PS Kemi v TPS

Although we are only about one month into the season, it’s already clear that this matchup will be crucial for the relegation battle. Both teams were considered before the season kicked off as big favorites to finish in the bottom, and as Honka has so far played, it looks like it’s going to be up for grabs between these two sides. Unless TPS rivals Inter continue their horrible form.

Kemi made a decent fight at Raatin stadion in Oulu, playing still in exile, against titleholders HJK. However, the dull champions managed to get an away win with 1-2, leaving Kemi with nothing concrete to travel home with.

Kemi gaffer Jari Åhman was experimenting with tactics and formations at the very beginning of the season but failed to find any success. What they have now is a rather awkwardly old-fashioned football, consisting of two rough strikers on top in the form of Hakeem Araba and Juho Mäkelä. Spoiler alert: it does not take you far in Veikkausliiga 2018.

TPS had a somewhat unfortunate home loss against VPS last weekend, although in the end, they have only themselves to blame. Their visitors did not make their best game, and an early goal in the second half was enough to allow VPS to defend their lead comfortably.

Last year’s star players for TPS have thus far been disappointments. The forces that carried the club to a promotion have not been able to carry the team at all in Veikkausliiga. Additionally, coach Laurikainen’s choice to simply cross the ball for almost a full second half as his only way to get an equalizer was a sad thing to witness.

TPS are favorites in my books, however, I am still skeptical towards their offense. Kemi does have a goofy defense but as long as TPS strikers are as inefficient as they’ve been so far, we’re going to see very few goals in this bottom battle.

Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.50 at 1.830

RoPS v KuPS

RoPS’ fantastic start to the season was ended by a 1-2 home defeat against Honka and was followed by another loss at Ilves 1-0. Noubissi’s game-winning goal was trademark Ilves, a pacey counter-attack with a quick finish from the box. RoPS started to run out of juice against Honka, and at Ilves, they looked even more exhausted.

The game at Ratina could have ended in an even bigger home victory if not only Noubissi’s shot range was spread on a mile wide and high area. In offense, RoPS struggled against Ilves’ grit and grind defense, which got under the skin of several visiting players, especially Taye Taiwo.

Considering that RoPS stark start to the season has consisted of several goals from quick counter-attacks, it’s not that surprising that Ilves, who have played less could execute their plan better. Also, Jarkko Wiss’ more defensive approach is poisonous towards RoPS gaffer Koskela’s philosophy.

Interesting enough, KuPS showed same signs of exhaustion against Inter. Several key players were not on their regular level at Savon Sanomat arena, however, an utterly poor Inter was of no opposition.

A huge difference between RoPS and KuPS here is that the visitors have plenty more depth and quality in their squad. Rasmus Karjalainen made by far his best game in KuPS jersey so far, netting a hat-trick against Inter.

Although KuPS’ win against Inter was much thanks to a joke of an away team and a one-man show by Karjalainen, I see plenty of value in an away win here.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: KuPS -0.25 at 1.920

IFK Mariehamn v Ilves

2016 Veikkausliiga champions IFK Mariehamn could be there with TPS and Kemi, however, they find themselves higher up in the table. Nevertheless, satisfaction is not in sight in Mariehamn, who has struggled in every single game in 2018, including preseason.

The reason Mariehamn can find themselves in a relatively comfortable position in the league table is that they’ve faced both Kemi and TPS once, beating both of them narrowly by 3-2.

Last weekend’s draw at Honka was probably Mariehamn’s best game so far, although it’s not a big compliment to give. Again, Mariehamn equalized in the last 1 minutes, and I’m not all too convinced it was a just result. Honka is still paying a toll for adjusting to Veikkausliiga, and it’s not exactly the most physical squad in the league, so defending against bulky Mariehamn can be challenging.

Meanwhile, Ilves can be, once again, very pleased with how their coach Jarkko Wiss is making art out of excrement, if you shall me be mean and rough. Ilves lost almost all their star players during offseason and the replacements’ list was modest, to say the least.

However, as I earlier analyzed their win against RoPS, Wiss’ grit and grind defense combined with sharp counter-attacks is still nearly a miraculous tactic. The only reason not to have Ilves in the top three in October is the lack of pure quality. Even Wiss has his limits.

Although Ilves lacks a reliable offensive threat with Noubissi wasting a good amount of chances and the other lads popping up only every now and then, I see a good value in Ilves grabbing at least a point from Mariehamn. Their hosts have relied offensively on physicality and especially set pieces, which Ilves has the tools to work against with.

Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Ilves 0.25 at 1.720

By Petteri Räisänen – @konformisten from @FootballUtd

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