Wednesday, January 04, 2012



It looked for long time that we were going to go three from three yesterday, Bradford City had the better of the first half, but conceded three in eleven minutes midway through the second, two were errors from the goalkeeper and one a wrongly awarded penalty.

Not a lot of matches today, but all very interesting.

Going to start with a few words about the Copa del Rey fixture between Real Madrid and Malaga, both clubs have named their strongest available squads for this first leg, with the return match scheduled for the middle of next week. Hosts had not taken this competition seriously in recent seasons, twice losing to lower league opposition, but last year made it to the final, where they defeated Barcelona. This time round, they are looking for the La Liga/ Champions League double and I suspect the domestic cup competition will once again take a back seat, that is not to say that they cannot win, just that later in the campaign it is going to be more of an inconvenience. Today, I guess it will be viewed as a nice warm up for the weekend league fixture.

Real have tended to start slowly after the mini mid winter break, easing past Getafe by the odd goal in five and losing a meaningless match at Levante 2-0 last season and drawing 0-0 at Osasuna in 2010, when they were already out of the cup. Big spending Malaga will probably be up for this, especially RVN returning to the Bernabeu ( he will be pleased to see that Carvalho is missing) and Santi Carzorla looking to retain his place in the national team and this is a great opportunity to impress Vicente del Bosque. If this game was in Malaga, I would be very keen to side with Los Boquerones and even in the capital, admit to being tempted by the huge looking 2.5 goal handicap start for the visitors. A few too many unknown factors here, think I will watch the opening exchanges and if Real look a little lethargic, I will take a little on Malaga, if forced to choose now, it would have to be them at odds against ( 2.08) getting 2.5 goals, they tend to find a goal on their travels and that would leave Real needing at least four to cover, which normally would not be too much of a problem, but they might need this outing to shake the Christmas cobwebs away.

Goalkeepers: Caballero, Ruben
Defenders: Jesus Gamez, Demichelis, Mathijsen, Monreal, Eliseu, Sergio Sanchez
Midfielders: Camacho, Toulalan, ApoƱo, Cazorla, Isco, Duda, Buonanotte
Forwards: Van Nistelrooy, Sebastian Fernandez, Rondon, Juanmi

Goalkeepers: Casillas, Adan, Mejias
Defenders: Arbeloa, Coentrao, Marcelo, Pepe, Varane, Albiol
Midfielders: Lass, Khedira, Granero, Sahin, Xabi Alonso, Ozil, Callejon, Altintop, Kaka
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Higuain
In the EPL, WBA have a lot of problems today, but that has already been factored into the very low odds for Tottenham, so no bet there for us.

I am keen on goals in the Wigan-Sunderland match. Somehow the makeshift Sunderland rearguard held on against Manchester City, they only had one regular starting defender on the pitch at the end and were forced to work incredibly hard to keep pace with the league leaders who created 25 attempts on goal and battered the Black Cats in the second period. That must have left them drained and the 24 hours less recovery time, will have done them few favours with this quick turnaround between matches, Wigan having played a day earlier at Stoke City where they somehow found a late equaliser despite being down to ten men, with defender Gary Caldwell being sent off and he is suspended today. Wigan are looking to do the double, having won very fortunately at the Stadium of Light in November, three points would take them out of the drop zone, ahead of a visit from Manchester City, so would be very valuable. The visitors will be out for revenge and incredibly a win for them could take them into the top ten, if they had not found that late, late winner at home to Blackburn Rovers in Martin O'Neill's first game in charge they would have been in the drop zone and the turnaround in just 23 days has been remarkable. Wigan are very gung-ho at times , especially at the DW Stadium and there will be plenty of space for both to exploit and plenty of tired legs late in the game, when this will get very stretched. "Over" 2.5 goals 2.13 asian line.

In the Championship, I like Bristol City at home to Millwall, key here for me is Darius Henderson missing from the visiting line up, the Lions have won six matches this season and Henderson has scored in five of those, he is very much their main target man, so much play goes through him and it all breaks down in his absence. We discussed City's huge improvement under Derek McInnes earlier in his reign ( see below). That improvement continues and they recently ended Southampton's long unbeaten home run, they won at the New Den in the next match after the Burnley preview ( where they also won 3-1) and have continued to play well, without getting their due reward at times. This might be the last time we see Maynard and Adomah together at City and they will surely want to sign off with a win, hosts have had 24 hours longer recovery time, following that Friday night game at St Mary's. Wall arrive in low confidence after a saturday derby loss to Crystal Palace and without their big target man , I have to oppose them. Bristol City -0.5 ball 2.17 asian line.

Good Luck.


I was very impressed with the Robins performance at West Ham in midweek and travelling fans were buoyant with that and the display at Barnsley last weekend, now they really need one in front of their home supporters, especially ahead of the international break, which will be followed by a tough trip to Millwall and visit from leaders Southampton. If new boss Derek McInnes can go into the break with another win, it will give them three positive results to feed off for a fortnight and the juggernaut will be well and truly on the move .

I told you on wednesday about the Albert Adomah and Nicky Maynard partnership and this pair will give most Championship defences problems and should definitely be up to scoring against a Burnley side with just one clean sheet in 18 starts this season, which came against a Millwall side in freefall at that time. Defensively, City already look a different side under their scottish boss and he has been busy today, signing Stephen Pearson, a midfielder he knows well from their time in the SPL from Derby County. He has also named his own assistant, Gary Owers replacing Steve Wigley and allowed two other players to leave on loan, he has made a huge impact at the club in a very short space of time. The team have already made more sound tactical changes in two games than Millen made in his last two months and even the fringe players have upped their game, with a strong reverse side running in five against Southampton this midweek, increasing competition for places.Bristol City level ball 1.94 + asian line

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