NEWCASTLE HOLD THE KEY

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has said that Newcastle United hold the key towards determining the destination of the Premier league title this season.

Newcastle will be hosting leaders Manchester City at the St James’s Park on Sunday. It is a very important match for both teams given that Newcastle are chasing the final top four spot, while Manchester City are looking at the possibility of lifting their first ever Premier league title.

Following the 1-0 win in the Manchester derby, City come into the match hoping to win this match and move one step closer towards the title.

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has always maintained that United have the much easier last two matches of the season, while City will have to face Newcastle and QPR.

However, it is the QPR match that is the easier of the two. Hence, there is a feeling amongst the Manchester City supporters and Sir Alex Ferguson that if Manchester City win against Newcastle, then the title is almost within their grasp.

This has led Ferguson into commenting that Newcastle hold the key towards determining the destination of the title. Newcastle come into the match on the back of a morale boosting 2-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, which was their first win after 25 years.

“Yes. Yes, it looks like it. That’s [Newcastle] a tough game, there’s no question about that. They’ve got two games left. If they win the two games they’ve won the league. They have got to win at Newcastle, that’s the challenge for them. Newcastle, as we know, is a very difficult place to go to and they’re playing well. We hadn’t done it for eight years so their form is good and it will not be an easy game,” Ferguson said ahead of this weekend’s matches.

GET ON TOTTENHAM

Tottenham will be taking on Swansea at the White Hart Lane looking to get all three points, which will send them clear of Chelsea in the fifth position.

Tottenham are currently involved in a battle with Arsenal and Chelsea to finish in the Champions League positions. They received a major boost in the form of an Arsenal defeat during the weekend.

The 2-1 defeat suffered at the hands of QPR has provided Tottenham with the opportunity to close the gap on Arsenal to just the goal difference. Meanwhile, Chelsea managed a 4-2 win over Aston Villa, which has brought them closer to Arsenal and Tottenham.

Hence, Spurs were heading into a crunch match against Swansea, who have already beaten the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City this season, looking to get all three points. They are certainly the favourites to do so according to the bookies. Tottenham are the favourites to win the match at 4/9, while Swansea are extremely close at 8/1. There is every chance that the game might be a draw and the bookmakers have given the odds of 7/2 for both teams to share a point. However, it is unlikely that they will be involved in a draw, as Swansea have lost heavily in their last trips to the capital.

Even more confidence inspiring for Tottenham supporters is the fact that bookmakers have reduced the odds on Tottenham finishing in the top four. It is now just 1/20 four Tottenham to finish in the top four this season, while Chelsea are a distant 9/4 to finish in the top four, despite their huge experience in this regard. There is every chance that Swansea might even overtake Liverpool during the weekend after the Merseyside club suffered an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Wigan during the weekend.

CAN CHELSEA BEAT CITY

Chelsea maybe not involved in the title race now, but their fixture against Manchester City at the Etihad stadium is one of the most interesting in terms of soccer betting.

There have been a number of variables taken into account, but the defining factor is that Chelsea have been poor against Manchester City in recent meetings.

Carlos Tevez has been the nemesis for Chelsea in this fixture and Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini recently confirmed that he expects the Argentine to be part of the squad that will face the London club. Chelsea are currently 11/8 to qualify for the Champions League next season after finishing with the top four.

One can expect this to be significantly increased if Chelsea are beaten against Manchester City on Wednesday night. However, there is a good possibility that it will be severely lowered if Chelsea defeat Manchester City coupled with favourable results from Arsenal and Tottenham. Arsenal will be taking on Everton at Goodison Park, while Tottenham host Stoke city at the White Hart Lane.

The 1-1 draw between the two clubs is one of the most favourable results, as bookmakers have given it a 13/2 odds, while a 1-0 win for Manchester City is currently 7/1.

Sporting Bet also places a 0-0 draw between the two clubs at 11/1. In terms of the players being favourite for goal scoring, Sergio Aguero tops the chart, as he has been rated only 8/1 to score more than two goals. In the Chelsea team, Drogba and Torres are the favourite players to get the first goal on the evening.

Drogba is rated only 8/1, while Torres is 9/1. Torres comes into the match after having scored two goals against Leicester City during the weekend, which helped him break the 24 hour run without a goal.

MCLEISH THE PUNTERS FAVOURITE

There are plenty of soccer betting sites out there that are currently offering great odds for managers getting sacked over the remaining few months of the season.

The Premier league 2012-13 season is coming to an end. Even though there are still a few months to go before the end of the season, it is going to be a busy period for the chairman’s of each club because there are plenty of managers, whose future needs to be sorted out before the end of the season.

One of the managers in danger of being sacked before the end of the season is Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish.
Alex McLeish took over from former Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier at the start of the season. He was never the favourite man for the job amongst the Villa faithful due to his connections with Birmingham City.

Alex McLeish took Birmingham city down the previous season, which has meant that there was a lot of animosity amongst the fans even before they could get the opportunity to witness the changes he was about to make at the football club. So far, he seems to have taken Aston Villa backward after they are not only getting the results, but also not playing attractive football as well.

Aston Villa are currently in the 15th position in the table. They have 28 points on the board, which puts them extremely close to the relegation zone. Only seven points separate them from the relegation zone.

Hence, the bookmakers have seriously reduced the odds of Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish to become the next manager to receive the sack. Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Mick McCarthy was the previous manager to get the boot after suffering a horrible 5-1 defeat at the hands of arch rivals West Brom. Alex McLeish’s odds have been cut to 7-1.

BARTON WARNED ON PREDICTING RESULTS

The English football Association has said that QPR midfielder Joey Barton should not be predicting the outcome of football matches on Twitter and various other social networking sites. This move comes as a major development in the fight against illegal football betting.

There have been various cases of illegal soccer betting in recent years, and it seems that social networking is only adding to the fuel.

Hence, the English football Association has come out with the decision to ban footballers from making tweets regarding the outcome of the football matches, which could in some way promote illegal soccer betting.

Even though this role will be mainly applicable to the players involved in the matches, the FA have taken the decision to warn most of the players who constantly tweet or use social networking sites. Some other players have been giving out information that might help punters with their Europa League betting.

QPR midfielder Joey Barton is one among them and there have already been complaints over the excessive usage of Twitter by the former England midfielder.

However, the newly appointed QPR manager Mark Hughes has said that the choice of using the various social networking sites rests entirely upon the person and it is something that he could not place a restriction upon. There have been different views regarding the usage of social networking by players.

“Just received my weekly warning letter from FA headquarters, this time regarding me tweeting about predicting the weekend’s Manchester double. According to the FA, I am not allowed to give my opinion of possible results in case that is seen as insider information. These people are so out of touch with reality it’s untrue,” Joey Barton said on his Twitter account.

Twitter has been somewhat beneficial for Joey Barton because it has helped him transform the bad boy image he has been acquiring at places like Manchester City and Newcastle United. I think I’m going to have to start following him – if only to get some euro 2012 betting tips!?

LEEDS KNOCKED OUT

Leeds United lost out to Arsenal in the FA Cup after Arsenal legend Thierry Henry scored the goal that knocked the Championship team out, in a game that saw Leeds United at odds of over 20/1.

Leeds United were drawn against Arsenal in the third round of the FA Cup and it was always going to be a tough encounter.

It was made even tough by the fact that it was a home match for Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger confirmed before the match that Thierry Henry has indeed signed for Arsenal on a short-term loan, which will see him stay at the club just for over two months.

Thierry Henry was introduced in the match against Leeds United by Arsene Wenger late on. Leeds United were extremely confident up until then, but the inevitable happened when the Arsenal great pounced on a pass from Song to produce a stunning finish.

It was the solitary goal in the match, and it was enough for Arsenal to secure their passage to the fourth round of the FA Cup. For Leeds United, they can be pretty happy with the account they gave themselves at the Emirates Stadium.

They will now be turning their attention back to the Championship where there is a promotion race going on. West Ham United and Southampton are currently leading the Championship table, whereas Leeds United will be hoping for a play-off position at the least.

“We had many chances to finish it off much earlier but it seems to be like it a lot this year at the Emirates. At least we won, we are through and it was a good result after the disappointment of the Fulham game. We were really patient and in the end made the right decision to win the game,” Arsenal captain on the night Mikel Arteta said after the match.

ENGLAND AT GREAT ODDS

If you’re looking for a game thats offering great odds this weekend, look no further than England vs Spain!

The two powerhouses of European football will clash in an international friendly on Saturday evening, and even though its being played at England’s home ground they remain rank outsiders at over 4.65!

Whilst we can appreciate that Spain are the current World and European champions, the very fact that it is a friendly means that there will be some hope for England, with the Spanish manager Vincent Del Bosque hoping to use some of the fringe players rather than a full team of world cup winners.

Spain performed badly in theri last friendly, a 2-1 loss to Italy, so there is no reason that England can’t do it – though the Three Lions boys do need to be at their best.

If you don’t fancy them to win the game outright you can always try the draw (3.4) or look at goalscorer bets. Without both John Terry and Rio Ferdinand at the heart of their defence, [erhaps England look more susceptible to you than usual? In which case it might make sense to back David Villa to score at some point (anytime), which you can get at a very generous 2.2 at Paddypower.

READING VERSUS SWANSEA BETTING PREVIEW

Reading are set to take on Swansea city in the playoff final that is thought to be the biggest game of their season. Reading FC can remember what it’s like to be a top flight side, with the Royals having been relegated in 2008 under Steve Coppell, although they have risen from the flames and walloped Cardiff 3-0 in the semi-finals to take a step closer to the big time.

Brian McDermott’s team are even money with bet365 to be promoted on Monday, making them the slight outsiders, with the bookies prepared to offer no bigger than 5/6 (Paddy Power – £100 free betting) about Swansea City.

The Swans are managed by Brendan Rodgers, someone who had an ill-fated spell at Reading when they were first relegated to the Championship in 2009. He lasted just six months at the Berkshire club, although he’s demonstrating that was a blip by steering Swansea to the verge of something magical.

The Welsh side were far too good for Nottingham Forest in the semi-final and they will have their backers at 9/5 (Betfred – £50 free bet) to claim victory in ninety minutes, with City having already beaten Reading twice this term.

PREVIEW – UNITED VS CRAWLEY

When Crawley Town beat Torquay to become the first non-league club to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup in 17 years, players, fans and owners would have thought it couldn’t get much better, but a glamorous trip to Manchester United was the ultimate prize.

The FA Cup is full of giant-killings and a Crawley Town victory over Manchester United would be one of the biggest in history. The soccer odds reflect this, with an incredible +2800 from Victor Chandler for the win. A draw at +1200 from Ladbrokes is a better bet, but it is difficult to see anything other than a home win.

While few expect an away win, Crawley‘s players should give a good account of themselves with a battling performance, and the unknown quantity could even score the first goal.

Matt Tubbs is the most likely candidate to score for the non-league side at Old Trafford with 28 goals in 27 starts this season. The 26 year-old is given odds of +2000 from Bet365 for the first goal.