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Andy Gray exclusive: West Ham can cause a huge upset against Chelsea

by Josh Powell | December 1, 2012

Andy Gray blog bylineExpert football pundit and analyst Andy Gray has joined Paddy Power to give his insight on the best of the Premier League betting.

Andy Gray’s treble:Liverpool, Manchester City and West Ham to win: 17/2

West Ham v Chelsea, Live on Sky Sports 2,
Saturday 12.45pm

West Ham can win this game at 16/5. A lot of people will be thinking Chelsea will be difficult to beat after their two clean sheets. And they will be. But West ham can cause Chelsea problems, particularly Andy Carroll. They’ll test Chelsea’s back four and Big Sam Allardyce will know Andy Carroll can trouble Chelsea. The Hammers will launch a few balls in the air and really test Chelsea’s resolve.

As far as Chelsea are concerned they are desperate to get a goal under Rafa Benitez. They’ve had two home games and no goals. You might think they might struggle away from home but they might actually be more relaxed in many ways. Sometimes in a strange way you go away from home and there’s less pressure on you. You can see Chelsea going there, getting the ball down and working West Ham. But West Ham showed in midweek at Old Trafford, even when they lost that goal within a minute, they were very good defensively. They were really well organised and that’s what Sam does with his teams. They could concede, Chelsea could get a goal this weekend but West Ham will cause them problems.

Fernando Torres will know he has a good record against West Ham and he could continue that good run and score. But Andy Carroll, although he might not score, will trouble Chelsea enough at the back that West Ham can take advantage. If one of them was to score you’d fancy Fernando Torres.

West Ham can pick up a narrow victory here and the correct score of 2-1 is appealing at 12/1. Both teams will score at 8/11 and Kevin Nolan could open the scoring at 9/1. He plays in an area of the pitch were Sam gets him into the box and Sam calls him a Premiership player in the 18-yard-box.

Manchester City v Everton, Live on Setanta Sports,
Saturday 3.00pm

The last team to beat City at the Etihad was Everton but Manchester City have been brilliant at home since then. Everton have drawn far too many recently, six of the last eight, and that has cost them in the league as they’ve dropped off the pace a little bit. They’re very difficult to beat and this is a tough one to call. Home advantage can sway a game like this and City have to be upbeat after their performance against Wigan so you can see them edging it at 8/15. For an hour they were fairly ordinary and then Roberto Mancini made a couple of changes that transformed the game. They ended up winning very comfortably and they can kick on from there. This is a very difficult one for Everton to go and win.

If you’d have looked at that Wigan game 60 minutes in and seen the bench with Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko sitting there you’d be thinking what’s going on here? They need a goal and they have over £100million worth of strikers on the bench. But that’s what they did. They basically left Mario Balotelli as their only real front man and then put players in and around him and it worked. It worked really well and that was impressive. There will be a confidence and belief about them and at the Etihad you cannot see City losing.

Everton don’t concede many goals but City winning 1-0 could be the best bet at 6/1. Carlos Tevez hasn’t started in the last three and should play at the weekend. The way Mancini is playing his team at the minute though Tevez could be on the bench though. But what does he do with Balotelli? The Italian got his first away goal in such a long time can he be left out? What Mancini does is rotate his front men far too much and that can’t help the team. If your front men are playing well pick them and play them. Then they can get a standard of play they can keep up. If you keep dropping them and bringing them in it doesn’t help their form. It will be interesting to see if Balotteli gets another start. That is why it’s tough to pick a first goalscorer for Manchester City.

Reading v Manchester United, Live on ESPN,
Saturday 5.30pm

It is hard to see United not winning this but Reading have been tough to beat recently. They haven’t won many but they haven’t lost many either. They have drawn a lot of games. But this is Manchester United and they are top of the league. They haven’t been at their best but they should still have too much for Reading at 4/9.

They’re still waiting on Nemanja Vidic to come back and Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Darren Fletcher are still trying to get their match fitness. At the top end of the pitch they have Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck who are all fit and raring to go, but they can’t get goals. The only one really doing it is Van Persie. Rooney has two league goals this season and Welbeck has one which is not nearly enough. Manchester United are going to have to find people to chip in with a few more goals and that’s part of their problem.

It’s difficult to see past Van Persie scoring first again at 3/1. United can win comfortably if they score early on and have a really comfortable days work. If they don’t score early it could be difficult. Hernandez is a good bet to score anytime as well at 11/10. He always looks to be in a goalscoring position and if he gets the chance he usually takes it.

United should win comfortably and cover the one goal handicap at 11/10.

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