Expert football pundit and analyst Andy Gray joins the Paddy Power Blog to give his insight on Sunday’s Premier League action and the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
Chelsea v Manchester City, Live ITV1, Sunday 4pm
The glamour game of the weekend is the FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Manchester City. Roberto Mancini’s side will be well up for this after beating Manchester United last Monday. They’ve secured second place – at worst in the league – and 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.
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 Manchester 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.