Swansea the big question mark in title battle
April 23rd, 2016 | Ian Carnaby's Sports News
No one would dispute that Tottenham are the best team in the Premier League at the moment and on Monday evening Stoke were lucky to be sharing the same pitch, so outclassed were they.
When the prices were 1/7 Leicester and 5/1 Spurs I had a humble century on the North London team and I could now take a small profit by laying off. Leicester should still hold on, with a five-point lead and only four matches to play, but plenty depends on their home game against Swansea on Sunday.
How will the Swans approach this game? We don’t know, but the bookmakers offer Leicester at 4/5 in places, which probably indicates how highly they rate the absent Jamie Vardy. Teams have to play for the travelling supporters and Swansea may make things tough for the home team, some of whose supporters are celebrating prematurely. Move my hand half-way up my back and I’ll say Leicester will win 1-0 and hold on for the title but if they fail on Sunday I believe Spurs will win their remaining games and pip them at the post.
Newcastle would have survived in the Premier League if Rafa Benitez had arrived four or five games earlier and perhaps they still will. Manchester City hated playing them the other night because Newcastle harried and chased for ninety minutes and City want time to work their clever triangles and intricate patterns. The games come too quickly now and I would not make City 1 to 3 shots to beat Stoke, who were totally outclassed by Spurs. Leave this game alone.
Newcastle should not get anything at Anfield but, once again, Liverpool will be turning out only three days after the Merseyside derby and have had less time to recover than the visitors. I’d be very careful with this and a draw may be the best bet.
Everton are all over the place and all the talk is about a change of manager. That seems harsh to me but the simple truth is that the supporters would not be happy, even if Everton finished ‘best of the rest’ (which they won’t) because they think they are a top-flight club which should be competing with the best. In the end, this is what sees managers heading off down the road because it forces the board to act.
If I were a bookmaker I wouldn’t offer Manchester United at 11/10 to beat them in the first FA Cup semi-final on Saturday. United are sort of getting there slowly and, even if Louis van Gaal is on borrowed time, they are just starting to put a few results together and in Martial they have a match-winner who looks better and better with each passing game.
I don’t like anything else, though Southampton should beat a hapless Villa team. Backing the away side at 4/7 is hardly ever a good move in England, however, and I’d let it go.
There is nothing much in the Championship, either, though Boro should beat Ipswich and hasten the departure of Mick McCarthy – nice man but not a winner.
So it leaves us with the truly infuriating Sheffield United, who may, at this terribly late stage, haul themselves into the play-off places. At long last they are stringing results together but they will need to win their last three, starting with the south Yorkshire derby against fellow contenders Barnsley. The best of the Blades would be good enough but it can be only a modest bet.
We still have a chance of an each-way pay-out on 40/1 shots Walsall, who are third, but Bradford away is mighty tricky. If the Saddlers win we shall be paid out, I feel; sadly I make Bradford favourites in this match and would happily settle for a draw.
MANCHESTER UNITED 20 units at 11/10 to beat Everton
SHEFFIELD UNITED 15 units at 13/10 (Betfred) to beat Barnsley – 12.30pm