Shane Brady offers punters some advice as to where they should be investing their money this weekend.
Liverpool vs Manchester United, (Premier League, Sunday)
The Draw @ 12/5 (PP)
Both of these teams will be feeling confident after their respective wins. However, this is a crucial six-pointer which should go a long way to deciding which of these teams make the top four this season.
It’s a game that both teams will be desperate not to lose and for that reason I can see both being relatively satisfied with a hard fought draw.
Liverpool scraped a win after a lackluster first half performance against Swansea. Their main striker Daniel Sturridge looked out of sorts on that occasion and Liverpool fail to look as threatening when he’s not at his best.
Manchester United meanwhile, should be buzzing after their superb performance against a poor Spurs side. However, they have failed to sparkle this season and have played thoroughly unconvincing football for the most part.
With manager Louis Van Gaal likely to retreat back to his negative style in this must not lose away fixture, a low-scoring draw looks the most likely outcome.
The 0-0 draw comes in at a tasty 17/2 for those searching for value.
Barcelona vs Real Madrid, (La Liga, Sunday)
Barcelona to win and Messi to score anytime 7/5 (PP)
Due to their contrasting recent form, the value in this match may be gone, although the outcome has surely become clearer. Barcelona have hit the front in the race for the La Liga title and are showing no signs of relenting after a string of consistently impressive performances, led by their talisman Lionel Messi who looks like he is back to his very best.
Real Madrid have hit a patchy run of form after a great start to the season and look vulnerable to Barcelona’s immense attack line. Odds of 7/10 look skimpy enough for students like myself, so to bump up the price, Messi to score anytime should be almost guaranteed if they are indeed to come out on top.
The ‘little magician’ has been in scintillating form as of late, displaying flare, nutmegs at will and driving teasing runs against Man City mid-week, he only lacked a finish which he will surely put right at the Camp Nou on Sunday against a Real Madrid defence who recently conceded four against Schalke in the Champions League.
Messi to score first is offered at a tempting 16/5 for those searching for an alternative.
Undressed, 2.55 Gowran Park (Horse Racing, Saturday) 4/1
Undressed looks like the best bet of the day in Gowran Park. He’s priced at around 4/1 and while he would be a solid each way bet as it’s hard to see him out of the first three, it could be well worth taking a chance on him to win.
The Michael Hourigan trained gelding looks sure to improve on what is just his third run over hurdles. He went close last time against a more experienced rival which was an improvement on his first run over hurdles which saw him finish just ten lengths behind the highly rated, No More Heroes.
That form looks rock solid and he should prove too good for his most likely challenger Golden Boot, who has procured the assistance of Ruby Walsh.
Scooping, 4.05 Gowran Park (Horse Racing, Saturday) 7/1
A chance is taken on the inexperienced Scooping who shocked punters as a 50/1 winner last time. There was no fluke about that win as he did it the hard way from the front, jumping brilliantly on his hurdling debut.
He is sure to improve for this experience and the form of the runner-up provides a strong form boost as he has since finished behind a Willie Mullins hotpot and was thought good enough to run in a handicap in Cheltenham, although that didn’t go quite to plan.
This juvenile should give its supporters a great run for their money against two opponents, Blair Perone and Domesday Book, both of whom have disappointed in recent races albeit in stronger races.
Weekend Accumulator, Arsenal, Man City, Southampton, (Premier League, Saturday) Ireland -8 (6 Nations, Saturday) @ 5/1(approx.)
Arsenal are playing a Newcastle side who may yet be dragged into a relegation dogfight. The Magpies have reportedly just thirteen available first team players to choose from, with the absence of their captain Coloccini due to suspension being particularly significant.
Arsenal meanwhile have won eight of their last nine league games and should continue their excellent form.
Manchester City have been costly for many in recent weeks after a string of poor performances, but they will look to stop the rot with a win at the Etihad against West Brom on Saturday.
City are unbeaten in their last ten meetings between the sides, winning nine of them and should get back to winning ways, with other teams breathing down their back.
Southampton will look to keep up their gallant top four challenge with a win at home against relegation contenders Burnley. Southampton who earned an impressive draw at Stamford Bridge last week will surely have too much for an ever-willing Burnley side.
Meanwhile Saturday sees the exciting conclusion of the Six Nations and like every Irish man in the country I will be hoping Joe Schmidt's men will be able to make light work against an out of form Scottish side who will be eager to avoid a winless campaign.
Ireland will need every point they can get to put the pressure on England as the championship is likely to come down to points difference. For this reason, taking Ireland to win at -8 seems reasonable as I feel they will need to win by roughly twelve points if they are to retain the Six Nations title.
For those punters feeling lucky, you can take a chance by adding the earlier selections, Barcelona and the draw at Anfield, to the accumulator which enhances the price to a whopping 33/1.
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