Well, last weekends football certainly kicked up a couple of surprises, the big match ended with Manchester City stunning their United counterparts in a 6-1 victory, the other surprise was Chelsea failing to beat QPR and even though they were reduced to 9 men for much of the game, they wtill looked as though they could snatch a point.
I hope you followed my advice and laid Liverpool against Norwich, at 1.3 that’s about the strongest favourite I expect to lay this season.
Anyway, enough of recent history, let’s get onto this weeks matches:
Everton v Manchester United – 12.00
The first match of the day sees Manchester United travel to Liverpool in search of both redemption and three points that would be very useful in their attempt to haul back some lost ground.
Goodison Park has often proved a tricky hunting ground for United and after last weekends result, their could be a touch of mental scarring that could hinder them in this one. Everton got an important result of their own last weekend and having seen last season Champions looking surprisingly under the weather against City, they will be looking to take full advantage and get something from this game.
I think they could do it too, Everton have Saha back in the goals and, when fit, the Toffess front man is one of the most lethal strikers in the league. An injury to Tim Cahill will certainly make things harder, as does the suspension of Royston Drenthe who has been in fine form recently.
I can see this game being one where Everton look to contain Manchester United and try to hit them on the break as much as possible. I don’t see it being a classic and I don’t see it being full of goals. I can see this one ending in a draw but I’m not going to be putting any of my money on that even though the odds look good at around 3.5, instead I’m looking at the Over/Under market with Under 2.25 looking a good bet at 2.30.
Chelsea v Arsenal – 12.45
One of two London derbies taking place this weekend and as you know, I’m not a big fan of betting in derby matches. For that reason I will stay out of the betting on this one and instead just watch it for the enjoyment of the game.
Chelsea had a good performance (from eight players and their manager) last weekend but were let down by individuals who either got themselves sent off or were careless in their defending. Now they need to get points on the board if they are to challenge for the title this season, a home match here against an Arsenal side that still look eminently beatable provides them with an opportunity to rack up three more points and keep themselves in the chase.
Arsenal will be looking to continue their recent good form that has seen them win 7 out of their last 8 matches in all competitions, yes they still have problems at the back and yes, they are still not entirely convincing but they are only 6 points off a top four spot and they know a win here win tighten things up considerably.
I’m expecting a very tight game here but I think Torres will play a prominent part and he will certainkly get chances against an Arsenal back line that just doesn’t look “right”.
If you wanted to go for a correct score bet, I would think that 1:0 looks reasonable and the odds are great at 8 with William Hill and Bet365. As I said earlier, the very fact it’s a derby match means I will be staying out of the betting on this one.
If you want to see what one of our other contributors thinks will happen, you can read their preview here.
Manchester City v Wolverhampton Wanderers – 15.00
Manchester City players and management team were all keen to play down the importance of their win last weekend, perhaps they recognized that crowing too hard would show a lack of respect to the team they had already taken apart on the field, or perhaps they just realised that there was a lot of games left in the season and that their title hopes would rest more heavily on matches like this one against Wolves.
This game is a repeat of the midweek Carling Cup game that City comfortably won 5-2 except that this time, City are playing on home turf. If anything, I can only see that making the game harder for City, Wolves will come and try to keep things tight, City fans have been known to let their feelings be known if they don’t see things going well and that can transmit to the fans, of course I expect City will score and at that point the floodgates could burst open and we may see a torrent of goals.
This is another one I’m not going to bet in as I just don’t see any value in the odds available but I am quite tempted by the Over/Under HT market where you can currently get under 1.25 at 2.02.
Norwich v Blackburn – 15.00
Norwich had a fantastic result against Liverpool last week and Blackburn picked up a morale boosting win against high flying Newcastle in the Carling Cup midweek. Both of these teams are expected to be at the wrong end of the table come the end of the season so this could be our first 3 pointer of the season.
I’m a big fan of Paul Lambert and I can see him managing one of Englands biggest clubs later on in his career, the time he spent abroad as a player has obviously helped him as a manager and he has got his inexpensively assembled side playing good football, their draw against Liverpool last week was well justified and although I can seem them having a slump later in the season, the points they have already picked up will have given them heart.
Normally I’ve been very negative when it comes to Blackburn this season, I have nothing against the club or it’s fans but I do think their owners have not made the best decisions at times and I think they have a very long season ahead of them.
Having said all of that, I am going to go against a personal rule and back Blackburn in this match, their display against Tottenham last week nearly earned them a draw and if they had got a point, it would have been fully deserved, the win against Newcastle midweek will certainly have hardened their resolve and they will be going into this match believing that they can win.
My first bet of the weekend will be a Blackburn away win at 4.25 with Pinnacle Sports.
Sunderland v Aston Villa – 15.00
If ever a game was destined to end in a draw, this was it, neither side has shown any inclination to go out and take hold of a game recently and draws have been frequent for both sides.
Steve Bruce will have enjoyed seeing Sessegnon and Bendtner score against Bolton last week and the result will have eased the pressure he must have been feeling. Even with that result though, Sunderland are only three points clear of the bottom 3 and look like they could get dragged into a relegation fight later in the season.
Aston Villa arguably had the wrong player sent off last week, Huttons challenge would have been shown a straight red most weeks and how he even escaped a caution, I do not know. Herds appeal against his red card had been upheld and as a result, he will be eligible to face the Black Cats.
You can bet on the draw at 3.3 with bet365 and I’ll probably have a small wager on that myself.
Swansea v Bolton – 15.00
Boltons miserable season continues, Owen Coyle really needs to turn things around and get a few more wins under his belt, what has started as an early season blip is starting to look more and more like a proper crisis. Coyle has won a lot of admirers for the work he has done at Bolton and although I don’t think there is much chance that his chairman will decide to replace him with someone else, it is the time of year when managers start to lose their jobs and unless results pick up soon, questions will get asked more frequently and the pressure will rise.
Swansea, along with the other promoted clubs, have come up and quite taken to Premiership football, although they are yet to win away from home and although they still have injury problems, they have stayed committed to playing good football and games like this one will determine how long their stay in the top flight is.
I’m staying out of the betting on this one but I’ll be keeping an eye on the game and expecting a home win.
Wigan v Fulham – 15.00
Another game played out between two sides at the wrong end of the table, both sides are struggling right now and things don’t look like getting any easier in the near future.
Wigan have not won a match since the 27th August and with that being their only win of the season, it is only the shortcomings of others that gives them any hope of getting out of the bottom 3. They have not found anyone who can give them the same kind of penetration or creativity that N’Zogbia provided last season, they do have good players, James McCarthy looks like a real prospect and it would be no surprise to see him at a Champions League club next season.
Fulham saw their game against Everton turn completely around right after Bobby Zamora missed a golden chance to score. His manager Martin Jol will be hoping that miss doesn’t spring to mind if his target man gets a good chance in this game.
Predicting a result in this one is difficult but I think we can say that goals will be at a premium here. I would be looking at the Under 2.5 market but the odds there are just too short to sensibly risk my money.
So, I’ll stay out of the betting here and will just post a prediction of a Fulham win by a single goal.
West Bromwich Albion v Liverpool – 17.30
Roy Hodgson should feel somewhat vindicated, his time in Liverpool was undermined by both the departing board and those coming in, his players didn’t help, Torres clearly wanted away and others have admitted that they should have tried harder. Since returning to a lower level in the Premiersip, Hodgson has worked wonders with West Brom, much as he did with Fulham before. Working with a lower budget is clearly something that he is more comfortable with and he buys well.
Dalglish’s access to the Liverpool treasure chest has resulted in some underwhelming purchases, in my opinion he has overspent on Carroll and Henderson and the jury is still out on Charlie Adam. What’s not in doubt though is that Luis Suarez has been an excellent buy, yes, there is often controversy surrounding him and he is not every fans favourite player but he has undoubted quality and is a match winner for his side.
I think Liverpool will put last weekends disappointment behind them and pick up an away win here. Perhaps the odds are too short at 2.1 to consider risking my money on it though.