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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

The Soothsayer

We hit the jackpot last week. The bet of the week, Spartak, Manchester United, Arsenal and the charity bet on Chelsea all won. There were very few surprises on the first day of the new English Premier League season (except for me predicting a winner) as the three big teams from last year all won and the three newly promoted teams all lost.

In the Russian Premier League, Spartak has crept ever closer to the top of the table with only goal difference separating it from Lokomotiv. CSKA is hanging on in third, four points behind but with two games in hand.

EUROPE



Probably the best English match this weekend is taking place Friday at Stamford Bridge when Manchester United takes on Chelsea. This match was switched to Friday because Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB wanted to show the match live; the police would not let it go ahead Sunday because of the Notting Hall Carnival; the league had already agreed to two live matches Saturday; and of course Monday night was out because of the Red Devils' involvement in Europe.

Fergie's men will try to out-do a Chelsea side that came back from 2-1 down against Charlton last week to win 3-2. Rio Ferdinand is fit now and should make his league debut with his new side but Fabien Barthez does not look like returning until Tuesday against Zalaegerszeg. On the Blues front there is no news yet about whether the injured John Terry and Graeme Le Saux will be playing. This match is a tough one to call, so I'll go with a draw at 3.25-9/4.

On Saturday, Arsenal is involved in the first London derby of the season as it goes to Upton Park to play West Ham. The Gunners comprehensively outclassed their opponents last week and most definitely had the best performance among the big three last week. As they have no apparent injury worries I will back them to win again at 1.80-4/5.

Liverpool is at home to Southampton on Saturday and after its display against Aston Villa, I can't see the Saints keeping Michael Owen out -- back the Reds at 1.30-3/10.

In the Russian league this week, the top three teams all have seemingly easy games. Lokomotiv and CSKA are both at home to Rostselmash and Anzhi, respectively, and Spartak is away to Uralan. I'm going for wins for all three at 1.40-2/5, 1.40-2/5 and 1.80-4/5.

Last week's win pushed the kitty up to $165 in profit.

UNITED STATES



In their preseason match against Denver on Monday night, San Francisco started to show a little more of it potent and developing offense in an exhibition-style victory. People will look at this 12-7 score in Denver and think it was a defensive game, but the 49ers strolled and could have done anything they wanted. The strange fact for me is that 15.00-14/1 is still generally available on the 49ers and some layers are going as high as 19.00-18/1 -- madness. For Denver fans it was a chance to say goodbye to Terrell Davis. Denver now has to take time to rebuild but it is unlikely to ever get an Ellway or a Davis again.

Dallas hit a snag with the loss of key wide receiver Raghib Ismail for the whole season, and it may have to rely on rookie Antonio Bryant as a regular starter. How easily fortunes can change for an improving outfit! On the injury front there are still doubts about the long-term fitness of Jerome Bettis, and we did not learn anything from his few carries against the Skins.

I personally believe the Steelers have been cautious and have given the groin injury a long time to recover. Watch out Patriots in week one!

The divisional betting is out, and the following are my picks for the season:

NFC North -- Green Bay 1.72-8/11

NFC South -- Tampa Bay 1.44-4/9

NFC East -- Philadelphia 1.57-4/7

NFC West -- San Francisco 3.75-11/4

AFC North -- Steelers 1.40-2/5

AFC South -- Indianapolis 1.80-4/5

AFC East -- New England 2.75-7/4

AFC West -- Oakland 1.83-5/6

A $5 accumulator would win you $925.

CHARITY BET



Chelsea's win puts another 1,125 rubles into the coffers, making a handsome 21,720 rubles in total.

Our man on the ground has been to the Ebor meeting at York and he will report back next week if he manages to increase the funds using the balance of 300 rubles left over from the Goodwood meeting.

This week he keeps his blue blood pumping, backing Chelsea (foolish guy) to beat Manchester United on Friday at 2.88-15/8.

BET OF THE WEEK



$10 accumulator

Lokomotiv to win 1.40-2/5
(4 p.m. Saturday)

CSKA to win 1.40-2/5
(6 p.m. Saturday)

Liverpool to win 1.30-3/10
(6 p.m. Saturday)

Arsenal to win 1.80-4/5
(6 p.m. Saturday)

Spartak to win 1.80-4/5
(7 p.m. Sunday)

Possible winnings -- $83

Frank Caruana is the manager of Sportland. Contact him at Soothsayer@imedia.ru