Stoke City continue to confound critics by sitting in a comfortable mid-table position although their brand of no-nonsense, direct football doesn’t appeal to everyone. They face Wigan Athletic on Saturday, a team whose form is about as erratic as Tiger Woods’ driving. Stoke’s home form is pretty solid and so they should win this one comfortably at 21/20.
Rumours that Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has asked Gary Pallister and Ronnie Johnsen to come out of retirement in order that he can field the requisite number of centre halves against Aston Villa on Saturday are unconfirmed. United continue to run up some impressive scorelines without actually playing particularly well whilst Villa have manoeuvred themselves into fifth spot with some excellent performances. This could be a tricky match for United and Villa have some appeal at 13/2.
After the international break, the rough and tumble of domestic football returns this weekend with a cracking match in prospect on Saturday lunchtime. Aston Villa host Chelsea in the Premier League with the home side looking to keep ahead of upstarts Manchester City as the team most likely to break into the top Four.
I’ve not been that impressed with Villa so far this season and their surprise victory at Anfield was as much about Liverpool’s early season form as it was about Villa’s. I thought a draw was a fair result for Martin O’Neill’s side last time out against a talented City side and with Chelsea’s additional organisation and experience they can further dent Villa’s European ambitions at 5/6.
So, despite none of our long shots profiting last weekend it was a reasonable start to this column. Canadian golfer Graham Delaet briefly reached the top twenty leaderboard in the Alfred Dunhill Links during his second round but a third round 74 saw the 27 year old eventually finish six under par, fourteen shots behind runaway winner Simon Dyson.
Liverpool were disappointing against Chelsea and to say that Manchester United looked a shadow of their normal selves against Sunderland would be an understatement. Let’s see if we can do better this time.
After a slow start, the Heineken Cup has now become the competition to win in world club rugby. Featuring the cream of European rugby talent the competition is now in its fifteenth season and the twenty four sides start their campaign this weekend on the long road to the Stade de France in May 2010.
Teams from Ireland, England and France have dominated the tournament over recent years and Leinster go into this season’s Cup as reigning champions after their 19-16 win over Leicester Tigers last May. The Irish holders have been drawn in a tough group this time around with the Scarlets, Brive and London Irish in Pool Six.