Last weekend was a very good weekend for Manchester United fans. The red devils came back from a two goal deficit to beat West Ham 4-2 in Saturday’s early game and then watched Arsenal and Chelsea drop points with draws later that day. United are now seven points clear of Arsenal on top with seven games to play, although the Gunners have a game in hand on the league leaders. It is still a tight squeeze at the lower end of the table, with the bottom seven sides separated by just 3 points.
Wolverhampton v Everton (2145 AEST)
Wolves really missed the industrious efforts of Kevin Doyle up front against Newcastle last week. The Irish striker is out for the rest of the season and Wolves need to come up with a quick fix for the remaining games. No player on their list is capable of playing the lone striker role, so they may elect to go with two up top. Although they are stringing results together, Everton aren’t playing especially well. I think this will be a tight tussle and Wolves will be especially nervy considering their relegation predicament. Expect a cautious approach from both teams and few goals.
Andy’s Bet: Under 2.5 goals @ 1.74 (Centrebet)
Blackburn v Birmingham (0000 AEST)
Birmingham were very impressive against Bolton last weekend. The Brummies were victorious and seemed to get their mojo back, which has been missing since their Carling Cup triumph. Kevin Phillips was outstanding in his striking role. This is an old fashioned relegation 6 pointer. If either side can win, they will take a giant stride towards safety. Blackburn have the worst form in the division and haven’t won since January. I’ve got this match as line ball, so I’ve taken the better odds offered up for a Birmingham win.
Andy’s Bet: Birmingham to win @ 4.40 (Betfair)
Bolton v West Ham (0000 AEST)
A win in this match could lift Bolton up to the dizzy height of seventh position. The Trotters healthy league spot is courtesy of an excellent home record. Bolton have won 8 of their 15 home fixtures and lost just twice, to Chelsea and Liverpool. I don’t think West Ham have the calibre of players to turn Bolton over like Chelsea and Liverpool did. Interestingly, Bolton have not won any of the 5 league games they have played with midfielder Stuart Holden missing from the starting lineup. He misses this game through injury. Despite this I think Bolton will sneak in a win.
Andy’s bet: Bolton to win @ 2.22 (Betfair)
Chelsea v Wigan (0000 AEST)
Chelsea were well contained by Manchester United in the midweek Champions League quarter final. From my viewpoint, the Blues didn’t use enough width in their attacks and were too narrow, making life easy for the United defenders. Wigan’s defense should be much easier to breach and I can see Chelsea breaking the shackles and knocking a few in. Fernando Torres must be desperately hoping he can find the net. The striker who was bought for 50 million quid has not found the net in 617 minutes of game time at Chelsea. That is the equivalent of nearly seven full 90 minute matches.
Andy’s Bet: Chelsea to win by 3 or more goals @ 2.60 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Frank Lampard to score anytime @ 1.91 (Sportsbet)
Manchester United v Fulham (0000 AEST)
Wayne Rooney is suspended for this one and his likely replacement is Dimitar Berbatov, the league’s top scorer. Quite a handy replacement! Berbatov will be desperate to find the net and push for selection in the big FA Cup and Champions League matches that are just around the corner. Fulham are on a nice run and have made their way into the top half of the table. Damningly for the Cottagers, they have only won once on the road all season and United are yet to be beaten at Old Trafford, winning 14 of 15 home games.
Andy’s Bet: Manchester United to win by 2 or more goals @ 2.20 (Sportsbet)
Andy’s Bet: Dimitar Berbatov to score anytime @ 1.83 (Sportsbet)
Sunderland v West Brom (0000 AEST)
A loss here and Sunderland will really be panicking, but I think they will have been steeling themselves for this contest all week. There is plenty of incentive for West Brom too. A win would see them leapfrog Sunderland in the table. Asamoah Gyan is the barometer of the Sunderland team. The Ghanian is well overdue for a big match.
Andy’s Bet: Sunderland to win @ 2.34 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Asamoah Gyan to score the first goal @ 5.50 (Sportsbet)
Tottenham v Stoke (0000 AEDT)
Tottenham were embarrassed by Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter final, losing 4-0. Peter Crouch was sent off early on and Spurs played 75 minutes with 10 men. That has got to take it out of you, especially when Real Madrid are making you chase the ball all game. Stoke are the antithesis to Real Madrid and will cause Spurs problems with their combative style. I think this game will be a willing contest and the honours will be shared.
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.85 (Betfair)
Blackpool v Arsenal (2230 AEST)
This game will be very open and should suit Arsenal to a tee. To their credit, Ian Holloway’s Blackpool always play with an attacking mindset, but you just can’t do that against a team with so much more class, which is what Arsenal bring. If Manchester United win on Saturday, Arsenal will be 10 points down at kickoff. They surely won’t drop crucial points for a third week in a row!
Andy’s Bet: Arsenal to win by exactly 2 goals @ 4.33 (Sportsbet)
Aston Villa v Newcastle (0100 AEST)
Newcastle were good last week against Wolves and picked up a much needed three points to steady the ship. Magpies skipper Kevin Nolan was booked for the 10th time this season and thus received an automatic two game suspension, which is effective for this game. Cheik Tiote is also suspended, leaving a big hole in Newcastle’s midfield. Aston Villa were also on form last week, earning a 2-2 draw at Everton. I just think Aston Villa will be all over the midfiled and create many more chances than the black and whites.
Andy’s Bet: Aston Villa to win @ 1.88 (Betfair)
Liverpool v Manchester City (0500 AEST)
No Gerrard, no Liverpool. It has been the same story at Anfield for the last decade. I can’t see them beating a City side aiming to stay in the top 4. It should be a good tussle though and I think a big man like Andy Carroll could break the game open with a headed goal from any sort of decent cross.
Andy’s Bet: Draw @ 3.35 (Betfair)
Andy’s Bet: Andy Carroll to score the first goal @ 6.30 (Centrebet)
SNEAKY EUROPEAN MULTI
Andy’s Bet: Chelsea, Hearts, AC Milan, Bayer Leverkusen, Valencia and Marseille all to win @ 13.35 (Sportsbet)