Below is Gerry's Premiership football betting preview for the weekend fixtures Sat 19th & Sun 20th March 2005.
The views expressed are solely those of the author.
As much as I love the World Cup, I cant for the life of me work out why a pointless qualifier against Northern Ireland should take precedent over the Premiership. Being a visionary, i have a solution to the problem. Qualifying groups for future International competitions should involve the dead-wood playing amongst themselves. The likes of Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, San Marino and Scotland should play each other in a series of matches, while the superior teams, England, France, Italy etc, receive a bye. Once the chaff has been eliminated, the seeds will play the qualifiers in a one off match on a neutral venue. The benefits of this scheme would lead to an extra five Premiership weekends, allowing the English top flight to have a winter break, which consequently leads to football odds compilers reaching a respectable bevvying level over the Christmas period.
I await a reply from Sepp.
Now call me a modern-day philosophising genius if you must, but in order to truly appreciate the few lagers at Christmas with the lads, having a few games of pool, listening to the Libertines at the appropriate volume and hitting the obligatory ruby house after; you occasionally have to endure an evening in with the Mrs., drinking tea, watching a programme called Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with children running around the room screaming, and the closest you get to a curry is the Tikka f****** jump the other half suggests when you enquire about dinner. So lets not look on the England match as the boring complete waste of 90 minutes mismatch that it clearly is, lets be half-full people and take advantage of the many betting opportunities available, knowing that the Premiership returns in a week.
Its sad to hear of Andy Johnsons withdrawal from the England squad due to injury, but bearing in mind Englands last International, where Svens tactical genius made A.J. the most ridiculous right-winger since Robert Kilroy-Silk, you can sympathise if the Palace man decided to pull a Giggs. Englands first choice strike force of Owen and Rooney are fit to play though; and young Michael is a hat-trick away from becoming Englands all-time 4th highest goal scorer, an exceptional achievement for a 25 year old. Bearing in mind he should be razor sharp due to being well-rested by the Madrid manager, the 16/1 on offer from Paddy Power about Owen bagging the three goals he needs seems quite generous. If you dont think it will be Michaels day, the same firm offer 20/1 about Rooney scoring three times, which would normally set him back around £90.
If youre tuning in to the France v Switzerland match, the Swiss striker Andre Muff looks a half decent bet to open the scoring. Hes as short as 10/1 with Ladbrokes, but Im happy to advise you to get on A. Muff at 16/1 with Totesport. My footballing contacts inform me that Wayne Rooney has a very high opinion of him, although Matthew Upson feels he is somewhat over-rated. My sources also claim that he has a reputation for simulation, but before you run down to your local bookmakers and ask the bleached blonde cashier, What price Muff diving? you should be aware that a kick in the testicles can often offend.
What they say:
There are no easy games in International football.
What they mean:
There are no easy games in International football, with the definite exception of Scotland at home.
Joe Cole: The future of English football is 11/1 with William Hill to bag the opener.
Scotland: The latest FIFA World rankings show Scotland are now in a tie for 88th place, a distance behind the Footballing greats of the United Arab Emirates and Burkina Faso. If you disagree with FIFA, you can get 20/1 about the Jocks this weekend.
Quote of the week:
Once a blue, always a blue.
Student Patrick Hanrahan makes his point to Wayne Rooney in a Manchester bar, before receiving a shoeing.
Tip of the week:
Dont annoy Wayne Rooney in a boozer.
England v Northern Ireland Saturday 26th March 15.00 Live on BBC
England 1/7 Super Soccer
Northern Ireland 22/1 Boylesports
Get on: England
Northern Ireland recently went 12 matches without scoring a goal, home win.
Match Special: Lampard and Gerrard both to score 10/1 @ Sportingbet
Wales v Austria Saturday 26th March 15.00 Live on Sky
Wales 11/10 Stan James
Austria 11/4 William Hill
Get on: Wales
The Welsh are now Savage-less, and consequently look a better team. Earnshaw and Bellamy are both in great goal scoring form. Another home win.
Match Special: Bellamy to score the first goal 11/2 @ Totesport
Poland v Azerbaijan Saturday 26th March 17.00 Live on Sky
Poland 1/5 Bet Direct
Draw 11/2 William Hill
Azerbaijan 16/1 Sportingbet
Get on: Poland
Azerbaijan have previously recorded victories over Slovakia and Switzerland, but lets face it, theyre rubbish. Yet another home win.
Match Special: Poland to win 1-0 8/1 @ William Hill
Israel v Rep Of Ireland Saturday 26th March 17.50 Live on Channel 5
Israel 21/10 Bet Direct
Draw 9/4 Boylesports
Rep Of Ireland 13/10 Sportingbet
Get on: Draw
The Irish are top of the Group and are playing quite well. The Israelis are no mugs though, score draw.
Match Special: Match to finish 1-1 11/2 @ BET 365
Italy v Scotland Saturday 26th March 19.45 Live on BBC Scotland
Italy 1/5 BET 365
Draw 5/1 Boylesports
Scotland 20/1 Super Soccer
Get on: Italy
Nothing is certain except deaths, taxes and if youre at home to Scotland, you spank those Sweaties.
Match Special: Italy to win 5-0 28/1 @ Paddy Power
France v Switzerland Saturday 26th March 20.00 Live on Eurosport
France 4/9 Ladbrokes
Draw 7/2 Super Soccer
Switzerland 9/1 Totesport
Get on: France
The Swiss havent qualified for a World Cup since 1994, that trend will continue as the French move to the top of their group.
Match Special: A Muff to score at any time 9/2 @ Stan James