José, can you see?
I have a confession for you all; i'm in the middle of a bad run. After narrowly losing out in the award for ‘Sports journalist of the year', i was surprisingly pipped at the post for the ‘Gambling personality of the year' gong. I've now discovered that i didn't even make the top three in the wife's ‘Best lover of the year' category, although to be fair, I was runner up in 2003. It could be worse though, I could be José Mourinho.
Chelsea have had a week from hell; Arjen Robben has been banned for four games following a horrific attack on Jonathan Greening, where he flew through the air like a crazed ninja with legs well and truly akimbo. John Terry has been chastised by the press for consistently leading a lynch mob to surround referees, Barcelona strolled to Champions League qualification, and now FIFA have announced that two referees per match is a consideration; presumably, one to keep an eye on the always theatrical Didier Drogba. A bad run attracts an even worse run, Tottenham can snatch a draw at the Bridge, get on at 11/4.
There's an old Chinese saying, ‘If the purple nosed jockey wants to win the big race, he shouldn't swap a horse for a donkey.' For some reason, this makes me think of the Van Nistelrooy / Louis Saha situation at Man Utd. If the rumour mill is correct and Ruud is on his way out of Old Trafford, the betting opportunities are almost endless. Back Newcastle today at 13/2; get on Thierry Henry to win the Golden Boot at 13/8 and pile on Liverpool to finish runners up at 2/1. Call me a mad conspiracy theorist, but I've put two and two together; i've got a tutu.
As a result of Mick McCarthy receiving his P45, Sunderland are now a viable bet to see off Wigan at the Stadium of Light. The scientifically proven phenomenon of ‘replaced manager syndrome' will undoubtedly come to the fore. An improved Sunderland performance is an absolute Shay; get on at 7/4.
If / when Portsmouth are relegated, Harry Redknapp will receive the honour of being the first manager to relegate different teams from the Premiership in successive seasons. A quite remarkable achievement; who said that Harry had lost his magic? Madman Joey Barton returns for Man City, as will their form on the road; City are a confident call at 11/8.
At first glance, ‘Robbie Savage's excellent record' would appear to be a contradiction in terms, much like ‘Chelsea sportsmanship' or ‘Soccer AM – The best bits'. But incredibly, the blonde bombshell has only been on the losing side once in 18 matches against Aston Villa. That stat's impressive, but so are Villa away from home. O'Leary has an honest bunch of lads; they should be backed at 9/4 to take a point home from Blackburn.
Jasper Carrott and Frank Skinner will be glued to Soccer Saturday when Birmingham host West Brom in an old fashioned six pointer; although there's nothing funny about relegation from the Premiership, or Frank Skinner. Birmingham are the better team, they have home advantage, even money is a little treat.
The weekend specials:
“The crying Dutchman” - Van Nistelrooy not to score 5/6
“The Beat goes on” - James Beattie to score two or more goals 5/1
“Brom disposal” - Birmingham to score three or more goals 4/1
“A high roller” - Drogba to score with a header 9/2
Quote of the week:
“I don't think so; Barcelona could not beat us 11 v 11.”
The deluded José Mourinho, responding to the question, “Did the better team qualify?”
Stat, you're a liberty:
If Fulham could replicate their home form on the road, they would be Chelsea's closest challengers.
Acc of the week:
Birmingham, Everton, Man City and Arsenal form the weekend accer. It's so cute, you could take it home to meet your mother; it pays out at 17/1.
Birmingham v West Brom Saturday 11th March 12.00
West Brom 9/4
Get on: Birmingham
Blues have won every Premiership match against the Baggies at St Andrew's, and won 3-2 at the Hawthorns earlier in the season. City have won two of the last three by a goal to nil, a trend that looks set to continue against the out of form Baggies.
Birmingham to win 1-0 6/1
Chelsea v Tottenham Saturday 11th March 12.45 Live on Premiership Plus
Get on: Draw
Chelsea have only won 5 of their last 11; Tottenham are undefeated in four. This is not the formality that 4/9 would suggest.
Match to finish 1-1 13/2
Bolton v West Ham Saturday 11th March 15.00
West Ham 9/4
Get on: Draw
This is the 4th instalment of a 5 match extravaganza between West Ham and Bolton this season; Big Sam's men are currently 2-1-0. It finished 0-0 in the FA Cup at the Reebok a couple of weeks back, a repeat can not be ruled out.
No goal scorer in the match 8/1
Everton v Fulham Saturday 11th March 15.00
Get on: Everton
A great stat in this fixture, every time they've met in the Premiership (9 times), the home team has emerged victorious. Fulham have never won a league match at Goodison Park in 55 years (on and off) of trying. Everton have won four of the last five at Goodison 1-0, I rest my case.
Everton to win 1-0 6/1
Portsmouth v Man City Saturday 11th March 15.00
Man City 11/8
Get on: Man City
Harry's men have only picked up 1 point out of a possible 24, they're going down. City have won their last three against Pompey, it's about to become four.
Man City to score three or more goals 5/1
Sunderland v Wigan Saturday 11th March 15.00
Get on: Sunderland
Wigan's winless run has now reached nine games; Sunderland's caretaker manager Kevin Ball couldn't have picked a better match to open his account, apart from Portsmouth at home, or West Brom at home.
Sunderland to keep a clean sheet 2/1
Blackburn v Aston Villa Saturday 11th March 17.15 Live on Premiership Plus
Aston Villa 10/3
Get on: Draw
It's three consecutive home wins for Blackburn; the Villa haven't tasted defeat on the road for four months. That'll be a draw then.
Match to finish 2-2 14/1
Man Utd v Newcastle Sunday 12th March 13.30 Live on Sky
Man Utd 2/5
Get on: Newcastle
Man U looked far from comfortable last time out at the JJB, a 2-1 win was daylight robbery. It's five wins out of six for the Toon Army, I've seen worse 13/2 shots.
Emre or Solano to score at any time 15/8
Charlton v Middlesbrough Sunday 12th March 15.00
Get on: Draw
Charlton's last three games have finished goalless; Boro have either kept a clean sheet or failed to score in eight of their last nine games. 4 of the last 10 between these two have finished goalless, you can rule out a 4-4 draw.
No Goalscorer in the match 8/1
Arsenal v Liverpool Sunday 12th March 16.00 Live on Sky
Get on: Arsenal
Liverpool are not performing away from home, it's four defeats from their last six on the road. Arsenal have won this fixture convincingly for the last couple of seasons, 3-1 and 4-2. One goal should be enough for the Gunners to take the points in this one.
Arsenal to win 1-0 6/1
By Rob The Bookie