A brand-new year has arrived, and the football season is in full swing with the Africa Cup of Nations getting underway. We bring you 10 of our best bets and value picks for the action happening around Europe, including two from the continental showpiece.
Nottingham Forest v Arsenal (Sunday)
Arsenal travel to the City Ground to take on Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup third round on Sunday. The Championship outfit will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak, while the Gunners will also seek a return to winning ways following their 2-1 home defeat to Manchester City in their last outing. Prior to that loss, Mikel Arteta’s troops had won five in a row and will be confident of getting back on track.
Wolves v Sheffield United (Sunday)
Wolverhampton Wanderers play host to Sheffield United in the FA Cup third round on Sunday. Bruno Lage’s men head into the tie with some good form, recording back-to-back away wins over Brighton and Manchester United in between a goalless draw at home to Chelsea. Their Championship opponents are also in relatively good form at the moment, having won their last four in a row, making this an interesting matchup.
Granada v Barcelona (Saturday)
Barcelona hope to continue their winning start to the new year when they travel to play Granada at Los Carmenes in La Liga action on Saturday. The Nazaries could only manage a draw last time out against 18th-placed Elche in Martinez Valero, while the Catalans bounced back from their draw at Sevilla to claim a 1-0 win over Mallorca. Xavi’s side will be looking to boost their top-four chances and gain a vital victory.
Sevilla v Getafe (Sunday)
Title-chasing Sevilla will expect to maintain their recent winning run when they host Getafe in La Liga on Sunday. The Rojiblancos have been in terrific form under Julen Lopetegui and occupy second place on the table at the halfway point of the season, while Quique Sanchez Flores’ side find themselves dangerously close to the drop zone – just two points clear of third-bottom Elche.
Venezia v AC Milan (Sunday)
AC Milan will look to carry on their title charge when they face newly-promoted Serie A side Venezia at the Pier Luigi Penzo Stadium on Sunday. The Rossoneri thumped Empoli 4-2 in their last away game, while the struggling Venice outfit were beaten 3-1 at home by Lazio, making it six home games without a win. Milan will only have themselves to blame if they don’t pick up all three points.
Napoli v Sampdoria (Sunday)
Out-of-form title-chasers Napoli host Sampdoria in the Italian top-flight on Sunday. Luciano Spalletti’s men have struggled to find their best form in recent weeks, losing each of their last three games on home soil. The Azzurri will be desperate to turn things around at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium and will fancy their chances against a struggling Sampdoria outfit.
Bordeaux v Marseille (Friday)
Marseille return to Ligue 1 action on Friday at Bordeaux. Jorge Sampaoli’s side are currently two points clear of fourth-placed Rennes, while the hosts are 17th, just one point clear of 19th-placed Lorient having lost three of their last six Ligue 1 matches. The Olympians are unbeaten in their last five league matches with Bordeaux, recording two wins and three draws.
Lille v Lorient (Saturday)
Lille entertain Lorient at the Pierre Mauroy stadium on Saturday as Ligue 1 action returns over the weekend. The hosts will be aiming to extend their seven-match unbeaten streak in the league, while the visiting side look to end their 12-match winless run. The French champions have found their rhythm again and they’ll look to continue their surge up the table.
Cameroon v Burkina Faso (Sunday)
Cameroon and Burkina Faso are two of the dark horses for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations. The Indomitable Lions will have the boost of being the host nation, but they’ll face a tough test against the Stallions who haven’t lost in their last 23 games. Cameroon head into the fixture riding a four-match winning streak with their latest result: a 1-0 win over Ivory Coast in November.
Senegal v Zimbabwe (Monday)
Aliou Cisse’s star-studded Senegal are overwhelming favourites as they face Zimbabwe in Group B of the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday, but the Warriors will be out to upset the odds. The Teranga Lions, with stars like Liverpool forward Sadio Mane and Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, will be expected to secure all three points against a Zimbabwean side without a win in eight matches.