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Walker's Word - Premier League Betting Preview 7 May 2006

Home wins will dominate this weekend’s results, Tottenham will pip Arsenal to fourth spot and Bolton will play in the Intertoto Cup this summer at the expense of Newcastle writes David Walker. Arsenal vs Wigan Athletic Following Thursday’s 3-1 win at Manchester City, Arsenal need to win this match if they have any hope of pipping Tottenham to fourth place. Despite a congested fixture list due to their final appearance in the Champions League they have won seven of their last 10 matches and have won 13 matches in front of their own fans this season. The Gunners have not been beaten at Highbury since West Ham’s 3-2 victory on 1 February while Wigan have lost three out of their last four and have won just three of their last nine matches. Walker’s Word: Close, but no cigar, Arsenal @ 1/4. Aston Villa vs Sunderland Matches between these two are traditionally low scoring affairs. Five Premiership meetings at Villa Park all have produced two goals or less with Villa winning 1-0 twice, drawing 1-1 once and twice 0-0. Sunderland have been awful all season but have produced two away victories against fellow relegated sides West Brom and Middlesbrough and finally won at home against Fulham on Thursday. Villa will most likely win but are no value at the available price, especially with Sunderland buoyed by their recent victory. A bet on the “unders” is a more sensible investment. Walker’s Word: Under 2.5 goals @ 4/5. Blackburn Rovers vs Manchester City Blackburn secured sixth place in the league and UEFA Cup football with a win against Champions Chelsea on Tuesday but will want to close the gap on both Arsenal and Spurs to mark a successful season. They won’t have a better opportunity to finish the season on a high against a poor City team which has lost nine of their last 11 matches. Victories against Aston Villa and Sunderland being the only bright spots in a dismal run of results. Walker’s Word: More misery for City, home win @ 7/10. Bolton Wanderers vs Birmingham City Birmingham are unbeaten on their last two visits to the Reebok but were on the end of a 4-2 beating back in 2003. Bolton have a solid home record of late, winning four of their last six with defeats coming against Manchester United and Chelsea. Birmingham owner David Sullivan criticised his players commitment this week which will not do much for overall squad morale. Steve Bruce’s side have not won in 11 matches on the road since beating Sunderland 1-0 on 26 November. Walker’s Word: Home win @ 8/13. Everton vs West Bromwich Albion Everton have won the last two meetings at Goodison Park and will want revenge for the 4-0 hammering they received by the relegated Baggies back in November. Everton were on a bad run then but have improved considerably in the subsequent months and only lost three in their last 10 matches. David Moyes’ side have won six in their last 10 home matches but not won in their last three in front of their home fans. This will be a great way to sign off on a positive note and try and achieve a top 10 finish. West Brom are without a win in 12 and have lost four of the last seven away. Walker’s Word: Everton to finish strongly @ 4/6. Fulham vs Middlesbrough Fulham have won three of last four head to head meetings at Craven Cottage but were beaten 2-0 last season. Fulham have a superb home record this season, winning 12 out of 16 matches and finally won their first match away from home last weekend at Manchester City. I wouldn’t be surprised if a host of Middlesbrough first team regulars are rested in view of the UEFA Cup final on 10 May so a home win is the call here. Walker’s Word: Fulham’s home form to prevail @ 8/1

1. Manchester United vs Charlton Athletic United must win this match at all costs if they are to finish second in the Premiership after dropping seemingly “banker” points to Middlesbrough and Sunderland in recent weeks. Alex Ferguson’s side have won five out of six Premiership meetings at Old Trafford while Charlton have not won on the road in 13 attempts. Alan Curbishley will be ending his tenure with the Addicks with a third consecutive defeat. Walker’s Word: One for the big hitters, United @ 1/4. Newcastle United vs Chelsea Newcastle are unbeaten in last three meetings at St James’ Park, drawing 1-1 last season and winning two meetings prior to that. However, after losing to Blackburn in midweek, Chelsea will not tolerate two defeats on the spin following their title win and may just spoil Newcastle’s party. If the Magpies lose and Bolton beat Birmingham, it will be Sam Allardyce’s side that finishes seventh and earns a place in the Intertoto Cup. Walker’s Word: Chelsea to finish with a win @ 7/5. Portsmouth vs Liverpool Portmsouth have won six out of nine but now they have secured survival for another season the edge may be taken off their performance. The same cannot be said for Liverpool who chasing second spot along with Manchester United and only a win will do. Liverpool have won their last eight matches, 10 if you include their involvement in the FA Cup and have won their last four on the road. Walker’s Word: Liverpool to make it nine in a row @ 7/10. West Ham United vs Tottenham Hotspur West Ham have enjoyed a fantastic season on their return to the Premiership and have secured UEFA Cup football due to reaching the FA Cup final. The squad may have their minds on the FA Cup and manager Alan Pardew may rest key players while Tottenham need a win to guarantee themselves a fourth placed finish and a possible Champions League spot next term. Spurs are looking to finish strongly after their derby draw with Arsenal and defeat of Bolton and one final push should see them finish ahead of bitter rivals Arsenal no matter what the result in their clash with Wigan Athletic. Walker’s Word: Tottenham @ 5/6.


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