Liverpool’s attack gives them a great chance of winning the Champions League
Southampton are shaky favourites at Everton
What’s your best bet for the weekend?
I like what Paul Lambert is doing at Stoke and with just a bit of luck of late they could have been out of the bottom three. I certainly fancy them to take care of Crystal Palace in the early kick-off, especially if they show as much discipline defensively against the Eagles as they did against Liverpool last week. Palace are as good as safe and may not be quite on it.
Which favourites look the most vulnerable?
I’m amazed Southampton are favourites at Everton. I know that need-to-win plays a part in pricing, but Saints have been poor for ages. They nicked a win against Bournemouth last week but they can expect no handouts from Everton. The Toffees are decent at home and well organised under Sam Allardyce who still has points to prove.
Where’s the value in Chelsea v Liverpool?
I’m inclined towards Chelsea. Jurgen Klopp doesn’t need a hard game especially with Brighton at home to produce the win he needs to guarantee top-four status. Injuries are biting at Anfield so Klopp will have to rotate his side, especially with a Champions League final three weeks away. With a few changes in his starting 11, this is a golden opportunity for Chelsea.
Who gets your vote for Premier League manager of the year?
It’s not an easy one. Is keeping a basket case of a club in the top- light less worthy than winning the league? Pep Guardiola deserves all the credit going for what he’s done, but is Roy Hodgson’s achievement at Palace any less excellent? Rafa Benitez deserves a mention too given Newcastle could well have imploded in less competent hands.
Which two teams will be relegated from the Championship?
There’s bound to be a twist or two as the afternoon wears on but the two in the drop zone at the moment – Bolton and Burton – get my vote. Barnsley just have to match Burton’s result and I fancy them to do that while Bolton need to beat Forest to have any chance. That means them doing something they’ve struggled to do all season – score goals – and that’s not going to be easy.
What are your early thoughts on a Champions League final bet?
I agree that Real Madrid are favourites, but is the hunger still there having won the last two? Liverpool will be super-charged in Kiev but can we say the same of Real, who showed flaws against Bayern? Liverpool’s attack gives them a great chance but they are going to have to be streetwise to ensure they don’t get picked off themselves. Both teams to score is my bet.
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