The traditional curtain raiser for the English football season takes place on Sunday as Chelsea play Manchester United in the Community Shield at Wembley.
This has been a close affair over recent years with the last three ties all being decided by a penalty shootout. United have won their last three Community Shields on spot kicks and are 9/2 to repeat this feat on Sunday.
The heartbreak of last season’s League One play-off final defeat to Scunthorpe will be a distant memory if Millwall manage to go one better against Swindon Town at Wembley this weekend – and that scenario seems the most likely.
The Lions were desperately unlucky not to go up as runners-up to Norwich this term, having only faltered in the final furlong of their promotion charge.
Tony Roberts is something of a legend at Dagenham & Redbridge. The veteran keeper, who was forced to give up the professional game when at Millwall in 1998, forfeited a substantial insurance pay-out to fulfil his dream of playing league football again with his beloved Daggers in 2007 and the 40-year-old will feel that the sacrifice was worthwhile if he is able to celebrate promotion to League One this weekend following his side’s play-off final against Rotherham United.
The League One season reaches its climax on Saturday as Swindon Town and Millwall battle it out to see who will join Norwich City and Leeds United in the Championship next season.
Millwall finished just a point behind Leeds in the League One table and could well have snatched the second automatic promotion place in the last few weeks of the season. Kenny Jackett’s side reached the final after comfortably dispatching Huddersfield Town and are 11/10 to return to the second tier for the first time since 2006.
The League One and League Two seasons reach their climax this weekend at Wembley with the two play-off finals.
Millwall were comfortably the third best side in League One last season, and could easily have snatched automatic promotion from Leeds United with one or two better results in the run-in. They play Swindon Town in the final, who will be missing their captain and influential defender Gordon Greer who was red carded in the Robins’ semi-final win over Charlton Athletic.
After their decisive Premier League title win, Chelsea have the chance of securing the first double in their history this Saturday as they face Portsmouth in the FA Cup Final at Wembley.
With many of Chelsea’s stars heading off to the World Cup in South Africa, it could be the second leg of an unprecedented treble medal haul. Carlo Ancelotti’s side are 2/9 to retain the FA Cup and even though the pressure is off Portsmouth, I can’t see anything other than a Chelsea victory.
With nine of the players who started Chelsea’s 8-0 win over Wigan Athletic heading for the World Cup this summer, this Saturday’s FA Cup Final could be the second part of an unprecedented medal haul come the 11th July.
Chelsea have never won a Double, although they will surely have no better opportunity than facing a Portsmouth side already resigned to Championship football next season. Carlo Ancelotti’s side have been in superb goalscoring form over recent weeks, and an early Chelsea goal could open the floodgates on Saturday. It’s 100/1 that Chelsea win 7-0 and 375/1 for them to repeat their 8-0 triumph over Wigan.
Anyone who saw Manchester United’s form last Autumn will tell you that they remain astonished that the Premier League champions have managed to get to the final day of the season retaining a chance of bringing home a record fourth consecutive title. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have gamely hung on to Chelsea’s coat tails this season whilst being (as far as we can tell) one of the worst sides Ferguson has put out since the inception of the Premier League.
An interesting, but not classic Premier League season ends on Sunday with one or two issues still to be decided. Chelsea are 1/8 to beat Wigan and secure their first title since 2006, whilst second place Manchester United need to beat Stoke City to stand any chance of stealing the title.
In the chase for fourth place, Spurs are 2/5 to win at Burnley whilst Manchester City are 8/13 to win at West Ham.
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The decisive match in the Premier League title race takes place at Anfield on Sunday as Liverpool host leaders Chelsea. It’s been a season to forget for Liverpool, but they still haven’t secured qualification for Europe yet and so still need points to be sure of at least a Europa League spot.
The absence of leading scorer Fernando Torres is a blow, and despite the Reds home form being pretty decent, Chelsea should still be good enough to take all three points at 10/11.
It’s crunch time at the top of the Premier League and one crunch clash stands out as the battle to become champions intensifies. Chelsea travel to Liverpool on Sunday knowing that a win will almost certainly guarantee them their fist title since 2006. Rafa Benitez’s side are 3/1 to do their Lancashire rivals a giant favour.
Whatever the outcome at Anfield, Manchester United can take the race to the final day with a win at Sunderland whilst Arsenal can win at Blackburn Rovers at evens.