A NEW LOOK AT THE COMING WEEKEND’S FOOTBALL
Last weekend was awful. Just about every match got postponed due to the good old English weather and Match of the Day only had two matches to show. But as the cliché goes, absence certainly does make the heart grow fonder and the next few days’ of football will seem blissful in comparison.
Across England there will 45 matches from the Premiership down to the Coca Cola League 2. For a lot of teams this will be their first match in weeks, especially for those down in League 2 and even for some in League 1 and the Championship.
Lots of matches make for much more exciting betting slips. A greater variety of games gives punters a wider choice. If you bet on multiple lines, then a weekend like the one we had last weekend is a nightmare as you can be tempted into betting on the same match twice – a risky ploy always.
So here we go – a full football card to play with. It should be very possible to whittle down 45 matches and from them get a good-looking betting slip.
BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE:
At White Hart Lane Tottenham face Hull and the home team will be looking for nothing less than three points. Both of these teams had their last match postponed. Hull have not won on their travels once so far this season and have not won any of their last eight matches – realistically a point at Tottenham would be a point more than they will be expecting. Spurs have won four of their last five, Niko Kranjcar has scored four in his last five and Luka Modric is back fully fit. Hull are up against it here. (HOME WIN)
Manchester Utd v Burnley will see the division’s most experienced and longest-serving manager come up against the league’s newest boss Brian Laws. The loss of Owen Coyle was one most Burnley fans had not seen coming and has really thrown the spanner in the Turf Moor works. United have been on a 4-day training trip to Doha this week to catch some Middle Eastern sun and this Saturday Edwin van der Sar should be back between the posts following the recovery of his wife from a brain haemorrhage. This is a tough introduction for Laws; his players will need to get right in to the faces of Man Utd if they want to get anything from this game, I can’t see them being able to stop United from scoring though. (HOME WIN)
Portsmouth host Birmingham City and I cannot see past the visitors. City are unbeaten in fourteen matches and have only conceded three goals in their last eight games. If Pompey are to win or draw here they need to score an early goal as Alex McCleish’s team are excellent at the back but not spectacular going forward and may struggle to score more than one. Portsmouth won in midweek at Coventry but the win was fortuitous to say the least; they were simply awful. Birmingham to keep a clean sheet, Joe Hart to carry on looking brilliant – (AWAY WIN)
Stoke could well beat Liverpool. Liverpool may be the more glamorous name here but with Steven Gerrard and ‘Nando Torres both potentially out, the Reds could really struggle. Tony Pulis will be smelling blood. Pool’s Wednesday night FA Cup display against Reading was just dreadful and Rafa Benitez’s job is hanging on a very thin red line.
COCA COLA CHAMPIONSHIP:
Roy Keane’s Ipswich face Coventry on Saturday and I fancy them for a win. The Tractor Boys have only lost once in their previous thirteen games and last Sunday they travelled to Leicester and dominated for large parts of the game. Chris Coleman’s men were desperately unlucky to lose on Tuesday and may still be feeling the effects of that 120-minute extra time epic when they play this weekend. Ipswich to win by one goal is the call for this one. (HOME WIN)
At the City Ground Nottingham Forest will play Reading. The Royals did so well in the two FA Cup matches against Liverpool but I suspect that could be the highlight of a disappointing season at the Madejski. At the Hawthornes Stadium last Friday Forest looked nothing short of brilliant going forward; the last time they lost in the league was the 19th September and the pool of strikers Billy Davies has at his disposal is a very talented one for the division they are in. Reading to be bounced right back down to earth. (HOME WIN)
There are a few games in the Championship this weekend which could well wind up being score draws. At the Liberty Stadium Swansea play Leicester. This is 5th v 6th and when the two teams met in the FA Cup two weeks ago only one goal separated the two teams. More even matches can be expected between Doncaster and Watford, and Sheffield United and Middlesborough.
COCA COLA LEAGUE ONE:
Wycombe Wanderers v Charlton Athletic has got away win written all over it. Wycombe did well to grind out a 1-1 draw away at Leeds and played extremely well. Before that game at Leeds though, Wycombe had lost their previous two matches, both of them at home, conceding six goals in the process. Charlton are unbeaten in nine but have drawn their last three with some high scoring affairs. Charlton to win by two or more goals. (AWAY)
It’s a tricky weekend in League 1 coming up. Most of the form teams in the division are playing away from home, at clubs which could turn them over. Southampton travel to Millwall and will be wanting to snatch at least a point from the game, but Millwall are a team in 7th place who are capable of beating anybody at home; a convincing 2-1 home victory over Bristol Rovers at the end of December was followed by a 1-1 draw at home to Championship side Derby in the Cup. Millwall v Southampton should be a tight match and a draw would be no suprise. Likewise for the match between Colchester and Norwich City. On the opening day of the season Paul Lambert took his Colchester side to Norwich and won 7-0. Now he takes his in-form Norwich side to Essex for a game between the 4th placed side in the league and the 2nd placed side. If either side does win this, it probably won’t be by more than one goal. My punt is for an away win by one goal.
COCA COLA LEAGUE TWO:
Rochdale v Port Vale is 1st versus 14th. Neither team has played since the 28th December. Rochdale are unbeaten in their last eight matches and Port Vale have lost three of their last four. Vale are decent on the road so it should be a tight match. Rochdale will want to kick off the New Year with another win however and I cannot look past them. (HOME WIN)
Darlington are at home to Aldershot on Saturday. The last time these two teams played was on the 14th and 26th December respectively. This may not be the greatest of spectacles at the Football League’s bottom placed side. Aldershot put 4 past a decent Barnet side on Boxing Day and are lying just inside the play off places. Darlington have been dire this season and Steve Staunton’s men need to start picking up points at home. (AWAY WIN)
How nice it will be to watch the football results come in this weekend! The guy that reads out the classified results had a ball last week and only had to read out about fifteen results. He’ll have to be back to his classified best this weekend though as 45 matches are going to be fought over.
There’s going to be a lot of rusty legs out on pitches nationwide over the next few days. Now that the snow has finally cleared this is the first proper chance for some players to work off the Christmas Turkey, especially in that Darlington v Aldershot match!!
My tip for a flutter this weekend is a big old speculative one:
STOKE + MAN U + SPURS + BIRMINGHAM + IPSWICH + FOREST + DRAW AT SWANSEA + CHARLTON + SWINDON + ROCHDALE + ALDERSHOT. A £5 STAKE AT 2PM ON THURSDAY 14TH JAN AT PADDY POWER.COM WOULD BRING IN £7515. PHWOAR.
HAVE A RELAXING AND LUCKY WEEKEND.
By Ross A. Fox