Wolves at the door
Will the pressure on Andre Villas-Boas increase? Ed Chamberlin tips up the football and racing...
Last Updated: 24/11/11 3:03pm
Gary Neville said on the Monday Night Football that the next few weeks could be the defining period in Manchester City's season. Between now and the end of the year they have a tough run of matches in the Premier League, Champions League and Carling Cup.
They are now 8/11 with Sky Bet (from 5/6) to win the Barclays Premier League title after another sublime display against Newcastle last weekend but will they still be odds on on January 1st?
Man City have made the joint-best start after 12 games of any club in English top division history - three other clubs have started with 11 wins and one draw. Only Tottenham in 1960-61 have gone on to win the title after such a start. They are the first team to take 34 points from first 12 games of a top division season since Kenny Dalglish's Liverpool in 1990-91 - they went on to finish second.
That combination is what they face on Super Sunday and City (13/10 with Sky Bet) will face a real test (Liverpool 15/8). I'm really looking forward to presenting the game live from Anfield on Sky Sports HD1 and in Sky 3D.
Liverpool thrashed them 3-0 in this fixture last season and have lost just one of the last 12 PL meetings, keeping eight clean sheets and are unbeaten in the last eight meetings at Anfield, winning six. City's only win at Anfield in the last 30 years was 2-1 in May 2003 - Nicolas Anelka scored twice against his former club.
Manchester City's tough run of fixtures got off to a bad start in Napoli on Tuesday and we are about to learn a lot more about Roberto Mancini's side.
Liverpool are coming off the back of a brilliant result at Chelsea last Sunday.
Andre Villas-Boas will want a reaction from his Chelsea (2/11) team to their first back-to-back defeats at home since May 2002. They are up against Wolves (12/1), who beat them 1-0 in January.
However, Chelsea have scored 18 goals in the six Premier League meetings, conceding just three and have won the three meetings at Stamford Bridge, scoring 11. Wolves' last win at Chelsea came 32 years ago - 2-1 in March 1979. Gloria Gaynor was top of the charts at the time with "I Will Survive". Wolves are already in a major battle to survive, whilst Villas-Boas will want to answer the critics who questioned whether he'll "walk out the door" at Chelsea.
Newcastle (8/1) are back in Manchester again, this time to play United (1/3). What chance Sir Alex Ferguson's side digging out a fourth consecutive 1-0 win in the Premier League? Answer: 6/1 with Sky Bet.
Man Utd are unbeaten against Newcastle in the last 28 meetings at Old Trafford in all competitions, winning 21 and losing just one of the last 45. Newcastle's only win at Old Trafford in the last 61 years was 2-0 in February 1972. John Tudor and Stuart Barrowclough scored the goals for Joe Harvey's side.
Team of the week for me have been Tottenham, who cruised to an eighth win in nine PL matches on the Monday Night Football. They are now odds on with Sky Bet at 5/6 to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League (Arsenal 6/5 and Liverpool 13/8). Spurs, who have been well backed this week to win again (evens in to 10/11) go to West Brom (11/4) this weekend. Both games last season were drawn and I can easily see that happening again at 5/2.
North London is having a good time of it at the moment with Arsenal winning five league matches in a row. They play Fulham (13/2) for the 50th time in all competitions and they have taken more points off (48) them than any other PL side has. Arsenal have won 15 of the 20 PL meetings with Fulham, losing just twice, and have never lost at home to them. In fact, Fulham have not scored more than once at Arsenal since a 5-3 defeat in October 1967!
For my 'bet of the week' I'm going with Swansea at 6/5 to beat Aston Villa (2/1) in the first game on Super Sunday. Swansea have been hugely impressive at the Liberty Stadium this season, while Villa showed their limitations on the road at Tottenham on Monday night.
I hope to attend at least a couple of days of Newbury's Winter Festival at my local track this week. There's some brilliant racing in store and I'll be following Nicky Henderson's horses over cliffs this week.
The meeting climaxes with a far from vintage but still intriguing renewal of the Hennessy Gold Cup. There is no Denman or real superstar this year and the 'hype horse' in the race is Skybet's favourite Aiteen Thirtythree, who looks too short in the market for what he's achieved so far on the racecourse.
I'm still scratching my head as to how Great Endeavour won the Paddy Power off a 5lb higher mark than when I backed him in last year's race and he was well beaten. I'm sure Great Endeavour will stay this longer trip and he's a big player but his tendency to throw in the odd bad run just puts me off.
The horse I fancy at a nice price is Beshabar, who looks tailor-made for this race. He's young, improving rapidly and has the necessary stamina in abundance as we saw when he ran away with the Scottish Grand National in April. Beshabar may not be the 'sexiest' horse in the field but I'm sure he'll run a big race.