Another cracking weekend of Premier League action is waiting for us! Last weekend saw some big moments and big results. Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Arsenal put them to the top of the table with a game in hand. They are looking the goods, but have another big test this weekend against arch rival Chelsea. The Blues returned to a little bit of form with a 1-1 draw against Tottenham. It could have been even better had Didier Drogba not fluffed his stoppage time penalty.
Last weekend saw this column post a narrow loss for the suggested bets. Hopefully we’ll be back on the right side of the ledger this time around.
Here are the previews for each game this weekend.
Sunderland v Bolton (2345 AEDT)
A couple of teams that could be considered the best of the rest outside the top 5. Sunderland meet Bolton in the weekend’s first fixture. The Black Cats have only lost 1 of their last 7 matches, so they are in great form. The Black Cats are also in good form at home, unbeaten all season at the Stadium of Light. Bolton returned to winning ways against Blackburn last weekend, but did not play that well. Sunderland do not create many chances, in fact only Birmingham have had less shots all season, but they are good at taking them when they come. They should create enough chances at home to get a couple of goals, and the win.
Andy’s Bet: Sunderland to win @ 2.20 (Betfair)
Arsenal v Stoke (0200 AEDT)
The Gunners were disappointing in the big Old Trafford showdown with Man Utd last week. They lost 1-0 and didn’t look like scoring. Stoke were similarly disappointing in a 1-0 home loss to Blackpool. The Potters were unlucky though, they hit woodwork 3 times. Robin Van Persie is back to fitness, but Arsene Wenger is not yet playing him in the starting line up. I think the Dutchman should start here and if he does, he’ll probably find the net. But wait on the team news before betting on him. If Stoke can’t score at home to Blackpool, I can’t see how they will score away against Arsenal.
Andy’s Bet: Arsenal to win to nil @ 2.00 (Sportsbet)
Birmingham v Newcastle (0200 AEDT)
Birmingham belied their recent good form with a limp and listless display against Wolves last week. Meanwhile, Newcastle ended one of their crazy weeks in predictably unpredictable style – a 3-1 win against previously in form Liverpool. Birmingham have only been beaten once at home all season and have conceded, on average, less than 1 goal per game. So I think this will be tight. Newcastle fans will be relieved to learn that Fabricio Cololccini and Mike Williamson are now available to return after suspension. This will mean that comedy defender Sol Campbell can return to the subs bench.
Andy’s Bet: Under 1.5 goals @ 3.05 (Centrebet)
Blackburn v West Ham (0200 AEDT)
I can’t work out which sacking is more ridiculous. Newcastle getting rid of Chris Hughton last week or Blackburn getting rid of Sam Allardyce this week. Blackburn are actually going quite well and a win against West Ham this weekend will see them return to the top half of the table. On first half form, Blackburn have the 3rd best record in the league. It is being reported in Britain that West Ham boss Avram Grant has been given an ultimatum. The Hammers must win 1 of their next 3 matches or he will be sacked. West Ham have won only 1 of their last 8, are yet to win on the road and are averaging only 0.5 goals on their travels.
Andy’s Bet: Blackburn to be leading at half time @ 2.40 (Sportsbet)
Wigan v Aston Villa (0200 AEDT)
Wigan gutsed out a draw at Everton last week, while Aston Villa recorded a much needed win over local rival West Brom. Villa have struggled away from home, but will fancy their chances against Wigan. If they score early I fancy them to go on and win. If not, Wigan will probably grind out another draw.
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.35 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Aston Villa to be leading at half time and full time @ 4.33 (Sportsbet)
Liverpool v Fulham (0430 AEDT)
Liverpool were awful last weekend on their trip north to Newcastle, while Fulham have been awful, well, for quite some time really. Let’s keep this one simple. Liverpool have only been beaten once at Anfield and Fulham are yet to win away from Craven Cottage. So Liverpool should win, but by how much? I’ll stay conservative and say just 1 or 2 goals. Also follow the fitness of Liverpool captain and midfield maestro Steven Gerrard. Gerrard had planned to return from injury in this game, but manager Roy Hodgson has said that it now might be another week.
Andy’s Bet: Liverpool to win @ 1.59 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Liverpool to win by 2 or more goals @ 2.60 (Sportsbet)
West Brom v Wolverhampton (2300 AEDT)
Another midlands derby for these two clubs. West Brom were unsuccessful against Aston Villa last week, while Wolves edged out Birmingham 1-0. Wolves have only taken 1 point from their 8 games away from home, so I’m leaning towards West Brom here. The Baggies have been hard to catch at home, but I think they will get the points if they can overcome a tough Wolves outfit.
Andy’s Bet: West Brom to win @ 1.82 (Betfair)
Blackpool v Tottenham (0030 AEDT)
The Blackpool machine just keeps churning out results. The Seasiders were good value for their 1-0 win at Stoke last week. Tottenham are by far the most enjoyable side to watch, so I can’t wait for this match up. Looking through the stats, Blackpool are yet to keep a clean sheet at home and Tottenham are yet to keep a clean sheet away, so there should be goals. But the betting agencies are right on top of this, so the odds for both teams to score, or over 2.5 goals are only $1.50. Tottenham will have enjoyed a rare midweek break, so I think they might just have a day out by the seaside.
Andy’s Bet: Tottenham to win @ 1.70 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Tottenham to win to nil @ 3.45 (Betfair)
Chelsea v Manchester United (1600 AEDT)
The match of the round! United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was very tactically astute last weekend playing a 5 man midfield to stifle Arsenal’s creative play and I expect a similar formation here. The only concern for United is the goalscoring form of Wayne Rooney. United’s main man has not scored a goal from open play for his club side since March. It is very early days, but this is a big, big game for Chelsea and I get the sense that the players know it. The Blues were the better team against Tottenham last weekend, but could not get the desired result. Frank Lampard came off the bench in that one and got through a 60 minute practice match on Thursday, so the number 7 should make his first start since August. With John Terry hitting form, I think Chelsea can get the win and shake the title race back up.
Andy’s Bet: Chelsea to win @ 2.20 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Chelsea to win by 2 or more goals @ 4.50 (Sportsbet)
Manchester City v Everton (0700 AEDT)
Manchester City are yet another team that has endured a crazy week. For a team that is 3rd in the table, the timing could not be worse for star player and leading goalscorer Carlos Tevez to request a transfer. Manchester City have knocked back his request and it is impossible to judge how this saga will play out. Everton travel Manchester with problems of their own. Recent struggles at home have seen them go winless in their last 7 matches and long serving manager David Moyes is coming under increasing pressure. Despite this, Everton have only been beaten twice on their travels. On average, only 1.5 goals have been scored per game at Eastlands this season, so I think if Everton get 1 goal, it might be enough to grab a draw.
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.80 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: 1-1 @ 8.00 (Betfair)
Sneaky European Multi
We went close to another big win in last week’s multi. However, Liverpool let us down. This week we again try the usual method of picking one winner from each of Europe’s big leagues.
Andy’s Bet: Sunderland, Hearts, PSG, Bayer Leverkusen, Lazio, Barcelona all to win @ 20.50 (Sportsbet)