Expert football pundit and analyst Andy Gray joins The Paddy Power Blog to give his insight on the weekend’s Premier League action and the FA Cup semi finals at Wembley.
Andy Gray’s exclusive 13/8 Saturday treble: Arsenal, Liverpool & Everton all to win [Tweet this tip]
Reading v Liverpool, Saturday, Live Setanta, 3pm
Not the kind of game Reading’s new manager Nigel Adkins will want after losing his first game in charge last weekend against his old side Southampton. But the Royals are a side that Liverpool will like playing against. Brendan Rodgers’ side like to get the ball down and knock it about and will severely test Reading at the back.
The visitors should have too much firepower up front with Luis Suarez and can dismantle Reading although I think both teams can score – which is a at 4/6 shot. I fancy Liverpool to run out 3-1 winners which is trading at 9/1. If you go with Luis Suarez to score first in a 3-1 win that’s 22/1 on the Scorecast betting.
Arsenal v Norwich, Saturday, 3pm
Arsene Wenger’s side are probably playing as well as they have all season and their confidence has returned. A comfortable home win for the Gunners.
Aston Villa v Fulham, Saturday, 3pm
Aston Villa are putting some results together and playing well. More to the point they’re not conceding bags of goals as they try to claw their way up the table. They can just about edge this given Fulham’s record on the road and it wouldn’t surprise me if Paul Lambert’s side won by a single goal and that’s an 11/4 shot with Paddy Power.
Everton v QPR, Saturday, 3pm
This looks like all three points for Everton – maybe by the odd goal in three. On paper it looks a home banker given the Toffees home form this season – only lost once against Chelsea in the league. The home side are chasing the end-of-season incentive of European football but Harry Redknapp’s QPR are fighting for their Premier League lives and will make the Toffees work for their win.
Southampton v West Ham, Saturday, 3pm
Mauricio Pochettino has done a fantastic job with the Saints who are now 11th in the table after three wins on the bounce and will finish in the top 10 comfortably if they continue this vein of form. The home side are playing nice, attacking football and they should beat a West Ham side who are staring at their 11th defeat from 17 games on the road.
Wigan v Millwall, Live Saturday, 5.15pm
The Championship side’s support could outnumber Wigan’s so that’s a big bonus for the London side. The Lions will feel they’ve dodged a bullet by avoiding Chelsea and Manchester City and really have nothing to lose. I think Wigan though have more match-winners in their team like their striker Arouna Kone. It won’t be a walkover but I’ll take Roberto Martinez’s side at 5/4.
Chelsea v Manchester City, Live ITV1, Sunday 4pm
The glamour game of the weekend is the FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and City. Roberto Mancini’s side will be well up for this after beating United last Monday. They’ve secured second place – at worst in the league – and I think they’ll be too strong for Chelsea.
The Blues have a phenomenal record in the FA Cup – going for the fifth outright win in seven seasons – but the 3-2 defeat in Moscow on Thursday won’t have helped their preparations. They’re through to the Europa League semi-finals – against Basel and are outright favourites to win that competition with Paddy Power – so the Cup double is still on.
But I really fancy City as Chelsea make too many changes and struggle with their consistency. Yaya Toure is a big-game goalscorer and I’d be looking outside the more obvious choices in a game like this. He’s 9/1 to get the first goal or 11/2 to score first for his team and if Yaya Toure or Juan Mata score the last goal in this match, Paddy Power will refund all losing First Goalscorer, Last Goalscorer, Correct Score & Scorecast singles on the match.
Newcastle v Sunderland, Sunday, Live SS1, noon
This is a massive game for Sunderland and new manager Paolo di Canio and the stats aren’t good. Of the last six Mackem managers who tried to win a Tyne Wear derby for the first time – not one has succeeded. Sunderland are playing will little confidence – they’re short of goals, their top goalscorer Steven Fletcher is out injured and they’ve gone nine games without a win.
Newcastle’s 1-0 win over Fulham last weekend (90th minute winner) was a big result for the Magpies and with home advantage I’ll take Alan Pardew’s side at 19/20 to collect all three points.
A 3-1 scoreline at 13/1 appeals and with Papiss Cisse having scored three goals in his last three games he looks a solid bet to be the first goalscorer at 9/2. A 3-1 result with Cisse getting the opener is 45/1 in Paddy Power’s Scorecast betting.
Stoke v Manchester United, Live SS1, Sunday 2pm
Manchester United will not want to give City any glimmer of hope by dropping points in this game. The last thing Sir Alex Ferguson wants is a 15-point lead being whittled down to nine points over two games. That’s when players start to get twitchy.
But Stoke aren’t having a good time of things and are hovering just above the relegation zone with just one win – against Reading in February – since the turn of the year.
It should be a good game for United to reassert their supremacy in the top flight and Stoke don’t have the firepower to trouble United up front. This is probably Robin Van Persie’s worst run of form as a professional footballer. He hasn’t scored in 715 minutes of football for United in all competitions and would dearly love to break that hoodoo soon. I expect United to win this by a goal or two.