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Andy – tells it like it is…

Andy Gray 

For those of you keen to find an extra thrill this weekend, why not place a few thoughtful bets on the weekend’s games. Allow Andy Gray from Betfair Football to explain further…

After a midweek full of upsets in the Carling Cup we’re back to the Premier League and what is by far Chelsea’s biggest test of the season so far when they travel to Manchester, where they have a Saturday lunchtime date with City. Elsewhere, there’s another chance of redemption for Everton after a dismal start to the season in the shape of a trip to Fulham, whilst Liverpool will attempt to fare better against Sunderland than they did at home to Northampton…

Manchester City v Chelsea

The league table looks a pretty sight for Chelsea fans right now with five wins from five and a superb goal difference. But with all due respect to the likes of Blackpool and Wigan, they haven’t faced the best teams in the division yet and this fixture represents by far the biggest test they’ve come up against in the league.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men have been excellent up to now. Didier Drogba has started the season in a better vein of form than in previous years, Florent Malouda has been excellent in terms of his contributions with goals and assists whilst having a fit Michael Essien again is like having a brand new £30 million signing in the ranks. But if their front players think they’re going to be given as much time and space as they’ve been given in previous games, they’ve got another thing coming.

Despite having a ridiculously large pool of attacking talent at his disposal, Roberto Mancini is in many ways a typical Italian manager for whom defending well is his team’s first priority. And to be fair to him, his side have done that pretty well this season with the exception of a rare Joe Hart blunder at home to Blackburn and a lapse of concentration away to Sunderland that resulted in a very late penalty being awarded. If anything, it’s been the forward players who have performed a little under par with only Carlos Tevez being his usual brilliant self.

A win for Chelsea here would really deflate Mancini’s side, in the process giving Ancelotti’s team some real breathing space at the top of the table and you obviously don’t want to be giving a team like them that sort of edge this early on.

A draw wouldn’t be a bad result for the travelling side given that this is one of the toughest places to go away these days whilst Mancini would probably take it as well considering that at least it would represent the first points dropped for Chelsea. All things considered, a low-scoring stalemate is probably the most likely outcome on the day.

Recommended Bets:
Back the draw at 3.45
Back 1-1 at 7.4
Back under 2.5 goals at 2.0

Andy’s predictions for Saturday’s 3pm kick-offs…

Arsenal v West Brom
With or without Cesc Fabregas, another entertaining afternoon of attacking football is on the cards at the Emirates, and with it a comfortable home win.
Recommended Bets: Back Arsenal to win at 1.24; 3-0 at 9.4

Birmingham v Wigan
The Blues are in decent form and will have taken confidence from a fine midweek win in the Carling Cup. All three points will stay at St Andrew’s.
Recommended Bets: Back Birmingham to win at 1.88; 2-0 at 9.4

Blackpool v Blackburn
It’s the sort of match Blackpool need to be winning if they’re to stay in this division but I think Blackburn can outmuscle them and edge this one by the single goal.
Recommended Bets: Back Blackburn to win at 2.38; 0-1 at 11.0

Fulham v Everton
Bitter disappointment was felt in midweek by both these sides, who have also had a bit of bad luck with injuries to key players. I expect a point each for two well-matched sides.
Recommended Bets: Back the draw at 3.3; 1-1 at 7.2

Liverpool v Sunderland
The pressure is on Roy Hodgson already and this is a game they must win to regain some confidence. It won’t be easy but home advantage should see them over the line.
Recommended Bets: Back Liverpool to win at 1.5; 1-0 at 7.4

West Ham v Tottenham
Expect another “hammer” blow to West Ham’s survival chances as Tottenham build on last week’s win.
Recommended Bets: Back Tottenham to win at 2.18; 1-2 at 10.0

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