WEEKEND BETTING GUIDE – MCB’s Premier League preview

There are eight Premier League games this weekend, plus the Capital One Cup final between Chelsea and Tottenham.

Our betting experts managed to find winners priced 15.50, 7.60, 1.60 and 1.51 last week – the overall equivalent of a 5/1 winner to level stakes.

Let’s see how our betting experts get on this week…

All odds quoted from Old Aylestone FC’s betting service oldaylestonefc.myclubbetting.co.uk

Get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See myclubbetting.com for details.

WEST HAM v CRYSTAL PALACE

Sam Allardyce
Tough schedule: Allardyce

West Ham 26/25 (2.04) got exactly what they deserved at Tottenham last weekend. They paid for failure to put away their many chances, paid for playing a ridiculously deep defensive line and paid for some strange substitutions. It is not easy picking nits as tiny as elephants.

While Sam Allardyce is reportedly going to play hardball for a new contract, he knows he is out the door at the end of the season, if not before.

They are on a run of one win in their last nine league games and were also thrashed 4-0 in the FA Cup by that powerhouse known as West Brom.

With Chelsea and Arsenal up next, Allardyce can hardly afford to lose to Palace 57/20 (3.85), managed by former West Ham manager Alan Pardew. That could be one bitter pill too many for the Upton Park faithful to stomach.

West Ham have won one of the last seven meetings and that sets our punting alarm bells ringing. Five of the last seven meetings contained less than three goals (it is 3/4 or 1.75 for under 2.5 goals) but with both sides creating plenty of chances, we see a few in this one.

VERDICT: West Ham 3 Crystal Palace 1 @ 15/1 (16.00)

BEST BET: Crystal Palace to Score @ 1/2 (1.5)

BURNLEY v SWANSEA

Sean Dyche
Must-win: Dyche

Both sides use width, both sides attempt to play flowing football and this should be an entertaining clash.

Swansea 20/11 (2.82), who have won one of their last four trips to Turf Moor, will be buoyed by their deserved 2-1 win over Manchester United last weekend and look certain to finish in the top half of the Premier League.

There is no doubt they will feel the effect of selling Wilfried Bony to Manchester City as the season wears on, although they have scored at least once in 14 of their last 16 league games.

Burnley 8/5 (2.60) earned a fantastic 1-1 draw at Chelsea but they have managed just one win in the last 10 games, even though they have been good for a goal or two in nine of their last 10 home games.

With Liverpool, Manchester City, Southampton, Tottenham and Arsenal to come over the next month, this is a must-win game for Sean Dyche’s side. Defeat would almost certainly signal relegation, so we hope they steal the points and gain their fourth win over Swansea in 10 meetings.

VERDICT: Burnley 3 Swansea 1 @ 19/1 (20.00)

BEST BET: Both Teams to Score @ 10/13 (1.77)

MAN UTD v SUNDERLAND

Kane Dive
Falling for it: Kane dives

We all know what is going to happen here. Either Manchester United 9/25 (1.36) will struggle early, forsaking any width and eventually resorting to long-ball tactics. Or they will score early and cruise. The outcome will be the same: Home win.

But it is time to make a point: Wayne Rooney and Harry Kane are right up there on the Pet Shop Boys’ dive bar scale. Their actions last week left us feeling they are a cross between Tom Daley and Arthur Daley – diving con-merchants.

It sickens us to think that two of the top English strikers in the Premier League resort to throwing themselves to ground to con officials. Rooney, in particular, is the England captain and should be setting an example to kids.

Either way, both should be retrospectively punished for their actions, but will get away with it.

If we were opposing centre halves, we would brutally whack the pair of them and make it hurt. Just to teach them a lesson. Then we’d clatter into referee Jon Moss, accidentally of course, while changing direction. That’s the kind of guys we are. Uncompromising. But fair.

Sadly, nothing will be done to drive this abhorrent cheating out of the English game.

As for the England manager defending Rooney’s actions… would you want to follow such a spineless leader into battle?

Our plea is this: Defend the game. Root out the cheats. Demote poor referees and assistant referees.

Oh, and back Man Utd to beat Sunderland 9/1 (10.00)

We feel better now. Thank you.

VERDICT: Man Utd 3 Sunderland 0 @ 36/5 (8.20)

BEST BET: Man Utd -1 @ 1/1 (2.00)

NEWCASTLE v ASTON VILLA

John Carver
No pressure: John Carver

Newcastle 23/25 (1.92) received a right old tonking at the hands of Manchester City last weekend – a team whom they invariably struggle with.

Two wins and six defeats in their last 11 games means John Carver’s side are four points detached from the top half of the table. They should be safe from relegation, as they are 10 points above the drop zone, but they are the epitome of mid-table mediocrity.

Aston Villa 17/5 (4.40) have failed to win any of their last 11 league games and have lost their last six. Though they are second from bottom and still have to travel to Manchester United, Tottenham, Manchester City and Southampton, many expect Tim Sherwood to work his magic and save them from the drop.

However, they have failed to score in any of their last five away games – all losses – and have managed just two goals away from home in their last 11 attempts.

Newcastle are unbeaten in the last seven meetings, winning four and drawing three, but oddly there has been just one home win in the last seven clashes between the pair.

Both sides scored in five of the last seven meetings and, given Villa’s impotent strike-force, some will expect that trend to end.

However, Newcastle have conceded at least once in 13 of their last 14 games and Villa may provide the shock of the day… and actually score a goal.

VERDICT: Newcastle 1 Aston Villa 1 @ 5/1 (6.00)

BEST BET: Aston Villa And Draw @ 89/100 (1.89)

STOKE v HULL

steve bruce
Three unbeaten: Steve Bruce

Stoke 19/20 (1.95) have won three of their last five Premier League games but are starting to look like flat-track bullies, their last five wins coming against sides in the bottom half of the table.

Hull 33/10 (4.30) have managed just two road wins and while they are still in a precarious position, the Tigers have clawed their way out of the relegation zone with two wins and a draw in their last three league games.

Steve Bruce’s side are four points above the drop zone and have a superior goals difference to the five clubs below them.

Stoke have conceded more goals at home than they have scored.

They have won five of their 12 outings at the Britannia Stadium and games between these two invariably leave the net bulging. Ten of the last 13 meetings saw three or more goals scored and both netted in seven of the last 10 clashes.

Stoke should edge it, although some will feel it would not be a surprise to see a seventh draw in 11 meetings. The draw odds are 11/5 (3.20).

VERDICT: Stoke 2 Hull 0 @ 7/1 (8.00)

BEST BET: 2 goals or more @ 43/100 (1.43)

WEST BROM v SOUTHAMPTON

Tony Pulis
Saviour: Tony Pulis

The introduction of Tony Pulis as manager came at the right time for West Brom 23/10 (3.30). While they are still only five points clear of the drop zone and still have to face the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, four more wins will likely see them preserve their top-flight status.

Southampton 33/25 (2.32), who have lost just two of the last 13 meetings with West Brom, are encamped in the top four and deserve to stay there. They were extremely unlucky to lose to Liverpool last weekend, not helped by another sub-par refereeing display by Kevin Friend.

Saints have lost four of their last 10 trips to the Hawthorns but don’t expect them to lose consecutive matches, even though the Baggies have renewed confidence with one defeat in their last seven league games and a thumping 4-0 FA Cup victory over West Ham.

Albion have two games with local rivals Aston Villa next week, the second of those in the FA Cup quarter-finals. That may well play on the players’ minds and any desire to stay fit and healthy, rather than a desire to put it all in, will find them out.

VERDICT: West Brom 0 Southampton 2 @ 44/5 (9.80)

BEST BET: Southampton @ 33/25 (2.32)

LIVERPOOL v MAN CITY

Pellegrini
Tactically naive: Pellegrini

Playing two up front against Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-final first leg was an error of judgement from Manuel Pellegrini, who may well have been pleased with the second-half midweek display, but by that time Manchester City were 2-0 down.

The tie is finely poised at 2-1 but it should be over. So should the Premier League title race – but it isn’t.

City 37/25 (2.48) will hope to narrow the gap at the top of the Premier League to two points with a rare win at Anfield.

City have managed to win four of the last 21 meetings with Liverpool 46/25 (2.84) and have won just one of their last 24 visits.

At times, Liverpool look all over the place defensively. Yet they have managed to go on an 18-match unbeaten run in all competitions (one extra-time League Cup defeat at Chelsea aside).

There have been seven draws in the last 14 meetings (it is 47/20 for the draw) and the last six clashes saw three goals or more scored. We tentatively go for a rare City win, with both sides finding the net.

VERDICT: Liverpool 1 Manchester City 1 @ 26/5 (2.84)

BEST BET: Both teams to score @ 25/41 (1.61)

ARSENAL v EVERTON

wenger
Boom or Bust: Wenger

Arsenal 8/15 (1.53) and Everton 27/5 (6.40) have drawn four of the last six meetings and given their respective exertions in Europe this week, it would come as no surprise to see another stalemate.

However, Everton rarely do well in this particular fixture, as Arsenal have remained unbeaten in the last 20 meetings at home.

Having drawn five of their first eight Premier League games, the Gunners have drawn just once in their last 18, so they have become punter-friendly boom or bust.

Everton have drawn four of their last six league games, winning just once in the last 10 outings. They still have the Europa Cup to play for and, despite being just six points off the drop zone, their run-in is such that they are unlikely to get dragged into the mire.

Arsenal look assured to finish in the top four again and while they should account for Everton those looking for a shock result should look the draw as a value bet at odds of 33/10 (4.30).

VERDICT: Arsenal 2 Everton 1 @ 32/5 (7.40)

BEST BET: Half-Time Draw @ 13/10 (2.30)

CHELSEA v TOTTENHAM

Mauricio Pochettino
Cause for concern: Pochettino

The Capital One Cup Final may provide some cracking entertainment and, unsurprisingly, we take Chelsea 31/47 (1.66) to come out on top.

Despite beating Chelsea 5-3 at White Hart Lane last month, Spurs 37/10 (4.70) have managed to beat Chelsea just four times in the last 54 meetings and have not won consecutive meetings since 1987.

Tottenham fans had a dress-rehearsal for the Cup Final when coming from 2-0 down to draw with West Ham last week. When Harry Kane stuck away a highly dubious penalty with the last kick of the game, their fans acted as though they had won a Cup final.

It was an undeserved point, yet you have to admire their tenacity – Tottenham have recovered the most points from losing positions of any team in the Premier League (16).

Manager  knows they were out-played in all phases by the Hammers and they will have to up their game significantly to trouble the Premier League leaders.

Chelsea, themselves, have not been playing well but they are consistently getting results that keep them ahead of the pack.

Tottenham have looked very ordinary in their last three matches and after Thursday’s exertions in the Europa League, they may be jaded.

Goals have been a feature of recent meetings, with six of the last seven yielding three or more and it is 19/25 (1.77) that three goals are more are scored again.

Chelsea should walk it, but they will probably allow Spurs to hang around, so we look for the Blues to sneak it by a single-goal margin.

VERDICT: Chelsea 2 Tottenham 1 @ 32/5 (7.40)

BEST BET: Half-Time/Full Time – Draw/Chelsea @ 33/10 (4.30)

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WEEKEND BETTING GUIDE – MCB’s Premier League preview

We have had enough of the romance of the FA Cup. Despite the unpredictable nature of the fourth and fifth rounds, our betting experts managed to find winners at odds of 8.80, 6.80, 2.05, 2.04 and 1.70 last week.

We are back to Premier League action this weekend with some crucial games having a bearing on the race for the Champions League places and a couple of potential relegation scraps.

All odds quoted from Seaham Red Star FC’s betting service seahamredstarfc.myclubbetting.co.uk

Get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See myclubbetting.com for details.

ASTON VILLA v STOKE

Tim Sherwood
Big role: Tim Sherwood

Tim Sherwood brings many things to Aston Villa (Odds: 2.62), not least a barra’ load of clichés.

Yet players understand the simplicity of his enthusiastic message and he is an underrated tactician.

Owner Randy Lerner, who will look to sell up in the summer, needs Sherwood to have an instant impact, similar to the one Crystal Palace have had since Alan Pardew’s arrival, in order to protect his investment.
With the FA Cup a distraction, Villa will do well to climb out of the bottom three this weekend.
They have managed just 13 league goals in 25 games and just eight at home from 12.

They have also lost their last five in the league and still have to travel to Newcastle, Manchester United, Tottenham, Manchester City and Southampton before the end of the campaign.

Stoke (2.86), in mid-able safety, suffered two heavy defeats last week – thrashed 4-1 at home by Manchester City in the league and 4-1 away at Blackburn in the FA Cup.

Villa have won five of last 25 meetings with the Potters and one of the last six at home.

Six of the last 12 meetings were drawn and seven of the last 11 yielded no more than two goals. The odds for over 2 goals to be scored are 1.80.

It could be honours even again, but we reckon Stoke won’t allow Sherwood a honeymoon period.

VERDICT: Aston Villa 1 Stoke 1 @ 5.90

BEST BET: Double Chance – Draw and Stoke @ 1.51

CHELSEA v BURNLEY

Sean Dyche2
Backlash: Sean Dyche

Chelsea (Odds: 1.20) have opened up a seven-point gap on Manchester City at the top of the table and they have done so looking anything but certainties.

Whether they were drained by the epic League Cup semi-final clashes with Liverpool, or rocked by their FA Cup thumping by Bradford, something has not been quite right at Stamford Bridge recently. They squeaked past Aston Villa and Everton by the odd goal in their last two Premier League matches and they could get caught looking ahead to their Champions League second-leg clash with PSG.

That, at least, is what Shaun Dyche and Burnley (17.50) will be hoping.

Yet they are not that naïve and they could easily suffer a backlash for a few below-par displays.

Chelsea won the last four league meetings and in six of the last seven meetings there were three or more goals scored. It is 1.90 for over three goals to be scored.

We look for an emphatic Chelsea win, restoring a semblance of normality after another unpredictable FA Cup round.

VERDICT: Chelsea 3 Burnley 0 @ 6.60

BEST BET: Chelsea Win to Nil @ 1.81

CRYSTAL PALACE v ARSENAL

Alan Pardew2
Tough schedule: Pardew

Five points separate five teams in the fight for the final two Champions League spots and Arsenal (Odds: 1.80), currently in fifth place, are long odds-on to claim a top four spot by the end of the season.

Palace (4.50) have been revitalised since Alan Pardew took charge and they have lost just once in their last seven league games. That run has seen them claw their way out of the bottom three and they currently sit five points above the relegation zone.

Palace have tough away games at West Ham and Southampton in the next couple of weeks, so defeat here will set alarm bells ringing once again.

Arsenal have won 11 of the last 14 meetings, they are unbeaten in their last nine trips to Selhurst Park and have lost just two of the last 29 meetings with the Eagles.

The Gunners are averaging 2.17 goals per game against Palace and they are playing with plenty of confidence, so another routine victory should ensue.

VERDICT: Crystal Palace 1 Arsenal 2 @ 7.60

BEST BET: Arsenal to Win the Second Half @ 1.99

 SUNDERLAND v WEST BROM

Gus Poyet
Reaction: Gus Poyet

These two side look to be heading in opposite directions. Sunderland (Odds: 2.54) are on the slide, as evidenced by a two wins in their last 15 league games and a stunning 2-0 defeat at Bradford in the FA Cup.

West Brom (2.98), one place and two points in front of 15th-placed Sunderland, have lost one of their last six league games and are through to the FA Cup quarter-finals after an emphatic 4-0 thumping of West Ham.

Tony Pulis will fancy his side’s chances of victory at Sunderland, who have won just one of the last 10 meetings with the Baggies.

Sunderland have managed just three wins in their last nine meetings with West Brom at the Stadium of Light and goals are usually the order of the day when these two meet – 10 of the last 12 clashes saw three goals or more. It is 2.50 for over 2.5 goals to be scored.

West Brom have won twice on the road, while Sunderland have won twice at home. Given their respective recent form, if there is to be an upset, it will be a home win.

This is a game that Sunderland need badly, but will Gus Poyet’s side respond accordingly?

VERDICT: Sunderland 2 West Brom 1 @ 10.0

BEST BET: Both Team to Score @ 2.02

HULL v QPR

Michael owen
“There’s nothing like playing in the dark with the ligths on”: Oh-so-insightful Michael Owen

A real relegation dogfight, which either side cannot afford to lose. Given their previous meetings – with five of the last nine meetings ending in stalemate – a point apiece cannot be ruled out easily.

Hull (Odds: 2.02) have tightened up at the back and gained confidence from their 1-1 draw at Manchester City before downing Aston Villa 2-0.

Rangers (3.95) ended a run of four straight defeats with a 2-0 win at Sunderland and with London derbies against Arsenal, Tottenham and Crystal Palace upcoming, they will hope for another positive result here.

One or other has failed to score in five of the last nine meetings and seven of the last nine yielded under three goals. It is 1.65 that under 2.5 goals are scored.

Another tight game is anticipated, but while you can wait long enough and two London busses will come along together, successive Rangers’ away wins are as rare as useful insight from Michael Owen.

We reckon Hull can steal this and heap the pressure on those around them.

VERDICT: Hull 1 QPR 0 @ 5.90

BEST BET: One or other fails to score @ 1.80

SWANSEA v MAN UTD

Van Gaal
Four-cast: Lump-it Louis Van Gaal

Manchester United (Odds: 1.97) reached the FA Cup quarter-finals with an unconvincing display at League One Preston North End on Monday. They are also encamped in the top three of the league, trailing leaders Chelsea by 12 points.

While their title ambitions look far-fetched, it is imperative that they remain in the top four until the end of the season, thus making the lucrative Champions League places.

United recently announced their revenue for the second quarter of the financial year. The level of debt now stands at an astonishing £380.5 million, a 6.7 per cent increase from the same stage last year.

Commercial revenue has actually risen 9.7 per cent, from £42.3m to £46.4m, but overall revenue is down from £122.9m to £105.7m.

That is mainly due to a significant drop in broadcasting revenue – with no money from Champions League television deals – as the figures show a 39.4 per cent decrease from £46.9m to £28.4m.

It is imperative that Louis van Gaal keeps United among the European elite and Swansea (4.00) should not pose too many problems, even though they have won two of the last three meetings (both at Old Trafford).

The Swans have won just one of their last seven league games while United have lost just one of their last 15. Both sides found the net in five of their last six meetings and it is 1.77 that this occurs again.

VERDICT: Swansea 0 Man Utd 2 @ 8.80

BEST BET: Swansea not to Score @ 2.70

MAN CITY v NEWCASTLE

aguero
Key man: Aguero

Manchester City (Odds: 1.28) are seven points behind leaders Chelsea and the bookmakers have already written off their chances.

Should the champions win here and at Liverpool next week, the title race may well linger on for another few weeks.

Newcastle (11.50) have won two of their last 10 league games and have managed just one victory at City in the last 18 visits – and that was in the League Cup.

The Magpies hold a 52-51-32 series edge since 1901 and City are restrictive odds to level that series, having won six of the last seven meetings on their own turf.

One or other has failed to score in six of the last seven meetings (it is 1.82 for that to occur again) and City will hope for a quick knockout, given they have to face Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday.

We’ll know a lot more about City’s true pedigree in a week or so but they should win, and win comfortably enough.

VERDICT: Man City 3 Newcastle 1 @ 9.40

BEST BET: Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.60

TOTTENHAM v WEST HAM

Sam Allardyce
Under pressure: Allardyce

West Ham (4.60) are on the slide, as a run of one win in the last eight league games and an awful 4-0 FA Cup hammering at West Brom attests.

With seven wins in their last 10 league games, Tottenham (1.77) are heading towards the top four at a rapid rate of knots, thanks largely to a one-man wrecking ball called Harry Kane.

The 21-year-old, who recently signed a five-year contract, netted his 21st and 22nd goals of the season as Spurs won the North London derby 2-1.

That left Spurs three points behind fourth-placed Southampton and four behind Manchester United.

The hapless Hammers have slipped to eighth and defeat here would all but signal the end of what was a promising campaign. European football next season will be a mere pipe dream.

West Ham have lost striker Andy Carroll for the remainder of the season and they have significant injuries at the heart of their defence.

Tottenham have lost three of the last four meetings and it should arguably have lost to the Hammers on opening day – Mark Noble missed a penalty and Spurs, outplayed for long periods, snatched a dramatic winner deep into stoppage time.

While Spurs have won one of the last four meetings at home, there should be no luck involved this time round. Perhaps a draw (3.75) is the best West Ham can hope for, but that would be bucking a trend that has seen just one stalemate in the last 13 meetings.

VERDICT: Tottenham 3 West Ham 0 @ 16.50

BEST BET: Half-Time Tottenham @ 2.28

EVERTON v LEICESTER

nigel pearson
Tall order: Nigel Pearson

Other than Gary Lineker, few will be interested in what may well be a dour encounter between two sides going nowhere.

Despite being five points above the relegation zone, Everton (Odds: 1.74) will likely play out the remainder of the season in mid-table mediocrity.

In contrast, Leicester (5.10) will be playing for their survival among the elite. The Foxes are five points adrift of safety and boss Nigel Pearson remains on the brink of losing his job.

Twelve of the last 17 meetings were drawn, but both sides scored in 14 of the last 18 meetings. Ten of the last 14 meetings yielded under 2.5 goals (it is 1.87 that occurs again).

While Everton have lost just three at home, they have managed to win just three.

Leicester have lost half of their 12 road games but have score in their last six Premier League away games. They also managed to net at Aston Villa in a somewhat unfortunate FA Cup loss last weekend.

Can Leicester salvage at least a point? They are certainly worth chancing in a game that it is hard to have any concrete conclusions about.

VERDICT: Everton 2 Leicester 2 @ 15.50

BEST BET: Half-Time Everton @ 2.16

SOUTHAMPTON v LIVERPOOL

Gerrard2
Just give him the FA Cup: Gerrard

Arguably the most attractive game of the weekend is saved until last.

Southampton (Odds: 2.56) and Liverpool (2.84) are among five clubs firmly in the race for the last two Champions League spots, with four points separating the third-placed Saints and seventh-placed Liverpool.

Saints have lost the last two meetings, but have not lost three consecutive clashes for 20 years.

Liverpool have been beaten just once in their last 13 league games but have won just three of their last 10 visits to St Mary’s Stadium.

Southampton continue to defy their critics and they continue to show that there are other ways to win than lumping the ball up and feeding off the “second ball”.

Liverpool are gunning on three fronts now, with another favourable home tie in the FA Cup quarter-finals (why don’t they simply give Steven Gerrard the trophy now and have done with it?).

But given Liverpool’s Europa League exertions, we reckon backing Southampton and the Draw on the Double Chance market at 1.45 will pay dividends.

Hopefully the Saints will dent the Reds’ assault on the Champions League places into the bargain. That is asking a little too much, however.

VERDICT: Southampton 0 Liverpool 0 @ 9.20

BEST BET: Southampton and Draw @ 1.45

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WEEKEND BETTING GUIDE – MCB’s FA Cup preview

Valentine’s Day is on Saturday and the romance of the FA Cup will be at the forefront of punters’ minds.

There were plenty of shocks in the fourth round, but our experts reckon it should be plain sailing for the Premier League elite in this weekend’s fifth round.

All odds quoted from Baughurst AFC’s betting service baughurstafc.myclubbetting.co.uk

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WEST BROM v WEST HAM

Tony Pulis
Relief: Tony Pulis

West Brom (odds: 2.36) eased their relegation worries with a fine 2-0 win at home to Swansea on Wednesday. The Baggies are now four points clear of the drop zone and have a better goal difference than most clubs in the dogfight, so Tony Pulis’s side will look to attack the FA Cup with a weight off their mind.

West Ham (2.90) probably need one more win to be certain of retaining their Premier League status for their final season at Upton Park before a move to the Olympic Stadium.

They have won just one of their last six League games, having drawn 0-0 at Southampton on Wednesday. On the positive side, their three losses in the last 13 league games came against Chelsea, Arsenal and bogey side Liverpool.

Albion have won two of the last 13 meetings and the Hammers have lost just two of their last nine trips to The Hawthorns.

These two sides could cancel each other out again, as they have done on six of the last nine meetings (the draw is 3.20). But if there is to be a mild shock in the Fifth round, it could come here.

The Baggies are playing with new-found confidence under Pulis and West Ham’s injury problems in defence leaves them vulnerable.

VERDICT: West Brom 2 West Ham 1 @ 8.80

BEST BET: Both teams to score @ 1.77

BLACKBURN ROVERS v STOKE CITY

Peter Crouch
Hot-shot: Peter Crouch

Blackburn Rovers (Odds 2.86) have won the FA Cup on no fewer than six occasions.
However, five of those successes came in the 1800s, their last coming in 1928, and they last reached the final in 1960. Could this be the year they return to Wembley?

Rovers dispatched Premier League Swansea in the last round and they again face top-flight opposition in the shape of Stoke (2.36), who have won their last five competitive meetings.

Rovers may be 10 points off the play-off places in the Championship, but they have one of the better home records in the division, having lost just three of their 15 games at Ewood Park.

However, they have managed to beat Stoke just once in the last 13 meetings.

Goals are often hard to come by when these two meet – one or other has failed to score in seven of the last nine meetings – but lanky Peter Crouch will invariably cause plenty of problems.

We can see Blackburn proving a tough nut to crack and while Stoke have the quality to prise open the Rovers’ defence, this may need a second game to settle it. The odds for the draw are 3.20.

VERDICT: Blackburn 0 Stoke 0 @ 9.20

BEST BET: Blackburn not to score @ 3.05

DERBY COUNTY v READING

Steve McClaren
Promotion path: Steve McClaren

An all-Championship clash sees high-flying Derby (odds: 1.73) face Reading, who are unbeaten in their last three away from home.

Under Steve McClaren, Derby have one of the best home records in the division, having lost just two of their 15 games (winning nine of them). Only Norwich and Watford have scored more goals than the 34 they have bagged in the league at Pride Park.

Reading have lost their last two matches to the Rams, but have never dropped tree on the trot, so trend-wonks will look at the 2.04 available on the Double Chance market see Reading and the Draw as good value.

Derby’s overall record against the Royals is pretty ordinary – they have won seven of the last 26 meetings and lost 10 of the last 15 clashes.

Yet for all their decent road form of late, Reading (4.70) have generally been weak travellers this season, winning just three of their 15 away games in the league and drawing four. That means there is a better than 50% chance they will succumb to the Rams.

We will stick with a draw (on offer at 3.50), reasoning that it represents a little more value than a home win.

VERDICT: Derby 1 Reading 1 @ 6.60

BEST BET: Double Chance – Reading And Draw @ 2.04

CRYSTAL PALACE v LIVERPOOL

Pardew
Great start: Alan Pardew

Liverpool (odds: 2.00) have been in blistering form, with just two defeats in their last 21 games in all competitions since losing 3-1 at Palace in November.

Palace (3.55) have won five of seven matches in all competitions since Alan Pardew’s arrival, losing just once, and have won three of their last four clashes with the Reds at Selhurst Park.

Palace are something of a bogey side for Liverpool, who have failed to win any of their last four meetings in South London.

Both sides have scored in six of the last seven meetings and it is 1.80 that they do so again.

Seven of the last eight meetings yielded three goals or more and it is 1.91 for that to occur this time.

Pardew has instilled belief in his squad and while they are starting to climb away from the relegation zone (five points clear after their all-too-predictable 1-1 draw with Newcastle in midweek), an equally confident Liverpool should be too strong.

VERDICT: Crystal Palace 0 Liverpool 2 @ 8.20

BEST BET: Half-Time/Full-Time – Liverpool/Liverpool @ 3.10

ASTON VILLA v LEICESTER

andreas weimann
Key man: Andreas Weimann

Paul Lambert’s tenure at Villa Park came to an end on Wednesday, just hours after Aston Villa (odds: 2.40) slipped into the Premier League relegation zone after an abject 2-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Hull City.

It was their 10th league game without a win and they have managed just 12 league goals all season from 25 games – the lowest in Premier League history. In truth, Villa have been circling the relegation plug-hole for the last three seasons in which they have played 139 league games and scored just 135 goals.

The failure is not with Lambert, whose hands have been financially tied, but with owner Randy Lerner, who looks certain to sell up in the summer.

Villa have a fair squad and they should ease their way out of trouble.

And if the FA Cup is nice distraction for Villa fans, it is also the case for embattled Leicester (2.86) manager Nigel Pearson, whose side are rock-bottom of the Premier League and are five points adrift of safety.

The Foxes are, at least, still creating plenty of chances and it is frustrating Pearson that they are not taking them.

Leicester have had a fair amount of success in recent times against Villa, who have won just four of the last 21 meetings.

Lambert’s departure could have a galvanising effect on the hosts. Equally, a lack of leadership on the pitch could see heads drop, and confidence only comes with goals.

Ten of the last 21 meetings were drawn (including seven of the last 15) and the odds for a draw are consequently restrictive at 3.15.

We take a rare and narrow Villa win with Christain Benteke or Andreas Weimann perhaps being the hero.

VERDICT: Aston Villa 2 Leicester 1 @ 8.80

BEST BET: Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.05

BRADFORD v SUNDERLAND

Gus Poyet
Tough time: Gus Poyet

League One outfit Bradford City (3.75), the lowest-ranked side left in the FA Cup, caused one of the biggest shocks in the competition’s history when coming from two goals down to beat Chelsea 4-2 at Stamford Bridge in round four.

Though eighth in the league and just a point off the play-off zone, they have scored goals for fun in the Cup this season, netting 17 times in their five matches.

The Bantams’ home form has not been stellar, however. They have won just five of their 15 league games.

Sunderland (2.00) are lurching towards the Championship. They are just two points off the Premier League relegation zone and have won just four league games this season. The draw specialists of the top flight – 12 of their 25 games has ended in stalemate – Sunderland’s road form has not been bad at all. Gus Poyet’s side have lost just four of their 12 road games.

This will be the first meeting since 2003, but in 12 of the previous 13 meetings, one or other side has failed to score. It is worth noting that four of the last six clashes yielded three or more goals and while Sunderland have a penchant for a stalemate (the draw is available at 3.15), we think the visitors are worth chancing to win by the odd goal in threeand are the best outright bet of the day at evens (2.00).

VERDICT: Bradford 1 Sunderland 2 @ 8.60

BEST BET: Half-Time Draw @ 2.08

ARSENAL v MIDDLESBROUGH

wenger
Clean sheet: Arsene Wenger

FA Cup favourites Arsenal have lost just once at home in the Premier League all season and have lost to Middlesbrough just once in the last 31 meetings in North London.

The Gunners (odds: 1.43) have conceded just 11 goals at home all season and Boro (7.00) have won just two of the last 16 meetings with Arsenal.

That must be the starting point when considering a bet on this clash.

Boro, caused one of the upsets of the fourth round by beating champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium – and their 2-0 win was far from a fluke; they comprehensively outplayed them.

Boro enter this game as the Championship leaders, with the second-best away form in the division, having lost just three of their 15 road games, conceding just 11 goals.

The best Boro can hope for is a draw, which they have managed to earn in four of the last six meetings – the odds for that occurring are 4.50.

Both sides have scored in six of the last eight meetings and while Arsene Wenger’s side remain vulnerable at the back, we think they can win nil.

VERDICT: Arsenal 2 Middlesbrough 0 @ 6.80

BEST BET: Half-Time/Full-Time = Draw/Arsenal @ 4.00

PRESTON v MAN UTD

Van Gaal Pamphlet
Laughable: Van Gaal’s handout

Two-time FA Cup winners Preston (odds 7:00) last won the famous old trophy in 1938 and have not appeared in an FA Cup final since 1964.

Preston are just four points behind the automatic promotion places in League One and look a decent bet to at least make the playoffs.

They have been extremely hard to beat at Deepdale this season – only Bradford have managed to come away with three points.

Manchester United (1.45), under the leadership of Louis Van Lump-it, have been forced to play some very interesting formations and that has not sat too well with some commentators, particularly BBC 5 Live’s Steve Claridge, who has lampooned Van Gaal for his questionable tactics on numerous occasions.

If it weren’t for the fact that United are picking up points they often have no right to, Van Gaal would be considered something of a laughing stock.

Sam Allardyce, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, refereed to the Red Devils as “long-ball United” after their 1-1 draw last weekend.

It obviously touched a raw nerve, as the arrogant Van Gaal produced a pamphlet, handed out at a press conference, opining that United were nothing of the sort.

scibbles
Sam Allardyce answers back!

He was laughed out of court by Opta Stats, who proved otherwise.

Though they have won just three of the last eight meetings, Lump-it Louis and his United side should have little trouble beating North End, however.

They have won three of the last six meetings at Deepdale and seven of the last 12 meetings yielded three or more goals.
We reckon they can win by two clear goals at least, whatever formation Van Gaal will utilise.

VERDICT: Preston 0 Man Utd 3 @ 8.80

BEST BET: 3 Goals or More @ 1.70

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WEEKEND BETTING GUIDE – MCB’s Premier League Preview

It is derby weekend in the Premier League, but who will be the donkey?

North London and Merseyside bragging rights are at stake on Saturday, while West Ham’s clash with Manchester United is the biggest game of three on Sunday.

Last week we absolutely slaughtered the bookies with our Super Bowl selections and also found Premier League winners at odds of 6.60, 2.18, 2.30, 1.35, 1.77 and 1.64.

See how we do this week in attempting to predict the outcome of the 10 Premier League games.

All odds quoted from Billingham FC’s betting service billinghamfc.myclubbetting.co.uk

Get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See myclubbetting.com for details.

TOTTENHAM v ARSENAL

wenger
Derby delight: Wenger

“At some clubs, success is accidental – at Arsenal it is compulsory”. That might be a fitting epitaph for Arsene Wenger when he does quit the Bank of England club. He uttered those famous words and many fans, starved of trophies in recent years, would like to see him choke on them.

Two points separate fifth-placed Arsenal (Odds: 2.26) from sixth-placed Tottenham (3.10).

Spurs aspire to reaching the Champions League places and winning the Europa League, while Arsenal expect to win the title and the Champions League. Therein lies the gulf between the two.

Yet those gunning for Wenger need to look hard look in the Mirror. They may not win the title, but they are still in the FA Cup and look a fair bet to reach the last eight of the Champions League.

Tottenham are unbeaten in their last six league games at home but have won just half of their 12 games at White Hart Lane and have lost a third of them.

Their penchant for poaching late goals has been quite astounding and the goalscoring exploits of Harry Kane has masked defensive frailty – Spurs have managed just four clean sheets in the last 21 league games.

They have also conceded at least once in their last 13 games against Arsenal, who have won five of the last seven meetings. Tottenham have not yet convinced us they are Champions League candidates and we take the Gunners to earn a narrow victory.

VERDICT: Tottenham 1 Arsenal 2 @ 8.60

BEST BET: Half-Time/Full-Time – Draw-Arsenal @ 5.90

ASTON VILLA v CHELSEA

Villa (Odds: 11.00) have not scored a goal in the league for more than seven matches while Chelsea (1.35) did not have a shot on goal during all of the second half in their clash with Manchester City last weekend.

It seems for the last few seasons that Villa have been about unfulfilled potential and they could yet be embroiled in the nightmare scenario of relegation. A draw, on offer at 4.90, would be considered a fabulous result for under-fire boss Paul Lambert.

Chelsea are five points clear at the top of the table after drawing with City in a game they set out not to lose rather than win.

The home side have won just two of 11 matches played at their own ground this season while Chelsea have the second best away record in the Premier League.

VERDICT: Aston Villa 1 Chelsea 3 @ 14.00

BEST BET: Both teams to score @ 2.50

LEICESTER v CRYSTAL PALACE

nigel pearson
Big win: Nigel Pearson

Leicester (odds: 2.32) will have gained confidence from beating Tottenham away from home in the FA Cup, but they are still bottom of the league and adrift by two points.

Palace (3.15) have been rejuvenated under Alan Pardew but could not break Everton down last weekend after conceding an early goal.

No side has won fewer home league matches this season than Leicester and Palace are mid-table on their away form.

This fixture is being played on the back of defeats for both clubs.

However, Leicester performed better in losing 3-1 at Manchester United than Palace did in their loss to Everton at home last weekend and they can earn a much-needed win.

VERDICT: Leicester 2 Crystal Palace 0 @ 6.80

BEST BET: Leicester to score 2 goals or more @ 2.34 

MAN CITY v HULL CITY

This match must be the home banker of the weekend, as it brings together the side

most likely to win the league if Chelsea falter, and opponents who were poor in defeat at home to Newcastle last Saturday.

Man City (odds: 1.19) have won seven of 11 matches at home in the league this season and for potential champions, that number should be nearer to 11.

City cannot afford to drop points as Chelsea have a winnable fixture at Aston Villa this weekend.

Hull (18.00) have played 12 league matches away home this season and won just two, so the issue is not who will win but what the margin of victory will be.

City have scored almost two goals per game at home and they can win by two goals or more.

VERDICT: Manchester City 3 Hull 1 @ 10.50

BEST BET: Hull to score @ 2.24 

QPR v SOUTHAMPTON

Charlie Austin
Austin: Target man

Stop Charlie Austin. That’s the simple recipe for beating QPR (odds: 4.50).

Austin has netted 13 of Rangers’ 24 League goals and has not gone three games without finding the net in the league this season. After drawing a blank in the last two, he seems a fair bet to score at any time.

Southampton (1.85) have the fourth-best away record in the division behind Manchester City, but have conceded just nine goals on their travels – the fewest goals conceded on the road.

Rangers have lost just three times at home but have been defeated in three of their last four meetings with the Saints at Loftus Road.

With no wins in the last six, it was no great surprise to see Harry Redknapp limp away before he was pushed, yet what the morale is within the camp is hard to quantify.

Heads could drop if Saints go ahead but we feel this will be far from easy for the visitors, who have a decent percentage of first-half goals.

VERDICT: QPR 1 Southampton 2 @ 8.00

BEST BET: Half-Time/Full-Time – QPR/Southampton @ 27.00

SWANSEA v SUNDERLAND

Sunderland (odds: 4.50) enjoyed a welcome boost with an FA Cup win at Craven Cottage in the week and all that stands between them and a place in the last eight is lowly Bradford City.

Suddenly, confidence has returned to Gus Poyet’s side – last weekend’s 2-0 league win over Burnley followed losses by the odd goal to Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham.

Swansea (1.89) have lost just one of their last 11 meetings with Sunderland, however, and are buoyed by their smash-and-grab 1-0 win at Southampton.

To get such a result after their 5-0 home defeat by a rampant Chelsea and an abject display in a 3-1 FA Cup loss at Blackburn will have heartened manager Garry Monk.

But make no mistake: Swansea were battered by Southampton, who had no luck.

There are rarely too many goals when these two meet – seven of the last 11 clashes have yielded less than three goals and there have been five draws in the last eight meetings. The draw is on offer at 3.35.

The draw looks an obvious outcome, but we would not rule out a shock result.

VERDICT: Swansea 2 Sunderland 2 @ 17.00

BEST BET: Both teams to score @ 2.00

EVERTON v LIVERPOOL

Daniel Sturridge
Back with a bang: Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge could start in a league game for the first time this year and Liverpool (odds: 2.22) are a more effective team with the striker in the side.

Everton (3.30) are on a poor run of form but ground out a win at Crystal Palace last weekend – not a bad result in the context of that side’s form since Alan Pardew became their manager.

Brendan Rodgers has learnt from past matches to blend the players he has available into an effective unit.

Everton need to defend better to move out of the bottom half of the league and a draw (3.30) would seem a decent result, given their run of form.

Liverpool have lost just one of their last 18 matches while Everton’s defeat of Palace was their first win in nine matches.

VERDICT: Everton 0 Liverpool 2 @ 11.00

BEST BET: Everton not to score @ 3.15

BURNLEY v WEST BROM

The losing side could fall into the bottom three pending other results and home advantage could be key.

Despite being 16th in the league, Burnley (odds: 2.52) have won more points at home than six other teams.

Three wins from 12 matches is not a great return but four of those were drawn.

West Brom (2.98) have won only twice away from home in the league this season after 11 matches.

In the context of their respective positions in the league, a draw (3.15) would not be a bad result.

VERDICT: Burnley 1 West Brom 1 @ 5.80

BEST BET: First Goal West Brom @ 1.99

NEWCASTLE v STOKE

John Carver
Top man: John Carver

In 65 meetings since 1901, Stoke (odds: 3.30) have managed to beat Newcastle (2.24) on three consecutive occasions just once – and they will be out to repeat the feat on Sunday, having won the last two meetings.

History is against them. The last six meetings have been won by the home side and the Potters have managed just one win at St James’ Park in their last nine attempts.

Newcastle have scored at least once in eight of their last 10 league games, but they are leaking goals at the back, conceding in 10 previous games prior to their 3-0 win at Hull last week.

John Carver’s side have only lost three at home and are safely out of the relegation dogfight. Stoke are just a place above them in tenth and two points separate them.

Those bookie chaps know we are overdue a draw – there has been a positive outcome in the last nine meetings – and the odds are skewed accordingly towards a stalemate (3.25).

High-scoring clashes are not uncommon and the Magpies are worth chancing to bag a couple at least at a big price.

VERDICT: Newcastle 3 Stoke 1 @ 18.00

BEST BET: Stoke to score @ 1.44

WEST HAM v MAN UTD

Sam Allardyce
Tough stretch: Allardyce

Sam Allardyce might not survive much longer at Upton Park. A good start might come to nought.

An FA Cup exit at West Brom next weekend could set the clock ticking a little quicker.

As it is, the Hammers (odds: 4.00) have won one of their last six in the league and they are set for a tough slew of games: playing five of their next six against teams in the top six, starting with Manchester United (1.96).

The Hammers have managed just one win in the last 15 meetings with United, who have won 12 of those encounters.

Manchester United have lost just one of their last 13 in the league, yet Louis van Gaal has used some interesting formations and they have not convinced that they are anything but title also-rans.

Still, it is rare that these sides fail to serve up an entertaining clash and we should expect more of the same.

United’s away from is nothing special – they have drawn six of their 11 road games, winning just three. The Hammers have won seven of their 12 home games and have been relatively solid at the back, but the visitors should have their measure again, the Hammers will continue to slide and a new man will lead them next season – if not before.

And let’s be honest, if the Tweeting son of co-owner David Sullivan does not receive a clip round the ear from Allardyce before too long, it would be the biggest shock of the season. The Academy of Football? It’s being made to look more like the Academy of Fools.

VERDICT: West Ham 1 Man Utd 2 @ 7.40

BEST BET: Half-Time Draw @ 2.12

All odds quoted from Billingham FC’s betting service billinghamfc.myclubbetting.co.uk

Get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See myclubbetting.com for details.

You must be aged 18 or over to bet. Please gamble responsibly www.gambleaware.co.uk