How the fortunes of football change. Just a month ago, Harry Redknapp had been exonerated of tax evasion charges, become the red-hot odds-on favourite to succeed Fabio Capello as England boss and seen his Tottenham Hotspur side thrash a very decent Newcastle team to stay in touch with the leaders at top of the Premier League.
Fast forward four weeks and things could barely have gone more wrong.
That emphatic victory against the Magpies seems a lifetime ago and with just one win in five since (an FA Cup replay victory at home to League One Stevenage) – a run which includes three straight Premier League defeats for the first time since Redknapp took charge in 2008 – Tottenham have gone from chasing the coat-tails of the two Manchester clubs to looking over their shoulder at bitter rivals Arsenal, who now lie just one point behind in fourth.
Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton are admittedly a difficult set of fixtures, but the successive losses have come at exactly the wrong time of the season and for the first time all year, Redknapp has to rally his troops against adversity.
Yet in truth, Tottenham are not playing as badly as the formbook suggests: yes, they are lacking their mid-season zip and injuries have disrupted them slightly, but a 3-1 reverse at home to Manchester United flattered the champions and Spurs were equally unlucky in defeat to Everton last weekend.
In other words, I don’t see a great deal wrong with Tottenham at the moment and I am fully expecting a comfortable evening when they host Bolton Wanderers in Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final at White Hart Lane.
Champions League qualification will remain Redknapp’s primary objective but he will also fancy winning some silverware before he (probably) departs for the England job and I don’t predict any trouble for Spurs against Bolton.
Tottenham are not playing as badly as the formbook suggests: yes, they are lacking their mid-season zip and injuries have disrupted them slightly, but a 3-1 reverse at home to Manchester United flattered the champions and Spurs were equally unlucky in defeat to Everton.
The hosts are quite rightly strong favourites at 7/25 in bwin’s 3way football betting market, with the draw a 17/4 chance and Wanderers the 9/1 outsiders.
Much of my confidence stems from Bolton’s away record. Owen Coyle’s side have lost ten times on the road in the Premier League – more than any other team in the division – and have conceded two goals a game on average on their travels.
Against a Tottenham side who have scored goals for fun at home this season (on eight occasions they have scored three goals or more at the Lane in all competitions), that defence will again be tested to the extreme and there is no way Bolton will be able to keep Spurs out.
But above all else, Bolton’s motivation has to be questioned. Well and truly in the relegation mire with ten games to go, Coyle couldn’t care less about this match when Premier League survival is at stake and I expect changes to be made to his side as he strives to keep them in the top flight.
So with Tottenham more up for the cup than Bolton, and with a far superior team, I see nothing but a comfortable Spurs win.
The Tottenham half-time/full-time double result is 3/4 and I like that a lot – especially as it has happened in eight of Tottenham’s ten home league victories.
Spurs hammered Bolton earlier in the season 3-0 at home and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a similar margin of victory, so also look at the 37/20 that Tottenham win by three or more goals.
Recommended bet: Spurs to be winning at half-time and full-time @ 3/4
Outside punt: Spurs to win by three or more goals @ 39/20
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