A tie, with a Lam starter
Sometimes in life you have to be willing to compromise. This morning for example, it was too chilly for a t-shirt, yet perplexingly, a little too warm for a jacket. After considering my options at length, i embraced the middle ground by selecting a long sleeved top. An almost identical situation is currently in play in the Middle East; they could do worse than 'be like the G` and consider a compromise, as could all bettors looking to take an interest in the Community Shield.
There`s a stigma involved with backing a draw in a football match, you`re basically telling the bookmaker that you`re not smart enough to solve the conundrum, but with so many question marks surrounding the preparation of both Chelsea and Liverpool, backing the draw at 11/5 will prove a profitable concession.
Jose`s getting his excuses in early by claiming his players are under prepared, the reality is that Rafa has him by the short and baldies. Mourinho has come out on top in only two of his last seven face-offs with Benitez, Jose`s incessant whining is an exercise in pre-emptive damage limitation. Chelsea can`t be backed at 11/10, a 1-1 scoreline must be at 11/2.
Frank Lampard`s autobiography made fascinating reading. He claimed that his legs were heavy during the World Cup; talk about stating the obvious. He was told that he was the fittest England player; you can get 8/11 about a typo. Frankie`s performances in Germany were truly, truly awful, but there are few that can argue with the fact that 'Lamb lard` always performs for his club. The Lamp is an 8/1 shot to open the scoring.
Jose has gone to the extreme of shaving his head in a symbolic gesture that he is ready to go to war. Jose`s no mug, when entering the field of battle, it`s almost compulsory to have a German in the vicinity, hence the signing of Ballack. A sending off has been priced up at 11/4, if Craig Bellamy was on the pitch on his own that would tempt.
Bellamy and Pennant should both be in the starting 11 for the Pool, and let`s be honest; it`s probably not the last time they`ll appear in a line-up. Bellamy remains controversial, but the boyo can play. The Bell has been chalked up at 15/2 to score the last goal.
There`s another full Championship programme to get our teeth into, and Southampton are the weekend nap at home to West Brom. I fancy the Saints to be there or thereabouts at the end of the season, 11/8 is too big against a mediocre Albion side. Paradoxically, I can`t see the Saints performing well in the Cup competitions, with Pele in their team; they won`t get past a semi.
Ex-Baggie Rob Earnshaw found the net in midweek, and goals to Earnie are like bottles of buckfast to the wife, one begets another. Norwich look a great investment at 10/11 to beat Luton and the pacy, goofy, dwarf-like striker should be backed at 4/1 to bang in the opener.
Crystal Palace host Leeds in a potential cracker and the Eagles are the selection at 5/4 to maintain their 100% record. Leeds were denied a win in midweek when Shahbaz scored a 90th minute equaliser for QPR; if a little camp Scotsman can breach your defence, Macken and Morrison could literally run riot.
Leicester and Ipswich are both as pointless as voting on a big brother eviction, so an 'O` must go when they meet at the Walkers. Ipswich can take comfort from their performances in narrow defeats to Palace and Wolves while embarrassing defeats to Luton and Burnley will do little for the goalless Foxes. You can`t touch the crisp nibblers at odds on; you must accept the tractor factor; back Ipswich at a humongous 11/4.
Top marks to Billy Sharp for his superb goal celebration in midweek, Scunthorpe`s sharpshooter delighted all with a superb impression of our very own Monty. (That`s England`s latest spin sensation, not the large-breasted golfing choker.) On a related note, Saturday sees the last episode of Cricket AM, I enjoyed it immensely; it was like Soccer AM, only funny. Scunthorpe should be backed at 6/4 to see off a Crewe side in terminal decline.
Norwich, Southampton, Crystal Palace and Gretna form the accer of the week, it pays out at a whopping 17/1. Get on now, or forever hold your piece.
By Gerry McDonnell