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Thursday, 5th April 2012
First up we've got Swansea against Newcastle on Friday afternoon and this should be a really good game. Whether it’s coincidence or not I’m not sure, but Swansea have lost their last two matches as they probably feel they have done enough to stay up. It’s not that they’ve switched off but it’s just that you lose that little bit of intensity, although they might want one more result looking at the way things are panning out at the bottom.
I flagged Newcastle up against Liverpool last week and even though Liverpool aren't playing the way they should do with the players they've got, Newcastle did another good job. This isn't a vintage Premiership but at least Newcastle are playing the way they should do with the players they have and it's a shame that more teams haven't played to their full potential. I definitely think there will be goals in this match and, because they've got a little bit more to play for at this stage of the season, I'm going to go for Newcastle to win 2-1 at 10/1 with Ladbrokes.
We've then got Sunderland versus Tottenham on Saturday lunchtime and this is another really good looking game. The problem Sunderland have got is whether expectations increase too quickly after the excellent job that Martin O'Neill has done. People are already looking ahead to next season and what they can achieve but looking at the natural order of the Premiership Sunderland aren't far away from where they should be. It's different getting the best out of what you've got, which O'Neill is doing, to taking it to the next level and sometimes when you do things so quickly you need to just reign it in a little bit. It's like O'Neill did at Villa, where they were top-six for three years running and, regardless of what you think about the way they played, that was a really good effort. Sometimes people want change for changes sake and you don't realise that this is as good as it gets.
With Tottenham I don't think they had a sticky spell recently, I just think that they had a really tough run of games and they've come out of those to win their next couple. The game against Chelsea the other week was the big one for them and the fact they didn't lose was huge. This is another big game on Saturday and I would say it's much the same as Swansea v Newcastle where one team still has an awful lot to play for, so I'm going to go for 2-1 to Tottenham, which is 8/1 with William Hill.
Sunday's lunchtime match is Manchester United against QPR and United, by hook or by crook, are winning these games. Come the end of the season, United will probably look back and wonder how they have won this Premier League and you've got to say it's down to other teams as well as themselves. I mean Fulham at home the other week is normally an absolute 'gimme' for United and only a bad refereeing decision stopped them dropping points.
QPR have some decent players but they've paid an awful lot of money for them. You talk about the financial impact of relegation on a club and I think chairman Tony Fernandes will have a few sleepless nights between now and the end of the season. This isn't a game you would expect them to get anything out of and we know United do win these types of games, although they don't win them like they used to, so I'm going to go 2-0 to Man United at 7/1 with Stan James.
Sunday's late kick-off is Arsenal against Manchester City and this is almost 'make or break' for City now. They could end up eight points behind United in the league table come Sunday evening and the turnaround in the space of a month is unbelievable.
Arsenal are still battling for third spot and they have shown some decent form of late, but they love to tease you as they flatter to deceive. They were gallant losers in the Champions League and showed there is something to work with next year, but have they shown they are any closer to winning anything? It's a feeling of déjà vu - they either look as if they're going to finish outside of the top-four and then have a run to get there or they challenge for the title only to falter and still end up in the top-four. They find a way of finishing where they do every year. Sunday’s match is a really good game on paper and I'm going to go for a 1-1 at 6/1 with William Hill.
Steve Claridge's Weekend Premier League Tips
Tip #1: Swansea v Newcastle (6th April 2012) Newcastle to win 2-1 @ 10/1 with Ladbrokes.
Tip #2: Sunderland v Tottenham (7th April 2012) Tottenham to win 2-1 @ 8/1 with William Hill.
Tip #3: Man Utd v QPR (8th April 2012) Man Utd to win 2-0 @ 7/1 with Stan James.
Tip#4: Arsenal v Man City (8th April 2012) Correct score of 1-1 @ 6/1 with William Hill.
Steve's Weekly Accumulator: Leicester to beat Doncaster (1/2); Brentford to beat Bury (4/6); Torquay to beat Accrington (8/11). A treble with bookmaker Bet Victor returns a touch under 4/1.
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