TOMORROW, 5.30PM, ESPN
AFTER a hugely impressive demolition of Blackburn at Old Trafford on Saturday, Manchester United fell back down to earth on Tuesday night when West Ham unceremoniously dumped them out of the Carling Cup. Sir Alex Ferguson fielded a heavily weakened side, but he will not have been happy with the lack of desire that his youngsters showed.
Blackpool were kicking themselves last weekend after letting a two-goal lead slip at in-form Bolton. However, Ian Holloway probably would have taken a point beforehand and his side have now lost just one of their last six league games. That said, they have lost their only home game against a team currently in the top half, Manchester City, and United will prove a very difficult test.
The Red Devils are still unbeaten in the league this season and although they’ve only won one on the road, they will expect to take all three points tomorrow evening. They have won eight of their last 10 trips to promoted sides and of their last 10 league victories, home and away, all 10 have come by the HT / FT double result. That can be backed at 11/10 on Betdaq and is the main selection.
Since 2005/06, middle-third promoted teams have won none of 17 home games hosting the Big Four, losing 11, with seven coming by the HT / FT defeat. Holloway seems to accept that his team will lose games against the big boys and it would be a big surprise if the match ended up anything other than an away win.
The goals are likely to flow in this one; there have been three or more scored in 12 of the Tangerines’ 15 league matches this campaign. They’ve managed to score in all six home games, netting two in five of them, so we could be set for an entertaining early evening encounter.
Sporting Index quote goals at a huge 3.3-3.5 and that is due to Blackpool’s gung-ho attitude, as well as United’s seven-goal party last weekend. I wouldn’t normally contemplate buying at such a big price, but this really could be a day for the strikers, so the advice is to get on.
United often bounce back from a defeat and even though they won’t be too upset about not winning another Carling Cup, the players will want to show that Tuesday night was just a blip. I can see them running out comfortable winners, so spread bettors are also advised to buy their supremacy at 1.7 with Sporting Index.
Manchester United / Manchester United at EVS on Betdaq
Buy match goals at 3.5 with Sporting Index
Buy Manchester United supremacy at 1.7 with Sporting Index
LIVERPOOL vs ASTON VILLA
MONDAY, 8.00PM, SKY SPORTS
IT’S not exactly the return of the prodigal son, but Gerard Houllier’s first visit to Anfield as Aston Villa manager adds some spice to Monday night’s live game. He might not be feeling too confident of repeating his team’s 3-1 win here last season, though, as Villa have been shocking on the road so far this term. Having taken just four points from a possible 21 on their travels, they really need to start picking up some points away from home as they’re still only three points clear of the relegation zone.
Liverpool have a similar make up to Villa in that they are also very poor on the road and have only suffered one home defeat. However, they actually played well at Tottenham on Sunday and should really have left White Hart Lane with at least a point. Roy Hodgson will be pleased his side are back at Anfield on Monday where they have won 16 of their last 24 home games against bottom-half opposition, with 11 wins coming by two or more goals.
This really looks an ideal opportunity for the Reds to notch another home win, especially as Villa had a tough battle with Birmingham in the Carling Cup on Wednesday night. The home win is 4/6 on Betdaq and that is worth a bet considering both team’s home and away records.
There have been at least three goals in four of Liverpool’s last five home games this season and in 14 of their last 18 when hosting bottom-half outfits. There have also been three or more goals in eight of the Villains’ last 13 away fixtures and in five of their last six at Big Four sides.
I fancy this to be another high scoring game – all of the last five contests between these two at Anfield have seen a minimum of four goals – so will be buying Sporting Index’s prediction at 2.8
Liverpool at 4/6 on Betdaq
Buy match goals at 2.8 with Sporting Index
SUNDERLAND vs WEST HAM
SUNDAY, 4.00PM, SKY SPORTS
WEST HAM remain firmly rooted to the bottom of the table, yet they managed to produce an astonishing performance on Tuesday night to knock Man United out of the Carling Cup. However, the fact remains that they are winless in 25 away league games and they’ve lost three and drawn three of their last six trips to top-half non-Big Four teams.
Sunderland looked like they were going to notch only their second away win of the season at Molineux last weekend, only to concede two late goals and end up losing 3-2 to Wolves. That was a blow for Steve Bruce’s men, but they will relish another game at the Stadium of Light as they are one of only two unbeaten sides at home this campaign.
The Black Cats have won six of their last eight home contests against non-Big Four sides and are unbeaten hosting bottom-six teams since the start of last season. They lost to the Hammers in the Carling Cup here earlier in the season, but their league form has been strong and they are currently seventh in the table.
Bettorlogic.com analysis shows that both teams have scored in seven of Sunderland’s last eight home games against bottom-six sides, but that is tempered by the fact West Ham have only found the net in three of their seven games on the road. I’m going to stick to just the one selection here and with Sunderland having such a strong home record this season, that is to back the home win at 5/6 with Paddy Power.
Sunderland at 5/6 with Paddy Power