You have to feel for Alan Shearer going into this weekend’s match. After coming in on a white horse with every intention of saving Newcastle’s Premier League lives, the former legend has done nothing to quell the fears of the Toon Army over the last couple of weeks. It’s now or never for one of the most storied clubs in English football.
After throwing away a golden chance to grab three points last week at home against Portsmouth, Shearer will be handed an even more daunting task this weekend when Newcastle travel to Anfield for a critical Sunday clash against a Liverpool club that’s still fighting for a title and should have Steven Gerrard back in the fold.
If Tyneside isn’t gulping and gasping right now, then I’d imagine they probably are after learning of Gerrard’s return. Nobody’s giving Newcastle a chance this weekend — not even striker Michael Owen, who said earlier this week that the club is currently concentrating on the final two home matches. Talk about throwing in the proverbial towel!
Should we just hand Liverpool the win this weekend? Conventional wisdom says yes given Newcastle’s current plight and MASH unit squad. But stranger things have happened.
There is no such thing as a sure bet in this sport, and judging by the number of times we’ve all had the rug pulled out from under us in the final moments, I think it’s safe to say that anything can happen in the final few weeks of the season.
With the relegation battle coming to a close and the league race still in the picture, the best piece of advice I could give to any bettor this weekend is to tread lightly. We took the time to wade through the potential banana peels this weekend for you and came up with five tips that look as good as Rafa Benitez’s routine in the football pitch ballet.
So come along with us as we count down the top five tips for this weekend’s Premier League action.
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BUY Manchester United/Boro Total Goals @ 2.8
To say that this game is massive for both clubs would be an understatement. With four matches remaining for Boro they’re essentially playing for their Premier League lives every week; for United they’re playing for their Premier League title lives with Liverpool still breathing down their back. It should make for fantastic theatre on Saturday afternoon.
For some reason it seems that Boro bring out the best in the top four (sans Liverpool, who seem to have trouble at the Riverside). Manchester United have won 8 times at the Riverside in their last 13 Premier League matches, so that doesn’t bode well for Boro.
But considering where they are in the relegation battle, I’d imagine you’ll see a renewed side that should be going up against a United side that will be resting key players for their critical second leg clash against Arsenal at the Emirates. United will also be without Rio Ferdinand for the match, and judging by how disjointed United looked in his absence earlier this year, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Boro put one past United early on and turn this match on its head. Expect goals-a-plenty.
SELL Arsenal/Portsmouth Scoreline @ 0.2
Like Manchester United, I wouldn’t be shocked to see Arsene Wenger rest some of his key players for Tuesday’s Champions League clash. Whilst Arsenal are still fighting for the third spot in the Premier League, one would have to believe that Wenger has his priorities straight this time around.
Pompey, who are currently seven points above the relegation line, could really use another point at the least to solidify their spot in the league for another year. In my opinion this is the classic letdown match for Arsenal. They’ll of course be looking at the match ahead, whilst Pompey will surely be looking at the chance to take down a top four side to end the season on a positive note. Let’s be honest, there haven’t been a lot of positives at Fratton Park this year.
Expect Pompey to get a point from this match.
SELL Chelsea/Fulham Total Goals @ 2.4
Mark Schwarzer has been a miracle man this season for Fulham. Not only has Schwarzer helped keep Fulham in the race for a coveted Europa spot, he’s also changed Fulham’s defeatist mindset over the last couple of months. With four wins in their last six matches Fulham could potentially be the most in form team in the Premier League.
Chelsea should look for the win in this match, however, the last time these two met at Stamford Bridge the match ended in a 0-0 draw. Fulham have allowed a total of three goals in their last six Premier League matches, and two of those came against Liverpool and Manchester United. Expect a cagey match between these two sides.
Chelsea will most likely field a weakened side with a match next week against Barcelona, and I’d expect Fulham to play tight with the hopes of leaving the Bridge with at least a point. Neither side would be frustrated if this one ended in a draw, so expect something along the lines of 1-0 or 0-0.
BUY Wigan/Bolton Scoreline @ 0.5
Wigan have been on an abysmal run of late. They’ve lost their last three league games; their current run without a point is their longest in 23 league matches this season. But that should change this weekend against their Lancashire rivals.
Bolton haven’t kept a clean sheet away from the Reebok all season, allowing 16 goals in 16 matches. Couple that with the fact that they’ve yet to walk away with three points in their last nine away matches and you’ve got a perfect remedy for Wigan’s troubles.
Expect Steve Bruce to leave the the JJB with a smile on his face come Saturday evening.
BUY 1st Liverpool Goal Shirt @ 12
Let’s mix it up a bit this week by throwing in a prop wager to make things interesting! In Liverpool’s last seven league matches, Fernando Torres has scored the opener on three different occasions. We know he’s Liverpool’s number 9! (Sorry, I had to sing that bit.) The other four matches saw Dirk Kuyt, Yossi Benayoun and Xabi Alonso get on the board first.
Steven Gerrard is back this week and while I’d be more inclined to pick Gerro or Torres to score the opener, I think I’ll take a bit of a risk and look for someone other than Liverpool’s dynamic duo to blow this match wide open.
Well that’s it for this weekend’s betting tips. I wish the relegation teams good luck this weekend, as well as good luck to you, the bettor. You may not come out on top all of the time, but at least you don’t have to come home to come home to a fuming Toon Army on Sunday night!
I also want to wish good luck to Mr. Alan Shearer. I wish you nothing but the best against Fernando Torres, Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Javier Mashcerano and Luca…well I think you’ll be fine against that Brazilian fellow. Regardless, I hope you make it home in one piece!
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