Barty, Ashleigh v Osaka, Naomi
Barty to turn the heat up on Osaka
Ashleigh Barty is from Australia , aged 21 and at her highest rank of 17 in the world . She plays very well on hardcourts with a record of 28 and 8 on that surface , last year . She had a very successful 2017 , appearing in 3 finals , KL where she won , then Birmingham and Wuhan where she was a runner-up . She has started slowly in both her opening matches but won in 3 sets in each case . She was in the final in Sydney , last week , losing to a resurgent Kerber . In the semi versus Gavrilova she again dropped the first set but responded well to crowd support . Barty stopped playing tennis a few years ago to take up cricket ! Fortunately she has returned to her first love .
Naomi Oasaka is from Japan , aged 20 and ranked 72 in the world . She has been ranked as high as 40 which she achieved in October 2016. She is tall at 5 foot 11 (1.80) and hits the ball very hard . Her father is from Haiti and mother from Japan and lives in Japan . She plays well on all surfaces but had a poor year in 2017 , managing just 2 1/4 final places . This year she lost to Putintseva in Hobart but has not dropped a set in 2 wins here in Melbourne .
In head to heads Barty leads 1-0 having won their match in Acapulco in 2014 .
Slight value for Barty
Barty 1.43 v Osaka 3.25
Both these sides managed two famous wins earlier this week, both cup games. Espanyol defeated Barcelona 1-0 and Sevilla won away to Atletico Madrid 2-1.
Sevilla impressed hugely against a full strength, fully motivated home team while Espanyol faced a much changed Barcelona side with their talisman Messi playing rather poorly. Messi missed a second half penalty and after the penalty miss, or the D Lopez save, Espanyol smelled blood and went for the win. Their winning goal arrived very late in the game.
J Oblak did not play for Atletico Madrid and he would probably have done better than their stand in keeper, but make no mistake, Sevilla were full value for their win. Next week the second legs will take place.
I have to trust what I saw in midweek and Montella’s Sevilla must be expected to win this league game.
The second half of the season will prove to be an intense battle for Brighton and its all about staying clear of the relegation zone. As more established Premiership teams have started picking up points on a regular basis the future looks quite grim for teams like Brighton and Huddersfield.
Brighton are still no pushovers in their home games with 3-6-2 this far, but they need more wins of course.
The Chelsea players looked tired at home to Leicester (0-0) and I guess we all had expected a rather lukewarm Chelsea performance against Leicester. In midweek they played against Norwich in the cup (win after penalties) and next week, after this league game vs Brighton, they will face Arsenal in the League Cup semi final again.
Both A Morata and and Pedro will be suspended for this game, but they hope to have C Fabregas fit for tomorrow’s fixture. M Batshuayi could be their front runner in this match and there is a chance that R Barkley will be involved.
Chelsea have not been at their best for quite some time now and they have scoring problems.
Would it not be better for all parties if Wenger finished his job once and for all at Arsenal? Bournemouth did not need to play a strong game at home to Arsenal at the weekend to win the match 2-1. If that is not worrying, what is?
Monreal, Koscielny and M Özil are all expected back for this game and A Ramsey we already saw last week. When the A Sanchez deal will be finalised then Arsenal will have a new player, the Armenian ace Mkhitaryan.
Crystal Palace were troubled by injuries at home to Burnley, but thanks to a strong first half they managed to win the match 1-0. One or two of their injured players have a good chance of returning for this game. Loftus-Cheek has the best chance of coming back.
Arsenal remain strong at the Emirates with 8-2-1 so far and I accept their status as big favourites in this match, but actually backing the low priced Gunners?
No, thank you.
Without a win six league games the Burnley coach Dyche remains perfectly calm. He was pleased with their second half display away to Crystal Palace with Burnley dominating the second half without finding the Palace net. N’Koudou, their new winger, could start in this match and their striker C Wood may recover in time. S Ward and S Arfield continue to be major injury doubts.
Burnley were close to defeating Man United at Old Trafford recently (2-2) and they will have no special respect for United tomorrow.
United have hit some kind offensive form again, but trusting their defence is out of the question. Stoke could/should have scored one or two goals in the first half of their game against United at the Old Trafford. United were better at taking their chances and they won the match 3-0. A Young will be back from his suspension for this match and at the moment United seem to be in excellent shape at least from an offensive perspective.
United will most likely win this game.
Winless in their last five league games the Allardyce effect has worn off for Everton. One goal is all they have scored in these five games and they were not even close against Tottenham at the weekend (0-4). OK, they had one big chance when the score line was still 0-0, but the Rooney goal was ruled offside.
C Tosun played his first game upfront for Everton and what I saw from him, he will soon be able to prove his worth for the club. T Walcott, who has joined from Arsenal, is in line for his debut in this match
WBA won at home to Brighton and it was the first league win for new coach A Pardew. A 1-1 draw vs Arsenal, unlucky last minute winning goal for West Ham, yes and a 0-0 draw at home to this Everton side. WBA are, if nothing else, not so easy to defeat since Pardew took over the managerial seat.
WBA dominated hugely at home to Everton just recently and Pardew will remind his players of their superiority in that game.
The value is on the home win.
Clearly the better side in the first half Leicester had to accept that their game at Chelsea was 0-0 at half time. In the second half they were down to ten men and it was easier, I guess, to stomach the 0-0 result despite their commanding first half. B Chilwell will be back from his suspension for this match. R Huth and D Simpson will probably be sidelined for an additional week.
Harsh words were said at half time and Watford came back from 0-2 down to drawing their home game against Southampton 2-2. They lost T Cleverley to an injury and he will join their already lengthy injury list. W Hughes and C Cathcart both have a slight chance of being available for this fixture.
Just recently Leicester lost 1-2 at Vicarage Road and they are of course looking for revenge tomorrow.
I need evens to actually back the home win.
Steven Ireland has not played for ages and he can be forgiven for missing a couple of good scoring chances against Man United. He was very active in the game, at least in the first half and another new player was their wing back M Bauer, who worked his socks off and never seemed to tire.
R Shawcross has returned to training, G Johnson as well and also E Pieters will be back in contention tomorrow. The Greek left back Stafylidis has joined Stoke. P Lambert is now the Stoke coach and this will be his first game as their boss. He was watching from the stands at Old Trafford. Lambert did an outstanding job at Norwich, but it has never worked properly for Lambert at other clubs. No doubt this is his chance of staging a famous come back.
Being a Huddersfield supporter I would fear for the future. They are 0-3-2 in their last five league games and they have not faced any of the top teams and their 1-4 home loss against West Ham was an awful result. Their new players Pritchard and Kongolo could earn their first starting roles tomorrow.
My choice will be the home win for Lambert and his Stoke.
The Arnautovic-Lanzini combination is the new hit for West Ham and the duo helped the Hammers to a 4-1 win away to Huddersfield. Is there room for A Carroll and M Antonio? Of course, but the injured duo were not missed at all at Huddersfield. They will miss out again along with W Reid. Kouyate and Chicharito should be OK.
These two teams played out a very entertaining 3-3 draw around Christmas. Bournemouth could/should have more goals in that game, but at the same time they were lucky scoring their third goal of the game.
Both these sides were involved in cup games in midweek. Bournemouth made my day by losing to Wigan with their starting line up not up to standard.
J King and J Stanislas are the ones that coach Howe is waiting for?
Backing West Ham.
There is no love between the supporters of these two sides.
Leeds are always winning at home to Millwall, but they end up on the losing side away to Millwall. Must have something to do with the special atmosphere in the stands. Leeds need to win this game after a couple of disappointing results. Their situation is not the best as both their midfielders E O’Kane and S Saiz will be suspended.
Leeds have reacted by recruiting the Middlesbrough midfielder A Forshaw and he will most likely be ready to make his full debut in this match. P Cibicky is an injury doubt. Another new player, the Belgian full back De Bock, could also make his debut for Leeds in this match.
Millwall are and have always been one of those special teams meaning that they almost refuse to win away games.
This season they are 0-6-7 on their travels.
Big price on the home win and it will be my choice.
Guardiola’s City have not been at their best lately and their loss against Liverpool came as no big surprise. Amazing team, even when they are not functioning properly they were able to score three goals against Liverpool (3-4). They lost their wing back F Delph to an injury and he will be missing for a while.
Newcastle were better than Swansea and their only goal was scant reward for their performance. They have to start taking their chances in must win home games like their game vs Swansea and it is a fact. D Gayle is a doubtful starter.
Kontaveit, Anett v Suarez Navarro, Carla
Carla is the call
Carla Suarez-Navarro is from Spain , aged 29 and ranked 39 in the world .She has been ranked as high as 6 which she achieved in February of 2016 . Her best surface is clay and although originally from the Canary Island she moved to Barcelona in 2005 to train at the academy there . She has won 2 WTA titles , the first in Oeiras on clay , the second in Doha on hardcourts . She has a very stylish one handed back-hand but at 5 foot 4 (1.62m) her serve is not her strongest weapon . Coming from the Canary Islands she is well adapted to the heat should the temperature start rising again .
Anett Kontaveit is from Estonia , aged 22 and ranked 33 in the world . She has been ranked as high as 27 in July of 2017 . Grass is her best surface with hardcourts coming in third . However she was in the final in Biel on hardcourts , last year in April and in July won the tournament on grass in Holland . A week later she was in another final in Gstaad where she lost to Bertens on clay . After that she played poorly for the rest of the season , managing just 2 wins against lesser known players .
In head to heads Suarez-Navarro leads 1-0 although that win came 7 years ago .
Slight value for Suarez-Navarro
Suarez-Navarro 2.18 v Kontaveit 1.80
Down to ten men for the entire second half Atalanta offered a very impressive performance away to Roma and they were able to record a famous 2-1 win. In top form, in other words and all their key players will be available for this game. I only miss the suspended De Roon. Cristante and Freuler will play in the middle and upfront Ilicic and Papu Gomez will back up Peagna or A Cornelius.
This is the match that could see Napoli being passed by Juventus in the league table. We all know that and Napoli are most certainly aware of the difficulties they will be facing at Bergamo. Now Napoli have been in awesome form in their away games this season with 9-1-0 so far and what a game we can look forward to.
I am not saying anything about the possible outcome, but the odds on the home win are seducing me.
Verdi has stayed put at Bologna and he will be one of their attacking players in this match alongside Palacio and Di Francesco with Destro their front man. Masina will be available again.
Look out for Benevento. They are on their way of doing what Crotone achieved last season, or I am probably going too far. Coda, one of their strikers, scored a couple of fantastic goals vs Sampdoria and together with the Lazio striker Immobile he was the best striker in the last round of Serie A. Talk about a player coming from nowhere and all of a sudden is hitting the form of his life. Coda may well give Bologna an unpleasant surprise in this game.
Defender Billong is a new Benevento player and the promising Brignola has remained at the club. Missing again are players like Ciciretti, Antei and Iemello.
Home win, I guess, but both teams will score.
Immobile scored four of the five Lazio goals against Spal and if they are looking for a goal happy side in the capital it is this Lazio side, not Roma. A the moment Lazio are ahead of Roma in the league table. Marusic is a major injury doubt for Lazio and Radu will sit out a suspension. Caceres, defender, has joined the club.
Chievo were better than Udinese, they took the lead, but an own goal gifted Udinese a point.
It has been a while since Chievo won a league game and it will not happen on Sunday. Castro, Meggiorini and Inglese are their injury casualties. A player called M Bani will line up in their defence and upfront Pucciarelli will be joined by Pelissier or Stepinski.
The fantastic Udinese run has not come to an end, but they have been quite fortuitous in their last two matches, both away fixtures. They did not look hot at all at Chievo before the break, but they still picked up a valuable point (1-1). Behrami, Adnan and Angella will be sidelined for this match. It will be 3-5-2 again with De Paul and Lasagna in their front line.
Spal were no match for the goal happy Lazio (2-5) before the break, but they are on the right side of the relegation zone. There is no margin to talk about and their quest for survival will be long and arduous.
Both Borriello and Floccari have returned to fitness, but I expect their strikers to be Paloschi and Antenucci.
Likely home win.
Massive game down at the foot of the league table.
Zenga’s Crotone have looked decent since Zenga came into the equation and Verona keep on improving, I think, but both these sides have to score more goals. It is like a law, is it not, poor teams are almost always lacking real fire power.
The home side will be without the suspended Bessa and their defender Caceres has left the club. Cerci is fit, however, and Cerci or Pazzini will join Kean in their attacking line. Petkovic and Matos are new Verona players.
Zenga will continue with Stoian, Trotta and Budimir in their frontal line.
The early season Sampdoria top form vanished with time, but it was only to be expected. They remain a decent home team, but they are of course no longer undefeated in their home games with 7-0-2 this far. D Zapata is fit again ready to join Quagliarella in their front line. Defender Sala will be suspended with Berezynski his likely replacement.
Fiorentina have a more talented group of players in their team and lately they have started to pick up points in game after game and their home draw against Inter was rather expected. Both Veretout and Astori will sit out suspensions this weekend and their replacements will be Sanchez and V Hugo.
Both to score looks like a certainty.
The injury situation at Sassuolo is no longer pressing and coach Iachini has reason to be a bit optimistic about the rest of the season. So far, recruiting Iachini was a master stroke, but I know, things may change rapidly. Magnanelli is an injury douibt and their front runners will be Berardi, Falcinelli and Politano.
The Torino players were almost obsessed, such was their determination, playing their first game under the Mazzarri regime defeating Bologna 3-0. Were they so happy getting rid of Mihajlovic, or did they want to make a good impression on their new coach?
They have to carry on without their striker Belotti, but his colleague Ljajic will return joining Niang and I Falque in their front line. Burdisso and Obi will also be available again.
Two teams with two new enthusiastic coaches and the outcome of this game will be a score draw.
I am starting to believe that Pellegrino, the Southampton coach, is the unluckiest coach alive and that is why he always looks so downhearted. The Watford equaliser never should have counted and Southampton are now winless in their last ten league games. Pellegrino is under enormous pressure, rest assured about that. Both W Hoedt and C Soares were back in their defence at Watford and I only missed the injured C Austin.
For Tottenham it was so easy against Everton and they look like the invincible ones on these days. Just ask Southampton who were beaten 2-5 at Wembley not so long ago.
As “luck” seems to out of the question for Pellegrino and his Southampton I guess Tottenham will win this game. Personally I would never touch this poor price on the away win.
What I saw from their last game, their home game against Juventus, Cagliari were a tad unlucky losing the match 0-1. Cagliari should fancy their chances in this game, or that is what I am thinking anyway. J Pedro will miss this game due to a suspension and Farias will back up their front man Pavoletti. Castan has joined the club.
Milan have quite a few players on their injury list, but there is nothing new there and I do not miss anyone in particular. Kalinic will probably be back in their starting line up joined by Suso and Calhanoglu.
Another match were both teams to score looks like a certainty.
This should be a cracking game between two attacking sides. They could both do better in the league, especially Real, but their performances this season have almost been erratic.
Real were all over Barcelona last week, they took the lead 2-0, but were beaten 2-4 after the whole of the game. The same Barcelona toyed with Celta in a cup game last winning the match 5-0. OK, Barcelona are in a class of their own in Spain this season, but my point is that these two offensive sides too easily fall apart.
Real have to play this game without their important midfielder Zurutuza who joins Inigo and Carlos M. on the sidelines. Zubeldia will probably cover for Zurutuza.. Oyarzabal or Juanmi will join W Jose in their front line. Juanmi was a surprise starter vs Barcelona and he scored their second goal.
Celta will come with their feared attacking trio P Sisto, Maxi Gomez and I Aspas.
Goals, maybe goals from both sides in both the first half and the second half.
Sounds like minimum four goals, if I will have it my way.
Too defensive after their opening goal against Fiorentina there was something inevitable about the very late Fiorentina equaliser. Inter have not won for ages, but for this game Candreva should be back in their starting line up. Defender Miranda will be fit to play again, but Ranocchia is a no starter. Lisandro Lopez, defender from Benfica, has joined Inter.
Inter have fallen off the pace and the same goes for Roma. The Scudetto is a two horse race and these two sides have to keep the distance to Lazio and we will see which side will be the first to come in form again after their recent sluggish weeks.
Roma most likely have to manage without Perotti and it looks like P Schick will be doing his best replacing Perotti. De Rossi will be back in contention.
Maybe the home win.
Missing the injured Buffon, Dybala, Marchisio and Cuadrado everything is still cool at Juventus. You know that their starting line up will very strong in this match despite these absentees. G Higuain and Mandzukic will be joined by D Costa or Bernadeschi in their attacking line and De Sciglio is available again.
Genoa look safe for now and so far they have been able to win the right games, if you know what I mean.
This game does not belong to these kind of right games. No Zukanovic for Genoa due to a suspension and in their defensive line we will find Izzo, Spolli and Rossettini. Veloso is back in contention and Taarabt as well. He will play alongside G Pandev again.
Points here and there will not be enough to save the Swansea season, but saying that, Swansea were probably satisfied with their point away to Newcastle. They were outclassed 0-5 by Liverpool at Anfield, but their new coach Carvalhal cannot be blamed for that defeat. He joined Swansea after that game.
Swansea played a cup game against Wolves in midweek. Swansea fielded a decent side and they won the match quite logically 2-1. W Bony scored again. Hopefully T Abraham and R Sanches will recover for this match, but is not likely to happen. Defender Van der Hoorn is a doubt, but K Naughton is available again.
No one was screaming for Coutinho when Liverpool defeated Man City 4-3 When they were 2-1 up they were given a couple of easy goals from Man City, but at the same time Liverpool were very generous when 4-1 up. Jordan Henderson will be back in contention for this Monday fixture.
Likely away win.