Weblog: The football punter

Man United should maintain hot streak

Premier League
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Supersub turned superboss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can make it four wins out of four by guiding Manchester United to victory at Newcastle.

The Norwegian is the darling of the Stretford End after overseeing dismantlings of Cardiff, Huddersfield and Bournemouth.

That’s three played, three wins, 12 goals scored, and the feelgood factor is back at Old Trafford, where the dark days of Jose Mourinho have quickly been forgotten.

Now it’s a fourth bottom-half outfit for United to get stuck into and while Newcastle represent a harder nut to crack than the Red Devils’ three previous opponents, the away win looks the bet.

The 8-13 quote is fair enough given the resurgence of this most talented of squads, although the Magpies won’t make life easy for them given the way Rafa Benitez sets up his side against the big boys.

The Mancunians can get the job done but they may have to do it the hard way, and backing them to win a game featuring no more than three goals looks a solid bet at 6-4.

Newcastle don’t roll over easily. Despite being 17 points worse off than their guests they have actually leaked five goals fewer.

Their record against the big six this season is atrocious – played six, lost six – though five of those six losses have been by a single goal, four of them by 2-1 scorelines. The fifth was that unforgettable 3-2 defeat at Old Trafford in October, when the Magpies stormed into a shock two-goal lead, should have been out of sight by half-time, and ended up being blown away.

Since then the Toon have produced a symmetrical record of four wins, four draws and four losses to keep their heads above water, although they are currently on a run of just one win in seven.

They have lost seven of their ten home matches this season, a far cry from last term when United, Arsenal and Chelsea all lost at St James’ Park, where the Geordies finished the season on a high.

Salomon Rondon is the lone Magpie to have found the net in the last four matches and their previous three home efforts have been dire performances against West Ham, Wolves and Fulham yielding one red card, one goal and one point.

Good service to Rondon is crucial, although in a 5-4-1 formation he’s well aware opportunities will be limited.

It’s worth noting that Manchester United have conceded a goal in each game under Solskjaer, all from set-plays, so if you fancy a brave bet on a Toon scorer how about Jamaal Lascelles at 40-1?

Newcastle will be sitting back and looking to contain a fresh-looking United attack which is buzzing again.

Quite who’s to blame for their uninspired performances under Mourinho is a debate for another day, but the fact is that when the likes of Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera are picking out forward passes you know the approach has changed.

Paul Pogba has scored four goals in two matches and looks interested while the pace United have in the final third will keep the hosts on the back foot for long periods.

Manchester United & under 3.5 goals

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Match in Focus


Paraguay v Qatar

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Qatar have kept six clean sheets in their last eight games
Expert verdict
Paraguay have struggled recently and enter the Copa America with only Sunday’s friendly victory over minnows Guatemala to show for their efforts since October 2017. Qatar are no mugs – they had won seven matches in a row before losing 2-0 to Brazil earlier this month – and can claim victory.