Royal approval at the Britannia
We're backing in-form Reading to beat out-of-sorts Stoke on Saturday while going low on goals looks to be the best approach to Swansea's home clash with QPR.
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Meanwhile, Chelsea's Demba Ba and Jay Rodriguez of Southampton are fancied to hit the net against Wigan and Manchester City respectively as Andy Schooler and Reece Killworth pick out the best bets on the Premier League coupon.
- 2pts Demba Ba to score against Wigan at Evens (Coral) - Scored two against them for Newcastle this season and looks sharp when starting.
- 2pts Under 2.5 goals in Swansea v QPR at 5/6 (Bet Victor) - Redknapp has tightened up Hoops, Swans aren't prolific.
- 1pt Reading to beat Stoke (draw no bet) at 12/5 (Blue Square) - Royals bang in form while Potters have struggled of late.
- 0.5pts e.w Jay Rodriguez to score first against Manchester City at 11/1 (bet365) - City struggling at the back and Rodriguez likes to get forward.
Tottenham v Newcastle (1245 GMT)
It's been over a month since Tottenham won a home game, though given they've only played Manchester United at White Hart Lane in that period that's hardly a disgrace, more a quirk of the fixture list which saw their FA Cup tie at Leeds followed by back-to-back league matches. They delivered the goods for us last weekend at West Brom at 6/5 but the best you'll get this weekend is 4/6. At a very basic level that still looks a decent price given they are fourth in the table and Newcastle 15th but it's important to remember Spurs have drawn two of their last three home league games (against United and Stoke) and have only scored 18 goals in their 12 home games - just two more than the Magpies have on the road. A couple of weeks ago this would have been a banker for your acca but Newcastle bring back-to-back victories into this game and have certainly been improved by some astute January signings. A home win is expected but there's little obvious value in the markets.
Verdict: Tottenham 2 Newcastle 1 (RK)
Chelsea v Wigan (1500)
Chelsea will hope a return to the green, green grass of home prompts an upturn in fortune as their last four games - all on the road - have yielded the sum total of zero wins. They couldn't even beat League One Brentford. But they did win their last home game - 2-1 against Arsenal - though prior to that, they hadn't won in each of their previous three home matches following that 8-0 thumping of Aston Villa. Wigan, for their part, haven't beaten a top-level team (insert gag here) since they they beat Villa back on December 29 but have taken a scalp of one of the bigger guns already this season courtesy of a win at Spurs. They've not won in the last six against Chelsea, though, and have only ever taken one Premier League point at the Bridge so it's hard to see anything other than the home win. At the time of writing, he remains a fitness doubt after his nose was rearranged by the boot of former team-mate Fabricio Coloccini, but assuming his midweek mask fitting went well I'm keen to get Demba Ba onside. He's been in and out of the side since joining the Blues but scored the last time he started in the league prior to the Newcastle game. He also has four goals in four games against Wigan and scored two against them while still a Magpies player earlier this season. He's as short as 1/2 but Coral offer evens and that's worth an investment.
Verdict: Chelsea 3 Wigan 1 (RK)
Norwich v Fulham (1500)
I'm willing to stake a sizeable wager that this one will feature closer to the end of the Match of the Day schedule than the start on Saturday night. Norwich have scored just a single goal in their last five matches (including an FA Cup game against non-league Luton) and average a goal a game in their 25 Premier League matches so far. Fulham are hardly ripping up trees either, though (these sides are level on points in 13th and 14th), and have netted just four goals in their last six away games. They smacked the Canaries 5-0 in the reverse fixture but I certainly can't see that being repeated and with neither of these sides currently attractive betting propositions I'm happy to swerve a bet. If you are desperate to get involved, going low on goals looks the call.
Verdict: Norwich 1 Fulham 1 (RK)
Stoke v Reading (1500)
Stoke: Two points from a possible 18. Reading: Five wins in their last six. So which side is odds-on and which is offered at 7/2? Yes, the in-form Royals are big outsiders for this one and look worthy of support at the price. With their recent comeback wins over Newcastle and West Brom, not to mention a late fightback to draw against Chelsea, Reading have proved they've got real spirit and Stoke, despite a decent home record, cannot be relishing facing them. The Potters are in a bit of a rut right now and simply can't be backed at odds-on. So how to get with Reading, who have lost just once in nine games since Christmas? Well, taking into account that Stoke are draw specialists - 12 in all in the league, including six at home - turning to the draw-no-bet market looks wise given Reading have not been at their best on their travels. The 7/2 becomes 12/5 but the added safety net seems a sensible move.
Verdict: Stoke 0 Reading 1 (AS)
Sunderland v Arsenal (1500)
Arsenal will have their backers at 10/11 against an inconsistent Sunderland, but not me. While they continue to keep the pressure on Tottenham in the race for fourth, a lack of consistency away from home has left them trailing their North London rivals. It's now just three wins in their last 12 in all competitions on their travels for the Gunners and I simply don't trust them at such a price, especially when you consider the majority of Arsene Wenger's players have been on international duty this week. Wenger is a manager who places much emphasis on rest for his players so it would be no surprise to see man of the moment Jack Wilshere or Theo Walcott on the bench following their efforts for England on Wednesday night. That's another reason to avoid the odds-on quotes. A better bet would appear to be Olivier Giroud finding the net. He's done so five times in the last four games and is 15/8 to do so in this contest. However, there would appear to be better value elsewhere, so this one is going to be left alone.
Verdict: Sunderland 1 Arsenal 2 (AS)
Swansea v QPR (1500)
It's been mentioned on this site before how Harry Redknapp has looked to tighten up QPR's defence since they were taken apart by Liverpool over the festive period. His focus on defence has certainly worked and the signing of Chris Samba for a club-record £12million has also strengthened their backline. The R's last five league games featured just three goals and there have been three 0-0 draws. Two FA Cup ties have also come in 'under 2.5 goals' and that's the way I'm looking to go here. Given Swansea's strong home record, it's hard to see Redknapp abandoning the safety-first policy too much, while a look at the Swans only builds confidence in such a bet. Michael Laudrup's men have failed to score in their last three matches, while five of their last six have featured fewer than 2.5 goals. Leading scorer Michu has not netted in any of those games. It's therefore a tad surprising to see under 2.5 offered at 5/6 in this one and it's a quote which should be snapped up.
Verdict: Swansea 0 QPR 0 (AS)
Southampton v Manchester City (1730)
Southampton have become known for their attacking verve, a reputation which began to be formed at the Etihad Stadium back on the opening weekend of the season. That day, the Saints led City 2-1 before eventually going down 3-2, but they've continued with their philosophy even if it's cost them plenty of goals at the other end. City looked vulnerable at home to Liverpool last week, a game they could easily have lost, so Southampton will surely have a go here - just as they did against Manchester United last month. OK, Yaya Toure is back to bolster City but influential skipper Vincent Kompany is still likely to be missing at the back where they were pulled around by Daniel Sturridge so much last week. Rickie Lambert would be the obvious man to profit, although take note that he hasn't always started these home games. Better value could lie in Jay Rodriguez, a player who likes to get forward and one who has scored three times in his last six starts. He's 7/2 to score in this one but given he bagged the first goal of the game against both United and Chelsea recently, backing him each way in the first goalscorer market at 11/1 looks the way to go.
Verdict: Southampton 2 Manchester City 3 (AS)