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In the spirit of this competition, I will highlight where the value lies in this weekend’s heavyweight clash between Chelsea and Arsenal, as well as giving my picks for this weekend’s competition and two other matches.
Chelsea v Arsenal
With Chelsea playing at home they are strong favourites for this one, indeed maybe somewhat too strong considering they go into this match on the back of rare consecutive domestic defeats, albeit one of them with a weakened side against Newcastle in the Carling Cup.
With the Gunners having a point to prove after a disappointing 3-2 defeat to West Brom and the ability of Jack Wilshere and Samir Nasri to open up the best of defences, there might appear to be value in an Arsenal win at 4/1 with Paddy Power.
However, it is extremely unlikely that Chelsea will slump to three domestic defeats on the bounce, no matter how strong the opposition. Add to this the fact that Arsenal had a midweek Champions League trip to Serbia, whereas Chelsea entertained Marseille at Stamford Bridge, and I begin to lean towards a home win.
As with any prospective ‘top four’ clash this one is tough to call. But there is no shame in backing the draw, and at 5/2 with Paddy Power it offers some exceptional value. In light of this, a draw will be my bet this week.
Winner – Draw (@5/2)
Correct score – 2-2 (@12/1)
First goalscorer – Malouda (@6/1)
Liverpool v Blackpool
Liverpool’s somewhat depressing start to the season was compounded in their goalless midweek draw against Dutch side Utrecht. There is, of course a view that facing Blackpool at home should be a certain three points for a team of Liverpool’s calibre, but I am not so confident. And although Liverpool should win, there is little value in the bet at 3/10.
The Red’s continue to lack confidence and struggle to adapt to a new manager, new players and a new system, whilst the boardroom tug of war continues to bubble away behind the scenes.
In contrast, Blackpool are clearly out to enjoy every minute of Premier League football and you can be sure they will give as good as they get and not give up. With this in mind, I will find better value by backing a nervy draw at 4/1.
There is risk in backing a draw here, so I am going to cover my bets with a few sideline, goalscorer bets. The first is for Fernando Torres to finally find some form. Despite being plagued by injury problems in recent seasons, Torres still managed to average almost a goal a game last season and it should also be noted that since joining Liverpool, over 70% of all his goals have come at Anfield. So whilst you’re not going to make your millions with this bet at odds of 8/13, you may just bank a little extra income and have some fun doing it.
The second cover bet is to back Steven Gerrard to score anytime. He has been Liverpool’s only driving force so far this season and, after being left out of the midweek Europa League match in Holland, he will shake off a minor back injury to start on Sunday. At 11/10 for Gerrard to score anytime, this is a great value bet.
Torres to score anytime (@8/13)
Gerrard to score anytime (@11/10)
Wigan V Wolves
Here are a few simple facts from last season which explain my bets for the early kick off on Saturday.
Ten of Wigan’s 11 home matches against sides in and around the bottom of the table last season ended with under 2.5 goals being scored. Also, of Wolves’ 11 matches against similar sides, eight finished in under 2.5 goals. So it is logical to back under 2.5 goals in this one at odds of 4/6.
In truth I think this one will be a ‘not very inspiring’ (bore) draw. I cannot see past a dull 0-0 or a very mildly entertaining 1-1 at best, but I am always happy to be proven wrong. At 9/4 I will certainly be backing a draw, whilst there is also good value in a half-time/ full-time result of draw/draw at 7/2, Although I will personally not be risking this particular bet.
Under 2.5 goals (@4/6)