Clock Icon Thursday, 1st November 2012

After the week of football we've just had I think I'm going to have to tip up 6-4 for the Manchester United v Arsenal game on Saturday lunchtime! But in all seriousness, the top teams seem to have bought forwards during the summer and have not improved defensively at all. A lot of the foreign lads that have come in who are forward-thinking players simply haven’t found the balance between attacking and defending, and the ones that are there to protect the back four aren’t doing it well enough – English or foreign. You would think United would be different but they are not defensively good enough, while Arsenal have been producing pub football at the back lately

We are getting some really exciting football in England as a result but a lot of that is down to individual errors and what we are seeing is that when these teams go and play in Europe you don't get away with those errors. You get punished. There needs to be a balance, do we want a competitive Premiership or four teams like we used to have who would totally dominate the league and Europe? Yes Chelsea won the Champions League last season but they were very lucky and that looks like a fluke rather than the norm for English clubs.

Anyway, this match finished 8-2 at Old Trafford last year and it's easy to get carried away with all the goals in recent games but I'm not sure we will see the madness continue and I'm going to put a lid on it by going for United to win 2-1, which is a 15/2 punt with Ladbrokes.

Next up on Saturday is West Ham v Man City in the late kick-off and bar a couple of mishaps, against Swansea and last week at Wigan, West Ham have done well. They are far more suited to the Premiership and look like they've really enjoyed themselves so far this season which is a complete contrast to last year when it was a real grind for them in the Championship. 

As I said last week I'm not convinced by Roberto Mancini at Man City and there is an uneven look to their team now. They've got some great players but there are a few players who have been at the club a little while now who might have to move on as the squad needs freshening up. City are not defending well as a team and I'm going to go for a 1-1 here (7/1 with Bet Victor) because West Ham won't make it easy at all.

On Sunday it's QPR v Reading and this is a big game for both clubs and for Mark Hughes in particular. This is a fixture that QPR will expect to win but it's not an easy match to call because from a betting perspective you can't rely on either of them to win you games. For Reading to be 4-0 up and lose 7-5 to Arsenal in the cup on Tuesday was unbelievable and the fact they played virtually a full strength team could be telling as they've had a really tough week. We're all waiting for QPR do get going because they've got some good players and I'm going for them to win 2-1 at 15/2 with William Hill, although that's without any real conviction because both sides are woefully out of form.

The 4 o'clock kick-off on Sunday is Liverpool v Newcastle and there are a few things that have happened at Anfield lately which might raise a few question marks about Brendan Rodgers. There's the Pepe Reina issue at Everton last week and the performance in their 3-1 defeat at home to Swansea in the cup in mid-week was unacceptable. It's all very well saying that the result was because he played the kids but he's got a good enough squad of players there to field a strong team. 

They won the League Cup last season and I remember Steven Gerrard said he would much rather win that trophy than finish in the top-four. These trophies are important for a club like Liverpool and by all means play the kids if they're good enough but otherwise they have to take the cup competitions seriously because they're not going to challenge in the league. I fancy them to draw 1-1 with Newcastle (15/2 with Hills), who are more than capable of scoring goals, and there should be something in it for both of these teams.

Finally, we've got West Brom v Southampton on Monday night and Saints will have to improve after they produced undoubtedly the worst first-half of football I have ever seen in the Premier League last weekend. I was at the match when they lost 2-1 to Tottenham last Sunday and Nigel Adkins was saying he didn't want to play a game on the Sunday and then the League Cup match against Leeds on the Tuesday, but they only played one half against Spurs anyway! Saints were actually a lot better in the second half against Tottenham but to then go to Leeds and get smashed 3-0 doesn't augur well.

I think people got a bit carried away with West Brom's start to the season because they hadn't played any of the big boys and they're now finding their level after losing to Man City and Newcastle in their last two, albeit rather unluckily. They'll more than hold their own in the middle of the table though and this is the sort of game that they have won this year.

Southampton will also see this game as one they can get something out of and it will be interesting to see whether they play an open game with Adam Lallana in behind the front two like they did in the second half against Tottenham. However, it's difficult to make a case for Southampton until they start winning a couple of games and West Brom have tended to win when they are expected to so I'm going to go for West Brom to nick it 2-1, which can be backed at 15/2 with Ladbrokes bookmakers.

Steve Claridge's Weekend Premier League Tips

Tip #1: Man United v Arsenal (3rd Nov 2012) - Match Bet: Man United win @ odds of 4/6 with Ladbrokes. Correct Score: 2-1 to Man United @ odds of 15/2 with Ladbrokes.

Tip #2: West Ham v Man City (3rd Nov 2012) - Match Bet: Draw @ odds of 3/1 with BetVictor. Correct Score: 1-1 @ odds of 7/1 with BetVictor.

Tip #3:  QPR v Reading (4th Nov 2012). Match Bet: QPR win @ odds of 5/6 with WilliamHill. Correct score: 2-1 to QPR @ odds of 15/2 with WilliamHill.

Tip #4: Liverpool v Newcastle (4th Nov 2012) - Match Bet: Draw @ odds of 3/1 with WilliamHill. Correct Score: 1-1 @ odds of 15/2 with WilliamHill.

Tip #5: West Brom v Southampton (5th Nov 2012) - Match Bet: West Brom win @ 3/4 with Ladbrokes. Correct Score: 2-1 to West Brom @ odds of 15/2 with Ladbrokes.

Steve's Weekly Treble: Bournemouth to beat Dagenham & Redbridge (3/5); Fleetwood to beat Bromley (1/3); Mansfield to beat Slough (4/9). A treble with BetVictor.com returns a touch over 2/1.

Previous Steve Claridge Football Betting Tips

Entertaining score draw looks a good bet for Chelsea v Man United 26 Oct 2012
Draw looks a good bet for Tyne Wear derby between Sunderland and Newcastle 18 Oct 2012
England could just edge their World Cup qualifier in Poland 15 Oct 2012
Draw looks a good bet for home nations clash between Wales and Scotland 11 Oct 2012
Man United tipped to drop more points this weekend 04 Oct 2012

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