A glut of home wins dominates this weekend’s predictions and Sunderland could add another twist to the relegation battle at large odds. Love them or loathe them, Chelsea will be in the FA Cup final along with Middlesbrough writes David Walker.
Saturday 22 April
Arsenal vs Tottenham Hotspur
The race for fourth place hots up in this lunchtime offering as Arsenal look to make up the four point gap that separates them from their north London rivals. The statistics point to a home win. The Gunners have won the last six home Premiership fixtures against Spurs and seven out of 13 overall. Tottenham Hotspur have not had any joy at Highbury since the Premiership began in 1992/93 when they won 3-1. Forgotten striker John Hendry scored twice on one of his few appearances in a Spurs shirt following a £5,000 switch from Dundee.
Walker’s Word: Arsenal to close the gap @ 4/5.
Bolton Wanderers vs Charlton Athletic
Bolton ended a run of five consecutive league defeats with a goalless draw against West Brom on Monday and this match could be a similar yawnfest. Two of the four last meetings between these sides have produced goalless draws while Charlton seem to love a 0-0 result as it has featured in five of their last 10 Premiership matches.
Walker’s Word: Another bore draw @ 23/10 and and 0-0 @ 17/2.
Everton vs Birmingham City
Birmingham City are running out of games if they are to survive in the Premiership and are unlikely to get any favours this Saturday. Steve Bruce’s side have not won at Everton since winning promotion to the top flight but have drawn 1-1 twice in the last three meetings. Their chances of victory are slim and they haven’t won at Goodison Park since 1957 and have lost 11 times on the road this season.
Walker’s Word: Home win @ 11/10.
Newcastle United vs West Bromwich Albion
Under Glenn Roeder, Newcastle are one of the form teams in the Premiership. They have won their last four matches in a row and this is a great opportunity to make it five. The Magpies have won both Premiership meetings at St James Park while the Baggies have not won there since 1977. Bryan Robson’s side have won away from home once all season and are unlikely to improve that record this weekend.
Walker’s Word: Five on the spin for Newcastle @ 4/5.
Portsmouth vs Sunderland
On first glance this looks like a guaranteed home win. Portsmouth had won six on the bounce until they crashed 2-1 at Charlton on Bank Holiday Monday while Sunderland have nothing to play for after being relegated. Right? Wrong. Portsmouth may have hammered Sunderland 4-1 at the Stadium of Light back in October but have not beaten them at Fratton Park in the league since 1992. Since then, Sunderland have won three out of five visits, including two 4-1 wins. Add to that the fact Sunderland have nothing to lose while Portsmouth could succumb to nerves and you have a very tasty away victory proposition and at large odds to boot. There could be another twist to the relegation battle yet.
Walker’s Word: Sunderland to cause a shock @ 8/1.
Chelsea vs Liverpool
Chelsea have an impeccable home record against Liverpool which puts them in pole position for a place in the FA Cup final. The Blues have won 10 out of 14 Premiership meetings at Stamford Bridge, losing just once, 1-0, in 2004. Chelsea have been beaten just once inside 90 minutes at home this season, against Barcelona in the Champions League and have won 17 out of 18 Premiership matches in front of their own fans. This is the first time the pair have met in the FA Cup since 1997, when Chelsea fought back from 2-0 down to win 4-2.
Walker’s Word: Chelsea to march on @ 6/5.
Sunday 23 April
Middlesbrough vs West Ham United
The bookmakers have priced up West Ham as favourites given their positional superiority in the Premiership, but seem to have ignored the fact that the Hammers have not won at Middlesbrough in the Premiership. Steve McClaren’s side have won seven out of eight meetings with West Ham’s last victory at Middlesbrough coming in 1990 when both sides were in the old second division.
Walker’s Word: Boro’s home record to prevail @ 6/4.
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