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Thursday, 20th December 2012
Steve's betting tips for Saturday and Sunday's live games will appear here on Thursday morning......
Wigan v Arsenal (Saturday 22nd December 2012)
The first live Premier League match this weekend is Wigan v Arsenal on Saturday lunchtime and even though this is another very winnable game for Arsenal I don't envisage it being quite as easy as their victory over Reading on Monday. I was at the Madejski earlier in the week and quite what Reading were doing I have no idea. I have never known a side that plays a rigid 4-4-2 to beat Arsenal so not only were they not good enough but they played the wrong system as well so it was a double whammy for them.
It was so one-sided and even though Arsenal won 5-2 and had all of the possession they still managed to concede two goals. I don't think there is another side in the Premiership who would let in two goals in a game they were so dominant in.
Their opposition this weekend, Wigan, have been half decent on occasions this season and the games they’ve played well in are as good as we've seen them since they’ve been in the Premiership, although they still find themselves in the bottom three. They aren't the most consistent of sides and this has been the type of game in recent years where they have tended to stick in a result that you don't see coming. However, I think Arsenal can edge a high scoring match and Arsenal to win 3-2 looks a decent punt at 25/1 with Betfred.
Match Result Tip: Arsenal win @ 3/4 with Betfred.
Correct Score Tip: Arsenal to win 3-2 @ 25/1 with Betfred.
Liverpool v Fulham (Saturday 22nd December 2012)
The late kick-off on Saturday evening is Liverpool v Fulham and quite what Brendan Rodgers is doing by talking about Liverpool finishing second seemed very strange indeed. He's a nice bloke but why would you want to put that sort of pressure on your team? With all due respect they haven't beaten any top sides recently, they've won against teams they would expect to beat in any other year and I think last weekend's 3-1 defeat at home to Villa showed them they still have a long way to go.
They should beat Fulham though and Martin Jol's side were very poor in their last away game. They now have the dubious honour of being the first team to lose to QPR this season after last weekend's 2-1 loss and it was a typical away performance from them in many ways. I'm going to back Liverpool to win this 2-0, which may seem a little odd after they lost 3-1 at home last week but it's just been that kind of season in the Premier League.
Match Result Tip: Liverpool win @ 4/7 with Coral.
Correct Score Tip: Liverpool to win 2-0 @ 7/1 with Coral.
Swansea v Man United (Sunday 23rd December 2012)
Moving on to Sunday it's Swansea v Man United in the lunchtime kick-off and I have to say I'm really looking forward to this game. It could be a great match and Swansea will go in thinking they have very little to lose which is always a good thing because then the crowd stays with you. I went to watch Swansea against Chelsea earlier in the season and they were very competitive, although a lot will depend on how they cope with United going forward because one thing this United side will do is ask questions of you defensively.
There are a few imponderables surrounding Swansea for me - will they be brave enough to play out from the back and play the way they want to play? And do they have enough of a cutting edge? Finding that focal point up front has been a bit of a problem for them this season as I'm not sure Michu is that type of player as he prefers to arrive late from deep, while Danny Graham hasn't played that often, so that is an area that they are going to have to try and rectify.
United, while they're clearly not infallible, can be got at and I will be interested to see if Nemanja Vidic starts this one after his recent injury problems because he will make a huge difference to them defensively. I can see this being a really tight game and I'm going to go for 1-0 to Man United.
Match Result Tip: Man United win @ 4/7 with Ladbrokes.
Correct Score Tip: Man Utd to win 1-0 @ 9/1 with Ladbrokes.
Chelsea v Aston Villa (23rd December 2012)
The final live game of the weekend is Chelsea v Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon and I think Chelsea showed by beating Leeds 5-1 the other night just how good they can be. I don't care what anybody says, Frank Lampard is still their best player. He leads the side brilliantly and when he got booked early on against Leeds he showed everyone else "I'm up for this and there's no reason anyone else in this team shouldn't be". He has that will to win and he's not one who relies on pace so why can't he be around for a little white longer?
Paul Lambert is starting to turn things around at Villa and even though there are two or three players at the football club who don't convince me they've had some great results of late, particularly beating Norwich and Liverpool away from home. I will be really interested to see how Villa approach the game because teams seem to have a lot of joy when they sit deep at Stamford Bridge.
I think the boy Victor Moses is important for Chelsea because he gives them natural width, which is something they don't normally have - particularly at home. There is huge potential at Chelsea if the manager, regardless of who he is, can get the balance of the team right and there's no doubt that they can be a real threat.
Looking at the odds for Sunday's match - Chelsea are a best price 4/11, which looks about right, while Villa are 9/1 and that looks a massive price for the away side, especially if you consider the handicap markets for a game like this. I don't think it will be a particularly easy game for Chelsea but they can take an important three points and I'm going for them to win 2-1 at 8/1 with Coral.com.
Match Result Tip: Chelsea win @ 4/11 with Coral.
Correct Score Tip: Chelsea to win 2-1 @ 8/1 with Coral.
Steve Claridge's Weekend Treble
Coventry to beat Preston (6/5); Ipswich to beat Bristol City (10/11); Crystal Palace to beat Huddersfield (4/5). A treble with Coral bookmakers returns a touch over 13/2.
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