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!
BLACKBURN v PORTSMOUTH
Both teams come off defeats yet both are fighting to get to the magical 40-point mark and complete safety … or so they say. A win for either and that objective will be achieved in one case. It’s a hard one to call, but I’ll take the drab option of narrow home win. All but Ray concur on the result.
Rob: Blackburn 1 Portsmouth 0
Last season: 0-1
BOLTON v SUNDERLAND
Here goes this desperate Toon man … c’mon Bolton! Bias aside, Sunderland are playing very ordinary football at present and could yet be dragged back into the drop zone. I fancy Bolton to bag this one, exactly emulating last season’s result. Garrin sees the Black Cats stealing a precious point, though.
Rob: Bolton 2 Sunderland 0
Last season: 2-0
EVERTON v TOTTENHAM
The Toffees are virtually assured of Uefa Cup football next season and can wrap that up by winning here. Mind you, they will also be starting to train their thoughts to the FA Cup final so minor distraction is possible. Not much to play for in Spurs’ case, and there’s a very mixed bag of tips for this one. When in doubt, opt for 1-1, I say, and it’s a philosophy Garrin certainly shares this week (read on!).
Rob: Everton 1 Tottenham 1
Last season: 0-0
FULHAM v ASTON VILLA
Villa still flatter to deceive, and their lack of cohesion for so long is one of life’s riddles. The 1-0 win over Hull didn’t really suggest champagne soccer is back at Villa Park (or, indeed, on their travels). So I’m backing Fulham to win by the only strike, although 1-1 is a popular prediction. George, of course, has “easy Villa win” pencilled brazenly in …
Rob: Fulham 1 Aston Villa 0
Last season: 2-1
HULL v STOKE
Right, Stoke, you’re also among my recent flurry of “new best mates”. In my ideal world the Potters grab all three points and march to 42-point security, condemning Hull to further cold sweats in the last two rounds. Reality tells me the home side will battle tooth and nail and pick up a share of the spoils, even if the Flutter panel are very divided.
Rob: Hull 0 Stoke 0
Last season: Not applicable
WEST BROM v WIGAN
Must-win for the basement Baggies if they are to stand any chance at all of a fairytale escape. So they will be up for it, but are they good enough to dispose of tenacious Wigan? A glance at our tipsters’ choices for this one firmly says “no”.
Rob: West Brom 1 Wigan 1
Last season: Not applicable
WEST HAM v LIVERPOOL
The fact that Manchester United face a testing derby a day later ought to be enough to leave Liverpool interested in keeping the title chase alive. Hammers have Gianfranco Zola nailed down to a new deal after he’s taken them well into the top 10, but there’s unanimous Flutterers support here for the away win! Still, ‘Pool must be wary of last season’s result …
Rob: West Ham 0 Liverpool 2
Last season: 1-0
ARSENAL v CHELSEA
This one could be something akin to attending a funeral! Both teams blown out of their Euro semis in midweek, with the Gunners ridiculed for how easily they went belly-up against the Red Devils and Chelsea still seething over one Tom Henning Ovrebo. Yet London derby passions always run deep and I expect both sets of fans to return to strong cheer surprisingly fast. I just fancy the Blues’ red mist, if you like, to manifest itself in an angry little away win …
Rob: Arsenal 0 Chelsea 1
Last season: 1-0
MANCHESTER UNITED v MANCHESTER CITY
United are walking with a swagger (no, not only Ronaldo) after trampling Arsenal into Euro submission and momentum ought to carry them to triumph in the Sunday lunchtime Manchester derby. Still, City are in goodish nick themselves and still harbour fond memories of their Premiership double over their neighbours last season. Only Garrin sees City getting a point, however, and Dave tips a United romp.
Rob: Manchester United 2 Manchester City 1
Last season: 1-2
NEWCASTLE v MIDDLESBROUGH
Game of the century! Er, depending on your point of view, of course. I’ve been having sleepless nights over it already, trying to work out how my beloved but currently abject Magpies can actually burgle a win. The head says Boro will steal a stalemate, leaving both northeast clubs heavily in the dwang. But George’s thinking delights me -- if that’s the outcome, I’ll recommend a statue in his honour being erected alongside “Wor Jackie” Milburn …
Rob: Newcastle 1 Middlesbrough 1
Last season: 1-1
*LEADERBOARD AFTER ROUND 35 (three points for a fully correct scoreline, one point for correct result)
254 Garrin (9 points for last round)
249 Rob (11)
227 Ray (8)
225 George (11)
199 David (9)
Verdict: My wily plans for a last-day, Iniesta-like outrageous steal of the Flutter spoils remain “on”, I think. I’m a mere five points shy of perennial leader Garrin now, with three rounds to play, and anything’s possible. Only George matched my 11-point haul last weekend, so he’s pushing hard for Ray’s long-time third spot. Some cheer for Dave is that he’s a quick single shy of the 200-mark now. (What price he trips and gets run out, though?)