Saturday 16th March Premier League Best Bets

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Everton v Manchester City 12.45pm

The Toffees don’t appear to be as bombproof as they were earlier in the season, and Manchester City could well be coming up against them just at the right time. City have appeared to step up a gear in the last month or so, and while all games are sure to be tough at Goodison Park, the Citizens have momentum and form on their side.

Everton’s shocking 3-0 loss last weekend against Wigan in the FA Cup is sure to be playing on Davis Moyes’ mind, while all appears to be rosy in th eblue half of Manchester at present, and Reberto Mancini will be doing his best to narrow the chasm between them and their city rivals.

Tip – Manchester City to Win 11/10 Bet Victor

Southampton v Liverpool 3.00pm

Southampton have done a sterling job in their first season in the top flight and have taken points from some big clubs, but that hasn’t been enough to steer them clear of the relegation battle.

However, at the odds it may be worth siding with a Liverpool team that are in top form with 4 straight wins in all competitions which include drubbings of Swansea (5-0) and Wigan (4-0) as well as a hard fought 3-2 victory over Spurs last weekend.

Luis Suarez has been a handful all season, but with other players now starting to perform, Liverpool are finally playing football worthy of a possible European place next season.

Tip – Liverpool to Win 10/11 Sky Bet

Aston Villa v QPR 3.00pm

Harry Redknapp has instilled a little bit of fight into Queens Park Rangers and the players will believe they have what it takes to pull them off of bottom spot come Saturday evening. Back to back wins over Southampton (2-1) and Sunderland (3-1) have given them renewed hope that they can escape the drop.

Aston Villa earned a much needed win over Reading last weekend to remain just outside the relegation zone, but I’m taking the Hoops to continue their winning run at Villa Park and force their way out of the dreaded drop zone.

Tip – QPR to win 23/10 bet365

Wolves vs Blackburn Rovers Betting

This week we delve into the lower reaches of the Premier League where a classic “six pointer” takes place at Molineux – Wolves, third from bottom, take on Blackburn Rovers, above them by one position on goal difference.

Three points are a must for both teams and given the dire defensive record for each of them, it is not unreasonable to believe the goals will flow on Saturday afternoon.

These sides last met in the Midlands on the final day of last season and again, were among five clubs still haunted by the prospect of relegation. Rovers won 3-2 that day and have an impressive record at Molineux. They have lost just once in their last nine visits and in terms of Premier League meetings, Rovers have come away with two draws and one win.

Blackburn have not been great on their travels this season but they won memorably at Old Trafford and also took points off Liverpool at Anfield. Rovers have taken points from the teams around them in recent matches – beating Fulham and QPR and drawing with Everton and Aston Villa.

Wolves captain Roger Johnson could feature against Rovers despite being fined for turning up “unfit to train properly” on Monday morning and he will need to be at his best to help prevent another mauling.

Saturday’s game is the first at home since the embarrassing 5-1 derby defeat against West Bromwich Albion while the team are still licking their wounds from a 5-0 mauling at Fulham last weekend.

However, home form is not Wolves’ strong point this season – they have suffered five defeats and one draw in their last six matches.

If they have any hope, they must attack and take advantage of the leakiest defence in the Premier League and one that has failed to keep a single clean sheet all season and has this season.

Even with home advantage, I still think Blackburn are the stronger of two weak sides. They are grinding out results against those around them whereas Wolves look like they have capitulated.

Verdict: Blackburn Rovers @ 3.25 (Bet Victor)

Other Results:

  • Wolves @ 2.4 (Paddy Power)
  • Draw @ 3.4 (bet365)

First Goalscorer

One player that enjoys scoring goals against sides in the lower reaches of the Premier League is Yakubu. He scored four against Swansea City, twice against Wigan and netted against Norwich and Bolton. Against a wobbly Wolves back line, he looks a good bet at 6.5 (Betfred).

Selected other first goalscorers:

  • Steven Fletcher @ 6.5 (Paddy Power)
  • Kevin Doyle @ 7.5 (bet365)
  • Sylvan Ebanks-Blake @ 8.5 (Boylesports)
  • Anthony Modeste @ 9.0 (Sky Bet)
  • David Goodwillie @ 9.0 (Sportingbet)
  • Ruben Rochina @ 11.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • David Hoilett @ 12.0 (Bet Victor)
  • Jamie O’Hara @ 12.0 (bet365)
  • Matthew Jarvis @ 13.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Mauro Formica @ 13.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • David Dunn @ 15.0 (Paddy Power)
  • No Goalscorer @ 15.0 (Sky Bet)

Anytime Goalscorer

Wolves need a goalscorer and they had a perfectly good one in Steven Fletcher kicking his heels on the bench against Fulham last weekend. It would be a surprise if he didn’t start against Rovers and with 10 goals this season, you’d fancy him against a side that hasn’t kept a clean sheet all season. He can be backed at 2.5 (Betfred).

Selected other anytime goalscorers:

  • Aiyegbeni Yakubu @ 2.65 (Sportingbet)
  • Kevin Doyle @ 2.75 (Sky Bet)
  • Sylvan Ebanks-Blake @ 3.25 (Ladbrokes)
  • Anthony Modeste @ 3.75 (Sky Bet)
  • David Goodwillie @ 3.75 (Sky Bet)
  • David Hoilett @ 4.33 (Bet Victor)
  • Jamie O’Hara @ 4.5 (Ladbrokes)
  • Ruben Rochina @ 4.5 (Ladbrokes)
  • Matthew Jarvis @ 5.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Mauro Formica @ 5.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • David Dunn @ 5.5 (Paddy Power)
  • Morten Gamst Pedersen @ 6.0 (Sky Bet)

Correct Score

The bookmakers are pitching a low scoring draw as their correct score of choice but with two dreadful back lines, I would not be surprised to see goals in this match, even if the teams try to play a tight, cagey game. Last season, Blackburn Rovers won this fixture 3-2 and you can back the same again at 29.0 (bet365).

Selected other correct scores:

  • Wolves 1-0 @ 9.5 (bet365)
  • Wolves 2-0 @ 12.0 (Sportingbet)
  • Wolves 2-1 @ 10.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Wolves 3-0 @ 23.0 (Sky Bet)
  • Wolves 3-1 @ 19.0 (Betfred)
  • Wolves 3-2 @ 26.0 (Boylesports)
  • Draw 0-0 @ 15.0 (Bet Victor)
  • Draw 1-1 @ 7.0 (Sky Bet)
  • Draw 2-2 @ 15.0 (Betfred)
  • Blackburn Rovers 1-0 @ 12.0 (bet365)
  • Blackburn Rovers 2-0 @ 17.0 (bet365)
  • Blackburn Rovers 2-1 @ 12.0 (Betfred)
  • Blackburn Rovers 3-0 @ 34.0 (Paddy Power)
  • Blackburn Rovers 3-1 @ 23.0 (Sportingbet)

Liverpool vs Arsenal Betting

Both teams enjoyed spectacular weekends and will go into this match full of confidence.

Liverpool beat Cardiff City on penalties in an exciting and memorable Carling Cup Final to end their six-year wait for a trophy while Arsenal battled from two goals down to defeat arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur 5-2 in a classic north London derby.

While a trophy in the cabinet is important for Liverpool in terms of progress and morale, they must turn their attentions to something arguably more important which is Champions League qualification.

They head into Saturday’s match in seventh position and as many points behind Arsenal in fourth place. The Reds are now an outside bet to finish in the top four with both Chelsea and Newcastle above them in the reckoning but home advantage is key this weekend.

Liverpool, like Manchester City, are unbeaten at home this season. However, they have won just four out of 12 in front of their home fans, on a par with Blackburn Rovers who sit in the bottom three.

Kenny Dalglish’s side have become draw specialists at Anfield, with eight matches ending all square this season. That is where out attentions will focus on for this particular match because six of the last nine meetings have ended in deadlock, five of which with a 1-1 scoreline.

Arsenal look susceptible on the road and have lost more than they have won – six defeats to five victories, with two draws thrown in for good measure.

Despite netting five goals last Sunday, the Gunners have not scored in three of their last four away matches in all competitions. That said, at Anfield, they find their shooting boots and have scored in their last five Premier League visits. The 2008-09 campaign saw them score four times in a remarkable 4-4 draw.

With Liverpool solid, if not spectacular at home and with eight draws at Anfield already this season combined with the recent draw sequence between these two, another stalemate would not come as a great shock.

Verdict: Draw @ 3.6 (Bet Victor)

Other Results:

  • Liverpool @ 2.05 (Boylesports)
  • Arsenal @ 3.8 (Betfred)

First Goalscorer

Due to playing away from home, red-hot Robin Van Persie does not head-up the bookmaker’s first goalscorer list in the betting, with them favouring Liverpool striker Luis Suarez instead. But, with 33 goals in all competitions to his name this season, Van Persie cannot be ignored and he is available to bulge the back of the net first at 6.5 (bet365).

Selected other first goalscorers:

  • Luis Suarez @ 6.0 (Sky Bet)
  • Craig Bellamy @ 7.5 (Boylesports)
  • Andy Carroll @ 8.0 (Paddy Power)
  • Steven Gerrard @ 8.5 (Bet Victor)
  • Dirk Kuyt @ 10.0 (Sportingbet)
  • Maxi Rodriguez @ 12.0 (Paddy Power)
  • Gervinho @ 13.0 (Boylesports)
  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain @ 15.0 (Boylesports)
  • Charlie Adam @ 15.0 (Coral)
  • Theo Walcott @ 15.0 (Bet Victor)
  • Mikel Arteta @ 19.0 (bet365)
  • Aaron Ramsey @ 21.0 (bet365)
  • No Goalscorer @ 13.0 (Sky Bet)

Anytime Goalscorer

One player who showed his goal scoring ability last week was Dirk Kuyt  for Liverpool. The bustling midfielder had only been on the pitch five minutes during extra time of the Carling Cup Final and put Liverpool 2-1 in front. With three goals in his last six club matches, he’s worth a dabble at 4.0 (Sportingbet).

Selected other anytime goalscorers:

  • Luis Suarez @ 2.5 (Ladbrokes)
  • Robin Van Persie @ 2.6 (bet365)
  • Craig Bellamy @ 3.0 (Sky Bet)
  • Andy Carroll @ 3.25 (Paddy Power)
  • Steven Gerrard @ 3.4 (Sky Bet)
  • Maxi Rodriguez @ 4.5 (Ladbrokes)
  • Gervinho @ 4.75 (Sportingbet)
  • Theo Walcott @ 5.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain @ 5.5 (Sky Bet)
  • Charlie Adam @ 5.5 (Coral)
  • Mikel Arteta @ 7.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Aaron Ramsey @ 7.5 (bet365)

Correct Score

With recent history between these two clubs suggesting a draw and with five of the last nine meetings ending in one goal apiece, I cannot see beyond a 1-1 draw. Unsurprisingly, it’s also the bookmakers’ correct score of choice and the best price currently available is 7.5 (Bet Victor).

Selected other correct scores:

  • Liverpool 1-0 @ 8.0 (Sky Bet)
  • Liverpool 2-0 @ 11.0 (Coral)
  • Liverpool 2-1 @ 9.0 (Bet Victor)
  • Liverpool 3-0 @ 19.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Liverpool 3-1 @ 17.0 (Coral)
  • Liverpool 3-2 @ 29.0 (Bet Victor)
  • Draw 0-0 @ 13.0 (Sky Bet)
  • Draw 2-2 @ 15.0 (Sportingbet)
  • Arsenal 1-0 @ 12.0 (bet365)
  • Arsenal 2-0 @ 23.0 (Bet Victor)
  • Arsenal 2-1 @ 13.0 (Betfred)
  • Arsenal 3-0 @ 51.0 (Betfred)
  • Arsenal 3-1 @ 31.0 (Coral)
  • Arsenal 3-2 @ 41.0 (Bet Victor)

Manchester United vs Liverpool Betting

It is advantage Liverpool as both sides go head-to-head at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime.

Kenny Dalglish’s side earned the bragging rights with a 2-1 victory at Anfield in the FA Cup fourth round and all eyes will be on what happens between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra and the customary pre-match handshake.

In some ways it’s fortunate the circus surrounding Harry Redknapp being cleared of all allegations of bungs and tax dodging and Fabio Capello resigning on the same day, happened this week to ease some of the speculation that could have filled the media in the run-up to this match.

United have lost just two of their last 15 Premier League matches but we saw the best and worst of them during last weekend’s remarkable 3-3 draw at Chelsea. Yes, United were magnificent as they battled back from 3-0 down but their defensive weaknesses were there for all to see.

Goalkeeper David De Gea does not look up to Premier League standard yet and he was exposed during the FA Cup tie against Liverpool. No doubt he will be a target yet again from set-pieces should he stand between the sticks.

At the back United may be vulnerable but they are irresistible in attack with 16 goals in their last five matches. Wayne Rooney’s two penalties against Chelsea were his first in the league since scoring at Fulham before Christmas and of course Dimitar Berbatov scored a hat-trick in this fixture last season. The Bulgarian netted a treble against Wigan on Boxing Day and it will be interesting to see if he features on Saturday.

Liverpool are in good form themselves and have lost just three times in their last 15 in all competitions. They are also very mean in defence – only Manchester City have conceded fewer goals in the Premier League this season.

The danger man for them in recent weeks has been Craig Bellamy and the Welshman has scored six goals in his last eight starts. The pacy striker gave Rio Ferdinand a torrid time when playing for Manchester City a couple of seasons ago and will been keen to impress on the big stage again.

This is a difficult match to predict but given home advantage, I will favour United to avenge their FA Cup exit and close the gap on Manchester rivals City before their match kicks off on Sunday.

Verdict: Manchester United @ 1.91 (Paddy Power)

Other Results:

  • Liverpool @ 4.5 (Betfred)
  • Draw @ 3.6 (bet365)

First Goalscorer

Wayne Rooney finally broke his goalscoring duck with two penalties against Chelsea last weekend and is overdue a goal against Liverpool. His last strike against the Reds came in March 2010 and he can be backed at 5.0 (Bet Victor).

Selected other first goalscorers:

  • Javier Hernandez @ 6.5 (Sky Bet)
  • Danny Welbeck @ 7.0 (Boylesports)
  • Dimitar Berbatov @ 8.0 (Boylesports)
  • Luis Suarez @ 8.5 (bet365)
  • Nani @ 9.0 (Sportingbet)
  • Craig Bellamy @ 10.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Ashley Young @ 11.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Andy Carroll @ 13.0 (bet365)
  • Steven Gerrard @ 13.0 (bet365)
  • Luis Valencia @ 13.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Dirk Kuyt @ 15.0 (bet365)
  • Ji Sung Park @15.0 (Betfred)
  • No Goalscorer @ 11.0 (Bet Victor)

Anytime Goalscorer

Craig Bellamy has scored six goals in the last eight matches he has started and is on course to win Player of the Season for Liverpool. He looks good value at 4.0 (Ladbrokes) to hit the back of the net at any time, especially given United’s defensive frailties.

Selected other anytime goalscorers:

  • Javier Hernandez @ 2.7 (Paddy Power)
  • Danny Welbeck @ 2.85 (Sportingbet)
  • Dimitar Berbatov @ 3.4 (Sky Bet)
  • Luis Suarez @ 3.5 (Coral)
  • Nani @ 3.8 (Sportingbet)
  • Ashley Young @ 4.5 (Ladbrokes)
  • Andy Carroll @ 5.0 (bet365)
  • Steven Gerrard @ 5.0 (bet365)
  • Luis Valencia @ 5.0 (Sky Bet)
  • Dirk Kuyt @ 5.0 (bet365)
  • Ji Sung Park @ 5.5 (Sky Bet)

Correct Score

Despite Liverpool’s mean defence, there could be goals in this fixture. United scored three last weekend and with David De Gea shaky in goal, Liverpool could grab a couple themselves. How about United to win 3-2 @ 29.0 (bet365).

Selected other correct scores:

  • Manchester United 1-0 @ 7.5 (Boylesports)
  • Manchester United 2-0 @ 9.5 (Coral)
  • Manchester United 2-1 @ 9.0 (Bet Victor)
  • Manchester United 3-0 @ 17.0 (Coral)
  • Manchester United 3-1 @ 17.0 (Coral)
  • Draw 0-0 @ 11.0 (Sky Bet)
  • Draw 1-1 @ 7.0 (Betfred)
  • Draw 2-2 @ 15.0 (bet365)
  • Liverpool 1-0 @ 12.0 (Paddy Power)
  • Liverpool 2-0 @ 23.0 (Coral)
  • Liverpool 2-1 @ 15.0 (Bet Victor)
  • Liverpool 3-0 @ 67.0 (Betfred)
  • Liverpool 3-1 @ 41.0 (Sky Bet)
  • Liverpool 3-2 @ 41.0 (Sportingbet)

Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur Betting

After Manchester United slipped up in the title race on Sunday following a remarkable 3-3 draw at Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur will be keen to make up ground with a victory at Anfield.

Easier said than done, however, as Liverpool are still unbeaten at Anfield in the Premier League this season and are a team hitting form when it counts.

They may have been humiliated 3-1 by Bolton Wanderers a couple of weeks ago, but that was followed up by a convincing 3-0 victory at Wolves. Kenny Dalglish has inspired his side to dumping Manchester United out of the FA Cup and reaching the Carling Cup final at the expense of Manchester City.

Last September, Spurs smashed the Reds 4-0 at White Hart Lane but are likely to depleted as they hunt a league double over Liverpool in successive seasons. Jermain Defoe, Emmanuel Adebayor and Rafael van der Vaart all rated doubtful and Aaron Lennon is struggling to be fit in time.

Manager Harry Redknapp may give a debut to striker Louis Saha who has scored just once in 18 league appearances this season for Everton and is some 942 minutes without a goal. The home side welcome back Steven Gerrard who was rested at Wolves while striker Luis Suarez is also available following an eight-match suspension.

With key players unlikely to play, Redknapp’s record of two victories on Merseyside in 28 Premier League visits may get a little worse on Monday night.

Verdict: Liverpool @ 2.15 (Paddy Power)

Other Results:

  • Tottenham Hotspur @ 3.75 (Bet Victor)
  • Draw @ 3.4 (bet365)

First Goalscorer

Craig Bellamy has scored in each of his last four Premier League starts and scored a total of five goals this season. The Wales international has become a key player for Dalglish this season and can be backed at 7.5 (Boylesports).

Selected other first goalscorers:

  • Luis Suarez @ 6.5 (Boylesports)
  • Andy Carroll @ 9.0 (bet365)
  • Emmanuel Adebayor @ 9.0 (Boylesports)
  • Rafael van der Vaart @ 9.0 (Sportingbet)
  • Jermain Defoe @ 9.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Steven Gerrard @ 9.5 (Bet Victor)
  • Louis Saha @ 10.0 (Paddy Power)
  • Dirk Kuyt @ 10.5 (Bet Victor)
  • Gareth Bale @ 11.0 (bet365)
  • Maxi Rodriguez @ 13.0 (Boylesports)
  • Giovani Do Santos @ 15.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • No Goalscorer @ 10.0 (Sky Bet)

Anytime Goalscorer

After an eight-match absence, it is unlikely Luis Suarez will start the game but don’t rule out a contribution from the bench. The Uruguay striker can be backed at best odds of 3.0 (Coral) to hit the back of the net at any time.

Selected other anytime goalscorers:

  • Craig Bellamy @ 3.0 (Coral)
  • Steven Gerrard @ 3.4 (Sportingbet)
  • Andy Carroll @ 3.5 (Paddy Power)
  • Emmanuel Adebayor @ 3.6 (Sportingbet)
  • Jermain Defoe @ 3.75 (Paddy Power)
  • Rafael van der Vaart @ 4.0 (Sportingbet)
  • Louis Saha @ 4.0 (bet365)
  • Dirk Kuyt @ 4.0 (Sportingbet)
  • Gareth Bale @ 4.33 (bet365)
  • Maxi Rodriguez @ 5.0 (Paddy Power)
  • Giovani Do Santos @ 5.5 (Ladbrokes)
  • Charlie Adam @ 5.5 (Sky Bet)

Correct Score

With two influential players returning for Liverpool in Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez, while Spurs could be without a host of attacking players, a 2-0 home win @ 10.0 (Betfred) looks appealing.

Selected other correct scores:

  • Liverpool 1-0 @ 7.5 (Bet Victor)
  • Liverpool 2-1 @ 9.5 (Coral)
  • Liverpool 3-0 @ 21.0 (Coral)
  • Liverpool 3-1 @ 19.0 (Coral)
  • Liverpool 3-2 @ 34.0 (Sky Bet)
  • Draw 0-0 @ 10.0 (bet365)
  • Draw 1-1 @ 7.0 (Betfred)
  • Draw 2-2 @ 17.0 (Ladbrokes)
  • Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 @ 10.0 (Paddy Power)
  • Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 @ 19.0 (Bet Victor)
  • Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 @ 15.0 (Betfred)
  • Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 @ 34.0 (Sky Bet)
  • Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 @ 41.0 (Bet Victor)

Premier League Predictions 5 February 2012

On Sunday 5 February, Manchester United look to end a winless run at Chelsea that spans almost a decade in the Premier League while Newcastle United could unleash the “Two Demba’s” on an Aston Villa side unbeaten in their last five away fixtures.

Newcastle United vs Aston Villa

Newcastle welcome back top goal scorer Demba Ba and could hand a debut to £10 million striker Papiss Cisse in the televised lunchtime kick off. Alan Pardew’s side are in good form at home, winning their last three in all competitions, including a 3-0 defeat of Manchester United.

What is exciting about Newcastle’s form is they have won four of their last six league matches, even when key players like Ba and Cheick Tiote have been missing. The Magpies are unbeaten in their last five at home against Villa, including handing out a 6-0 drubbing at the beginning of last season.

This is not a cut-and-dried home victory though. Villa are unbeaten in their last five away matches in the Premier League and have won their last two – at Wolves and Chelsea.

Alex McLeish’s side showed great spirit coming from two goals down against QPR midweek to draw the fixture but they have not scored in their last three visits to Newcastle.

With a bolstered front line – the “Two Demba’s” have scored 59 league goals between them since the start of last season, the Magpies are tipped to outgun Villa, with Darren Bent having scored in his last three league appearances.

Verdict: Newcastle United @ 2.15 (Bet Victor)

Chelsea vs Manchester United

This is a crucial time in United’s season – having beaten Arsenal a few weeks ago, they face Chelsea this weekend and then host Liverpool next Saturday. They have also played Manchester City and Liverpool in the FA Cup in recent weeks.

The big games are coming thick and fast and it is time to put the notion that United always step up a gear in the second half of the season to the test.

Chelsea are unbeaten in their last nine home league matches against United – winning six and drawing three with United scoring just five goals during that sequence.

But, with John Terry missing with a knee injury and Ashley Cole suspended, United have a great opportunity to end their winless run at Stamford Bridge. Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young, Nani and Tom Cleverly are all available for Sir Alex Ferguson too. Under-fire goalkeeper David de Gea is set to return between the sticks after Anders Lindegaard was ruled out for six weeks.

Chelsea’s form has not been great. Since beating Manchester City at the Bridge convincingly, they have won just twice in eight league fixtures, despite having a relatively easy run of opponents.They lost at home to Aston Villa and dropped points against Wigan Athletic, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich City and Swansea City.

Rooney has a great record against Chelsea – scoring six in 12 meetings while it is now 17 hours and 56 minutes since Fernando Torres scored for the Blues. Only youngster Daniel Sturridge looks dangerous for Andres Villas-Boas and he hasn’t found the net in his last five league and cup appearances.

Verdict: Manchester United @ 2.9 (Betfred)

Premier League Predictions 4 February 2012

Seven matches take place on Saturday 4 February with teams boosted by their deadline day arrivals. Arsenal and Manchester City will be keen to get back to winning ways with home fixtures against Blackburn Rovers and Fulham, while there is a relegation six pointer happening at Loftus Road when Queens Park Rangers take on Wolves.

Arsenal vs Blackburn Rovers

This could be a potential banana skin for Arsenal who are yet to win in 2012. However, a goalless draw at Bolton midweek stopped the rot to some degree and at the very least, prevented their first four-match losing streak under Arsene Wenger.

Even though Blackburn are a tough side to beat on their travels – they have only lost five of their last 15 on the road – Wenger will no doubt see this fixture as a means to get back to winning ways.

The Gunners have an excellent record against Rovers – prior to last season’s goalless draw, they had won seven successive home league matches.

Robin Van Persie has scored 10 goals in 12 matches against Blackburn and with Chris Samba not playing, Rovers defence is not as strong as it could be.

Verdict: Arsenal @ 1.3 (Betfred)

Norwich City vs Bolton Wanderers

The statistics suggest this will be a goalfest due to the dire defensive records of both teams. Norwich have kept one clean sheet this season while Bolton have managed just one match in their last 37 on the road where they haven’t conceded a goal.

The Canaries have struggled in front of goal in recent matches. While Chelsea and Spurs can be forgiven, Paul Lambert’s side could only muster a last minute goal against poor travellers Fulham.

Bolton have boosted their attacking options with Watford striker Marvin Sordell and managed to keep hold of Kevin Davies but I think the home side will edge this one.

Verdict: Norwich City @ 2.1 (Betfred)

Queens Park Rangers vs Wolves

There will be huge expectation on QPR to win this match despite struggling at the wrong end of the table themselves. Mark Hughes will be optimistic in that his side lead at Aston Villa 2-0 before drawing the game 2-2, but a leaky defence is a major cause for concern.

Even with the arrivals of Taye Taiwo and Nedum Onuoha, Rangers’ back line still looked shaky and Wolves will feel they can get something from this game. Steven Fletcher is in form and has scored in each of his last four on the road while the arrival of Sebastien Bassong from Spurs will bolster their defence.

But, let’s not pretend Wolves are something special. They are second from bottom for a reason and have won just once away from home. With new signing Djibril Cisse up front, Rangers for once look like they have a dangerous striker on their books.

Verdict: Queens Park Rangers @ 1.62 (Ladbrokes)

Stoke City vs Sunderland

In recent seasons this fixture would have been marked down as a home win but things are a little more complicated this term. Stoke have been relatively poor at the Britannia Stadium this season, winning just four of their 11 home matches.

Four draws and three defeats suggest they are tough to beat which is why I am not going to rave about Sunderland’s chances here, despite their remarkable turnaround in form since Martin O’Neill took over.

In 11 matches since O’Neill took over, the Black Cats have won seven, drawn two and lost two, but they could get a reality check against a physical Tony Pulis side.

Verdict: Draw @ 3.4 (Sky Bet)

West Bromwich Albion vs Swansea City

West Brom have tumbled down the table and Norwich City were correctly predicted to beat them at the Hawthorns last weekend. Just two home victories in 11, scoring eight goals in the process is the form of a team battling against the drop.

Much has been said about Swansea’s passing game and quite frankly, the comparisons with Barcelona are ridiculous. For a start, Barcelona win away from home, something that the Swans struggle to do.

One victory, three draws and seven defeats on the road is the reason Swansea are still not out of relegation danger but taking into consideration West Brom’s wretched home form, they cannot be backed with any confidence either. Bore draw, anyone?

Verdict: Draw @ 3.4 (Bet Victor)

Wigan Athletic vs Everton

I have tried to view Wigan positively in the last few weeks, giving credibility to their fighting spirit but the fact is, for all their bluster, they are a poor side.

Roberto Martinez’s side have been beaten six times at home already this season and face an Everton side full of confidence. The Toffees beat high-flying Manchester City midweek and have a good away record against the Premier League’s strugglers this season – beating West Brom, Bolton Wanderers, Fulham and Blackburn Rovers.

Manager David Moyes also has some depth in the squad following the arrivals of Steven Pienaar, Nikica Jelavic and Darron Gibson – scorer of the winning goal against Manchester City.

Verdict: Everton @ 2.2 (Boylesports)

Manchester City vs Fulham

January has been a poor month by City’s standards. Even though they won three of their five Premier League fixtures, two defeats at Sunderland and Everton mean their lead at the top of the table has been reduced to goal difference.

However, City are perfect at the Etihad – winning 11 out of 11, scoring 34 goals and conceding just six in the process. They will be expected to continue this sequence against Fulham, who are notoriously poor on the road. Just one win in 11 and scoring seven goals in the process does not bode well against a side abundant in attacking options.

City are boosted by the return of Vincent Kompany in defence and they have added to their midfield options with the loan arrival of David Pizarro. Fulham sold Bobby Zamora to QPR on deadline day but brought in striker Pavel Pogrebnyak from Stuttgart.

Verdict: Manchester City @ 1.3 (Paddy Power)

Manchester Shoot-Out For Premier League Title

The Premier League title is set to remain in Manchester after both the city’s clubs won their matches on Sunday afternoon (as predicted in this preview). Table toppers City needed a last gasp penalty to see off Tottenham Hotspur while holders United won at Arsenal.

Manchester City blew a 2-0 lead when goals from Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale cancelled out strikes from Samir Nasri and Joleon Lescott in a nine minute spell that produced four goals in the second half. With five minutes of injury time on the clock, Ledley King clattered Mario Balotelli in the area and the striker went to score from the penalty spot.

Manchester United, who started the match six points behind City, found a late winner against Arsenal who suffered a third successive defeat. Antonio Valencia headed United in front on the stroke of half-time but Robin Van Persie hauled the Gunners level after 71 minutes. Danny Welbeck crashed in a loose ball with nine minutes left to secure all three points for Alex Ferguson’s side.

City are odds-on favourites to snatch the title from their local rivals and are a best-priced 1.44 (Ladbrokes) while United can be back at 3.4 (Sky Bet).

Top Four Finish

Arsenal’s defeat means they are five points behind Chelsea who currently occupy fourth place and so far qualify for a shot at lucrative Champions League football next season. They have to return to form quickly and Arsene Wenger’s side can be backed at a bet priced 3.5 (bet365) to finish in the top four.

Chelsea, despite mustering only a goalless draw at Norwich City this weekend, are a best priced 1.4 (Betfred) to finish the season in the top four while third placed Tottenham Hotspur are even shorter at 1.2 (Coral).

Liverpool, after finding themselves on the end of a 3-1 defeat at lowly Bolton Wanderers, are a best-priced 5.0 (bet365) to gatecrash the top four while Newcastle United, missing Demba Ba and Cheick Tiote to Africa Cup of Nations duty, are out to 67.0 (Sky Bet) with most other firms pricing them around the 26.0 to 51.0 mark. Their 5-2 battering at Fulham will not have helped their cause.

Relegation

Wigan Athletic look doomed after a 2-1 defeat at fellow strugglers QPR and are now four points adrift from safety. If you want to back Roberto Martinez’s side for the drop, you won’t get better than 1.25 (Boylesports).

Despite a battling draw at Everton and maintaining their record of scoring in every away match so far, Blackburn Rovers still find themselves in the bottom three, albeit a single point from safety. They remain odds-on for the drop and the best you’ll get on them at the moment is 1.83 (Coral).

Bolton Wanderers are the bookmaker’s next favourite for relegation, even after a 3-1 victory against Liverpool that saw them climb out of the bottom three. They are a best-priced 1.83 (Paddy Power) which doesn’t look great value after this weekend’s results.

Wolverhampton Wanderers are a side in trouble after Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at local rivals Aston Villa extended their dismal run to eight Premier League matches without a win. They can still be backed at 2.0 (Bet Victor) for the drop.

Mark Hughes got his first victory as new manager of Queens Park Rangers against Wigan and with new signings aplenty in the pipeline, you feel they have enough to avoid relegation. If you disagree, back them at 3.25 (Sportingbet).

At longer odds, Swansea City may find themselves dragged into a relegation dogfight, but they are still eight points clear of the drop zone after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Sunderland. They can be backed at 9.0 (bet365).

Next Manager to Leave Post

There were Twitter rumours last night that Mick McCarthy had been sacked but they proved to be untrue. Even so, the Wolves boss is 1.57 (Paddy Power) favourite to be the next manager to leave his post in the betting.

Elsewhere, Steve Kean is available at 5.5 (Skybet) but appears to have one of the safest jobs in top-flight football while Andre Villas-Boas is perhaps a more tempting 11.0 (Sportingbet).

Despite being rock-bottom of the league and looking utterly hopeless at times, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez can be backed at a best-priced 13.0 (Paddy Power).

Premier League Predictions 22 January 2012

Super Sunday lives up to its name for once with two cracking fixtures taking place on 22 January. First up, Premier League leaders Manchester City take on third-placed Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad and later on, second placed Manchester United travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal. Victories for both Manchester sides are predicted – find out why here.

Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur

This has been a massive fixture for both teams in the past couple of seasons. In 2010, striker Peter Crouch got the winner to guarantee Champions League football for Spurs for the first time and last season, an own goal from Crouch in a 1-0 defeat meant it was City who would play in Europe’s most lucrative competition.

City top the Premier League table and go into the match three points ahead of local rivals United. A victory against Spurs is imperative to keep a three point margin should Alex Ferguson’s side win at Arsenal later in the day. City have an excellent record at home this season – winning all 10 matches and have scored 31 goals in the process, conceding just four.

Spurs have also been excellent on the road this season – winning six, drawing two and losing two but it could be argued the pressure is getting to Harry Redknapp’s side. Spurs could only muster a 1-1 draw at home against Wolves last weekend, with Luka Modric sparing his team’s blushes after they fell behind to a Steven Fletcher goal in the first half.

Compare that to City, where much has been said about their vulnerability due to the loss of Vincent Kompany to suspension and Yaya and Kolo Toure leaving for the Africa Cup of Nations. On Monday night they faced a difficult trip to a Wigan side fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table. But, while Spurs only drew, City held their nerve to grind out a 1-0 victory and get back on track after suffering successive Cup defeats.

Spurs have won four of their last six visits to City but with Roberto Mancini’s side holding onto a perfect home record so far, I think they are capable of adding another tick to the win column.

Verdict: Manchester City @ 1.91 (Ladbrokes)

Arsenal vs Manchester United

The City result will determine just how vital this match is for United but if Alex Ferguson’s side harbour any ambitions of overtaking their local rivals, a victory against Arsenal would be a good start.

Arsenal will want to throw a spanner in the works and gain some revenge for the humiliating 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford last August. But, depending on Saturday’s results they will be at least four points behind fourth placed Chelsea going into this match and still licking their wounds from a 3-2 defeat at Swansea last weekend, they won’t want to do anything stupid.

Champions League football is the goal for Arsene Wenger this season and they cannot afford many more slip-ups if they are to overtake their west London rivals. If they can’t do it, Newcastle and Liverpool will give it a good go. Not losing this match will be on Wenger’s mind.

United have a solid away record this season, winning seven out of 10, two draws and just one defeat – exactly the same record that Arsenal have at the Emirates this season. The goals for and against are almost identical too: Arsenal have scored 16 and conceded six at home, while United have scored 19 and conceded six away.

In terms of picking goalscorers – both Arsenal and United hotshots have a great record against each other. Arsenal striker Robin Van Persie has netted three times past United while Wayne Rooney has scored six goals in his last six appearances against the Gunners in all competitions.

Verdict: Manchester United @ 2.62 (Paddy Power)

Premier League Predictions 21 January 2012

Eight matches take place in the Premier League on Saturday 21 January, including a huge relegation six-pointer at Loftus Road where QPR host rock-bottom Wigan Athletic. Wolves face their second Midlands derby in a matter of days when they tackle Aston Villa while both Chelsea and Liverpool will be expected to record away victories at Norwich and Bolton respectively.

Norwich City vs Chelsea

After a difficult December, Chelsea look to be getting back on track and could take all three points at Carrow Road. January has seen the Blues win both Premier League matches against Wolves and Sunderland, while Portsmouth were spanked 4-0 in the FA Cup.

Norwich have also won all three fixtures in January, winning at both QPR and West Brom in the league and recording a 4-1 victory against Burnley in the FA Cup. Very similar results to Chelsea in fact.

The Canaries weakness is their defence and Paul Lambert’s side have not kept a clean sheet all season. Chelsea have also looked shaky at the back but that will be remedied by the £7 million arrival of defender Gary Cahill, who could make his debut on Saturday. Norwich will be up for this but Chelsea will edge it.

Verdict: Chelsea @ 1.62 (Paddy Power)

Everton vs Blackburn Rovers

Blackburn Rovers have hauled themselves out of the relegation zone after some decent form in recent weeks. Back-t0-back defeats against Newcastle and Stoke were sandwiched between a draw at Liverpool and victories against Manchester United and Fulham.

Steve Kean’s side were magnificent in their victory against Fulham last weekend. Wantaway defender Chris Samba didn’t play while top goalscorer Yakubu was sent off. Yet, Rovers still managed to fire in three goals and keep poor travellers Fulham to just one.

Everton are a team in mixed form. An unbeaten four-match run which produced two wins and two draws at the back end of December leading into the New Year was followed up by a dismal home defeat against rock-bottom Bolton. Blackburn are tough to beat on the road and a dour draw looks the call here.

Verdict: Draw @ 4.0 (Bet Victor)

Fulham vs Newcastle United

With Demba Ba, Cheick Tiote and now new signing Papiss Cisse all away on Africa Cup of Nations duty, Newcastle United are not such an exciting betting proposition. They laboured their way to a 1-0 home victory against struggling QPR last weekend and may find a trip to Craven Cottage a lot more difficult.

Fulham followed up a memorable home victory against Arsenal with a humiliating 3-1 defeat at Blackburn last week and Martin Jol’s team are difficult to predict. They are still six points from the relegation zone but a couple of bad results could see them slip closer to danger.

Fulham’s home record is the same as Newcastle’s away: four wins, three draws and three defeats. Neither sequence inspires confidence here with all three results just as likely. A draw may be the sensible option.

Verdict: Draw @ 3.5 (Betfred)

Queens Park Rangers vs Wigan Athletic

A real relegation six pointer and one I fancy Wigan will be up for more than their hosts. QPR were not convincing in their midweek FA Cup victory against League One side MK Dons and on another day could have lost. They also offered little in a 1-0 defeat at Newcastle last weekend.

Mark Hughes has his work cut out against rock-bottom Wigan who put up a fighting display against Manchester City on Monday night and were unlucky not to get anything out of the match. Roberto Martinez’s strugglers have won at West Brom and Sunderland this season and also held the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal to a draw.

It would be easy to pick a draw in this match but Wigan showed enough on Monday they will up for the fight on Saturday. QPR may turn their season around thanks to a glut of new signings but those reinforcements won’t arrive until after this weekend.

Verdict: Wigan @ 4.0 (Ladbrokes)

Stoke City vs West Bromwich Albion

West Brom are being dragged into the dogfight at the bottom of the table and their status as relegation candidates was compounded by a home defeat by Norwich last weekend. Roy Hodgson’s side are still five points clear of the bottom three but they need more to give themselves some breathing space.

With Stoke sitting in eighth position you may think this should be a routine home win. However, the Baggies may be dire at home, but away from the Hawthorns they are a much different proposition with four wins and two draws out of 10 matches.

West Brom have won two of their last three fixtures on the road, beating both Blackburn and Newcastle. While Stoke have a solid home record with four wins, four draws and just two defeats, consecutive stalemates against Aston Villa and Wigan suggest they could be in for a shock on Saturday.

Verdict: West Brom @ 4.33 (Paddy Power)

Sunderland vs Swansea City

After Swansea played Arsenal off the park for much of their 3-2 victory last Sunday, Sunderland should not pose too much of a problem. But, much of Swansea’s success this season is down to their inspired home form – five wins, five draws and just one defeat at the Liberty Stadium compared to just one win, three draws and six defeats away.

Sunderland are similar. Decent enough at home but prone to defeat on the road. Since Martin O’Neill took charge, the Black Cats have lost just twice in eight Premier League matches and were good value in last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Chelsea by all accounts.

This will be a close match but given home advantage and Swansea’s poor away record, Sunderland will just edge this one.

Verdict: Sunderland @ 1.91 (bet365)

Wolves vs Aston Villa

This will be Wolves’ second Midlands derby in the space of a few days and another they may finish as the losing side. Mick McCarthy’s side were dumped out of the FA Cup after a home defeat by Championship side Birmingham City and face a difficult travelling outfit in Villa.

Alex McLeish’s side are heading into lower mid-table territory but have lost just two in 10 on the road this season. Admittedly, six have ended as draws with just two victories but it shows the battling spirit required for a local derby such as this.

Wolves rested Steve Fletcher midweek and the nine-goal striker will be raring to go. If Villa can keep him quiet then Wolves will struggle to score and may be able to nick a victory for themselves.

Verdict: Aston Villa @ 2.9 (Sky Bet)

Bolton Wanderers vs Liverpool

Liverpool have an excellent record against Bolton, winning the last 10 meetings home and away.  Bolton last tasted victory against the Reds in September 2006, when the late Gary Speed and Ivan Campo scored the goals in a 2-0 win.

Liverpool clearly like playing Bolton and it is difficult to oppose them on Saturday. Kenny Dalglish’s side may have dropped points at home to Stoke last weekend, but with league and Cup games coming thick and fast, you cannot be expected to win every match.

It’s not a great price for an away win given Liverpool’s hit-and-miss form on the road (five wins, one draw and four defeats) and while Bolton are in mixed form, they have lost eight out of 10 at home this season and could be beaten again on Saturday evening.

Verdict: Liverpool @ 1.67 (Coral)