Friday 9 November 2012

Week 13: Unlucky for some...

If you happen to suffer from triskaidekaphobia, this is not going to be your week.  Similarly, if you happen to enjoy accurate predictions from betting websites, this is not going to be your week.  Also, if you happen to be Nadine Dorries, this is not going to be your week.

Last week was terrible; there is no disguising that.  But one only has to glance at the midweek European results to realise that absolutely anything can happen in the glorious game of football - Portuguese minnows Académica defeated Europa League and UEFA Super Cup champions Atlético Madrid... Little known Scottish club Celtic defeated the omnipotent Barcelona... And perhaps most shockingly, Dundee United were victorious against Motherwell.  Seriously, I know it's hard to believe but it happened.  Look it up if you don't believe me!

We have a massive SEVENTY games to choose from this week, with a handful of games thrown in from the Capital One Cup and the Scottish FA Cup ('Mon the Inverurie Locos!)  To find out who The Grambler selected, press the hash key... now!

Game 1: Wigan Athletic vs West Bromwich Albion
Prediction: Draw
West Brom are this season's unexpected high-fliers.  They are currently 5th in the Premiership, level on points with Everton in 4th place.  Under the leadership of Steve Clarke, they have only lost one game at home.  However, their away record is less positive, with only two points from four games.  Wigan will be looking to avoid the relegation scuffle this year and their boss Roberto Martinez is already receiving plaudits for results this season, which have included away wins at Spurs and Southampton.  A number of commentators have stated throughout the week that Liverpool should really have pursued their interest in Martinez rather than turning to Brendan Rodgers in the summer.  Rumour has it the Spaniard could still be set for a move from the DW Stadium though, this time for Major League Soccer.  A newly formed team made up of Native American Indians are looking to appoint a head-coach.  With Roberto at the helm, it could be a good début season for Wigwam Athletic.  Sorry...  I'm not really.
Reliability balls: 6/10
Odds on this result: 12/5

Game 2: Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur
Prediction: Home win
Why, hello again Manchester City, you're looking well!  A second appearance in a row for the Sky Blues, last week they failed to win despite The Grambler telling me that they should.  They have home advantage this weekend and have yet to lose at the Etihad Stadium in the league this season, with four victories and a draw to their name.  City continued their woeful European form on Tuesday evening, coming back from 2-0 down to scrape a draw with popular cleaning product Ajax.  They are currently bottom of Group D, also known as THE GROUP OF HORRIBLY PAINFUL AND ELONGATED DEATH, and with progression looking unlikely, fans will be expecting more from the domestic competitions.  Spurs look likely to be in for another season of chasing 4th place, having slipped to 6th last weekend with a calamitous defeat at home to the aforementioned Wogan Athletic.  Manager Andre Villas Boas is already coming in for a hard time with many sections of the media, and this is probably little to do with results and more to do with him replacing media-darling 'Arry Redknapp, everyone's favourite tax-evading Cockney.
Reliability balls: 7/10
Odds on this result: 4/7

Game 3: Southend United vs Port Vale
Prediction: Away win
Southend have had a mixed season so far, with the exact same form at home as away from home; three wins, two draw and three losses.  This is not necessarily bad form but suggests that home advantage means very little, and fans would have been somewhat embarrassed to watch their side lose 1-0 at home to bottom side Aldershot a few weeks back.  They will be missing two key players in Anthony Straker, who has been called up for international duty with Grenada, and Neil Harris, out with a knee injury.  Interesting if slightly irrelevant piece of trivia of the week: Ian Tomlinson, who infamously died following an 'altercation' with the police, was wearing a t-shirt featuring a tribute to Neil Harris when the incident occurred.  True story.  Port Vale will be hopeful of keeping the pressure on runaway league leaders Gillingham with another away win.  Their travelling form has been impressive, with five wins from eight on the road.  They are also the only team in British football to have adopted a pretzel as a team emblem. 
Reliability balls: 6/10
Odds on this result: 2/1

Game 4: Celtic vs St Johnstone
Prediction: Home win
It has been a good week for Celtic fans; the club celebrated its 125th anniversary, defeated Barcelona in the Champions League and, probably most importantly, this arrived in the club shop.  I love a good football related Christmas gnome, I do!  Most people will look at this game and think that a win for Celtic is foregone conclusion, but the Hoops are prone to the odd slip-up following a good result in Europe.  For example: Just this season, following a good 2-0 victory over futuristic vampire-slayers Helsingborgs which led Celtic to the Champions League group stages, the team went on to draw with Hibs at home and then lose their next game away from home, one of only two league defeats this season.  Their opponents on that occasion?  St Johnstone.  The Saints are one of a host of clubs hoping to take advantage of Rangers' demise this season and finish in the fabled second spot of the SPL (yes, Scottish football is really that sad.)  But their form has been a little inconsistent of late.  A record-equalling 5th straight league win in a row (last achieved by the Perth side in 1971) has been followed by a 1-1 draw with Inverness and an inevitable defeat at Motherwell.  Steve Lomas will be hoping for a tired or over-confident Celtic side.
Reliability balls: 8/10
Odds on this result: 2/9

Game 5: Elgin City vs Berwick Rangers
Prediction: Draw
I cannot claim to have such a high level of knowledge when it comes to either of these teams but one thing I am certain is true, football is not such a big deal in Elgin.  In fact, participation in the sport pales in comparison to the most popular past-time (as I understand it): Marbles.    In spite of this, the football team has been doing rather well this year and may have been leading the division had it not been for some young upstarts coming along with their franchise and beating almost everyone.  At home, they have only been defeated once in a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Rangers Franchise #1 PLC FC.  Berwick meanwhile are sitting 6th in the table and have been good at home, remaining unbeaten in five games.  Their away form has let them down however, with one point at Queens Park two weeks ago their only gain on their travels.  Manager Ian Little may have worked with some of the biggest pop acts of the day in the 1980s but his focus is now on taking his Rangers side up the leagues.  A play-off spot in the Third Division is not so far out of reach.  
Reliability balls: 5/10
Odds on this result: 14/5

Game 6: Partick Thistle vs Dunfermline Athletic
Prediction: Away win
This is probably the most exciting Grambler selected game of the week... No, I'm being a serious!  A proper top of the table clash and one which will play a huge part in the fight for promotion to the SPL this season.  Some of you may have been reading a number of weeks ago when Partick Thistle made an appearance.  At the time, they had a 100% home record, and this is still the case.  However, after one win from the last four games, they have slipped to 2nd place in the First Division... Behind Dunfermline Athletic!  The Pars have only lost one game this season and have a tremendous record of four wins and one draw away from Dens Park.  The two teams already met on Dunfermline's patch earlier in the season, when the Maryhill side enjoyed a 1-0 victory.  "We want to try and take the three points back that they took off us at East End Park" said Pars manager Jim Jefferies enthusiastically.  Well I say enthusiastically, anyone who has ever heard Jefferies talk will know that he sounded like he had a noose around his neck...
Reliability balls: 5/10
Odds on this result: 21/10

Game 7: York City vs AFC Wimbledon
Prediction: Away win
Anyone else getting a feeling of deja vu?  I think I might be in the Matrix and suddenly the world around me seems very late nineties... Everyone is listening to nu-metal and wearing overly baggy jeans and... Why is there a ridiculously wooden actor next to me saying "wooooooaaaaah!" at everything and anything?  Confused?  You should be!  For you see, this exact same fixture happened last week, with The Grambler selecting it... With AFC Wimbledon to be victorious... As Game 7... Wooooooaaaaah!  It was, of course, an incorrect prediction.  In the meantime, both clubs have played a midweek fixture, with York fairing slightly better than their opponents.  The home-side played Northampton and a 1-1 draw has kept them in 10th place, still close enough that they can smell a play-off place.  And it smells like roast chicken.  Wombledon meanwhile lost their Tuesday night encounter with Exeter 2-0 and manager Neil Ardley has called for hard work and desire from his relegation-threatened team.  "There has to be hard work and desire" he told reporters who went on to report his quotes in a variety of media outlets.
Reliability balls: 3/10
Odds on this result: 16/5

Overall, we could have done a lot worse with this week's predictions.  Our combined odds this week are a plentiful 968/1.  A high number of away wins is never a good sign but I am filled with confidence that we can do it this week, and it would be a fitting tribute to Jack Duckworth who was a devoted fan of The Grambler.  Possibly.

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