It’s a good job that the Long Shot is as good as Nick Clegg at burying its head in the sand and pretending that everything is going just swimmingly, because we have now gone three weeks without picking up a winner. Any longer and we are getting into Mark Hughes territory. I mean, the poor guy couldn’t even win the sack race, he was that useless.
But unlike Hughes, we still have some credit in the bank with £65 to play with, based on a £10 level stake on each selection every week.
And just like Hughes, we have an over-inflated sense of self-importance and a vastly unwarranted belief that we are much better than we actually are, so without any further delay, here are this week’s choices for you to get on.
Peter Crouch to score first in Stoke v Fulham @ 5/1
Peter Crouch has made a career of scoring goals in these types of games and the Stoke striker can notch the first goal when Fulham visit the Britannia Stadium.
It is a match that features a home side that don’t tend to be involved in goal-fests with an away side that does, and Crouch can profit from that. There have been more goals in Fulham’s away games than any other side in the Premier League (27), with 15 of them in the Cottagers’ net.
So Stoke will fancy their chances of scoring and if the Potters register at the Britannia it is normally Crouch who delivers the goods.
The ex-Liverpool striker has scored three of Stoke’s four home goals this season and with Fulham dodgy at set-pieces and further weakened by the suspension of Brede Hangelaand, the beanpole forward will fancy his chances of adding to his five career goals against the Cottagers.
(Read a full Stoke v Fulham betting preview here)
Cardiff City to beat Barnsley 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 @ 4/1
Cardiff haven’t been good on their travels this season, but they will hardly get a better chance to get their away campaign back on track than visiting Oakwell to face Barnsley and the 4/1 that they win 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 is definitely of interest to me.
Cardiff are 18th in the away table in the Championship with just seven points from their eight fixtures outside Wales, but I fancy them strongly to beat a Barnsley side that are in freefall. Keith Hill’s men have taken just two points from the last six games and have only won once in their last ten matches.
So the Bluebirds will not have a better chance of landing an away victory and there are reasons why that 4/1 appeals.
Firstly, Cardiff have kept just two clean sheets in their nine games on the road so you could expect them to concede, but it is not likely to be more than one goal: the Tykes haven’t scored more than once at home all year, but have notched exactly one goal in six of their eight home fixtures.
They haven’t kept a home clean sheet in six and will struggle to contain a Cardiff outfit that, despite their poor record, have found the net with regularity on the road.
Malky Mackay’s side have failed to score away from home just once and have netted 15 goals. There have been 32 goals in City’s eight away games and with the game promising goals, get on Cardiff getting one or two more than Barnsley’s solitary strike.
Draw/Southend in Southend v Rochdale @ 4/1
A few weeks ago, Paul Sturrock looked as though he might have lost his Midas touch at lower league level but his Southend side have come roaring back into form and there is Long Shot value to be found in their clash with Rochdale.
The Shrimpers have taken a while to get going this season, but a run of ten points from their last 12 games has put Sturrock’s men within a point of the League Two play-offs.
Consecutive away wins at Torquay and Wimbledon saw Southend hit eight goals and there is every chance they will now get involved in the promotion shake-up.
Rochdale visit Roots Hall in sixth place, one point better off than their hosts, but in some erratic form. Dale have won just two of their last six and their previously fine away record has showed signs of ceasing.
But I like the 4/1 that the match is level at half-time before Southend go on to win. United have been drawing at the break in 12 of their 19 league fixtures, as many as any other side, while Rochdale have been level on eight occasions in their 18 games, which is well above average.
I think it’s a much better value way of getting around what I believe will be a home win.