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Mark of distinction

Hughes has quite a task on his hand at QPR, says Ed

Ed Chamberlin - Ed Chamberlin Posted 12th January 2012 view comments

The craziness of the Premier League spread to the FA Cup this week with a thrilling Manchester derby and then the 'second coming' at the Emirates on Monday night.

Thierry Henry's goal against Leeds with just his fifth touch of the ball and nine minutes in to his return, 1,801 days after his last goal for Arsenal, must have cost Sky Bet a small fortune.

Henry could feature on Super Sunday - on which we have two live games from 1pm on Sky Sports HD1.

Sparky: can Hughes provide the inspiration that Rangers require?

Sparky: can Hughes provide the inspiration that Rangers require?

I'll be at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea for what promises to be a fascinating day as Arsenal's visit follows Mark Hughes' first game in charge of QPR (10/3 to win with Sky Bet) at high-flying Newcastle (10/11).

QPR have not won in eight games (D2, L6) - their last win was 3-2 at Stoke on November 19th and they last went nine games without a win in the top division from October to December 1995 when they went on to be relegated. Could that be a sign?

Ed Chamberlin
Quotes of the week

Hughes returns to management just over seven months since resigning from Fulham, who he left citing a wish to further his experiences as a 'young ambitious manager'. He has quite a task on his hands with his new club in 17th place, just one point clear of the relegation zone and only 2/1 with Sky Bet to be relegated.

QPR have not won in eight games (D2, L6) - their last win was 3-2 at Stoke on November 19th and they last went nine games without a win in the top division from October to December 1995 when they went on to be relegated. Could that be a sign?

After that game it's then Swansea (7/2 to win with Sky Bet) against Arsenal (4/6), which also has an excellent storyline to it with the return of Thierry Henry.

I'm sure Sky Bet will have plenty of special bets on Arsenal's greatest ever striker but for the moment Henry is 9/2 to score the game's first goal and 5/4 to score in the match. However, the key moment will be at 3pm on Sunday when Arsene Wenger reveals his starting eleven. It's surely inconceivable that Robin van Persie won't start in the most advanced position and he is 3/1 to open the scoring and 8/11 to score at any time.

It's incredible to think that nine ago years to the day on Sunday (January 15th, 2003) Swansea were bottom of the Football League, four points adrift of Exeter. Now they are making a big impression in the Premier League and hosting Arsenal in a fantastic new stadium live on Sky Sports. What a transformation.

Swansea have been brilliant at home this season too. 17 of their 23 points have come at the Liberty Stadium and only the current top seven teams have better home records.

They owe Arsenal one after the Gunners won the first meeting this season 1-0 at the Emirates on September thanks to Andrey Arshavin's 40th minute goal. The goal was a result of a rare error by Michel Vorm after his roll out hit defender Angel Rangel left Arshavin to roll the ball into an empty net. It was the first meeting between the sides for more than 28 years and was Arsenal's first game after their 8-2 defeat at Old Trafford.

For the eleventh game in a row it will be a sell out at the Liberty Stadium. Something has to give though: do you go over 2.5 goals at 5/6 with Sky Bet as Arsenal's away games have had the most goals in the Premier League (42)? Or do you go under 2.5 at 5/6 as there have only been 16 goals scored at the Liberty Stadium - the fewest of any ground in the country?

From Wales the team will be heading to London to prepare for the return of the Monday Night Football.

I hope you can join Gary Neville and myself from 7pm on Sky Sports HD1 to review the Premier League weekend and watch an intriguing match between Wigan (7/1) and Manchester City (1/3).

Sergio Aguero's hat-trick gave City a 3-0 win at the Etihad in September, whilst Carlos Tevez also missed a first half penalty. Man City have won the last four meetings without conceding and are unbeaten in six, winning five. Even missing some key players, the league leaders are hard to oppose on Monday night but need to bounce back from another poor result - 0-1 against Liverpool on Wednesday night. They have now lost four of their last eight games - blip or crisis?

Before all the live games there are some intriguing fixtures on Saturday, none more enticing than Chelsea (1/3) v Sunderland (7/1) at Stamford Bridge. This game has so many ingredients with the two managers having differing fortunes of late.

Sunderland are flying under Martin O'Neill and could be a big price at 7/1. They famously won here 3-0 in November 2010, which is a 150/1 chance this time around. However, Chelsea had won six successive home meetings (scoring 23) before the defeat last season, including a 7-2 win in January 2010.

Tottenham won impressively yet again on Wednesday night to move level on points with Manchester United and have shortened again to win the title (6/1 from 9/1). On Saturday Spurs (1/4) have a great opportunity to continue their roll at home to Wolves (10/1).

Liverpool (4/9) meet Stoke (11/2) for the third time this season, with one win each so far. Liverpool have never lost a top flight game at home to Stoke - 48 meetings, 39 wins.

Finally, Manchester United (1/7) play Bolton (12/1), who must be fearful after losing 5-0 at the Reebok in September, following a hat-trick from Wayne Rooney and a double for Javier Hernandez. United were 3-0 up after just 25 minutes. The champions have won the last eight meetings at Old Trafford but with the way Premier League matches have been going of late, will you be taking 1/7?

The Premier League roller coaster should have punters thinking twice about taking short prices at the moment. I'm expecting the unexpected. However, I do think there will be goals at Old Trafford - there hasn't been goalless draw here between these two since February 1927!

Sky Bet's title odds: 8/15 Man City, 3/1 Man Utd, 6/1 Tottenham, 40/1 Chelsea, 66/1 Arsenal, 200/1 Liverpool

Super 6

Villa 1-0 Everton - one league win for Everton at Villa in 25 years

Blackburn 1-1 Fulham - repeat of game in September

Chelsea 1-1 Sunderland - O'Neill working miracles with Black Cats

Liverpool 2-0 Stoke - Liverpool have never lost a top flight game at home to Stoke

Man Utd 1-0 Bolton - United have won the last 8 meetings at Old Trafford

Tottenham 2-0 Wolves - Spurs unstoppable at homeWigan (7/1) and Manchester City (1/3).

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