Can Spurs and Everton bounce back after midweek thrashings?
Spurs, unbeaten in the Premier League since Tim Sherwood took charge in December, came back down to earth with a bump when Manchester City took them apart on Wednesday for the second time this season.
Apart from the humiliation of another home hammering (Liverpool also put five past them at White Hart Lane), the result did them no good at all in their quest for a Champions League spot – they are now 3/1 to finish in the top four as Liverpool (4/5) and Manchester United (15/8) both gained ground with midweek victories.
Tottenham’s new boss is an extremely positive character and will urge his players not to get too disheartened after becoming just the latest victim of a City side which seems to be playing at a different level than any other English team at the moment – Sherwood actually described them as currently “the best team on the planet”.
Now Spurs face Hull, who have troubles of their own, having lost their last four Premier League games, most recently at Crystal Palace on Tuesday. This looks a great opportunity for Spurs (evens) to bounce straight back.
Everton were also pummelled in midweek and it will take a long time for Toffees fans to get a 4-0 beating in a Merseyside derby out of the system.
But there is no better manager at looking on the bright side than Roberto Martinez. Everton recovered from their previous two defeats this season to win next time out and I would expect them to do the same against hit-and-miss Aston Villa and justify odds of 4/9, despite now being without top scorer Romelu Lukaku.
Man United looked a different side when Juan Mata started to spray the ball around on his debut against Cardiff. It’s not just the Spaniard’s considerable ability that is important to the Reds, it is the effect he has on the confidence of the rest of the team.
That effect can be multiplied by the return of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney and it will be a surprise if United (8/13) don’t carry on the good work at Stoke.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer didn’t exactly pick his moment to join Cardiff with daunting trips to City and United two of the first jobs on his agenda and it is no surprise to see the Bluebirds now at the foot of the table.
I don’t expect them to be there for much longer (they are 11/10 to go down with Coral), but they need to get going soon, ideally against Norwich, eight places above them in 14th after a lucky draw against Newcastle in midweek, but also well in the relegation mire (100/30 for the drop).
Coral’s 5/4 Cardiff to beat the Canaries looks one of the bets of the weekend.