Weekend Long Shots: Norwich, Wolves and Peterborough

Well, don’t I have egg on my face? Not because none of last week’s selections landed (although that was bad enough) but because I made a holy show of myself: I thought Ben Thatcher had died when in fact it was Margaret Thatcher.

I did warn you that I don’t keep up with the news. And I must admit, I did think it was a bit strange that the poor man’s Danny Mills was getting such a big send-off.

But alas, I have been enlightened. I was talking to Peter Stringfellow during the lock-in at his club on Saturday (regulars only) and he told me all about Lady Thatcher, and I was overcome with sadness at the loss of such a great woman.

I didn’t realise last week, but she made Britain great again, didn’t she? Not great enough for her children and grandchildren to live here, but great all the same.

Well anyway, it turned out Peter had a plus one for the funeral on Wednesday (he’s well connected, you know), so he invited me along. And I have to say it was an emotional occasion.

I don’t mind admitting I had a tear in my eye watching all the people that had stabbed her in the back or didn’t even like her in the first place coming over all affectionate.

And when that guy started crying, you know, the one who came dressed as what a vampire would think a silver-spooned human would look like, it finished me off. George Osborne, I think his name was?

But after the funeral, it was all back to Stringfellows and suffice to say it was a good laugh despite all the sadness.

People tell me that Osborne guy is no good with money, but he seemed to be spending enough of it that night. It was only when Anne Widdecombe insisted on dancing that things got a bit out of hand (I’m still waking up in a cold sweat).

In fact, it was Osborne who told me I should take Lady Thatcher’s lead with the Long Shots column.

‘Don’t really bother worrying about anybody else,’ he said, jabbing his finger at me. ‘Just be as greedy as you can and make as much money as possible.’

Now that is an ideology that the Long Shot can embrace, so with £127 in the kitty, we are going to have no issues getting filthy rich on these three selections this weekend.

Draw/Norwich double result in Norwich City v Reading @ 15/4

Norwich couldn’t have asked for better visitors to Carrow Road than Reading as they look to claim the points to ensure Premier League survival, and the 15/4 they eventually win the match after a drawn first half looks like a good bet.

The Canaries seem to be heading to safety at a snail’s pace, a point here and there, as they edge closer to the magical 40 mark, but I am not perturbed that they haven’t won in six games and I think they will beat a Reading side that is as good as relegated and have lost eight of the last nine.

But it could be a nervy one, and with Chris Hughton hardly gung-ho in his approach – Norwich have scored just 31 goals in 33 games, with only Stoke and QPR netting fewer – there could be extra caution in a game they will have earmarked as a must-win.

Norwich have been level at the break in seven of their last nine matches, and have scored just nine first-half goals in their 16 games at Carrow Road this term.

But if it could be level after 45 minutes, then Reading are likely to collapse after the break. The Royals have lost 22 of their 33 second halves, and 13 of the 16 they have played on the road, so Hughton’s side can ensure they profit by sealing victory in the final 45 minutes.

Wolverhampton Wanderers to beat Charlton Athletic and over 2.5 goals @ 17/4

Wolves might be in desperate trouble as they stare down the barrel of successive relegations, but they can do their hopes of Championship survival the power of good with a win over Charlton that sees over 2.5 goals.

On 51 points with three games remaining, the Molineux club are out of the relegation zone on goal difference alone, but despite their perilous position, much like the majority of the bottom-third teams they are in good form.

Only Ipswich have taken more points than Wolves over the last six matches, and Dean Saunders’ side have actually won five of their last eight.

And they should go to the Valley full of confidence. Charlton might be ninth in the league (although Lord knows how) but it was only a couple of weeks ago they were looking over their shoulder, and despite their form picking up they still have the worst home record in the Championship, winning just 24 points.

Ten of Wolves’ last 15 fixtures have seen over 2.5 goals, and Saturday can see another one, as well as an important win for the Midlanders against a team with nothing to play for.

Peterborough United to beat Derby County and over 2.5 goals @ 9/2

Peterborough are in exactly the same scenario as Wolves, and I reckon they can get the same outcome when they travel to Pride Park to face Derby County – a vital win in a match that sees over 2.5 goals.

Like Wolves, Posh are on 51 points with three to play, and also like their relegation rivals, have taken 12 points from their last six. In fact, Darren Ferguson’s side are unbeaten in ten matches – a great run at this stage of the season – and they can keep that sequence going against erratic Derby.

The Rams are not entirely safe themselves on 55 points, and are not in great form either. Since beating Blackburn at the start of February, Derby have won just three of their 14 matches, losing six, and Peterborough, who boast the ninth-best away record in the division, can pick up the points at a ground where Nigel Clough’s side are so inconsistent (they have won three, drawn three and lost three of their last nine at home).

Games at Pride Park average 2.86 goals a match and with 12 of Peterborough’s 14 league wins this season producing at least three goals, it makes sense to take the 9/2.