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A Ferd in the hand is worth 2 in the box
Written by: Gerry McDonnell (26-August-2006)

There is only one thing in life that is more enjoyable than an evening with the wife and kids, and that is an evening without the wife and kids. Whenever I am lucky enough to be rid of the evil one and her two clones, I enjoy relaxing in front of the box with a couple of lagers watching quality television programming.

As the free-view does not kick off until 11:00pm, my program of choice is ideally football related and entertaining, so that immediately ruled Soccer AM out of the equation. Apart from the imperious Jeff Stelling show on a Saturday afternoon, other programm struggle to match my demanding criteria, so you can imagine my pure joy when news broke that Rio Ferdinand was set to enter the world of light entertainment.

His wind-up show was disappointing, the sketch where he ‘murked’ the drug testers by forgetting to turn up was left out, so was the one where he ‘murked’ the Man United board by refusing to sign a contract until their salary offer rose from £100,000 to £110,000 a week. I bet the sketch where he was going to ‘murk’ Martin Jol by pretending to bid £18m for Michael Carrick was axed for being too unrealistic.

Rio was offered another bite at the TV cherry, the premise being that Ferdinand and his boys will ‘pimp’ up the pads of fellow millionaire professional footballers. I literally can wait.

Talking of pimping, Wayne Rooney misses Manchester United’s match against Watford because of the FA upholding a ridiculous ban for a red card in a friendly. Rooney’s agent struck back by threatening to withhold Wayne’s image rights; I can only guess that Rooney advised ‘upping the ante’ and Stretford misunderstood. Man Utd have won their last six matches against Watford, the Mancs are the weekend nap at 1.40.

With Wayne banned, best buddy Cristiano ‘more dives than Glasgow’ Ronaldo should be bet on to net the opener. Ronaldo has been priced up at 8.50, odds so big I almost fell over.

Watford were totally robbed by the ref at Goodison Park, they are now playing Man Utd, and they will be lucky if they are awarded a throw in. Watford will not score, take 2.05 about a Man United win coupled with a clean sheet.

Arsenal have treated Manchester City in recent years like Ben Thatcher treats Pedro Mendes, they have pounded on them unmercifully. (Mendes isn't the first person to be unable to work thanks to Thatcher.) Arsenal have left Man City with all three points on their last eight visits, you have to fancy the Gunners at 1.73 to reach number nine. Someone is going to take a pommeling at the hands of the Wenger boys soon, there is a decent chance it will be Thatcher’s mob.

Blackburn players certainly enjoy a challenge. The wild Rovers had two players sent off on the opening day, that is virtually a friendly for Savage et al. Chelsea were turned over at Ewood Park last season, but a repeat is out of the question. A wounded Chelsea are a great wager at 1.57 to make amends for their Boro bashing.

I had my fingers burned by Liverpool last week, but the Reds can recover at home to West Ham. Liverpool’s attacking options were limited when Steven Gerrard snatched the FA Cup from the Hammers’ grasp in May, but now they have three quality strikers and Peter Crouch competing for a start. Liverpool are the reliable tip and should be backed at a healthy 1.50 odds.

Fulham look a promising investment at home to Sheff United at 1.91. Chris Coleman’s battlers won the same amount of home games as Manchester United last season, only a horrendous campaign on the road ensured a 12th place finish. I am a little worried about the Steed Malbranque situation, Chris Coleman appears to be cutting off his nose to spite his face; that is only a good idea if you are Iain Dowie. If the Cottagers come anywhere near reproducing last season’s home form, we are venturing towards decent stake territory.

David O’Leary’s lackadaisical attitude ensured the Aston Villa team rolled over and died away at Arsenal in a 5-0 defeat just four months ago, but under Martin O’Neill, the same bunch of players were able to fight like the wife ‘when the decorators visit’ to steal a commendable draw. The Villans are worth a bet at 2.40 odds at home to Newcastle, simply due to the O’Neill factor.

I am a great believer in positive thinking. There is an old saying that I hold dear, ‘If at first you do not succeed, then Paul Jewell will probably buy you’. You shouldn not kick a dead dog, but I cannot help but feel that the signing of Emile Heskey will prove disastrous for Wigan. Reading have started the season well, they are worth a tip at 4.00 odds to leave the JJB with three points.

Professional odds compiler Gerry McDonnell regularly offers his unique predictions on EPL Premiership soccer betting. Place your bets at Gerry's sportsbook Super Soccer

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