War For Four - Send In The Gunners
A psychic once predicted that I'd marry a small, blonde, beautiful woman, which proved to be wrong, wrong, wrong and the jury's out. As a result of that experience, I'm a confirmed eyebrow raiser whenever the subject of the paranormal is raised, but even i can appreciate the sense of déjà vu emanating from the greatest competition in World football, the Premiership.
Cast your minds back a year; Chelsea had the title in the bag, the 2nd and 3rd finishing positions were pretty much sewn up, and the battle for the final Champions League spot was fought by a team flying high in the Champions League and their local rivals. Unfortunately for Tottenham, the similarity ends there. The Gunners have all the momentum in ‘The War for four', and should be backed at 4/7 to finish above their North London rivals; Spurs fans and the viewers of ‘most haunted' will be obliged at 5/4.
Arsenal have been linked with a summer move for David Beckham, which is surprising as Becks couldn't lace Ljungberg's boots. He's a far better player than Freddie, he just struggles with laces. Ljungberg is doubtful for the Charlton match, an Arsenal victory is not. The Gunners are nap bet material at 4/11.
Last season he was a right lemon, now the Arsenal goalkeeper is being rightly lauded by all and sundry. The Addicks have drew a blank in three of their last four games; you can foresee an Arsenal clean sheet, a pleasing 4/5 shot.
Mick McCarthy has taken a bit of stick for steering Sunderland towards the title of ‘Worst Premiership football team ever', but in defence of big Mick, he managed to get this awful side promoted from the Championship last season, and with more points than Wigan and West Ham to boot, a spectacular accomplishment. Sunderland are losing at the Reebok this week, 4/11 is on the table for Bolton.
It's been reported that Tottenham have made a £7 million bid for Ruud Van Nistelrooy, although Martin Jol's unusual policy of leaving his best striker on the bench could well be a stumbling block. Steve Bruce has complained that relegation worries are affecting his sleep, he'll kip like a hedgehog in winter when Birmingham take all three points at home to Spurs. It's 9/4 that Brucey gets his eight hours on Saturday night.
West Brom host an in form Manchester United, their flirtation with the drop is about to move into Paris Hilton territory. Man U were sublime last weekend against Newcastle, a convincing win is on the cards at the Hawthorns; the 1/2 on offer should appeal.
The British press should hold it's collective head in shame. Wayne Rooney floated the ball over the Newcastle keeper's head to score a wonder goal last week, yet the headline, ‘Rooney, chips a Given' was nowhere to be seen. The Roonatic was unlucky not to get a hat-trick then, one shot nearly took Gary Neville's head off; let's hope his luck improves against West Brom. It's 20/1 for the big lad to net three times.
The weekend specials raise a glass to the patron saint of Ireland.
“St Patrick's Day” - Robbie Keane and Damien Duff both to score 6/1
“Bell, fast” - Craig Bellamy to score in the first half 9/2
“Ryan, air” - Giggs to score with a header 10/1
“The wild Rover” - Robbie Savage to be booked 7/4
“Paddy long legs” - Peter Crouch to score two or more goals 8/1
Quote of the week:
'I think of myself as Germany's number one keeper and one of the best keepers in Europe, I don't want any arguments with (Oliver) Kahn, but the stats are there. In one game, he conceded four goals, and I conceded none in two matches. Little by little, things are sitting into their rightful place.”
Jens Lehmann is a definite card.
Stat, you're a liberty:
West Brom have a remarkable record against teams in the top half of the table, they've won more games than Arsenal and Tottenham.
Acc of the week:
Everton, Arsenal, Bolton, Man Utd and a Newcastle draw make up the weekend accer, it's a 16/1 corker. (17.04)
Everton v Aston Villa Saturday 18th March 12.45 Live on Premiership Plus
Aston Villa 5/2
Get on: Everton
It's six wins and a draw from Everton's last 7 home matches; Villa have lost their last two without putting up a fight.
Everton to win 1-0 6/1
Arsenal v Charlton Saturday 18th March 15.00
Get on: Arsenal
Arsenal's last three performances have been sublime; Charlton are struggling to find the net, an excellent combination. Thierry Henry has scored seven times in his five appearances against Charlton at Highbury, the great man will fancy adding to that stat.
Thierry Henry to score a hat-trick 14/1
Blackburn v Middlesbrough Saturday 18th March 15.00
Get on: Blackburn
Blackburn have won their last four matches at home, Boro have lost their last two away. The Rovers have already seen off Boro twice this season, they're good for a third.
Bellamy to score two or more goals 5/1
Bolton v Sunderland Saturday 18th March 15.00
Get on: Bolton
Bolton lost their opening game of the season at the Reebok, but have not tasted defeat on their own patch since. Sunderland have lost their last four, the greatest politician in the World would struggle to make a case for the away team.
Nolan to score at any time 11/8
Man City v Wigan Saturday 18th March 15.00
Man City Evs
Get on: Man City
Wigan saw off Sunderland 1-0 last week, but that's their only win in nine. City have won their last seven at home, the Psycho's done well.
Samaras to score two or more goals 7/1
West Brom v Man Utd Saturday 18th March 15.00
West Brom 5/1
Man Utd 1/2
Get on: Man Utd
It's four consecutive league victories for Man U, the Baggies have earned 1 point out of a possible 12.
Man U to win 3-0 8/1
West Ham v Portsmouth Saturday 18th March 15.00
West Ham 8/13
Get on: West Ham
West Ham have won five of their last six home matches, they drew the other. It's four consecutive defeats on the road for Pompey without finding the net once. Pompey haven't won at Upton Park for 77 years, a run that looks set to continue.
West Ham to keep a clean sheet 11/10
Birmingham v Tottenham Saturday 18th March 17.15 Live on Premiership Plus
Get on: Birmingham
Surprisingly, Arsenal are the only visitors to St Andrew's to leave with three points this year, while Spurs have only won two of their last nine. Tottenham have never won at St Andrew's in the Premiership.
Birmingham to won 1-0 or 2-1 4/1
Newcastle v Liverpool Sunday 19th March 13.30 Live on Sky
Get on: Draw
Newcastle have won five of their last seven; the European Champions have scored either 1 goal or drawn a blank in 11 of their last 12 matches. Only the brave will play at 5/4.
Match to finish 1-1 11/2
Fulham v Chelsea Sunday 19th March 16.00 Live on Sky
Get on: Draw
Fulham's record at home is exceptional, Chelsea are more staggering than charging to the title, I see them leaving two points at the Cottage.
HT Draw FT Draw 9/2