Safe bets on Real Madrid, Chelsea

Gareth Bale is in goal-scoring form for Chelsea. Agency Photo.

What you need to know:

So the adage that it never rains but it pours is true after all. Slumping Man United host resurgent Newcastle, without Wayne Rooney. Just where are the goals going to come from? Where is the drive, inspiration, leadership, creativity going to? Lovers and haters alike will be curious, yet somehow United will find a way not lose this one.

Premier League
Arsenal vs. Everton
The ink has not yet dried on the stamp of proof that Everton are every bit as good as the big boys this season. Problem is, they had to dig deep to beat Man United, and it would be asking too much for them to replicate that at the Emirates four days later. Arsenal were not too stretched on Wednesday, with Giroud, Walcott, Wilshere, Arteta and Gibbs starting on the bench. That will tell. Home win

Stoke vs. Chelsea
It was uncharacteristic of Chelsea to let in three at Sunderland, but Jose Mourinho’s men will thankfully find that Stoke are not that free scoring lately. With Arsenal blowing hot and not breaking stride at the top at the moment, Mourinho will be intent on not allowing his side to blink either. Away win

Liverpool vs. West Ham
They have had an extra day of rest, but West Ham will hardly find that to be an advantage at Anfield where Liverpool will be playing a second home game in a row. They are bound to pay extra attention to Luis Suarez for obvious reasons, but will find themselves a bit short on the quality required for a result. Home win

Southampton vs. Man City
Southampton’s flying start to the season now seems to be a thing of the past as they have lost three on the trot. By contrast Man City have now got into their true element, their play in free flow and the goals flowing in too. In a game of two good footballing sides, City’s superior quality is likely to make the difference. Away win

Sunderland vs. Spurs
The goals are beginning to trickle in, three of their last four coming from open play. But those strikes against Man United and Fulham were all from long range, meaning there is still work to do breaking down defences and making easier chances. If that doesn’t begin to happen at Sunderland, I don’t see Spurs winning over there.

Man United vs. Newcastle
So the adage that it never rains but it pours is true after all. Slumping Man United host resurgent Newcastle, without Wayne Rooney. Just where are the goals going to come from? Where is the drive, inspiration, leadership, creativity going to? Lovers and haters alike will be curious, yet somehow United will find a way not lose this one. Winning is another matter altogether though.

Serie A
Bologna vs. Juventus
The Old Lady has gathered pace now, and even if the old wise head of Andrea Pirlo will be absent for this one I don’t see ‘her’ being slowed down at this rate. This is by no means a foregone conclusion mind, but traditionally there is no better club at grinding out results in Italy. Away win

Livorno vs. AC Milan
The recovery is painfully slow, but AC Milan are steadily on the mend. Mario Balotelli, Kaka, Robinho and Montolivo are beginning to look lively again, and Livorno are likely to get a good feel of that. They are far from consistent yet and remain a hard team to bet on in the current circumstances, but I fancy them for an away win.

Bundesliga
Bremen vs. Bayern
There was a time when this clash was a title decider in Germany, but not for a long while now. Bremen have fallen on hard times in recent seasons, and have fallen 22 points behind Bayern after just 14 games. They’ve shown they’re still capable of stirring themselves up for the big ones, but this is way too big. Away win

Dortmund vs. Leverkusen
They both have Champions League deciders to think about in midweek, but being that close together in the Bundesliga table means they will take this seriously enough. Dortmund perhaps more so, for they have to claw back Leverkusen’s three point advantage and cannot afford to slip further behind leaders Bayern. Home win

Ligue 1
PSG vs. Sochaux
With the games coming thick and fast, Laurent Blanc gets the opportunity to rotate his wealthy squad and give some starved stars some playing time. That will be to the disadvantage of opponents, including Sochaux. ‘Over’

Monaco vs. Ajaccio
Monaco have not be scoring as many goals as the richness of the talent in their squad suggests they should, but this is one in which they could begin to correct that anomaly. ‘Over’

La Liga
Osasuna vs. Madrid
Last week I talked about Real Madrid’s other stars being unshackled by the absence of their superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, and so it turned out to be. There are whispers that he might be returning to the fold, but whether he does or not, Bale, Benzema, Di Maria, Isco and co should get the job done. Away win

Barcelona vs. Villarreal
This is one in which the Barcelona players cannot afford to look as tired as they have been lately, and as listless without Messi as they appear presently, for Villarreal would stun them at the Camp Nou. I doubt they will allow that though. Home win

Malaga vs. Getafe:
Draw

Almeria vs. Espanyol:
Away win

Sociedad vs. Betis:
Home win

Sevilla vs Bilbao:
Draw

Scotland:
Motherwell vs. Celtic:
‘Over’

Netherlands:
Utrecht vs. Nijmegen:
‘Over’

Ajax vs. NAC Breda:
Home win

Alkmaar vs. Twente:
‘Over’

PSV vs. Vitesse:
‘Over’

Waalwijk vs. Cambuur:
Home win

Heerenveen vs. Feyenoord:
‘Over’

Portugal
Benfica vs. Arouca:
‘Over’

Porto vs. Braga:
Home win

Gil Vicente vs. Lisbon:
Away win

Russia
Zenit vs. Ural:
‘Over’

Krasnodar vs. CSKA: Moscow
Away win

Lokomotiv Moscow vs. Rubin Karzan:
Draw

Turkey
Galatasaray vs. Elazigspor:
‘Over’

Caykur Rizespor vs. Fenerbahce:
‘Over’

Argentina
Boca vs. Gimnasia La Plata:
Home win

Velez Sarsfield vs. San Lorenzo:
‘Over’

Quilmes vs. River Plate:
‘Over’

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