Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beat Lawro 2/5/09

Lawro says:

Middlesboro v Man United 0-2
Chelsea v Fulham 1-1
Man City v Blackburn 2-0
Portsmouth v Arsenal 2-1
Stoke v West Ham 2-1
Tottenham v West Brom 2-0
Wigan v Bolton 2-2
Sunderland v Everton 2-1
Liverpool v Newcastle 3-0
Aston Villa v Hull 2-0

Tarquin says:

Middlesboro v Man United

I'm not as confident about this as Lawro, the Riverside is cursed land, and the big four have all struggled there in recent years - but because I don't want to tempt fate I'll stick to a decisive goal


Chelsea v Fulham

Keep dreaming, Lawro - even if Chelsea actually is in Fulham I don't see there being too much to this local derby, Chelsea may rest players tho


Man City v Blackburn

City seem to be recovering with Stephen Ireland back in fine form, think I'll add a goal


Portsmouth v Arsenal

I expect the old French tinkerer to rest some players, but I still expect an Arsenal win from the pacey youngsters


Stoke v West Ham

Stoke should be up for this, any points will seal the deal for them and West Ham are definitely a target


Tottenham v West Brom

This should be a fun match, two very open sides, watch out for Chris Brunt trying to single-handedly collect more points for the Baggies


Wigan v Bolton

Why does Lawro expect a high score draw from these two? Wigan have the lowest scoring rate in the league at home, and regularly draw 0-0, Bolton meanwhile have only gained two away points since the new year - I favour a slim win for Wigan, but I'll stick to a goalless wonder


Sunderland v Everton

I don't expect much from this, especially a Sunderland win - Everton should bounce back from that defeat by City but I'll go for a stalemate


Liverpool v Newcastle

My God, he went for more than two - Liverpool are starting to concede tho and it wouldn't surprise me if Owen got one just for the hell of it, no matter if I pick three or four I'm bound to pick wrong


Aston Villa v Hull

Villa will finally win (this is becoming a running joke)


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I am the Messiah, not Shearer

With this statement I shall save Newcastle:

Last week I placed a bet on the Toon to go down (just shy of evens), and with their draw against Pompey I have gained confidence and thrown caution to the wind to announce it to all and sundry

So when Newcastle face up against Wolves next season, I expect a few drinks, Geordies

You can still get pretty reasonable odds of 8/11 (but only at Stan James), or 10/17 at betfair - not too late

Also in the news - Giggsy finally won the PFA Player of the Year

I don't know what to make of it really - you can't criticise Giggs as anything other than a committed professional and a true legend of the game, but it does kind of make a mockery of the whole thing when they give out a 'player of the year' award as a lifetime achievement award

Granted, it's not been an exceptional year for talent, and the nominations were a bit iffy, but if you're going to do that, and when you consider its other flaws (as I mentioned last week), the whole concept is somewhat devalued and has therefore lost my respect

Monday, April 27, 2009

Beat him again 25/4/09 Results


Bolton v Aston Villa 1-1
Everton v Man City 1-2
Fulham v Stoke 1-0
Hull v Liverpool 1-3
West Brom v Sunderland 3-0
West Ham v Chelsea 0-1
United v Tottenham 5-2
Arsenal v Middlesboro 2-0
Blackburn Wigan 2-0
Newcastle Portsmouth 0-0

Lawro got 6 right, with 3 perfect scores = 12 points
Tarquin got 6 right, with 3 perfect scores = 12 points


Stupid Hull and their consolation goal

You just can't keep Lawro down, I was nicely in front until blooming Blackburn had to deliver their 2-0 victory

oh well

.........Played Correct Perfect Points
Lawro ---39 -----23------7------ 37
Tarquin --39 ----25 -----5 ------35

Friday, April 24, 2009

Beat him again 25/4/09

Lawro says:

Bolton v Aston Villa 1-1
Everton v Man City 2-0
Fulham v Stoke 2-1
Hull v Liverpool 0-2
West Brom v Sunderland 2-2
West Ham v Chelsea 1-1
United v Tottenham 2-0
Arsenal v Middlesboro 2-0
Blackburn Wigan 2-0
Newcastle Portsmouth 2-1

Tarquin says:

Bolton v Aston Villa

I think Villa might finally get 3 points


Everton v Man City

Got to be Everton, solid defence against a side that don't travel well


Fulham v Stoke

Stoke will be without Higginbottom and influential forward Beattie so I don't expect much from them


Hull v Liverpool

Liverpool remain in good attacking form, and Hull remain dreadful at home - should be a comfortable Red win


West Brom v Sunderland

Tricky, Sunderland aren't exactly brilliant on the road - but they're in good form lately so I predict a win against doomed West brom


West Ham v Chelsea

A closely tied local derby, never easy to predict - but I think Chelsea will respond to their two lost points against everton


United v Tottenham

You've got to say United, tho you never know with a midweek game either side - will Fergie rest a few players for the crucial home tie against Arsenal now he has a six point cushion? I doubt it, I'm still going for them, even if they're running short on defenders


Arsenal v Middlesboro

2-0....what more do you need?

Blackburn v Wigan

What a fun sounding game this is, Blackburn will be favourites, but it's going to be rough, tough and muddy so I'm opting for a snore draw


Newcastle v Portsmouth

Must win for the Toon, maybe they will - but I don't expect anything, so I'll take the middle road


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I love being right

Well, nuts to that - Liverpool now need United to lose two games or draw three

The one glimmer of hope is that was the one game you could expect to be drawn; Hull, Newcastle, West Ham, West Brom and Tottenham are all that are left and now only 15 points will do

But United have to lose six points off their remaining seven games - Portsmouth, Tottenham, Middlesboro (a), City, Wigan (a), Arsenal and Hull (a)

Do you see it? I don't, Arsenal are playing well and will meet United three times over the coming month, but realistically that's just two points lost - Portsmouth should be a full three gained, as should Hull - three more wins on top of that will effectively seal the title - Tottenham have a slim chance of getting a draw at OT, Boro, Wigan and City (purely for local reasons) are maybes, but remain slim

So five games, of which united have to cock up three - in my opinion it's a long shot, you have to hope for injuries and fatigue from the Champions' League action

In other news I found an old post of mine from January, I was right about Stoke having favourable games and being likely to get into the 40s - they're not going down now

I also expected Bolton to be OK, they were 3 above the drop zone then and now they have a six point cushion with 5 games left - so I was right...

I expected Blackburn and Newcastle to scrape towards 40 at the end - looking good on Blackburn, but Newcastle have to at least beat Pompey and Boro to stay up (I did say 16th, unlikely now)

I also expected Hull and Sunderland to slip, albeit Sunderland have only gone from a five point cushion to four, it's worth three places - Hull have collected only 7 points since I wrote that nearly three months ago and I think they need four or five points from somewhere (better beat Stoke and Bolton then)

Boro I expected to go, against the bookies opinion - and they now sit three (as opposed to one) from safety with Arsenal, United and Villa to play - only a crucial trip to Upton Park looks worth anything, and that Newcastle v Boro on 11th May game now looks like it could define the season

Not a bad prediction considering I named the current bottom six, and predicted Stoke and Pompey would live, and bear in mind back then Hull were 10th and Sunderland 12th, and Stoke were 19th

I'll stick with Boro and West Brom, and place a hefty chunk on Newcastle to go with them

Update: I know this completely ignores form and their rivals' performances but I worked out United's points-per-game ratio, and at their current rate they should get 16 points off seven games - meaning they finish on 87, and Liverpool can mathematically only get 86

More preds

Some off the record predictions:

Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal
United 1-0 Pompey
Chelsea 2-0 Everton (ooo, FA cup warm-up)

Night night...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Beat Lawro 18/4/09 Results

This week's results:

Arsenal v Chelsea 1-2
United v Everton 0-0 (Everton on Pens)

Aston Villa v West Ham 1-1
Middlesbrough v Fulham 0-0
Portsmouth v Bolton 1-0
Stoke v Blackburn 1-0
Sunderland v Hull 1-0
Man City v West Brom 4-2
Tottenham v Newcastle 1-0
Liverpool v Arsenal (TBA)
Chelsea v Everton (TBA)
Man Utd v Portsmouth (TBA)

Lawro got 5 results right, with one perfect score = 7 points
Tarquin got 7 results right, with one perfect score = 9 points

That means Tarquin has won two weeks out of three, but remains two points behind the ex-moustachioed one

Frankly I can't help but feel cheated, had that Chelsea winner been but a few minutes later I would've been spot on (as I predicted a late winner, but in ET) - but that's life

.........Played Correct Perfect Points
Lawro 29 17 4 25
Tarquin 29 19 2 23

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Beat Lawro 18/4/09

Lawro stands four points above Tarquin after last week's cock-up, but that will all change soon


FA Cup:
Arsenal v Chelsea 1-2
United v Everton 1-0

Premier League:

Aston Villa v West Ham 2-0
Middlesbrough v Fulham 2-1
Portsmouth v Bolton 2-1
Stoke v Blackburn 2-0
Sunderland v Hull 2-0
Man City v West Brom 2-0
Tottenham v Newcastle 1-1
Liverpool v Arsenal (TBA)
Chelsea v Everton (TBA)
Man Utd v Portsmouth (TBA)

Tarquin says:

FA Cup:

Arsenal v Chelsea

Both teams are in form, but then Arsenal have had it pretty easy in comparison, I expect Chelsea to come out the finalists after a close game, and I expect this to be the better of the two semis

1-1 (90 mins)

Manchester United v Everton

How tired will United be after their trip to Porto? Lawro thinks they are back in form after holding off against a lacklustre, weakened Porto side, I think they'll be knackered and face a tough test from Everton

1-1 (90 mins)

Premier League:

Aston Villa v West Ham

Villa may be struggling, but their last five games have been against some of the toughest opposition around (Everton, United, Liverpool, Spurs and City away) - I expect them to beat a small side that don't travel too well


Middlesbrough v Fulham

Fulham pulled off a shocker by going to City and winning, and they've won their last two away games 1-3 so I'm tempted to go for that, as are many punters - but I'm with the bookies on this and think Boro will rise to the occasion as they did against Hull - but this should be by no means a cut and dry game, expect a lot of good fortune if there's a winner


Portsmouth v Bolton

I don't expect a lot off this one, Bolton are poor on the road, and Portsmouth are pretty poor - they couldn't even knock off West Brom at home, but West Brom play a different style and I don't think Bolton will provide much


Stoke v Blackburn

Stoke are within a win of safety and know they have three winnable home games - they'll be up for this, Blackburn won't bring much, especially considering their injuries has led to putting Samba up front (I seriously thought that was a joke last week) - expect a few Stoke dead balls to win this


Sunderland v Hull

Ooo, tough one, a relegation special - Sunderland have only got 1 point off five games lately and slipped as I expected them too, Hull have managed five points in the same period and remain an unpredictable threat. A battle of the mediocres somewhat, but Sunderland showed promise against United, so I'll go for them to edge it


Man City v West Brom

City, they may be tired after that UEFA cup game and I may have been wrong last week, but it's West Brom for God's sake, there's too much flair for West Brom to handle - maybe this will finally be City's elusive draw at home, considering their mid-week exploits, but I'll go for a win, I just can't imagine anything else, while not under the influence


Tottenham v Newcastle

Spurs are playing good football, especially at home, and the jury is still out on the Shearer effect - they got a good(ish) result against Stoke but that was pretty fortunate - I'm going for a Spurs win


(Lawro hasn't done these, I'm not sure if he will - but I'm waiting til after the FA cup so I get the same info as him anyway)

Liverpool v Arsenal
Chelsea v Everton
Man Utd v Portsmouth

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

This is just dozy

PFA award shortlist:

E Van der Sar
N Vidic
C Ronaldo
R Fedinand
R Giggs
S Gerrard

Can't argue with your peers I guess...

but wait, yes you can - is it the end of the season yet? Nope, still got 6 to go, nor was it a month ago when the votes had to be sent in by, conveniently this happened to be just when United had been whipped at Old Trafford by the old enemy

As Arsene argues, the PFA awards are based on who is the best in February, not across the whole season - last year Ronaldo was brilliant, and so his victory was to be expected - this season 5 out of 6 nominees from a team losing their grip on the Champions League in the quarters does not seem right (I say this just as Ronaldo fires in a 35 yard strike at Porto...)

February was of course back when United were still on that run - Van der Sar had his record, they won however many games in a row - but these were all short term, this period was December to February, United look nothing like the world-beaters they were last season

This season hasn't thrown up any real gems, maybe Stephen Ireland (who was rewarded with a young player nomination) - but it's been pretty average, Ronaldo remains at the top of the pile - but not on a par with last season, seems to be a victim of his own success I'm afraid - but a drop is a drop, and when you consider that his primary function is to score goals (as he doesn't track back or defend in general) to only be joint top scorer is not that great for a player with such great service

When you compare that to Lampard, who has been excellent and scored only three less, it seems a bit of a crock - Ronaldo has had moments of magic, which is great - but so has Torres, who if you did the voting right now, I'm sure would be in the running - 11 goals out of only 1300 minutes is impressive and much better than Ronaldo's goal rate

Maybe Torres hasn't played enough - well it certainly didn't stop Giggsy, with only 1100 minutes played and barely any starts, and one league goal

I think partly this is to do with Giggs' respect, which is universal, and he has been playing well - but also that he has contributed most between December and February, if Torres contributes massively between March and May why should he be left out? I think most players would happily vote for someone of Giggs' quality and experience if he hadn't played a match all season, which is in some ways anther flaw with the system

Then we get on to the elephant in the room - Edwin, everyone knows he is pretty ropey and that record was all about his defensive cover, he barely had to make a save during that record run - meanwhile poor old Mark Schwarzer's been a miracle worker and I think the best keeper this season, for further evidence: VdS has made 65 league registered 'saves', Schwarzer has made 125 and in fact no main keeper has had to make less saves than Edwin, further highlighting that it is those 5 blokes in front of him stopping teams getting a shot at him

Talking of that defensive cover, I do think Vidic is worthy of the spot, and probably of the title - he's been consistent until very recently and in a pretty average field he looks strong, Rio meanwhile has been dogged by injury and outshone by Vidic - I think had it not been for that run of clean sheets he would be missing out, unlike his Serbian colleague

I would also question the absence of Rooney - for me he's had a great season, both he and Tevez work very hard and create a lot, then you look at his England form and he's surely one of the performers of the season? Also, Carrick has probably had more great games, where he's pulled all the strings, than Ronaldo - but again is overlooked

As for Gerrard, well he pretty much always worthy and is finishing the season in style, but I can't help feel Lamps has been playing better - and again, if you consider the Champions League and Chelsea under Hiddink you've got to think he'd be a shoe in now

Now as Ronaldo rolls about on the floor...oh look he's fine now (literally, this is live) I have to consider other players around the grounds - it stands to reason that the best teams have the best players, and that they win - but how good are they?

Bear with me here - but when you think of Ronaldo, you can see that he has the backing of the best team in the league - Rooney, Tevez, Carrick, Giggs, as well as Vidic and Ferdinand are all right there to sort him out - if you stuck him in the Middlesboro team how good would he be?

To that end, if a player is not tearing up every team he meets (like Ronaldo was last year) then you have to be a little more objective - surely Tim Cahill's solo efforts up front for Everton are worth something? Forced to play as a lone striker in the absence of any actual ones he has provided some crucial goals that have arguably given Everton their spot in Europe, all the while playing without their creative string-puller, Arteta, for most of the season

Remember this is 'player of the year' - not 'who has the most quality' and it's pretty clear that to win this thing your team needs to be the best - which is in itself daft, as it rewards the teams full of quality - rather than those who prop up the team virtually single-handedly a bit lower down, which to my mind demonstrates a bigger impact by a single player

I do wonder if Arsenal could even get a spot for Cesc - by their standards they've had a rubbish year, but Fabregas is now playing extremely well and if he continues that to the end would he stand out? Probably not - as people see Arsenal's season as rubbish, which is why they've looked at United and Liverpool, as well as Aston Villa's rise to battle the top 4 - again, daft, although the performances of Young and Agbonlahor are certainly worth a mention

Moving into more controversial territory - Kevin Davies may not be the best forward in the world, but 11 goals from a side like Bolton is to my mind better than 11 goals from the likes of Torres or Ronaldo (albeit Torres has played less than half the time Davies has)

I've noticed a lot of criticism of these nominations from both the papers and online, so hopefully I'm not alone, for what it's worth my nominations would be:


Still three United players (so don't accuse me of an anti-United bent) - I just have an issue with Van der Sar, Giggs and Ferdinand - I would also be considering Rooney and Cahill above those three, as it's not yet the end of the season and should still be open

In short - the system needs a change if it's to be worth anything

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Beat Lawro 11/4/09 Results

This week's results:

Liverpool v Blackburn 4-0
Chelsea v Bolton 4-3
Middlesboro v Hull 3-1
Portsmouth v West Brom 2-2
Sunderland v Manchester United 1-2
Tottenham v West Ham 1-0
Wigan v Arsenal 1-4
Stoke v Newcastle 1-1
Villa v Everton 3-3
Man City v Fulham 1-3

Lawro got 8 right, with two perfect scores = 12 points
Tarquin got 6 right = 6 points

Played Correct Perfect Points
Lawro 20 12 3 18
Tarquin 20 12 1 14

Took a bit of a beating this week - we only differed on two and I lost out, I feel aggrieved somewhat at the Liverpool score: an injury time goal scuppered me, I'd get my bet refunded on Skybet for that - I clearly did better than Lawro there, but rules is rules

Likewise Stoke failing to seal a game they dominated ruined me on that front, but I guess that's kind of the point of predictions

Still, only 4 behind and after an easy week, plenty of time to come back

Friday, April 10, 2009

Beat Lawro 11/4/09

Lawro says:

Liverpool v Blackburn 2-0
Chelsea v Bolton 2-0
Middlesboro v Hull 2-1
Portsmouth v West Brom 1-0
Sunderland v Manchester United 1-2
Tottenham v West Ham 2-0
Wigan v Arsenal 1-2
Stoke v Newcastle 1-1
Villa v Everton 1-1
Man City v Fulham 2-1

Liverpool v Blackburn

Surely a Liverpool win - against their first home defeat in eons, and still in an attacking mood that will surely work against a side that are weak on the road, I'll go for three


Chelsea v Bolton

In imperious form under Guus right now, but Lawro never goes more than two, I say three, if not more


Middlesboro v Hull

Everyone expects Boro to pull something out, like they did against Liverpool - but Hull have not collapsed completely - they fight, especially on the road and are very unpredictable - tough to call this crucial game for both sides, a Hull victory will surely cement Boro's demise, but I'm going for shared points


Portsmouth v West Brom

Portsmouth may suck, but against weak sides at home they win - and West Brom are the weakest of the weak, a Crouchy masterclass is due


Sunderland v Manchester United

I've got some questions over United of late, certainly Sunderland won't threaten much - but it's going to come down to individual brilliance once again to provide, I'm too much of a coward to stick my neck out for a goaless draw though


Tottenham v West Ham

Spurs are never a safe bet, but this is pretty safe by their standards - playing well and against a side that won't offer much


Wigan v Arsenal

Arsenal are in form, Adebayor is back and although the Arsenal pretty boys never like to travel to muddy places like Wigan I see them beng too much for Steve Bruce's flailing side - where exactly is Wigan's goal threat? - they've only scored 7 goals in 2009 and Zaki's done his nut so I expect a scrappy away win


Stoke v Newcastle

Will we see the Shearer effect, or will Stoke keep the wind in their sails and beat a Newcastle side that remain clueless? I'm voting for a Stoke win, although I wouldn't put my house on it


Villa v Everton

Villa rediscovered their form against United last week - unfortunately fate robbed them of any reward, but I expect a decent match - not as good as earlier this season I'm afraid, Villa were rampant and using the counter-attack, they've never been as exciting at home - I would favour Villa, but I'll opt for a sturdy draw considering Everton's defence


Man City v Fulham

City! - remain good at home and Fulham don't do travelling, I expect goals...for City (seriously how has the 9th team only got 6 away goals? Only West Brom and Boro come close to that)



I'm aiming for at least 7 this week, considering me and Lawro only differ on two games I don't expect much in that regard

Some to watch - Rooney will likely provide the magic for United, Crouchy should have fun against the Albion and Beattie shouldn't have too much trouble with Newcastle's back line, and I expect Lennon to be the architect at Spurs

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Liverpool beaten at home by Chelsea

Utter shock that, and on balance the game was quite even - it was a curiously open game that could've gone either way, had Kuyt or Drogba finished their chances

What will be interesting is if Liverpool have it in them to win by two goals, and score three at the Bridge - it's not impossible, and Liverpool know how to do a comeback, but if Chelsea simply sit back I'd question how many Liverpool can conjure up

Ironically Liverpool looked nowhere near as ropey as United did - but they came away with a workable 2-2 draw - admittedly they now have to go to Porto, where no man (united) has ever won - but you never know

Arsenal look pretty good for progressing - fancy that, the top two teams on the ropes and Arsenal and Chelsea surely favourites to go through

You can get odds of Liverpool at 9/1 to win, that seems to refer to the match rather than 'to go through' - so I think that's a good offer, likewise the odds of Liverpool getting knocked out in the semis or later are 20/1+ - very rewarding odds

For this weekend I am introducing multipliers to the blog

I feel that after last weekend we'll see a few draws and I have opted for caution

as a result I've gone for obvious home wins for Liverpool and Chelsea (1/4 each), and Portsmouth (8/11), who are good at sealing three points at home against the lower sides, and away wins for United and Arsenal (2/5, 8/11)

I feel the odds are a little stingy on United and Arsenal, I thought a 10/11 would be a little fairer on two tricky away ties for both, but anyway it makes for total odds of 11/2

I think Arsenal and to a lesser extent, United, are slightly risky, but I want to see some real returns and felt it was safer than Spurs and Stoke who I also expect to win - coward

Anyway, real predictions tomorrow when Lawro pops up

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lawro is an ejit (II)


Blackburn v Tottenham 2-1
Arsenal v Man City 2-0
Bolton v Boro 4-1
Hull v Portsmouth 0-0
Newcastle v Chelsea 0-2
West Brom v Stoke 0-2
West Ham v Sunderland 2-0
Fulham v Liverpool 0-1
Everton v Wigan 4-0
Man United v Aston Villa 3-2

Lawro: 10 played, 4 correct, 1 perfect = 6 points
Tarquin: 10 played, 6 correct, 1 perfect = 8 points

See? Winning already - and I had a bit more guts I would've got more - I daren't predict a Liverpool win at the mo, and likewise I was hedging on Stoke - but I have to go by what I put down

Got to admit this has been one of the few weeks which has been quite predictable - wins for Arsenal, Stoke, Bolton and the Hammers all should have been bet on (I forgot, damn horses) - all very straightforward

United unfortunately scraped (and yes they did 'scrape') through with a late, late winner which was rather harsh on Villa

It is of course typical play from United, and usually a late goal is 'persistence' - but this time I have to regard it as very lucky - Villa were dominant and United were all over the place, some individual brilliance saved a team that were without Vidic and Ferdinand, Rooney or Scholes - but nevertheless three points from a game that should've provided more for Liverpool

If you ask me that was the best chance we had of seeing a proper United slip up - Villa were the better side and still took nothing from probably the weakest United side we'll see, the next best we have is a trip to Sunderland, Tottenham and Arsenal's visit - they surely can't keep winning all the way to the end, hopefully the Champions' League and FA cup will tire them out a bit

In other news Stoke and Blackburn earned crucial points to lift them nearer to safety, they now sit above Hull - who continue to gain points at a rate of 1 per year, fortunately for them it's a reasonable result - a loss against fellow-stragglers Portsmouth would've been deadly

Newcastle now don't look too safe, being 3 points from safety, and I did say Sunderland may come under pressure - they now occupy 17th having only gained a point in the past month

I did do a predictor and put Blackburn and Boro in the drop zone - Blackburn in 18th with the cut-off being 36 points, being shaded out by Hull with 37 (I also predicted United with a 2 point victory) - this now seems unlikely as they only need three points off seven to beat me, but I am betting on Boro to go down

United remain 1/3 to win the title, and Liverpool are still at 3/1 despite knocking off a trip to west London

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lawro is an ejit

I hate Lawro - with his foolish analysis that usually relies on how wide the pitch is, bizarre predictions and monotonous drone

So I introduce my new regular feature - Beating Lawro! (Maybe I'll keep 'Lawro is an ejit') - for some reason they removed this feature on BBC sport, presumably because it never worked properly and then spent half a year out of order - so in this age of Internet responses we are denied a go at his useless predictions, that are quite frankly, begging to be contested

So here it is

These are Lawro's predictions:

Blackburn v Tottenham 1-1
Arsenal v Man City 2-0
Bolton v Boro 1-1
Hull v Portsmouth 2-0
Newcastle v Chelsea 1-1
West Brom v Stoke 2-1
West Ham v Sunderland 2-1
Fulham v Liverpool 1-1
Everton v Wigan 2-1
Man United v Aston Villa 2-0

Here are mine:

Blackburn v Tottenham

Tricky one, any game with Spurs is tricky to predict - Blackburn are pretty good at digging in so I'm going for honours even:


Arsenal v Man City

Got to be Arsenal, who are having a bit of a resurgence of late, against a City side that don't travel well


Bolton v Boro

Both Bolton and Boro are unpredictable and some people may expect a much-needed win for the Teesiders - but I don't, they've got nothing on the road - down you go, boys


Hull v Portsmouth

Another tricky one, Hull are pretty useless at home, and Portsmouth are pretty useless, so I'm going to go for a shared result, with Crouchy in a rich vein of form I expect an entertaining score draw


Newcastle v Chelsea

Chelsea are likely to be without Bosingwa and Anelka, not a huge problem as Bosingwa can't defend anyway, but 'Cashley' was all over the place for England so Chelsea don't inspire me at the back - Newcastle will no doubt be pumped up with the appointment of their new Jesus and I foresee some honeymoon action against a Chelsea side, most of whom are just back from international duty


West Brom v Stoke

Ooo, talk about six-pointer - Lawro thinks this is West Brom's last chance - their last chance was back in February if you ask me (he holds these foolish beliefs because he thought West Brom were the good ones and Stoke would be rock bottom - you see why he annoys me??). Anyway, if Stoke were ever going to get that away win it would be here, but they're not, even with their new super-striker James Beattie - but certainly this could go either way


West Ham v Sunderland

The Hammers seem to spend every season without any players, and yet they go on, clearly Zola (*cough* Steve Clark *cough*) is doing a good job, they are still pretty solid at home - is Carlton Cole fit again? I never thought I'd need to ask that one...Carlton Cole? Anyway:


Fulham v Liverpool

Not a pleasant tie for the would-be champions, Fulham had the rub of the green a bit against Fergie's men, but are very formidable at home, as we all know, and Liverpool are coming off two tiring Spain games against Turkey - it is a must win for the Reds and it really depends if they can come out all guns blazing, you would hope so - but Liverpool have a history of giving away points at Craven Cottage


Everton v Wigan

Injury-hit Everton continue to show how pathetic the bottom 14 teams really are, what with Tim Cahill and their defenders being their only goal threat - Wigan are a good outfit but the Toffees should be too solid for them


Man United v Aston Villa

Well if United were going to drop points against anyone right now it would be Villa - unfortunately Villa have suffered from fatigue and are no longer the brilliant counter-attacking team they were for half the season - they've mostly had a good rest over the break and you never know, Ashley and Gabby might come back to life against a United side without the services of Vidic. I'm verging on a draw but I'm not jinxing it so:



I'm going to start a league system to show a trained chimp is better than Lawro, obviously there are only 8 rounds left this season, but I'm still working out a system anyway - for now: 1 point for a correct result, 3 for a correct scoreline - I didn't think there was any good reason to use negatives for wrong predictions or other scores for goal difference/draws - but feedback would be appreciated on this

Anyone else wants to join in, use the comments section


Right, I am obsessed with football and am going to drown my other blog with football nonsense if I don't separate them, so here it is

This is a copy of my latest entry, I'll probably do some predictions for the weekend too and think of some regular features

...."So England won...just - and yet my confidence has ebbed away - it was not an emphatic victory, but it was against the no.3 team, so the mathematics should give me hope

Still 5 games to go, a 5 point lead - our next games are Kazakhstan away and Andorra at home - Kazakhstan doesn't look too fun but surely Andorra are a guaranteed rout, and the Kazaks have been beaten by both Belarus and Ukraine at home so it should be fine - that will take us to the brink with 21 points and 3 games remaining

and yet I still worry - Croatia and Ukraine are both very good and will keep winning, if they could draw with each other again that would be very useful - I guess my fears are partly based on paranoia, but also a realisation that this group is clearly the best - we all knew Ukraine were the toughest third ranks and should've been in the second pot, so I guess it's not surprising - not dissimilar to Euro 08 qualifying I guess - with us and Russia the two scrapping it out, and us coming off worse (remember watering an artificial pitch?)

But realistically we should be fine - it just feels like there's no room for error, we may well end up with a 6 or more point cushion in the end

Then of course remember that we are probably the third most secure team in qualifying - only the Netherlands and Spain have it better, with the Netherlands only needing a point to secure 1st place, and Spain with a 6 point lead and 6 played

Speaking of the Dutch, we may as well look at Scotland in all its patheticness - as predicted, they got that win over Iceland, which is good - but because this is a small group and it's tight it's very precarious - Scotland have to welcome Macedonia and the Netherlands, and go to Norway - frankly that's only one likely win, and maybe a draw - even if the Dutch aren't really concerned (fortunately that will be their last, and almost certainly pointless, game)

Iceland arguably have it harder - Norway and the Netherlands are coming, and they have to go to Macedonia - I think they'll be lucky to get 3 points, so in actual fact Scotland are looking good for second

The problem lies in the fact that they are currently the lowest ranked of the second place teams - meaning they will be the ones to miss the play-offs - this is a group with very few results, the Netherlands has dominated a bunch of no-hopers, so there's very few points - now I do believe having a smaller group makes it harder - even though the bottom teams won't be counted in the other groups, it has made every game more important

Either way, the Scots, if they make it, will be at the bottom end of that second place table and so need to play all three remaining games like they are cup finals

(One possible chink of light may be the French, who unfortunately did win that double header against Lithuania and now look a bit safer - but only have three games left that will count for the play-offs, that is of course assuming Serbia keep beating everybody else)

Northern Ireland meanwhile produced two home wins, the best of the home nations - so you can't really fault that - but it's a damn tight group and Slovakia managed to beat the Czechs away - not good for NI, who have played an extra two games and face a serious threat from Poland, Slovakia and the Czechs - it's going to be very tight - you've got to say Slovakia are good for the 10 points off 5 they need to be assured of winning, but should NI get those last three wins they should be safe - big ask though (Slovakia at home, Poland and Czech Rep away) - I've got to admit I foresee yet another heartbreak as NI are screwed over by being in one of the toughest groups again

Wales are effectively out - they beat even my tepid prediction and lost to Finland at home, game over there

As for Ireland - well, they didn't make it easy for themselves by drawing with Bulgaria at home, after which I started working out likely scenarios - two wins off Montenegro and Cyprus are in order I think, and that's if Bulgaria win their 'easy' three and lose to Italy - and that will mean Ireland need to avoid defeat in Bulgaria in their next match, and their performance in Italy provided a potentially helpful, and unlikely, point - so it's hopeful

And that's it for the home nations - as for those other games I mentioned - well Spain won both against Turkey to pretty much guarantee qualification (Bosnia with a 4 point lead? seriously), Germany only won 4-0 and still need to watch out for Russia

That Slovak away win could be deadly for NI, Group 2 remains boring and Portugal actually drew with Sweden! 6 points off five games for the gelled tumbler's lot! They now have to go to Denmark and Hungary to have any chance of recouping that 7 point deficit and getting second, let alone first (I'm not getting my hopes up..honest)

France avoided embarrassment and got two 1-0 wins over Lithuania to battle it out with Serbia for the top spot (and they do actually look good for it, Serbia)

Australia meanwhile, beat Uzbekistan to almost be the first team in the World Cup but unfortunately still need one more match (they are however guaranteed a play-off) - will it be the Ozzies or the Dutch? My money is on the Ozzies, due to the time difference - Also the Japanese are also pretty much there - is it just me or has Asia got it a little too easy? Methinks they could do with dropping a berth, it has also taken away any sense of achievement for the Ozzies - they've been trying to big it up as a success like 2006 but it's just too easy to qualify now

I say this in all seriousness - but surely they should be giving even more representation to UEFA? Either increase the amount of teams in the finals, or give an extra one or two spots - take one off the Asians and one off the North Americans, for example - I know it's all about giving a chance to the useless teams from each confederation but do you think Wales ever get so much as a chance? These guys like Costa Rica and Iran are easily comparable to no-hopers in Europe - maybe I am being selfish but in Europe good teams will go out, in North America the US and Mexico are guaranteed, in Asia it's Australia, Japan and Korea, even South America gets useless teams like Ecuador in - European qualification is incredibly difficult compared to the rest.

Europe loses teams like Turkey, Ukraine, Czech Rep, Northern Ireland and possibly even Portugal - Europe struggled in 2008 with 16 berths (notably England) and the only real dead weights were the hosts...and France. Which is why the European championships are being increased - you risk the problem of the Euros becoming more representative than the actual World Cup - I know it seems unfair on the rest of the world - but think about it, we are only in this situation because of fairly arbitrary geographical distinctions - surely we could make it fairer by letting the whole world compete rather than squeeze the best area of football for the sake of everyone else, why not let Asia and Africa compete with Europe, and North with South America?

My two cents "