I’m a bit confused about the meanings of the Easter festival. Why, for example, is it Good Friday? Did the Jews invent Soccer Saturday? When did big JC bite the dust and what have pancakes got to do with it?
The nuances of religion are tip-top for starting persecutions and wars, but they aren’t really much help when previewing a Premier League football match.
It still won’t stop me from shoehorning in a tired biblical analogy, so without much further ado, can Nigel Adkins un-nail himself from his Southampton crucifixion to resurrect Reading from the dead?
At present, the Berkshire boys are 1/25 to be playing in the Championship next season and 8/1 to climb out of the bottom three by the end.
If they do go down, it will have little to do with Adkins – but how much influence can he have on his flock?
The 48-year-old can at least call upon Simon Church and Hope Akpan for some divine intervention, but he’d probably be better off with a loaf and a tin of tuna.
Six league defeats on the spin has left the Royals seven points adrift of Premier League redemption and their fixture list between now and the end of the season is about as forgiving as Pontius Pilate.
They kick things off with a trip to face Arsenal at the Emirates on Saturday and still need to play Liverpool and Manchester City, as well as having relegation humdingers against Southampton and QPR.
In my eyes, Reading are as good as gone and there’s more chance of seeing Jesus himself at the Madejski Stadium next season than Manchester United or Chelsea.
A win over Arsenal may grant a temporary stay of execution, but I can’t even see them getting that and neither can the bwin bookies, who have the Gunners strong 11/50 favourites for the win, with the draw at 21/4 and Reading way out at 10/1.
Christ was still a carpenter when Reading last kept a clean sheet away from home in the top flight and that does not bode well when you’re off to play the league’s second-highest home scorers.
Arsenal aren’t exactly God’s gift to football themselves, but they’ve won four of their last five league games and will also be buoyed by that impressive 2-0 win at Bayern Munich.
Arsene Wenger has spent most of this season looking like an apparition on the touchline, but I see no need for more blasphemy from the stands in this one and I reckon the Gunners will put another nail in Reading’s cross.
Adkins’ arrival should have freshened things up a bit and he has had the best part of a fortnight to work with his new men, but even still, Reading have conceded first-half goals in their last four games and I’d back Arsenal to elongate that sequence.
The Gunners are 53/100 to score first in the opening period and 18/25 to score either side of the break. I can still see the visitors getting on the scoresheet, so 4/5 for both to score isn’t bad, but that only opens up the markets of Arsenal with goals for me.
If the Wenger boys can click, then 29/20 on them to win both halves is decent value, but if you reckon Reading can hold tight for a while, the half-time draw/Arsenal win at 333/100 might interest you.
With the odds so heavily stacked one way, it’s difficult to pull out a pearler to make you much of a return but the multiple correct score section is usually a gold mine and once again it comes bearing gifts.
On the basis of goals at both ends, I’m going for the multiple correct score of 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 Arsenal at a staggeringly generous 13/5 and that pick will have you praising the Lord come 5pm on Saturday.
New customers registering with bwin are entitled to a free £20 bet and sticking that on a 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 triumph for the hosts could pull you in £72 to put towards the purchase of your very own confessional.
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