Rob's Football Flutter
Each round of the English Premiership season, those in the know at Sport24 – and those happy to thumb-suck – take a stab at predicting the results.
Compiled by Chief Writer Rob Houwing, with predictions from Managing Editor Garrin Lambley, Multimedia Editor Raymond Kilfoil, Commercial Manager David Brooke and former Bafana striker and current Sport24 columnist George Dearnaley, we’ll have you confused in no time … take our advice at your peril!ARSENAL v SUNDERLAND
The Gunners’ quest to make the Champions League cut next season is beginning to look a little shaky. So the visit of the Black Cats is a must-win for them, even if they were given a few dicey moments in the corresponding fixture last time. Sunderland come off a home win against Stoke, but there’s massive Flutter support for the home victory here, especially if Eduardo overcomes a niggle to continue his stirring comeback.
Rob: Arsenal 3 Sunderland 1
Last season: 3-2ASTON VILLA v CHELSEA
You never quite know what to expect of clubs under new management. What sort of effect with Guus Hiddink have on the Blues? Fergie reckons Chelsea were wrong to get rid of Big Phil Scolari, but that may just have been mischief-making by the boss of the Premiership-leading side! It’s a stiff baptism for Hiddink, as Villa are presently one spot above the Blues and won last year’s encounter. Popular call is a stalemate …
Rob: Aston Villa 0 Chelsea 0
Last season: 2-0BOLTON v WEST HAM
Both outfits were beaten last time out, the Trotters given a proper hiding at Everton. Hammers only went down 1-0 at home to the rampant Red Devils, so they won’t be feeling too mortified about life. But you don’t just pitch up and win at the Reebok, so another draw is a safe option, and I’ve contracted Garrin’s “1-1” fever (see all his tips this week).
Rob: Bolton 1 West Ham 1
Last season: 1-0MANCHESTER UNITED v BLACKBURN
When is somebody finally going to put the ball past Edwin van der Sar? It’s 1 302 minutes and counting, but I see that Ray is brave enough to say Blackburn will finally get one in the Red Devils’ onion bag – even if in defeat anyway. How could anyone tip anything but a home win here? Even the Flutter gang aren’t so daft.
Rob: Manchester United 2 Blackburn 0
Last season: 2-0MIDDLESBROUGH v WIGAN
Last year each team won this fixture 1-0 on home soil, so it’s a hazardous one to call. Boro are deep in dwang, though, and come off a reverse at highly unpredictable Manchester City. Desperation could just drive them to a hard-earned point.
Rob: Middlesbrough 2 Wigan 2
Last season: 1-0STOKE v PORTSMOUTH
Gutted, I tell you. That’s how Pompey would have been feeling after they let slip a heartening 2-1 home lead against Liverpool a fortnight ago only to surrender all three points in a disastrous finish. Tony Adams is “finished” now too, of course, and the South Coast side did set things right by beating Manchester City in the only Premiership match last weekend. With this mini-momentum, I feel Pompey are capable of snatching another triumph at fragile Stoke, even if there’s little enthusiasm from my colleagues.
Rob: Stoke 1 Portsmouth 2
Last season: Not applicableFULHAM v WEST BROM
The Baggies ominously surrendered a five-goal thriller at home to co-battlers Newcastle last time, so this trip to London ought to represent a bridge too far as well. There is healthy agreement on this one. I secretly hope West Brom “book” a relegation passage early, giving my Toon favourites one less of the dreaded bottom-three slots to worry about. So go Fulham!
Rob: Fulham 2 West Brom 0
Last season: Not applicableLIVERPOOL v MANCHESTER CITY
Some sentiment in favour of a goal-fest here, which tells you plenty about “confidence” in the City defence. It’s just got to be Liverpool, eh? And if the Reds earn anything less than a full house, then frankly we can write off the Premiership 2008/09 as a one-horse race henceforth. Which would be a shame for neutrals still hoping for a rollercoaster climax.
Rob: Liverpool 2 Manchester City 0
Last season: 1-0NEWCASTLE v EVERTON
Possibly unscientifically, I’m thinking Toon have a decent home record against the Toffees. It’s at Goodison where they’re awful, but this one’s at “fortress” St James’s Park! Realistically, given contrasting table positions, I can’t quite stretch my neck out for a Newcastle win, but I’d certainly settle for a point. Even chewy old Toffee Garrin is content with that outcome, except that his 1-1 obsession lingers …
Rob: Newcastle 0 Everton 0
Last season: 3-2HULL v TOTTENHAM
I’ve been tipping Hull for a seismic fall for ages. But give them credit for the gutsy point at Stamford Bridge, which proved the torpedo that nailed Big Phil. Spurs were similarly resolute in holding arch-rivals Arsenal, mind. Ray takes his customary 2-0 flutter on a Tottenham triumph, but this Monday-nighter is destined for an unremarkable all-square …
Rob: Hull 1 Tottenham 1
Last season: Not applicable
*LEADERBOARD AFTER ROUND 25 (three points for a fully correct scoreline, one point for correct result)
178 Garrin (8 points in last fortnight)
161 Rob (6)
159 Ray (10)
154 George (10)
134 David (5)Verdict:
Impossible is nothing. That’s the thought I’m having to cling to from my distant (17 strokes, to be precise) second to the infernal Garrin. He’s not so infernal, actually. But we’re also club rivals in a “big” Newcastle v Everton clash this weekend – pity that one’s not exactly a Premiership meeting of first versus second. I have other worries on my mind: Ray is right back on my tail and George’s improvement remains ominously steady. Poor old Dave remains … ominously off-colour.