Ed Chamberlin: Tight at the bottom

Sky Sports presenter Ed Chamberlin looks ahead to this weekend's Premier League action and the new flat season.

Last Updated: 28/03/13 at 10:42 Post Comment

Christian Benteke: Has scored 42 per cent of Villa's league goals

Christian Benteke: Has scored 42 per cent of Villa's league goals

Sky Sports presenter Ed Chamberlin looks ahead to this weekend's Premier League action and the new flat season.

Super Sunday and Monday Night Football focus on the battle to avoid relegation this week with Aston Villa and QPR taking centre stage.

First up on Super Sunday, Villa (7/2 to win with Skybet) host Liverpool (8/11).

If Liverpool play like they did in the 3-1 defeat at Southampton there is no way they should be odds on, while the key for the home side will be to get Villa Park jumping again like it was against QPR.

I haven't witnessed an atmosphere like that at Aston Villa for a very long time.

The key men are going to be the teams' two star strikers, who have played such a big role in both clubs' seasons.

Monday Night Football Fulham (10/11) play QPR (14/5), with the latter 1/6 with Sky Bet to go down. Only two teams in Premier League history have been bottom after 30 games - in 20-team seasons - and survived (Wigan in '10-11 and Southampton in '96-97).

Fulham looked like they were slipping in to trouble themselves not so long ago but after only two defeats in 2013 - only Manchester United have lost fewer - have risen to 10th in the table and are now a comfortable nine points above the relegation zone.

The pressure is all on the visitors.

Horse racing

The start to the Flat season is often a damp squib and last weekend was worse than usual with a low key card at Doncaster on Friday and then Lincoln day postponed.

The sooner the current mish-mash is scrapped and the season is launched after the Grand National in mid-April the better, with the Lincoln on the Saturday and then stepping up a gear with the Craven meeting a couple of days later.

The season would gain definition and gain momentum from there. As things stand we'll have a decent day at Doncaster on Saturday and then mediocre fare until Newmarket next month, with the focus back on jumping at Aintree and Sandown in between.

One thing we did learn from the brief glimpse of the new season last week was that my fellow Sporting Life columnist Richard Fahey has his team well forward and in great form.

To win the Lincoln on Saturday you'll need a tough older horse, who is strong enough to handle the testing conditions. The well handicapped, progressive four-year-olds are likely to find the conditions very hard going. Fahey's Brae Hill (16/1) fits the bill to repeat last year's victory in this race.

In truth, my mind is already on Aintree next week.

The modern day Grand National is an impossible puzzle but it's still hard to resist having a stab at trying to solve it.

Having watched last year's race the real eye-catcher was On His Own who was well behind early on but cruised in to contention and was cantering when he came down at Bechers second time.

It's spooky how many times a horse that fell at that fence on the second circuit when going well comes back and goes close the following year.

However, I kept being told that connections think Prince de Beauchene is different class to On His Own, so the former's absence again must be galling for connections.

I'm a big Teaforthree fan as I love the way he attacks his faces and he could be spectacular round Aintree, while I'm keeping a close eye on Jonjo O'Neill's Lost Glory who beat a Cheltenham Festival winner last time out at Chepstow and is trading at a massive price.

The Aintree Hurdle is shaping up well and I'll be sticking with The New One to turn over the Champion Hurdle brigade and establish himself as the new kid on the block.

I have been saying for a while that Sprinter Sacre needs competition to cement his place as a great and capture sports fans' imaginations.

I feared after his imperious romp at the Festival that no one would want to take him on and we'd never get to see how good he really is.

Yet next week we could see Sprinter Sacre v Flemenstar and Cue Card. Potentially the race of the season.

Cricket

What a bizarre week of Test cricket it has been.

Ahead of the Ashes series this summer, England and Australia have both looked unconvincing.

The difference between the two is that while the Aussies collapsed to a 4-0 defeat in India, England produced an extraordinary rearguard action to hold on for a draw in the final Test in New Zealand.

South Africa set the benchmark at the moment as they are producing their best in all conditions round the globe and are miles clear as the world's number one side.

This England team is too inconsistent at the moment and seems to produce its best either when their backs are against the wall or on the big occasion.

The Ashes is certainly the latter and Sky Bet now bet: England 4/9, Australia 7/2, drawn series 11/2.

Golf

One man is dominating the golfing scene again.

It's back to back wins and back to world number one for Tiger Woods.

Sky Bet have trimmed him again in to 10/3 to win the Masters, which starts on Thursday April 11, and with his putting stroke back to its best it's very hard to look past him.

Cycling

Another dominant week for Team Sky, with the highlight being the 1-2 in the Grand Criterium for Chris Froome and Richie Porte.

Hard to believe that Team Sky have recently been accused of being boring. Froome and Porte were far from boring as they blew their race apart, while even Sir Bradley Wiggins caught the attacking bug as he launched numerous solo raids in the in the Tour of Catalonia.Froome's season is starting to mirror that of Wiggo's this time last year which led to Tour de France glory. Froome is in superb form and forced Sky Bet to shorten him again to 6/4 to win the Tour, with Contador out to 5/4.

Wiggins has stated that the Giro (11/10) and possibly the Vuelta are his targets this season.

Before the Giro, the Classic season is in full swing with the Tour of Flanders next, in which the remarkable and prolific Peter Sagan will take a lot of beating.


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