Ed Chamberlin - Sprinter Star
Ed Chamberlin looks ahead to the Cheltenham Festival in the latest edition of his weekly blog.
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Looking further ahead to Cheltenham, my hope is that Flemenstar, who I think is a monster, fails to stay the three miles in the Irish Hennessy and connections decide to drop him back to the minimum trip. Sprinter Sacre v Flemenstar would be box office.
One clash that looks guaranteed to happen at the Cheltenham Festival is Simonsig against Overturn in the Arkle. This will be brilliant as Simonsig is seen as the class act and is odds on with Sky Bet but in Overturn he has an opponent who has finished second in a Champion Hurdle, will relish eye-balling him and will attack from the off. I can't wait.
There are still two months to go until the Festival yet plenty of 'hotpots' already. The following are already trading and 4/1 or less with Sky Bet: Jezki (Supreme), Simonsig (Arkle), Bobs Worth (Gold Cup), Dynaste (RSA), Sprinter Sacre (Champion Chase) and Quevega (Mares).
At this stage, betting on the less established stars looks fraught with danger as all the recent form in the book has been on bottomless ground. Jezki for example is a hugely exciting recruit and has looked classy on soft ground in small fields in Ireland. However, the helter skelter of a Supreme Novices Hurdle on much quicker ground will be a completely different test. It's also shaping up as a decent renewal with the likes of River Maigue, Melodic Rendezvous, Dodging Bullets and My Tent Or Yours.
It's always a thrill to present a Super Sunday like the one last weekend. Two crucial games between big rivals and Manchester United did exactly what they have been doing all season and churned out another excellent result, leaving Liverpool to reflect on a second-half performance that summed up their season - "nearly".
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Jamie Redknapp and Graeme Souness were both encouraged by what they saw from Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge playing together up front and that offers hope for the future. However, I find it extraordinary that they still haven't beaten a team in the top half of the table this season.
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That win put United 10 points clear at the top and poured the pressure on to Manchester City at Arsenal I thought the champions showed tremendous resilience to win at the Emirates.
People will point to Laurent Koscielny's sending off as the key moment in the match but even in the eight minutes when it was 11 against 11, City had put down a marker and looked much the better side. Man City now need to hang in there with United and not let the gap at the top grow until they have all their big players back and United return to Champions League action, which might give the champions an edge.
The Emirates is not a particularly happy place at the moment and you could sense the stadium was on edge even before kick off. The mood and the tension is clearly affecting the players and they may find it easier away from home in the immediate future. However, I doubt they'd choose a trip to Stamford Bridge where they will feature on another brilliant Super Sunday. It's a day all about 'payback' on Sunday as Arsenal won this fixture 5-3 last season, with a hat-trick from you know who. Manchester United will be looking to avenge that rare defeat at Old Trafford against Tottenham earlier this season when strikes from Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey helped Spurs to their first victory over United since May 2001 and their first in 27 visits to Old Trafford going back to December 1989.
Sunday will be the first of four consecutive Premier League games in London for Man Utd, though they are unbeaten in last six visits to the capital, winning five and drawing one since the 1-0 defeat at Arsenal in May 2011, scoring 16 goals in the process.
We start the show in West London with Chelsea (4/5 to win with Sky Bet) v Arsenal (10/3). Encouragement for Arsenal comes from having won more Premier League games at Stamford Bridge (7) than any other side and scored more goals against Chelsea (59) than any other Premier League side. They might also find it easier to play away from the pressures at the Emirates and hope Chelsea struggle again at home. I went to the Chelsea game on Wednesday night with Ray Wilkins and you could sense the tension and frustration inside the ground as they struggled to a 2-2 draw against Southampton.
After the show on Sunday I'll be staying up in London as Monday Night Football is back in business. As always we'll spend much of the first hour looking back on the Premier League weekend and then the live game is Southampton v Everton. I hope you can join Gary Neville and me on Sky Sports HD1 at 7pm.