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'Expert' UK soccer tips

2012-02-10 11:00

Cape Town - Each round of the 2011/12 English Premiership season, a panel of Sport24 staff or guest tipsters have a crack at predicting the results – do it yourself, if you like, and see how you compare afterwards.

Compiled by Rob Houwing (the champion for the last two seasons but a Newcastle supporter for his sins), the others are Garrin Lambley (very Everton-partial), and David Brooke (Manchester United).

THE PRIME ATTRACTION

MANCHESTER UNITED v LIVERPOOL
Saturday, 14:45


There’s little love lost between the Mancs and Scousers at the best of times, and the recent Suarez-Evra racial rumpus adds further fuel to the fire for this attractive lunchtime (in UK terms) kick-off. Other issues raise the stakes, too: United are obviously desperate not to lose touch with Manchester City at the top of the table, ‘Pool are chasing a European slot and there’s the revenge factor to buoy the Red Devils after these opponents elbowed them out of the FA Cup. The Merseysiders have been quite sturdily defensively of late, so maybe a hatful of goals is not in the offing here ... my fancy is for the hosts to win it with a lone strike. David wears his colours on his sleeve, but Evertonian  Garrin quite charitably tips Liverpool to emerge “honours even”. United edged a five-goal thriller in the equivalent game last season.  

Rob: Manchester United 1 Liverpool 0
Garrin: 1-1
David: 2-1
Last season: 3-2

THE GRUDGE MATCH

WOLVES v WEST BROM
Sunday, 15:30


This is not one of the more glamorous, globally-publicised derbies around, but the Black Country one nevertheless gets pulses racing among fans of the respective combatants. (For the record, the geographical distance separating them is a mere 11km.) It ought to be as competitive and rugged as ever, because both teams are keenly trying to sidestep the drop zone – Wolves are particularly perilously perched a fraction above it, and defeat would certainly drag them closer into the stinky, steamy stuff! WBA are slightly safer at this stage, but won’t wish for anything less than a fighting away point. I believe the teams will simply cancel each other out grimly in the Molineux “refrigerator” ... nil-nil. Only David ventures a conclusive outcome: yes, a Baggies-snatch.

Rob: Wolves 0 West Brom 0
Garrin: 1-1
David: 0-1
Last season: 3-1

THE DESPERATE DUEL

BOLTON v WIGAN
Saturday, 1700


How could I have gone for any fixture but this chilly (no doubt), rather lame-duck encounter? It pits two teams in the bottom three against each other, with basement club Wigan obviously especially anxious to start making positive moves if they can. The visitors can claim heart from a gritty point from their trip to Everton last week, and on those grounds I’m backing them to grab another outcome like that. But Garrin and David go the other way, preferring a result that might see Bolton click out of the drop zone. They’ll have to play better than in their loss at Norwich last week, mind you ...

Rob: Bolton 1 Wigan 1
Garrin: 2-1
David: 2-1
Last season: 1-1

THE OTHERS

BLACKBURN v QPR
Saturday, 17:00


Rob: Blackburn 1 QPR 0  
Garrin: 1-1
David: 0-3
Last season: Not applicable

EVERTON v CHELSEA
Saturday, 17:00


Rob: Everton 1 Chelsea 1
Garrin: 0-1
David: 1-2
Last season: 1-0

FULHAM v STOKE
Saturday, 17:00


Rob: Fulham 0 Stoke 0
Garrin: 2-1
David: 1-1
Last season: 2-0

SUNDERLAND v ARSENAL
Saturday, 17:00


Rob: Sunderland 2 Arsenal 2
Garrin: 1-2
David: 1-1
Last season: 1-1

SWANSEA v NORWICH
Saturday, 17:00


Rob: Swansea 1 Norwich 0
Garrin: 2-1
David: 0-1
Last season: Not applicable

TOTTENHAM v NEWCASTLE
Saturday, 19:30


Rob: Tottenham 1 Newcastle 1
Garrin: 2-1
David: 3-2
Last season: 2-0 

ASTON VILLA v MANCHESTER CITY
Sunday, 18:00


Rob: Aston Villa 1 Manchester City 2
Garrin: 0-2
David: 0-2
Last season: 1-0

LEADERBOARD


Under the Sport24 staff scoring system (three points for a fully correct scoreline, one for right result), the last round of matches saw the race – I would strongly argue, anyway! – turn into a three-horse one at last. With a golden haul of 13 points, I reckon I have made up enough ground now to be a genuine threat at title retention. In another development, Garrin has hauled in Dave to go level with him at the top. Not quite final furlong yet, but this could be tense through to May now ...   

171 Garrin (7 points in last round)
171 David (4)
164 Rob (13)

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