Bale to make hay
Tipster Dave Tindall with his latest betting column and best wagers for the weekend football action
By Dave Tindall. Last Updated: February 28, 2013 8:17pm
Gareth Bale: Can get the opening goal yet again
Ahead of Sunday's North London derby (Sky Sports 1 HD, 4pm), Spurs are fancied to edge out great rivals Arsenal for a Champions League spot. That could all change of course if the Gunners take the three points although Sky Bet make Arsene Wenger's men 21/10 outsiders to score victory at White Hart Lane. Spurs are 6/5 for the win, while a draw is 5/2. Recent fixtures between this pair have been high-scoring affairs, the goal count in the last six fixtures reading: 7, 7, 3, 6, 5, 5. Wind back a couple of seasons and there was also a famous 4-4 draw. Given that this would have been a winner in five of the last six meetings, the 7/2 about over 4.5 goals has to be worth a play here. Such is Gareth Bale's fantastic form that he's now scoring goals in twos rather than singles. He's netted a brace in three of his last four games so the 6/1 about him scoring two or more looks interesting. However, an even stronger trend is that he's netted the opener in five of his last six Spurs starts. Therefore have some 9/2 that he scores the game's first goal. If forced to pick a winner, I'd probably side with Tottenham and the 22/1 about 3-2 is worth a punt.
Gareth Bale's heroics of late have also seen him slashed to just 8/15 to win the PFA Players' Player of the Year. The Welshman's only serious opposition, according to Sky Bet, is Robin van Persie at 15/8 and, despite having fantastic seasons, Luis Suarez (25/1) and Michu (33/1) are viewed as rank outsiders. Van Persie (2012) and Bale (2011) are actually the last two winners of this award so are clearly hugely respected by their fellow players. The four winners before that were all Manchester United players - Wayne Rooney (2010), Ryan Giggs (2009) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2008 and 2007). The voting doesn't close for a few weeks yet so, in theory, a van Persie hat-trick against Real Madrid could put him back in front. It's hard to see what Suarez could do now so this really does look a two-horse race.
Liverpool put five past Swansea in their last Premier League start although the Swans squad which went to Anfield that day clearly had an eye on Wembley. It suggests the Reds won't find it as easy away to a Wigan side in their usual anxious end-of-season battle to stay up. The Latics are currently one place above the drop zone but that's only on goal difference so they'll be fighting hard. One surprising stat is that Wigan have only lost one of their last six games against Liverpool in the Premier League, suggesting that Roberto Martinez (who could have taken the Reds' hotseat last summer) knows a thing or two about stopping the Merseysiders. As six of the seven games between Wigan and Liverpool at the DW Stadium have featured under 2.5 goals, I'm leaning towards a low-scoring draw in this one. Back no goalscorer at 14/1 and 1-1 at 13/2.
After Rafa's rant (personally I thought Benitez looked pretty calm and composed), Sky Bet were quick to slash him to just 1/4 to be the next Premier League manager to leave. It's 5/1 that no Premier League manager sees the exit between now and the end of the season while Manchester City's Roberto Mancini is considered next most vulnerable after Rafa although the Italian is a pretty safe looking 13/2. As for the next permanent (not interim!) Chelsea manager, Sky Bet have former Stamford Bridge boss Jose Mourinho as the hot 4/5 favourite, with Everton's David Moyes 4/1. It's then 7/1 for former Chelsea star Gus Poyet while he's been joined at those odds by Michael Laudrup, who guided Swansea to Capital One Cup glory last Sunday. Beyond this quartet, it's 16/1 for each of Avram Grant, John Terry, Fabio Capello and John Terry. Meanwhile, for those who think that Benitez's next move could be to Real Madrid, Sky Bet have him at a very attractive looking 14/1 to be the next man to take the Bernebeu hotseat.
England's three-Test series against New Zealand gets under way on Tuesday night UK time (Wednesday in Dunedin) and Sky Bet make the tourists hot favourites. England are just 1/4 in the Test Series winner market, while the Kiwis are 8/1 and a drawn series 9/2. England are just 5/2 to sweep the series 3-0 while 2-0 is a 2/1 chance. Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen are the joint 9/4 favourites to be England's top series runscorer but the value looks to be with 6/1 Ian Bell, who scored a century in the warm-up game in Queenstown earlier this week. As for that first Test, England are 4/7 to kick off with a win. Let's not forget that we have an Ashes summer coming up soon and England are also hot favourites for that. Sky Bet make them 8/15 to win the series while the Aussies are 3/1 to regain the little urn. A drawn series is 5/1.
* Also check the golf section for Dave's weekly betting previews. He's tipped winners at 55/1 (Jamie Donaldson), 25/1 (Phil Mickelson) and Dustin Johnson (14/1) already this season
Gareth Bale to score first goal v Arsenal at 9/2
Over 4.5 goals in Spurs v Arsenal at 7/2
Spurs to beat Arsenal 3-2 at 22/1
No goalscorer in Wigan v Liverpool 1-1 at 14/1
Wigan and Liverpool to draw 1-1 at 13/2