TOMORROW, 12.45PM, SKY SPORTS
HARRY REDKNAPP would love to have the funds that Roberto Mancini has at his disposal, but the financial gap between the managers meant nothing last season as Tottenham pipped Manchester City for fourth spot. He also has the psychological edge over his Italian counterpart, knowing that Spurs have beaten Man City in 12 of the last 13 meetings. Their last league defeat at White Hart Lane against the Sky Blues was in 2003.
Big spending City have been well-backed for the title, but there has to be a danger that it’s going to take the players a while to get used to each other. It’s true that everyone said the same thing last season and they started with a bang, but their first two games were against Blackburn and Wolves, while they have Spurs and Liverpool this year.
Both managers will be drumming into their players that they are genuine title contenders, especially with question marks about all of the top teams. This game gives them a chance to really send out a message to the rest of the league and Redknapp will be hoping that his side can continue their excellent home form from last campaign.
Spurs won 14 of their 19 home games in the league and ended the season with a flourish, not only winning all of their last six, but winning all of them by the half-time / full-time double result. That included games against Chelsea and Arsenal, and they have won by the double result against City at the Lane in all of the last five seasons.
Man City were also strong at home last season, but it was their away form that let them down and they have now lost five of their past eight trips to top-six opponents, including four half-time / full-time defeats. Funnily enough, City only lost four games on their travels last term, the fewest in the league, but they drew nine matches, the most in the division.
William Hill are as short as 5/4 for a Spurs victory, but you can get 7/5 on Betdaq and that looks well worth taking. The half-time / full-time Spurs win is 10/3, which is also a decent price, while I wouldn’t put anyone off backing the 2-1 home win at 9/1. That has been the scoreline in seven of the last nine league meetings between the sides.
Spread bettors are advised to buy goals at 2.9 with Sporting Index; both of these sides have strong attacking options and it could be an open encounter.
Tottenham to win at 7/5 on Betdaq
Tottenham HT / FT at 10/3 on Betdaq
Tottenham to win 2-1 at 9/1 general
Buy total match goals at 2.9 with Sporting Index
LIVERPOOL vs ARSENAL
SUNDAY, 4.00PM, SKY SPORTS
IT’S all change on Merseyside with Roy Hodgson taking over from Rafa Benitez at Anfield and he faces a baptism of fire with a visit from Arsenal on Sunday. The Gunners did the double over Liverpool last season and Arsene Wenger will be hoping for a repeat of last year’s opening fixture when they thrashed Everton 6-1 at Goodison Park.
The concept of the ‘Big Four’ is debatable nowadays after Liverpool’s seventh-place finish, but 31 of the last 60 Big Four clashes have been won by the home team since 2005/06. As is so often the case in the Premier League, the Reds’ problems stemmed from their poor away form last campaign. They were strong at Anfield with a record of W13-D3-L3, winning 10 by at least two clear goals and six by three or more.
In the past five seasons the first Big Four game of the campaign has been won by the home side four times and the other game was a draw. It’s fair to say that the pressure is slightly off Liverpool, as expectations aren’t as high and consolidation has to be the key focus. This could work to their benefit, but it’s also worth bearing in mind that Arsenal have a very promising squad and they will be gearing themselves up for a title challenge.
There are arguments for both of these sides to make a winning start, but with nerves bound to play a part I wouldn’t be surprised to see them cancel each other out. A draw wouldn’t be bad for either manager and there have been four stalemates in the last six league contests between the rivals.
The draw is a general 23/10 which isn’t bad and it’s also worth having a few quid on the 1-1 correct score at 6/1, as three of the last six league meetings between these two finished with that scoreline. On that basis, and the fact it could be a cagey affair, I’d be tempted to sell goals at 2.4 with Sporting Index.
Match to be drawn at 23/10 general
1-1 correct scoreline at 6/1 on Betdaq
Sell total match goals at 2.4 with Sporting Index
MANCHESTER UNITED vs NEWCASTLE UNITED
MONDAY, 8.00PM, SKY SPORTS
THIS is a repeat of the opening weekend of the 2008/09 season when Newcastle came to Old Trafford and left with a point following a 1-1 draw. Manchester United have been fortunate enough to have a home fixture first up in the last three seasons, but that hasn’t really been a positive. They drew 0-0 against Reading in 2007/08, 1-1 with the Magpies two years ago and only managed to beat newly-promoted Birmingham 1-0 last year.
Newcastle were impressive winners of the Championship and they will feel confident of holding on to their Premier League status this season. They couldn’t have a much more difficult place to start than the Theatre of Dreams, but we’ve already seen that playing United on the opening weekend isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
However, before Magpies fans get too carried away, it’s worth bearing in mind United’s home record. They won 16 of their 19 games at Old Trafford last season and they have also won to nil in eight of their last 11, with nine victories coming by at least two clear goals. Their record at home against promoted teams is also very strong, winning to nil in 13 of their last 15 such games since 2005/06.
William Hill are 1/5 about a United victory, but that is too short. I’ll be backing them to win to nil at 4/5 with Paddy Power and will also have a small bet on the 2-0 scoreline at 11/2. Spread bettors should also look to sell goals at 2.8 with Sporting Index – there have only been three goals scored in United’s last three opening fixtures.
Man United to win to nil at 4/5 with Paddy Power
Man United to win 2-0 at 11/2 general
Sell total goals at 2.8 with Sporting Index