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Sunday, 21 October, 2018

Swansea need a big win to stay in the Premier League

Our experts answer the week's big questions

Gylfi Sigurdsson is a key man for the Swans
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Aaron Ashley RacingPost Sport

What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Wolves at home to Preston. The Lilywhites have folded tamely since their playoff hopes were dashed and they are winless on their travels in ten matches. Wolves have not been at their best but they have had a few tough fixtures of late and should relish hosting Simon Grayson’s men, who have shipped 14 times in their last five league games.

Which favourites look the most vulnerable?
Liverpool at home to Southampton. Jurgen Klopp’s men are finding goals hard to come by and a couple of sketchy 1-0 wins at Watford and West Brom, either side of a 2-1 defeat at home to Palace, are far from convincing. The Saints are not great on their travels but they won at Anfield earlier in the season and look too big to do so again.

Where’s the value at the Emirates on Sunday?
Under 2.5 goals. Manchester United’s Europa League clash with Celta Vigo and their injury problems should bolster Arsenal’s chances, but you have to question whether they are good enough to take it. The Gunners needed a late winner to see off Leicester and, as in United’s goalless draw at the Etihad, Mourinho will set up his team to restrict Arsenal.

Will either Middlesbrough or Swansea be able to stay in the Premier League?
Boro look down but Swansea have a chance of survival. The Swans have two games remaining at home, where they have lost just one of their last six, and a trip to Sunderland to get out of trouble. Hull, two points ahead of Swansea, should beat the Black Cats today but they play Crystal Palace and Tottenham and may need more than just one win.

Who will win the Sky Bet Championship title?
It’s in Brighton’s hands but they won’t find it easy at Villa Park. The Seagulls have suffered successive league defeats to Norwich and Bristol City without finding the net, while Aston Villa have won six of their last seven at home without conceding. Newcastle should see off Barnsley and I’d chance them to go up as champions.

What’s your best bet for midweek European matches?
Atletico to beat Real. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Bernabeu hat-trick put an end to Atletico’s hopes of reaching the final but they won’t roll over and have a dominant home record in Europe. Los Rojiblancos have lost just one of their last 22 Champions League matches on home soil, which includes a 1-0 win over Bayern Munich in this season’s group stage.

Michael Cox Tactics expert

What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Darmstadt with the draw no bet at Bayern. It’s bottom at top, but Darmstadt have won their last three, and Bayern have looked poor in recent weeks and may lack intensity having wrapped up the title. 

Which favourites look the most vulnerable?
Manchester City. They look like they may be without Sergio Aguero and David Silva, and appear too short against a good counter-attacking Crystal Palace side who have won at Anfield and Stamford Bridge recently. 

Where’s the value at the Emirates on Sunday?
Arsenal have been highly inconsistent in recent weeks, and while Jose Mourinho is threatening to rest players, I can’t see how the Gunners are odds-on against a side with a 25-match unbeaten Premier League record and I’d be looking to lay them.

Will either Middlesbrough or Swansea be able to stay in the Premier League?
Middlesbrough are doomed but Swansea have a fighting chance. They were excellent in the 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last week. Everton are beatable, then there’s a trip to relegated Sunderland, and a home game against West Brom who are seemingly on the beach already.

Who will win the Sky Bet Championship title?
I fancy Aston Villa to ruin Brighton’s party, whereas Newcastle have recovered from a wobble and seem to be playing with freedom now they’re up. Benitez’s men can take it. 

What’s your best bet for midweek European matches?
Atletico won’t turn the tie around, but I fancy them to celebrate their final European game at the Calderon with a morale-boosting victory against a Real side still battling for the La Liga title.


Steve Davies Racing Post Sport

What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Notts County or draw double chance at Newport. Six wins in their last 11 have helped Newport to the brink of safety, but the pressure will be on at a rammed Rodney Parade against a County side who have also improved over the second half of the campaign. On a poor pitch chances will be scarce and the draw is a massive runner – even more so if Hartlepool are losing to Doncaster.

Which favourites look the most vulnerable?
I’m not interested in a short price about 19th-placed Burton at home to third-placed Reading. It’s all very well saying Jaap Stam will make changes ahead of the playoffs, but some of the lads coming in have a chance to impress. Burton achieved last week their target of securing Championship survival so this could be a non-event from the off.

Where’s the value at the Emirates on Sunday?
It just looks too neat. United are going to make changes so Arsene Wenger will finally get one over on Jose Mourinho. I’m not sure. Yes, the United boss will rest players but he has still got a strong squad and more than enough defensive resilience to stop the Gunners. I foresee another frustrating afternoon for Arsenal and can see this ending in a draw.

Will either Middlesbrough or Swansea be able to stay in the Premier League?
No. Working out which matches are winnable and which aren’t at this stage of the season is dangerous because these sides are where they are because they haven’t been winning enough matches. So with three games to go I’d prefer to be on the teams with more points which means Swansea, two points worse off than Hull, are done for.

Who will win the Sky Bet Championship title?
I’ll take the bigger price about Newcastle. They’ll be on a high after getting promoted but the ever-professional Rafa Benitez will ensure they sign off with a home win against Barnsley. Brighton, on the other hand, have to follow a couple of shockers against Norwich and Bristol City with a tricky trip to Aston Villa, who won’t be pushovers.

What’s your best bet for midweek European matches?
Ajax look a big price to finish off Lyon. The Dutch giants take a 4-1 advantage to France and that’s a deflating scoreline for the French side. Ajax are on the verge of the final because they’ve done so much good work in Amsterdam over the course of the season, but Lyon will throw everything at them and that should present chances on the counter.

Steve Freeth bet365

What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Brighton. It’s squeaky-bum time for Brighton outright backers as they head to Villa Park. Fear not, Steve Bruce has spent bundles and I sense the Villa faithful are restless about a number of things, including style of play and lack of goals. No Jonathan Kodjia is an added blow so I’m going for the away win

Which favourites look the most vulnerable?
Stevenage. I’m disappointed to see them run out of steam at this stage of the season, the loss of Matt Godden is a blow, but Darren Sarll deserves enormous credit for this season regardless. Accrington know all about missing out on the last day and may still be competitive enough.

Where’s the value at the Emirates on Sunday?
Draw. Jose Mourinho is telling us that he’ll be resting his ‘tired’ players for this one but there seems to be a number of big names coming back to fitness and this Arsenal side is hardly convincing. Take United to preserve their unbeaten Premier League run with another stalemate.

Will either Middlesbrough or Swansea be able to stay in the Premier League?
No. Boro kept the dour Karanka for too long and the four points garnered from the last two games have come too late. Hull’s impressive home form puts paid to Swansea’s survival chances. The Tigers host Sunderland today and then a Spurs side who could already have run their race, while Palace away might be fruitful as well.

Who will win the Sky Bet Championship title?
Brighton clearly need to refocus after getting the job done in gaining promotion but former Birmingham boss Hughton can claim the three points required at Villa Park to clinch the title with Newcastle beating Barnsley at St James’ Park.

What’s your best bet for midweek European matches?
Monaco to breach that mightily impressive Juventus rearguard in a game where both teams will score.


Didi Hamann Liverpool legend

What’s your best bet for the weekend?
Bournemouth at home to Stoke. Back-to-back wins have hoisted Bournemouth to mid-table and they are proving hard to beat at Dean Court. You’ve got to hand it to Eddie Howe for the job he’s done. He’s never wavered from his principles and they could yet finish in the top half. I’d certainly take them to beat a Stoke side who have applied the brakes.

Which favourites look the most vulnerable?
Leicester at home to Watford. It’s been a long, hard season for Leicester, who have secured their Premier League future and probably now can’t wait for the summer. I thought Watford did okay against Liverpool on Monday night and certainly put in a shift. They’ve got a work ethic and don’t get rolled over often.

Where’s the value at the Emirates on Sunday?
Arsenal. Given the injury situation at Old Trafford and the Europa League tie against Celta Vigo coming up, Jose Mourinho is going to rest a few and they’ll be weaker accordingly. This is a chance for Arsenal to make a statement, to announce that they are still in the top-four hunt and Wenger will never get a better chance to put one over Mourinho.

Will either Middlesbrough or Swansea be able to stay in the Premier League?
no. Boro are history. They are too far behind and have a harder run-in than Hull or Swansea. Hull’s home form has kept them alive and two of their last three matches are at the KCom. They can beat Sunderland and even with no more points, that would leave Swansea having to win two of their last three – or win and two draws – and I can’t see it.

Who will win the Sky Bet Championship title?
Brighton have hit the buffers with back-to-back defeats by Norwich and Bristol City. There wasn’t a great deal of purpose in either performance and this looks like a group who have done what they set out to do and moved on. Rafa Benitez, on the other hand, won’t let Newcastle’s standards drop – it’s not in his nature. I’ll take a chance on the Magpies.

What’s your best bet for midweek European matches?
Atletico look a fair price at home to Real. The 3-0 win for Real in the Bernabeu has effectively ended the tie but it also puts the champions in a tricky position, knowing how to approach the game. I can see them trying to stifle Atletico who will look to put in a huge effort. Atletico games are generally low-scoring so a narrow 1-0 home win looks likely.

 

Hull’s home form has kept them alive and two of their last three matches are at the KCom
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