January 15th, 2016 | Ian Carnaby's Sports News

The Premier League midweek games supplied plenty of goals, a good deal of controversy and also a ray of hope where Aston Villa and Sunderland are concerned. Also, by winning at Tottenham, Leicester put themselves in a very handy position for Champions League qualification at the very least.

Sunderland, with Sam Allardyce vastly more experienced than Remi Garde, have a much better chance of avoiding the drop than Villa, who owed their 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace to a bizarre goalkeeping error. They will need to follow up against Leicester, which is most unlikely given the Foxes’ lightning counter-attacks and solidity at the back. If Leicester produce their best form they will win this match and, although I seldom back the away team in the Premier League, 6/5 is fair.

Sunderland were helped by a referee who had an absolute shocker at Swansea. Few will fancy them at White Hart Lane but Spurs suffered a real setback against Leicester and suddenly loyal supporters will wonder if this is yet another season of promising much and falling short.

I don’t think that will happen because they must have a very good chance in the Europa League and lifting the trophy would qualify them for the Champions League. Maybe that’s the way it will turn out. For sure, Mauricio Pochettino has them playing some wonderful football at times and they are a coming force. For all that, Sunderland are not there to be shrugged aside and I wouldn’t back the home team at odds-on.

Football is a fascinating game. If you’d seen Watford at Southampton on Wednesday you’d have wondered how on earth they started on 29 points because they were simply dreadful. It was a one-off, no doubt, and I wouldn’t call their game at Swansea. The Saints wasted chance after chance but keep giving the impression they are about to thrash someone. That shouldn’t be a West Brom side managed by Tony Pulis and 8/11 is probably too short, although I make the Saints clear favourites.

Better value is available about Newcastle at home to West Ham. They fully deserved their draw against Manchester United and will be in good heart. For sure, the pace and power up front, through Perez and the rest, means they certainly will not be going down and 8/5 with Betfred looks the bet of the weekend.

Wherever they finish, the Hammers have done well under Slaven Bilic but this is a tough task against a team committed to attack. Yes, they came from behind to beat Bournemouth, though the killer goal was a soft free-kick. This will be immeasurably tougher and I think the prices are questionable.

Bristol City sacked Steve Cotterill this week, as they were almost bound to do. I don’t know what has happened to City since the hugely impressive League One title last year and it seems unlikely that they will pull themselves around in time to face MIDDLESBROUGH at Ashton Gate. The bankers in this section are HULL to beat Charlton but only big-spending professionals will wade in at 4/11.

A little voice tells me SHEFFIELD UNITED will have to win game after game to renew their League One challenge and the same voice suggests it will happen, starting now. They are fairly priced at 11/10 away to struggling Colchester.

  • NEWCASTLE 30 units at 8/5 with Betfred to beat West Ham
  • SOUTHAMPTON 15 units at 8/11 to beat WBA
  • MIDDLESBROUGH 21 units at 20/21 with Ladbrokes to beat Bristol City
  • HULL 20 units at 4/11 to beat Charlton.
  • SHEFFIELD UNITED 15 units at 11/10 to beat Colchester
  • 10 units five-team accumulator the above.