Ed Chamberlin: It's crunch time

Sky Sports host Ed Chamberlin looks ahead to England's World Cup qualifiers and assesses the Premier League title race.

Last Updated: 10/10/13 at 09:34 Post Comment

Roy Hodgson: Preparing for a huge few days

Roy Hodgson: Preparing for a huge few days

Sky Sports presenter Ed Chamberlin looks ahead to England's crucial World Cup qualifiers and also assesses the Premier League title race.

What a crucial few days this is for England.

I interviewed Roy Hodgson at Wembley last week and the enormity of the games against Montenegro and Poland was very evident.

He talked openly about the pressures and difficulties of the job and let's hope the team do the business for him on Friday night. Sky Bet seem to have faith as England are 1/3 to come out on top.

Meanwhile, the betting for the Premier League title gets more and more complex. All the contenders have weaknesses and are making life hard for punters but fascinating for the neutrals as we have a wide open title race.

Manchester City 9/4 - Brutally exposed by Bayern Munich and questions to answer with their away form. Losing captain Vincent Kompany for a month is a big blow.

Chelsea 3/1 - Looked in trouble after 85 minutes against Norwich on Super Sunday before escaping. Ominous for the rest that they have not yet clicked in to gear yet but are still right in he mix.

Arsenal 5/1 - Still on a good roll but are sides working them out? Steve Clarke's tactics were spot on as he strangled Ozil, Ramsey, Wilshere and co. in central areas letting Arsenal have the ball in wide areas where they had little threat. Neither Wilshere or Ramsey are suited to playing wide. Not all sides will be as brilliant at executing such a plan as Mulumbu and Jacob were on Sunday but Arsenal need Theo Walcott back as soon as possible.

Manchester United 6/1 - As Jamie Redknapp said last weekend, the brilliance of young Adnan Januzaz papered over some serious cracks. David Moyes has problems to solve but dangerous to rule the champions out.

Liverpool 7/1 - Going well and Suarez and Sturridge look brilliant but the limitations exposed by Southampton still exist. I'm looking forward to seeing Glen Johnson and Coutinho play in the new system, which should suit them well.

Tottenham 14/1 - The big losers from the weekend. Spurs fans will hope it was just a freak result against West Ham.

On Wednesday night I was honoured to host a 'Tribute to Matt Le Tissier' in Southampton. It was a terrific evening full of memorable moments from the career of one of English football's greatest ever talents.

There were tributes from Sir Alex Ferguson, Alan Shearer, Mick Channon and Terry Venables who admitted he should have picked Le Tiss for England more often.

There was also a message sent from Barcelona's Xavi, who described Matt as a hero of his. That's pretty special praise from one of modern football's superstars. We also re-staged the only penalty Le Tissier ever missed in his career (47/48) as Mark Crossley joined us on stage. Crossley saved it again!

Horse Racing

How brilliant was Treve in Sunday's Arc? I'm always wary of the dangers of recency but that was one of the best performances I have seen in the race, helped obviously by having tipped her in last week's column!

For once we're on a nice roll after Educate's win in the Cambridgeshire and what easier race could you ask for in a bid for a hat-trick than the impossible jigsaw that is the Cesarewitch at Newmarket on Saturday.

An average winning SP in the last 10 years of 22/1 hardly adds to the confidence.

Arc day is truly special and a trip to Paris should be on the wish list of any sports fan.

What a contrast it's going to be from the huge crowd, noise and fashion at Longchamp to the wide open spaces, cold and sparse of crowd of HQ. Having said that, the action on the track will be brilliant with six Group races, including the Middle Park, Dewhurst and Rockfel Stakes. However, it's the Cesarewitch that I want to conquer.

I'm going to take two against the field: Oriental Fox and Brockwell.

Oriental Fox has been inconsistent this season but when he gets it right he's a really talented stayer. I thought he was impressive in the Cesarewitch Trial last month, which looked a strong contest, and remains open to plenty of improvement over this trip.

With Mark Johnston preparing him and Johnny Murtagh in the saddle, Oriental Fox could not be in better hands for a race of this nature.

Third in that trial was Brockwell, who was heavily backed that day suggesting the Tom Dascombe team think a fair bit of him. Brockwell could have more improvement in him over this trip and is worth chancing each-way at 20/1 with Sky Bet.

Looking ahead to Champions day next week, I was interested to read on sportinglife.com this week Cirrus des Aigles trainer Corine Barande-Barbe say: "I think, at the moment, he is better than ever. I think he is still getting better and will be at his top level at Ascot".

Winner of the race in 2011 and second behind Frankel 12 months ago, the Champion Stakes has been this horse's target all season, whilst for so many others it's an after thought, and Cirrus des Aigles looks to be peaking at the right time. Snap up the price!


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