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Thursday, 9th February 2012
This weekend's live Premier League action kicks off with Man Utd v Liverpool from Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime. The two teams meet again so soon after playing out an FA Cup fourth round match, where Liverpool wound up 2-1 winners just two weeks ago. I think Saturday's match will be different however, not just the scoreline but the way the two teams set up. But for a goalkeeping error by David De Gea the scoreline could have been different at Anfield and I didn't think Liverpool really did enough to win that game on the whole. I also think that Sir Alex Ferguson will set up United to be a bit more positive this weekend and look to kick on from the second half of last week's amazing 3-3 draw at Stamford Bridge. That's the way United play at their best, with plenty of movement and pace and as a result I can see this match being a much more open affair.
Liverpool drew 0-0 with Spurs on Monday night and still struggle to score goals at Anfield against teams who sit deep. On the road things have been different for Kenny Dalglish's side however and they'll set up to hit United on the break in a 4-3-3 formation. I think that comeback by United last weekend can trigger their season and can see them winning this match, so I'm tipping up a 2-1 correct scoreline at odds of 8/1 with Coral.
Later on Saturday, Tottenham v Newcastle is the live evening kick-off. What brilliant seasons these two clubs are enjoying and I have to say it's fantastic to see. These are two really good clubs with proper passionate fans and I wish them all the best. On the footballing side of things this probably isn't the kind of game Spurs needed this weekend. They have one or two injury problems and they're going to need to play well to beat a Newcastle side who keep surprising people.
Of course a lot of the talk around this game will be that of Harry Redknapp and the England manager's job. Harry's said in the past that he'd like to manage England so it'll come as no surprise that there's such a clamour for him to be the next England manager. I don't think he'll leave Spurs until the end of the season if the FA do come a knocking however and I'd urge Spurs' fans to just enjoy the moment. Tottenham are having such a good season, it would be a shame to start worrying about something that might happen in three months time over relishing what's happening now, a realistic title challenge.
I think Spurs will play well enough to win this match and I'm going for a 2-1 correct score in the favour of Tottenham at odds of 15/2 with William Hill.
The first of Sunday's live matches looks like a real cracker as Wolves host West Brom at Molineux. It's a passionate Black Country derby and I fully expect both teams to have a real go at each other. I was at Loftus Road commentating on the Wolves match last weekend and I have to say I was very impressed with the way Mick McCarthy's side played after the sending off of Djibril Cisse. It may have been a debatable red card but it's not always easy playing against ten men and I thought that inspired by the excellent Kevin Doyle, Wolves were well worth their win.
Another win for Mick McCarthy this weekend could really change the complexion of Wolves' season. They have the chance to drag West Brom into a relegation battle with a win whilst the Baggies will know that an away win at Molineux will give them a little bit of daylight ahead of the relegation zone.
I'd be hugely disappointed if either of these teams approached this game with negative tactics and I believe we'll see a high scoring draw, with 2-2 the pick of the correct score prices at 14/1 with Betfred.
The last live game of the weekend is Aston Villa v Man City on Sunday afternoon. This is another game which could see plenty of goals as both sides have good attacking options. A lot will depend on how Man City approach the game, whether they look to suffocate Villa of posession or whether they think they're the better side and try to outplay them. If it's the latter then we could have a really open game with plenty of goals.
As I've mentioned in previous articles, Villa are a really difficult side to gauge this season. Alex McLeish's side have not won in their last six games at Villa Park, stretching back to November and the locals have been getting restless. As underdogs on Sunday, it'll be interesting to see how they approach this as on their day they can pull off shock results as the 3-1 away win at Chelsea on New Year's Eve proves. The Villa fans will want to see them give it ago now that they have very little to play for and I feel that the manager will receive far less stick if they go down in Sunday's match fighting.
If they approach the game positively then there's no reason why Villa can't take points off City like Everton did ten days ago and I fancy this game could be a draw, with bookmaker Coral going 13/2 about a 1-1 correct score.
Finally, last week's accumulator was wiped out because of the cold weather so here's hoping this weekend's picks get the go ahead. I fancy Sheffield United to keep up their promotion push at home to Wycombe in League One, coupled with home wins for Bristol Rovers and Crawley against Morecambe and Aldershot respectively in League Two. A £25 treble with Labrokes pays about £85 profit.
Steve Claridge's Weekend Football Tips
Tip #1: Man Utd v Liverpool (11th Feb 2012) United to win 2-1 @ odds of 8/1 with Coral.
Tip #2: Tottenham v Newcastle (11th Feb 2012) Spurs to win 2-1 @ odds of 15/2 with William Hill.
Tip #3: Wolves v West Brom (12th Feb 2012) 2-2 correct score @ odds of 14/1 with Betfred.
Tip #4: Aston Villa v Man City (12th Feb 2012) 1-1 Correct score @ odds of 13/2 with Coral.
Steve's Weekly Multi: Sheffield United to beat Wycombe (4/9); Bristol Rovers to beat Morecambe (11/10); Crawley to beat Aldershot (4/9). A treble with Ladbrokes pays just over 10/3.
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