"City's £1bn squad are not punching their weight"
Upcoming Football Tips
Thursday, 22nd March 2012
First up on Saturday lunchtime we've got Chelsea against Tottenham and this is almost make or break for Chelsea now. I don't think Roberto Di Matteo has had to pull up any trees as Chelsea manager, he's just going with the best team they've got, which isn't exactly rocket science! Chelsea aren't as good as they were a few years back but then they aren't as bad as results under Andre Villas-Boas suggested. They haven't got too many options in their squad nowadays but they are a decent enough side.
This is a massive game for both teams and you would have to say that if Chelsea don't win then they won't finish in the top four, particularly with the way Arsenal are going. We know Tottenham aren't firing and you get the feeling that they will have to be at their best to get something out of this game. Spurs have got a five point lead over Chelsea in the table and have a much kinder run in to the end of the season; so if Chelsea don't win this it's tough to see them getting that Champions League place. They have to go to Liverpool and Arsenal before the end of the season and this weekend would seem like ‘last chance saloon’ for them. I'm going to back Chelsea to nick this 2-1 (8/1 with Ladbrokes) because they need it, although even if Tottenham lose I would still make them favourites to finish in the top four.
Next up on Saturday is Stoke v Manchester City and this isn't an easy game for Roberto Mancini's team. Even though Stoke haven't got much to play for there will be no end of season feel to this one; they aren't going to make life easy and it's a good game for them because there will be a good atmosphere at the Britannia and they would love to put a spanner in the works. The fact it is at home will make a big difference to Stoke, but Man City know this is a game they have to win and that will probably be the case from now until the end of the season. I think City will win this 2-1, at 8/1 with Ladbrokes, as they've got more to play for at this stage of the season.
On Sunday Newcastle head to West Brom and this is a difficult one to call. West Brom were really poor against Wigan last week and I don't know whether they're thinking 'we've done enough and we're staying in the Premiership' after some really good results last month. It didn't look like there was the same urgency against Wigan as the previous weeks.
It's a tough match to call as West Brom might need one more win to be safe from relegation and Newcastle are still going for that fifth spot. I'm going to go for 2-2, at 14/1 with William Hill, in this one but it's not an easy game at all.
We've then got Manchester United against Fulham on Monday evening and it is tough to make a case for Fulham. We saw them at City and there was very little resistance there and they were well and truly beaten by Swansea last week. Not many sides get results at Old Trafford and Fulham aren't a team that look like they can go to the bigger sides and cause an upset. It should be comfortable for United and I'm going to go take the 7/1 on offer with Coral for a 3-0 win to the home side.
Looking at the battle for the Premier League title, City's 2-1 win against Chelsea on Wednesday wasn't just about the three points it was the fact that they turned it around and they look they believe they can win the league. City could put the pressure back on United with a win against Stoke on Saturday and it is always an advantage to play first in a title run in. However, City have got to win the Premiership for me, otherwise with going out of Europe and the cups early it would have to be seen as an underachievement not to win anything with the players they’ve got.
Steve Claridge's Weekend Premier League Tips
Tip #1: Chelsea v Tottenham (24th Mar 2012) Chelsea to win 2-1 @ odds of 8/1 with Ladbrokes.
Tip #2: Stoke v Man City (24th Mar 2012) Man City to win 2-1 @ odds of 8/1 with Ladbrokes.
Tip #3: West Brom v Newcastle (25th Mar 2012) 2-2 correct score @ odds of 14/1 with William Hill.
Tip #4: Man Utd v Fulham (26th Mar 2012) Man Utd to win 3-0 @ odds of 7/1 with Coral.
Steve's Weekly Treble: Southampton to beat Doncaster (7/20); Preston to beat Bury (23/20); Crawley to beat Rotherham (4/6). A treble with bookmaker William Hill returns just under 4/1.
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