Where’s the value?

by Barry McEvoy

This weekend there are certainly some mouth-watering ties in the Premier League, and as ever there are many opportunities to increase the size of your wallet, which would certainly come in handy in the run up to Christmas! I decided to pick out where I think the best value is from the televised games this weekend:

West Ham United v Manchester City, live on Setanta Ireland on Saturday from 2.30pm.

Newcastle United v Liverpool, live on ESPN on Saturday from 4.45pm.

Manchester United v Arsenal, live on Sky Sports 1 from 7pm.


West Ham United v Manchester City

In-form Manchester City take on West Ham United at Upton Park on Saturday. The Hammers will certainly be on a high after two wins in their last two games, one of which against title challengers Manchester United, albeit in the Carling Cup. City certainly go into this game as the in-form team as they are unbeaten in their last 7 games, their most recent loss in the Premier League came as a shock as Wolves came from behind to win 2-1. West Ham haven’t been in dire form with only one win in ther last 10 Premier League games, an important win at that, against fellow strugglers Wigan Athletic.

City will miss their star player Carlos Tevez after he recieved his fifth booking of the season in their 1-0 against Bolton. Roberto Mancini will hope that in the absence of Tevez his other attacking talents like Mario Balotelli, Emmanuel Adebayor and David Silva can shine and play well enough to secure the win against the Hammers. Alexsandar Kolarov will also be missing in action as he is suspended after receiving a red card against Bolton, but there’s some good news for City fans as Kolo Toure has shrugged off a slight calf injury that caused him to come off early against Bolton.

West Ham have no new injury worries, but remain without Mark Noble, Thomas Hitzlsperger, Jack Collison and Manuel da Costa who are all still on the long-term injury list.

City should have too much for West Ham, who lie bottom of the Premier League heading into the weekend and despite missing Carlos Tevez they should have enough attacking talent to make up for his loss. Balotelli definately has the power and pace to test West Ham’s shakey defence and with Silva and Milner more than likely on the wings to aid him, I think he’ll score at least one tomorrow.

My money is on:

Manchester City to win @ 10/11

Mario Balotelli to score at anytime @ 13/10


Newcastle United v Liverpool

Can Liverpool capitalize on the turmoil at Newcastle United as they travel to St. James Park? Roy Hodgson seems to have finally gotten it right as Liverpool hammered Aston Villa 3-0 on Monday evening in a dominating performance. Newcastle are yet again surrounded in managerial controversy, just as things looked to have been steadied by former manager Chris Hughton, who was undeservedly sacked during the week. Alan Pardew was announced as the new boss, much to the bemusement of the footballing public and especially the Toon fans. The Newcastle players are understandably unhappy at the decision to let Hughton go and a number of big players such as Andy Carroll, Joey Barton and Kevin Nolan have publicly criticised the decision.

Liverpool will have to suffer without Steven Gerrard for another weekend as the club captain is still not fully fit accoring to Roy Hodgson. The Reds will hope to have Fernando Torres back for this game however as El Nino had to leave just hours before kick off on Monday evening as his wife had just gone into labour with their child.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will be hoping that Joey Barton can recover from his injury just in time for the afternoon kick-off after he has missed the last 4 games through a mix of suspension and injury, either way it should be a tough game for the Magpies as they will come up against a strong ‘Pool midfield.

If Hodgson decides to play Lucas and Meireles in the middle of the field I can’t see them being beaten. The pair ran the show against Aston Villa and with Fernando Torres being given the passes that we know Meireles is capable of then it could be a tough day for the Newcaslte back-line. Torres could easily exploit Sol Campbell’s age with his speed and I can see Campbell being booked tomorrow because of his lack of pace. After their win on Monday night and what has happened at St. James Park this week I can’t see past a Liverpool win.

My money is on:

Sol Campbell to be booked @ 7/2

Liverpool to win @ 11/10


Manchester United v Arsenal

Manchester United, who still remain unbeaten in the Premier League, welcome Arsenal to Old Trafford on Monday evening in a game which will certainly be watched as eagerly by fans of Chelsea as much as United or Arsenal. Arsenal will be relishing this opportunity to beat United and end their current unbeaten run, like United ended Arsenal’s unbeaten record. This game pits the best team at home this season against the best away team this season as United have won 7 of their 8 home games and Arsenal winning 5 of their 8 away games. This game may have lost the ‘edge’ in recent season as Chelsea have taken over from Arsenal as Sir Alex Ferguson’s main title rival, but there has been tackles flying in in recent meetings between the two, with Arsenal having at least 5 players booked in their last 3 visits to the Theatre of Dreams.

United will possibly be without midfield veteran Paul Scholes who is suffering from a groin injury that he picked up during the week. Rio Ferdinand was also considered to be a doubt but Fergie quashed those rumours and said that Ferdinand was only taken off as a precaution in the midweek game against Valencia. Ferguson may opt to play Anderson even if Scholes is fit, as he would offer more energy to the side, something which United may need against Arsenal’s dangerous attack which includes the incredibly in-form Samir Nasri.

Arsenal’s injury list is considerably longer than United’s as they look set to miss Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichy and Johan Djourou. A problem area for the Gunners could be left-back as Kieran Gibbs is out unitl January and Clichy is a doubt, it’s a very important position these days when you play United because whoever plays there is more than likely going to be up against Nani, who has 10 assists to his name this season, making him the best provider in the Premier League so far this season and if he can get his crossing right against Arsenal then Rooney and Berbatov could get themselves on the scoresheet quite easily against dodgy Arsenal ‘keeper Lukasz Fabianski.

I’m expecting Nani to have a big game against Arsenal, he always seems to enjoy this fixture more than most and if the reports are true about Wenger’s selection problem at left-back then Nani could have a field day. In saying that, United’s defence would also want to be on guard as they come up against one of the most feared players in the Premier League at the moment in Samir Nasri and also Marouane Chamakh, who has shown this season that he knows very well how to find the goal. I think United will have just about enough to get the better of Arsenal on Monday night, especially with Arsenal missing Fabregas and the potential problem at left-back.

My money is on:

Nani to score at anytime @ 12/5

Man United to win @ evens

Best of luck to anyone having a bet this weekend!

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