Hot to Trot?
Ed Chamberlin thinks Liverpool could topple Man United and backs resurgent Bolton to beat Wigan.
Last Updated: 09/02/12 6:09pm
What a week! Capello resigned, Harry was cleared and we saw one of the all-time great 45 minutes of Premier League football.
The sight of Gary Neville slumped in his chair at the end of the game at Stamford Bridge told the story. The second half of Chelsea-Man United had it all: a rollercoaster of emotions, a sensational comeback, goals, misses, penalty decisions and a superb save by David de Gea to keep the score at 3-3. It was the Premier League at its best.
It was fascinating to review it all on the Monday Night Football as well as pick Gary's brains on Fabio Capello and the future for England. Sadly the game that night, Liverpool against Tottenham, didn't match what had preceded it.
As a result of the goalless draw, Sky Bet have pushed Tottenham out to 18/1 to win the title, and their chances look increasingly remote. Manchester City remain odds on at 8/15 with United at 17/10 ahead of their big Sky Live game against Liverpool on Saturday.
These two have met twice already this season, drawing 1-1 at Anfield on October 15; Javier Hernandez equalised five minutes after coming on as sub after Steven Gerrard had given Liverpool the lead. They also met in the FA Cup with Dirk Kuyt scoring a late winner.
This may seem bizarre but Liverpool probably have a better chance of winning the game at Old Trafford than they would at Anfield.
They have drawn eight of their 12 Premier League games on their own turf, whilst with the shackles off away from home they have won on six occasions.
The Reds' style seems to be suited to away fixtures as they are so strong defensively and excellent on the break. They are also boosted by the return to full fitness of Steven Gerrard, the return to action of Luis Suarez and the return to form of Andy Carroll.
Gary was impressed by Carroll's performance on Monday night and thought some of his confidence and swagger had returned and that he had some fire back in his belly.
Carroll is 8/1 with Sky Bet to score the game's first goal and 11/4 to score any time. He could cause United's back four and de Gea, assuming he starts in goal, plenty of problems. I can also see Liverpool attracting plenty of backers at 3/1.
Referee Phil Dowd will have his hands full. There have been five red cards in the last eight Premier League meetings and four penalties in the last six encounters.
United have the chance to go top of the table, for 24 hours at least, as Manchester City play Aston Villa on Super Sunday. I shall be presenting the show live from Villa Park from 1pm on Sky Sports HD1.
City love playing against Villa as they have won more points (53) and scored more goals (50) against them than they have against any other side. City have won four of the last five meetings in all competitions and won 12 of the last 18 Premier League clashes.
Before that match we have the crucial game at the bottom of the league - Wolves (11/8) against West Brom (15/8). West Brom won 2-0 at The Hawthorns in October with goals from Chris Brunt and Peter Odemwingie, but have not won in the top flight at Molineux since May 1982 when Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder were number one in the charts with Ebony And Ivory.
My 'bet of the week' is Bolton to beat Wigan at even money with Sky Bet. Bolton easily won the reverse fixture 3-1 in October and could even afford Kevin Davies to miss a penalty. Bolton are unbeaten in the last eight meetings in all competitions, winning the last two and conceding just three goals in that time.
The Trotters seem to have turned a corner and have played well in recent weeks, including a win against Liverpool and a draw against Arsenal in their last two games at the Reebok.
Wigan, on the other hand, have picked up just one point from their last five Premier League games and have conceded 13 goals in their last four away. I'm surprised Bolton aren't odds on and think they're a great bet at evens.
I hope the weather gods relent and warmer rather arrives to save a sensational card at Newbury on Saturday and then Hennessy day at Leopardstown on Sunday.
There will be Cheltenham clues galore with the likes of Zarkander, Sprinter Sacre, Cue Card, the reigning Gold Cup champion Long Run, Grands Crus, Synchronised and Bog Warrior. It promises to be a hugely informative weekend - if the frost disappears.
I'll be backing Cedre Bleu if Paul Nicholls lets him loose at Newbury. I thought he looked far from fit for his chasing bow but loved the way he jumped and battled to win the race. His part-owner David Johnson told me last year that Cedre Bleu could be very special and I expect him to improve significantly on his debut.
One of my three horses to follow for the season, Penny Max, could also run at Newbury this weekend. He's bidding for a hat-trick and has already done us proud.
The Cheltenham Festival looms large on the horizon and I hope you took my advice a few weeks ago to snap up the fancy prices that were available about Hurricane Fly retaining his Champion Hurdle crown. He looked immense in the Irish Champion and is now down to 4/5 with Sky Bet. My other 'Festival Fancies' at this stage are Montbazon in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and Noble Prince in the Ryanair.
England (inspired by G. Neville no doubt!) did well to beat Scotland, yet took some stick in places. I was encouraged by the team's unity and the captain, Chris Robshaw, definitely has something about him. England go to Rome on Saturday, where they have to give Italy an eight-point start with Sky Bet, which won't be easy.
The game of the weekend is France (-9pts @10/11 with Sky Bet) against Ireland (+9pts). Then on Sunday Wales (-12pts @10/11 with Sky Bet) face Scotland (+12pts). I fancy the Scots to run them a lot closer than that.