What We’ll Learn In The Transfer Window

Will Wilfried Bony to Man City be the biggest Premier League transfer this month?

Will Wilfried Bony to Man City be the biggest Premier League transfer this month?

A little change of pace this month, as we look ahead to what will happen during the transfer window. And as we all know transfers and the accompanying rumour mill with it’s glorious highs and crushing lows is far superior to the drudgery of actual football. Handily because nothing really happens until the last few weeks my tardiness isn’t that much of an issue.

 

Premier League Outright Betting Odds:

Chelsea 3/5

Manchester City 3/2

Manchester United 18/1

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

One thing (at the time of writing) that might possible already have happened/be in the process of happening is the transfer of Wilfried Bony to Manchester City. A devastatingly direct attacker with a deft first touch and a fierce strike, he can’t be anything other than great. His on-pitch time will be dependent on Sergio Aguero and his hamstrings but they’re made of rubber bands so Bony should get plenty of chances to impress.

On the other side of the city Louis van Gaal will do whatever he damn well likes. However he should probably look into sorting a defence that is, well it has, I mean…….it’s a bit crap really. He’s already brought in Victor Valdes, and might follow that up by buying his countryman Ron Vlaar who once got a 2! (out of 10!) for me on Football Manager. Make of that what you will (as I type this he’s just been ruled out for 4 weeks but I have a word count to hit so he’s staying in the article)

 

Arsenal will do what Arsenal do, there will be opinion pieces, banners and possibly some booing. At the end of it Arsenal will finish fourth and every single one of us will be ever so slightly closer to the blessed release of death.

Chelsea have completed the ‘transfers’ level of football so unless they fancy trying to beat their own high score we can ignore them during January.

 

Tottenham will sign a midfielder. He’ll pretend to be good for a bit, then it’ll turn out he’s rubbish. Aaron Lennon might leave, possibly for QPR where………..

*insert your own ‘dawwnn to the bare bones’ Harry Redknapp joke here*

 

Aston Villa are obviously far too boring for any of us to care about. Even if they do sign someone mildly interesting that poor soul will be subsumed by the overwhelming force of mediocrity that resides at Villa Park.

Nobody knows who is in charge of transfers at West Ham but let’s hope it’s the new fun loving version of Big Sam and he brings in Jay Jay Okocha, you know just for old times sake. Oh and they’ll sell Winston Reid to someone, maybe Arsenal.

 

The Anfield transfer committee will gather round the table, amalgamate their thoughts, you know some real blue sky thinking ‘there’s no such thing as a bad idea here, this is a safe space where we reshape the rules and turn dreams into reality’ and decide to spend twenty million quid on a center back who somehow manages to make their defence worse. Liverpool might try and punt Mario, but he’s performing so admirably in the role of scapegoat that that would surely be a grave error.

 

Southampton will sell someone who isn’t as good as people think he is for more money than he’s worth and will replace him with a better player from the Netherlands, their youth team or Celtic.

The only Leicester player I know is Esteban Cambiasso so it’s very hard for me to take much of a guess at their transfer activity. I’ll save any embarrassment by not bothering.

 

Stoke might sell Peter Crouch to West Brom now that Tony Pulis is in charge. I might make veggie burgers for tea tomorrow.

Now that he’s swapped Newcastle for Palace Alan Pardew will celebrate not being forced to exclusively sign French players with high sell on value by signing someone quintessentially English with no sell on value. Possibly the Queen, or some sort of Duke.

 

All I’ve got to say about Sunderland is that my mate met Gus Poyet once, I forgot to ask what he was like. I bet he’s a dick.

Everton should sign a defensive coach but they’ll probably sign someone from Wigan, Shaun Maloney maybe.

 

Burnley will continue their attempt to prove that a Championship team full of Championship players can survive in the Premier League by signing a Championship player.

Going to level with you here – I’m writing this on a train and my stop is coming up. So if I’ve forgotten your team then I’m sorry but you’re just not important enough (sorry Hull fans – ed.).

 

Follow me on Twitter where I occasionally RT something funny

 

Betting Instinct tip – with few transfers likely to go through before this weekend’s games, back a London treble: Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham all to win is 3.59 with AllYouBet.ag.

 

Ally avatarALLY MONCRIEFF is a freelance football writer and editor of All or Nothing magazine. Sometimes even he can’t tell if he’s being serious or not. Follow Ally on Twitter and maybe he’ll be your friend.

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Arsenal look to keep up strong start in North London Derby

Will Younes Kaboul's North London Derby experience be enough against Arsenal's fluid frontline?

Will Younes Kaboul’s North London Derby experience be enough against Arsenal’s fluid frontline?

Thankfully, the Premier League’s fixture computer has this weekend provided the perfect antidote to the frankly disgusting spectacle that occurred the weekend before. Frank Lampard was almost in tears after his goal drew Manchester City level with Chelsea in the 85th minute of their tie, and explained afterwards to Sky Sports that, ‘I woke up this morning and didn’t know what I wanted from today.’ Four years earlier, as Emmanuel Adebayor’s Man City prepared to face his former club Arsenal, the Togolese knew exactly what he wanted. Angry at having been written off as a top-level striker and hurting after being subjected to a racist chant on the morning of the match, he proceeded to score and, well, do this. Now leading the line for Tottenham, he has the chance to repeat the feat in Saturday’s North London derby.

Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur Betting Odds:

Arsenal win 7/10

Spurs win 7/2

Draw 53/20

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Both sides have had strange starts to the season. Arsenal find themselves right at home in their familiar fourth place, while Tottenham lie five places and two points behind, in ninth. But despite Arsenal’s strong-ish start, the bulk of their play has been stilted and lacking in imagination. They scraped a win at home to Crystal Palace on the opening day, found themselves 2-0 down at Everton a week later before rescuing a point, and then struggled again in a 1-1 draw with Leicester. They looked better against City, but still seemed to lack that cutting edge, both Arsenal goals in the 2-2 draw the result of individual brilliance (Sanchez’s sublime volley, Wilshere’s lovely dinked finish) rather than, as is more typical of Arsene Wenger’s sides, the strength of the collective.

There is good reason to believe, however, that things are starting to ‘click’ into place. These early season performances have coincided with an experimental 4-1-4-1 formation that seemed to suit precisely none of the club’s most talented players. Alexis Sanchez has been largely impressive, but there remained a question mark over just where he would be picked; Aaron Ramsey, despite two important goals against Palace and Everton, has looked well short of his best; and Mesut Ozil, to put it kindly, has cut a peripheral figure out wide on the left.

But last weekend’s convincing away win at Villa Park saw the return of what most Arsenal fans wanted to see from the off: a 4-2-3-1 with Ozil at the centre of the three. Suddenly, the Danny Welbeck-Ozil-Sanchez axis looked unstoppable, even against Aston Villa’s rightful heirs to Paul McGrath and Shaun Teale (ahem), Ron Vlaar and Philippe Senderos. There now appears to be an air of optimism around the Emirates, one that Tuesday’s League Cup loss to Southampton has done little to dampen. (‘Bellerin, Chambers, Hayden, Coquelin’, Arsenal’s back four ominously read that evening.) They go into Saturday’s derby with confidence.

The same can’t be said for Spurs. Like Arsenal, their start to the season has been marked by ups and downs. Spurs’ downs, however, are both more worrying and more recent. Mauricio Pochettino looked to have settled in nicely at White Hart Lane, a spirited ten-man win away at West Ham being followed up by a routine dispatching of QPR. As Manchester United fans learned last week, however, 4-0 wins against Harry Redknapp sides mean diddlysquat in the longer term. Subsequent results have been disappointing to say the least: a 3-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield (fair enough), a 2-2 draw with Sunderland at the Stadium of Light (not great), and a 1-0 loss to West Brom at White Hart Lane (a ‘big hit in the face’, to quote Pochettino).

The manager is fortunate that the West Brom loss came on one of the most brilliant, and certainly bizarre, Super Sundays™ in recent memory – with apologies to James Morrison, Esteban Cambiasso scoring for Leicester in a 5-3 win over Man United trumps every goal the Scottish midfielder will ever score – and that few will remember just how turgid his team’s performance was. The pressing style that so characterised Pochettino’s Southampton was nowhere to be seen, and the defence again looked shaky.

The manager told reporters this week that no member of his squad should feel secure in their place – ‘if you need to change, you change’, as he succinctly put it – and fans must be hoping that he proves as good as his word. Replacing both centre backs would be a radical move, and is unlikely to happen in time for the derby, but it wouldn’t be an unpopular one. Younes Kaboul and Vlad Chiriches aren’t working as a partnership; Jan Vertonghen and Federico Fazio just might. Benjamin Stambouli, a player whose timing in the tackle is matched by his leadership qualities, could also come in alongside Etienne Capoue in an effort to shore up the Spurs midfield.

Even that might not save them. It’s not that there is any sort of crisis; this is a slump, at worst. One must bear in mind, however, that Spurs are a side recovering from the management of Tim Sherwood, a man more renowned for his ‘banter’ than his tactics. Things will improve, and Pochettino deserves time to negotiate that process, but in the short term it appears that they lack both the cohesion and the quality to get one over on their rivals. Arsenal will likely continue their fine North London derby record – only two losses at home in the Premier League era – and, alas, Adebayor will likely depart his old stomping ground looking miserable.

Betting Instinct tipArsenal to be winning at half-time and full-time is 8/5 with AllYouBet.ag

Kieran avatar KIERAN DODDS  is a master’s student and writer. He has written about sport, politics and current affairs for the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Africa is a Country, When Saturday Comes, IBWM and others. Follow Kieran on Twitter.

Van Gaal ready for a devil of a job!

vanGaal

Can van Gaal get Manchester United back on track?

After coming up just short at the 2014 World Cup with the Dutch national team, ex Oranje-coach Louis van Gaal has wasted no time in throwing all his energy into his next big task – getting Manchester United back on the road to success.

After suffering their worst season for 24 years under Ferguson-successor David Moyes last year, United are looking to the experienced Dutchman to bring the glory days back to Old Trafford. Van Gaal has vowed to leave no stone unturned as he attempts to banish the ghosts of 2013/14 and his reign has got off the perfect start with his squad winning the prestigious International Champions Cup in the USA.

Ok, everyone knows that this was just a summer tournament with as much emphasis on marketing opportunities as football itself, but straight victories over Roma, Inter Milan, Champions League winner Real Madrid and, of course, bitter rivals Liverpool in the final will certainly have given every player at the club a real boost as the start of the Premiership season looms large.

Van Gaal is a man confident in his own footballing beliefs and is not afraid to rub stars up the wrong way if he feels they are not 100% behind the cause. It will be interesting to see if the current harmony continues to prevail around Manchester when the season gets underway, but with no European football to distract them this year, the Red Devils look certain to once again play a major role in the destiny of the EPL title!

Who will win the Premier League title?

Chelsea                              2.85
Manchester City              3.0
Manchester Utd              5.5
Arsenal                              7.0
Liverpool                          11.0
Tottenham                       67.0

All odds provided by www.allyoubet.ag are correct as of today but subject to change. 

CHRIS I. (tipsterchris) is a European sports blogger who’s hooked on football — both NFL American football and European football.  Chris discusses betting tips and trends and includes betting odds in his regular posts at BI.

Can Liverpool see off a second Tottenham manager?

 

Raheem Sterling was among the goals as Liverpool beat Tottenham 5-0 in December

Raheem Sterling was among the goals as Liverpool beat Tottenham 5-0 in December

How times can change – for some – in the Premier League.

 

Without a doubt, this has been the most enthralling season in recent years and that doesn’t look set to change any time soon. Liverpool have already won 4 more games than in the whole previous league campaign and are – and please, leave your pants on for this one Liverpool fans – genuinely in with a chance of winning the league.

Tottenham on the other hand, are very much in a similar position to how they ended up last season. They currently sit in 6th, a solitary point being the 5th position they found themselves in last year, albeit with 5th place Everton having a game in hand over them.

 

Liverpool v Tottenham Hotspur Betting Odds:

Liverpool win – 1.45

Tottenham win – 6.40

Draw – 4.40

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

After their promising finish last year, breaking their record points tally for a single Premier League campaign Spurs have struggled to consistently look like real contenders for the top four. While a change in management has brought in a more attack minded brand of football, the results and league position haven’t really altered all that much.

Much was expected of Spurs after they spent a lot of money on new recruits over the summer, but – other than brief flashes – the new arrivals haven’t really hit the ground running. Roberto Soldado has probably drawn the most attention for this, the £26M signing having only scored 6 league goals with the majority of these goals coming from the penalty spot. However midfielder Christian Eriksen has looked a tidy player with some great technical ability, and Spurs will be hoping he can show some more of that promise against Liverpool – a club he was linked with earlier in his career – this coming Sunday.

With the arrival of new manager Tim Sherwood, Emmanuel Adebayor has had one of those spells which makes you wonder why he couldn’t produce the same form over the previous 18 months. When he is in the right frame of mind, Adebayor is absolutely unplayable and Liverpool’s defence has struggled to deal with physicality in recent years. Spurs are likely to pack out the midfield with 5 men in an effort to combat Liverpool’s energetic midfield, while still keeping the back-line busy with Adebayor’s strength and pace. Spurs haven’t beaten any of the current top four in the league this year and have lost three of their last five games.

They were embarrassed by Liverpool at White Hart Lane in a 5-0 hammering which brought about Andre Villas-Boas’ exit, and another defeat of a similar magnitude will hardly help Sherwood as he tries to make his case for being given the managerial position on a full-time basis. Still, Spurs may take heart from the fact that no team has more league away wins than the London club this campaign.

 

Liverpool, meanwhile, have improved dramatically this season under Brendan Rodgers. After limping to 7th place last year, they look an entirely new team, suggeting last season’s squad needed time to gel. Whilst some defensive frailties remain, they’ve now looked comfortable against the best teams in the league whilst also starting to exert more control over those towards the bottom of the table.

They’re in a great run of form at the moment – putting 6 past Cardiff and beating Manchester United at Old Trafford – so will be full of confidence, especially considering how easily they brushed Spurs aside in December. Liverpool’s success this year has come from several places: the obvious attacking threat of the front 3 (Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez being the two highest scorers in the league thus far), the emergence of Jordan Henderson’s and Steven Gerrard’s understanding in the middle of the park, and Rodgers’ tactical nous.

 

They haven’t made many changes to the system as the season has continued, sticking with a successful formula that is as entertaining as it is effective.   If Spurs play with the same high line they did in the reverse fixture – something AVB saw as an ostensibly useful system – they will no doubt suffer another defeat. I’d expect Raheem Sterling to play in anticipation of this, though Liverpool have plenty of other options in midfield, and the passing range of Philippe Coutinho could also be put to good use.

All things considered, I think Liverpool will get the win they need to keep pace with Chelsea at the top of the table. Tottenham have enough technical ability in their locker but they are conceding too many goals and don’t have two prolific forwards like Liverpool do. My prediction is a 3-1 Liverpool win, with Adebayor scoring a goal for Spurs after bench-pressing Martin Skrtel.

 

Betting Instinct Tip Liverpool to win 3-1 is 9.60 with GR88.com. Odds on Adebayor bench-pressing Skrtel are unavailable at the time of writing.

 

 JAKE COLLINS (jcollins91) is passionate about literature, music and sports. He currently works in  London and lives in Essex. Read more of his work in Jake’s blog.

Arsenal Need to Rebound Quickly in North London Derby

Tottenham will be grateful to welcome back Younes Kaboul after his suspension was overturned

Tottenham will be grateful to welcome back Younes Kaboul after his suspension was overturned

Tottenham welcome Arsenal to White Hart Lane for the second Premier League edition of the North London Derby this Sunday. The stories of both teams have changed dramatically since Arsenal’s statement-making one-nil win at the beginning of the season. Arsenal had managed a prolonged run at the top of the table for most of the season before a rash of injuries and bad form to key players have brought them down to third, tied with Liverpool in points.

Tottenham on the other hand have enjoyed a tough season after their 100 million shopping spree in the summer. The Lilywhites have suffered their fair share of injuries, most noticeably to midfielder Sandro and record signing Erik Lamela, hindering their top four ambitions. They have also managed to sack  André Villas-Boas and replace him with Tim Sherwood, who tip-toes the line between able manager and insane chancer much too often.

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal Betting Odds

Tottenham win – 2.84

Arsenal win – 2.36

Draw – 3.15

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

Both teams enter the game in the back of poor results, though in different circumstances. Arsenal managed a 1-1 draw away at Bayern Munich for the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinal after losing 2-0 in the first leg. The game was not without consequence as not only were they knocked out of the competition but they have lost marquee signing Mesut Özil for several weeks to a hamstring injury. Spurs themselves suffered a heavy 4-nil defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge this past weekend, as the team capitulated and handed Chelsea goal after goal. Younes Kaboul was handed a three match ban after receiving a red card in the game but it has since been appealed and rescinded and the defender should be available for the derby.

Though the injury list is extensive for both teams, the game should be as competitive as history has suggested. Not only will Özil be unavailable for Arsenal but Aaron Ramsey looks unlikely to be fit in time for the match, while Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal also remain on the sidelines. Tottenham will be without Vlad Chiriches, Étienne Capoue, Erik Lamela and Michael Dawson. Danny Rose, Christian Eriksen, and Mousa Dembélé will go through late fitness tests before the match. There is good news for the teams though, Tomáš Rosický of Arsenal who was just handed an extension on his contract and should replace Ozil in the starting line-up, while the inclusion of Kaboul will be a big boost to a Spurs defense stretched thin.

Arsenal should be motivated by their draw at Bayern as they were last year after their second leg win, and will look to finish the season off strongly despite facing difficult upcoming fixtures. The Gunners still boast incredible midfield options in Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who will pose a difficult problem for a Spurs defence that has conceded 1.18 goals per game under Sherwood compared to 0.92 under previous manager Villas-Boas. Tottenham will be also looking to end the campaign on a high and defeating their rivals could boost their confidence and propel them to Champions League football, if their manager doesn’t lose his mind before then (that ship might have sailed – ed.).

Tim Sherwood has noted that he doesn’t want his players to be out-hustled and out-desired on the field, lambasting his side for their failings in recent games. Hustle and desire might prove not to be enough as Arsenal still have the superior squad and will be confident of dispatching Spurs once again this season as they fight to catch Chelsea at the top of the table.

Betting Instinct Tip – Arsenal to win after being level at half-time is 5.50 with Intertops.eu

______________________________________________

BdykNApCQAEQ_-tZITO MADU (zitov2) is a writer for SBnation, and has written for Surreal Football, LiveBreatheFutbol, and numerous other sports sites. Follow him on Twitter.

Can Tim Sherwood Win His First North London Derby?

This FA Cup match sees Tim Sherwood's managerial North London Derby debut

This FA Cup match sees Tim Sherwood’s managerial North London Derby debut

The biggest match from the first round of the FA Cup that sees the big boys competing with the sides that have made it through the qualification, first and second rounds sees an all Premier League clash as two of the closest sides battle for a place in the fourth round at The Emirates Stadium today. Both Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur will be desperate to get one over on their nearest and biggest rivals, but will the experience of more than 17 years worth of North London Derby matches for Arséne Wenger or the inexperience of a first Arsenal v Tottenham game for new Spurs manager Tim Sherwood win the day?

GR88.com believe that the Frenchman and his Premier League topping Arsenal side will have learnt their lesson from fielding a weakened side against Chelsea in the Capital One Cup earlier this season as they slipped to a 2-0 loss as they favour the home win today.

North London Derby Betting Odds:

Arsenal Victory – 1.90

Draw – 3.35

Tottenham Victory – 3.45

(Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.)

Arsenal have an excellent home record in North London Derby matches and they have lost just once to Tottenham at either their current home of The Emirate Stadium and their previous stadium at Highbury since 1993. That win for Spurs came in 2010 when goals from Gareth Bale, Rafael van der Vaart and Younes Kaboul saw them come from 2-0 down at half time to snatch all three points and their first away win at their rivals since goals from Teddy Sheringham and John Hendry (2) saw them win 17 years previously.

Things have not gone well at The Emirates since that day for Tottenham either as they have suffered two 5-2 losses in the last three visits across North London as well as being beaten 1-0 this season in the Premier League. However, after recording just their second win at Old Trafford against Manchester United since 1989 on New Year’s Day Tim Sherwood and Tottenham will be hoping that they can continue to collect rare victories in 2014 this evening.

They do face an Arsenal side unbeaten in four matches though and the hosts today have conceded just one goal since suffering a 6-3 defeat away at Manchester City three weeks ago and despite Tottenham being unbeaten in four matches following a Capital One Cup loss at home to West Ham in Tim Sherwood’s first match they will find it tough to break down Arsenal’s fine defence that has seen them top of the league this season. As well as this Sherwood sets his team up to be an attacking side and I feel that Arsenal will get plenty of opportunities to find the net in this FA Cup third round match.

This, I believe, will give the hosts the advantage and I am going with GR88.com in favouring Arsenal to claim victory in this North London Derby clash at The Emirates this evening.

Back Arsenal to beat Tottenham in this FA Cup Third Round North London Derby @ 1.90 in the GR88 Sportsbook!

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Luis Suarez to fire Liverpool to second in the Premier League at WHL?

Suarez scores the first of four against Norwich.

Suarez scores the first of four against Norwich.

Liverpool travel to North London and White Hart Lane for this Spurs v Liverpool match leading their hosts by three points and two places in the Premier League table. Victory for the home team this afternoon will move Spurs ahead of Newcastle into sixth place but behind the visitors due to Liverpool having a much better goal difference, while a win for the team from the red side of Merseyside will see them move into second place in the league standings.

Liverpool certainly have the ability to outscore their hosts today as they have found the net on 34 occasions in their 15 Premier League matches this season, with Luis Suarez having 15 of those in the ten matches he has played following his suspension, while Tottenham have only found the net on 15 occasions in total all season long in their domestic campaign. Will the man who is likely to terrorise the English defence at the World Cup next summer be the difference between these two sides today?

GR88.com do not believe so as they favour the home win for the goal shy North Londoners and their Spurs v Liverpool match odds are as follows.

Spurs v Liverpool Betting Odds:

Tottenham Hotspur to win – 2.24

Draw – 3.15

Liverpool to win – 3.00

Odds provided by GR88.com are current as of today but subject to change.

The hosts at White Hart Lane this afternoon have looked impressive against some weaker sides in their Europa League group as they claimed six wins in six matches to ensure top spot and a more favourable draw for the last 32 stage. However, they have not been so ruthless and efficient in the Premier League as they have managed to win just two of their last six matches, with both of these coming as 2-1 away wins at the bottom two sides in the table. While the six points were important Spurs will need to be much better against a side looking to go second than coming from behind against Sunderland and Fulham if they are to win today. They have only beaten Hull City in five at home and have scored just four goals in these five matches, so will they be able to improve and see off the threat of Suarez?

Liverpool have not looked great on the road this season as they have failed to win any of their last four away games and have only secured all three points against Aston Villa and Sunderland away from Anfield so far. However, in Luis Suarez have a goal scorer that has found the net on 15 occasions this season, including three braces as well as a hat-trick against West Brom and four against Norwich, and when you have one player with as many goals as your opponents have all season you have to believe that you stand a great chance at winning your match against them, despite having a poor away record leading up to the game.

I certainly feel that Liverpool deserve to be closer to Spurs in the outright market for this match today and that Suarez will be the difference between the two sides. However, Liverpool do not perform well in this section of North London as they have been beaten in each of their last six matches at White Hart Lane since May 2008. Like I have already stated, Suarez and his prolific goal scoring record this season will be the one thing that separates these two sides and as a result of this I cannot see anything but a Suarez led victory for the visitors today.

Back Liverpool to beat Spurs at White Hart Lane this afternoon @ 3.00 in the GR88 Sportsbook!

AntonyANTONY JORDAN (antonygr88) is an avid football and cricket fan who loves to play his favourite sports as much as write about them and bet on them.  Read his daily sports betting blog at GR88.com.

Manchester City to Continue Impressive Home Form Against Arsenal

Manuel Pellegrini's Manchester City are chasing a sixth win in seven games

Manuel Pellegrini’s Manchester City side are chasing a sixth win in seven games

To be fair to Manuel Pellegrini, I doubt anyone except journalists with hindsight knew that the Champions League group standings were decided on head-to-head rather than goal difference – it’s a stupid rule that makes it hard for people who can’t add up/remember stupid rules. That said, while the rest of us don’t really have to know these things, it’s part of Pellegrini’s job to understand exactly what kind of game he’s playing. Thankfully, the Premier League is a little easier: if his side scores more goals than Arsenal, they’ll win.

Manchester City are favourites – indeed, almost all the statistics seem to point in their favour. Pellegrini’s men have won their last seven home matches, scoring four goals or more against Newcastle, Manchester United, Norwich and Tottenham. Throw in an impressive win away in Munich midweek, consider that Arsenal didn’t get an impressive away win in Napoli, or Munich, or anywhere midweek, and you can start to make a solid case for a home win. Arsenal shouldn’t be written off – they have the best away attack and defence in the Premier League – but City’s form at the Etihad – they have the best home attack and defence in the Premier League – should be the difference.

Betting Instinct tip – Manchester City win and both teams to score is 2.80 with Bulldog777.com

Tottenham have yet to make up their minds as to whether they want to be part of a title race, or part of an inelegant stumble towards fifth. For all the money spent, for all the new players with exotic names and nationalities, it’s not really working for AVB. They’ve ground out a few good results at home – Soldado (pen) – but Liverpool are arguably better than any of the other visitors to White Hart Lane in the league this season – Chelsea aside, perhaps. Spurs are struggling for goals here, but against a Liverpool side that place an emphasis on attack over defence, you’d expect them to score somehow. And what about Liverpool? Hey, they’ve got Luis Suarez.

Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool Betting Odds

Tottenham Hotspur to win – 2.40

Draw – 3.25

Liverpool to win – 2.80

(Odds provided by Intertops Sportsbook are current as of today but subject to change)

 

Max avatarMAX GRIEVE is Australian, but keep reading. He likes football, rugby union and tennis, though has given up on his dream of being a tri-sport athlete/exciting millionaire. He supports Liverpool, and is ashamed for doing so.

Tottenham aren’t in a lull, Manchester United haven’t turned the corner

Nani scored the pick of the goals in Manchester United's midweek win

Nani scored the pick of the goals in Manchester United’s emphatic midweek win

One match is seemingly a long time in football. Whereas teams used to be allowed weeks to get up a head of steam, players were allowed months to return from injury and everyone tried to avoid too many kneejerk reactions; that is no longer the case.

Tottenham Hotspur are a club in apparent turmoil after their 6-0 defeat at the hands of Manchester City on Sunday. The fact that Spurs had conceded only six goals in their previous 11 league games or that they went into the match ahead of Manchester City in the table after a steady start has been forgotten.

On the flip side, Manchester United – just two places and one point ahead of Tottenham – are a club that have finally “turned the corner” under their new manager David Moyes after their 5-0 win over a disappointing Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.

(It’s at this point that we would like to clarify that the Europa League doesn’t count. We don’t know why; but it just doesn’t.)

Both reactions to recent results are kneejerk; plain and simple. Manchester United are not back to the “team of old” nor are Tottenham Hotspur a club in disarray with a buffoon for a manager. They are two teams with Champions League ambition and as such, victories over each other are necessary.

Despite a comprehensive win on the opening day, David Moyes’ Manchester United have failed to sparkle so far. After many years under the control of Sir Alex Ferguson, the change to a new boss was always going to take time. The players are still getting used to the change in system and the change in management style. Wednesday was the first sign of a “United team” still remaining at the club.

The selection was under-strength but they went out and got the result they needed. Leverkusen failed to show up and United profited with swift, attacking moves. It marked the first occasion since the beginning of last season that the Red Devils scored more than four in the Premier League or Champions League without needing Robin van Persie on the pitch. Fixed? No; but showing signs that Moyes has what it to takes the keep the players performing.

The same problems are affecting Spurs; and only a string of confidence boosting performances will help matters. After spending the summer improving the overall quality of the squad, Andre Villas-Boas is having a tough time integrating the new bodies into his system. It doesn’t help that he can no longer call on Gareth Bale to haul the club through a tricky situation.

Instead, he has to continue to work with the attacking players at his disposal and hope they can finally piece together their abilities. Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen and Nacer Chadli are far too good to be part of a squad that has contributed just nine goals in 12 league matches. However, it may simply be that Tottenham aren’t quite playing to their individual strengths.

Soldado doesn’t come alive until inside the penalty area. He doesn’t make runs beyond the defenders or into the channels. As such, Eriksen’s vision and ability to thread a pass is rarely seen by the Tottenham faithful. Instead, the former Valencia comes alive when presented with wide deliveries that he can put himself on the end of. Sadly, the only “out-and-out winger” that Tottenham possess is Aaron Lennon and he’s only played 500 minutes of Tottenham’s season so far.

The rest prefer to cut inside and look for the movement ahead. For now, that isn’t Soldado’s game. His scoring figures are only able to remain relatively impressive thanks to the three penalties that he has dispatched.

As for Sunday, it’s unlikely both teams will continue to fulfil the apparent narrative based on their last result.

We’d expect goals. Manchester United have kept three clean sheets in their last four games (all competitions); but two of those results were in the Champions League. Seven of their last eight league games have seen both teams find the back of the net.

At home, Tottenham aren’t going to concede six goals as they did last week but they’ll be feeling the pressure to respond with a strong performance for their fans. That’ll mean scoring goals against Manchester United, which hasn’t proved tricky to do so far this season for other teams.

Betting Instinct tip: Both teams to score is 1.71 with Bulldog777.com, while over 3.5 goals is 3.30

Ryan avatarRyan Keaney is a huge sports fan who spends most of his week toying around with sports data. He is the editor of www.thefootballproject.net and a co-editor for In Bed with Maradona.

Tottenham looking for Manchester revenge at White Hart Lane on Sunday

Lots of Premier League action this weekend but the match to watch is in London on Sunday.  Tottenham took a beating on  Man City turf last weekend and this week the North London team hosts Man United at White Hart Lane.

Bookmakers seem to think the home team will prevail with odds on Tottenham at 2.60 and Man United 2.56.

 

(Quoted odds were posted by GR88.com and are subject to change.)