Saturday 1st November
12.45 Newcastle v Liverpool
The weekend starts with an incredibly interesting game. Here come Newcastle, a club in constant turmoil with near unanimous animosity amongst fans toward owner Mike Ashley and manager Alan Pardew, a man largely derided by some supporters as an incompetent lackey from London. They have been largely awful this season with very few players looking bothered to even break a sweat. And yet, and yet… Here they are now, fresh off the back of two scarcely believable wins away to Spurs and Manchester City respectively.
Their turnaround in form and optimism from just this time last week is barely credible. And then there’s Liverpool. Granted, they got a dramatic late win against Swansea mid-week but did little to encourage those seeking signs of improvement in their play. It looks likely that the stability they seek may not return until Daniel Sturridge returns to action, which, with luck, might see them scoring more then they concede. With that taken into account, it’s worth looking at the prices for a Newcastle win and also the draw – you can get 14/5 for the draw from Boylesports and 29/10 for a Newcastle win from Betvictor. With both prices so similar, this column will settle for a draw.
15.00 Chelsea v QPR
The only reason for flagging a match which seems to be the definition of a dead-rubber is the massively generous price available for the unlikely away win. It barely needs pointing out the disparities between the teams in terms of ability, form and league standing but it is worth bearing in mind that QPR have rolled up their sleeves in recent matches and begun to play with purpose and confidence. This is the kind of match that at times caused them trouble last season but Chelsea have barely missed a step so far in this one. Are they due to do so now? None of the bookies think so but a price of 22/1 for a QPR win from Betvictor does excite the attention somewhat.
Sunday 2nd November
13.30 Manchester City v Manchester United
The Manchester Derby is an intriguing one. City have had the upper hand in recent years, winning four of their last five meetings. However, as things stand, they seem to be in the midst of an unfolding crisis. The reigning League Champions have only won six of their last 14 games in all competitions, losing to Newcastle and West Ham in their most recent outings. This relatively poor form would seem to indicate a malaise amongst the team and coaching staff as they unsuccessfully seek to find the form which served them so well last season. United, on the other hand, seem to moving in a direction that could probably be considered upward. Fans and players alike were delighted with their late 1 – 1 win, sorry, draw with Chelsea last weekend.
Whilst they displayed a grit and determination to chase a result from that game, they were not as coherent and purposeful as some would have you believe. And they are still worryingly rudderless at the back. Having said that, they will be buoyed by their result against Chelsea and will taste the blood in the water from the wounded beast that is City. A win for United can be pocketed for 10/3 from Bet365.