I wrote last week that I didn’t have the best Valentine’s Day, but I can see now that I got it all wrong.
I shouldn’t have been buying petrol station flowers for the girl in the pub down the road; I should have been lavishing Barnsley manager David Flitcroft with gifts and whispering sweet nothings in his ear. I’m even thinking of sending him this belated card:
Barnsley are red, the bookies are blue,
I keep winning money, because I’m betting on you.
Yes, for the third week in four, Barnsley did us a trick by seeing off MK Dons in a match with at least three goals, and the Oakwell side are fast becoming my favourite ever team.
The kitty is now back up to £167 (based on a tenner on each tip), and below are three more tips you need to be getting on.
Christian Benteke to score first in Arsenal v Aston Villa @ 9/1
Arsene Wenger has endured one of the most horrid weeks of his tenure at Arsenal in the past seven days and the price on Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke piling a bit more misery on the Frenchman is just too big for the Long Shot to ignore.
Arsenal’s erratic season shows no signs of improving significantly, and the 9/1 on Benteke to score first when Villa go to the Emirates is a whopping bet.
The big Belgian is in great form, with six goals in his last five games for the Villans in league and cup, and he must be itching to get back on the pitch after a two-week break.
In four of those games Benteke has struck first (and in the fifth, he scored Villa’s only goal) and with confidence high, he can do it again against the slow-starting Gunners, who have conceded the first goal in eight of their last 12 games in all competitions and have only kept three clean sheets in the last ten games at the Emirates.
Over 4.5 goals in Reading v Wigan @ 5/1
A good old-fashioned relegation six-pointer and no mistake at the Madejski Stadium, and I reckon there could be goals galore when Reading host Wigan Athletic in a match of real importance.
Both teams find themselves in the bottom three with 11 games to go, so how vital the match is doesn’t need reiterating, but with pressure comes mistakes and I think as both teams are better going forward than they are at the back – Wigan have the worst defensive record in the division (51), while Reading have let in just three fewer – I see goals.
Six of Reading’s 26 league matches have seen five goals or more – only Manchester United and Chelsea can boast a higher total – but four of those have come in their home matches, a record only Arsenal can better.
Goals have been flying in at both ends for Wigan recently, too: three of their last six have seen over 4.5 goals, and there have been a pair of 2-2 draws in that sequence as well. I think this will carry on, and the 5/1 looks fine to me.
Blackburn to beat Leeds and over 3.5 goals @ 9/2
Blackburn Rovers may have had a wobble in midweek after their victory over Arsenal in the FA Cup, but they can get back on track against poor travellers Leeds United at Ewood Park in a match that sees over 3.5 goals.
Defeat at Hull City on Tuesday was an after the Lord Mayors’ Show type of occasion, but generally Blackburn have been in good form – they had won four and drawn one of the previous five – as Michael Appleton gets to grips with his (latest) new job.
Appleton will be glad that Leeds are coming to town, because everybody is pleased when Leeds come to town. Only Bolton have won fewer points on the road than Neil Warnock’s side, who have lost eight of the last 11 on their travels.
Most of these games have featured plenty of goals, with seven of their 16 trips seeing at least four, including five of the last nine, and I expect Leeds to be on the end of another high-scoring defeat.