Easter Weekend Betting tipsby Ben, last updated 2007-04-06 16:15:15
Premiership preview from PinnacleSports.com
Will Hammers' Bubble Burst at Emirates Stadium?
Carlos Tevez is rapidly becoming a legend at Upton Park. Scoring in three consecutive games the Argentine has spearheaded the Hammers' recent revival. Back-to-back wins have given the Irons some positive momentum, and a glimmer of hope for survival. Very much in the mould of Paolo Di Canio, another firm favourite with the West Ham faithful, Tevez has injected some much needed passion into the club, but recent results will count for nothing if West Ham fail to get something out of Saturday's London Derby at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal have not lost at their new home, but have shown vulnerability, drawing five times and having to come from behind on eleven occasions to maintain their unbeaten run. The Gunners were comfortably beaten 4-1 at Anfield on the weekend, betraying the absence of several key players, Thierry Henry, Robin Van Persie and Gilberto Silva, who remain unavailable. That defeat allowed Liverpool to climb above them into 3rd place in the Premiership, which brings with it automatic qualification into next season's Champions League. www.pinnaclesports.com expect a backlash on Saturday pricing Arsenal favourites 1.758 (-1) with resurgent West Ham 2.22 (+1) looking to emulate last season's shock 3-2 win at Highbury.
Chelsea & Spurs Meet for Fourth Time This Season
Chelsea and Tottenham have already shared three pulsating games this term. In November Spurs recorded their first win over Chelsea since 1990, with the help of home advantage, but Chelsea took revenge in the FA Cup, though they needed a replay to progress. The two quarter-finals produced nine goals, with the first game at Stamford Bridge ending 3-3, despite Spurs leading 3-1 at the break. Crucially Chelsea's captain, John Terry, was absent that day, but is now firmly back in charge of Chelsea's back-line. In the Premiership the Champions have been rock solid. Though Chelsea looked jaded in their 1-0 victory at Vicarage Road last weekend, it was their seventh consecutive league win without conceding.
Both clubs are suffering from fixture congestion, though Spurs' has eased after their FA Cup exit at Chelsea's hands. Their season is now focused on the UEFA Cup, the first leg of which will take place in Spain on Thursday, just over 40 hours before this game, so Martin Jol might be expected to give some of his key players a rest in this game, with the return leg taking place at White Hart Lane on Thursday. www.pinnaclesports.com price Chelsea one goal better than their visitors 1.820 (-1) with Tottenham 2.12 (+1).
United Unlikely to Have Easy Day-out on South Coast
Manchester United maintained their six point lead at the top of the Premiership with a 4-1 home win over Bolton last weekend, showing just how powerful they are at Old Trafford. If the Red Devils are going to relinquish their advantage, the slip up is likely to come on the road. Four of Manchester United's seven remaining fixtures are away from home, the first of the sequence coming at Fratton Park on Saturday evening.
Other than Chelsea, Portsmouth are the only side to have been on top of the Premiership table this season, thanks to their blistering start to the campaign. Their time at the summit didn't last long, and they are now sat in mid-table mediocrity, having won just one of their last nine league outings. With nothing to play for Harry Redknapp may be finding it difficult motivating his players, but he should have no problems motivating them for the visit of United, the team everyone is out to beat. United's record on the South Coast may give Chelsea fans some hope, Ferguson's side have lost on two of their three Premiership visits, nevertheless www.pinnaclesports.com make United favourites on their Asian Handicap 2.10 (-1) with Portsmouth 1.833 (+1).
La Liga preview from PinnacleSports.com
Zaragoza Stake Their Claim for Champions League Spot
When Agapito Iglesias took sole control of Real Zaragoza in May of 2006 he promised to build one of the strongest teams in Europe. Almost one year on and the Blanquillos might not be world-beaters just yet, but they are only three points away from fourth place in the Primera Liga, and the chance of Champions League football. In that context, Saturday's home game against league leaders Barcelona should be an exciting encounter. Zaragoza are unbeaten in six games at La Romareda, which included a 2-1 win over Sevilla, currently in second place.
These sides met twice in a recent Copa Del Rey quarter-final, when both won away from home. The aggregate score finished 2-2 but Barcelona progressed thanks to their two goals at La Romareda. Zaragoza are recognised as Copa Del Rey specialists (winning in 2001 & 2004) but there is no reason that this league clash won't be as tight, though they will have to keep close tabs on Samuel Eto'o. The Cameroon striker is showing signs of returning to his best form with three goals in his last two league outings. www.pinnaclesports.com price Barcelona favourites at 2.05 (-0.5), with Real Zaragoza 1.877 (+0.5).
Sevilla Facing Crucial Stage in Season
Sevilla are approaching a crucial stage in their season with three games in seven days. The reigning UEFA Cup holders face two quarter-final games in quick succession against Tottenham Hotspur, and sandwiched between those encounters is a crucial La Liga at home to Racing Santander. Sevilla are currently second in the table, searching for their second Primera crown after a wait of 61 years.
This is an equally crucial game for Santander. Following their nine goal weekend thriller at home to Bilbao, which they won 5-4, Racing are now just one point away from a UEFA Cup place. The side from Northern Spain are arguably in better form than Sevilla, having lost just one of their last 11 fixtures (at the Nou Camp). In contrast Sevilla are struggling to score goals, drawing a blank in three of their last five games, including on the weekend when Osasuna frustrated them with a goal-less draw. Despite their fixture congestion www.pinnaclesports.com price Sevilla favourites 2.23 (-1) with Racing Santander 1.752 (+1).
Real Madrid Keeping Pressure on Top Two
Having been knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich, success in La Liga is crucial for Real Madrid to avoid a fourth consecutive season without a trophy. The rumours have been flying that whatever happens, coach Fabio Capello will be leaving at the end of the season, so the Italian will want to silence his doubters with league success. Los Blancos are unbeaten in their last seven La Liga fixtures, but four of those were drawn, so it would be wrong to say that Real are firing on all cylinders, but the close nature of this year's title race leaves them with a real chance of prevailing, sitting five points behind Barca.
Madrid have home advantage in their game against Osasuna, and under normal circumstances that would be considered a big plus, but the side have actually been more effective away from the pressure on the Bernabeu. It should benefit Capello's side to face an Osasuna side distracted by the UEFA Cup. The Rojillos play their quarter-finals against Bayer Leverkusen either side of this fixture, giving them three games in seven days, and a selection head-ache for Jose Ziganda. Given the side have nothing to play for in the league, being anchored in mid-table, Ziganda could be forgiven for resting players at the Bernabeu, which will be to Madrid's distinct advantage. They have beaten Osasuna in four of the last five meetings and www.pinnaclesports.com make them favourites 2.10 (-1) with the visitors 1.833 (+1).
Serie A preview from PinnacleSports.com
Nerazzurri Looking to Close Out Title
Inter are not quite at the stage of making a mathematical certainty of the Serie A title, but they can take another big step toward completing the job when they visit Calabria for their game against Reggina. It has been a season of upheaval in Italian football, and while the focus has been on the punishments to the giants of Serie A, Juventus and AC Milan, they weren't the only clubs to suffer. Reggina received an 11 point handicap for their part in Calciopoli, which has left them struggling for survival. In a normal season their results would have given them 36 points, putting them in with a shout of a UEFA Cup spot, instead they are one place above relegation, facing a tough home game against the run-away leaders.
The Amaranto (Dark Reds) have only spent one season out of Italy's top division since 1999, playing Internazionale at the Stadio Oreste Granillo seven times, registering just a single win over that sequence. Reggina have actually failed to score in the last six meetings between the clubs (home & away) and last season lost this fixture 4-0. Given their perilous situation, Reggina will however, be expected to put up a fight and www.pinnaclesports.com price Inter Milan split ball favourites on the Asian Handicap 2.110 (-0.5 & -1.0) with the Calabrians 1.826 (+0.5 & +1.0).
Lazio Looking to Extend Winning Streak to Eight
Lazio were another club to be implicated in Italy's soccer scandal, but the club escaped with a relatively light punishment (deducted 3 points) but their UEFA Cup ban hit harder. The Biancocelesti are set to make up for that disappointment as they currently occupy the third Champions League spot, courtesy of a seven game winning streak, in which they have scored 18 goals. On that basis they are certainly one of Italy's form sides, and www.pinnaclesports.com make them favourites for Saturday's home game against struggling Messina.
Messina were one of the beneficiaries of the match-fixing scandal, despite being mathematically relegated last season, they retained their Serie A status for the third consecutive season. The reprieve could be short-lived as the Sicilain club have nonetheless been in turmoil, changing manager three times. The most recent sacking took place this week, after defeat to Cagliari, when Alberto Cavasin was dismissed, and Bruno Giordano - who was actually in charge at the start of the season - reappointed. Messina are without an away win all season, so unsurprisingly www.pinnaclesports.com has them as under-dogs on the Asian Handicap 2.29 (+1 & +1.5) with Lazio 1.719 (-1 & -1.5).
Milan & Empoli Fight for Champions League Rights
Empoli is a small Tuscan town with a population of just 45,000 people, so it is something of an achievement for their football team to be challenging for a Champions League place spot, which could be at the expense of AC Milan who they play on Saturday evening. Empoli are currently fifth in Serie A, with the Rossoneri in sixth trailing them by just a point. The success of Luigi Cagni's side has been built on home form, whereas on the road they are inconsistent. They have won just four away games this season, and have a bad record against Milan at the San Siro, losing on four of their five league visits.
Though qualification for next season's Champions League is crucial, AC Milan are distracted by their continued involvement in the competition this year. Though Carlo Ancelotti feels his side are capable of qualifying for next year's Champions League by winning the competition, he must ensure Milan make it by virtue of their league position. The purchase of Ronaldo in January's transfer window has added some much needed fire-power to the club. The Brazilian is ineligible for Europe, so instead he has been following a rigorous fitness programme, which is paying dividends. Milan are unbeaten in their last nine home games, and www.pinnaclesports.com make them favourites for this important clash, 1.935 (-1), with Empoli 1.990 (+1).
Bundesliga preview from PinnacleSports.com
Werder Face Bundesliga Draw Specialists
After flirting with relegation for so many seasons, FC Nurnberg appear to be becoming a force to be reckoned with in the Bundesliga. Consolidating on last season's eighth place finish, FCN currently sit in sixth, just one point out of a UEFA Cup berth and are in the last four of the DFB Cup. Manager, Martin Bader, has used limited resources to make some shrewd transfers, including Tomas Galasek, the vastly experienced captain of the Czech national side. On Sunday FCN face a tough away game against title chasing Werder Bremen, and will be without one of their most dependable defenders. Dominik Reinhardt had up to this point played every single minute of this campaign, but will be out for up to four weeks.
This is a crucial week for Bremen, as the table-top clash against Nurnberg is sandwiched between two UEFA Cup quarter-finals against Dutch side, AZ Alkmaar. Werder have received some good news as captain Frank Baumann, and Tim Borowski returned to full training following injury. They are unlikely to feature heavily after such a long absence, but do provide coach, Thomas Schaaf, with options in a fixture congested week. Bremen have been in excellent recent form at the Weserstadion, winning their last three games with a 7-0 aggregate. They will need another positive performance against the Bundesliga's draw specialists. Nurnberg have produced 14 stalemates, eight on the road, half of which ended goal-less. Despite this www.pinnaclesports.com price the goals total at 1.870 (over 2.5 & 3.0), and favour Bremen on the Asian Handicap 2.14 (-1) with FCN 1.806 (+1).
Top Meets Bottom at Veltins-Arena
On Saturday afternoon league leaders, Schalke, face the side propping up the Bundesliga, Borussia Monchengladbach. S04 will look to bounce back from the disappointment of losing away to Bayern Munich, eroding their lead at the top of the table, and their chances of a first title since 1958. The defeat at the Allianz Arena dealt another blow as Danish striker, Peter Lovenkrands, lasted just 35 minutes of his come-back from injury, before pulling up with another problem. Schalke coach, Mirko Slomka, is not distracted by involvement in any other competitions, but expectation of success is high, particularly after the heartbreak in 2001, when the club were cruelly robbed of the title.
With 30,000 members Gladbach might be the fourth biggest club in Germany, but they are struggling to revive the glory of the 70's when they won five titles. Even though this is one of the tightest league finishes in recent memory, BMG are five points from safety at the foot of the table, and have won just one away game all season. They have failed to score in their last three away games, which all ended in defeat, so facing the league leaders they are unsurprisingly considered under-dogs by www.pinnaclesports.com for Saturday's game. Pinny price Schalke 1.758 (-1), with Gladbach 2.220 (+1).
Bayern Making Late Charge in Title Defence
Ottmar Hitzfeld returned as manager of Bayern Munich on February 1st, with the club in a degree of disarray, but the legendary coach looks to be turning the club around. Growing confidence was evident in the German giants' win last week over league leaders, Schalke - which kept their title chances alive - and the gutsy Champions league draw at the San Siro on Wednesday night. Hitzfeld has been helped by the return of Owen Hargreaves to full fitness - following his broken leg - as the England international helps fill the vacuum left by Michael Ballack in midfield. Munich are unbeaten in eight games at the Allianz Arena, but their away form remains shaky, losing four of their last five on the road, and they are without French defender, Willy Sagnol.
They play away to Hannover 96 who beat them 1-0 in the reverse fixture. Luckily for the champions, Hannover are in the midst of a mini-slump. 96 are without a win in their last five games, registering just a single goal in that sequence. Currently in seventh place, Dieter Hecking's side are aiming for a European place, but have a poor profile playing at home, winning only three times at the AWD-Arena. However, before backing Munich at 1.943 (-0.5) on www.pinnaclesports.com 's Asian Handicap, bear in mind that Hannover remain unbeaten at home in eight games; they can backed at 1.980 (+0.5) for Saturday's game.
by Gerry McDonnellBeer Today Scone Tomorrow
Alcohol is undoubtedly cool, but it can often be abused. Earlier this week, the wife was rushed to hospital after a Buckfast frenzy. I say rushed, but the ambulance took a disgraceful 35 minutes to arrive; I'd have driven myself if it wasn't a Champions League night. The wife is now in the ‘Soccer AM' position, she's relying on tubes to survive.
It's not all been good news this week though; I'm really struggling to find a value bet in the match between Arsenal and West Ham. If a gun was placed to my head i'd suggest a win for Arsenal at 1/2. If a gun was placed to the wife's head; i'd say that I never negotiate with terrorists.
Finding a winner in the Reading v Liverpool match is a far simpler proposition. The arrival of Mascherano has added real steel to the Scouse armoury; I'm nicking the evens for a Liverpool win.
David James has had plenty of critics over the years and I'm afraid I have to once again question his decision making. The Pompey keeper is sporting the campest beard since Wayne Rooney's little ginger effort earlier in the season. The Manchester United train to titleville is stopping off at Portsmouth; I'm boarding at 8/15.
Speaking of a little ginger effort, I've seen worse investments than the 3/1 for Paul Scholes finding the net at any time. Sir Alex believes that the refreshed day-sleeper holds the key to United winning the title; I refuse to argue with the vastly experienced Sweaty.
Newcastle United should take a leaf out of Wayne Rooney's book; the Geordies can't buy a result at the minute. The Toon Army are winless and goalless in their last four league matches; Sheffield United can snatch a draw at a game 23/10.
Life has been far from a picnic for Frank Lampard in recent weeks. The Chelsea goal machine has been attacked by a crazed supporter and dropped by England after fracturing a bone in his wrist. Now to add insult to injury, he looks a little bit like Eric Cartman. Chelsea are 4/9 to beat Tottenham, sweet.
Big Frank was understandably devastated with the news that Arjen Robben will miss the rest of the season through injury. Superman has Lois Lane, Spiderman looks to Aunt May and Fatman needs Robben. Drogba can open the scoring at a heroic 4/1.
Earlier this season, the Boro were a lot like me when I was an altar boy; they found themselves in all sorts of trouble at the Vicarage. Watford cruised to a 2-0 win on home territory; Boro can gain revenge at 8/11.
Emile Mpenza deserves plenty of credit. The Belgian striker has not only saved the Psycho from the sack; he's also made us all realise that you can be a quality footballer and still be named ‘Emile'. I'm making a meal of the 9/4 for a draw between City and the improving Charlton.
Chris Coleman was shocked to discover that his wife had planted a listening device in his motor. The Fulham manager has it easy; my wife has been bugging me for six years. Everton can pick up the points against the Cottagers at 8/11.
Robbie Savage's ongoing recovery from a broken leg has pleased the Blackburn board. The fact that the blonde bombshell is nearing a return is secondary; they just want the caravan removed from the car park. Aston Villa will leave Ewood Park with a point at an immovable 9/4.
The wife is the most positive person I know; she says ‘yes' more than the man from Del Monte. Is Wigan v Bolton a stick on draw at 9/4? I too must answer in the affirmative.
I rarely stray away from the beautiful game, but a couple of excellent betting opportunities have presented themselves further afield. Joe Calzaghe will annihilate Peter Manfredo in the boxing and the beefy Cambridge crew will see off the lightweight Oxford in the rowing. The 8/13 double reminds me of the wife; it's a slapper with a dodgy boat race.
Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Man Utd and a Blackburn draw form a 15/1 weekend accer that is so angelic, it's made me realise how much I'd miss the wife if she failed to recover. She does make a cracking scone.
Man City v Charlton Friday 6th April 17:15 Live on Premiership Plus
Man City 11/10
Get on: Draw
Joey Barton to be booked 7/4
Everton v Fulham Friday 6th April 19:30 Live on Sky
Get on: Everton
Arteta to score at any time 4/1
Chelsea v Tottenham Saturday 7th April 12:45 Live on Premiership Plus
Get on: Chelsea
Chelsea to win by two or more goals 13/10
Arsenal v West Ham Saturday 7th April 15:00
West Ham 7/1
Get on: Arsenal
Adebayor to score the first goal 9/2
Blackburn v Aston Villa Saturday 7th April 15:00
Aston Villa 3/1
Get on: Draw
Carew to score in a 1-1 draw 23/1
Middlesbrough v Watford Saturday 7th April 15:00
Get on: Middlesbrough
Yakubu and Viduka both to score 5/1
Reading v Liverpool Saturday 7th April 15:00
Get on: Liverpool
Crouch to score two or more goals 13/2
Sheff Utd v Newcastle Saturday 7th April 15:00
Sheff Utd 7/5
Get on: Draw
No goalscorer in the match 17/2
Wigan v Bolton Saturday 7th April 15:00
Get on: Draw
Match to finish either 0-0 or 1-1 11/4
Portsmouth v Man Utd Saturday 7th April 17:15 Live on Sky
Man Utd 8/15
Get on: Man Utd
Paul Scholes to score with a header 13/2
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