PL Previews GW 31 plus FA Cup Qtr Finals

Thursday, March 15 2018

 

We’ve got a league and cup double this week. Four from the Premier League and the four FA Cup quarter-finals. 

As per, the Tap Ins are included regardless of price, so I’d reserve them for topping up Accas at best. Or even bypass them totally. 

The Smart Money bets are the best way of dredging a bit of value out of the bookies. And any Long Shots are decent priced punts that have some statistical merit. 

All Scorecasts are priced up too.  

Pow! Right in the kisser.

Premier League

Saturday:
3pm Bournemouth v West Brom

Bournemouth’s form-line can look a bit new-born giraffe-like sometimes, but a home match with West Brom is a good cure for the wobbles. To be fair, the sea-siders are pretty consistent against the Bottom Half – just two defeats in 14 all season. They’ve scored in their last 11 PL outings and won’t need many to win this.
Albion have beaten Bournemouth once this season and the pressure should be off a bit – unless the players are determined to get rid of Pardew (dumping in the sea at Bournemouth could work. Just saying…).
It’s seven defeats on the spin now for West Brom and three without a goal on the road.  
Scorecast: 3-1 at 14/1.
Tap in: Bournemouth Draw No Bet at 4/11.
Smart Money: Bournemouth Win & BTTS at 29/10.
 
3pm Huddersfield Town v Crystal Palace
Ooosh! A proper six-pointer this. A win for either team will give a big jolt of momentum for the final straight. Defeat will feel like stepping into a puddle of quicksand.
Huddersfield have picked up 4pts from their last two at home – and will have fond memories of their 3-0 win at Palace on the opening day. But failing to score against ten-man Swansea last week despite 81% possession, 30 shots, 12 corners and several kitchen sinks thrown, must be a worry. This is by a distance their most favourable match of the run-in. A draw might feel like a defeat.
Palace don’t really want a draw either, but after four pointless matches can’t afford to be fussy. They certainly can’t afford to lose but a repeat of their second half performance at Chelsea would do. 
Scorecast: 1-1 at 5/1.
Smart Money: Draw & Under 2.5 Goals at 5/2.
Long Shot: Huddersfield to Win From Behind at 16/1.
   
3pm Stoke City v Everton
This could be the tipping point for Stoke. They’re going to need at least 10pts from their eight matches and if they are not 3pts to the good after this, they might well need a full 6pts from their last two v Palace and Swansea. My bottom clenches at the thought of it.
It’s not out of the question though. Everton have managed just 1pt from their last six on the road (at West Brom, which you could argue isn’t even worth 1pt…).  But another here would probably satisfy Big Sam, so it could come down to the potency of Stoke’s forwards. And that’s bad news for Stoke. No team has scored fewer in the last ten matches.
Scorecast: 1-1 at 5/1.
Tap in: Double Chance Stoke & Draw at 4/11.
Smart Money: Draw & Under 2.5 Goals at 11/4.
  
5.30pm Liverpool v Watford
Hmmm, Watford might walk onto one here…
These two met on the opening day, drawing 3-3 in a match that hinted at Liverpool’s season ahead. Goals for their Fab…er… Three, Mane, Firmino and Salah but some keystone Klopp defending that left you scratching your head. Since then though they been very efficient at home v teams outside the Top Five – W8 D3 with just four goals conceded. 
Watford have been equally inefficient on the road – perhaps even more so – failing to take so much as a point from seven visits to Top Half teams and only hitting the net once in their last seven away days.  They have a bit more work to do to bolt down the mid-table finish that will do very nicely thank you, but can do it at home. This is a free hit. But it could turn into a slap.
Scorecast: 3-0 at 6/1.
Tap in: Home Win at 2/9.
Smart Money: Liverpool/ Liverpool HT/FT at 4/6.

FA Cup

Saturday:
12.15pm Swansea City v Tottenham 

This might not be the cakewalk that the bookies think it is. 
Swansea have won all seven home games since Tottenham beat them here at the turn of the year. Playing their way out of trouble in the PL – or at least into the light rough – and transforming the mood at Liberty. So this is a no-pressure match for the Swans. 
Tottenham however need to win this, then the semi-final, then the final to hand in a good score card at the end of the season.  Form is no problem – the Juve defeat was the first in 19 matches – and they have won six of their seven at Bottom Half clubs. Kane or no Kane they are well able to progress to a ‘home’ semi-final.
Scorecast: 0-2 at 11/2.
Tap in: Tottenham to Win at 1/2.
Smart Money: Tottenham Win & Under 3.5 Goals at 11/10. 
 
7.45pm Man United v Brighton
This is a big game for United now. Like Tottenham, winning the FA Cup would nudge the needle on the season-ometer from ‘Average’ to ‘Good’. Unlike Tottenham they need a performance to win back hearts and minds. And that’s bad news for Brighton. Despite never looking that convincing at any stage since September, United’s home record can only be sniffed at by neighbours City. Just 7pts spilt all season. Expect all the big guns. And so long as one or two are firing, they’ll be in the hat for the semis. 
I dare say Chris Hughton would swap 6pts from his next two home games for an appearance in the FA Cup semi-final. In fact, he’d probably take 9pts from his next three in exchange for winning the thing. So can’t really make a case.   
Scorecast: 2-0 at 5/1.
Tap in: Man United to Win at 1/3.
Smart Money: Man United Win to Nil at Evens.
   
Sunday:
1.30pm Wigan v Southampton

If this was a horse race, I’d skip it and wait for the next. Too many variables make it a bit of a punt. But this is the business I’ve chosen, so here goes…
I fancy Southampton to pull one out of the fire. Results at Man United, Burnley and at home to Tottenham and Arsenal suggests talent. The insipid recent draw at home to Stoke and surrender at Newcastle hints at moodiness. But that could lift with the change of manager. Plus, five away games left could mean the 10pts (or so) required might be beyond them. So this has last hoorah written all over it.
Wigan’s home form is good… in League One. They sit second in the table, but have only won one of six v the Top Eight.  And they too have more realistic fish to fry. If you know what I mean.    
Scorecast: 0-1 at 11/2.
Smart Money: Southampton Win & Under 3.5 Goals at 17/10.
  
4.30pm Leicester City v Chelsea
Another tricky call here, Badmen. Chelsea’s midweek mugging will have taken a toll. Getting beaten in Barca is no drama, but delivering a season-best performance and still getting hit for three must sting. It was their fifth away defeat on the spin too. Cor blimey.
Leicester don’t have a Lionel Messi, but will smell blood. They’ve only managed 5pts from a possible 30pts against the Top Six so far, but have goals in them – although only one at a time in six of their last seven. And it’ll probably take two to get past Chelsea.
Four losses and two draws in their last nine has edged Chelsea out of the Top Four picture, which – again – ramps up the importance of the cup. I’m seeing goals at both ends. And maybe a replay to split them. 
Scorecast: 2-2 at 12/1. 
Tap in: Both Teams to Score at 7/10.
Long Shot: Leicester/ Draw HT/FT at 14/1.

I’ll getting all up in your grill with some Coupon Busters at noon Friday. 

Don’t miss.

Matt Nesbitt  

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World Cup 2010 Prediction Panel with Ruud Gullit and Sky’s Charlotte Jackson

World Cup 2010 Prediction Panel with Ruud Gullit and Sky’s Charlotte Jackson

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