First, an apology for the Long Shot’s recent absence. A mixture of laziness, bone idleness, lethargy and general apathy has left us about as reliable as a testimony from Chris Huhne, and for that we are sorry. That’s genuinely sorry, so not in the sorry-I-got-caught Huhne kind of way.
But as it is Easter, it seems as apt a time as any to resurrect the Long Shot as the season’s home straight is now upon us. In case you are wondering, I am not comparing myself to Jesus as that would be ridiculous – I don’t remember big JC tipping up many winners in the Bible. Have you read the Bible? Don’t bother – it’s really long and he dies at the end.
To be honest, I am not a religious person. The only long-haired old man whose church I regularly visit is Peter Stringfellow, and even then there isn’t much praying going on. Although there are lots of people on their knees.
But Easter or not, it is all eyes on the coupon and with £137 in the kitty we have another three big-priced fancies for you. Well, I think it is £137, but I’m not too sure.
I knew I shouldn’t have put all the Long Shot savings into that Cypriot bank. But no, Harry Redknapp said he knew best….
Anyway, it doesn’t matter, because we’ve got a winner in these selections somewhere – so have a read and get on them.
Christian Benteke to score first in Aston Villa v Liverpool @ 7/1
Anybody who saw what Christian Benteke did to the Liverpool defence in Aston Villa’s 3-1 win at Anfield in December will scarcely believe you can get 7/1 about the big Belgian scoring first at Villa Park on Sunday – and this is the type of bet that has ‘Long Shot’ written through it like a stick of Blackpool rock.
Benteke scored twice and made the other in the reverse fixture and he is arguably as in-form as any other striker bar his opposite number this weekend, Luis Suarez.
The former Genk man has scored eight goals in his last ten Premier League games and has struck 17 goals in all competitions in what has been a brilliant debut season in England.
He has 13 goals in the league, seven of which have been the first strike of the match. Five of those opening goals have come in his last ten appearances and he will surely be licking his lips at the prospect of getting at a Liverpool back four that has kept just two clean sheets in their last ten, letting in 16 goals at the same time.
You should be licking your lips at that 7/1 as well.
Bolton Wanderers to beat Charlton Athletic and under 2.5 goals @ 9/2
It has taken him a while, but Dougie Freedman finally has Bolton Wanderers on a roll and I like the look of the 9/2 that says they go to the Valley and beat Charlton in a game that sees under 2.5 goals.
A run of six wins and two draws in nine matches has lifted Bolton into play-off contention and with just five points to make up in the last eight fixtures, Freedman will still harbour hopes of gatecrashing the top six.
And he will certainly be confident of seeing off Charlton. The Addicks have the worst home record in the Championship and a return of just four wins and 18 points from 19 games has made the locals restless.
As one wag wryly suggested recently, perhaps the club will offer season tickets for away games rather than home games next year because Chris Powell’s side have drawn six home blanks and have been on the other end of a defeat and under 2.5 goals five times at the Valley this season.
Bolton, who have won in that same manner six times, including their last three victories, can make it another tough afternoon for Powell.
Barnsley to beat Sheffield Wednesday and over 2.5 goals @ 9/2
And for the final selection we are back to an old friend. Barnsley have done us a few favours over the last six weeks or so, and I reckon they can do us another turn by beating Sheffield Wednesday in a match that sees over 2.5 goals.
The match at Hillsborough pits fourth-bottom against fifth-bottom and with the teams in the relegation zone closing in, it is a huge match – and Barnsley can take advantage of Wednesday’s troubles on their own patch.
Only two teams in the Championship have a worse home record than Dave Jones’ side and on the back of two straight home losses, Hillsborough is the last place Wednesday want to play at the moment.
And after a bit of a wobble (which coincided with being drawn against Manchester City in the FA Cup), the Tykes have won two league games on the bounce and their record under David Flitcroft, winning ten of their 15 games, is seriously impressive.
Eight of Barnsley’s last ten games have had over 2.5 goals, so I’ll be on that 9/2.