In the EPL, I cannot really let the early kick off between Liverpool and Manchester United go without comment, this match is huge and could blow the title race wide open. Steven Gerrard looks set to make his return and first league start in seven months, what a match for a comeback ( !) and who knows how Wayne Rooney is going to respond following the massive disappointment of his three match international ban, where once again UEFA have decided to make an example of english players/clubs, if Rooney was German, Italian or French ( definitely French) he would have received a one match ban for sure. Michel Platini loves the english ! Anyway, glad to get that off my chest !
Definitely think Liverpool should be a small favourite here, they have had much the best of recent meetings and this is their biggest league fixture of the year and King Kenny will have the troops well and truly fired up. Pool have won the last three meetings here and six of the last eight h2h have gone "over", with a few being blown wide open. Given the way that United are playing this season and I touched upon that yesterday, hosts are going to get chances and probably quite a few, they are also struggle to keep a clean sheet, just one in seven and it is difficult not to see both scoring. I see some minimal value in the home team off level ball at odds against, but given the likelyhood of both scoring, also like the over 3.5 goals option at 3.40 on the excahnges for small money, or how about the 2-2 draw @ 17.0 ? No bet for me, as this is one of the few games we do not need a financial involvement to really enjoy.
The relegation six pointer and yes, even seven games into the new season it already looks like one, between Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers, is a far more attractive betting medium IMO. The visitors are bottom of the pile and have suffered a couple of hammerings, but have suffered terribly from injuries/ suspensions and a dire schedule which has already seen them play, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and both Manchester clubs ! That is as tough as it could possibly be and they have had no chance to build on an opening day win at QPR, when they returned home from the capital buoyed by a 4-0 win and oblivious to what was around the corner. They have done better on the road, in addition to that win there was another at Villa Park in the League Cup and given their lack of attacking options at times, they have been happier not to have to make the running. However, today they have Ivan Klasnic ( top scorer) and David Wheater back from suspension and striker Gael Kakuta available once again and Owen Coyle will be delighted to have increased options. A win will take his team off the bottom and they have a terrific record in this series, being unbeaten in seven h2h meetings and only conceding once in four short trips to the DW Stadium where their supporters travel in big numbers. I feel the two week break will have done them a lot of good and I am sure that Coyle will have been working extra hard on dead ball situations. Athletic have really struggled to defend these, conceding from high balls into the box against Spurs, Villa and Everton in recent starts and Bolton are stronger than at least two of those in that department. Wigan have Crusat and Gohari back today, but are still without Hugo Rodallega, he is a big loss and they have not won in his absence. 1.5 units Bolton Wanderers +0.25 ball 1.87 asian line.
Into the Championship and a few words about Cardiff City- Ipswich Town, I could see the rugby World Cup semi final having some bearing on this, the match is huge in Wales, beyond huge and if they lose this morning, the mood here will be a little sombre, of course it could have the opposite effect if they win, but I see it as more of a potential negative than positive. We have discussed both recently, backing Town at home to Coventry ( 3-0) and at West Ham, where they recorded a famous 1-0 win, they have now taken ten points from four starts and in that sequence played, the Hammers, Middlesbrough and Brighton, three of the strongest teams in the second tier. They like playing City and have won the last five h2h meetings, including three in a row here. I talked about the quality in the squad ahead of the Coventry game ( reproduced below) and all those players have steeped up to the plate and listening to the Brighton game on the radio, I was taken by the way the match commentator ( a neutral) twice said that Town would be promoted, not might be, would be, which for a mid table team is a little odd, but a guide to the quality they have in their ranks. Michael Chopra has hit form now, with two fanatstic goals in his last start and had previously had very little luck, he is a top top striker at this level and will be keen to impress returning to his former club. Gestede and Earnshaw give City more options up front but Kenny Miller seems likely to miss out. Ipswich Town +0.25 ball 2.17 asian line.
I only want to discuss the Championship televised game between Ipswich Town and Coventry City today. It is incredible that Town have struggled so badly this season, they have some quality players, maybe a couple a little long in the tooth, but vast experience and a squad including Mark Kennedy, Lee Bowyer, Keith Andrews, Carlos Edwards, Ibrahima Sonko, Jimmy Bullard, Michael Chopra, Jason Scotland, Nathan Ellington, Ivar Ingimarsson , Daryl Murhy and Jay Emmanuel - Thomas etc, should not be hanging around at the wrong end of the division. Kennedy and Ingimarsson are available today which will give Paul Jewell even more options and his club will have really benefitted from the nine day break ahead of this televised game. Jewell arranged a training ground match with Gillingham last week and the Kent team brought some youngsters, along with 3-4 first teamers and were thumped 8-1 by a very experienced Town eleven. The Gills were probably not happy about that, but it appears not to have done them any harm, as three travelled with the first team to Hereford United at the weekend and won 6-1 ! In the friendly, Nathan Ellington scored a hat- trick and missed at least four good chances before the first went in, JET also scored and those two will be looking to put pressure on the current favoured starting front pairing of Chopra and Murphy, with Scotland also desperate to start. These strikers, along with Tamas Priskin, who has been told he is surplus to requirements ( you can understand why), have a mountain of Championship goals between them, enough to have won three titles and with so much competition, should be scoring for fun.
Instead Town have been conceding for "fun",but with Ingimarsson having played the full 90 minutes against Gillingham, he should slot in right alongside Sonko, the pair must have played 200 times together at previous clubs ( Brentford and Reading) and are good friends. This will make them far more solid and we can surely expect Ipswich to improve greatly over the coming months, they go to leaders Middlesbrough at the weekend, so will want the points tonight.
There are normally goals when these two meet, last 18 meetings home and away have seen both score in every single gamewhich is amazing, 15 of those have ended "over", including the last seven at Portman Road, with four of those producing at least four goals. Last ten starts here have seen seven home wins, one road victory and an average of 3.5 goals. City finally got a league win at home to Derby County last time out, thanks somewhat to some odd decisions from the match officials, which Nigel Clough was still complaining about several days later. They are struggling on and off the pitch and really are opponents that Paul Jewell's team should be defeating with the minimum of fuss. I am going to put up two bets.....
1.5 units Ipswich Town -0.5 ball 2.14 + asian line.
1 unit "over" 2.75 goals 2.21 asian line.