Keep a watchful eye on Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg as tonight's UEFA Cup semi-final first leg matches form the basis for a tempting little midweek treble.
Zenit travel to Bayern Munich as 13/2 underdogs, and as a long-odds addict that's one I can't resist. Bayern are in fine form at present, and lifted the German Cup at the weekend. But it's worth remembering that the Bavarian giants have frequently struggled during the current UEFA Cup campaign ? being held at home by Bolton and Getafe.
Zenit have made an unimpressive start to the new season in Russia, but made light of their long odds when winning 4-1 away to Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of the quarter-finals. On that basis they are surely worth another modest flutter tonight.
In the other semi-final Rangers host Fiorentina – conquerors of Everton – at Ibrox. This is a tough one to call, and at first glance it's perhaps surprising to see the Italians cast as 3/2 favourites, with Rangers 43/20 shots on home soil.
However, those odds reflect the fact that Walter Smith's side are crippled by injuries and suspensions that could serious dent their chances. Backed by a vocal Glasgow crowd it is perfectly feasible that they could overcome these obstacles, but the overriding impression at present is that Rangers are fighting on too many fronts, and are playing too many games with too few resources. Fiorentina it is, then.
And for a third take a little look at Yeovil to spring a minor surprise by winning at 11/4 at home to Leeds in League One tomorrow night. I've been eyeing this fixture all week – largely, I must admit, because I viewed it as an away banker for a promotion-chasing Leeds against a Yeovil side which has been in dismal form of late.
But I reserve the right to change my mind, and did so today after belatedly reading manager Russell Slade's passionate defence of his record after a shock 2-1 win at Swansea last week secured League One survival. Slade sounds like a man who wants to make a point to a boo-boy minority, and with the pressure off a victory under the floodlights against Leeds could have the West Country rocking tomorrow night.
A Zenit St Petersburg, Fiorentina, Yeovil treble potentially adds up to a 69-1 shot, go for a modest punt on the nose, or alternatively for a patent (1 treble and 3 doubles).
Yeovil's victory at Swansea shows that all bad runs have to end eventually, which is something for me to cling to during a brief look at the wreckage of last week's accumulator disappointments.
The good news was that Bournemouth came up with the goods, winning at 3/1 away to Walsall to make it five wins on the bounce. Thereafter about the most promising straw to cling to is that West Ham were booed off after struggling to beat Derby.
Norwich and Dagenham both lost, while Colchester and Port Vale were positively annihilated. Colchester were stuffed 5-1 at home by Coventry in what quite possibly ranks as my second-worst tip of the season. And, on the same card, Port Vale lost 6-0 at Swindon in what I hope was most definitely the worst.
Right, it's a relief to get that little lot off my chest. Still with me? Good. In the wake of such poundings you'll excuse me if this weekend's accumulator seems a little less adventurous than normal. Actually, it's not so much that I'm chickening out as that some of the relatively short-odds stuff does seem to offer the best value this week.
So let's kick off the weekend Yankee in the Premiership, where Newcastle are available at an inviting 19/10 to win at West Ham, mighty conquerors of Derby. Newcastle are finally up and running under KK, and having vanquished Sunderland with ease last weekend the Geordies will be looking forward to finishing the season on a bright note. They should certainly fancy their chances away to the unhappy Hammers, who are in dismal form.
Bolton are one of those irritating teams who like to give me the runaround whenever I tip them, but following last week's excellent win at Middlesbrough I reckon Gary Megson?s men are worth sticking with at 7/2 as they travel to Spurs. Bolton looked nailed on relegation certainties a couple of weeks ago, but will travel to the capital knowing that victory over a Spurs team with precious little to play for would do much to ensure their improbable survival.
Sheffield United are currently in a rich vein of form in the Championship. The chances are that their great run under Kevin Blackwell will not be enough to secure a play-off place, but I expect the Blades to keep it going at 11/10 when they host a jittery Bristol City.
Finally, in League One, we have to stick with Bournemouth (Evs), who are expecting a bumper 8000 crowd for their relegation epic against fellow strugglers Crewe. The Cherries are now pursing a sixth successive win which keep the Railwaymen in the mire, and guarantee that Bournemouth?s survival battle goes to the final day of the season.
That's a 56/1 Yankee, which is possible a little conservative by my usual standards. If you want to beef it up a bit try adding Roy Keane's Sunderland (13/10), who will be anxious not to compound the misery of losing against Newcastle last week by flopping against Middlesbrough as well; and Aston Villa (11/5), who certainly have the free-scoring wind in their sails as they travel to Everton on Sunday knowing they must win to have any realistic chance of stealing fifth place from the Toffees.
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