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"The way they defended was absolutely dreadful"
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Thursday, 27th December 2012
Steve's tips will appear here on Thursday but in the meantime you can check out what he tipped up for last weekend's live action.....
Sunderland v Tottenham (Saturday 29th December 2012)
After a hectic Christmas period the Premier League action continues with four live games this weekend and first up it's Sunderland v Tottenham on Saturday lunchtime. It's a difficult game to call as both sides are coming off the back of a couple of great results, although Spurs' 4-0 Boxing Day win at Villa was pretty much as we expected.
Sunderland played alright in their 1-0 win over Man City but I've never been convinced by Roberto Mancini considering the amount of money he has spent on players and I've said all along that he will get found out eventually. We must give credit to Sunderland, although people shouldn't get too carried away as they need to realise 'they are what they are'.
They've got enough about them in terms of work ethic and organisation to be ok under Martin O'Neill and he doesn't become a bad manager in six months. One or two people who have commented on Martin and his position at the club should maybe look at his record before writing him off. This is a tough game for his side though and I expect Tottenham to offer a sterner test than City.
With all due respect I don't think there's much of a job for Andre Villas-Boas to do at Tottenham because the team virtually picks itself and they look as if they should finish in the top-four because of the shortcomings of the teams around them. Villas-Boas just has to keep them ticking over and Gareth Bale is a massive player, not just because he is such a wonderful footballer, but also because they don't have anyone else who can offer cover on the left hand side of midfield.
With the pace of Bale and co. Tottenham are quite suited to playing away from home and hitting teams on the break. Having said that, Sunderland might not let them counter on Saturday because they are a team that like to sit deep so it could be quite a tactical affair. This is obviously the third game in a week so there is always that 'fatigue factor' at this stage so you can't be certain about what will happen, but this is the type of game that Spurs have made a habit of winning lately and I'm going to go for them to nick it 2-1, which is a best price 17/2 with Coral.
Match Result Tip: Tottenham win @ 11/10 with Coral.
Correct Score Tip: Tottenham to win 2-1 @ 17/2 with Coral.
Arsenal v Newcastle (Saturday 29th December 2012)
The late kick-off on Saturday is Arsenal v Newcastle and Arsene Wenger's side have a big advantage as they have had an extra few days rest after their Boxing Day match with West Ham was postponed. In contrast, Newcastle will have to travel again as they were in action at Old Trafford on Wednesday and they were doing what every other team has done against Manchester United this season - playing well, scoring goals but coming up short.
United's forwards again got them out of trouble and I'm not sure Alan Pardew has absolutely got the balance of this Newcastle side right. He will say playing Demba Ba up front and Papiss Cisse out wide served him well last season but it certainly isn't working this year. They need someone who can control the play in the centre of midfield because they really miss the creativity of Yohan Cabaye, who is out injured, while Vurnon Anita and Cheick Tiote are too similar.
Arsenal's last two matches have seem them produce two totally different performances as I saw them win at Reading where they were good with the ball but absolutely terrible without it and they then won 1-0 at Wigan where they looked very strong defensively and really ground the result out. So they are struggling to find that balance between attack and defence at this stage and that makes this weekend's game a tough one to pick because nobody is convinced by Arsenal.
We all know that Newcastle have dangerous players but injuries, suspensions, as well as playing in Europe have hindered them, while I think Pardew has come up a bit short tactically on occasions. Playing away from home twice in the space of a few days certainly won't help them and they are going to have to work really hard because Arsenal will have so much of the ball at the Emirates. Thanks to having that advantage of an extra few days off I fancy Arsenal to nick this one 2-1.
Match Result Tip: Arsenal win @ 4/9 with Bet365.
Correct Score Tip: Arsenal to win 2-1 @ 8/1 with Bet365.
Everton v Chelsea (Sunday 30th December 2012)
Sunday's lunchtime game is Everton v Chelsea and this isn't an easy one to call as both teams have enjoyed some decent results of late. Chelsea's Frank Lampard was excellent against Aston Villa last Sunday and he gives the side great balance. We talk about loyalty in football - loyalty from managers, loyalty from players but what about loyalty from clubs? If Lampard wants to stay at Chelsea until he's 60 he should do. It wouldn't hurt Chelsea to keep Lampard until he wants to go and it seems very strange that they would want to let him leave as he is still one of the best, if not the best, players at that football club.
Everton ground out another win against Wigan on Boxing Day but you do just worry about how hard they have to work to win games. Some people might be concerned that this is the one game they miss out on after a hectic run of fixtures in a short space of time but I certainly hope not because everyone admires the football club and the manager David Moyes. He has done a great job there and I fancy them to take a 1-1 draw, although it is unlikely to be a ripsnorter by any means.
Match Result Tip: Draw @ 23/10 with Ladbrokes.
Correct Score Tip: 1-1 @ 6/1 with Ladbrokes.
QPR v Liverpool (30th December 2012)
The weekend's final live game is QPR v Liverpool from Loftus Road and the 'pigeons have come home to roost' at QPR. They are a 'bits and pieces' side and they may feel a little hard done by after losing to West Brom but some of the stuff that has gone on there, even since Harry Redknapp took over, with players refusing to sit on the bench, beggar's belief. It's why they are bottom of the table because too many of their signings haven't had the right characters in that they have looked for excuses and ways out.
With Liverpool I don't think even Brendan Rodgers knows his best side with Suso looking lightweight, Stewart Downing playing on the right and Luis Enrique playing in midfield and then at the back. It's all a bit 'higgledy-piggledy' where no one can see what their best system, team or formation is.
It's the same for QPR and for that reason you can't have any great conviction in backing either of these teams on Sunday. Both managers are trying to find the best solution but they haven't so neither team is settled and neither can instil you with any confidence. It's a difficult game to bet on and I'm going to have to go for the 1-1 correct score at 6/1 with Ladbrokes.
Match Result Tip: Draw @ 5/2 with Ladbrokes.
Correct Score Tip: 1-1 @ 6/1 with Ladbrokes.com.
Steve Claridge's Weekend Treble
Chesterfield to beat Morecambe (5/6); Sheffield United to beat Hartlepool (4/11); Cheltenham to beat Bristol Rovers (7/10). A treble with Coral bookmakers returns a touch over 3/1.
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"The way they defended was absolutely dreadful"
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