It would take a lot of deep voiced Sky Sports promos to convince anyone that today is a momentous day in the Premier League, but there are enough intriguing games to make it interesting. Arsenal need a win to reassure fans that the ‘trophy’ that is a top four finish is still a possibility, but with their patchy form and a Fulham-shaped banana skin in their way, it may be tougher than expected.
Jack Wilshere won’t be available, but that’s due to suspension rather than the nightmare spell of injuries he has had to endure for the last 18 months or so. He is interviewed in the Daily Mail today and he has spoken about the press building up some unreasonable expectations while he was spending his days resting up and watching ‘Cash In The Attic’.
‘You’re like Messi when you’re injured, aren’t you?’ said Wilshere in an association that might be stronger in his own head rather than reality. ‘That’s fine. That’s part and parcel of football. That’s what you lot do. It doesn’t fill me with fear. It’s nice to read when you’re out.’
Even without his services, Arsenal are heavy 4/7 favourites to win, but with the Gunners stumbling, the Draw at 3/1 might be enough to tempt many.
The rest of the 3pm games are a bunch of tricky little conundrums to decipher. The home teams are all worthy favourites, but each of the away teams is more than capable of putting it up to them so it’s up to you which side of the fence you land on.
Manchester United go to Aston Villa for the evening kick off and what would have looked like a foregone conclusion of a result a couple of weeks back is now marginally less of a foregone conclusion of a result. Villa have won two competitive games on the bounce and although neither was overly impressive, that’s the first time it has happened since August 2011. That constitutes decent form in the Villains book so maybe the can put it up to in-form yet oddly vulnerable United, who are the 1/2 favourites for the game.
Andy Murray booked his place in the last four of the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 in London last night. The world number three beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the seventh time in his career and secured qualification for a semi-final against a TBD opponent.
It’s TBD because there are a number of scenarios that can play out as Group B comes to a conclusion today. If the already qualified Roger Federer beats Juan Martin Del Potro, he’ll be the Scot’s opponent in the semis, but there are scenarios in which David Ferrer or Del Potro could also take the place at the other side of the net. To be honest, it’s as confusing as trying to figure out how Greg Rusedski still gets work.
Novak Djokovic is the 11/10 favourite to win his second ATP World Tour Finals title with Murray the 11/5 second favourite. Roger Federer is going for win number seven in the event and three in a row and he can’t be discounted at 5/2.
And don’t worry if you’re not near the telly because all the games are being streamed live on PPtv.
It’s that time of the year when the northern hemisphere teams get to delude themselves into thinking their a match for the southern hemisphere teams. Yes, it’s the first round of the Autumn Internationals with the tourists making their annual end of season trips to Europe.
England and Wales are without some familiar names, but they’re still expected to record wins over Fiji and Argentina respectively. Ireland also have the handicap of a long and significant injury list, but probably less cause for optimism. They welcome the Springboks to the Aviva Stadium with Brian O’Driscoll, Rory Best, Paul O’Connell, Rob Kearney, Stephen Ferris and Sean O’Brien – each of them a potential starter for the Lions Tour next summer.
As ever, it’s the handicaps that add the spice and for England and Wales, they’ll be looking to overturn -32 and -10 point handicaps respectively. Ireland +5 points at 11/10 is the line for their assignment.