Steve Claridge has joined Betting Directory to provide his expert views and tips on the latest football betting odds and the latest matches.
Friday, 22nd May 2015
Hull v Manchester United (3.00pm, Sunday 24th May 2015)
The battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League will go down to the last day and I start my final column of the season with Sunday's clash between Hull and Manchester United. Steve Bruce's side start the day in 18th place, two points behind Newcastle, but I'm not sure whether Hull are really good enough to get the win they need to have any chance of staying in the division.
Bruce has been a bit unlucky with players getting injured at crucial times in the season and he faces a real job in trying to get his players to believe they can get out of this predicament. The one thing you can say is that Hull have played okay against the better teams at the KC Stadium during this campaign and they obviously desperately need the win. You would like to think that they would really go for it on Sunday but they've lacked that bit of quality in the final third all season, with last weekend's 2-0 defeat to Tottenham a case in point.
The Tigers come up against a Manchester United outfit that is almost certain to finish the season in fourth place as they are three points behind Arsenal, with a far inferior goal difference. There is no doubt that United are beatable and they have hardly finished the season in great shape but do Hull believe they can win?
It has been a difficult year all round trying to predict games because of the lack of consistency in the English top-flight and this is another tough one to call. I don't see United just going through the motions on Sunday and I'm going to go for a 2-2 draw, which would obviously send Hull into the Championship.
Newcastle v West Ham (3.00pm, Sunday 24th May 2015)
The other big live game in the battle for survival involves Newcastle against West Ham at St James' Park. Newcastle have collected just one point from their last ten games to sit two points above Hull in the league standings and only a win would guarantee safety as even a draw, allied with a Hull win over United, would send them down because of their woeful goal difference.
The recent form of Newcastle says everything about the football club unfortunately and if you were a manager going in there then you would have a serious clear out of the squad in the summer. There is no doubt that the players have been poorly managed but the way in which they have downed tools is unbelievable. People talk about teams going on holiday early but it feels as if this lot have been going round the world on the biggest jolly-up you've ever seen!
John Carver has talked a lot about how much Sunday's game means to the club but their problem is that the players simply aren't good enough or motivated enough. Mike Ashley has almost given the players an excuse for their recent performances as he effectively gave up on the season himself by employing Carver on the cheap until the summer and his lackadaisical attitude has spread to the squad.
Both Newcastle and West Ham have got managers who probably won't be there next season, albeit Sam Allardyce would love to get one over on his old club in potentially his final game, particularly after the way he was treated during his time at St James' Park. The Hammers have played some good stuff during a decent enough season but they've had nothing left to play for since they were thrashed 4-0 by West Brom in the FA Cup in February.
I still can't quite get over the performance or the excuses that came out in the wake of that defeat at The Hawthorns and it is fair to say that West Ham have been absolutely woeful during this calendar year. There has been no form to go on since Christmas from these two teams and it's a tricky game to try and call, although it obviously has the potential to be a really nervy afternoon for Newcastle in the North East and 1-1 is my pick in the correct score market.
Match Result Tip: The draw @ odds of 31/10 with Bet Victor.
Correct Score Tip: 1-1 draw @ odds of 15/2 with Bet Victor.
This Bank Holiday weekend also marks the play-off finals in the football league and I have to say I'm a little annoyed at myself for not having a bet as I really fancied all six of the finalists to make it through to Wembley. Wycombe, Swindon and Middlesbrough have had real high points during the semi-finals of their ties but I'm going to stick with my gut feeling when the regular season ended and I'm backing Southend, Preston and Norwich to all be promoted.
A treble returns just under 9/2 with Bet 365.
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