Saturday 23 March 2019

Grand National 2019 Outsiders

Tiger Roll, the winner of the Grand National in 2018, was imperious when winning the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase at the Cheltenham Festival for the second year running. Few would deny that, despite his diminutive stature, the nine-year-old is a worthy favourite to become the first horse since Red Rum, in the Seventies, to win back-to-back Nationals. However, it is worth remembering that, after taking a 6-length lead at the Elbow last year, he was ultimately all out to hold Pleasant Company by a head. Tiger Roll is 9lb higher in the weights this time around and, admirable though he is, odds of 6/1 look short enough.

By contrast, Pleasant Company, who finished ninth behind One For Arthur in 2017 before just being touched off last year, is available as a 33/1 outsider. He, too, is 6lb higher in the weights this time around and is following a similar pattern to last year insofar as he has shown very little in two starts so far this season. Of course, he is trained by Willie Mullins, so he could bounce back, especially if the going at Aintree comes up soft or heavy but, as an 11-year-old, he hardly has time of his side.

One For Arthur was sidelined with injury for most of the season 2017/2018, but returned to action in December and is by no means impossibly treated off 6lb higher mark. That said, he unseated rider on his seasonal debut on the Mildmay Course at Aintree and did so again at Haydock in January, so has some questions to answer in the jumping department. He also reportedly heads to Aintree without another preparatory run, so his fitness needs to be taken on trust, but the 33/1 outsider odds available looks fair enough.

There are other outsiders in the running too. Owner Trevor Hemmings, who’s already won the Grand National three times, with Hedgehunter, Ballabriggs and Many Clouds, holds a strong hand with Vintage Clouds – who looks a solid 16/1 chance – and, at longer odds, his more recent acquisition, Lake View Lad, whom he bought from previous connections last October. Both horses ran an excellent trial for the Grand National when second and third, respectively, in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and, at 25/1, Lake View Lad arguably looks the pick of this pair of outsiders at Aintree.

Tuesday 12 March 2019

Burnley vs Leicester - Saturday 16th March

Coming into the season, both of these sides were expected to fight for the top eight to ten places in the league. Having both been two of these more high-performing provincial outfits since they came into the Premier League, this always has the feel of a game between two sides who step on each other’s toes. With Burnley in a bit of a relegation dogfight and Leicester City swinging in purgatory, nothing to play for of any great note, can the home side overcome their more progressive opponent?

Burnley News

For the Clarets, it’s hard to see where the chances are going to come from. With the concession of at least two goals in their last three games – and three league losses on the spin – Burnley are going nowhere. They are in a relegation dogfight nobody could have seen coming, and it’s not through bad luck or anything of the sort.

They allow more shots than most in the league, and presently in a poor league position. With a defence no longer as solid as it once was, it’s hard to see where the Turf Moore side will get goals, either. Ashley Barnes and Chris Wood have 16 between them, a decent return, but is it enough?

Leicester News

The Foxes have endured an odd start under Brendan Rodgers. A win the night he was appointed took place, followed by a late loss and then a convincing weekend win. With the improving form of James Maddison and Jamie Vardy, it’s easy to see why Foxes fans are confident of staying in a good position.

For the Midlands outfit, it all comes down to consistency. With nothing of great consequence to play for, can they turn up when it maters?


Score draw. New Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has often struggled with games like Burnley away, and his side – outside of impressing their new coach – having nothing to play for. Burnley, meanwhile, are fighting for their lives: we can see that being enough to edge a fractious, tight contest.

Saturday 2 March 2019

Premier League: Everton vs Liverpool

After a frenetic 96th minute winner in the Merseyside Derby at Anfield, we’re set to do it all again. With five of the last six games at Goodison ending as draws, though – the only winner being a late Sadio Mane winner – it’s not likely to be a classic game. These ties are rarely of a high quality, but the intensity and importance of the game speaks for itself. Who will come out on top, though?

Everton News

Interestingly, Everton coach Marco Silva did not hold back when he spoke of how Liverpool celebrated at Anfield – proclaiming it like a ‘World Cup’ goal. However, there’s an obvious fire about the reaction. While Leighton Baines and Yerry Mina will miss out here, we’ll see the introduction of the likes of Kurt Zouma, though Phil Jagielka might have to play.

Andre Gomes is likely to play again, though Morgan Schneiderlin gave a fine performance in the 3-0 win against Cardiff City.

Liverpool News

The Reds have a few issues, with Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren still out. Roberto Firmino is still a doubt, too, so derby winner Origi could play again. We might see Jordan Henderson return, too, given his propensity to play in the big games. Naby Keita might sit this one out on the bench, at least from the start, having struggled to make much of an impact at Liverpool so far.

For Liverpool, it’s all about getting the result: if they can find a bit more solidity and get Sadio Mane on the ball, they should be fine.


We can see Liverpool winning this one – though not by much. The club has struggled at Goodison in recent times, but they should have enough grit to see this one out and get a good result in one of their hardest matches of the season.