There is a full set of 10 premier league fixtures this weekend and, excitingly, each game is pivotal to the title chase, champions league qualification or a relegation struggle. Manchester United still top the table, but back to back league defeats has seen their lead cut to just three points. Second placed Arsenal have a game in hand on United, so are effectively joint leaders.
The middle to lower section of the table is extremely compressed. Everton are in ninth spot, but just six points above sides in the relegation zone. Even my Newcastle are being dangerously sucked towards the trap door.
Tottenham v West Ham (2345 AEDT)
This tasty London derby is the perfect way for football fans to get stuck into the evening. Tottenham have made it to the quarter finals of the UEFA Champions League and their opponent for that match will be Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid. The first leg of those quarter final ties won’t be played until early April, so, for now, spurs can concentrate on their league position. They currently sit fifth, a game outside the top four. West Ham got knocked out of the FA Cup last weekend, which may turn out to be a blessing in disguise as it means the hammers can give full attention to avoiding relegation. It should be an exciting match, but I think Tottenham will be too good.
Andy’s Bet: Tottenham to win @ 1.61 (Betfair)
Aston Villa v Wolverhampton (0200 AEDT)
Wolves have been improving lately, but are still ordinary on the road. They have only won once and drawn twice from fourteen away matches this season. Aston Villa are one of the league’s form teams, however they are only two points clear of relegation and need to keep winning. Villa central defenders Richard Dunne and James Collins will be disciplined by the club after an incident during a team bonding exercise. The incident won’t impact on this match as both players were already injured.
Andy’s Bet: Aston Villa to win @ 1.93 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Aston Villa to win to nil @ 3.30 (Sportsbet)
Blackburn v Blackpool (0200 AEDT)
This is a huge, huge match. Both teams are on 32 points and clinging to safety by a single point. Blackburn are in free-fall, losing five of their past six and drawing the other. Blackburn will be better for a return to the home comforts of Ewood Park. Blackpool games are always entertaining and the seasiders will be glad to welcome back their best player, midfielder Charlie Adam. I think both sides will score, and I think we’ll get a draw.
Andy’s bet: Draw @ 3.85 (Betfair)
Andy’s bet: Both sides to score @ 1.53 (Sportsbet)
Manchester United v Bolton (0200 AEDT)
This will be a great indicator to the way United will play the rest of the premier league season. Bolton are a decent side, improved from previous seasons when they would have been easily turned over in this fixture. A convincing win for United would prove they are ready to surge for the title, while a draw or loss would represent yet another stutter from the league leaders who have been beaten in three of their last five in the league. Bolton will welcome Daniel Sturridge back to their line up after the striker was cup tied last weekend. I expect United to be given a scare, but ultimately succeed.
Andy’s Bet: Manchester United to win @ 1.44 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Draw at half time and Manchester United to win at full time @ 4.25 (Centrebet)
Stoke v Newcastle (0200 AEDT)
Another interesting match that will define the rest of the season for both clubs. Stoke and Newcastle are both in mid table positions, yet only three and five points above relegation respectively. A win for either club would pull them above the pack and nearly ensure safety. Over their last four premier league games Stoke have scored just once and secured only one point. Stoke striker John Carew should be fit after a back injury sidelined him last weekend. The magpies will miss Jose Enrique due to a hamstring injury. The Spanish left back has been one of Newcastle’s star performers this term providing plenty of attacking drive down the left flank. With Joey Barton unlikely to return and Jonas Gutierrez doubtful, I am banking on a home win.
Andy’s Bet: Stoke to win @ 2.28 (Betfair)
West Brom v Arsenal (0200 AEDT)
The relegation candidates play host to the title contenders. West Brom have enjoyed a small resurgence with Roy Hodgson at the helm. The baggies have remained undefeated in the three games since Hodgson took charge. Arsenal will have to pick themselves up after being knocked out of the FA Cup by arch rivals Manchester United last Saturday. That loss means the premier league is the gunners only chance of a trophy this season. Atypically for Arsenal sides of recent seasons, the gunners can be relied upon to do the business away from home against weaker opponents. Even without Fabregas, Walcott, Djourou and Vermaelen, Arsenal are the better side.
Andy’s Bet: Arsenal to win @ 1.87 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Arsenal to be leading 1-0 at half time and 2-1 at full time @ 23.00 (Sportsbet)
Wigan v Birmingham (0200 AEDT)
This is a proper relegation six pointer. Bottom side Wigan host fourth from bottom Birmingham. Wigan are injury free, while the brummies have many top players in the treatment room, including David Bentley, Lee Bowyer, Nikola Zigic and James McFadden. Look for Wigan’s creative midfielder Charles N’Zogbia to pull the strings in this one.
Andy’s Bet: Wigan to win @ 2.24 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Charles N’Zogbia to score anytime @ 4.00 (Sportsbet)
Everton v Fulham (0430 AEDT)
For the preview of this game, refer to the preview of Stoke v Newcastle. Both clubs are mid table, but any slip up will see them sucked into a relegation scrap. Everton have been hit hardest on the injury front with Tim Cahill, Marouane Fellaini, Mikel Arteta and potentially Phil Neville on the sidelines. The most frequent result for an Everton home match this season has been a draw. The most frequent result for a Fulham away match has been a draw. I’m betting this will be a draw too!
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.40 (Betfair)
Sunderland v Liverpool (0030 AEDT)
Liverpool followed up their rousing victory over Manchester United with listless displays in their two Europa League ties against Braga. Sunderland, meanwhile, have not won since January. Although the black cats did achieve a credible draw at Arsenal last time out. Striker Andy Carroll made his starting debut in a Liverpool shirt on Thursday. Carroll is of course an ex-Newcastle player and he would love to score against a side he grew up despising. I’m tipping a score draw.
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.30 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Andy Carroll to score anytime @ 2.62 (Sportsbet)
Chelsea v Man City (0300 AEDT)
Chelsea have hit form at the right time of the season. The blues are unbeaten in six matches in all competitions and can leap frog their Manchester opponents with a win in Sunday’s late kickoff. Manchester City will be deflated after a disappointing exit from the Europa League on Thursday, bundled out by Dynamo Kiev. Chelsea will grind out another three points, keeping them within a sneaky sighting of the leading two clubs.
Andy’s Bet: Chelsea to win @ 1.69 (Betfair)
Sneaky European Multi
Andy’s Bet: Stoke, Hearts, Lazio, Borussia Dortmund, Espanyol and Lyon all to win @ 46.45 (Sportsbet)