine, and it won’t look any easier come Sunday night.
Chievo v Sassuolo
Poor Chievo remain rooted to the bottom of the table with a negative points total, and yet we can back Sassuolo at odds against to go to the Bentegodi and win. It may seem like an obvious play, but on this weekend of few bets, it’s one that stands out.
Chievo have lost eight of their ten games so far this season, including six in a row before this, and even though they’re unbeaten in their last six in Serie A against Sassuolo, it’s hard to see them coming away from this weekend with anything.
Giampiero Ventura has taken over, and may add stability, his appointment is a particularly positive one, and can only see bad things down the road for the Flying Donkeys.
Sassuolo haven’t won in four, but only last week’s draw against Bologna could be considered a really disappointing result, and they’re playing well enough to win this. Chievo have conceded 26 goals so far this season, the most by any team at this stage since 1992-93, and they just don’t look good enough to survive.
This is an excellent chance for Sassuolo to get their season back on track, and it looks like more misery for Chievo.
16:00 Lyon vs Bordeaux
19:00 Dijon vs Nimes
19:00 Nice vs Amiens
19:00 Reims vs Monaco
19:00 Caen vs Rennes
19:00 Strasbourg vs Toulouse
14:00 Nantes vs Guingamp
16:00 Saint-Etienne vs Angers
20:00 Montpellier vs Marseille
Lyon vs Bordeaux-1
Reims vs Monaco-X2/gg
PSG v Lille
This unlikely top-of-the-table clash ought to demonstrate just how far ahead the rest of the division PSG are. Lille have made a much better start to the season than anybody expected but won’t be any match for Paris at Parc des Princes.
PSG will be close to full strength and should be much too adroit for Lille, whose line-up will include ex-PSG graduate trainees Mike Maignan, Fode Ballo-Toure and Jonathan Ikone. If PSG win they’ll become the first team from one of Europe’s top five divisions to claim 12 straight victories from the start of a season, breaking the record they currently hold jointly with Tottenham Hotspur’s magnificent 1960-61 side.
An emphatic victory is also far more likely than a narrow one: all 11 of PSG’s wins to date have been by a margin of two or more goals, with six by three or more goals. Given their scintillating form the hosts are our Asian Handicap selection. For a full guide to Asian Handicap betting, click here.
Reims v Monaco
Look closely and there’ve been signs of improvement from Monaco since Thierry Henry was appointed manager last month. The ex-Arsenal striker may be still waiting for his first win (W0-D2-L1) but there have been moments of improved resilience from his players.
Monaco earned a respectable 1-1 draw at Bruges in their last Champions League fixture, and came from 2-0 down to finish 2-2 at home to Dijon last weekend. It would have been better if Monaco hadn’t been 2-0 down in the first place, of course, but Henry has admitted it will be a long road to recovery for the Principality outfit after their disastrous start to the campaign.
Reims are the sort of limited side Monaco need to face right now. The hosts are difficult to beat (W3-D5-L3) but have won just one of their last nine fixtures so they’re hardly fearsome opposition.
Reims are Ligue 1’s joint-second-lowest scorers so the Monaco defence should get some respite. At the other end of the field the return from injury of Radamel Falcao – potentially off the bench this weekend – improves Monaco’s firepower.
St Etienne v Angers
This is exactly the sort of game St Etienne need to win to live up to their billing as top-six contenders. Jean-Louis Gasset’s side have shown promising signs in virtually all their matches but too often failed to kill off the opposition.
Les Verts’ build-up play can be lovely to watch, as you’d expect from a side containing Mathieu Debuchy, Yann Mvila, Remy Cabella and Wahbi Khazri. The absence of a penalty-area cutting edge is a concern, however, with St Etienne’s squad short of a single striker you’d back to score 10 goals in a season.
Despite those worries, St Etienne are a solid selection at odds-against. They have good team news, can count on the support of a large and noisy crowd and will be fired-up to collect all three points having conceded a late equaliser in a game they should have won at Nimes (1-1) last weekend.
Unbeaten at home (W3-D2-L0), St Etienne should dominate possession and put Angers under pressure from the start. The limited visitors may be tired after playing in the League Cup on Wednesday night and will struggle to contain the more talented hosts.
17:30 PSV Eindhoven vs Vitesse
17:30 NAC Breda vs Heracles
19:45 Ajax vs Willem II
19:45 AZ Alkmaar vs De Graafschap
11:15 SC Heerenveen vs FC Emmen
13:30 Fortuna Sittard vs PEC Zwolle
13:30 FC Utrecht vs ADO Den Haag
15:45 Feyenoord vs VVV-Venlo
10:30 Kasimpasa vs Antalyaspor
13:00 Akhisarspor vs Erzurum BB
16:00 Istanbul Basaksehir vs Besiktas
10:30 Ankaragucu vs Kayserispor
13:00 Alanyaspor vs Yeni Malatyaspor
16:00 Trabzonspor vs Bursaspor
17:00 Sivasspor vs Konyaspor
17:00 Goztepe vs Rizespor
12:30 St. Mirren vs Rangers
15:00 Hibernian vs St.Johnstone
15:00 Hamilton Academical vs Livingston
15:00 Motherwell vs Dundee FC
15:00 Celtic vs Hearts
12:15 Kilmarnock vs Aberdeen
15:30 Portimonense vs Belenenses SAD
18:00 Maritimo vs FC Porto
20:30 Boavista vs Vitoria de Guimaraes
15:00 Feirense vs Tondela
17:30 Santa Clara vs Sporting CP
20:00 Braga vs Vitoria de Setubal
19:00 Rio Ave vs Nacional
21:15 Chaves vs Aves
RUSSIA Premier League
11:00 Lokomotiv Moscow vs Arsenal Tula
13:30 Dinamo Moscow vs CSKA Moscow
11:00 Zenit St. Petersburg vs FK Akhmat
13:30 FC Krasnodar vs FC Rostov
16:00 Spartak Moscow vs Ural
11:00 FC Orenburg vs Rubin Kazan
13:30 FC Ufa vs Krylya Sovetov Samara
16:00 Anzhi Makhachkala vs FC Yenisey Krasnoyarsk
MORE BETTING TIPS
Blackburn vs QPR-1/gg
Derby vs Birmingham-2
Ipswich vs Preston-1/over/gg
Rotherham vs Swansea-2/gg
Stoke vs Middlesbrough-2/gg
Lokomotiv Moscow vs Arsenal Tula-1
Dinamo Moscow vs CSKA Moscow-gg
Messi Is Not God – Pope Francis Warns Fans On Calling Barcelona Talisman God
Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church believes fellow Barcelona talisman and fellow Argentine Lionel Messi, “is not God”.
Many consider the mercurial South American to be a sporting deity, with his achievements raising the bar of individual excellence.
He is worshipped as a hero by millions around the world and has seen his record-breaking on-field efforts lead to him being showered with praise and major honours – both collective and individual.
A five-time Ballon d’Or winner may not seem human to some, but Pope Francis feels it is wrong to bestow labels of “God” onto those who are mere mortals.
Asked by Spanish television show Salvados on La Sexta whether such a billing for Messi could be considered sacrilegious, as it breaks the third commandment by using the Lord’s name in vain, Pope Francis said: “In theory, it’s a sacrilege.
“You can’t say it and I don’t believe it. I think people say ‘he is God’ just as they say ‘I adore you’. You have to adore only God. “It’s expressions that people use. This is a god with the ball on the pitch. It’s a popular way that people have of expressing themselves.
“Of course, it is a joy [to watch Messi play]. But he is not God.”
Pope Francis is known to be a football fan. He is a member at Argentinian side San Lorenzo, having been born and raised in Buenos Aires, and has mingled with stars of the sporting world in the past.
During the summer of 2013, Messi and the rest of the Albiceleste squad took in a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Barcelona’s superstar forward told reporters the event was “short but beautiful”.
Messi and his international team-mates also sent a signed shirt to Pope Francis on the back of their display at the 2014 World Cup which saw them finish as runners-up to Germany. They are back in the trophy hunt for 2019, with the next staging of the Copa America in Brazil fast approaching.
Messi will be excepted to lead the charge once again for his country in that competition, as he waits on a first senior title with Argentina, but he has recently admitted that the pressure placed on his shoulders and the reaction of those in his homeland to his performances can be difficult to handle at times.
Additional reporting from Goal.com
Uganda Cranes To Bank On Onyango’s Brilliancy Against Tanzania
AFCON 2019 Qualifier Group L:
Sunday, 24th March 2019
Tanzania Vs Uganda Cranes,6:00
CRANES SKIPPER Denis Onyango, currently alias Mr. Clean Sheets in the Africa Cup qualifiers will be determined to extend his record as they take on Tanzania in the last game.
Cranes qualified in November with Patrick Kaddu’s goal ate Namboole and Sebastien Desabre is expected to experiment with some few young players as he prepares for CHAN.
“We have already qualified and one of our tasks is to take a clean-sheet to Egypt but I give a lot of respect to Tanzania,” Onyango said.
Cranes had a week-long camp in Ismailia Egypt and Farouk Miya was the last professional player to arrive in camp from HK Gorica were he does his professional duties. The game will take place on Sunday.
They are 15 foreign-based players summoned by the French tactician Sebastien Desabre.
What Tanzania need;
Tanzania, the hosts only need to beat Uganda and hope Lesotho falter in Cape Verde to qualify.
Lesotho are second in Group L on five points, same as Tanzania but have a better head-to-head record. The two are a massive eight behind Uganda. All three – Lesotho, Tanzania and Cape Verde – can still qualify on the final day.
“All I am asking for is for Tanzanians to continue to supporting Taifa Stars with prayers for the team to down Uganda Cranes and sail through,” chairman of a special committee formed to ensure the Taifa Stars qualify for the finals Paul Mukonda said.
Head To Head:
Uganda 0-0 Tanzania
Uganda 1-1 Tanzania
Tanzania 0-3 Uganda
Uganda 2-2 Tanzania
Uganda 3-1 Tanzania
Tanzania 0-1 Uganda
Tanzania 0-3 Uganda
Players in camp: Defenders: Murushid Jjuuko (Simba, Tanzania), Timothy Awany (KCCA, Uganda), Halid Lwaliwa (Vipers, Uganda), Geofrey Walusimbi (Free Agent), Joseph Ochaya (TP Mazembe, DR Congo), Kirizestom Ntambi (Ethiopian Coffee), Nico Wakiro Wadada (Azam, Tanzania)
Midfielders: Khalid Aucho (Churchhill brothers, India), Hassan Wasswa Mawanda (Free Agent), Tadeo Lwanga (Vipers, Uganda), Ibrahim Sadam Juma (KCCA, Uganda), Moses Waiswa (Vipers, Uganda), Moses Opondo (Vendsyssel FF, Denmark)
Forwards: Faruku Miya (Gorica, Croatia), Emmanuel Arnold Okwi (Simba, Tanzania), Allan Kyambadde (KCCA, Uganda), Allan Okello (KCCA,Uganda), Edrisa Lubega (SV Ried, Austria), Muhammad Shaban (Raja Casablanca, Morocco), Henry Patrick Kaddu (KCCA, Uganda), Milton Karisa (MC Oujda, Morocco).
Senegal vs Madagascar-‘over’
Burundi vs Gabon-1/gg
Cameroon vs Comoros-1
Niger vs Egypt-2
Zambia vs Namibia-2
G.Bissau vs Mozambique-1
Côte d’Ivoire vs Rwanda-1
Ghana vs Kenya-1
Mali vs South Sudan-1
Zimbabwe vs Congo-GG
Congo DR vs Liberia-GG
Central Africa vs Guinea-X1
Benin vs Togo-‘over’/gg info
Tanzania vs Uganda-‘over’
Cape Verde Islands vs Lesotho-GG
Libya vs South Africa-‘over’/gg
Georgia vs Switzerland-‘over’
Gibraltar vs Republic-2
Sweden vs Romaia-X1/GG
By Senior Reprter, Kussam Kalema
AFCON QUALIFIERS: Who Occupies The Last 10 Slots?
Malawi vs Morocco, 4:00
Nigeria vs Seychelles,6:00
Burkina Faso vs Mauritania,8:00
Botswana vs Angola,8:00
Sudan vs E.Guinea,8:00
Tunisia vs Swaziland,9:15
Algeria vs Gambia,10:45
Burundi vs Gabon,4:00
Cameroon vs Comoros,6:00
Niger vs Egypt,6:30
Guinea-Bissau vs Mozambique,7:30
Zambia vs Namibia,7:30
Ivroy Coast vs Rwanda,8:00
Ghana vs Kenya,9:00
Mali vs South Sudan,10:00
Senegal vs Madagascar,5:00
DR Congo vs Liberia,4:00
Zimbabwe vs Congo,4:00
C.A.R VS Guinea,5:00
Cape Verde VS Lesotho,6:00
Tanzania VS Uganda,6:00
Benin VS Togo,6:00
Libya VS South Africa,8:00
AS the last Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers take place this weekend, the Grapevine breaks down all the games of the teams that are fighting for the last 10 slots.
Cameroon will look to secure a place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations when they host the Comoros for their final Group B qualifier. The match is set to be staged at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde on Saturday.
Cameroon come into the match in second place in the standings with eight points from five matches, and they hold a three-point lead over the Comoros.
The Indomitable Lions, therefore, need only a draw to secure a place at the 2019 finals. Cameroon coach Clarence Seedorf says he is working hard at ensuring his team takes full advantage of their strengths and improve their attacking potency.
“Scoring goals comes and goes with time but the most important thing is that we continue creating chances. The entire team must work and we then we have to score goals,” Seedorf told reporters in Yaounde earlier this week.
“We have to improve on our free-kicks and corners. We have to take advantage of our great physical power and the height in the team. This is something we’ve analysed and are keen on improving.”
Comoros coach Amir Abdou has done credible work with his team, he was recently rewarded with a new contract. The very fact that the minnows still have a shot at qualifying heading into the final round of matches is a highly creditable achievement.
Can Aubameyang Save Gabon?
Burundi and Gabon will battle it out for a ticket to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations when they lock horns at the Prince Louis Rwagasore Stadium in Bujumbura on Saturday afternoon. Two points separate the two nations in Group C heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures, with first placed Mali having already booked their place at this year’s showpiece in Egypt.
Burundi head into Saturday’s fixture as clear favourites to confirm their place at a first ever Africa Cup of Nations tournament. The hosts sit two points clear with the Panthers in third and nine ahead of winless South Sudan – who have already been eliminated from qualification contention.
The Swallows will advance to this year’s continental showpiece with either a draw or win, while Gabon need nothing but victory if they are to pip their hosts and join Mali in Egypt.
Joint top-scorer in qualifying Fiston Abdul Razak scored four goals for Burundi in a 5-2 win over South Sudan last time out, to fire his nation onto the cusp of qualification.
Battle For Top Place As Ghana Hosts Kenya
Kenya and Ghana will battle for top spot in 2019 Africa Cup qualifiers slated to take place in Ghana Accra on Saturday.
Both nations have already qualified for the tournament in Egypt, following a qualifying campaign that included the disqualification of Sierra Leone.
The Harambee Stars currently top the group with seven points from three fixtures. Kenya beat Ghana 1-0 in Nairobi lasy year thanks to an own goal from Nicholas Poku in the first half.
By Kussam Kalema, Senior Reporter
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