Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
A number of surprise midweek results in the Premier League, but Liverpool extended their lead at the top of the table to five points after their draw with Leicester following Manchester City’s surprise defeat at St James’ Park 24 hours earlier.
Two late goals gave Spurs a welcome three points against Watford midweek and they have picked up four more points at this point of the season (24 games) than they have ever had at the corresponding stage of the Premier League – and they are still seven points behind leaders Liverpool!
The Magpies gained a famous win at home to Manchester City on Tuesday when they played with great discipline and organisation and took their opportunities when they arose roared on by the Toon Army. United left nothing out on the St James’ Park pitch midweek, however, have lost their last seven games at Wembley and I think the hosts will keep the points in the capital.
Tip: Spurs to win to nil at 13/10
Brighton must still be wondering how they let a two-goal lead slip at Fulham midweek while Watford were a goal up with ten minutes to go at Wembley and lost. I feel it will be the Hornets who bounce back and pick up all three points in what promises to be an entertaining game.
A quick word on the evergreen Seagulls’ striker Glenn Murray whose brace at Craven Cottage ended a barren eight-game drought. He has scored with ten of the 17 shots he has had on target this season – that is some record.
Tip: Watford to win at 19/10
Two of the most improved sides in the division go head-to-head at Turf Moor although the Clarets will be disappointed to have dropped points from a 2-0 lead at Old Trafford for the second successive season.
Only United (7) are on a longer unbeaten run in the PL than Burnley (5) but the Saints came from a goal down to pick up a point at home to Crystal Palace midweek and I feel this is a game that has draw written all over it.
Tip: Game to finish 1-1 at 11/2
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 31, 2019
You must go back to 1996 (Liverpool 1-5) for the last time Chelsea lost a PL game by a four-goal margin, but I expect the Blues to bounce back from their mauling at Bournemouth midweek against bottom of the table Huddersfield Town at Stamford Bridge.
The Terriers have failed to score in their last five PL games and could not break down 10-man Everton at the John Smith’s Stadium earlier in the week. Things look bleak for new Town manager Jan Siewert although they certainly played with plenty of passion against Marco Silva’s side. Chelsea’ superior class to prevail.
Tip: Chelsea halftime/fulltime at 8/13
Palace must do without their talisman Wilfried Zaha who was sent off late in the game at St Mary’s earlier in the week, but I think they can show they are no one-man band and keep the points.
Fulham came from two-down at halftime to beat Brighton midweek, but they continue to leak goals although they are likely to play their part in a cracking London derby.
Tip: Palace to win and both teams to score at 16/5
Both sides gained valuable wins midweek with Everton grinding out a much-needed win at the John Smith’s Stadium. Wolves were more fluent in their 3-0 home win over West Ham and I feel they will get a result at what is sure to be a tense Goodison Park.
The sides played out a thrilling 2-2 draw on the opening weekend of the season and I feel the points will again be shared on Saturday.
Tip: Game to finish in a scoring draw at 18/5
It is sure to be an emotional Cardiff City Stadium. Neil Warnock said it had been the most difficult week of his managerial career prior to the Bluebirds trip to Arsenal midweek and it will be the first home game for the club since the plane flown by David Ibbotson and carrying new striker Emiliano Sala went missing over the English Channel ten days ago.
The Cherries stuck four past Chelsea midweek, but I don’t see a repeat in the Welsh capital where one goal might be enough.
Tip: Under 1.5 goals at 13/5
Both sides came from behind to pick up a point midweek and Leicester impressed me enormously at Anfield where I felt they were good value for the draw. That said they have lost their last couple of home league games and I enjoy watching this new United side – something I couldn’t and wouldn’t have said earlier in the season.
United have won their last five away games in all competitions and are clinical on the break. I feel the Red Devils will edge what promises to be a hugely entertaining game.
Tip: United to win and both teams to score at 27/10
Strange as it seems I wonder if City scored too early against Newcastle midweek? Whatever the reason for their lethargic almost complacent performance they never brought their “A” game to St James’ Park although that shouldn’t take anything away from a terrific win for the Magpies.
City have now lost three league games having taken the lead and, when the dust has settled on the 2018/19 PL season, that might just be the difference as to whether they retain their title or not.
Arsenal were no match for City on the opening day of the season and I can’t see them stopping a City side who will have been wounded by their north-east reverse.
Tip: City -1 on the handicap at 8/11
— James Milner (@JamesMilner) January 31, 2019
West Ham have lost their last four league games against Liverpool and conceded four goals in each of those losses, but they have won their last couple at the London Stadium and will be going all-out to put behind their recent away defeats at AFC Wimbledon and Wolves where they didn’t manage to muster a single shot on target.
The Reds will have been disappointed not to have taken full advantage of Manchester City’s slip-up at Newcastle against Leicester, but they are five points clear with fourteen games to go and the title is in their hands. I expect to see Jurgen Klopp’s side return to winning ways on Monday evening.
Tip: Liverpool to win and both teams to score at 9/5
Midweek treble: City, Chelsea and Spurs at 6/4
— James Milner (@JamesMilner) January 31, 2019