Premier League Betting: The importance of getting a little help from your friends
That you need to win your own matches to be successful in winning the Premier League or avoiding relegation goes without saying, but don't underestimate the importance of other teams inadvertently helping your cause, says Ralph Ellis.
There are two aspects to winning titles or avoiding relegation. Most important of all is to get your own results right - and then sometimes you have to rely on some other teams to help you too.
After weeks of getting their own results wrong, Liverpool have suddenly produced the one that mattered most with Saturday's amazing steamroller run over Manchester United. And Rafa Benitez is making sure he's got the best bargaining chips to sort out the last few clauses in his contract by insisting that has brought the title race back to life. But has it? Both Liverpool and Chelsea might have cut the gap to just four points, yet United still have a game in hand. And that's why Benitez now has to rely on plan B - encouraging other clubs to follow his lead and end Old Trafford's aura of invincibility.
He's even sharing his blueprint of how to do it with them all. Just in case anybody didn't work out the tactics for themselves, Liverpool's manager has set it out in black and white in his press conference for the Monday papers. "We knew that they are really good at playing between the lines with penetrating passes so we needed to stop these passes and put the midfielders under pressure every time they were going to receive the ball. Targeting Nemanja Vidic was one of the ideas. We knew that with movement we could create problems for the defenders. I think we have shown the other teams how to play against United and proved they can be beaten."
The plan worked a treat, and Vidic suffered more than most, giving away Liverpool's crucial first goal and the third as well as he collected a red card. The Serbian defender is still favourite to be PFA Player of the year at [2.85] but his display on Saturday won't have helped his cause one bit!
United have been backed as short as [1.07] to win the title, but after Saturday, and complete with the Benitez master plan for beating them, they have gone out to [1.19]. Yet for either Liverpool or Chelsea - who despatched Manchester City 1-0 yesterday - to catch them, United must still lose at least three more games. And if you look down their remaining fixtures it's hard to find too many opponents with the same quality, pace and movement as Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard to take advantage of Rafa's tactics.
Could Aston Villa, with the searing pace of Gabby Agbonlahor? Unlikely because the new England striker was dragged off towards the end of yesterday's 2-1 home defeat by Spurs with his confidence at rock bottom. Maybe Spurs themselves, with Robbie Keane and Darren Bent showing flickering signs of a partnership during that game. But is their midfield strong enough to shut down the likes of Giggs, Scholes and Carrick? Not really.
So now we're looking at Manchester City and the potential of Robinho. Sorry, have a look at his miserable non performance in what should have been his big stage at Stamford Bridge yesterday. Which all leaves only Arsenal on May 16 who might have half a chance with Andrey Arshavin settling in and Eduardo returning - but by then it will all be too late. The rest of United's fixture list looks like pure cannon fodder, and you don't even have to be brave to earn the easy money that backing United at this morning's odds will offer.
It's ironic that Rafa Benitez is relying on other clubs to help him, because the same thing is happening just the other side of Stanley Park. If you want a long shot bet then have a look at Everton at [8.6] to finish in the top four. David Moyes' side have quietly collected 26 points from their last 13 games and are now just four behind both Villa and Arsenal. Villa are currently in freefall, and must now play Liverpool and Manchester United. And the Gunners still face games against all the other big four clubs before the end of the season. Everton only have Chelsea among the big boys in their fixture list and Jo's third in five games that sparked the 3-1 win over Stoke underlined they now have more potential to score goals as well as keep them out.
At the bottom the only way West Brom can be helped by others is if three clubs go into administration! Defeat at West Ham tonight would effectively finish off Tony Mowbray's team who are [1.42] to end the campaign rock bottom. Above that it remains a bitter dogfight. Portsmouth are ranked the outsiders of the current bottom five at [4.9] for the drop, but let slip two points in the last minute at Middlesbrough and remain far from convincing. Meanwhile Newcastle ([2.8]) continue to look in all sorts of trouble despite scrambling a 1-1 draw at Hull that leaves them with seven points from their last 11 games. They will have to do better than that - and still rely on help from a few others to keep out of the bottom three.'.$sign_up['title'].''; } } ?>