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German masters snooker one player to back from each quarter

February is a significant month in the snooker calendar, with three ranking tournaments in as many weeks. First, we have the final stages of the German Masters - which produced one of the most unlikely finals in ranking event history 12 months ago between Martin Gould and Luca Brecel.

There's every chance of non-seeds again reaching the latter stages as the first two rounds saw plenty of big-name casualties. Four of the top-six players in the world rankings - Higgins, Trump, Junhui and Murphy - are already out.

Back Mark Allen 2.5u @ [21.0]

With Gould and Ricky Walden slipping out recently, Mark Allen is the only top-16 member in this top section. Perennially flattering to deceive in majors, this type of event is just the right level for Allen. A good early show would likely see these odds halve.

Ryan Day is a tricky opening test but interestingly, Allen has won nine of his last ten matches against the Welshman. Whoever wins will be a strong favourite against either Robin Hull or Jimmy White to reach the quarter-final, and even at that stage, the opposition won't be terrifying.

The other quarter-final slot is probably between Gould, Walden and the talented Jamie Jones. Whilst the first two have greater achievements, I'd be more interested in the latter around [100.0].

Back Ronnie O'Sullivan 10u @ [3.5]

At the Masters, I backed Ronnie O'Sullivan despite doubts about his form, because it was hard to see who would beat him in the early stages. Yet again he went on to prove that his B or even C-game is good enough to win tournaments and his route to this final is, on paper at least, even more straightforward.

In betting terms, Ali Carter and Stephen Maguire present the biggest threat. Ronnie has never lost in 14 matches to the former and only twice to the latter since 2004.

His hardest match may come first, against miracle Northern Ireland winner Mark King. The pair's rivalry dates back to their childhood in Essex and their head-to-head is surprisingly tied at 4-4. The last of those matches was seven years ago but their stature in the game has barely changed in that time.

Back Michael Holt 1u @ [50.0]

Another very weak quarter, involving only two of the world's top-16 and three from outside the top-50. In fairness, Yan Bingtao will undoubtably rise fast but it's too early to be backing the 16-year-old to win events.

Much hinges on whether Marco Fu maintains the superb form shown at the Masters and Scottish Open. For my money, Marco was the best performer at Alexandra Palace and is arguably at his peak. However his long career has never been a consistent one and he has a nasty opener. David Gilbert is chasing a top-16 spot, won a Championship League group recently and has a competitive record against Fu.

The other big question is whether the 'Nappy Factor' is working for or against Stuart Bingham. Some might conclude his first round Masters defeat was due to an understandable lack of focus or practice although, in fairness, few could have lived with Joe Perry that night. At his best, Bingham would sail into the semis from this draw.

I'd rather let that trio carve each other up and focus on the mini-section that will produce their quarter-final opponent. Here Michael Holt has the strongest credentials. The Hitman has beaten Ronnie twice in a productive term that includes a run to the final in Riga and losing two quarter-finals to Bingham in deciding frames. He leads Fu in their head-to-head so should fear nobody.

Back Barry Hawkins 2u @ [23.0]

Finally by far the toughest section, involving three front-line contenders and five dangerous outsiders. Given that he could very plausibly face a struggle in every round and that we've already backed the short-odds favourite, Mark Selby makes no betting sense at just [6.0].

First up Thepchaiya Un-Nooh is no pushover and Selby has rarely dominated either potential second round opponent Mark Williams or Anthony Hamilton. Indeed the latter - a semi-finalist in the recent Northern Ireland Open - is a tempting outsider trade at [150.0].

The other two big-guns are scheduled to meet in the last 16. If showing his Masters first-round form, Neil Robertson would be my pick but the subsequent disappointing performance against Ronnie suggested the Aussie has not yet turned things around after a miserable 2016. The capable world number 27 Ben Woollaston is well capable of pulling off an upset in their opener.

Given those doubts, Hawkins gets the nod at twice Robertson's odds. Semi-finalist at the Masters, showing great form to beat Selby and Shaun Murphy, previously a Championship League group winner and runner-up in Northern Ireland, Hawkins is clearly in good form. He keeps producing against all of the world's best with the exception of Ronnie - whom he doesn't have to worry about until the final.

Follow Paul on Twitter @paulmotty

Tuesday premier league tipsheet saints to put cup loss behind them with win in wales

Arsenal [1.25] v Watford [16.0]; The Draw [7.2]

On current form this should be a straightforward victory for Arsenal, and if truth be told I'm finding it very difficult to make a case for the outcome not being exactly that.

After damaging back-to-back defeats in December the Gunners have taken 13 of the last 15 points available to them, while they've made smooth progress in the FA Cup thanks to a 5-0 demolition of a below-strength Southampton at the weekend.

Arsenal weren't exactly at full strength either for Saturday's victory at St Mary's, so it bodes well that they were so impressive and yet can bring back Alexis Sanchez from the start for the visit of struggling Watford.

I mention Sanchez for a reason, and that's because he has a tremendous record against the Hornets having scored three times and assisted a further two goals in his three league appearances against them.

Watford are in extremely poor form having won just one of their last 10 league games, and on Sunday they were dumped out of the FA Cup thanks to a pretty lifeless display against League One outfit Millwall. Admittedly Walter Mazzarri made plenty of changes ahead of that cup tie but the defeat will have done nothing for confidence in the Hornets' camp.

Arsenal have failed to concede a goal in open play in their last seven league games at the Emirates Stadium, and their recent head-to-head record against Watford is impressive; Arsene Wenger's men have won the last seven meetings scoring an impressive 19 goals in the process.

It's impossible to look beyond a home victory here and I see no reason why Arsenal won't cover the -1 handicap and win with room to spare.

Recommended Bet

Back Arsenal -1 to Win @ [1.75]

Sunderland [10.0] v Tottenham [1.4]; The Draw [5.3]

Tottenham made life extremely hard for themselves at home to League Two side Wycombe on Saturday, having to come from 0-2 and 2-3 down before snatching a dramatic 4-3 win.

Like many managers over FA Cup weekend Mauricio Pochettino made plenty of changes to his starting XI meaning that, barring the odd one or two, the side that starts against Sunderland - including fit again Harry Kane - will be the strongest one possible, relatively fresh from not having to play for 10 days.

Sunderland weren't even in cup action so we know they are well rested also, so at least we're not having to second guess managers and predict what line-ups they'll field ahead of this Premier League clash.

The reality is, a full strength Tottenham side (from the players available of course) should be far too good for a Sunderland team that has endured a torrid start to 2017.

The Black Cats were dumped out of the cup by Burnley, and they've taken just a single point from the last 15 available, conceding an alarming 14 goals in those last five league games.

What's more, David Moye's men have a horrible recent record against Spurs, drawing just three, losing 10, and winning none of their last 13 meetings. On Tuesday night Sunderland face a Tottenham side that has the biggest positive difference in the Premier League in terms of shots on target (137) versus shots on target conceded (64). The Black Cats have the biggest negative difference - 77 shots on target, 141 shots on target conceded.

So with Pochettino's men in such good form - eight wins and a draw from their last nine games - I see no reason why they won't win by at least two clear goals at the Stadium of Light in midweek.

Recommended Bet

Back Tottenham -1 to Win @ [2.16]

Swansea [3.35] v Southampton [2.42]; The Draw [3.4]

It's the easiest decision in the world to forgive Southampton's dreadful display at home to Arsenal in the FA Cup on Saturday. The Saints were thrashed 0-5, which is of course a worry, but it was effectively a reserve team and I'm confident the reversal won't have damaged morale in the camp.

And at the moment Southampton are back in a good place. Claude Puel's men thrashed Leicester the last time they were in league action, and they've just reached the EFL Cup final thanks to two very effective displays against Liverpool.

I thought the Saints were excellent on the counter attack in both of those semi-final matches with Nathan Redmond producing superb displays. He looks to be a player who is getting better with each game, and he could be key in this match if Southampton can hit Swansea on the break with pace.

The Swans produced the upset of the season when they defeated Liverpool 3-2 at Anfield 10 days ago, and while that was a magnificent result we've seen throughout January how badly out of form the Reds are (which admittedly could also be used as an argument for those wanting to oppose the Saints).

What I'm trying to say is that I'd like to see more evidence of Swansea being a more difficult proposition under new boss Paul Clement than that victory at Anfield.

The facts are Swansea have lost their last three at the Liberty Stadium, conceding an incredible 11 goals in the process. I'm not sure Clement can shore up that defence in such a short time. And in Southampton, they not only face a side that is relentless at churning out clean sheets this season, they're facing a team that has defeated them on home soil for the last three seasons, all without conceding.

Recommended Bet

Back Southampton to Win @ [2.42] (best bet)


You can follow me on Twitter - @MikkyMo73

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