Date: 24th February 2006 at 12:23pm
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Here’s a question for all you deep thinkers. Can a fairytale really have a happy ending?

Imagine the classics today; Cinderella could never marry the prince, the problem of female binge drinking coupled with a march towards a 24 hour boozing culture simply wouldn’t allow her to leave the ball by midnight. Sleeping Beauty would be literally a 50/1 shot to get a decent kip with all the ASBO ridden teenagers roaming the streets, and if Jack is gullible enough to swap a cow for a handful of magic beans, he’d be well advised to steer clear of the betting exchanges.

I ask this question because Wigan’s charge to the Cup final is nothing short of a modern day fairytale, but like the examples above, a happy ending is highly unlikely. I would love to see Wigan win it, I’ve always been a fan of the underdog, although the wife usually needs convincing. The head must always rule the heart when punting though; Man U demolished Wigan 4-0 in the league, a reversal is unlikely. Get on United at 8/13 to win the match in 90 minutes.

Van Nistelrooy had the cheek to berate Harry Kewell for going down easily last week; he’ll be having a pop at Celine Dion next for having a long face. Van the man is a worthy favourite at 7/2 to open the scoring in the Cardiff showpiece; he’s 9/2 to bag a pair.

Gary Neville’s had a bad week, he’s been fined £5,000 by the FA for doing the Haka in front of devastated Liverpool supporters, and news has just broke that the police are struggling to find the identity of the burger throwing scally, although they’ve safely ruled out Wayne Rooney. It’s 12 games without a goal for Roon the loon, the big lad’s due, he’s available at 5/4 to score at any time.

Whatever the outcome on Sunday evening, Wigan’s charge to Cardiff has brought a little romance back to the Cup, and win or lose, the great sport of football will be the winner. Or to be more factual, football and Man Utd will be the winners, Wigan will lose heavily. A 3-0 win for United is available at 10/1, give it some thought.

Back to the Premiership, before the Barcelona match, Jose Mourinho compared the Chelsea pitch to an ugly scientist. I took offence to that, my wife looks a lot like Stephen Hawking. However, I’m not one to hold a grudge, especially as Jose’s boys will make me a few quid this weekend. Pompey have played Chelsea five times in the Premiership, the Champions have won either 2-0 or 3-0 every time. At 11/4 for either outcome to occur, my valueometer has just exploded.

Newcastle are like a new team since Graeme Souness left, unfortunately, still not a very good one. The stats show a dramatic improvement for the Toon since Souey was chopped, but there’s a question mark over the Villa and Southampton wins. Everton are the visitors to St James’ Park and their recent form is sensational; not for the first time, I’m playing away from home. Tuck in to the Toffees at 2/1.

Liverpool should be backed at 1/2 to see off Man City; as soon as Psycho handed Robbie Fowler to the Reds on a silver plate, sod’s law demanded that he’d break his goal scoring duck against the team that gave him away. By the way, don’t pass this on to Steve McClaren; he’ll probably bid £3 million for the duck.

How quickly things change. On a cold day two weeks ago, McClaren was an awful manager who couldn’t be trusted in the transfer market and a relegation battle was on the cards. Today, it’s a little bit warmer. Luckily for Boro, Albion are in an even worse state, McClaren’s men are the call at 7/4.

The Cup final weekend specials: (all bets are 90 minutes only)

“Filthy Rich” – Kieran Richardson to be booked 5/2
“Crazy horse” – Van Nistelrooy to be booked 10/3
“Bull fighting” – Jimmy Bullard to be booked 9/2
“Raging Bull” – Jimmy Bullard to be sent off 66/1
“Fletch lives” – Darren Fletcher to score at any time 5/1
“Flyin’ Giggs” – Ryan Giggs to score in the first half 12/1
“Camma Roon” – Henri Camara and Wayne Rooney both to score 8/1

Quote of the week:

“Sometimes you see beautiful people with no brains, but you see ugly people who are intelligent scientists. Our pitch is a little bit like that.”

Jose Mourinho, the King of the analogy.

Stat, you’re a liberty:

Portsmouth have scored just eight goals at home this season, that’s the lowest figure in the Premiership, the Football League, the Conference, and alarmingly for Pompey fans, the Scottish Leagues.

Acc of the week:

Birmingham, Arsenal, Chelsea, Man Utd and Middlesbrough form the accer this week, I can’t say they’ll all definitely win, even though they will.

Weekend Betting:

Birmingham v Sunderland Saturday 25th February 15.00

Birmingham 4/7
Draw 12/5
Sunderland 9/2

Get on: Birmingham

The Blues have won four of their last five at St Andrews; Sunderland have lost their last three matches away from home.
Match Special:
Birmingham to keep a clean sheet 10/11

Blackburn v Arsenal Saturday 25th February 15.00

Blackburn 9/5
Draw 9/4
Arsenal 6/5

Get on: Arsenal

The Gunners have won their last six matches against Blackburn without conceding a goal; three of the last four have finished 3-0. Their form on the road is poor, but the Madrid result is a corner-turner.
Match Special:
Thierry Henry to score two or more goals 5/1

Charlton v Aston Villa Saturday 25th February 15.00

Charlton 11/10
Draw 9/4
Aston Villa 2/1

Get on: Draw

The Addicks have won five of their last six home matches, and drew the other. Villa are unbeaten in seven away from home, a real toughie to call.
Match Special:
Match to finish 1-1 11/2

Chelsea v Portsmouth Saturday 25th February 15.00

Chelsea 1/7
Draw 9/2
Portsmouth 16/1

Get on: Chelsea

Pompey have lost their last seven away from home in the Premiership, six of those games by two goals or more. Chelsea are a wounded animal, Pompey must pay.
Match Special:
HT Draw FT Chelsea 9/2

Newcastle v Everton Saturday 25th February 17.15 Live on Premiership Plus

Newcastle 11/10
Draw 9/4
Everton 2/1

Get on: Everton

It’s three wins out of four for the Toon; Everton have won four of their last five in the league. Everton’s form can stand close scrutiny.
Match Special:
Everton to win 1-0 15/2

Liverpool v Man City Sunday 26th February 12.15 Live on Sky

Liverpool 1/2
Draw 12/5
Man City 11/2

Get on: Liverpool

Liverpool have beaten Arsenal and Man U in their last two home matches, City are hit and miss away from home.
Match Special:
Robbie Fowler to score at any time 11/10

Bolton v Fulham Sunday 26th February 13.00

Bolton 8/11
Draw 9/4
Fulham 10/3

Get on: Bolton

Fulham are running out of games to register a win on the road. They lost twice at the Reebok last season, a third spanking in a year is approaching.
Match Special:
Nolan and Stelios both to score 14/1

West Brom v Middlesbrough Sunday 26th February 15.00

West Brom 5/4
Draw 9/4
Middlesbrough 7/4

Get on: Middlesbrough

Albion are not playing well, it’s four losses and a draw from their last five matches. The Boro have won their last three away from home, 7/4 tempts.
Match Special:
Yakubu to score two or more goals 7/1

Man Utd v Wigan (Carling Cup Final) Sunday 26th February 15.00 Live on Sky

Man Utd 8/13
Draw 12/5
Wigan 4/1

Get on: Man Utd

United have won six of their last eight matches; the Latics are winless in six. This is United’s only hope of a trophy this season, they’re the weekend nap.
Match Special:
Van Nistelrooy and Rooney both to score 11/2