ASTLE vs LIVERPOOL
Sunday 1.30pm, Sky Sports 1
WITH at least one addition to the Anfield trophy cabinet, the history books will record that the 2011/12 season was a successful one for Liverpool. However, lifting the Carling Cup and a return to Wembley with at least an FA Cup semi-final against Everton fail to mask what has been another disappointing Premier League campaign.
Barring an epic turnaround, Liverpool will finish outside the top four again, to ensure a third straight season without the Holy Grail that is Champions League football.
The Reds go into the weekend down in seventh place in the Premier League, 13 points in arrears to Tottenham in fourth, thanks in no small part to the terrible run Kenny Dalglish’s expensively assembled side are on. One win and five defeats in their last half dozen fixtures is their worst spell since that overseen by Gerard Houllier in late 2002, during which time the Reds claimed just one point from six games.
Liverpool’s campaign hit a low last weekend when Wigan, who had won just one of their previous 14 matchs, achieved their first ever victory at Anfield. In this sort of shape, it is easy to oppose the Reds for their visit to Newcastle on Sunday.
Dalglish’s side are 7/5 favourites with Coral, but his former team make plenty of appeal at 11/5 on Betfair. Not only have Liverpool lost five of six previous road games – the sole victory came at relegation-destined Wolves – but the Geordies have lost just twice in front of their own fans. Neither of those losses, against Chelsea and West Brom, happened this year – they occurred while Newcastle were on their only dodgy run of the season, at the end of 2011.
The Magpies did lose 3-1 at Anfield in December, but that reverse also came around the same time and Alan Pardew’s men won this fixture 3-1 last season, with Andy Carroll a scorer before his big money switch between the clubs. Carroll’s name hasn’t been the first on Dalglish’s teamsheet this term – and his goals have been even fewer and farther between – but the Scot may be tempted to throw him in from the start against his boyhood club.
With that in mind, Coral have a tempting offer. They are refunding losing first/last goalscorer, correct scores and scorecast bets if the first goal in a live TV game is a header.
Consider backing Newcastle’s Papiss Demba Cisse to score first at 6/1 with Coral. The Senegal striker has formed a fine partnership with his countryman Demba Ba, netting five times in his six appearances. Having insurance against a headed goal from Carroll and co – as well as Cisse’s own colleagues could prove useful.
Either way, I cannot see Liverpool winning the game, so spread bettors should sell their supremacy at 0.1 with Sporting Index.
Newcastle at 11/5 on Betfair
Cisse to score first at 6/1 with Coral
Sell Liverpool supremacy at 0.1 with Sporting Index
QPR vs ARSENAL
MARK Hughes must have thought QPR’s dramatic win against Liverpool last week was the stepping stone needed to escape relegation. However, normal service was resumed at Sunderland on Saturday when the Hoops were beaten 3-1, their fifth defeat in seven Premier League games.
Survival is the only target for Rangers, but Bolton, one place above them in the table, have a game in hand, and Blackburn are three points clear of the drop zone. It’s a worrying time for all concerned at Loftus Road and a visit from Arsenal, the division’s most in-form side, is hardly what Hughes needs.
Arsene Wenger must be very proud of the character his side have shown over the past couple of months. Not only have they won seven straight league games; five of those victories came against sides in the top nine. That is a fantastic effort and the Gunners have virtually assured themselves of a Champions League spot, with third place now theirs to lose.
A slight worry for Arsenal backers is that the North London outfit have lost six of their 15 away matches this season, but those defeats came when they were struggling and they should be too strong for a nervy QPR side, who have won just three of their home games this campaign.
Arsenal are a best price 8/13 with Paddy Power and I just can’t see past them making it eight in-a-row. Robin van Persie has been in unbelievable form and Theo Walcott is starting to show why he was an England regular a couple of seasons back.
Games involving the Gunners are often high scoring and I’d expect another match full of goals tomorrow. QPR haven’t kept a clean sheet in the league since their 1-0 home victory against Chelsea way back in October and they have conceded seven in their last three league contests. Spread bettors are advised to buy total goals at 3.1 with Sporting Index.
Arsenal at 8/13 with Paddy Power
Buy total goals at 3.1 with Sporting Index
WOLVES vs BOLTON
THINGS have been going from bad to worse for Terry Connor and his Wolves side over the past few weeks. They have lost their last four Premier League games, conceding 14 and scoring just one, and now prop up the table. There just doesn’t look to be any way out for the Black Country club and they are as short as 8/13 with Coral to finish bottom. There are only eight games to go and the Molineux faithful will know that if they don’t beat Bolton tomorrow afternoon they are doomed.
It has been an immensely difficult time for everyone at Bolton since Fabrice Muamba’s cardiac arrest at White Hart Lane. Games had to be postponed, but the Trotters showed great guts and determination to beat local rivals Blackburn last weekend. Owen Coyle’s side were another that looked destined for Championship football a couple of weeks ago, but they have now won their past two league games and the players will be desperate to maintain their top flight status, for Muamba if nothing else.
I don’t think this game will be a classic, but there is some value in backing a Bolton win at a general 2/1. They are playing better football now and the Wolves players are likely to be very anxious. Even though Wolves have conceded plenty of goals lately, I’d be surprised if there were many scores in this one. I can see the Trotters leaving with a 1-0 or 2-0 win, but a better bet would be to sell total goals at 2.8 with Sporting Index.
Bolton at 2/1 general
Sell total goals at 2.8 with Sporting Index