IT’S tempting to look at the card and back whoever Newcastle are playing these days. The crisis club are on the brink of a drop fight after losing their last eight games.
I’ve made plenty backing against the north-east club including last weekend when they went down 3-0 at Leicester where the big talking point was Mike Williamson’s red card.
Boss John Carver reckoned the defender tried to get sent off and for the sake of morale those thoughts should have remained private. How Carver’s survived is beyond me and he won’t have won many fans by claiming he’s the best coach in the Premier League.
The Baggies parked the bus and triumphed 1-0 at Old Trafford last week and while they won’t employ the same tactics they have enough quality up front to hurt a defence that’s been shambolic in recent weeks.
Newcastle are without banned Williamson and Daryl Janmaat who was also red-carded at Leicester. Steven Taylor and Chieck Tiote are also out but Papiss Cisse’s spitting ban is over. The striker has been badly missed but his fitness is in doubt after a knee op while on the sidelines.
Despite their rotten run I still believe Newcastle will stay up – ironically thanks to the points collected by previous boss Alan Pardew who was hounded out.
They have a two-point lead over third-bottom Sunderland and that could be enough. Dick Advocaat’s men are unlikely to pick up any points from trips to Everton today, Arsenal and Chelsea before finishing off at home to Leicester.
After West Brom it’s a trip to QPR then a home clash with West Ham so that’s why Carver’s flops are as big as 11-2 at Bet365 to go down.
Everton are an on-form side Sunderland don’t want to run into. They should bounce back from last week’s defeat at Aston Villa to win today and are a biggest 5-6 at Paddy Power.
Spurs have won four of five visits to Stoke and are 13-8 with William Hill to beat a side who haven’t made the Brittania its usual fortress this season.
Elsewhere in the Premier League I’m again tempted by Leicester who are aiming to make it seven wins out of eight at home to Southampton. This is a tougher game than last week but the Foxes are worth a look at 13-8 with William Hill, Coral and others.
Man United can end a rubbish run of three defeats by winning a Crystal Palace. United can’t blow Champions League football after splashing out £30m for Memphis Depay and with Liverpool at Chelsea tomorrow this is a chance to almost seal the deal. They are 19-20 at Coral.
Possibly the biggest game of all is the Championship play-off derby between Ipswich and Norwich. It’s a tough one to call but both to score makes sense at 19-20 with 888sport.
In Scotland almost all the focus will be on Rangers today as they launch their bid to return to the top flight. Stuart McCall’s men will have to come through three tough ties to win promotion and it could be beyond them.
Even the first hurdle is laced with difficulty with trips to Palmerston producing Rangers’ worst results of the season. Queen of the South look overpriced to beat the Ibrox men having done so twice this season – 2-0 and 3-0 – with the second one coming as recently as a month ago.
The League One play-offs are both level after the first leg so it’s advantage to home teams Queen’s Park and Stenhousemuir. Both should win but best bet is a both to score double at 2-1 with Ladbrokes. Alloa are now 5-6 favourites to win the play-off final ahead of Forfar at 10-11.
And in the Pyramid play-off final first leg I like the look of Highland League champions Brora, who went through their regular season unbeaten, at home to Montrose who finished bottom of League Two. They are 6-4 at Bet365.
In the Premiership best bets could be Ross County at home to almost relegated St Mirren at 4-6 with Ladbrokes. Liam Boyce, who has signed a new deal, netted a hat-trick when the sides met last month and is 5-1 with Bet365 to score first and 6-4 to net at any time.
Inverness are unbeaten in their last five visits to Dens and can follow their defeat of Dundee United in midweek by doing a Tayside double. Both teams have scored in every league meeting between the sides at Dens and an ICT win with both scoring pays 7-2 at William Hill.
St Johnstone have beaten Dundee United twice this season and can make it three at 6-4 at Betfred.
Hamilton and Partick Thistle have little to play for and hopefully a relaxed attitude will bring more goals. Thirteen have been hit in three meetings this season and our or more pays 9-4 with William Hill.
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