Lia double earns point for Reds

Vince Lia scored a brace for Adelaide United as they drew 2-2 with Melbourne Victory.

The Reds would have had maximum points to celebrate from their first home game of the A-League term but for Mitch Austin's late equaliser at Adelaide Oval.

Lia scored a classy double in between goals from Besart Berisha and Austin, who grabbed a point for the visitors with eight minutes to go.

It was a surprise double from a player who only had four goals from almost 300 A-League games going into the clash.

The visitors went ahead when Berisha headed home Leroy George's pinpoint free-kick on 13 minutes.

Lia scored against his former side on 23 minutes to level the scores, lashing home a half-volley from the edge of the area when Johan Absalonsen laid off after a cross from Michael Marrone.

George Blackwood almost put Adelaide ahead on the stroke of the interval but his effort from 12 metres was thwarted by some desperate Melbourne defending.

Lia put the Reds ahead with a first-time strike from 20 metres with Absalonsen again the provider.

But Victory battled hard to level the scores through substitute Austin.

The winger directed his shot through a number of bodies in the penalty area after getting the chance when Berisha's shot was blocked.

United had legitimate claims for a penalty in the final minute when Absalonsen's cross appeared to strike full-back Jason Geria's arm.

Victory coach Kevin Muscat thought his side should have taken all three points.

"Overall I thought we played some really good stuff," he said. "I thought we were very good value."

Victory are 11/10 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 11/5 with the draw 13/5.

Victory are 10/1 to win the game 1-0.

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Seagulls triumph delights Hughton

Chris Hughton has praised his Brighton side for their outstanding performance in Friday's 3-0 win at West Ham.

The Seagulls secured their first ever away win in the Premier League, with a Glenn Murray brace and a superb strike from Jose Izquierdo seeing them claim the points against the Hammers.

Slaven Bilic's men were lacklustre throughout and Brighton took full advantage to move on to 11 points for the campaign.

Perhaps most encouraging for Hughton was the way in which his side took their chances, having been criticised for their lack of cutting edge in recent weeks.

The clean sheet will also have pleased the boss and he admitted he was delighted with his side's overall performance.

With survival the aim for the season, Hughton believes Friday's showing has set a blueprint for how they need to perform for the remainder of the campaign.

"I thought we were outstanding, from start to finish," he told the club's official website. "We knew it would be a difficult game, because they're a side that have won three out of four games at home.

"Although they'd had a little bit of a difficult time, they've got really good quality.

"You have to stay in games and we defended really well, took our opportunities and it feels like a good win."

Next weekend sees them welcome Southampton to the Amex in a game they are 21/10 to win, with the draw 9/4 and the Saints available at 13/10.

Brighton are priced at 9/4 to be relegated and available at 4/11 to stay up.

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Poch promises Spurs intensity

Mauricio Pochettino has promised Tottenham will prepare to face Liverpool on Sunday with the same intensity as their midweek draw against Real Madrid.

The Lilywhites produced a magnificent performance in battling to a 1-1 draw in the Bernabeu and were perhaps unlucky not to claim all three points.

Sunday sees them return to domestic action and they have little time to dwell on their result against Real, with Liverpool set to visit Wembley on Sunday.

Spurs finally won a Premier League game at their temporary home last weekend against Bournemouth and another victory will undoubtedly boost their chances of lifting the Premier League trophy come May.

Tottenham are 6/5 to win on Sunday, while the draw is 13/5 and Liverpool 12/5.

The Reds won 7-0 in Maribor in midweek and they themselves will be confident of taking all three points at the weekend.

Pochettino believes the performance in the Bernabeu showed his side belong at the top level but admits backing it up is the key to proving their class.

Therefore he has promised they will approach Sunday's game with the same intensity they demonstrated in the Spanish capital.

"Now we are going to play like we played against Real Madrid," Pochettino said. "I think it's a very good experience for us to play every single game in the next three weeks.

"If you are going to play a final or a competition that commands a lot of energy… it's a period to learn a lot for us."

Tottenham are 14/1 to win the Premier League and 4/9 to finish in the top four.

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Pellegrino backs strikers to start firing

Mauricio Pellegrino has backed his misfiring Southampton strikers to come good, starting on Saturday evening against West Brom.

Goals have been a problem for the Saints this season, netting just seven times in their eight outings, much to the frustration of the St Mary's crowd who bemoaned a lack of attacking intent last term under Claude Puel.

Pellegrino attempted to remedy this by starting with both Shane Long and Manolo Gabbiadini last weekend against Newcastle and the Italian clearly enjoyed the company, netting twice in the 2-2 draw.

The Irishman's wait for a goal continues though, with Long not having scored for either club or country since February.

Charlie Austin is another option for Pellegrino, although the Argentine has hinted he could revert to playing with a lone striker against the Baggies, with Saturday's evening kick-off expected to be tight.

Even so, the former Alaves boss is confident the forwards at his disposal can rediscover their scoring touch and fire the Saints up the table.

Pellegrino told reporters: "Sometimes we will play with two strikers again, sometimes we will go back to one, sometimes Shane can play a little bit on the right like some other games.

"The important thing for us is both are getting better every single week, for the confidence of the player to score goals completes their job, but I have got confidence in the way that they are training and preparing this week and we will decide who will play."

Southampton are 17/20 to win on Saturday, with the draw 12/5 and the Baggies 17/4.

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Will You Bet Online on the West’s Top Teams?

Another set of exciting NBA games is about to get underway, and it’s a day sports betting fans can’t afford to miss as the top teams from the Western Conference return to action.

While the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and San Antonio Spurs will all aim to continue their hot starts to the season, the Golden State Warriors will look to pave their way back to the top of the online gambling ladder.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Toronto Raptors (October 22, 07:30 GMT+8)

Jonas Valanciunas had a brilliant display in their opener against the Bulls, and he will need to replicate his performance if he wants to lead the Raptors to another win. Of course, DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and Serge Ibaka are still there, but the Sixers’ depth—with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid leading—isn’t something they can underestimate. With that in mind, I believe Philly can win on +8.50 @ 2.03.

Dallas Mavericks @ Houston Rockets (October 22, 08:00 GMT+8)

With two straight losses and their prized rookie Dennis Smith Jr. absent, Dallas don’t have much chance of winning this fight against their Texas rivals. Houston might be frustrated with the injury to Chris Paul, but it should only provide James Harden more opportunity to showcase his MVP-calibre skills.

Indiana Pacers @ Miami Heat (October 22, 08:00 GMT+8)

Both sides will be without their best players, with Hassan Whiteside out for the Heat and Myles Turner for the Pacers, so this battle will undoubtedly be a feisty affair between their backcourt players. I like the odds of Miami though considering Indiana weren’t able to beat them during their two visits at American Airlines Arena last year. Go for the Heat -9.50 @ 1.91.

San Antonio Spurs @ Chicago Bulls (October 22, 08:00 GMT+8)

If there is one positive the Bulls got from their issue with Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic, it is that Lauri Markkanen had the opportunity to get significant playing time. However, the 20-year-old rookie can’t really help them much when they host the Spurs who remain strong despite the absence of All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard. If you’re punting, choose San Antonio -9.50 @ 1.93.

Orlando Magic @ Cleveland Cavaliers (October 22, 08:00 GMT+8)

Who’s beating the Cavs in the East? It’s obviously not the Magic who didn’t even survive the Nets. Cleveland will certainly miss Derrick Rose’s production, but LeBron James is considered the best basketball player in the world for a reason.

Detroit Pistons @ New York Knicks (October 22, 08:00 GMT+8)

No matter how talented Porzingod is, he just can’t lift the Knicks alone. On the other hand, although the Pistons lost to the Wizards the last time out, I like what Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond, and Reggie Jackson have shown so far. That being said, overcoming a -2.00 handicap that pays 2.02 should be attainable for Detroit.

Golden State Warriors @ Memphis Grizzlies (October 22, 08:00 GMT+8)

The Warriors got their season going with a hard-fought win against the Pelicans, and that should keep them confident when they visit Memphis. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley will make life hard for the Dubs; nonetheless, it’s unlikely Golden State will let another W get away.

Portland Trail Blazers @ Milwaukee Bucks (October 22, 08:30 GMT+8)

Milwaukee have the future of the NBA in Giannis Antetokounmpo, but is the ‘Greek Freak’ enough to stop the explosion of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum? This one should be a closely-contested affair, especially with the two teams entering their third game in four days. However, playing at home should give the Bucks the advantage. Go for Milwaukee -3.50 @ 1.97.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Utah Jazz (October 22, 09:00 GMT+8)

Russell Westbrook aka Mr. Triple-Double is back. This time, however, he has super friends scoring 20-plus points alongside him.

There’s no doubt Oklahoma City’s ‘Big 3′ will be tested against Utah’s solid defence, but the Jazz shouldn’t pose much of a challenge as they lack a legitimate scoring threat. Considering all these, choosing the Thunder -5.00 @ 1.95 is the best move to make.

Sacramento Kings @ Denver Nuggets (October 22, 09:00 GMT+8)

After winning against Dallas, Sacramento will look to build on the momentum they got when they face the Nuggets. Nevertheless, Denver should be a tough nut to crack as they will be motivated to get their first win at home and of the season.

Not to mention that the home team have the rest advantage over the Kings.

Phoenix Suns @ L.A. Clippers (October 22, 10:30 GMT+8)

What are the odds of the Suns losing to another Los Angeles team in back-to-back games? Well, Phoenix surely won’t like their chances when they fight the Clippers at Staples Center. After all, the Clips seem to be playing just well in the post-Chris Paul era with Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic manning the floor.

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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

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Rafa focused on football

Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez insists both he and his players must stay focused on football amid talks of a takeover at St James' Park.

Several interested parties are reported to have come forward after Mike Ashley announced the club is up for sale but Benitez says he cannot allow that to serve as a distraction.

Newcastle, currently ninth, host bottom club Crystal Palace on Saturday, with the Eagles having received a major boost last weekend as they got their first goals of the season, and first points, in a 2-1 win over champions Chelsea.

Benitez is refusing to be drawn on how it might impact on the club if there was a fresh cash injection under new owners in the near future.

When asked about talk of a sale, Benitez said: "What do you think I will say? My opinion is quite clear and that is what we have to concentrate on football this weekend.

"I don't know what will happen in the next three months.

"I am the manager, I concentrate on the football and ensure my players concentrate on what happens in the game against Crystal Palace. The fans will be excited of course but that will not have influence on how I behave."

Newcastle are 1/1 to beat Crystal Palace on Saturday. Roy Hodgson's team are 16/5 to make it back-to-back successes while the draw is 5/2.

The Magpies boss feels Palace deserved a change of luck against Chelsea and he is anticipating a confident Eagles team will arrive on Tyneside.

"Crystal Palace create chances and have been unlucky with results. It will be a difficult game – we have to try and put pressure on them," he added.

"They have played some good football. They did really well against Chelsea so they will have confidence, but no game is easy."

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Matic heaps praise on boss Jose

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic insists Jose Mourinho is the best manager he has ever played under.

The Serbian international is in his second spell under the tutelage of the Portuguese and he says that Mourinho's presence at Old Trafford was the deciding factor for his move there from Premier League champions Chelsea in the summer.

Matic is thriving under Mourinho after his £35 million move from Stamford Bridge and he insists that it is Mourinho's constant determination to help a player improve that sets him apart.

"Mourinho is a brand, and the best coach I've ever worked with," he said.

"Sometimes it isn't easy to work with him, because he always demands more. Even when you play the best match in your career, he considers that you can play better in the next match."

Man United go into the weekend second in the Premier League table, two points behind Man City and three clear of Tottenham in third, after eight games.

Their recent displays against Liverpool and Benfica in the Champions League drew some criticism but Matic insists he is relishing life as a Manchester United player.

Having won the Premier League with Mourinho at Chelsea, the pair are 4/1 to help bring title glory to the Red Devils this season. Matic says Mourinho is a very different character away from the glare of the cameras.

"Privately he's completely different from the way he is perceived by the general public," he said.

"This is a man who possesses all human virtues. He's not at all cold or conceited, as he is presented in the media.

"He has created an excellent group of players with huge potential, and everything is there for us to achieve good results."

Man United are 4/11 to win at Huddersfield on Saturday. The Terriers are 10/1 while the draw is 4/1.

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Pep targets more City improvement

Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City still have room for improvement despite winning their last ten games in all competitions with some scintillating football.

His team have scored a stunning 36 goals in bringing up those ten wins but Guardiola is refusing to allow his players rest on their laurels.

City are currently top of the Premier League table with 22 points from a possible 24 this season – while they have started the Champions League campaign with a hat-trick of successes and are well on their way towards the knockout stages.

Arguably their best display came last weekend when they hammered Stoke City 7-2 at the Etihad Stadium, but City also showed last month they can vary their style, delivering a composed and controlled display to win 1-0 away at champions Chelsea.

Guardiola is happy but he wants more still from his players who, like him, must continue to improve, he says.

"I've said many times recently, we have played well but always you can improve," said Guardiola.

"Hopefully, we can improve and do better, otherwise there's no point being here. Everybody can improve, Kevin De Bruyne can improve and I can improve."

Man City, 2/5 to win the Premier League this season, have got to learn from the mistakes of last season when they started quickly but eventually faded out of the title race behind Chelsea and Tottenham.

Their improved proficiency in front of goal can help them do just that.

"Last season we dropped a lot of points at home in the Premier League but this season we've been scoring goals," added the Spaniard.

"That was the reason we could not fight until the end against Chelsea and Tottenham."

Man City are 11/10 to score over 3.5 goals against Burnley on Saturday at the Etihad Stadium, while they are 2/5 to lead at half-time/full-time.

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Conte denies Blues unrest

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has dismissed suggestions of player unrest over his punishing training methods.

Various media reports have claimed that Blues players are exhausted by Conte's tiring schedule on the training ground.

Chelsea are without a win in their last three games, losing to Manchester City and Crystal Palace in the Premier League before drawing 3-3 at home to Roma in the Champions League on Wednesday, a game they led 2-0 before having to come from behind to earn a point.

"I don't know about this," said former Italy manager Conte, when asked about the media speculation.

Facing into their third game in seven days, Conte suggests that a lack of adequate preparation time in which to work on tactics has more to do with Chelsea's form than any tiredness or disgruntlement with his training ground methods.

"When you play every three days it's impossible to work on the tactical aspect and physical aspect," he added.

"I think we are paying less attention in every detail."

Chelsea are 13/2 to beat Watford 2-0 at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. They have not lost three straight Premier League games since Autumn 2015, a run which eventually saw Jose Mourinho lose his job having led the club to the Premier League title the season before.

Conte says he, like any manager, feels pressure but he isn't fearful over his job.

"I think every coach, every manager has to feel the pressure.

"When I go to my house I'm happy because I know in every moment I put all myself in my job for this club, for the fans, for my players," he added.

"But you know very well anything can happen in football."

Watford, who beat Arsenal last week are 9/1 to beat Chelsea, the draw is 17/4 and a home win is 4/11.

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Schalke Top 10/1 European Accumulator

With a full slate of European fixtures set to take place this weekend, I’m back to take a look at some of the biggest leagues on the continent. Saint-Etienne lead my 10/1 four-fold ahead of this weekend; check out my thoughts on the action below.

 

SAINT-ETIENNE vs Montpellier

Saint-Etienne are yet to taste defeat in five Ligue 1 home games this season, winning three whilst drawing two – including a slender 1-0 victory over Nice back in August.

Sitting third in France’s top flight, Saint-Etienne look well placed to secure another win as they look to keep pace with Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco at the top of the table.

Meanwhile, Montpellier have won just once in four away fixtures – a 1-0 win at Troyes last month. Currently 11th in the division, the visitors have been in decent form; avoiding defeat in their last four Ligue 1 games.

In nine matches, Montpellier have conceded just six league goals and that ranks as the joint-best defensive unit in the division. However, this could be a step too far given Saint-Etienne’s dominance on home soil this season.

TIP: Saint-Etienne to win @ 57/50

SCHALKE 04 vs Mainz 05

Schalke were well beaten by Bayern Munich in September but victory over RB Leipzig and a draw against Bayer Leverkusen has swayed me to side with Domenico Tedesco’s men this weekend.

At 10/13, they represent excellent value for money considering Mainz’s issues on the road – this could turn out to be one of the best Bundesliga bets this weekend.

Mainz have been very Jekyll and Hyde so far this season. At home, they have been excellent but away from the OPEL Arena, they have tended to struggle.

Rouven Schroder’s side are struggling to inspire confidence right now and it would take a brave man to back the visitors in this fixture. It won’t be totally one-sided but Schalke should be comfortable.

TIP: Schalke to win @ 10/13

 

REAL BETIS vs Alaves

When Real Betis play, one thing is for sure: goals are an absolute certainty. Over 2.5 goals has landed in six of their last seven games in all competitions and another high scoring affair looks likely here.

Furthermore, Betis are playing some superb stuff and have won three of their last four home league games – 5/6 is an excellent price.

At the other end of the spectrum, we have Deportivo Alaves. With just three goals scored so far this campaign, the Spanish minnows have scored the fewest goals in La Liga – and two of those came in the victory over Levante at the end of September.

The onus will be on Betis to take control of this one. Alaves are struggling and an early goal for the hosts may force them to come out and attack.

TIP: Over 2.5 goals @ 5/6

Benevento vs FIORENTINA

The hosts have struggled for form all year and punters may be amazed to see Fiorentina at a very appealing price of 3/5 given Benevento’s Serie A woes. With just two goals scored and 19 conceded, the newly promoted outfit are in serious trouble. I can only see this going one way and it isn’t in favour of the home side unfortunately.

Meanwhile, Fiorentina have failed to inspire confidence themselves but their position isn’t quite as precarious. Victory over Udinese last time out may inspire Stefano Pioli’s side to push on and build momentum ahead of the festive period. Anything less than a one-sided Fiorentina win would be a surprise here.

TIP: Fiorentina to win @ 3/5

 

*Odds subject to change – correct at time of writing*

Meanwhile, Manchester United top our Premier League accumulator this weekend – check out our thoughts here…

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