'Expert' UK footy tips
English Premiership logo (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:ARSENAL v WEST HAM
With Arsenal having such renewed interest in the title chase, it is really, really hard to see cross-London rivals the Hammers getting in their way here – despite their own desperate battle to avoid the drop. Gianfranco Zola’s boys were thumped in another derby last weekend (4-1 at Chelsea) and ought to be comfortably beaten again. Dave goes big …
Rob: Arsenal 2 West Ham 0
Last season: 0-0
ASTON VILLA v WOLVES
Villa remain right in the hunt for a Champions League place and, usefully toward that end, beat Wigan away in midweek. So smart money suggests that back in their Birmingham stronghold they will see off struggling Wolves. A full house says “aye” to that theory, although the black-and-golds earned a key away win at Burnley last Saturday.
Rob: Aston Villa 2 Wolves 0
Last season: Not applicableEVERTON v BOLTON
Everton’s home form in recent weeks – including some notable scalps in Manchester United and Chelsea – is such that the Trotters should pose few problems. Still, even devout Toffee Garrin sees it as potentially close, and I’ve clung to his shirt-tails. Bolton are hard to gauge: they come off a 0-4 debacle at Sunderland but then 4-0 hit-back against Wigan!
Rob: Everton 1 Bolton 0
Last season: 3-0
PORTSMOUTH v HULL
Poor, poor Pompey. As if their various problems weren’t enough, they’ve been docked nine points for going into administration! (That leaves them with a pitiful tally of 10, by the way.) So “going down” is now a fait accompli. But I just fancy that there’s going to be a brave little show of defiance – and minor reward for their loyal but glum fans – when nearly-as-weak Hull come to town. George agrees.
Rob: Portsmouth 1 Hull 0
Last season: 2-2STOKE v TOTTENHAM
The Potters are top of the bottom half, and notoriously difficult to break down at home – Villa learned that last week in a goalless stalemate. Spurs, of course, are of a fairly similar calibre and I fancy they, too, will hit a brick wall. A point apiece is the majority thought, although Stoke actually nicked this one in 2008/09.
Rob: Stoke 0 Tottenham 0
Last season: 2-1
SUNDERLAND v BIRMINGHAM
You know me: as a fervent supporter of resurgent (OK, albeit a division down) Newcastle, I don’t hand out favours to the Black Cats too easily. But they’ve shown a stiffer spine of late, trouncing Bolton and coming within a couple of heart-breaking minutes of taking full points against the blue part of Manchester. So most of us have Sunderland edging it against the Brummies, who are tapering off just a tad.
Rob: Sunderland 2 Birmingham 1
Last season: Not applicable
WIGAN v BURNLEY
Another important showdown in terms of the relegation ding-dong, with Burnley slightly deeper in the mire and deflated by a terrible outcome last weekend: 1-2 at home to Wolves, effectively a “six-point swing” surrendered. And given Burnley’s dreadful away record, I feel Wigan will prevail in this one, although Dave is a lone customer going the other way …
Rob: Wigan 1 Burnley 0
Last season: Not applicableBLACKBURN v CHELSEA
There are two possibilities for Chelsea’s mental state going into this one: lingering depression after their Champions League KO at the hands of Inter, or a gritty resolve to atone by upping their Premiership silverware quest. We might see signs of both, but the Blues nevertheless should be too good for Blackburn – four of us reckon so. The Red Devil in George comes out as he conspiratorially backs Blackburn to steal a point!
Rob: Blackburn 1 Chelsea 2
Last season: 0-2FULHAM v MANCHESTER CITY
Same old, same old City? Just when you think they are going to finally “click” into a truly steely outfit (like when they humbled Chelsea 4-2 away) they do something to douse enthusiasm – like require a late, late leveller to earn a point at Sunderland! Although alone in my view, I tip Fulham to cash in further on this uncertainty. But the draw is most popular choice.
Rob: Fulham 1 Manchester City 0
Last season: 1-1MANCHESTER UNITED v LIVERPOOL
Liverpool are developing a strange little habit of appeasing their supporters for another barren Premiership season by proving more than an irritation to arch-enemies Manchester United: last season they did the double over the champions – 2-1 and Anfield and an especially galling 4-1 at Old Trafford. You would think United will be more than “up” for this one as a result. But Garrin and I still anticipate a throw-the-kitchen-sink effort from ‘Pool, so take the tried and trusted 1-1 option …
Rob: Manchester United 1 Liverpool 1
Last season: 1-4*ABBREVIATED FORECASTS FOR EXTRA MATCHES:ASTON VILLA v SUNDERLAND
Rob: Aston Villa 2 Sunderland 0
Last season: 2-1
BLACKBURN v BIRMINGHAM
Rob: Blackburn 1 Birmingham 1
Last season: Not applicableMANCHESTER CITY v EVERTON
Rob: Manchester City 2 Everton 1
Last season: 0-1PORTSMOUTH v CHELSEA
Rob: Portsmouth 1 Chelsea 3
Last season: 0-1*LEADERBOARD (three points for wholly correct score-line, one for right result):
232 Rob (11 points in last round)
225 Ray (13)
223 Dave (8)
219 George (9)
206 Garrin (10)Verdict:
A bit of change to the pecking order after a stable spell, with Ray suddenly leapfrogging the sluggish George and Dave into second - and standing just seven shots off the leader now as well. He was top marksman last weekend with his 13 points, and his situation was helped by the Footy Tips adjudicators opting to belatedly tally up – at last! - a round of tips from the New Year period, when the programme was ravaged by bad-weather postponements and matches were re-arranged for various, widespread slots on the calendar. I can tell you that former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan, invited to join the round from the press box at Newlands, slightly showed the rest of us football “experts” up; he was top man with 10 points. I’d rather not talk about my measly two, but at least my more current form is OK and keeps my nose in front. I’m off on overseas leave for three weeks, but in my absence colleague Garrin Lambley will keep an abbreviated version of Footy Tips going – after all, he wouldn’t want the campaign to end now, would he?