Defenders hold the key in Monday night battle

MANCHESTER CITY VS LIVERPOOL

MONDAY – 8.00PM SKY SPORTS

MANCHESTER City would have counted themselves slightly fortunate to have escaped from White Hart Lane with a point on Saturday. Joe Hart produced a brilliant performance, particularly in the first half, while the defence looked fairly solid throughout. It will take a while for their attacking players to get used to each other and some of their opening encounters have the potential to be cagey.

Liverpool impressed against Arsenal and should really have won the game even though Joe Cole was sent off on the stroke of half-time. Roy Hodgson has always had well-organised sides and Jamie Carragher was particularly impressive at the back. Fernando Torres is yet to hit full fitness, so their attacking options are limited to say the least and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the defenders boss Monday night’s encounter.

The Citizens last beat Liverpool in the league in April 2005 and have lost five and drawn five of the past 10 meetings. They have drawn three of the past four at Eastlands, though, and all of those have been goalless, while five of the past six at the ground have produced one or no goals.

Bettorlogic.com analysis points to this game going in level at the break – with three of City’s last four at home against the ‘Big Four’ seeing a half-time draw and the same with six of the Reds’ last eight at top-six sides.

Liverpool struggled on the road last season and they have only managed to win one of their nine away league games in 2010. City were very strong at Eastlands last campaign and eventually gave up their unbeaten record when losing to Everton at the end of March. They then lost to Manchester United and Tottenham in the final few weeks, but they are a solid outfit at home and I reckon the Reds would be happy to leave with a point. Back the draw at 9/4 on Betdaq but I wouldn’t put anyone off having a small bet on no goalscorer at a general 8/1 either. I’ll also be selling goals at 2.3 with Sporting Index.

Also worth consideration for your punting pounds this weekend is the relaunched Football Pools. They are making it easier for punters to win by introducing live pools statistics, which lets you see where other players in the pool are betting. Aside from the Classic Pools, there’s plenty of new games including Punter’s favourite, ‘Challenge Hansen’, where you can test your prediction skills against MOTD pundit Alan Hansen. Check it out at www.footballpools.com.

POINTERS...
Match to be drawn at 9/4 on Betdaq
No goalscorer at 8/1 general
Sell total match goals at 2.3 with Sporting Index

WIGAN VS CHELSEA

TOMORROW – 5.15PM SKY SPORTS

THE fortunes of these two clubs could hardly have been more contrasting on the opening weekend of the season. Chelsea demolished West Brom 6-0 at Stamford Bridge – a harsh reminder to Wigan of their 8-0 defeat at the same ground on the final day of last campaign – while the Latics were rocked by Blackpool.

Roberto Martinez’s side are a funny bunch – they can lose badly one week and then raise their game to beat a Chelsea or an Arsenal the next. In fact, Man United were the only Big Four side they didn’t beat on home turf last season and they along with Chelsea are the only two teams in the top flight to have won their last three home matches against the Big Four.

There is obviously a big class difference between these sides, but Wigan seem to raise their game when the best sides visit the DW Stadium. That said, they were beaten 5-0 by Man United on their second home game of last season and I can’t see them having enough to beat the champions, even though they could be considered value at 14/1 on Betdaq.

The Latics defended badly against Blackpool on Saturday and Martinez will have been working on that on the training ground. However, if they concede an early goal against Carlo Ancelotti’s side the game could really open up which would be a major worry for the Spaniard.

Chelsea are a best-priced 1/4 with Paddy Power to win this game, but we’re not going to get rich backing them at that price. The same firm offers 8/11 about a HT / FT Chelsea victory and that looks a fair price to me.

This isn’t a game to get involved with a correct scoreline as the goals could really flow if Wigan’s defence capitulates again. There have been at least three goals in five of their last six home games against the Big Four with three of those producing five or more. On that basis, the only other bet is to buy Sporting Index’s total goals quote at 3.2.

POINTERS...
Chelsea HT / FT at 8/11 with Paddy Power
Buy total match goals at 3.2 with Sporting Index

FULHAM VS MANCHESTER UNITED

SUNDAY – 4.00PM SKY SPORTS

IT was an impressive start for Manchester United against Newcastle on Monday night. They won comfortably in the end and Paul Scholes was inspirational in the middle of the park. United are incredibly difficult to play at Old Trafford, but they have been beatable on their travels in recent seasons.

Mark Hughes was pleased with his side’s opening performance against Bolton where they earned a hard fought point at the Reebok. It will be a struggle for the Cottagers this season but they are strong at Craven Cottage and have beaten United in the last two league meetings here.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have been chalked up as the 8/13 favourites for this contest, but there might be some value in taking them on. They lost five games on their travels last season and went down to Burnley in their first away match. They are traditionally slow starters and although they played very well against Newcastle I wouldn’t want to be backing them at 8/13.

Fulham are 11/2 on Betdaq and for a team that won 11 of 19 home games last season and only conceded 15 goals, I think that’s worth a small bet. It would be a surprise if the game was particularly high scoring – there have been two or fewer goals in six of the Cottagers’ last nine home games against the Big Four and the same is true in 11 of United’s last 16 away at middle-third sides.

There is no doubt that the Red Devils are the most likely winners, but at the prices Fulham should be backed and spread bettors are advised to sell goals at 2.6 with Sporting Index.


POINTERS...
Fulham to win at 11/2 on Betdaq
Sell total match goals at 2.6 with Sporting Index