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Norwich can edge to another home win against Sunderland

Thursday, 29th November 2012

Steve's weekend tips will appear here on Thursday but in the meantime you can check out what he tipped up last weekend....

West Ham v Chelsea (Saturday 1st Dec)

We've got the four live games to take a look at this weekend and first up it's West Ham v Chelsea from Upton Park. West Ham weren't great in defeat at Tottenham last weekend but they were better against Manchester United on Wednesday, although having said that a lot of teams have done okay against United of late and it's difficult to gauge how good West Ham were when United haven’t played well in so many matches this season.

It doesn't get much harder from a betting point of view than this weekend's game and I have to say I wouldn't be keen to take a punt on this one if it wasn't one of our live fixtures. I'm going to plump for a 2-1 correct score to Chelsea at 15/2 with Ladbrokes though and that would do plenty to warm Chelsea fans to interim manager Rafa Benitez. If he can pick the right side, and there is some doubt about that, they can win this game. They should enjoy playing away from home particularly as they’re set up to play on the counter-attack more.

Benitez only seems to be loved by Liverpool fans to be honest with you and it is worrying how things went at Inter Milan, where he dismantled their side within six months. There are signs he will do likewise at Chelsea with him playing Juan Mata down the right and Oriol Romeu - a player that I can’t for the life of me see what he does in games - coming in for Mikel, so already there are some things that just don't make sense.

How long will he be manager there? I think the word 'interim' is a giveaway and it surprises me he took the job, although it perhaps shows how limited his options are. That tag doesn't sit well with me but then I suppose you can label everyone who manages Chelsea with the word 'interim' couldn't you!

Match Result Tip: Chelsea win @ odds of 5/6 with Ladbrokes.
Correct Score Tip: 2-1 to Chelsea @ odds of 15/2 with Ladbrokes.

Reading v Man United (Saturday 1st Dec)

Later on Saturday evening we've got Reading v Manchester United and I can see Reading being gallant losers here. I fear for Reading because even though they are very competitive in some areas of the pitch I look at the centre of their midfield, with Jay Tabb and Mikel Leigertwood, and I’m not sure an ex-winger and an ex-centre half are going to be strong enough in that role. I thought Reading would go and spend a little bit more money than they have, particularly after the takeover, and there is certainly some work for them to do in the January transfer window.

They may even take the lead in this one but I can see United coming back and winning, with the 2-1 looking decent value at 15/2 with WilliamHill. It's a sign of how much the Premier League has changed nowadays because four or five years ago you would have had your mortgage on Man United winning but it's not the same anymore.

I've never known a Premiership like this because we used to have a top-four, a middle-six and a bottom-eight in the table but there's no such thing these days. You could guarantee certain teams would win certain games but it's not like that at all in this league because it seems to be a lot more even and we lack the quality of past seasons, although because of that it’s certainly more exciting.

Match Result Tip: Man Utd win @ odds of 2/5 with WilliamHill.
Correct Score Tip: 2-1 to Man Utd @ odds of 15/2 with WilliamHill.

Norwich v Sunderland (Sunday 2nd Dec)

Things don't get any easier to call on Sunday as it's Norwich v Sunderland from Carrow Road  and Norwich have tightened up incredibly. They're playing five in midfield now with one dropping off the forward, because 4-4-2 left them exposed, and that means they've got an extra man in midfield so when they do win the ball back they're able to keep it and give themselves a bit of a breather. They're unbeaten in seven, winning each of the last three at home 1-0, and I fancy them to win this match by the same scoreline, which can be backed at 6/1 with Betfred.

It's tough for Martin O'Neill at Sunderland and he's got a real problem because his predecessor Steve Bruce brought in a lot of players but very few of them were better than what they already had, so they've stagnated. There's a lot of money been spent at the club but you get the impression there's not a lot left and yet they're still some way off, particularly as they're struggling for goals. It's a nightmare when you're not scoring because as soon as you go a goal behind in a game you lose the belief that you can get back into it and until they can change that there will always be a cautious approach where they're frightened to go behind in games, which infiltrates into the crowd and makes them edgy.

Match Result Tip:  Norwich win @ odds of 6/5 with Betfred.
Correct Score Tip: 1-0 to Norwich @ odds of 6/1 with Betfred.

Newcastle v Wigan (Monday 3rd Dec)

Sunderland's North East rivals are in action on Monday night as it's Newcastle v Wigan from St James' Park. If we're being honest Newcastle without Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse were not a side that were going to qualify for Champions League football last season and those two almost singlehandedly carried them in some of their games -. Demba Ba before Christmas and Papiss Cisse afterwards.

Newcastle are an upper mid-table side and that's fine but they're not good enough to reach the top-four, so you have to wonder how much of an over-achievement was it last year and how much is it an under-achievement this year? In fairness Alan Pardew has had a few injuries to deal with and they haven't quite got a big enough squad to cope with the Europa League so things haven't gone their way so far but I think they can win this one. There were some positive signs in the 2-1 defeat at Stoke on Wednesday and they're getting a few back from injury, although this is a game where it's worth looking at the team-sheet before you place a bet. I fancy them to win 2-1 at this stage though, which is 15/2 with Bet Victor.

Their opponents, Wigan, played okay in the 2-0 defeat to Man City on Wednesday night but again it is a case of how good were Wigan and how average were City? Great players and a bit of luck got City out of jail but that wasn't a fluent performance from them and Wigan have done enough these last couple of weeks to suggest that they have as good a chance of staying in this league as anyone.

Match Result Tip:  Newcastle win @ odds of 21/20 with BetVictor.
Correct Score Tip: 2-1 to Newcastle @ odds of 15/2 with BetVictor.

Steve Claridge's Weekend Treble 

My treble comes from the FA Cup this weekend and I've gone for Coventry to beat Morecambe (4/6); Luton to beat Dorchester (1/2); MK Dons to beat Wimbledon (2/5). A treble with Coral returns 5/2.

Booking Steve Claridge

Our resident football betting tipster, Steve Claridge, is available for hire and is the ideal choice for a wide range of personal appearances and media work.

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"Koeman has been brilliant, just keeping things simple"

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