After the distraction of the International break which saw mixed results for the home nations, the focus falls back onto domestic competitions for most clubs in England. As usual I am here to offer some tips for the longer odds that are available this weekend and as the season enters the home straight there are a huge number of teams that require points for very different reasons.
Swansea to beat Preston
The Swans have impressed of late and even away they should have enough to see off struggling Preston, who are routed to the bottom of the table despite winning their last 2 games. The home side may harbour hopes of a great escape but with them still an intimidating 11 points from safety it will be a mammoth effort if they are to avoid the drop into League One. Despite beating fellow strugglers Coventry and Scunthorpe in recent weeks I think Swansea will have too much for them on Saturday. The visitors are very much in with a chance of clinching second place and they will see 3 points here as a must if they want to avoid the play-offs. They beat Nottingham Forest last time out and that should put them back on track after unconvincing results against Derby and Scunthorpe.
Cardiff to beat Derby
Dave Jones’ team are in desperate need of a win here in order to avoid slipping out of the promotion places with other teams gathering momentum behind them. I think the international break will have served the bluebirds well and in Derby they face a resolute but beatable side whom they are capable of beating if they play to their potential. The difference in squad strength is shown in abundance in this one with Nigel Clough often operating on a fairly shoestring set-up this season whilst Cardiff’s expanses have threatened to land them in hot water financially. I dont think this one will be a walkover for the home side but they should do enough to claim the victory and cement their league position as they will no doubt face sterner tasks in the upcoming few weeks.
Chelsea to beat Stoke
Although Stoke are a solid home side I believe Chelsea will have to much for them at The Britannia this weekend. The hosts have produced a couple of impressive displays in recent times seeing off Newcastle and West Ham in their last 2 home games but this will be a different proposition for Tony Pulis’ side. The Potters are relatively safe in 10th place and with very little to play for complacency may very well start to kick in before too long. Chelsea will be fired up from their victory over Man City which put them back in with an outside chance of running Manchester United close for the title if results go their way in the next few weeks. The tie against United midweek in the Champions League will be on Ancelotti’s mind I’m sure but three points here are just as important.
This one returns around 5/1 with most firms.
Everton to beat Villa
Villa’s poor form has been the subject of much debate in the last few weeks, they sit precariously perched just one point above the bottom three and with the form of teams below them such as West Brom and West Ham improving, they could be in serious trouble. That said, Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and Darren Bent had decent international breaks with England and that could give them confidence but the inherent problems and underlying discontent at the club still continue to dog Gerrard Houllier’s reign. Everton have done well of late, overcoming Fulham, Newcastle and Sunderland in recent weeks and I think they can really heap the pressure on the visitors. Houllier’s side have struggled away from Villa Park this season, losing 9 of their 15 games. Everton could well nick this one.
Bolton to beat Birmingham
Birmingham City’s Carling Cup final hangover continues and they are in real danger of slipping into The Championship. In their last 4 games they have lost to Newcastle, West Brom and Wigan. Bolton are, in my opinion, significantly better than all three of those sides and they are progressing fantastically under Owen Coyle. Certain Bolton fans will be harbouring Europa League dreams for next season and with good reason, although their away form isn’t fantastic they will push Birmingham City all the way on Saturday and I think they can claim the victory over a team chronically short of ideas and looking destined for the drop.
Leeds to beat Nottingham Forest
This one could go either way in my opinion but I just can’t get away from opposing Forest on the road. Their poor form away from The City Ground has dogged them throughout the last 2 years, they haven’t won in 7 league games and with their lack of acquisitions in the transfer windows the squad is becoming stretched. Leeds have been fairly consistent over the last couple of months and have only lost 2 of their last 12 games. The one issue I have with Leeds is that their firepower up front is often negated by leaking goals in defence but against Forest who typically set up a lot more defensively away from home they could put some daylight between them with a win.
This longer shot returns around 12/1
However you choose to bet this weekend, enjoy and gamble responsibly!