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Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl
We asked our top team of writers, a Premier League legend and leading odds compiler their thoughts on this week’s big talking points and here’s how they responded…
What’s your best football bet this weekend?
Racing Post’s Steve Davies: Whispers that Mark Warburton was out of the gate at QPR last weekend have proven unfounded, but the ax will surely fall if, as expected, they crash at Preston. Rangers have lost six of their last seven to crash out in the Championship play-offs, and home defeats to Cardiff and Peterborough have been truly sickening. Buzzing after beating Blackpool, North End can rack up misery.
Didi Hamann, former Liverpool and Man City ace: Liverpool to win at Manchester City, but at the very least a City layman. I just don’t see them living with this attack. Liverpool are currently the best team in Europe and City are under enormous pressure after seeing their lead at the top erode. Liverpool seem to be invincible and they can bring that aura to the Etihad.
Racing Post’s Alex Hilton: MK Dons have taken 22 points from their possible last 24 and they should be too strong for bitter rivals AFC Wimbledon. A run of 11 wins from their last 14 has brought the Dons to the brink of promotion to League One while Wilmbledon have not tasted victory since December 23.
Chris Wood of Coral: Unexpectedly, Leyton Orient have a genesis under Richie Wellens after deciding no Jackett is needed and they are looking for a big prize in Sutton.
Who are the most vulnerable favourites?
Steve Davis: You can’t argue with what Wycombe is doing at the top of League One, but they still look pretty short on their trip to Gillingham, which came to life under Neil Harris. Priestfield’s defensive frailties were gone judging by their last home game – a 0-0 draw with Sheffield on Wednesday – and they hung on for 90 minutes before being heartbroken at Sunderland last week. They will test Wycombe.
Didi Haman: You must think Chelsea are worth playing at Southampton. The Blues lost to Brentford and Real Madrid last week, and those are the results of teams that I think are affected by what happens off the pitch at Stamford Bridge. I didn’t see that coming against Real Madrid who don’t impress me too much – an aging team after one last dance – so Chelsea’s form is a real concern.
Alex Hilton: I wouldn’t be in a rush to support Chelsea in disagreement against Southampton. The Blues have had a miserable week by their standards after conceding seven goals in two home defeats. It remains to be seen how they react, but all of a sudden they look vulnerable and the Saints have a decent price.
Chris Wood of Coral: Brighton have been massively unlucky lately and Arsenal suddenly look like they are starting to do normal Arsenal things again.
Who wins the Premier League title?
Steve Davis: The run-in, as far as I’m concerned, favors City. I can see West Ham being a potential trap for Guardiola’s champions, but beyond that they won’t be unhappy with what’s left. Spurs and Manchester United have yet to travel to Anfield and trips to Southampton and Villa will be no picnic for the Reds. A lot will unfold, but City must prefer what remains.
Didi Haman: Liverpool. There will still be a few twists and turns to come in the title race, but Liverpool look to be the better, better team. Saturday’s clash could be decisive if City were to win as a four-point gap would be too difficult to close. But, as I said, I don’t see that happening and it looks like a team that knows how to win and Klopp is a winner.
Alex Hilton: Man City. Their remaining fixtures are much more comfortable than Liverpool’s and the Citizens likely have the depth advantage in the squad to deal with the coming barrage of huge fixtures.
Chris Wood of Coral: It must be Manchester City. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Liverpool hit with an exceptionally questionable penalty decision at the last minute to add more fuel to conspiracy theorists’ arguments.
Will Everton be relegated?
Steve Davis: No. Their break-in isn’t the easiest, but they have more home games than away which could be critical, especially that double game at Goodison at home to Brentford and Palace in mid-May. A double-header with Leicester could also be a bonus with the Foxes either focused on Europe or deflated whether they got out of it. I still think they have enough to stay up.
Didi Haman: If you look at their remaining devices, you have to worry about them. I don’t know where the hope is. I was suspicious of the appointment of Frank Lampard and if you look through this team, the way they play, there is no trust. As I watched the end of Burnley’s defeat I wondered what they actually had going for them, because I can’t see much. They could easily fall.
Alex Hilton: I don’t know how they can avoid it right now. Their remaining matches are awful. It’s hard to see where they’ll pick up points from trips to Liverpool, Leicester, Watford and Arsenal given they’ve only won one away from home all season. Their home form isn’t much better either, where they have to face Manchester United and Chelsea among others.
Chris Wood of Coral: Even though Frank Lampard isn’t the most compelling manager and Michael Keane is a far cry from the defensive rock the England team was once meant to be built on, I suspect they’ll pretty much work their way up Security.
Give us a Midweek Coupon Winner
Steve Davis: The stories of Chelsea’s demise are greatly exaggerated and I still think they have one last hurrah in them in the Champions League. They might not be able to close their two-goal deficit at Real Madrid, but I can definitely see them winning at the Bernabeu. A few mistakes made the difference between these two at Stamford Bridge and Thomas Tuchel’s men will not go down without a fight.
Didi Haman: Under 2.5 goals in the Atletico-Manchester City draw in the Champions League. I know Atletico have to go out and find a goal, but there’s absolutely no way Diego Simeone will change his approach. They were tight and compact in the first leg in Manchester and will look to stay level in the return. And, as we’ve seen, City have struggled to break them down.
Alex Hilton: Bayern Munich to win and over 2.5 goals seems like a decent price. It’s not often the German giants are left out and they will be angry after their 1-0 defeat in the first leg in Spain. They can spill the tie with something to spare at home.
Chris Wood of Coral: The top prizes on Wigan’s win at Burton look very generous, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they go roughly even.
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FIRST PUBLICATION AT 4:00 PM, APRIL 8, 2022