Weekend Footballby Ben, last updated 2006-04-05 23:34:27
Grand National Special Picks
by Nigel RidgewayHORSE RACING
GRAND NATIONAL HIGH FIVE FOR bet365
If recent money at bet365 is anything to go then the 2006 Grand National result will read, Clan Royal first, Garvivonnian second. The latter has been well-backed all week and is now 16/1 from 20/1, while Jonjo O'Neil's runner looks sure to go off favourite - currently 5/1 joint with Hedgehunter. Garvivonnian landed the Becher Chase back in November, the form of which amounts to little, but at least it shows he can handle the National fences. His latest run behind Forget The Past has been franked by the winners' run in the Gold Cup, and he must have sound each way prospects, especially as we're paying out down to five places here at bet365.
bet365 - each way ľ odds, 22.214.171.124.5 on the Grand National!
5/1 ROYAL - THIRD TIME LUCKY ?
As for Clan Royal, it could be a case of third time lucky in the National for the eleven-year-old, but he now looks very short in the betting considering his tendency to pull hard in his races. Besides, it's debatable whether he would have beaten impressive winner Hedgehunter last year if he hadn't been carried out by a loose horse, so there has to be better value further down the bet365 betting list.
BOTTOM WEIGHTS ARE BEST
At this stage, with a maximum field of 40, there are still doubts over whether several fancied horses will get a run. Still, we can back our selections with confidence here at bet365, as we're non-runner no bet on the big race - why go anywhere else for your National bets! Although the race is attracting more quality horses these days, the race traditionally favours horses carrying less than 11 stone (bet365 go 3/1 that the winner carries 11st or above), and the two that stand out near the bottom of the weights are Direct Access (25/1) and Ross Comm (20/1).
The former was last seen when winning the Rehearsal Chase back in December (jumped well), but has a great record fresh and a Grand National winning jockey to boot in Tony Dobbin. He looks sure to run well, while the Sue Smith-trained Ross Comm must also come into the reckoning after bouncing back to form last time out over a barely adequate 2m 4f at Bangor. The gelding was also travelling sweetly when falling at the 16th in the Hennessey in November, and will have the services of the talented Dominic Elsworth in the saddle, who rode a winner for the in-form stable at Kelso on Monday.
Grand National Picks:
Garvivonnian @ 16/1
Ross Comm @ 20/1
Direct Access @ 25/1
GINGER 20/1 FOR NATIONAL GRAND FINALE
As well as offering outstanding each way terms on the big race (1/4 odds, 126.96.36.199.5, worth repeating!), bet365 have also wasted no time in pricing up a whole gamut of ĎRace Specials'. They were originally 3/1 that there would be a fifth Irish-trained winner of the race in eight years, but that's been now been cut to 2/1 (still a decent shout when you consider what they've got running!), but you can still have 20/1 about the soon-to-be-retiring Aintree legend Ginger McCain training a fifth National winner. His best shot looks to be the recently acquired Inca Trail who could surprise a few people by running well at the current bet365 price of 50/1. In the same market, the seven-strong Paul Nicholls is a 4/1 shot to train the winner, while you can have 6/1 that all the runners negotiate the first fence. Good luck.
Bet with bet365
By Gerry McDonnellCesc, Drogs and Rock and Roll
Working on a Sunday is comparable to sleeping with the wife, it occurs rarely and itís never enjoyable. The gaffer is aware of my reticence, whenever circumstances demand that I appear on the Sabbath he throws me double time and a day in lieu, Iím reasonably happy with that, but Louise has just handed her notice in. As a result, Iíll be spending this Sunday watching three live Premiership matches.
Chelsea v West Ham kicks off the action at midday and an early shock could be on the cards. Man United are breathing down the championís necks and Chelsea are feeling the pressure; theyíre currently wobbling like a jelly on a drunken Sumo wrestler.
Thereís a definite cloud over the Bridge, after being booed by his own supporters, a depressed Didier Drogba is reportedly considering a move away from the club. Imagine that, Drogba, down. Thereís a real case for backing the Hammers at 8/1 against a choking Chelsea, but a lay of the Champions at around the 3/10 mark on the exchanges is a more practical option. Itís practically in already.
Super Sunday continues when Liverpool host Bolton, and this one could be tasty. If my memory serves me correctly, Stevie Gerrard used Kevin Nolanís back as a trampoline earlier in the season; you would think he could afford his own. A sending off in the match is available at 10/3, thatís definitely worth a small interest.
Robbie Fowler has had a good week, after overtaking Kenny Dalglish in Liverpoolís all-time goal scorer list; Rafa has confirmed that a couple more goals could earn him a new contract at the club. The scally legend has a lot to play for, and like a dyslexic hippy; iím a big believer in ĎFowler powerí. The Pool should be backed at 1/2 to take the three points; Robbie should be backed at 11/10 to get on the scoresheet.
After a couple of tasty starters, the live action reaches a crescendo when Arsenal travel to Old Trafford. This fixture has finished goalless on the last two meetings, but thatís about to change. Arsenal are currently in a purple patch, and Unitedís patch is arguably even purpler, itís a Fergieís nose patch. There will be goals in this one, and United want it that little bit more. Theyíre good looking bets at even money.
Van Nistelrooy started on the bench last week, came on, went to ground easily, and then banged in his 150th goal for the club, it was a typical Van the man performance. Nistelrooy and Arsenal have a little history, heís a 9/2 shot to score the last goal against his old mates. The British press have had Cesc on their brain all week, but United have a half decent youngster of their own, his nameís Rooney, and he can play ball. Wayne likes the big occasion, heís a 6/4 shot to score at any time.
Martin Jolís decision to continuously play Mido ahead of Jermain Defoe leaves me perplexed. As I often reassure the wife, thereís nothing wrong with having two little ones up front. Spurs play hosts to a Man City team who still have their managerís savage criticism ringing through their ears, an improved performance from City is an absolute certainty; 7/2 screams value.
The Boro v Newcastle match reminds me of the time I holidayed in the Orient, thereís every chance it might end up in a tie. The last three meets between these two have finished all square, a trend that looks set to continue. 11/5 is on offer, letís rock and roll.
The weekend specials:
"I should be so lucky" - Portsmouth to keep a clean sheet 15/8
"All you need is Love" - Lovenkrands to score and Rangers to win 1-0 20/1
"Johnny be good" - John Terry to be booked 11/4
"Shay a little prayer" - Newcastle to keep a clean sheet 15/8
"Let's talk about Cesc" - Fabregas to score two or more goals 25/1
Quote of the week:
"Every time I pull on the shirt, I give 120%."
Jermain Defoe puts all other professional footballers to shame, they only put in 110%.
Stat, youíre a liberty:
A quick perusal through the Premiershipís top 20 goal scorers this season makes interesting reading; the most lethal striker is...Luke Moore. Aston Villaís rising star scores a goal every 1.88 shots. To put that stat in perspective, Rooneyís ratio is 1 in 4.85, Lampard scores 1 in 5.80.
Acc of the week:
Man City, Fulham, Aston Villa and Liverpool are all good looking bets on their own, throw them all together, youíve got a gorgeous little 32/1 accer.
Tottenham v Man City Saturday 8th April 12.45 Live on Premiership Plus
Man City 7/2
Get on: Man City
Both teams go in to the match on the back of a disappointing defeat. Tottenham struggled to see off West Brom in their last home match, 7/2 about City stands out.
Man City to score two or more goals 3/1
Charlton v Everton Saturday 8th April 15.00
Get on: Charlton
Charlton are unbeaten at home this year; Everton are winless in five on the road. The Toffeemen failed to beat Sunderland last week, at home.
Darren Bent to score the only goal of the game 25/1
Portsmouth v Blackburn Saturday 8th April 15.00
Get on: Portsmouth
Itís three wins out of three for Pompey; Blackburn have lost five of their last six matches away from Ewood Park.
Mendes to score at any time 4/1
Sunderland v Fulham Saturday 8th April 15.00
Get on: Fulham
Sunderland have not won a home match all season, Fulham have failed to win away. The Mackems have only found the net in two of their previous nine home matches, Fulham have scored in five of their last six away games. An ĎOí must go, itíll be Fulhamís.
Fulham to keep a clean sheet 7/4
Wigan v Birmingham Saturday 8th April 17.15 Live on Premiership Plus
Get on: Birmingham
Wigan have lost their last three in front of their own supporters; City have beaten Bolton and held Chelsea in their last two games.
Birmingham to win 1-0 8/1
Aston Villa v West Brom Sunday 9th April 12.00
Aston Villa 11/10
West Brom 9/4
Get on: Aston Villa
Villa have taken four points from their last two home matches (against fellow strugglers Pompey and Fulham). The Albion have lost their last three, and theyíve never beaten the Villa in the Premiership.
Steven Davis to score at any time 4/1
Chelsea v West Ham Sunday 9th April 12.00 Live on Sky
West Ham 8/1
Get on: West Ham
Four points out of nine constitutes a bad run of form for Chelsea; the Hammers have won five of their last eight away games, including a triumph at Highbury. Iíve seen worse 8/1 shots.
Harewood to score the only goal of the game 90/1
Liverpool v Bolton Sunday 9th April 14.00 Live on Sky
Get on: Liverpool
Liverpool have won five on the bounce, scoring 20 goals. Bolton have lost their last three, conceding seven times. Itís been over 50 years since Bolton won a league match at Anfield.
Liverpool to win and keep a clean sheet 11/10
Middlesbrough v Newcastle Sunday 9th April 15.00
Get on: Draw
Thereís a history of draws in this fixture, with both teams being consistently inconsistent, another tied match is the sensible conclusion.
Match to finish 2-2 14/1
Man Utd v Arsenal Sunday 9th April 16.00 Live on Sky
Man Utd Evs
Get on: Man Utd
The two hot teams in the Premiership collide, itís eight consecutive victories for Man U, while Arsenal have handed out four beatings on the bounce. Either team could win, at the available prices; the home team receives the nod.
Any player to be sent off 13/5
by Nigel RidgewayUNITED WORTHY FAVOURITES AT EVENS
Man United v Arsenal
Su Apr 9 - 4.00 pm ko (SS1)
Let's hope we don't see a repeat of the boring 0-0 draw at Highbury, or the Cup Final for that matter, but that's unlikely with both teams bang in form and looking like they could beat anyone right now. Of course, Arsenal have a trip to Europe in midweek to worry about, and the result there could influence this game. If they lose to Juventus, their confidence is bound to be affected, but there's nothing to affect United's confidence right now, and they look a worthy favourite for the game at bet365's Evens (11/4 Arsenal, 11/5 the Draw).
The Red Devils have won eight games on the spin and, with home field advantage in front of 70,000 fans believing their team can still win the Premiership, you have to fancy United to win. It won't be my much, so we'll also be backing them to win by one goal at 11/4 - the 1-0 correct score pays out better at 6/1, while Louis Saha has to be the bet at 4/1 to score first, as he's playing our of his skin right now. Remember, if he scores the last goal in the game instead, bet365 will give you your money back. Also, don't forget to check out bet365's 14 dynamic In-Play markets on this game (kick off 4.00pm).
Live Game Picks:
United to beat Arsenal @ Evens
United to win by one goal @ 11/4
United to win 1-0 @ 6/1 / Saha to score first @ 4/1 - Scorecast pays out at 20/1
bet365 latest Premiership prices ... Chelsea 1/12, Man United 6/1, Liverpool 150/1
MANCINI BACKED AS INTER CRASH OUT
bet365's Next Manager markets always create massive interest, and it's not unusual to see several gambles before an appointment is made. The bet365 Next Newcastle Manager market is no exception. The latest gamble has seen Inter boss Roberto Mancini slashed into 9/2 from an earlier 33/1 (one punt of £500 at 6/1), after his team were knocked out of the champions League by Villarreal, and he could well be looking for a job over the summer.
bet365 Next Permanent Newcastle Manager prices ... Martin O'Neil 15/8, Roberto Mancini 9/2, Quique Sanchez Flores 7/1, Sam Allardyce 9/1, Mark Hughes, 12/1, others on bet365 website.
6/4 POMPEY GOING THE RIGHT WAY
The battle to escape relegation from the Premiership is hotting-up, and one of the key games this weekend looks to be Portsmouth (6/4) at home to Blackburn (7/4, 11/5 the draw). Pompey are playing their way to Premiership safety after a third successive win at the weekend, and this is one of five remaining fixtures at home for them. Here at bet365, they've emerged as favourites (8/13) to win a three-horse race with Birmingham (1/2) and West Brom (1/4) for top-flight survival. And they could take all three points from Rovers, who are challenging for European football on their home form alone (lost five straight ways, before winning at Sunderland).
Portsmouth to beat Blackburn @ 6/4
bet365 Premiership Relegation prices ... West Brom 1/4, Birmingham 1/2 , Portsmouth 8/13, others on website
O'LEARY 10/1 TO COME AWAY WITH NO POINTS
Birmingham are making a fight of it too, and will fancy their chances of landing the odds (14/5) at Wigan on Saturday. The Latics have only won one home game in their last six, but that's probably more to do with the quality of their opposition, and Birmingham just don't compare to the likes of West Ham, United, Liverpool and Blackburn. Back Wigan to win at 10/11, and have a few quid on West Brom at 3/1 to beat a Villa side who were woeful against Arsenal last time. Here at bet365, we go 10/1 that Villa take no points from their forthcoming Birmingham derbies, and a defeat here (and against Birmingham on the 16th March), could see Doug Ellis joining an ever-growing list of people wearing "We're not fickle, we just don't like you" badges!
Wigan to beat Birmingham @ 10/11
West Brom to beat Aston Villa @ 3/1
UP TO 60% MORE FOR YOUR HITTING YOUR ACCA THIS WEEKEND
As always, if you're thinking of having an acca on the footy this weekend, make bet365 your choice of bookmaker as they'll give you a), decent odds (bet to 107% on the Premiership, and b), a bonus of up to 60% on your acca if it includes all top-flight teams. This weekend's suggested acca involves United (Evens), Wigan (10/11), Portsmouth (6/4) and West Brom (3/1), and pays out just over £400 for a tenner, including a bet365 bonus of 5%. Good luck.
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