Sunderland v West Brom, Live on Sky Sports 2,
This is a tough test for Martin O’Neill’s men because they need to start stringing some results together and West Brom won’t be easy. But West Brom at home and West Brom away are two entirely different teams. Out of their 23 points, 18 have come at home and that shows you that although their home form is fantastic they’re not quite the same force away from The Hawthorns. They’ve picked up one win and a couple of draws which isn’t great.
The Baggies can get something because they are playing with such a confidence now. They go most places thinking that if they play to their capabilities they have enough to trouble teams. The way that Shane Long is playing now is brilliant. He works tirelessly and is a fantastic foil for this team, he stretches defences and makes a real pest of himself. The five man midfield does really well at making them difficult to beat.
A win for Sunderland will be a big boost for them but it will be tough for O’Neill’s side. The draw is appealing at 9/4.
Steven Fletcher scored last week and sometimes goals are like buses. With the lack of goalscorers Sunderland have, Fletcher is right up at 5/1 in the betting and rightly so, particularly because they are at home. There is plenty of value in West Brom players as well and James Morrison is value at 12/1 to open the scoring. He plays just off the front, he gives good support to Shane Long and he gets himself into good areas. He is a good striker of the ball and can score from distance.
Manchester United v QPR, Live on Setanta Sports,
This is a home banker. Manchester United will be all over QPR like a rash. A few of the QPR players will be disappointed and there will probably be a few happy players who didn’t like Mark Hughes but this is a tough ask. QPR’s form is bad and to go up there and get something is hard. Manchester United should win this comfortably at 1/5.
Wayne Rooney didn’t play at Norwich and Robin Van Persie didn’t play well in that game so they’ll be keen to score. Javier Hernandez might play, as he did the last week in Rooney’s absence, but the smart money is on Rooney or RVP to score first at 3/1 and 5/2 respectively.
United can win this comfortably and score at least three. United to score three goals or more is 4/6.
Aston Villa v Arsenal, Live on ESPN,
Aston Villa are in the drop zone now and if Paul Lambert didn’t realise he had problems, he does now. This is a tough one for Villa because they won’t enjoy playing Arsenal. This is the kind of side Villa won’t enjoy playing against because Arsenal will keep hold of the ball and if they’re at their best it will be a torrid evening for Villa.
Everyone believed when Paul Lambert got the job he’d turn it around and get them playing ‘sexy football’ but that hasn’t happened. They’ve really struggled this season, struggled to get results, struggled to win football matches and it could be another struggle today.
Olivier Giroud didn’t score in the Champions League in midweek but grabbed two assists. The big French striker is a lot more confident than he was and is a good price to open the scoring at 9/2.