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by Ben, last updated 2008-02-07 19:16:04

 Premiership Betting - Matchday 26 Preview


It has been a busy week on the international scene with a full midweek schedule of friendly fixtures, while the African Cup of Nations is reaching a climax with the final on Sunday. Premiership bettors should check to see whether players return safely from national duty, then got to PinnacleSports.com for up to 60% better Premiership betting odds.


Sunday Grand Slam Part One – Manchester Derby

Manchester United were this week fined £25,000 by the Football Association after picking up seven bookings in their 1-1 draw with Spurs last Saturday at White Hart Lane. They got out of jail in the 90th minute of a bad tempered game, and there could be plenty more cautions at Old Trafford this Sunday as they face their City rivals, in the first part of a Premiership Grand Slam. The Laser Blues shocked the Red Devils with a 1-0 win at Eastlands earlier in the season, so victory at the Theatre of Dreams would give Sven Goran Eriksson an unlikely double, in his first season in charge.

The odds are stacked against that as United are in much the better form, having won twelve successive Premiership home games, conceding just three times. City have settled into a familiar pattern of struggling on the road, winning just two away games so far this term. Key playmaker Elano – the one individual who could hurt United - has gone off the boil, Of course this isn’t just any game, and both sides will raise their performance levels, but United are at virtually full strength, and last at home in Manchester Derby back in 1974. There is the added intensity of Wednesday’s 50th anniversary of the Munich Air crash which killed eight Man Utd players, which will fire up the home crowd. On the last two meetings Alex Ferguson’s side have run out 3-1 winners, and PinnacleSports.com make them favourites 1.826 (-1.5)* with Man City 2.110 (+1.5)*.


Sunday Grand Slam Part Two – Chelsea v Liverpool

Chelsea and Liverpool have become closely acquainted over recent seasons playing each other 17 times over the last four campaigns, thanks to regular meetings in the Champions League. All games between these sides are hard fought affairs, but Liverpool must overcome Chelsea’s 78 game unbeaten run at Stamford Bridge, stretching back to 2004. The Pool’s recent form at the Bridge doesn’t suggest they are capable of that, failing to score in their last seven visits, starting at the beginning of the Jose Mourinho era. The Reds have been distracted by friction between club owners and manager, Rafa Benitez, which has unsettled players, and seen them win just one league game in 2008, dropping right off the title race.

Chelsea remain in the hunt, but have been struggling under the burden of injuries to John Terry, Frank Lampard, Ricardo Carvalho and Andriy Shevchenko, while Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Salamon Kalou and Obi Mikel have been playing at the African Cup of Nations. All except Mikel will still be in Ghana over the weekend, so this is a good time for Liverpool to break their bad run away to Chelsea. The Scousers spirits will have been lifted by last weekend’s 2-0 win over Sunderland, but they still seem like a side low on confidence, whereas Chelsea have rediscovered the siege mentality, grinding out results with a second XI. The return of Michael Ballack has been a huge boost while Brazilian defender, Alex, looks like a quality player. PinnacleSports.com make Chelsea marginal favourites 2.110 (-0.5)* with Liverpool 1.826 (+0.5)* – a market priced to less than 102%.

 

*All odds subject to change




 Wayne drops keep falling on my head

 By Gerry McDonnell

I am no stranger to a lazy stereotype. I'm half-Irish and I'm married to a Scot, so some people believe we stay at home all day smoking crack and peeling potatoes; which is only half true.

It could be worse though, I could be bald. Britney Spears was considered a wholesome entertainer when she had flowing locks; but the moment she showed solidarity with the follicly challenged, the authorities took her children away.

It's not just tubby Americans who persecute the hairless. When Andy Johnson had a little decoration on his head, he was awarded penalties and his goals were allowed to stand; now he's shunned like Lewis Hamilton on a weekend trip to Majorca.

Personally I think it's a case of raging gingerism, as baldness is their only legitimate hope of a life free or mockery. I'll make a stand against these peladophobic gingerphobes by supporting AJ's Everton at 4/7 against a struggling Reading.

Ryan Babel is another player who deserves our sympathy. Rafa perplexingly continues to bench the flying Dutchman: the only way he'll be promoted to a starter is if he bumps into Frank Lampard. Chelsea will devour the struggling Reds at a mouthwatering 11/10.

Harry Redknapp has hit the jackpot with the signing of Jermain Defoe. The Pompey manager is just like King Midas - it's believed that the King's son was a real nause. I'll be droning on endlessly about the 9/4 for a draw between Bolton and Portsmouth.

Derby were a lot less successful with their attempts at January shopping. Paul Jewell signed Laurent Robert on a free transfer; I think he overpaid. Tottenham are the weekend banker at 8/13 against the awful Rams.

Birmingham were dealt a knockout blow by a player named Villa last week, so it was a typical Derby match. It's just one win in eleven matches now for the Blues; West Ham look a great shout at 17/20 to increase the pressure on the Big Eck.

Premier League attendances now average 36,000 a match, which is a 50 year high. The figure would have threatened the 40,000 mark, if it wasn't for Middlesbrough. One man and his dog will see Boro destroy Fulham at 10/11.

Roy Keane will be looking forward to reuniting with Steve Bruce, as they haven't seen each other since filming Cinderella. I'll turn into a pumpkin if Sunderland fail to oblige against Wigan at 23/20.

The loss of Agbonlahor will be a massive blow for Aston Villa. Gabby has aggravated a hamstring - he accidentally knocked his pint over. The return of Young will soften the blow for the Villans; the tactically shrewd Martin O'Neill will bamboozle Kevin Keegan's Toon Army at 10/11.

A hamstring injury has also ruled the influential Tomas Rosicky out of Arsenal's match against Blackburn. Rosicky is known as 'little Mozart', due to his ability to orchestrate the midfield. Personally, I'm a big fan of Chopin: I often buy a big bag of potatoes. I can definitely handle the 4/11 for an Arsenal win over Blackburn.

After a protracted saga, Manchester City have finally signed Benjani, and I can claim with little fear of contradiction that Pompey's loss is Manchester City's loss. An Elano-less, Benjani-full City will almost certainly lose out to Manchester United at 1/3.

Wayne Rooney will miss the Manchester derby after receiving a booking for hurling his considerable weight to the ground last week in an alleged act of simulation. Rooney would never cheat, so I can only conclude that the referee cautioned him for his ginger stubble and an increasingly receding hairline. Aston Villa, Tottenham, Everton, Middlesbrough and West Ham form not only an outstanding 16/1 accer; it's also a symbol of hope for our continually oppressed pool-ball headed brothers.



Weekend Betting:


Aston Villa v Newcastle Saturday 9th February 12:45 Live on Sky

Aston Villa 10/11
Draw 5/2
Newcastle 7/2

Get on: Aston Villa

Match Special:
Ashley Young to score direct from a free kick 10/1

Bolton v Portsmouth Saturday 9th February 15:00

Bolton 8/5
Draw 9/4
Portsmouth 15/8

Get on: Draw

Match Special:
No goalscorer in the game 8/1

Derby v Tottenham Saturday 9th February 15:00

Derby 11/2
Draw 3/1
Tottenham 8/13

Get on: Tottenham

Match Special:
Berbatov and Keane both to score 5/1

Everton v Reading Saturday 9th February 15:00

Everton 4/7
Draw 3/1
Reading 6/1

Get on: Everton

Match Special:
Andy Johnson to score two or more goals 6/1

Middlesbrough v Fulham Saturday 9th February 15:00

Middlesbrough 10/11
Draw 12/5
Fulham 7/2

Get on: Middlesbrough

Match Special:
Alves to score the first goal 4/1

Sunderland v Wigan Saturday 9th February 15:00

Sunderland 23/20
Draw 23/10
Wigan 13/5

Get on: Sunderland

Match Special:
Kenwyne Jones to score with a header 11/2

West Ham v Birmingham Saturday 9th February 15:00

West Ham 17/20
Draw 13/5
Birmingham 7/2

Get on: West Ham

Match Special:
Ljungberg to score at any time 4/1

Man Utd v Man City Sunday 10th February 13:30 Live on Sky

Man Utd 1/3
Draw 4/1
Man City 12/1

Get on: Man Utd

Match Special:
Ronaldo to score from outside the penalty area 9/2

Chelsea v Liverpool Sunday 10th February 16:00 Live on Sky

Chelsea 11/10
Draw 9/4
Liverpool 7/2

Get on: Chelsea

Match Special:
Anelka to score the only goal of the game 25/1

Arsenal v Blackburn Monday 11th February 20:00 Live on Setanta

Arsenal 4/11
Draw 7/2
Blackburn 12/1

Get on: Arsenal

Match Special:
Adebayor to score a hat-trick 20/1





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