What a difference a week makes. Fernando Torres is now a Chelsea player, Andy Carroll is worth 35 million pounds as a Liverpool player and the reds have another striker, Uruguayan goal machine Luis Suarez. Both teams are likely out of this season’s title race, but these signings set them up for the next few years. In Chelsea’s case they also set them up for a big crack at this season’s European Champions League.
I can’t wait for this Sunday night when Torres will face up to his former teammates. Fortunately he will be playing at Stamford Bridge as he would be lucky to escape a visit to Anfield alive. The former reds messiah is now a hated man. This game doesn’t have the table topping feel it would normally have, but boy will it have some passion.
Stoke v Sunderland (2345 AEDT)
Regular readers of this column would know that I am impressed by both of these clubs. Sunderland were beaten, but not disgraced by Chelsea midweek and the same could be said of Stoke’s visit to Liverpool. If this was played in Sunderland I would be tipping a black cats triumph, but at the Brittania anything can happen. Stoke lost twice at home in December, but were unbeaten at home in January. I think these sides are evenly matched and will share the points.
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.95 (Betfair)
Aston Villa v Fulham (0200 AEDT)
Two clubs on the rise. Since signing Darren Bent, Villa have been transformed. Some have even described them as potent! The midlands club had won 3 in a row until a 3-1 loss midweek at Old Trafford. I caught a glimpse of that match and Villa had the run of play for much of the second half. Fulham have somewhat mirrored Villa’s revival. The cottagers have won 4 of their last 7 in the league, but I am still concerned by their away form. Fulham have won only 1 of their 12 away matches this season and their dreadful away form is part of the culture of the club and has been around for a few years now. I think Villa will smash this one and man of the moment Bent will find the back of the net once again.
Andy’s Bet: Aston Villa to win by 2 or more goals @ 3.75 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Darren Bent to score anytime @ 2.00 (Sportsbet)
Everton v Blackpool (0200 AEDT)
I’m not much good at catching Blackpool. It took me half the season to back them, and as soon as I jumped on board they’ve been hopeless. Well, I’m not going to be fooled again. Seasiders boss Ian Holloway maintains they will play with the same attacking freedom that served them so well earlier in the season, but this means they are always vulnerable at the back. You certainly can’t do leave gaps at Goodison Park. Everton are fairly efficient and don’t need many chances to make you pay. Louis Saha is in form and hopefully he can stay injury free. Everton are very short for the win, so I’m going big and ambitiously predicting a correct score.
Andy’s Bet: Everton to win @ 1.49 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Everton to win 2-0 @ 8.80 (Betfair)
Manchester City v West Brom (0200 AEDT)
Even though they are not at their best, an out of form City team will always do enough to get the points against West Brom. They have too much quality to keep them all down. Carlos Tevez has been a reliable goal scorer. Twice I have punted on him to score and both times he scored within 5 minutes of the kickoff. I can’t go past the little Argentinian!
Andy’s Bet: Manchester City to win @ 1.46 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Carlos Tevez to score first @ 4.00 (Sportsbet)
Newcastle v Arsenal (0200 AEDT)
Predictably unpredictable. That is all you really need to know about Newcastle. The team I support can’t seem to just be, well, normal. They do things differently in the north that’s for sure. Selling your only real striker late on transfer deadline day without a plan for replacing him. Shola Ameobi suffered a fractured cheekbone early into the midweek game against Fulham, so for the next two months Leon Best, Peter Lovenkrands and Nile Ranger are Newcastle’s only striking options. It is a big ask if you are relying on Kevin Nolan for all your goals from midfield. Arsenal are playing really well and I’ve just got one of those feelings that they are going to overhaul Manchester United as the season wears on. The gunners have always played the most beautiful passing game, but this season they have added incisiveness to go with it, a quite lethal combination. Newcastle are always good value to give their opponents a sighter at goal, so sadly I can see this being a bit one-sided. For the cynical readers, you might want to interpret this as the typical scenario for a predictably unpredictable Newcastle win!
Andy’s Bet: Arsenal to win @ 1.68 (Luxbet)
Andy’s Bet: Arsenal to win by 2 or more goals @ 2.80 (Sportsbet)
Tottenham v Bolton (0200 AEDT)
Tottenham are a better side than Bolton. The trotters are out of form and were thankful to a stoppage time strike from on loan striker Daniel Sturridge to beat bottom club Wolves on Wednesday. I can’t see them troubling Tottenham who will be looking to keep pace with the top 4. Oh, and Rafael van der Vaart is well overdue for a goal at the Lane.
Andy’s Bet: Tottenham to win @ 1.63 (Luxbet)
Andy’s Bet: Rafael van der Vaart to score anytime @ 2.30 (Sportsbet)
Wigan v Blackburn (0200 AEDT)
I think I might be tipping a Wigan victory for the first time ever! There are 2 reasons. The first is that Blackburn are very ordinary away from home and lack a real goalscoring threat. The second is that Charles N’Zogbia is really in the mood. The nippy little winger went on a number of dazzling runs against West Brom midweek and is a good barometer for the team. If he is on, they will get a result, and he will be on.
Andy’s Bet: Wigan to win @ 2.62 (Betfair)
Wolverhampton v Manchester United (0430 AEDT)
It is top v bottom in the final Saturday kickoff. I think it will be much closer than the league positions suggest and Wolves might even nick a draw. I am not confident enough to back it, but I am fairly confident that Wolves will play a physical game and look to knock the title favourites off their stride. United will have to earn every chance. Wayne Rooney repayed his manager’s faith by scoring twice in his starting role against Aston Villa. If he gets his form back then they will be impossible to stop!
Andy’s Bet: Under 2.5 goals @ 2.10 (Sportsbet)
West Ham v Birmingham (0030 AEDT)
Most people will be wanting this game to hurry up and finish so they can enjoy the drama from Stamford Bridge. Not me though! I love these relegation battles. Immense passion, challenges flying in, lots of goalmouth scrambles, and for the neutral, lots of fun. West Ham did the business over Blackpool midweek and also did the business in the transfer window, making a shrewd move snare Robbie Keane on loan for the rest of the season. Birmingham made a top loan signing of their own by tempting David Bentley across to St Andrews and he has made an immediate impact in his short time with the Brummies. I am not sure which way this will go and in these situations I normally sit on the fence and whack my cash on the draw.
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.55 (Betfair)
Chelsea v Liverpool (0300 AEDT)
These big games always throw up, and answer, some massive questions. This clash will be no different. How will Fernando Torres perform against his old teammates? What formation will Ancelotti use? Can Torres, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka fit into the one starting line up? Who will win the midfield battle between Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard? Will Luis Suarez outshine Torres and become an immediate reds legend? I think both sides are in form and it should be a corker. Chelsea to edge it 2-1.
Andy’s Bet: Chelsea to win @ 1.64 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Chelsea to win 2-1 @ 9.60 (Betfair)
Sneaky European Multi
This is fast becoming the most successful part of the column. Last time we went European we were well rewarded with all 6 multi legs saluting for a generous payout. Let’s do it again!
Andy’s Bet: Manchester City, Lazio, Bayer Leverkusen, Valencia and Lyon all to win @ 12.10 (Sportsbet)