Newcastle v Liverpool
Off the field controversy has surrounded Liverpool all week and I can’t help but think that it just has to have been a distraction for all involved, not least manager Brendan Rodgers. Add that to the fact that they will be missing their best player for this match, and the signs don’t look good. With just one league win in their last five, I am surprised that Liverpool start this match as 6/4 favourites. That’s a best price too – they’re as short as 5/4 in the market.
Newcastle probably might need another couple of points to guarantee safety. While I don’ think that there is too much pressure on them as such, there is enough incentive at least to make this match seem meaningful. Of course, all matches at St. James’ Park are atmospheric and I believe that their fans are amongst the most passionate and vocal in the Premier League. Form wise, the Magpies have been struggling, but with Europe out of the way, the signs looked better last week as they grabbed an important away draw at West Brom.
Verdict: Liverpool could well be rocked by off the field incidents and with Suarez absent, they are missing their star player and top goalscorer. Newcastle can be a fierce opponent at home and they have the greater incentive to win this match. They represent good value and as such the home win forms my first selection of the weekend.
Bet Selection: Newcastle to win @ 85/40 with StanJames.
Wigan v Tottenham
Wigan are fighting for Premier League survival, as is so often the case at this time of year. I mentioned last week how I think the FA Cup has served as a distraction for this club. Not only will the final be on the players minds, but those extra games take their toll on a small squad, as does the travelling and the sense of expectation that surrounded them at Wembley in the semi-final against Millwall. That said, you can be sure that Wigan will continue to fight while play attractive football. They will need to attack Spurs given they have home advantage.
Tottenham have their own priority of recapturing four spot in the table and thus gaining Champions League status for next season. With that comes plenty of pressure, but they showed last week that they have the ability to respond to such a challenge, coming from behind to beat Manchester City. Spurs have an array of attacking talent, with the ability to take advantage of any space left at the back by a Wigan side who simply need to score.
Verdict: Beautifully set up to be one of the games of the season with both teams desperately needing all three points. The Latics need the points more though, and with them being the home team, the onus will be on them to attack. This means that Spurs should be left with space to exploit. Who knows what the end result will be, but I can see at least three goals being scored in this match and I will be backing that outcome. Although odds-on, I believe that it is still a good price.
Bet Selection: Over 2.5 goals @ 13/16 with 32Red.