Soccer Game Previews
Premiership Preview by Nigel Ridgway

Written by: Nigel Ridgway (12-1-2006)

13/10 About Toon and Gloom at the Cottage
Well, what about last week? The FA Cup saw more giant killings than a Jack-and-the-Beanstalk convention. I mean, we all expect the odd shock here and there, but to see so many Premiership teams humbled was beyond anyone’s expectation. After a difficult draw for the likes of Bolton, West Ham and Blackburn, the outright market remains largely unchanged. Chelsea (11/4), Man Utd (7/2), Arsenal (13/2) and Liverpool (13/2) still head the betting, with Newcastle offering the best of the rest, after a kind draw, at 14/1.

We’re back to the nitty-gritty of league football this weekend, so hopefully matches may go a bit more to form than last weeks madness! For me, the standout bet of the weekend is Fulham to beat Newcastle at 13/10. The reason Fulham occupy 14th place is their away form. At home they’ve a better record than Bolton, Newcastle and Man City. After last week’s disaster against Leyton Orient, Chris Coleman was scathing in his team’s performance, so there could be a backlash here.

It’s also worth remembering that Newcastle are constantly overrated by the bookmakers. We all remember the glory days of Keegan, Ginola, Asprilla and the like, but it appears that the romanticism of Newcastle and their long-suffering fans affects the odds compilers, who always show the Magpies too much respect. Newcastle (7/4 to win the match) are only 3 points better off than Fulham, and will be without Michael Owen. The Magpies have recorded only one league win in 10 attempts without the England striker, and that came against hapless Sunderland.

Premiership Pick:
Fulham to beat Newcastle @ 13/10 at BET 365

Hughes the Daddy in Lancashire Derby @ 11/10
Blackburn entertain Bolton on Saturday (5.15 – Premiership Plus) and Mark Hughes’ much-improved outfit can keep up their excellent run by registering all three points. Bolton are suffering more than most at the moment, losing five players to the African Nations Cup. The Trotters didn’t have a great Christmas period, and have dropped to 7th place, whereas Rovers have won five of their last six, and have climbed into 8th.

Bolton were down to 12 fit first team players against Watford last Saturday, and Sam Allardyce has made no secret of the fact that his team may struggle throughout the next month without the likes of Diouf, Jaidi and Okocha. Dickov (11/2 to score the first goal) Pedersen (7/1) and Bellamy (5/1) have all been finding the net recently, and it all points towards a Rovers win.

Live Game Pick:
Blackburn to beat Bolton @ 11/10 at BET 365

Fortress Fratton Again Now Harry’s Back
Amazing isn’t it? Portsmouth haven’t been able to win a one-ticket raffle at home all season, then Harry returns and what happens? They’re unbeaten at home. One of the main contributors to Pompey’s success over the last couple of years has been their home form, and it looks like Harry’s got them back-on-track. Pompey can be backed at 10/11 to avoid the drop, and this price is sure to harden, should they turn Everton over (the Toffees are 5/1 to be relegated). It’s getting harder every week to trust Everton. Just when you think they’ve turned the corner, they let you down. Leon Osman’s late equalizer against Millwall spared their Cup blushes, but after wins against Sunderland and Charlton, Everton fans (and backers) would have expected better. The 11/5 on offer to beat Pompey doesn’t exactly get the juices flowing, so it’ll be Portsmouth in our accumulator.

The Good (1/5) vs. The Bad and The Ugly (12/1)
The final leg of our four-fold is the easiest of the lot. On Sunday at 4.05 (live on Sky Sports 1), the worst team in the league, with the worst home record, who haven’t won in their last 13 league games take on the best team in the league (maybe the world), with the best away record, and have lost only 2 league games in the last 2 seasons. You’ve got more chance of getting a council house in Belgravia than Chelsea losing this match. While the 1/5 is as skinny as it gets, there are two reasons for choosing the champions to complete our accumulator this week. Firstly, the match is on Sunday, which means the other 3 legs will already be up, so it’ll add to the excitement, and secondly….. it’s a certainty! After the madness of last week, order will be restored (I hope)!

A $25 Accumulator on our four teams pays a handsome $319.50 which includes a bet365 bonus of 5% (up to 60% available every weekend).

Premiership Accumulator Pick:
Fulham, Portsmouth, Blackburn & Chelsea pays $319.50 ($25 Stake) at BET 365

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