Below is Gerry's Premiership preview for the World Cup Germany 2006.
The views expressed are solely those of the author.
Once upon a time, after partaking in a couple of social halves at a local tavern, I found myself in the company of a young ginger-haired Scottish lady. Being a personable soul, I overcame the handicap of her ridiculous accent to engage in polite conversation. Unfortunately, kindness is rarely rewarded. Before I really knew what was happening, the red-headed caber-tosser proceeded to take advantage, physically. Fast forward seven years, and Elizabeth still has her claws in me, and my chances of ever breaking free are slim. I share this tale with you not to whine about the wife, Betty the sweaty, but because the England players currently find themselves in an almost identical situation, just one little mistake can lead to years of regret. As long as the England players avoid pulling a Gerry, a happy ending should be on the cards against Ecuador. The Three Lions should be supported at 4/9.
Michael Owen is a goal scoring machine when fit, unfortunately, he hasnt been fit since 1998. As Sven refuses to play Walcott as cover and Crouch is clearly not of international class, the Owen injury could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. England will definitely benefit from a holding midfielder while Gerrard will be given the license to support Rooney up front. Waynes recovery from injury has been bordering on miraculous, Im not a religious man, but Ill be praying that the Roonatic bags the opener at 9/2. England have played exceptionally well in the first half of their matches so far, before wilting like a Frenchman in a drinking competition. Another impressive start against a poor Ecuadorian team would allow Sven to rest Wayne at about the hour mark, with the game well and truly in the bag. A half-time full-time win for Svens men is a value option at 6/5.
Correct score betting is never an easy market to crack, the bookies have a built in percentage so fat it makes Brazils Ronaldo look like Pete Doherty. However, when theres a short priced favourite in a match, the bookies edge is dramatically reduced. A perm of a 2-0 / 3-0 win pays out at 11/4, with 2-0 being the preferred selection at 6/1.
Germany meet Sweden in Saturdays opener, and somewhat controversially, Ill be playing heavily on the Swedes. Forget the Kloses of this world, disregard the Podolskis and never mind the Ballacks, the Swedes are more than a match for the Germans, you should get involved at 9/2. Admittedly, the Germans topped their group, but Northern Ireland could have qualified from that poor bunch. Swedish coach Lars must have knocked his Lagerback is genuinely confident of victory, and rightly so. The Swedes are 11/1 pokes to win by a 1-0 scoreline, help yourself.
Argentina v Mexico will bring Saturdays action to a close and this one is a total no-brainer. FIFA may believe that Mexico are the superior team, but their rankings are a lot like me, the last time I requested my marital rights; seriously flawed. The bookies are offering 2/5 about an Argentina victory in 90 minutes, I implore you, play, and play hard.
The weekends action will end when Portugal face Holland for the right to meet England in the last eight. I havent been overly impressed with the Portuguese so far, Figo looks shot, Pauleta has once again failed to deliver on the big stage and Ronaldos bag of tricks may be pleasing to the eye, but theyre about as effective as a No Drinking sign in Glasgow. The Dutch qualified with ease from the supposed group of death, the Orange looks tasty at 5/4. For the first goal scorer in this match, look no further that Robin Van Persie at 15/2. Van the man has the sweetest touch since Van Gogh and is due a good performance ear. On a related note, Peter Crouch is also a Post-Impressionist.
Germany v Sweden Saturday 24th June 16.00
Get on: Sweden
Match Special: Freddie, willing and able Ljungberg to score the only goal of the game 65/1
Argentina v Mexico Saturday 24th June 20.00
Get on: Argentina
Match Special: Fancy a quick Juan? Riquelme to score the first goal 13/2
England v Ecuador Sunday 25th June 16.00
Get on: England
Match Special: A Wayne storm Rooney to score a hat-trick 25/1
Portugal v Holland Sunday 25th June 20.00
Get on: Holland
Match Special: Cocu nuts Phillip Cocu to score with a header 16/1