Writer: J P Fear
Date:Thursday September 7 2006
Having been involved in the sports betting game since I was knee high to Paul Dickov, I`ve pretty much seen it all; I`m practically unshockable. Admittedly, when Frank Lampard was announced 'the 2nd best player in the world`, I was slightly taken aback; when a 17 year old Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon, I raised more than an eyebrow, but when news broke that West Ham had signed Tevez and Mascherano, i actually collapsed like Pedro Mendes.
This is the most jaw-dropping transfer since Howard Wilkinson began the Manchester United era of dominance by selling Cantona for £1m. But while intellectuals pontificate about the rights and wrongs of the deal, the truly clever are profiting from the situation by backing West Ham at 12/1 in the 'betting without the big 4` market; that was a decent shout before two of the world`s best players became bubble-blowers.
The Hammers can consider themselves lucky; the last time I managed to get my hands on a quality pair, the filth arrested me. On a related note, my cousin once wanted to be a police officer; you can imagine my sense of pride when he decided to clean car windows at traffic lights instead.
I was disappointed to hear that the old Bill were sniffing around the Ben Thatcher incident, there`s a time and a place for the plod, it`s normally three and a half hours after you`ve called them. Man City will be without Thatcher when they travel to Reading, it would be criminal to miss the Royals at an elbow-jerking 7/5.
Everton`s preparations for the Merseyside derby have been rocked by Roongate. David Moyes was so incensed by Wayne`s autobiography serialisation that he`s started legal proceedings. I guess Rooney will soon be sporting a new t-shirt; 'Once a blue, always a blue - unless I feel the need to justify leaving for a bigger club by completely destabilising them`. Liverpool should be backed at 11/10 to leave Goodison Park with the Scouse bragging-rights.
Steven Gerrard came out with the most entertaining one-liner since Pete Doherty this week. He joked, "Peter Crouch is a great finisher; i hope he beats Bobby Charlton's record." Well, i hope to one day sleep with Maria Sharapova, but it ain`t gonna happen…again. To be fair to Gerrard, the big man is on fire; even I`m considering backing him at 13/2 to net the opener.
The revelation that Gallas threatened to score an own goal if Chelsea picked him against his will has even got the wife upset. I overheard her in a conversation with her mother: "That`s one small Willy" she complained, and she`s right. The signing of Gallas and Baptista finally adds much needed steel to the Gunners armoury, Arsenal are available at 4/11 to see off Middlesbrough, please meet the weekend nap.
Thierry Henry loves facing the Boro, of the incredible 16 goals that Middlesbrough have conceded in their last three visits to Arsenal in the Premiership, Terrence has bagged 6 of them. They say form is temporary, but class is permanent, (If that`s true, where`s Pele now?) Henry is 14/1 to net a hat-trick.
Man U have started the season superbly, but their decision not to replace Van the man in the transfer window could leave Fergie red-faced. (Looking on the bright side, his nose will fit right in.) While Man U are lightweight up front, Spurs have more quality than Ben Thatcher could shake an elbow at. Defoe, Keane, Berbatov and Mido are all top-drawer operators, my value sensor has sniffed out the draw at 11/4.
Neil Warnock broke the bank on deadline day, bringing in Kazim-Richards for a fee believed to be in the region of £150,000, that`s a pretty poor region. Blackburn have visited Bramall Lane twice in the Premiership, they left with all three points on both occasions. Chance may have no memory, but Sheffield United have no players; the Rovers are the call at 7/4.
Paul Jewell will be delighted that Emile Heskey has opened his account, although, if he really thought about it, it`s probably a bad thing that 33% of his total goals for the season are in the bag already. Wigan travel to a revitalised Pompey, I can`t see any other result than a home win, a juicy 5/6 is on offer.
While Chelsea`s attack on Gallas did Willy little favours, it hardly promoted the Champions in a positive light. My favourite line from the press release was the accusation that he was 'hawking himself to the highest bidder`, there`s a kettle looking to tool a pot somewhere. Charlton will be demolished at the Bridge, take advantage at 1/5.
The acc of the week:
The accer this week is so assured; it would take a team of women working around the clock to even begin to demoralise it. Liverpool, Arsenal, Bolton, Portsmouth and Blackburn are the selections, the payout is a shade under 20/1.
The weekend specials:
"Nic is in a twist" - Anelka to be sent off 25/1
"Mido's touch" - Mido to score at any time 3/1
"Hey Mascherano" - Javier Mascherano to be booked 7/4
"Auf Wiedersehen, Pet" - Stilian Petrov to be sent off 40/1
"All mouth and no Scousers" - A player to be sent off in the Merseyside derby 2/1
The quote of the week
"At this stage, no proceedings have been issued against Wayne Rooney, for various reasons. The book has got to be fully read and David Moyes has to consider whether that is something he wants to do."
That`s too much to ask of any one man.
The lay man:
People are lining up to back Man U at 8/15 on the exchanges. Spurs are unbeaten in their last two trips to Old Trafford, let`s accommodate them.
Everton v Liverpool Saturday 9th September 12.45 Live on Premiership Plus
Get on: Liverpool
Peter Crouch to score with a header 9/2
Arsenal v Middlesbrough Saturday 9th September 15.00
Get on: Arsenal
Arsenal to win 4-0 16/1
Bolton v Watford Saturday 9th September 15.00
Get on: Bolton
Anelka to score two or more goals 9/2
Chelsea v Charlton Saturday 9th September 15.00
Get on: Chelsea
Shevchenko to score a hat-trick 14/1
Newcastle v Fulham Saturday 9th September 15.00
Get on: Draw
Match to finish 1-1 6/1
Portsmouth v Wigan Saturday 9th September 15.00
Get on: Portsmouth
Portsmouth to win and keep a clean sheet 2/1
Sheff Utd v Blackburn Saturday 9th September 15.00
Sheff Utd 13/8
Get on: Blackburn
McCarthy to score at any time 9/4
Man Utd v Tottenham Saturday 9th September 17.15 Live on Premiership Plus
Man Utd 1/2
Get on: Draw
Carrick to be booked 7/2
West Ham v Aston Villa Sunday 10th September 16.00 Live on Sky
West Ham 6/5
Aston Villa 5/2
Get on: West Ham
Tevez to score the first goal 13/2
Reading v Man City Monday 11th September 20.00 Live on Sky
Man City 21/10
Get on: Reading
Reading to score three or more goals 5/1
Article by Gerry McDonnell
Date:Thursday September 7 2006
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