Liverpool could keep up their strong form against derby rivals
What’s your best bet of the weekend?
Didi Hamann Liverpool legend I quite fancy Middlesbrough to win at Swansea. Steve Agnew has promised changes after the Aitor Karanka reign and he’s already take some gambles, none more so than with the coaching staff. I think bringing Jonathan Woodgate back to the Riverside could be a masterstroke. It’s easy to look at the negatives but they have with nothing to lose and I’m excited by what Boro are doing.
Chris Pender Ladbrokes Blackpool. Gary Bowyer’s men are unbeaten since mid-February and will look to consolidate their playoff spot when they visit Kenilworth Road in League Two. Luton have aspirations of promotion as well but look set to be without top goalscorer Danny Hylton again.
Harry Redknapp BT Sport pundit The draw in Burnley v Tottenham. Turf Moor is a really tough place for teams to go and Sean Dyche should be on any shortlist for manager of the season for what he has done there this season. Burnley aren’t going down. Spurs are still without Harry Kane and that leaves them lighter up top. Burnley will launch balls up to their front men and pile on the pressure.
Dan Sait Racing Post Sport Preston to beat Nottingham Forest. Preston still have an outside chance of nicking a playoff place and are unbeaten in their last six home games, winning five. Two of the scalps claimed in that run were top-five pair Reading and Brighton, and they should be odds-on hosting a Forest side who have taken just two points from their last nine away games.
Kristian Walsh Liverpool Echo I’m not sure Juventus should ever be this big in Serie A, even away to third-placed Napoli. Juve’s form away to the top eight may concern some, but Napoli lost to Roma and Atalanta and drew with Lazio at the San Paolo. It’s tight in terms of shot data but the leaders will be buoyed by the idea of killing off any faint hopes of a title push from Napoli.
Which favourites look the most vulnerable?
DH Leicester, who are at home to Stoke. There has been massive pressure on Leicester after Claudio Ranieri’s exit and they’ve responded with four wins out of four, three in the league. But that doesn’t mean they are the real deal. Stoke will make life uncomfortable for any side and are more than capable of getting something at the King Power.
CP Manchester United. They have suffered a number of injuries during the international break and Zlatan Ibrahimovic is serving the last game of his ban. West Brom have all the attributes needed to go to Old Trafford and frustrate Jose Mourinho’s men.
HR Southampton look too short in the BT Sport game against Bournemouth, who are playing with so much confidence. Last season when the Cherries went to St Mary’s they were played off the park for 45 minutes but Eddie Howe made changes. and they were a different team. The Saints’ back line, minus Virgil van Dijk, can be got at. Expect goals.
DS Tottenham are too short against Burnley. Spurs are unstoppable when they get it right, but they have far too many off-days on the road to be trusted at such short odds. Burnley have lost just twice in 13 games at Turf Moor this term – a thoroughly undeserved defeat to Arsenal and a nip-and-tuck 2-1 loss to Manchester City.
KW Swansea. They’ve been pretty poor in recent games against sides they’re battling against for survival, and Middlesbrough showed enough against Manchester United to give hope that Steve Agnew might have them scoring a goal, if nothing else. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one peter out.
Where’s the value in the Merseyside derby?
DH No matter how hit-and-miss Liverpool are, I fancy they’ll beat Everton. There are big players missing, but Everton are going to curse Seamus Coleman’s absence more than Liverpool will Adam Lallana’s. The key to Liverpool finishing the season in style will be whether Philippe Coutinho rediscovers his zip. He was superb before his injury.
CP Liverpool are unbeaten in derbies since 2010. While Everton have been in good form, they lost at Tottenham and drew at Middlesbrough and the loss of Seamus Coleman and Ramiro Funes Mori means Ronald Koeman will have to shuffle his defense. Jurgen Klopp’s side seem to rise to the big occasion and I like the look of Liverpool -1.
HR Liverpool. The injury to Seamus Coleman on Ireland duty was a massive blow for Everton and that’s an area that Liverpool’s flying forwards can exploit. Liverpool will get at Everton, who have a really poor record at Anfield.
DS The loss of Adam Lallana is a blow to Liverpool as is the probable continued absence of Jordan Henderson. Everton will sadly be without Seamus Coleman, but if they are brave they could get a draw. Allow the hosts to dictate the pace, as they did at Tottenham, and the Toffees will struggle, but go for the throat and they have the quality to get a point.
KW Everton. Liverpool are missing two of their three first-choice midfielders and it has the potential to throw their entire gameplan out of the window. Granted, Seamus Coleman is a big loss but Ronald Koeman has a decent record at Anfield. I would make the Reds a little longer, at least.
How do you see Arsenal v Manchester City going tomorrow?
DH City. Arsenal has turned into a circus and it’s a great time for City to be visiting. I don’t think anyone at Arsenal has a clue what’s going on – apart from Arsene Wenger, who’s refusing to say. It’s sad when you consider what a well-run and well-respected club they’ve been for the past 20 years. Wenger needs to stop dragging this out because it’s a distraction.
CP This fixture usually produces goals. It’s a must-win game for both teams as they chase places in the top four. Confidence at Arsenal is low and there isuncertainty over Arsene Wenger’s future. City’s players continue to frustrate Pep Guardiola. Both defences have shown a vulnerability all season and I see no reason why that will change. Over 2.5 goals.
HR Arsenal need to pick up quickly or they can kiss goodbye to the top four. But things don’t feel quite right there and they’ve got a few injuries. Manchester City will approach this game like any other and be positive. They aren’t going to win the league and it doesn’t matter to them if they finish second or third so they’ll take risks.
I fancy City to win this one.
DS It should be fun for neutrals but a nightmare for the managers. Everyone is beating up on Arsenal, which is fair given they’ve lost six of their last seven against top-tier opposition and haven’t beaten a top-seven rival since September. But Manchester City’s slapstick defence should offer up chances, so City and both teams to score appeals.
KW I fancy Manchester City to put a further nail into the coffin of Arsenal’s season. The Gunners’ annual spring meltdown is in full force and they come up against a City side who are better than them and who don’t usually concede many shots on target. Are Arsenal clinical enough to make theirs count? I don’t think so.
Should Jermain Defoe go to the World Cup finals with England?
DH Yes. The 5-2 that he makes the squad is a really good price. Only Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy are ahead of him at the moment and there are no guarantees that Vardy is going to maintain his form. I’d certainly have Defoe shorter than Wayne Rooney, and we’ve no idea what Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck are going to be like next season.
CP Yes. Gareth Southgate has stated that he intends to pick players who are in form. If Defoe continues to produce goals in the Premier League, he will have every chance of making the plane to Russia.
HR Yes. I think the world of Jermain. I signed him at West Ham, Portsmouth and Tottenham and spent two nights trying to persuade him to join me at QPR from Toronto. He’s as good a finisher as there is out there and while Harry Kane will always be my number one striker, Jermain would let no one down.
DS No. The reaction to Defoe’s performance against Lithuania was over the top. Yes, he scored, but it was a sitter. Dele Alli had made the same run and would have tapped in if Defoe hadn’t. The Sunderland man is nice back-up but he lacks Jamie Vardy’s pace, Marcus Rashford’s ability to go past a player and Harry Kane’s link-up play.
KW No. He’ll be 35 next summer. England aren’t going to win this World Cup and need to take this opportunities to plan for future major tournaments. Having a veteran striker there won’t help – the same goes for Wayne Rooney. Defoe has had a great season, though.
Give us a winner on the midweek Premier League coupon
DH I’m going to go for a draw in Chelsea v Manchester CITY. I’ve been waiting for weeks for the brakes to come on at the Bridge but the Blues show no sign of weakening. What was noticeable at Stoke last time was that they dominated possession but had less of a cutting edge. It has been a long season and they are just looking to get the title won now.
CP Hull at home to Middlesbrough. Home form will be key to survival for the Tigers and they should have enough to see off a Middlesbrough team struggling for confidence and goals.
HR Chelsea v Man City draw in Wednesday’s BT Sport game. Bookies might as well pay out on Chelsea now. They’ll go out with the mentality that City won’t beat them and get the job done.
Harry Redknapp is part of BT Sport’s football team. Watch Southampton v Bournemouth on BT Sport 1 at 5.30pm today, the first of seven Premier League games throughout April.
DS Hull look overpriced twice this week and I’ll be backing them when they host Middlesbrough on Wednesday. The Tigers are a different animal under Marco Silva, particularly at home where they have yet to lose under him. Five wins in six is impressive and two of those victories came against Liverpool and Manchester United (League Cup).
KW I’m not sure the Craig Shakespeare effect can last for the rest of the season at Leicester. There are a fair few questions still lingering over the Foxes, and I think David Moyes is capable of giving Sunderland hope before their relegation. Sunderland +1 on the Asian handicap could go off at evens.