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Brighton have a good chance of staying in Premier League

Our football experts answer the week's big questions

Brighton's Glenn Murray (right) and Anthony Knockaert
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Didi Hamann Liverpool legend

What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Middlesbrough continue to struggle. A change of manager was meant to bring a change in direction and a change in fortune, but it’s not happened. They need something at Bournemouth but I can’t fancy them. The Cherries have been dragged into the mix but at least they create chances and score goals and one might well be enough against impotent opponents.

Which favourites look most vulnerable?
Just when you thought Swansea were scrapping their way out of trouble, they’ve taken one point out of a possible 18 and are in real peril. I’d given up on Stoke after a barren run but last week against Hull they proved they haven’t broken up early and that means they are going to be a tough nut to crack at the Liberty.

Where’s the value in the FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Spurs?
Spurs to qualify. They could do it in 90 minutes but may well need extra-time or penalties. Their confidence is high and this current winning streak shows that this is a good team peaking at the right time. Chelsea might have already had their peak period and are arguably just coming off the top. On current form, it’s Spurs to make the final.

And what’s your Wembley wager for Sunday's clash between Arsenal and Man City?
I can’t see past Manchester City in 90 minutes. They were unlucky to draw with Arsenal in the league at the start of the month but what they did at Southampton last Saturday was outstanding. They can take the Gunners to the cleaners. Arsenal will be positive and that should make for a good game, but City boast the better players and system.

How will Brighton fare in the Premier League next season?
I’d be laying them for a bottom-six finish. To win promotion after last year’s heartbreak is outstanding and Chris Hughton deserves the utmost respect. He’s got a bright, forward-thinking side who won’t be fazed by a Premier League with plenty of average teams in it. A couple of decent signings and the Seagulls make the top 12.

Give us a tip for the midweek Premier League action
Arsenal to hammer Leicester. The Foxes’ race is run after their defeat by Atletico Madrid and a lot of the players will be looking to the summer and a move. They’ve got defensive worries and an away record that is awful. Arsenal are going to have to finish the season with a bang and this is the type of fixture where they can flex their muscles.


Alex Hilton Racing Post Sport

What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Automatic promotion may be slipping away for Reading but they can seal a playoff place with victory over Nottingham Forest. Despite a 7-1 walloping at Norwich a fortnight ago the Royals have been in great form and should be too strong for a Forest side who have won just two of their last 13 games and remain in real danger of relegation.

Which favourites look most vulnerable?
Man United could be vulnerable for Sunday's trip to Burnley. They had to play 120 minutes against Anderlecht in the Europa League on Thursday night and have a Manchester derby looming large on Thursday. Ibrahimovic is out and Mourinho may be keen to rest others with the City game and Europa League semi-final preying on his mind.

Where’s the value in the FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Spurs?
Tottenham. They’re the best team in the Premier League right now and look unbeatable. There may be an issue when it comes to playing at Wembley but that can’t last forever for a side this good. Spurs have won nine of their last ten games and look to be taking on Chelsea at the right time. The Blues look jaded and may have to play with a patched-up defence.

And what’s your Wembley wager for Sunday's clash between Arsenal and Man City?
Man City and both teams to score. Arsenal haven’t beaten City since December 2015 but they have scored in each of the last nine contests and could go down fighting in this one. The Citizens are flying and were superb against Southampton last week while the Gunners only just edged past miserable Middlesbrough.

How will Brighton fare in the Premier League next season?
The way the Seagulls bounced back after just missing out last season suggests a sound mindset and they’ll need that if they are to stick around. It won’t be easy as they will be up against some seasoned Premier League dogfight experts and for that I think Brighton may just come up short. They could avoid the wooden spoon but not the bottom three.

Give us a tip for the midweek Premier League action
A draw in the Manchester derby. United’s eggs are all in the Europa League basket but Mourinho will be desperate to avoid defeat at the Etihad. Stifling tactics/parking the bus/a Mourinho masterclass, call it what you like, the Portuguese gaffer will be trying every trick in the book and he often gets it right in these big games.  

Robin Miller Sporting Index

What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Wolves -0.25 at home to Blackburn. Blackburn’s recent results have been reasonable but the reality is that their performances haven’t. Blackburn fans on social media have collectively branded Tony Mowbray’s line-ups their ‘worst ever’. Wolves, on the other hand, have the pressure off and will play with the freedom that has seen them win three of their last four at home.

Which favourites look most vulnerable?
Dundee United look a sitting duck at odds-on. The Tangerines are struggling in the Ladbrokes Championship and are impotent in front of goal. They’ll not be relishing the visit of in-form St Mirren who recruited incredibly well during the transfer window and look certain to complete the great escape from the second tier in Scotland.

Where’s the value in the FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Spurs?
It’s hard to split these two based on current form and recent meetings. Spurs completely outplayed Chelsea at the Lane in January though at Wembley it should be a more cagey affair. The draw looks tempting as does the match to be won in extra-time at around 6-1.

And what’s your Wembley wager for Sunday's clash between Arsenal and Man City?
Arsenal to win in 90 minutes. There wasn’t an awful lot between the sides when they met in a thrilling encounter in the league recently. The large Wembley pitch will suit the Gunners and therefore the value points to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger to continue his quest for a seventh FA Cup.

How will Brighton fare in the Premier League next season?
Their squad looks solid yet unspectacular, even with expected further investment we can’t envisage them blooming next season. They’ll be a refreshing addition to the league and provide a super away day for opposition fans, but it will end in relegation heartbreak for the Seagulls, who will most likely finish in 18th.

Give us a tip for the midweek Premier League action
Over 2.5 goals in Middlesbrough versus Sunderland looks the value. While it is likely to be built up as a tense derby destined for a 0-0 stalemate, a draw is no good for either team and both managers will be forced to take risks for the prize of three precious points. 


James Milton Racing Post Sport

What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Under 2.5 goals in Port Vale v Bolton. Vale have failed to score in five of their last six Sky Bet League One games and they won’t get much change out of Bolton defenders David Wheater and Mark Beevers, who both made the division’s team of the season. The Trotters are second but their last five matches have featured only three goals.  

Which favourites look most vulnerable?
Luton are poised to claim a playoff spot in League Two despite a run of only two wins in nine games. They flopped at odds of 1-4 in their last home game, the 2-2 draw with doomed Leyton Orient, and are easy to swerve at odds-on against Notts County. The Magpies have won four of their last seven away, including a 1-0 win at promoted Plymouth. 

Where’s the value in the FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Spurs?
Draw. I’m not convinced that the Wembley result will have a massive knock-on effect in the Premier League title race but it could be cagey nonetheless. Chelsea are a slightly stronger team but Tottenham have the edge on recent form and Antonio Conte will demand an improved defensive effort after last weekend’s poor display at Old Trafford.   

And what’s your Wembley wager for Sunday’s clash between Arsenal and Man City?
Man City to win 3-1 looks worth a small play. Arsenal stopped the rot with Monday’s narrow win at Middlesbrough but they still gave up plenty of chances, especially from set pieces, and City’s attackers have tormented the Gunners in both league meetings. 

How will Brighton fare in the Premier League next season?
The quality of their football, and their consistency, in the Championship suggests they should avoid relegation given the right additions to the squad. They certainly look better equipped than Burnley, who are set to stay up, and Hull, who are still scrapping for survival, but another striker is required to ease the burden on 33-year-old Glenn Murray.

Give us a tip for the midweek Premier League action
Paddy Power go 17-2 about Jamie Vardy scoring first against Arsenal and that looks a good each-way bet. The Leicester man has notched in four of his last five league games, scored against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, and struck three times in the Foxes’ two meetings with the Gunners last season.

Jim Proudfoot Commentator 

What’s your best bet for the weekend?
It’s needs must for Hull – if they win their three remaining home games they will stay up. Their away form’s been shocking, but at home they are excellent, and still unbeaten at the KCom since Silva arrived. They’ve won seven of the last eight at home and have infinitely more to play for than mid-table Watford who’ve lost their last three on the road. The 10-11 that Hull win looks appetising.

Which favourites look most vulnerable?
As great escapes go, St Mirren’s from the foot of the Scottish Championship takes some beating. Two months ago they were 12 points adrift, but are now out of the bottom two after 21 points from ten games. Dundee United failed to beat bottom club Ayr last week, and I can’t have the 4-5 they repeat their cup win against the Buddies.

Where’s the value in the FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Spurs?
Chelsea showed a vulnerability against Manchester United that has seldom been seen since Antonio Conte arrived, with Diego Costa anonymous and Eden Hazard silenced. If Chelsea have wobbled, Spurs’ results have been magnificent, and allied to their victory at White Hart Lane in January, make them decent value at evens to reach the final.

And what’s your Wembley wager for Sunday's clash between Arsenal and Man City?
When the sides met in London earlier this month, City twice led and had the majority of chances. Their speed in attack is a major weapon against an Arsenal side who’ve been prone to pace, and Palace exposed the Gunners’ deficiencies defending opportunities created out wide. City are short enough but look the likely winners.

How will Brighton fare in the Premier League next season?
In Tony Bloom they have an astute chairman who knows the value of speculating to accumulate. There will have to be new players, but Albion’s recruitment has been excellent. Chris Hughton will be a better Premier League manager for his time at Norwich, and the last three Championship champions have beaten the drop. I expect Brighton to finish around 15th.

Give us a tip for the midweek Premier League action
Fabio Borini’s comments that Sunderland aren’t a united team will be a source of great encouragement for Middlesbrough. Boro have been woefully shot-shy, but at least they’re pulling in the same direction. They had a bit about them against Arsenal and I fancy them to win and prolong their own relegation battle in the process.

 

Chris Hughton deserves the utmost respect. He’s got a bright, forward-thinking side who won’t be fazed by a Premier League
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