The Gazza Strip
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all parties and yachts when you’re a Premiership footballer. At this time of year, most players will face up to four matches in seven days, a schedule so tough, Wayne Rooney will be up and down the motorway living off cold turkey sandwiches. He refuses to moan though, he enjoys an old bird. Man U are unbeaten in nine matches in the league, they’re a must bet at 4/11 at home to Bolton.
Cristiano Ronaldo is worth a little bet to open the scoring. The Portuguese wonder-boy has had a disappointing season; he’s been on a bench more often than Paul Gascoigne. The undisputed King of the unnecessary step-over is back in the starting 11; a return to form is imminent. He’s 9/1 to score the first goal and 5/2 to score at any time.
After going 93 matches for Man U without scoring, Rio Ferdinand has now bagged two in five games, a record that James Beattie can only dream about. Rio’s a 10/1 shot to make that record three in six, stranger things have happened.
It’s not just turkeys that get stuffed over Christmas. David Moyes is in the middle of the most embarrassing run since Paula Radcliffe relieved herself during the London marathon. Everton face a Sunderland team who have just had their best result of the season; their midweek match was called off. Get on the Mackems at 13/8.
Peter Crouch shoved Lee Bowyer to the ground on Boxing Day, an act that would normally receive a red card and a three match ban. The lanky striker can consider himself fortunate to be available for selection against West Brom; he’s not very good at football. Stevie Gerrard is back to his sublime best for the Pool, he’s a 13/8 shot to find the back of the net against Albion. Liverpool are good things at 1/4.
Steve Bruce didn’t endear himself to the Birmingham supporters when he waved to Manchester United fans as the Blues lost heavily in the Cup. If Bruce’s familiarity with opposition supporters is in relation to how badly they get beat, he might end up crowd surfing with the Chelsea fans. Chelsea are a 1/6 certainty.
It’s been widely reported that Graeme Souness wants Alan Shearer to stay on for another season, he probably will; as manager. Souness may have settled the dressing-room squabbling, but he can’t find a cure for their away day blues. The Geordies travel to White Hart Lane; Spurs get the nod at 4/6.
Milan Baros proved to be tasty with his hands against Everton, the Villa could do with a 2nd keeper when the Arsenal come to town. The Gunners are 4/6; they’re home, and almost certainly, hosed.
The weekend specials:
“Cold Turkey” – Emre to be booked 5/2
“Stuffed” – Thierry Henry to score a hat-trick 16/1
“Take the tree down” – Peter Crouch to be booked 3/1
“Hog many” – Wayne Rooney to score a hat-trick 14/1
Quote of the week:
“I’m not sure it was a straight red, maybe a yellow would have been more sensible.”
Steven Gerrard, the day after he ran across the pitch to confront Alan Shearer and Lee Bowyer, pressurising the referee into showing Bowyer a straight red.
Stat, you’re a liberty:
Only Van Nistelrooy and Rooney have scored more league goals for Man Utd than Rio Ferdinand this season.
Acc of the week:
Arsenal, West Ham, Tottenham, Man Utd and Man City make up the weekend accer, it pays out at a tasty 27/1.
Aston Villa v Arsenal Saturday 31st December 12.45 Live on Sky
Aston Villa 7/2
Get on: Arsenal
Arsenal have won their last four matches against the Villa by two clear goals with Thierry Henry scoring in every match. Say no more.
Arsenal to win by two or more goals 13/8
Charlton v West Ham Saturday 31st December 13.00
West Ham 7/4
Get on: West Ham
Charlton have lost eight out of their last nine matches, it has to be the Hammers.
Marlon Harewood to score two or more goals 8/1
Chelsea v Birmingham Saturday 31st December 13.00
Get on: Chelsea
Chelsea have a 100% record at home in the league, Birmingham are the 2nd worst team in the Premiership. Tough call.
Chelsea to win 3-0 13/2
Tottenham v Newcastle Saturday 31st December 13.00
Get on: Tottenham
Spurs haven’t tasted defeat at the Lane since August; the Toon Army have lost four of their last five matches away from home. Home win.
Tottenham to keep a clean sheet 6/5
Liverpool v West Brom Saturday 31st December 15.00
West Brom 10/1
Get on: Liverpool
The Pool have met Albion four times in the Premiership, the aggregate score? 16-0. Liverpool are aiming for their 10th straight league win, they’re gonna get it.
Liverpool to win 2-0 11/2
Man Utd v Bolton Saturday 31st December 15.00
Man Utd 4/11
Get on: Man Utd
It’s seven wins and two draws from their last nine league matches for Man U, Bolton have failed to score in their last two matches away from home. Definite home win.
Van Nistelrooy and Rooney both to score 4/1
Middlesbrough v Man City Saturday 31st December 15.00
Man City 7/4
Get on: Man City
Only Sunderland have conceded more goals in front of their own fans than the Boro, only Man U and Chelsea have scored more goals away from home than Man City. Stuart Pearce gave the City players Christmas day off, proving he’s more of a pussycat than a psycho. Away win.
Andy Cole to score two or more goals 8/1
Portsmouth v Fulham Saturday 31st December 15.00
Get on: Draw
Pompey were absolutely murdered at Highbury in midweek. Fulham haven’t won away from home all season, it’s a draw.
Match to finish 1-1 11/2
Sunderland v Everton Saturday 31st December 15.00
Get on: Sunderland
Sunderland have won four of their five previous Premiership matches at home to Everton. The Moyes Boys have conceded 11 goals in three matches; the Mackems will never have a better chance.
Sunderland to win 1-0 7/1
Wigan v Blackburn Saturday 31st December 15.00
Get on: Draw
Wigan have won their last four at home; Blackburn have won three of their last four on the road. Score draw.
Match to finish 2-2 14/1