'Expert' UK footy tips
English Premiership (file)
Cape Town - Each round of the 2009/10 English Premiership season, a panel of self-proclaimed Sport24 soothsayers have a crack at predicting the week’s results.
Compiled by Chief Writer Rob Houwing (2008/09 runner-up), with regular predictions also from Managing Editor Garrin Lambley (the defending champion), Content Producer Raymond Kilfoil, Commercial Manager David Brooke and former Bafana Bafana and AmaZulu striker George Dearnaley, you’ll seldom find us singing from the same song-sheet.
Occasionally we invite a celebrity guest tipster to have a crack at a round of matches; watch this space.This week's fixtures:
CHELSEA v SUNDERLAND
Is George still too full of festive cheer? You have to wonder -- the big guy sees the Black Cats, who went backwards before and around Christmas, nicking a surprise point at Stamford Bridge. He’s got no support at all for his theory, but if Chelsea are held we’ll have to proclaim him a genius. Last season’s Blues turkey-shoot in this fixture hardly boosts his cause …
Rob: Chelsea 3 Sunderland 0
Last season: 5-0EVERTON v MANCHESTER CITY
Decent match-up: the Toffees are heartened by so nearly winning at Arsenal in one of last weekend’s rare matches, while City keep on winning under Mr Mancini! Our thoughts are divided, with George – still woozy? -- seeing Everton ending City’s march with a solid home win. I’ve gone the other way around, while Garrin and Ray take the safe option.
Rob: Everton 1 Manchester City 2
Last season: 1-2MANCHESTER UNITED v BURNLEY
No dissent on this match: none of us even see Burnley getting on the scoresheet, despite their sprightly approach to football. That adventure, of course, comes to the fore rather better at home – Old Trafford is an unlikely place for the visitors to dazzle. It’s two-nil or three-nil to the champions …
Rob: Manchester United 2 Burnley 0
Last season: Not applicablePORTSMOUTH v BIRMINGHAM
Pompey remain rooted to the basement, like a lift that hasn’t worked for months. Birmingham continue to look easily the most compelling of the promoted clubs this season, and come off a gutsy draw with the Red Devils. But Garrin shares my belief that they could raise their game and hold the Brummies.
Rob: Portsmouth 0 Birmingham 0
Last season: Not applicableSTOKE v LIVERPOOL
Dave is in absolutely no doubt about a thumping Reds win! Clearly he didn’t watch Liverpool embarrassingly surrender a 1-0 lead over humble Reading in a replay at Anfield in midweek and bow out of the FA Cup. I can only guess he’s thinking “backlash”. Still, all but Garrin suggest this game will be a “Rafa reprieve”, despite the Potters’ general solidity these days.
Rob: Stoke 0 Liverpool 1
Last season: 0-0
TOTTENHAM v HULL
Recent history throws up confusing signs. Spurs thrashed Hull in the first-round meeting this season, so really ought to fancy their chances of an easy three-pointer at White Hart Lane. But Hull prevailed at this very venue last winter, so that’s a crumb of comfort despite their struggle this campaign. Dave’s gone all gung-ho again …
Rob: Tottenham 2 Hull 0
Last season: 0-1WOLVES v WIGAN
Anything’s possible in this meeting of lower mid-tablers, with Wolves a nose-hair ahead on the table. You get all outcomes from our panel, but I’ve gone for the away win simply because of Wigan’s more sturdy experience of the top flight and ability to raise their game notably at times.
Rob: Wolves 0 Wigan 1
Last season: Not applicableASTON VILLA v WEST HAM
Villa come off losses against Arsenal and Liverpool over the Festive Season, so this is a much-needed opportunity to get back to winning ways against the relegation-threatened Hammers. I see them bagging the full house comfortably, although Ray has the Londoners grabbing a morale-boosting draw.
Rob: Aston Villa 3 West Ham 0
Last season: 1-1BLACKBURN v FULHAM
Blackburn were munched by Manchester City on Monday night, and haven’t won in some seven outings. So there’s zero support for a home victory in this one, and David even suggests Fulham stealing all three points. A low-scoring draw is the primary order of the day for the forecasters.
Rob: Blackburn 0 Fulham 0
Last season: 1-0BOLTON v ARSENAL
These teams unusually meet twice in the Premiership in three days, because they are also down to play a rearranged game at the Emirates Stadium next Wednesday. The Gunners won fairly easily at Bolton last season, and we’ve all tipped the away win again for Arse’s resurgent title challenge to continue …
Rob: Bolton 0 Arsenal 2
Last season: 1-3*LEADERBOARD (three points for wholly correct score-line, one for right result):
With only three matches played on last week’s freeze-curtailed programme, it seemed a bit pointless updating the leaderboard. Once the various postponed matches have all been played, we will update it using the whole round, as per more usual method. (That way you’ll also see how our guest tipster, former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan, fared in a full programme.) And with a bit of luck, there will be no cancelled fixtures this weekend as the temperature around Britain gloriously rises a tad above zero …