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Mick’s Wolves lack the bite to frighten United

WOLVES vs MANCHESTER UNITED

TOMORROW – 5.30PM ESPN

THE relationship between the red and blue sides of Manchester has been especially hostile this season thanks mainly to the Carlos Tevez saga. However, the little Argentinian did his old teammates a huge favour by inflicting Chelsea’s first home league defeat since November 2008 last Saturday. That surprise result has thrown the title race wide open once again and Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping that his side are back on top of the league tomorrow night.

Wolves haven’t been playing badly recently, but Mick McCarthy was disappointed they didn’t get something out of their game at Bolton last weekend. This will be a stern test for the West Midlanders and it will be interesting to see what side McCarthy fields as he was widely criticised for his negative team selection at Old Trafford earlier in the season. Wolves have three away games in a row after this, so I’m sure they will be more positive in front of their own supporters.

One concern for United fans is that their team have only taken a point from their last two away games, but they have still won half of their 14 away contests this campaign. All seven of those victories have come by at least a two-goal margin and perhaps more pertinent is that they have won eight of their last nine at bottom-six sides, with six by the HT/FT result and five by at least two goals.

Wolves have put up some spirited displays at Molineux this season, including an excellent victory against Spurs last month and a goalless draw against Liverpool in January. McCarthy puts the onus on his defence, which comes as no surprise when we see that there has been an average of just 2.07 goals in the 14 league games at the ground so far. However, they have lost seven on home soil, with six of those coming by the HT / FT result and five by two or more goals – including two of their three against the Big Four.

It is very dangerous to sell anything to do with Man United on the spreads this season, but they will have one eye on the Champions League return leg against Milan and Wolves will try to make it difficult for them. For that reason I’ll be backing a 2-0 away win, but also selling goals at 2.8 with Sporting Index. Wolves’ last three home games against Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs have produced just three goals in total.

POINTERS...
Man United HT / FT at EVS on Betdaq
Man United to win 2-0 at 11/2 with Blue Square
Sell total match goals at 2.8 with Sporting Index

ARSENAL vs BURNLEY

TOMORROW – 3.00PM

BURNLEY are fast becoming one of the worst away teams in Premier League history and it has been a tough introduction for Brian Laws. It always looked a funny appointment and the way the Clarets are going they will be playing Championship football next season.

A trip to the Emirates is hardly the ideal place to go for a side who have lost seven of their last eight league games and it will be no surprise if Laws has one eye on the following week’s crucial home game against Wolves. If there is one thing for Burnley to cling onto it is that they took a point against the Gunners at Turf Moor earlier in the season and also beat them there in last season’s Carling Cup.

Arsene Wenger will also have been delighted with Man City’s win against Chelsea and with seemingly the easiest run-in, the Gunners must have a great chance of lifting their first title since 2003/04 at 11/4 with Stan James. A home game against Burnley is the perfect fixture, especially as Wenger will have to inspire his troops to overturn a one-goal deficit against Porto next Tuesday. That game will be on the players’ minds, but they should have far too much for an unconfident Clarets side and I think they will win comfortably.

The Gunners have won 10 of their last 11 at the Emirates against bottom-half sides with all of those wins coming by two goals and six by at least three. They have won by three or more goals in seven of their last 11 home games against bottom-three finishers and current bottom three sides since 2006/07. Sporting Index have suffered due to high scoring games this season and I can see this being another, so I’ll be buying total match goals and selling the time of the Gunners’ third goal at 70 minutes.

POINTERS...
Arsenal HT / FT at 8/15 on Betdaq
Sell the time of Arsenal’s third goal at 70 minutes with Sporting Index
Buy total match goals at 3.4 with Sporting Index

PORTSMOUTH vs BIRMINGHAM

TOMORROW – 12.30PM ITV1 – FA CUP

BIRMINGHAM City fans should think about having a short holiday on the south coast with their side playing twice at Fratton Park in the space of four days. They will be confident of a win against a struggling Portsmouth side and will be dreaming of a first FA Cup final since 1956.

Pompey’s problems have been well documented, but they pulled off a great win at Burnley last weekend, especially as it was just a few days after the administration announcement. Avram Grant’s side have actually been very strong in the FA Cup this year and this is their best chance of salvaging something from an extremely disappointing season.

Alex McLeish’s team had been on a fantastic run but have since lost their way a little, losing their last three on the road, including games at Upton Park and Craven Cottage. It may be that they were punching slightly above their weight and there can be little doubt that tomorrow’s game is more important to Pompey than them.

It seems like a long time ago now, but Pompey won this competition two years ago and home fans will be encouraged that they haven’t lost at Fratton Park against Birmingham since 1998. They also have a fairly decent record against Premier League opposition in the FA Cup, winning four of nine (three out of five at home). Both teams have scored in seven of those nine games and there have been three or more goals in six of those contests.

POINTERS...
Portsmouth to win at 13/8 with Skybet
Both teams to score at EVS with Hills