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Thursday, 6th December 2012
Steve's tips for the upcoming weekend's live Premiership action will appear here on Thursday morning but in the meantime you can check out what he tipped up last weekend.....
Man City v Man Utd (Sunday 9th Dec)
We've only got the three live games to take a look at this weekend and the Sunday lunchtime kick-off is Man City v Man Utd from the Etihad. Both sides were very poor in Europe again in mid-week and I'm not sure what Alex Ferguson was doing with his United team in their 1-0 defeat to Cluj on Wednesday. If you're going to experiment you've got to get it right, you can't upset the balance and shape of the team because anyone could see that system was never going to work.
With City, even when there was something riding on their Champions League game against Dortmund they still couldn't win and it's just not good enough - simple as that. I think that is the thing about the Premiership nowadays, we've got a very competitive and exciting league but our teams just aren't what they were and their performances in Europe are showing that.
This is a difficult match to call as a result because neither of these teams have been totally convincing as yet. I know City haven't been beaten in their last 37 league games at home and they're the only team not to lose in the Premiership this season but there is a real contrast with the way they were playing this time last year when they were quite brilliant.
It will be interesting to see how United approach this one as they went to the Etihad for a draw last year and ended up getting beat. It was a similar story during the early part of last season where they lost to Basel in the Champions League after trying to play for a draw and I just hope they don't play for a point this weekend as well. There has been talk that Nemanja Vidic might play on Sunday but he is a player that always looks likes he needs a few games to get his match sharpness back after injury because he isn't blessed with any great pace, which can cover a multitude of sins for defenders. In the long-term though his presence will make a huge difference to the United defence.
Neither side has been great defensively of late and we will know very early what kind of game this will be - it will either be a cagey, tactical affair or we will get a goal and we will have a real game on our hands. I hope it's the latter, particularly with plenty still to play for as this match isn't 'win or bust' and I'm tempted to go for a 2-2 but I'm going to play safe and go 1-1, which is 13/2 with Ladbrokes.
Match Result Tip: Draw @ 23/10 with Ladbrokes.
Correct Score Tip: 1-1 @ 13/2 with Ladbrokes.
West Ham v Liverpool (Sunday 9th December 2012)
The later kick-off on Sunday is West Ham v Liverpool and the worry for Brendan Rodgers is the fact that the 'honeymoon' period will eventually come to an end for him. He will get away with what he is doing at Liverpool for now because they're perceived as playing decent football but last week's 1-0 win over Southampton was very poor, despite the fact they controlled the majority of the game. The atmosphere at Anfield was very quiet which is not a good sign when Liverpool's fans are renowned for being some of the most passionate in the country.
Meanwhile, West Ham go into the match off the back of a 3-1 win over Chelsea and that was a great result for them. They are a team that are capable of doing something like that but I don't see there being a lot of chances in this game so I'm leaning towards a 0-0 at 17/2 with William Hill, particularly as Luis Suarez is suspended for the trip to Upton Park after picking up five yellow cards.
Match Result Tip: Draw @ 11/5 with WilliamHill.
Correct Score Tip: 0-0 @ 17/2 with WilliamHill.
Fulham v Newcastle (Monday 10th December 2012)
Finally, we've got Fulham v Newcastle from Craven Cottage on Monday night and it is a different sort of game for Alan Pardew's side. I thought they were absolute certainties to beat Wigan last week at St James' Park and so it proved as they won 3-0. I did wonder where Newcastle were at in terms of form because they've had a lot of injuries and that result was much needed after three league defeats in a row.
With Fulham they are what they are really because even at their worst you can't see them getting into relegation trouble and even at their best they're not going to be challenging for honours. So they are unlikely to ever move much further than two places above or below mid-table and they are very much a fixture in the Premier League nowadays, which is great so long as nothing at the club changes.
It will make a big difference to Fulham that centre back Brede Hangeland is back from his three-match suspension on Monday night, while Newcastle looked much better in their last match against Wigan, although playing away from home is a different proposition. There's not a lot between these two teams and I'm going to have to go for a clean sweep of draws by backing the 1-1 correct score at 13/2 with WilliamHill.
Match Result Tip: Draw @ 5/2 with WilliamHill.com.
Correct Score Tip: 1-1 @ 13/2 with WilliamHill.
Steve Claridge's Weekend Treble
After landing a 5/2 treble in the FA Cup last weekend, I've turned my attention back to league football and gone for Leicester to beat Barnsley (4/9); Coventry to beat Walsall (5/6); Oxford to beat Aldershot (Evs). A treble with Ladbrokes.com returns just under 9/2.
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