UEFA Cup Betting: Very different fortunes await the English teams
With Manchester City, Everton and Spus all involved in delicately-balanced ties, Alister Morgan expects two of the three to progress but who does he feel will crash out of Europe on Thursday night?
Will the real Manchester City please stand up? There was a 2-1 away victory against Omonia Nicosia in the Uefa Cup 1st leg first-round. Then they gave David James six-of-the-best and it was literally like watching Brazil as Elano, Robinho and Jo dished out a football lesson and even Wright-Phillips played as if raised in Bahia, Brazil not Brockley, London.
Sadly the party didn't last and they then went on lose to Brighton and to Wigan. City fans are still singing Blue Moon but a little consistency is top of Mark Hughes' to-do list. He knows he has to deliver progression first and worry about Premiership position later and staying in the Uefa Cup is an important part of the plan. City should have few problems progressing Thursday night against the pedestrian Cypriots. Midfielder Vincent Kompany has shaken off a knock to the knee but Michael Johnson and Martin Petrov remain sidelined with groin and hamstring injuries respectively.
With such a home banker the odds are pretty short on anything related to a Manchester win. City are [1.2] to win, Omonia a long  and the draw is [7.6]. The goals market offers a little more value as I don't expect a huge scoreline. Liverpool visit on Sunday and Hughes will want to keep his best players fresh. I'd back Under 2.5 goals at [2.48] over a home win.
Despite a red card at the weekend, Tim Cahill is available as Everton travel to Standard Liege with the score at 2-2. Steven Pienaar is also available as well as Victor Anichebe so Moyes should have few more options up front but that's the end of the good news for Everton. The bad news is that they face a formidable side and will probably lose the tie.
The Belgian Champions showed their metal against Liverpool in the recent Champions League qualifier and will count themselves desperately unlucky to lose to a late Dirk Kuyt goal. Dangerous in attack and very solid in defence, Standard are a team knocking on the door of Europes top table. With home support behind them, they will offer Everton few chances to score. Its Everton's misfortune that Standard see a clear opportunity to avenge their defeat to Liverpool by beating their next door neighbours.
You can back Standard to win at a generous [2.48], Everton at [3.15] and the draw at [3.4]. I do not doubt the coaching talents of Moyes but in truth the 2-2 home draw put Everton in a precarious position. Standard know they will score against a defence yet to keep a clean sheet this season. Everton have experienced players (and in the cup tied Marouane Fellaini one of Standard's best players) but Standard look the better team. Id back the home win at [2.48] and even recommend a small flutter on Standard to win the Uefa Cup at [34.0]. They could well be the Zenit of 2008-09.
Spurs travel to Poland with their season seemingly hanging by a thread. I can't see Spurs sacking Ramos but a win, and the safety of the group stages, will bring welcome relief. Spurs lead Wisla Krakow 2-1 from the first leg and will face a disciplined side but, along with fellow comedy Premiership club Newcastle Utd, Spurs have the ability to play badly regardless of the opposition. Self-confidence is their biggest problem and its reflected in the odds for a match that, ordinarily, wouldn't pose too many problems. Krakow can be backed at [3.65] to win, Spurs at [2.36] and the draw at [3.3].
The visitors will have to do without the cup-tied Roman Pavlyuchenko and Vedran Corluka. The former will be missed but to my mind the latter doesn't look good enough to get into the Newcastle first-team. Ledley King is expected to start alongside Woodgate which should add some much needed experience to a nervous defence. Ramos has to improve results but I still believe him to be one of the best coaches in Europe and a result in a competition he's won twice will help calm nerves. Spurs have plenty of quality so success, much like Manchester City, is about producing a performance of cohesion.
I expect Spurs to progress but they cannot be too defensive as a 1-0 defeat will send them packing. Fortunately the Poles will be chasing the game and Spurs have the speed and talent to punish them on the break. Id back a Spurs win at [2.36].