Wigan vs Arsenal

After the mid-week defeat to Manchester City in the Carling Cup, Arsene Wenger will be looking to return to winning ways in Wigan. Whilst the match on Tuesday wasn’t really much of a reflection on his team (very few of the Arsenal first-team actually played), a win would have been a massive boost to the confidence levels at the club, and the loss sees them demoralised at having had another trophy chance drift by the wayside.

There was some cheer for Gunners fans on Tuesday though, with some great individual performances from the likes of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Francis Coquelin. They should also be buoyed by the return of Sebastian Squillaci and Koscielny, who may not add much speed but certainly add some depth to the Arsenal back-line.

Their 1-1 draw at Fulham showed more about their lack of clinical finishing rather than a lack of chances created, and if they manage to create the same 21 chances this time around, you would expect them to walk away with it – especially at lowly Wigan. The Latics are second bottom in the table, and have struggled through the season so far. Because coach Roberto Martinez wants them to play an attacking, short-passing game, they seem to have lost some of their tough tackling, hard working, never-say-die mentality, and are stuck somewhere between the beautiful and brutish game, in no mans land. At least RVP and co should come through unscathed.

As ever all eyes will be on the Dutchman to fire in the goals. Chamakh disappointed again on Tuesday, and gervinho, whilst a willing runner, has yet to set the Premier League on fire. Just give it to Robin….!

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RESULT BET
Arsenal are at 1.57 for the win (Paddy Power). It’s not a bad price, but with Arsenal struggling to smash the goals in, it might well be that a draw is a realistic score, and you could get burnt. I personally think that Arsenal will return to form, and am backing a 3-1 win (12.0 at Ladbrokes).

BEST BET
If you were going to put your house on anything at the moment, you’d stick it on a certain Robin van persie to get amongst the goals. You can get him on anytime goalscorer at 1.57 (Bet Clic) or try your luck at first goalscorer at a tastier 3.75.

As ever, let us know what you’re betting on! :)

Chelsea vs Liverpool

Chelsea return to Stamford Bridge for the first time since their 5-3 defeat to Arsenal, when they welcome Liverpool on Sunday (kick-off: 16:00 UK). The two sides lie just three points apart in the league table, with Liverpool two places behind the West Londoners.

Chelsea manager Andres Villas-Boas has faced some pressure in recent times, in particular after that home defeat to Arsenal, and things will not get any easier in the coming weeks with Manchester City, Newcastle and Tottenham in the Premiership, Liverpool in the Carling Cup and Bayer Leverkusen and Valencia in Champions League. With such a tricky period ahead, a home win against Liverpool is essential to give the Blues some momentum.

Villas-Boas will be hoping for an inspired performance from former Reds favorite Fernando Torres, who is sure to be the subject to some criticism from the away supporters after leaving Anfield back in January. That said, Sunday will give him the perfect chance to silence his critics and prove himself once and for all on the big stage.

Torres will need to be at his best because the Reds have been quite resolute in defence this season, conceding just 10 goals in 11 Premier League fixtures, with goalkeeper Pepe Reina keeping four clean sheets this season. Jamie Carragher could make his return for Liverpool this Sunday, but in all fairness the centre-back partnership of Agger and Skrtel seems to be doing just fine without him.

The Reds will miss influential playmaker Steven Gerrard through injury but will hope that Luis Suarez can show the same form he showed when on international duty recently, with the Uruguayan scoring all four goals in a sensational game against Chile. It should be a fantastic match, and as ever, we’ll be hoping for a Livrpool win!

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RESULT BET
Liverpool are well out at 4.75 for a win (Paddy Power). Whilst Chelsea lost at home to Arsenal, we’re not sure it’s the wisest bet – not least because we think a draw is probably the obvious result. You ould back a draw at 3.5, or chance a 1-1 score bet at 6.5 (both at Ladbrokes).

BEST BET
We don’t like to say it, but this match is built for Fernando to score in. We think at 2.5 (Bet Clic) to score anytime he is probably good value – and if he does score then it will offer us all some kind of consolation :( . Come on Liverpool!

As ever, let us know your hot tips too! :)

Swansea vs United

Manchester United travel to Swansea’s Liberty Stadium on Saturday looking to stay in touch with neighbours Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table. It has been nearly a full two weeks since United’s 1-0 win over Sunderland, and could be an important weekend for the Reds – City face a battle-hardened, unbeaten Newcastle United side on Saturday which might cost them some points.

The home side has a slight advantage as United had 9 players away on international duty this week. The list doesn’t include striker and top-scorer Wayne Rooney, who didn’t play for England against Spain and Sweden in anticipation of his suspension for the Euro 2014 group stages. He should be fresh and ready to give it all for a win, though you can’t say that about his strike-partners – Chicharito flew back and forth to South America in the break, and Danny Welbeck featured in both England’s games.

The Swans have a good record at home – undefeated in five matches – and will make the game tough for the Reds. Swansea have conceded just one goal on home soil this season, fewer than any other Premier League team on their own ground, whilst their style of play tends to frustrate and test the patience of even the best sides – Liverpool could only manage a draw two weeks ago, not least because Swansea had 63% possession.

The key player of this game is the home side goalie Michel Vorm. The 28-year-old Dutch international has been throwing himself all over the place lately – in 11 games he has made an impressive 46 saves, and kept five clean sheets. If the Swans have any chance of surviving against United, they’ll need a big performance from him.

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RESULT BET
It might seem like low odds, but we think backing a simple United win at 1.5 Paddy Power), isn’t bad value – especially when you consider that the champions are facing a side that only just came up this summer. If we had to pick a score we’re tempted by a low scoring win – a 1-0 win and 2-0 win are both at 7.5 (Ladbrokes).

BEST BET
Wayne Rooney hasn’t played in two weeks. For some players, that would make them slow and lacking match practice. But Wayne Rooney isn’t just some player! We think he’ll have been in, training extra hard every day just to make sure he’s back with a bang. He’s at 1.95 (Bet Clic) to be an anytime goalscorer, which we think is great value!

What are you betting on?

Norwich vs Arsenal

Arsenal can go fourth with a win at Carrow Road against Norwich City. It promises to be a very interesting game both on the field and in the stands – a record all-seater crowd is expected at the stadium, with both sides having sold their full allocation of tickets. Arsenal will be hoping to continue their good form of late (they’ve won five out of their last six matches), which included a fantastic 5-3 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

History suggests a win is there for the taking for Arsenal, with Norwich having failed to secure a home victory against the Gunners since December 1984. And modern form doesn’t seem to be on Norwich’s side either, with the Canaries having lost twice at home so far this season, and struggled in recent matches.

Norwich will need to be on top form if they are to get anything out of the match, though they will have the advantage of being the fresher team. Sixteen members of the Arsenal first-team squad were called up to their countries for the international break, whilst just three Norwich players made arduous trips abroad with their country.

Robin van Persie has been in stunning form for the Gunners in recent matches, with some incredible goals and astonishing finishes helping him to notch up 11 goals in 11 matches! Norwich’s leaky defence should be worried!

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RESULT BET
Arsenal have been in great form of late, which makes backing them at 1.67 (Paddy Power) a reasonable bet. If you’re chasing bigger odds we would recommend a bet on an Arsenal 2-0 win (9.5 at Ladbrokes).

BEST BET
Norwich have conceded quite a few at home so expect goals! We think there will be over 2.5 goals, which is available at 1.53 (Bet Clic). Get those goals in Robin!

Will Arsenal do it? Let us know your predictions below…

England vs Spain

England meet the World and European champions Spain on Saturday night (kick off 17:15), in what promises to be one of the more exciting international friendly matches. Both teams have qualified for the 2012 Poland-Ukraine European Championships, finishing top of their respective groups (England in Group G with 18 points from 8 games and Spain in Group I with the maximum 24 points from 8 games). Because both teams have qualified, expect the game to be an experimental one, with both sides testing players and formations in preparation for Euro 2012.

Spain are considered one of the best teams in the world at the moment. In the last two games against England (also friendlies), Spain have been victorious (2-0 at home in 2009, and 1-0 in England in 2007). Vicente del Bosque’s team have lost only once in their last 5 games, against Italy. England managed just three draws and 2 wins, btu I guess aat least that means they’re unbeaten?!

Whilst there will be plenty of world-class players on show at Wembley, Wayne Rooney won’t be playing. Manchester United’s striker was been left out of the squad because the red card he received against Montenegro will rule hi out of the Euro 2012 Group Stage matches, and Capello wants to find new options. Captain John Terry is also unlikely to play, with Capello keen to shield the player from further media attention after the police and Football Association investigations looking into alleged racist abuse.

Another important player that will miss this game is Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard, who is out with an ankle infection. Rio Ferdinand was overlooked, as was Liverpool’s Andy Carroll. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the omission of Manchester City defender Micah Richards who has been in good form for the Premier League leaders, but was snubbed in favour of Glen Johnson. It will be interesting to see whether new-boys Jack Rodwell and Daniel Sturridge make an impression.

Spain’s squad contains a whole load of World Cup winners, including four Premier League players. Chelsea striker Fernando Torres, despite his indifferent start to the season, and his team-mate Juan Mata are both in the squad, and are joined by Manchester City’s midfielder David Silva, and Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina. Barcelona have seven players in the squad including former Arsenal midfielder, Cesc Fabregas, who returns to London for this game. Primera Liga leaders Real Madrid have only four players on the team.

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RESULT BET
England are far from favourites to win the game, which makes for some interesting odds. If you fancy the Three Lions to beat the World Champions you can get them at 4.65 (Paddy Power). A more sensible bet, especially given that England have drawn so many games recently, is that the teams will finish level – available at 3.4 (Ladbrokes).

BEST BET
It’s difficult to pick a goalscorer for England, especially when we can’t predict who will line-up in attack – Welbeck, Agbonlahor, Young and Bent are vying for just a couple of spots. We can be sure, however, that David Villa will be on the pitch from the start, and that he is the main Spanish goal threat. At 2.2 to score anytime (Bet Clic) we think he is good value.

Come on Eng-er-land!

United vs Sunderland

Who would want to play United at Old Trafford on the 25th anniverary of Fergie taking over as manager. The crowd will be charged up, the manager will be charged up, and most worryingly for Sunderland, the players will be charged up – they want the celebrations to go with a bang rather than with a whimper!

It’s difficult to predict how United will line up. The past few games have been all about keeping clean sheets, to the extent where Wayne Rooney has been deployed as a hard-running midfielder, and the team don’t seem to have the ‘attack, attack, attack’ attitude of days gone by. Obviously this is a post-City hangover, and with Nemanja Vidic back in the centre of defence, the team is slowly starting to settle. We can still see Rooney dropping back into midfield for most of the game this Saturday though, with Chicharito forced to fend off the scraps up-front on his own.

It looks like Patrice Evra is going to miss the game because he is at his brother’s funeral (RIP brother Evra), which means that Fabio will be given a chance to excel at left-back. Given Patrice’s defensive perfromances so far this season, Fabio has a good chance of retaining the spot if he excels. That has to be some motvation!

Sunderland will be without United old-boy John O’Shea who is injured, but Old Trafford will welcome home Wes Brown. Sunderland have yet to impress so far this season, and if current form is anything to go by, it should be a relatively comfortable game for United.

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RESULT BET
United are at a stingy 1.25 to win Paddy Power), with the bookies clearly thinking that Sunderland are in for a hiding. The bookies favourite score is a 2-0 United win, but we’re going to play safe by calling a 2-1 win (9.0 at Ladbrokes).

BEST BET
With everyone super-charged for the game, we expect United to be on the romp from the very first minute. With Chicharito able to grab a goal out of just about anything, we were tempted to be on him as first goalscorer, but are instead backing a United/United ht/ft at 1.67 (Bet Clic). Come on United!

As ever, let us know your hot tips too! :)