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by Ben, last updated 2008-02-21 18:54:38

 A Dodgy Ruby and a Stuffed Nan

 By Gerry McDonnell

In a week where Mohammed Al Fayed has pointed an accusing finger at Tony Blair, the Nazis, Dracula and a crocodile, it seems odd that Richard Scudamore has emerged as football's leading figure of fun.

When a friend told me that Scudamore planned to play a round of matches overseas, I thought it was the worst idea I'd ever heard - and I used to work in a nursery. I say 'worked', but it went down as 'loitering' on the charge sheet.

The Chief Executive of the Premier League appears to have been influenced by Gordon Gekko's 'Greed is good' monologue from 'Wall Street'. I'd advise Scudamore against following in the footsteps of Michael Douglas, as he may have to fight off Welsh gold-diggers. Investing in the 8/11 for a Pompey win over Sunderland is a socially acceptable way of increasing your bankroll.

The idea of 10 matches being televised back-to-back genuinely worries me, as I ritualistically indulge in a couple of beers during a game. There's no way I'll be able to drink 20 pints, unless i have to spend a night with Kelly Osbourne. I will happily indulge in a celebratory couple when Middlesbrough stun Liverpool at 17/2.

Sir Alex Ferguson condemned his players for showboating in last week's FA Cup victory over Arsenal, but the unsavoury incident could have been a whole lot worse. Apparently, Wayne Rooney once kept it up with Nani for over two minutes. I'll definitely be paying for it if Manchester United fail to defeat the depleted Toon Army at 8/15.

When it comes to cool celebrity support, Everton are way behind the likes of Manchester City. The Toffeemen tried to persuade Sylvester Stallone to give soccer a try, but he couldn't pull it off, which is quite ironic. I'll happily play with the 9/4 for a draw between Manchester City and Everton.

Blackburn and Bolton have contested the mushy pea derby on 13 occasions in the Premier League, and the team playing at home has never emerged victorious. I'm going to lay Blackburn at 10/11 like it was a legless woman in a nightclub. That Heather Mills certainly knows how to celebrate.

I find the political arena almost exclusively dull, but the revelation that the Home Secretary is an avid Aston Villa supporter genuinely attracted my interest. I have nothing but admiration for the way that Jacqui Smith can juggle her secretarial work with her homemaker duties. I hope she finds the time to back the Villa against Reading at a delightful 7/5.

Playing a home match against Derby is like going on a date with Paris Hilton, you're confident that they'll roll over without much of a fight. Wigan are the fortunate beneficiaries of three easy points at 8/13.

There is a direct correlation between a club's support and the coolness of the team's nickname. Aston Villa are the evil Villans, Tottenham are the boiling Spuds and Manchester United are the Red Devils. Who in their right mind would choose to be a Cottager? Ashley Cole knows that West Ham are a great bet at 9/5 to beat Fulham.

The bigwigs at Chelsea are still understandably upset after a package containing white powder was delivered to their training ground. They've now ordered Frank Lampard to use sugar sachets like the rest of the squad.

The last time Chelsea met Tottenham in a cup match, an irate Spud attacked Frank, which is the actual definition of irony. Chelsea came out on top on that occasion and I can only see a repeat at 11/10 in the Carling Cup final.

The more i consider the potential benefits of the globalisation of the Premier League, the more appealing the idea becomes. The Chinese would be able to relegate the ping-pong ball to a late night entertainment spot, Australians could embrace a sport that doesn't involve shearing, and the Yanks would learn that real footballers refuse to wrap up like a suicide bomber in winter. I'll be going off on one if Arsenal fail to beat Birmingham at 8/15.

There is currently an incredible amount of opposition to Scudamore's thought-provoking proposal, but nothing is insurmountable; with the obvious exception of Ruby Wax. Wigan, Manchester United, Chelsea and Aston Villa form an 11/1 accer that will hopefully remove that ghastly image from my recently tortured mind's eye.

Weekend Betting:

Birmingham v Arsenal Saturday 23rd February 12:45 Live on Sky

Birmingham 7/1
Draw 10/3
Arsenal 8/15

Get on: Arsenal

Match Special:
Adebayor to score a hat-trick 22/1

Fulham v West Ham Saturday 23rd February 15:00

Fulham 17/10
Draw 9/4
West Ham 9/5

Get on: West Ham

Match Special:
Ljungberg to score in a 2-0 West Ham win 47/1

Liverpool v Middlesbrough Saturday 23rd February 15:00

Liverpool 4/9
Draw 7/2
Middlesbrough 17/2

Get on: Middlesbrough

Match Special:
Aliadiere to score the only goal of the game 110/1

Portsmouth v Sunderland Saturday 23rd February 15:00

Portsmouth 8/11
Draw 13/5
Sunderland 5/1

Get on: Portsmouth

Match Special:
Defoe to score two or more goals 9/1

Wigan v Derby Saturday 23rd February 15:00

Wigan 8/13
Draw 11/4
Derby 5/1

Get on: Wigan

Match Special:
Wigan to win and keep a clean sheet 7/5

Newcastle v Man Utd Saturday 23rd February 17:15 Live on Setanta

Newcastle 13/2
Draw 3/1
Man Utd 8/15

Get on: Man Utd

Match Special:
Man Utd to score four or more goals 11/2

Reading v Aston Villa Sunday 24th February 12:30 Live on Sky

Reading 21/10
Draw 9/4
Aston Villa 7/5

Get on: Aston Villa

Match Special:
Harewood to score at any time 3/1

Blackburn v Bolton Sunday 24th February 15:00

Blackburn 10/11
Draw 5/2
Bolton 4/1

Get on: Bolton

Match Special:
Nolan to score the first goal 16/1

Man City v Everton Monday 25th February 20:00 Live on Setanta

Man City 7/5
Draw 9/4
Everton 11/5

Get on: Draw

Match Special:
No goalscorer in the match 8/1

Chelsea v Tottenham Sunday 24th February 15:00 Live on Sky

Chelsea 11/10
Draw 23/10
Tottenham 14/5

Get on: Chelsea

Match Special:
Lampard to score from outside of the penalty area 11/2

 Weekend Sport Betting Preview

 Bet on this Weekend’s Sport

Bet on this Weekend’s Sport

We have some fantastic sport this weekend, with the Carling Cup Final between Chelsea and Tottenham and Premiership action featuring Newcastle v Man Utd and Man City v Everton. We also have more Six Nations action with France v England and the Racing Post Chase at Kempton

Saturday’s Premiership Football

Birmingham v Arsenal – Live on Sky Sports 1, k/o 12:45pm

After last weekend’s 4-0 drubbing to Man Utd in the FA Cup, Arsenal will be determined to get over that defeat straight away, and they will have their chance at St. Andrews on Saturday. The Gunners were dreadful in their FA Cup fifth round tie at Old Trafford. All of the Arsenal team were awful, with dependable players such as Fabregas and Gallas looking totally off their game. The last time Birmingham faced Arsenal, they came away from the Emirates Stadium with a very respectable point. On that occasion, some great saves from Maik Taylor combined with resolute defending from Liam Ridgewell and Co ensured Birmingham held on for a 1-1 draw. Given the Blues need points desperately to starve off the threat of relegation, a repeat of that result would be welcome. Considering Arsenal’s league form this season, bookies have priced them as favourites for this match, with Better offering 8/15 on a win, while Birmingham have been priced at 6/1 (VC Bet) to upset the rulebook and get all 3 points.

BGbet are offering to refund all losing first goalscorer bets on Birmingham v Arsenal if Eduardo scores at anytime in this match.*

Newcastle v Man Utd – Live on Setanta Sports 1, k/o 5:15pm

After the 6-0 humiliation at the hands of United in December, Newcastle have much to prove in front of their fans. Results since Keegan took over have been disappointing, with the second-half surrender to Villa, resulting in a 4-1 defeat, only the latest in a catalogue of poor performances. Newcastle will have had two weeks to prepare for when Man Utd, and old sparring partner Sir Alex Ferguson, turn up at St James' Park. The Red Devils will, no doubt, be expected to hand out a routine thumping and the likelihood is they will, especially after trouncing Arsenal 4-0 in the FA Cup. If Newcastle can somehow engineer a win it could just rescue their season. A glance at the Magpies squad would suggest they have several players – Damien Duff, Michael Owen and Obafemi Martins – capable of troubling Ferguson’s side. Unfortunately, Newcastle’s defence is shambolic to say the least and with United’s attacking threat, it looks like it will be too much for the Magpies to take. With Man Utd in lethal form, the bookies have priced them as firm favourites at 4/9 (VC Bet), meanwhile Newcastle have been given long odds of 11/2 by Better to get the first win of King Kev’s reign.

Newcastle to Win


VC Bet




Man Utd to Win



BGbet are offering to refund all losing correct score bets on Newcastle v Man Utd match if the game finishes 0-0.*

Sunday’s Premiership Football

Reading v Aston Villa – Live on Sky Sports 1, k/o 12:30pm

The big Premiership game on Sunday sees last season’s wonder Reading take on this year’s form team Aston Villa at the Madjeski Stadium. Reading have been fighting against the ‘second season syndrome’ all campaign and unfortunately it looks like they might end up on the losing side. There’s something unfamiliar about Reading sitting in the bottom three, such has been the speed they’ve found their way there. But then that’s what happens when you lose seven straight league games. Boss Steve Coppell will have spent much time soul searching over this shocking run, but he’ll know that now is not the time to go over what’s happened. It’s time to start collecting points. Unfortunately for the Royals, Aston Villa are also on a run, but theirs is of a different kind. Martin O’Neill’s team have lost just once in ten league matches and are earning rave reviews for playing exciting, expansive football. Villa are in with a real chance of finishing in the top four and will see this game against struggling Reading as a great opportunity to seal another victory. Bearing this in mind, bookmakers have placed Villa as favourites, pricing them at 7/5 (Centrebet) to get the away win, while Better have priced Reading at 7/4 to reinstall some pride at the Madjeski Stadium.

BGbet are offering to refund all losing first goalscorer bets on Reading v Aston Villa if Gareth Barry scores at anytime in this match.*

Sunday’s Carling Cup Final

Chelsea v Tottenham– Live on Sky Sports 1, k/o 4:00pm

Sunday sees the first big final in the domestic football calendar, it’s the Carling Cup Final between Chelsea and Tottenham at Wembley. Given that Spurs have only beaten Chelsea twice in the last 18 years, it’s not surprising that the north London club go into their first cup final appearance since 2002 as underdogs. However, over the last few weeks Tottenham have improved markedly. January signings Jonathan Woodgate and Alan Hutton have helped make the defence less porous, while academy product Jamie O’Hara has stepped up from the reserves and impressed with a string of good performances in midfield. Ramos has masterminded impressive results against two of the big four recently – his side gave Arsenal a 5-1 mauling in the second leg of the Carling Cup semi-final, while they were unlucky not to take three points from their league game with Man Utd at the beginning of the month. But Chelsea rarely lose – in fact they’re unbeaten in 15 matches in all competitions. In their league meeting in January, Avram Grant’s side beat Spurs 2-0, and with Frank Lampard and John Terry now back to full fitness, it would take an outstanding performance to prevent the Blues from lifting the trophy for the second time in as many seasons. Chelsea have been priced as favourites at 21/20 (Centrebet), meanwhile Tottenham have been priced at 12/5 by VC Bet to win the Carling Cup.

Monday's Premiership Football

Man City v Everton – Live on Setanta Sports 1, k/o 8:00pm

The big match on Monday night sees a battle between the Champions League hopefuls when Man City take on Everton at the City of Manchester Stadium. If Sven-Goran Eriksson's side win at home they’ll draw level with the Toffees on 47 points and, potentially, with Aston Villa and Liverpool, if both win at the weekend. Which means the race for fourth place is almost as exciting as the battle for the title. Everton go into this match on the cusp of a six match unbeaten run in the Premiership. Sven will hope his side’s two-week lay off won’t have put them in a holiday mood, because an Everton team hardened by two UEFA Cup matches will be quick to punish them. With Man City at home, bookies have priced them as favourites for this match, with VC Bet offering 7/5 on a win, while Everton have been priced at 2/1 (Better) take all 3 points.

BGbet are offering to refund all losing first goalscorer bets on Man City v Everton if Andrew Johnson scores at anytime in this match.*

Weekend Racing

This Saturday sees the exciting Racing Post Chase at Kempton, with 15 top runners in this event, you can be sure this will be a tremendous race. With the Nicholls team having such a great National Hunt season, Gungadu will be hoping for a fine performance in preparation of the Cheltenham Festival in over 19 days time.

BGbet are running a great refund offer on this race. If your horse falls during the Racing Post Chase, BGbet will refund your stakes in the form of free bets.**

Rugby Six Nations Tournament

This Sunday sees a repeat of the Rugby World Cup Semi Final when France take on England at the Stade de France. An England win looks even more unlikely than the one in the World Cup, due to England’s inability to maintain their performance for 80 minutes. If there is one side in this competition that you have to perform against, it’s France. France have been priced as favourites for this match, with Better offering 2/5 to capitalise on England’s inconsistent form, while England have been priced at 15/8 (VC Bet) to bounce back and give a solid performance.

BGbet are running a fantastic 6 Nations special - Place a bet on the first or last tryscorer for any of the following 6 Nations matches this weekend and if the player listed below scores a try at anytime in the 80 minutes BGbet will refund all losing first and last tryscorer stakes on that match.*

Wales v Italy – T Shanklin
Ireland v Scotland – R O'Gara
France v England – T Flood

Open an account with any of the following bookmakers and receive a free bet:

VC Bet

£100 in Free Bets


£100 Free Bet


£25 Free Bet


£20 Free Bet

 Premiership Betting - Matchday 27 Preview (Feb 23-25)

Those Premiership clubs still involved in European competition, and the FA Cup, will have fallen victim to their own success, facing their third game in seven days this weekend. Conversely, those sides with just the Premiership to consider, will have enjoyed a 14 day break, which is an important point to note ahead of this weekend’s English top flight action, where PinnacleSports.com will be offering up to 60% better Premiership betting odds.

Red Devils Set to Heap Further Pressure on King Kevin

The return of Kevin Keegan as manager of Newcastle United football club was greeted with euphoria, bordering on hysteria. Unfortunately for King Kev, he has been unable to make any positive impact on the pitch, still searching for his first victory after five games in charge, which have produced an aggregate deficit of 11-2. The visit of Man Utd on Saturday evening is the start of a tough spell of fixtures (including a visit to Anfield) that could conceivably push the Magpies into the relegation zone, and prompt mass suicides on Tyneside.

The Red Devils’ derby defeat, two weeks ago, allowed Arsenal to slip five points clear at the top of the table. Having been distracted by an easy FA Cup win and hard-earned Champions League draw, coach, Alex Ferguson, can now turn his attention back to the Premiership, while Newcastle will have benefited from 14 days rest. There is history between Fergie and Keegan, going back to 1995/96 when the Geordies under Keegan let a 12 point lead slip, allowing Man Utd to pip them to the title. That rivalry may lift the home side, but is unlikely to bridge the gulf in class between the sides. PinnacleSports.com price Man Utd favourites 1.826 (-1)*, with Newcastle 2.110 (+1)* - a market priced to less than 102%.

Positive Reaction Expected at Anfield After Inter Win

Rafa Benitez openly admitted that Liverpool’s 2-0 Champions League win over Inter Milan on Tuesday was critical to his future at the club. The Reds were helped by the harsh sending off of Marco Materazzi with just half an hour gone, but it is the result that counts. Liverpool & Benitez, must now carry the positive momentum into the Premiership starting with Saturday’s home fixture against Middlesbrough. The Pool have slipped out of the automatic Champions League qualification spots, at the expense of city neighbours, Everton.

Gareth Southgate has made really progress with Boro after a shaky start, remaining unbeaten in their last seven games in all competition, and tightening up markedly in defence, despite the loss of Jonathan Woodgate. They have an excellent chance of progressing in the FA Cup, so morale at the club is high. The sides met at the Riverside in mid-January, drawing 1-1, one of three identical stalemates in their last five Premiership games. History is however, against a win for the Teessiders, as they last silenced the kop in 1976. PinnacleSports.com make Liverpool favourites 1.862 (-1 & -1.5)* with Middlesbrough 2.070 (+1 & +1.5)*.

*All odds subject to change

Best Premiership Odds at PinnacleSports.com

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