Posts Tagged ‘ Norwich ’

Super Sunday Should See United Pull Clear As City Slip Up

Robin van Persie of Manchester United celebrates scoring the opening goal of the gameTwo huge games on Sunday see four of the biggest names in the Premier League come up against each other. Liverpool travel to Old Trafford to play the table toppers at 1.30 and at 4pm Arsenal host Man City. Man United should come out on top of the earlier tie, the match at the Emirates is harder to call. Yaya Toure’s departure to the African Cup of Nations is going to leave a massive hole in the City team over the next few fixtures, and Arsenal can prosper from this. However, Arsenal’s defensive frailties should be exposed by Man City’s attacking threats. The bookies are offering shortened odds on the draw for this match, and I can’t help but agree that both sides will earn a solitary point.

We’re going to invest our accumulator interest in the Saturday fixtures however, starting at the Madejski Stadium. Fulham stuffed West Brom and so too our bet in the previous round of Premiership matches, and I don’t think the Baggies’ away tie against Reading will be a fruitful endeavour either. They come into this game on the back of three games without a win and are seriously depleted; Youssouf Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob are unavailable and the sad news that Zoltan Gera will miss the rest of the season will resonate like a death bell for Albion. Reading on the other hand are showing signs that they have shored up their defence. Narrowly beaten by a late Gareth Barry header against City, their next two home games saw them preventing both Swansea and West Ham from scoring. If they can continue this sort of defensive performance on Saturday, I think that 9/4 are generous odds for the home side to earn a draw.

Next off to Carrow Road, where two teams on a dismal run of form come up against each other. Both teams have lost their last three Premier League games but there can be no doubt which side are cowering in the darker realms of depression. Languishing two points above the drop zone, injury ravaged, knocked out of the FA Cup by Brighton for the second year running and having just lost their one beacon of hope light to Chelsea, Newcastle’s season just seems to relentlessly continue to go from bad to worse. The one lonesome positive of the winter is the signing of French right-back Mathieu Debuchy, but I can’t see him dragging his new teammates to victory on Saturday. Chris Hughton will be out to get one over on his former club who senselessly sacked him months after he had inspired the Magpies to promotion back to top flight football. His Canaries should overcome their opposition whose hopes now rely on Papiss Cisse, who may prosper from his fellow countryman’s departure. Norwich are available at 6/5 to win.

The final leg of our accumulator finds us focusing on the match between Sunderland and West Ham, two teams who are looking somewhat busy during the current transfer window. The Hammers have welcomed back one of their many long lost sons in the figure of Joe Cole and he made an instant impact in his homecoming match, creator of both goals in a 2-1 victory over Norwich. West Ham will be heartened by their 2-2 draw with Man United in the FA Cup, whereas Sunderland’s identical result with Bolton should have the opposite effect. The home side are lacking in defense but still pose a threat up front with the exciting Stephane Sessegnon and Steven Fletcher always dangerous. I think this one will end up in a draw; it’s available at 9/4 and means that this week’s accumulator packs odds of about 22/1.

Away Teams to Perform This Weekend

Gareth Bale Aston Villa v Tottenham HotspurI allowed myself to be convinced by someone (who shall remain nameless but is my only brother) that Liverpool would win against Stoke on Stephen’s Day. I assure you I will not be listening to his dilettantish advice again and to make up for this pathetic blip, I have picked out some value bets and moulded them together to form another beautiful big odds accumulator.

At this stage, everybody is getting sick of the Benitez’s boo boys at Stamford Bridge. Obviously Roberto di Matteo was harshly treated but is it Rafa’s fault that the club is being run by a megalomaniac? I for one am glad that he has reformed the Chelsea side, David Luiz’s move away from the back four can only be positive and his footballing ability is slowly being nurtured in a defensive midfield role. He was quite impressive in his suffocation of Wes Hoolahan against Norwich and I think he could have a similar effect on the lively Steven Pienaar this weekend when his side face Everton. Strong at the back and equally impressive up front recently, Chelsea should record an away victory and are priced at 6/4 to do so.

Tottenham looked sensational on the break against Aston Villa on Wednesday with Gareth Bale in especially good form. They face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in the early game on Saturday and hopefully they will kick off our accumulator, we’re going to back them at evens to come out on top.  The home side have been on some sort of a road to recovery with 3 wins in their last 4 outings, having beaten QPR, Southampton and remarkably Man City. However, Tottenham have had tasted success on the road many times this season and I fancy them to overrun their hosts and they are favourably priced to do so.

To complete the accumulator I’ve picked out Southampton to pull off a draw against Stoke at the Britannia. The home side, who have not lost on their own patch yet this season, will be weakened without their suspended captain Ryan Shawcross and right-back Geoff Cameron. Their skipper has been indispensable to the team this season, essential in holding their water-tight defence together with Robert Huth. He will be sorely missed as Stoke come up against Southampton’s danger man Rickie Lambert. I fancy the away side to earn a welcome point against draw-specialists Stoke, whose defensive absentees should not be underestimated. The draw is available at 5/2 and cranks up the overall odds of our big odds Accumulator to 16/1.

Midweek Football Accumulator Throws Up Tasty 50/1

We were one goal away from landing the big 33/1 accumulator at the weekend, Fulham letting us down by not getting a draw at Stoke. There’s no time for licking our wounds though as we’ve a full set of mid-week fixtures to mull over. So it’s time to get out of the foetal position, kick off the duvet and stop feeling sorry for ourselves, there’s another big odds accumulator waiting to be loved and this time we’re focusing on the Wednesday night matches.

First we’re turning our attention to the Britannia Stadium again. Hopefully this time Stoke won’t ruin our big bucks bet, we’re going to back them for a win against a Newcastle side absolutely depleted by injury, with Stephen Taylor a new worry for the Magpies. Stoke should definitely have enough to win this one, and they should do it without having to break too much of a sweat. They are currently available at evens but I can see this price shortening so get your money on them now.

West Brom are certainly in a rich vein of form at the moment but the high-flying Baggies face a tricky away fixture at Swansea on Wednesday night. Swansea looked pretty solid against Liverpool on Sunday and this could be another tit-for-tat battle. Our money is going to err on the side of caution in this one, the draw, available at 12/5, is our bet here.

Next, we’re off to White Hart Lane where Spurs take on the aforementioned Liverpool. Defoe and company were on form again at the weekend and I do not think that their 5-2 drubbing at Arsenal told the whole story, Adebayor’s sending off being a crucial factor in an undeserved thrashing. They look like they are just coming into form and at 13/10, they are look like a solid bet to get past a Liverpool side who don’t seem to offer a lot going forward… apart from Suarez of course.

Sunday saw us successfully backing Southampton but we’re going to change our colours and complete this accumulator by arguing that Norwich will beat them. The Canaries aren’t great away from home but are unbeaten in seven matches which includes victories over Man United and Arsenal, they managed a draw at Goodison Park at the weekend and really, I think they should win this one against a side who, yes have won their last two matches, but these were wins against QPR and an injury-burdened Newcastle side. The win for away side is available at 12/5.

Okay boys and girls, there you have our accumulator for the mid-week matches. We were so agonizingly close with our 33/1 shot at the weekend that right now, we all need a little cheering up, so I thought I should treat you to this once in a life time 50/1 beauty. Soon, you’ll be as rich as I am. Cushty.

 

Shane O’Brien

Murray would endure the pain of relegation for cup win

It’s the question that has been asked and answered a thousand times in the pubs around Easter Road since Hibs eased past Ayr United to secure a semi-final place against Aberdeen at Hampden. Would you accept relegation, if it guaranteed a win in the Scottish Cup final?

Opinions are divided with some adamant that SPL survival must be the club’s number one priority, whilst the more romantic of the faithful argue that a season in division one would be a small price to pay to get the 110 year albatross off their necks.

The directors who worry about the financial implications are amongst the former, but one player is in the other camp. Club captain Ian Murray has no doubts and would happily swap relegation for cup glory on May 19, to erase the pain of their century old hoodoo. The midfielder whose season has been blighted by injury is desperate to see his beloved Hibs reach their first final since 2001 when a Henrik Larsson inspired Celtic led by Martin O’Neill beat Alex McLeish’s Hibs side 3-0. Murray played in that game as a teenager and should he feature in this year’s final, he will emulate the feat of legendary winger Arthur Duncan who played in two finals in the seventies.

The former Rangers and Norwich player said: “Our SPL form is poor but I’d say every fan and most of the players would take relegation if it meant we would win the Scottish Cup. “From a financial point of view for the club, the directors would pull their hair out if that happened, but as a romantic thing for the fans, they would take the Cup. If we could get both it would be fantastic”

“Second bottom of the SPL is not great at all but we’d all take that with a Cup Final appearance. “It has been that long and there have been so many great Hibs teams which haven’t won it and to get to a semi or final is a special achievement. The fans talk about it more than players but I don’t buy into hoodoos.”

Murray was just a teenager when he received the shock nod from gaffer Alex McLeish for the big day. “I don’t remember much talk about the hoodoo going into the 2001 final because we had such a good team. We were just unfortunate to come up against an exceptional Celtic side. I firmly believe had we kept that team in place, we could have had a chance of winning the title. But in the final Russell Latapy had his problems beforehand and didn’t play, while Franck Sauzee did play but wasn’t fully fit. We did really well for the first 30 minutes and Marc Libra had a chance in an even start. But things worked against us, such as Lubo Moravcik going off injured and Jackie McNamara coming on to score.”

“Celtic won well in the end but I feel that if we had faced anyone else that season, we would have won it. The hype around the game was fantastic, though, and it was great to be there.

“It was my first taste of a cup final at Hampden and it was so special for me, so to get back there would be fantastic. Stuart Lovell had missed eight games and I had been playing instead of him.

“It was the Wednesday beforehand and the gaffer pulled me in. I thought it was for the inevitable, ‘We’re going with experience line.’ I was expecting the bombshell and was ready to take it on the chin and be happy at just being around the squad.

“But then he said he’d play me wide right and Stuart was the one who was unhappy with the manager. It was a huge occasion, especially as I didn’t expect to play. I didn’t even tell my mum and dad I was playing as news might have got out. It was a great occasion and although we lost, it is a great memory.

“You hear people talking about losing these games and throwing away their medals but I don’t buy into that. Getting all the way to a final is a great achievement and something you should savour. Let’s face it, if I get back this season it’ll be my first since 2001 so they don’t come around too often.”

The versatile midfielder, who is in his testimonial year at Easter Road, is not underestimating the task of beating Craig Brown’s Aberdeen, and he is desperate to be in the squad after recovering from a long term groin injury. Last week, he came through sixty minutes in a bounce game against St Mirren at the East Mains training centre.

“I’ve not played in many semi-finals in the Scottish Cup. In 2000 I was on the bench when Aberdeen beat us 2-1. I played against Livingston when we reached the final in 2001 but I was suspended when Dundee United beat us 2-1 in 2005”.

“I know the feeling of being left out but if I am lucky I’ll get on the bench and at least have a wee chance of playing.

“I imagine I’ll be part of the squad. Perhaps the fact I can play a few positions might work in my favour but it’ll depend on how I train. If that goes well, you never know.”

Murray also knows that victory could set up an all-Edinburgh final if Hearts can beat champions Celtic on Sunday, and despite the dreadful record in recent derbies, he believes that winning the cup against Hearts would be the ultimate dream for him and the long suffering fans.

Murray said: “I expect Celtic to win the other semi but we would rather play Hearts as they are sixth in the table. Hearts have had the upper hand against us recently and we know that losing to our main rivals would be heart-breaking.”

“But beating them would make it extra special; you could lose the next 20 derbies and it would still be brilliant!”

If Murray does become only the second Hibs player to feature in two cup finals, he will no doubt hope for a different ending. The luckless Duncan scored the winning goal in the 1979 final, but unfortunately it was at the wrong end, and his diving header gave Rangers an undeserved 3-2 victory in the second replay at Hampden.