Blogs & Opinion

Ed Chamberlin fears for Reading, but backs Cue Card in King George

Features - Ed Chamberlin Posted 20th December 2012 view comments

Get set for a brilliant sporting Christmas with a feast of football and racing, the World Darts Championship, cricket in India and lots more

Sky Bet's Premier League Title odds: 1/2 Man Utd, 2/1 Man City, 14/1 Chelsea, 66/1 bar

Sky Bet's Relegation betting: 1/9 Reading, 8/11 QPR, Evens Southampton, 6/4 Wigan, 3/1 Sunderland, 9/2 Aston Villa, 7/1 Newcastle 10/1 bar

McDermott: tricky Christmas in store?

McDermott: tricky Christmas in store?

It was business as usual at the top of the Premier League last weekend, with the Manchester clubs both winning and United shortening just a fraction in Sky Bet's title betting, but it was all change at the bottom.

QPR's first win at the 17th attempt lifted them off the bottom and saw their price for relegation drift to 8/11. Wigan remain odds against for the drop but in the bottom three, Villa are out to 9/2 after a brilliant win at Anfield, while Sunderland and Newcastle are slipping in to dangerous territory.

We'll be making our annual family pilgrimage to Wincanton with moaning children in the back, turkey sandwiches in the boot and anxious parents in the front as the meeting usually has to survive at least two inspections or get abandoned just as we turn off the A303.

Ed Chamberlin
Quotes of the week

It looks bleak for Reading after conceding another five to Arsenal on the Monday Night Football and they are down to 1/9 to lose their Premier League status. It doesn't get any easier for Brian McDermott's side at this weekend they travel to the home of the champions.

I fear they are catching Manchester City at a bad time as for large parts of the game against Newcastle they played their best football of the season. The champions might be beginning to purr.

One thing is for sure, as Gary Neville explained on MNF, they cannot afford to go with just the two in central midfield they played against Arsenal. If they do, City will tear them apart.

Manchester United go to Swansea for the first game on our Super Sunday double header. United are on a great roll at the moment having taken 30 points from the last 33 available and are guaranteed top spot on Christmas Day - the last three teams top on December 25 have gone on to win the title.

That last time Manchester United lost to Swansea, Argentina were about to surrender in the Falklands War, an artificial heart was used on the first human and Michael Jackson released 'Thriller' (January 1982).

Swansea have made their best start to a campaign in the top flight since that season but I was disappointed with them at White Hart Lane last weekend, where they didn't produce a single shot on target.

Michu will want to put that right on Sunday as he is just one Premier League goal short of Sergio Aguero's record of 13 scored by a foreign player in the League before Christmas in their debut season.

Swansea's Spanish forward, who goes head to head with joint top scorer Robin Van Persie, is level with Mark Viduka, who managed to also score 12 Premier League goals for Leeds before Christmas in 2000/01.

After the game at the Liberty Stadium we have Chelsea v Aston Villa live from Stamford Bridge. What a great time this is for Villa to be travelling to Stamford Bridge. They are in great form themselves, Christian Benteke is on fire and Chelsea are coming off the back of trips to Japan and Leeds!

Villa won this fixture 3-1 last season and there should be goals again - there have been 28 goals in the last five Premier League meetings between these two at Chelsea. I hope you can join us live from 1pm on Sky Sports 1HD.Other things to look out for this weekend: under 2.5 goals could be the way to go at Anfield. Fulham's last four visits to Liverpool have produced just two goals.

It's likely to be the opposite at Wigan as Arsenal have scored 20 goals in the last seven Premier League meetings and their last four games at the DW Stadium have produced 18 goals.

Finally, Everton look an attractive price at 11/8 with Sky Bet to win at West Ham, who have major injury problems. Everton have won more points (58) and scored more goals (58) against West Ham than they have against any other Premier League side.

Horse racing

Racing needs a lift after the Kauto Star row and the injuries sustained by Big Bucks and Al Ferof. The next 10 days should do just that as there is brilliant racing left right and centre in England and Ireland.

The centrepiece is the King George at Kempton on Boxing Day. We'll be making our annual family pilgrimage to Wincanton with moaning children in the back, turkey sandwiches in the boot and anxious parents in the front as the meeting usually has to survive at least two inspections or get abandoned just as we turn off the A303.

It's always colder than the North Pole and my mind is on the football and the King George but it's still a lot of fun. The crush in the Members' Bar at the Somerset track holds great memories of Desert Orchid, Barton Bank, Teeton Mill et al and most recently Kauto Star.

No Kauto this year but still an intriguing renewal. I'm keen to take on Long Run again as all the same issues apply that I listed before his reappearance at Haydock. It was yet another solid performance but without the x-factor and extra gear he seemed to possess two seasons ago.

The superb crop of second-season chasers look all set to take over the mantle from the more established stars and I really fancy Cue Card to lift Boxing Day's big prize. We know the Arkle form is red hot with Sprinter's Sacre's exploits, Al Ferof's Cheltenham win and Cue Card's brilliant performance in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter.

I thought that was one of the best performances of the season so far and I'm delighted that the Tizzards have resisted other temptations and saved him for this race. Joe Tizzard is worried about the longer trip but I reckon three miles round Kempton might be perfect for him and I've taken some of the 9/2 with Sky Bet.

Elsewhere, I know AP McCoy is very keen on Teaforthree's chance in the Welsh Grand National, I fancy Oscars Well to beat Arvika Legionnaire in the big novice chase at Leopardstown and will be backing My Tent Or Yours wherever he appears next.

More immediately I fancy Claret Cloak to run a big race in the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday. This horse ran really well here last month when Emma Lavelle's horses were struggling for form. Her stable is now bang in form and Claret Cloak is fancied to run a big race at 14/1 with Sky Bet.

Happy Christmas to you all - if Cue Card wins the King George it will be an even happier Christmas.

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