Connect in the back of the net

After a romantic weekend away in the FA Cup, the bread and luxury butter that is the Premier League is a back with a full weekend programme and the first port of call for a viewing perspective is Loftus Road when Norwich City rock up for the lunchtime fixture at QPR, presumably checking before they leave Norfolk that Peter Odemwingie hasn’t strapped himself to their coach in an attempt to infiltrate Rangers’ HQ.

One player that did manage to sign for the moneyed bottom club before the transfer deadline was Christopher Samba, and the accomplished Congolese centre-back can go some way to justify his huge fee by making an instant positive impact to the R’s backline today.

The Canaries have only won once away from home all season, and have scored at a rate of less than a goal a game on their travels, so backing Samba to be man of the match may well be worth a punt. Tottenham.

Unbeaten in eight league matches, and on course for that coveted fourth-place finish. West Brom. No wins in five, one point won out of a possible last fifteen, ensconced in mid-table and shrouded in the mire of unsettling controversy.

Jermaine Defoe has to start scoring again at some point, but even though the England man has been quiet of recent, the likes of Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey have helped pick up the slack. Away win here in the early Sunday fixture.

Later on that day, both champions Manchester City and visitors Liverpool should be able to notch in their clash at the Etihad Stadium. City’s two most experienced centre-backs, Vincent Kompany and Kolo Toure, will be absent for this fixture, and Liverpool - who have scored in their meetings at Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, White Hart Lane, Goodison Park and the Emirates this season - clearly are not fazed by the more daunting arenas of English football, often playing well and scoring albeit without the desired result.

Despite defensive selection headaches, Roberto Mancini ought not to be too concerned with the state of affairs at the other end of the pitch despite the sale of striker Mario Balotelli. He still has three top-quality centre-forwards at his disposal and his side have not failed to score at home since a 2-0 defeat by Everton in December 2010.

On the subject of top-quality centre-forwards, one who is entering a purple patch of goalscoring at this moment in time is Wayne Rooney, who pitched in with a brace at home to Southampton during the week to accompany his two FA Cup goals against Fulham and West Ham since returning from injury.

Three starts, four goals since his return from a one-month abscence, and the Scouser seems to be benefitting from taking a break from competitive action during the congested festive period, albeit an enforced one.

His team Manchester United take on Fulham again and Rooney must be backed to put one over on the Cottagers yet again. He and the irrespressible Robin van Persie looks like a partnership coming into great form just as Real Madrid approach the horizon.

When it comes to goalscoring bets, it pays to not only go with players on song, but also those returning back to their former clubs. It seems that centre-forwards love to bite the hand that feeds, and Demba Ba can do just that in Chelsea colours when he returns to Tyneside today.



1) QPR vs. Norwich Chris Samba Man of the Match 12/1 LADBROKES

2) Tottenham to beat West Brom 6/5 BETVICTOR

3) Man City vs. Liverpool Both teams to score 8/13 BETFRED

4) Fulham vs. Man United Wayne Rooney to score anytime 11/8 BOYLESPORTS

5) Newcastle vs. Chelsea Demba Ba to score anytime 6/4 CORAL


Elsewhere in Premier League-land this weekend, Arsenal will aim to continue their recent goalscoring exploits in a fixture they usually come away from with three points, at home to Stoke.

Beleagured Aston Villa are sinking in the relegation quicksand and are unlikely to find any helping hands at Goodison when they visit Champions League-chasing Everton.

Comeback kings Reading clash with a Sunderland side boasting a new addition in Danny Graham, while Graham’s former club Swansea travel to West Ham with seventh place in their sights.

At the DW Stadium, a six-pointer supreme with Mauricio Pochettino aiming for his first win as Southampton boss against Wigan, who have a returning hero in Paul Scharner back in their ranks.


Written by Emelie Okeke

Follow him on Twitter @Emelie_Okeke

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