Blogs & Opinion


Ful of quality

Ed says Berbatov's boys and Triolo d'Alene can flourish this weekend

Features - Ed Chamberlin Posted 15th November 2012 view comments

The Manchester clubs have character in abundance.

Both dug out results yet again at the weekend and the difference between City and United and the other challengers at the moment is their ability to win when they aren't playing well.

Both fell behind but have an incredible belief that they will still go on to win and there was an inevitability about both results, and as a result, Sky Bet have shortened Manchester United to even money from 6/5 to win the title, though City are unchanged at 2/1.

Berbatov: has been an inspired signing for Fulham, says Ed

Berbatov: has been an inspired signing for Fulham, says Ed

Chelsea lacked that killer instinct against Liverpool and have drifted a fraction to 7/2, but once again Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar showed flashes of genius and the Blues remain an excellent side.

However, I still worry how Roberto Di Matteo is going to juggle his resources with a packed set of fixtures, including a trip to Japan, between now and the end of the year.

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Arsenal and Tottenham's odds seem to drift every week and the two meet on Saturday with the pressure bound to be heaped on the losing manager.

It's a big game for both sides, though a trappy one for punters (Arsenal 10/11, Tottenham 11/4, draw 13/5) and kicks of Sky Sports' Premier League weekend at midday on Saturday.

It's a brave move to back Arsenal at odds on at the moment.

Sky Bet's Premier League Title odds: Evens Man Utd, 2/1 Man City, 7/2 Chelsea, 40/1 Arsenal, 100/1 Tottenham, 150/1 Everton, 150/1 Liverpool, 750/1 Newcastle

Talking of pressure, arguably the biggest game of the weekend is at Loftus Road as the bottom two meet - QPR (5/6) and Southampton (3/1). The two managers head Sky Bet's market for the next Premier League manager to leave their job with Mark Hughes at 5/6 and Nigel Adkins a 2/1 chance.

Tony Fernandes has been outspoken about his manager's future but any speculation about Adkins takes an awful lot of guesswork. It would be easier to predict the first four in the correct order in the Grand National than read Saints' executive chairman Nicola Cortese's mind.

On Super Sunday I'll be returning to the venue of the first football match I ever presented on Sky Sports. I shall never forget Fulham v Newcastle in February 2010! This weekend Fulham (4/6) take on Sunderland (4/1), whose form this term is something of a mystery.

Who'd have thought at the start of the season after signing Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher, to accompany James McClean and Sessegnon in attack, that Sunderland would be the Premier League's lowest scorers at this stage with only seven goals?

In contrast, Fulham are the second top scorers in the division with 24 and Dimitar Berbatov has turned out to be an inspired purchase. At around five million pounds he must already be one of the signings of the season and clubs like Liverpool and Arsenal must be thinking 'if only' Berbatov's side are hard to oppose on Sunday.

I'll be staying in London on Sunday night then meeting up with Gary Neville early the next morning at Sky Sports HQ to prepare for the Monday Football - West Ham (evens) v Stoke (11/4). I wonder if we'll be looking back on another successful weekend for Manchester.

Horse racing

Jump racing leaps to the fore this weekend with three superb days at Cheltenham.

The Open Meeting seems to get bigger and bigger every season and no end of top-class horses are set appear this weekend. Sprinter Sacre is primed to be the headline act on Sunday, while Nicky Henderson could unleash another star in the shape of Captain Conan, who I'm told has schooled superbly at home.

The Lambourn handler has an embarrassment of riches for the new season and AP McCoy seems very confident that Darlan can win the Racing Post Hurdle and develop in to a live Champion Hurdle contender.

Henderson looks set to dominate Sunday's card and he could play a major role in Saturday's big race as well. However, he'll have his work cut out to beat David Pipe's Grands Crus, who is a short price with Sky Bet but will be very hard to beat.

He's not the first high-class horse to struggle in the brutal test that is the RSA Chase at the Festival, but the upside from that below par performance is an attractive looking handicap mark. The Pipes know exactly what's needed to win this race and its demands look tailor-made for Grands Crus.

He's no value but I think Grands Crus will probably win and I can see him as a warm order to double up in the Hennessy at Newbury. The best bet could be to back him for that double before Saturday's race.

Henderson does still have a strong hand to play. Quantitativeeasing (20/1) looks sure to run another big race just as he did last year. I love course specialists round here and Quantitativeeasing's record round Cheltenham is exceptional. The problem might be that he's just carrying too much weight.

I think stablemate Triolo d'Alene could be the dark horse in the race. The stable really fancied him at the Festival but he was too inexperienced in that contest, did not jump well and will have learnt a lot. He jumped a lot better at Market Rasen in May.

With a summer under his belt Triolo d'Alene is open to a stack of improvement and I think he's on a tasty mark. He's my each-way bet in the race at 20/1.

Top 10

Friday sees entries close for the Racing Post Ten-to-Follow competition, which is always a lot of fun. My main list is as follows:-

Big Buck's
Boston Bob
Darlan
Grands Crus
Flemenstar
Hurricane Fly
My Tent Or Yours
Simonsig
Sir Des Champs
Sprinter Sacre

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