It was a disappointing start last weekend as Arsenal never showed up in a 2-1 defeat at Loftus Road. Laying Wolves would have been more profitable backing Bolton, although laying Wolves made money none-the-less. Liverpool cost us our bet on Sunday as they failed to score against Newcastle, despite two golden opportunities with Tim Krul out of the way. First, Andy Carroll dived when it appeared easier to score, and then Luis Suarez hit a tame effort at James Perch on the goalline with Tim Krul stranded. Manchester United’s victory on Monday saved the weekend.
Here are this week’s Premiership Tips:
Swansea City vs Newcastle United
Two teams who are playing enjoyable football this season meet on Friday on Sky Sports in a game we hope can live up to the expectation.
For all of the possession Swansea City have (56.8% average – 4th highest in the Premier League), they only average 11.5 shots on goal per game – only Stoke City attempt fewer. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s long range effort in their 3-1 defeat at Tottenham last weekend is the only goal Swansea have scored in their last two games.
Newcastle have scored 5 goals in their last 2 games and won 3 in a row for the second time this season. The trio of Papiss Cisse, Hatem Ben Arfa and Demba Ba have been on top form in their last two games; victories at West Brom followed by Liverpool at the Sports Direct Arena.
The trio have settled in together almost immediately, combining for 14 shots over the past two games. Helped by the creativity by Ben Arfa, as shown for Newcastle’s opener last weekend. Papiss Cisse has struck 7 in his first 7 Premier League games, and although Demba Ba only has 1 Premier League goal since the African Cup of Nations, he has 16 on the season – and remains a threat.
Defensively, I had no faith in Mike Williamson and James Perch in the centre but they kept a clean sheet last weekend. The pair look set to continue their place in the middle at the back with no other options available to Alan Pardew.
Gylfi Sigurdsson is yet to score in Wales and Danny Graham is without a goal in his last 6. With protection in front of the back four from Yohan Cabaye, Cheik Tiote and Jonas Gutierrez tracking back, Newcastle have a midfield to protect their defence. In goal, Tim Krul has proven to be a good shot stopper this season.
With the good run Newcastle are on, both results wise and their performances, and with Swansea losing their last two, I can see the visitors getting at least a point on Friday. For those more confident, you can back the Magpies at 11/5.
Stoke City vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Stoke City and Wolves do battle in the 5.30 game on Saturday. For those who have not seen how poorly Wolves have been playing of late, ESPN will be showing a full 90 minutes of them.
Tony Pulis and Peter Coates are more than aware of the financial incentive of finishing as high as they can in the Premier League. For those who are going to bring out the “nothing to play for” claims with 7 games to go may remain quiet for this one. Stoke City will be trying to win this game as much as struggling Wolves, 1 point behind Fulham who head into the weekend in 10th position.
Stoke City are winless in their last 4 Premier League games, but a 1-0 defeat at Chelsea, draws with Tottenham and Manchester City aren’t so bad. Last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at Wigan was though. A chance for the Potters to bounce back has been handed on a plate to them with a Wolves side headed for the Championship.
Jonathan Walters is without a Premier League goal since New Year’s Eve, but the journeyman should fancy his chances against a defence that has been leaking goals under Terry Connor. An opportunity for Peter Crouch to add to his 8-goal tally this season as he looks to claim a place on the England flight to Poland and Ukraine in the summer.
Wolves have conceded a staggering 19 goals in their 6 games under Connor, including 3 at home in a defeat to Bolton Wanderers last weekend. Many pundits have written Wolves off now, and it would take something drastic to overcome the 6 point deficit they face playing the way they are.
Being a solid team at set pieces, expect goals from this Stoke City side on Saturday as Wolves have been defending set pieces woefully of late.
Manchester United vs Queens Park Rangers
Manchester United got the job done in the final 10 minutes once again on Monday night as Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young struck in a 2-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers. This result moved United 5 points clear of local rivals City after Roberto Mancini’s side were held to a 3-3 draw with Sunderland on Saturday.
With Manchester City not playing until after the final whistle has gone at Old Trafford on Sunday, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side can conceivably be 8 points ahead of the Citizens. Mancini has conceded that a defeat to his side at the Emirates will see his side out of the title race.
Although they haven’t been banging the goals in of late, with the creativity of Antonion Valencia on the wing, Paul Scholes in the middle, Wayne Rooney all over the park, Manchester United are overdue a thumping victory. Sunday could be just that.
Queens Park Rangers’ defence, although they shut out Robin van Persie last weekend still look very fragile to me. Vulnerable down their left side particularly, I can see Valencia being a real handful and taking the lead at the top of the assists chart when this game is over.
The movement of Javier Hernandez, should he play, and/or the pace of Danny Welbeck will cause the Queens Park Rangers defence troubles. Throw in the aforementioned Valencia, Rooney and Ashley Young and I don’t give the visitors a prayer on their trip.
Djibril Cisse remains suspended and Manchester United have kept clean sheets in their last 4 Premier League matches. A win to nil? Priced at 10/11 is a bit short. Priced at 1/5 to win the match outright is printing a free 20% bonus. The Asian Handicap brings up more profitable prices for the soon-to-be 20 times Champions.