Sometimes, life is just predictable, isn’t it? Take this last week, for example. A politician gets caught lying (‘Arry will take your points, Mr Huhne), the banks are in trouble for ripping everybody off and Alex McLeish has left another job in ignominy after yet another woeful, if mercifully short, spell in charge of a Midlands club. Oh, Big ‘Eck, not again…
But even more predictable than all of that was – yes, you know what’s coming – a winning tip for the Long Shots last week to extend our brilliant run.
We have Barnsley to thank for the second weekend running as they have done us turns away from home at 4/1, first at Hull City in the FA Cup, and now at Blackpool in the Championship.
Any more results like this and the Long Shots will be forgetting all about the girls at Stringfellows and moving to Barnsley to get stuck into the local talent there. Er, actually, on second thoughts…
But up the Tykes all the same, and with the coffers swelled to a whopping £177 (from a £10 level stake on each tip), confidence is as high as Kerry Katona that we can repeat the trick.
Despite the headline, QPR and Millwall aren’t the teams fighting it out for Andy Carroll’s signature (they’d have no chance, Big Andy loves a fight).
Instead, they are the subjects of this week’s selections, so get a tenner on each one and let’s hope the winners keep on coming.
QPR to beat Swansea to nil @ 11/2
I understand there are enough reasons why, on the face of it, this looks a bit barmy.
Tipping up Queens Park Rangers, a team with two victories to their name in 25 league matches and with just one solitary away win in the same number of fixtures, to beat Capital One Cup finalists Swansea on their own patch, and while keeping a clean sheet, too, does seem a bit far-fetched.
But there are enough pointers to make me think that the 11/2 is far too big.
One is Rangers’ recent performances, and the small upturn in their results: Harry Redknapp’s side remain rooted to the bottom of the table and with an uphill battle to stave off relegation, but they are unbeaten in five league matches and are showing signs of getting back into the pack.
Four of those may have been draws (although one-pointers against Tottenham and Manchester City are not to be sniffed at) but it is the 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea that gives me hope.
That result has set the Rs on a run of four clean sheets in five games and with their defence tightened up, they can improve that record by keeping Swansea out.
Most teams have been doing that recently, because the Swans just can’t buy a goal at the minute, even with Michu in their ranks.
Michael Laudrup’s men have drawn five blanks in their last six games in all competitions and with the big day at Wembley looming, it is possible that City have taken their eye off the ball in the league.
And at 11/2, a compact and defensively sound QPR are capable of nicking a win to nil.
Andy Carroll to score first in Aston Villa v West Ham @ 6/1
Yes, I am fully aware that this one requires an even bigger leap of faith, hoping the much-maligned £35 million man can bag not just a goal on the road for the team who cannot score as soon as they leave east London, but also the first goal of the match.
Normally I would agree that such a suggestion is crazy, but normally West Ham aren’t going to Villa Park to play Aston Villa, and given that I would fancy my chances of grabbing a goal against that Villans defence, I’m going to give the pony-tailed one a go at 6/1 to score first.
This is based on two things: firstly, Big Sam’s love of set-plays and balls into the box and, secondly, Villa’s pathetic aversion to those two things. Paul Lambert’s team go to bits whenever the ball is hurled into the box and the stats make for painful reading.
Villa have let in 16 set-piece goals in the Premier League and a further four in the cups, and Big Sam will be looking at those stats like a fat kid looks at cake (and like Sam probably looks at cake, too).
So with the Hammers under instruction to get the ball into the box as quickly and as often as possible – that is their normal tactic anyway – you fancy them to finally score away from home, something they have done just seven times in 12 games.
And with Carroll coming back from injury with a goal last weekend, he may come back to haunt Villa, just as he did when he struck a hat-trick against them in a 6-0 win for Newcastle United.
Draw/Millwall in Blackpool v Millwall @ 29/4
I opposed Blackpool last week by tipping up a Barnsley win and was rewarded for it (did I mention that?) with a big-priced triumph for the Tykes.
None of the reasons we were against the Seasiders have changed – in fact, they have arguably got worse – and as such, I am looking to get on the side of Millwall when the south Londoners travel to Bloomfield Road.
Barnsley’s good form was only half of the bet, because Blackpool are a club going nowhere and this week morale fell even further after defeat to the Tykes.
Billy Davies (talking of people who love a ruck) was interviewed for the vacant job at Bloomfield but declined, leaving the Seasiders still looking for their third full-time boss of the season and in turmoil.
But whoever has been in charge, Blackpool’s home form has been dreadful. The Tangerines have won at home just once since September, a run of 13 games, and they have lost four of the last five.
Sat in 11th place in the Championship, Millwall still have one eye on a play-off push and even though that has admittedly hit the skids with a run of three consecutive losses, they are a better side than Blackpool and can add to their home misery.
But to get the 13/5 on an away win to Long Shots value, I’m going to go draw/Millwall in the double result market.
Both sides have been level at the break 12 times in 30 league games, which is well above average, and more than half of the Lions’ away games have been all square after 45 minutes.
So I’m going to take the chance that is the case once more before Millwall, who are third in the away second-half table, grab the win.