Some useful betting advice from football’s Andy Gray
Andy Gray – playing Xbox?
Fancy adding a thrill injection to Match of the Day this weekend? Then why not see what Andy Gray has to say for himself, and then place a few strategic bets? This from our pals at Betfair Footall:
Andy Gray offers his tips for Stoke’s lunchtime clash with West Ham and the teatime game between Sunderland and Arsenal, as well as predicting the correct scores of all five 3pm kick-offs…
Stoke City v West Ham
I watched Stoke on Monday night and they were spirited, combative and put Aston Villa under lots of pressure. The home supporters are terrific – very loud – and the Britannia Stadium is a very difficult place to go to at the best of times, let alone off the back of four straight defeats like West Ham.
I thought substitutes Ricardo Fuller and Jermaine Pennant made an important impact against Villa. They add subtlety to the play and I will be interested to see if both start on Saturday. If Pennant can succeed at Stoke then, with Matthew Etherington on the opposite flank, they will have two very good crossers of the ball.
West Ham’s predicament is terrible. You wouldn’t wish such a start on any team. They have been unlucky in that they’ve started the season with tough fixtures against Manchester United and Chelsea but they would have hoped to have won at home to Bolton.
Avram Grant won’t be at Saturday’s game but we have to respect his religious beliefs and West Ham need to get on with the job in hand. If they don’t fight and scrap they will be beaten, no question. Stoke will be full of confidence after beating Villa and I anticipate a really tough day for the Hammers again. I expect it will be defeat number five for them and am backing Stoke to win 2-0.
I sometimes worry about Arsenal after they’ve played in Europe in midweek but their victory over Braga was so comfortable that they are still probably quite fresh. Sunderland will be physical and combative; they will get in Arsenal’s faces early on and try to stop them playing their passing game.
Arsene Wenger may not like it but it’s how Sunderland will have to play because if they let Arsenal pass the ball around, they will get beat 6-0 just like Braga.
Steve Bruce’s sides always make life difficult for the Gunners and Sunderland’s home form is good. After scoring on his debut against Wigan last week, I expect Asamoah Gyan to start and, with Darren Bent alongside him, Sunderland have the makings of a really potent attack.
Arsenal have what it takes to win at the Stadium of Light though. They will keep the ball for long periods despite pressure from the home side and, in the end, I expect them to make their possession pay. I like Marouane Chamakh, he’s been impressive so far, and Cesc Fabregas is in great form. It’s been said before, but the Spaniard’s importance to Arsenal cannot be underestimated.
These are encouraging times for the Gunners and I expect them to win a hard fought game. I also have a feeling that Andrey Arshavin will score his third league goal of the season.
Aston Villa v Bolton
Villa will be feeling a little crestfallen after defeat to Stoke and they will still be without their new manager. They’ve got enough to beat Bolton though and I’m backing them.
Correct score: 1-0 at 8.2
Blackburn v Fulham
This is a tough one to call. Fulham are still unbeaten but I’m going to back Blackburn because of their excellent home record.
Correct score: 2-1 at 9.8
Everton v Newcastle
After last week’s magnificent recovery against Manchester United, Everton still need a win. I expect them to get it against Newcastle on Saturday.
Correct score: 3-1 at 15.5
Tottenham v Wolves
Spurs lost this game last season and Harry Redknapp will be determined to ensure that there isn’t a repeat on Saturday. They played in Europe in midweek though, Wolves are a decent side and this won’t be easy for the home team.
Correct score: 1-0 at 7.6
West Brom v Birmingham
It’s hard to separate these two midland rivals. Birmingham are becoming very hard to beat and are the stronger side but the Baggies can hold them at home.
Correct score: 2-2 at 18.0