Week in Sport Betting Preview 13 January : Test cricket, UFC 246, Premier League and FA Cup action
- 13-19 January
- Live on BT Sport and Sky Sports
England's Test series with South Africa continues, Manchester United are in Premier League and FA Cup action, there is elite golf from Abu Dhabi and Conor McGregor returns to the UFC all this week.
Man Utd vs Wolves – Wednesday 15 January
Manchester United host Wolves in an FA Cup third round replay on Wednesday night after the first encounter ended goalless at Molineux with United mustering not a single shot on target.
The Red Devils tend to struggle against Wolves, taking them on five times since their return to the Premier League and failing to beat them on any of those five occasions. Both teams are struggling for any sort of consistency at the moment, but it seems that you can rely on Nuno Espirito Santo’s men when they come up against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s.
Three of those last five games have ended in a draw and that looks a reasonable assumption at Old Trafford this week, with little to choose between the sides. This one looks set to go all the way to penalties to decide who will take their place in the fourth round.
South Africa vs England Third Test – Thursday 16 January
England are looking to build on the momentum of their superb win in the second Test in Cape Town and move ahead in the series after dropping the first contest to South Africa. The big selection issue for the tourists is in the fast bowling department with Jimmy Anderson out and Jofra Archer hoping to prove his fitness ahead of Thursday.
If Archer makes it and Mark Wood also comes in for Dom Bess then England will have serious pace to their pace attack and will be a threat. The South African batting line-up looks fragile, more fragile than England’s and Wood and Archer could exploit that.
The touring batsmen appear to be finding a bit of form, with Joe Root due a big score after making yet more starts in the second Test.
England have not lost in Port Elizabeth since 1957, and with the batting line-ups not strong enough to hold out a draw looks very unlikely. Momentum and history are on England’s side so they are worth backing to win the third Test.
Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship – Thursday 16 January
It is often tempting to back a huge price on an outside in golf tournaments, but Tommy Fleetwood is an excellent example of a favourite worth backing at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week.
The Englishman has won this twice before, in 2017 and ’18, so knows the course as well as anybody. He was also in fine form over 2019, which is why he is ranked 10th in the world. He managed nine top 10 finishes last year, with his win at the Nedbank Golf Challenge the highlight.
Other contenders include world number six Patrick Cantlay, Brooks Koepka, defending champion Shane Lowry and Sergio Garcia in an impressive field, but Fleetwood is the best option, even at a short price.
Conor McGregor vs Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone – Saturday 18 January
The much-anticipated return to the UFC Octagon of Conor McGregor finally comes around on Saturday night in Las Vegas as he takes on veteran, legend and all-action hero Donald Cerrone.
McGregor is the clear favourite to win this one, but he has not fought since October 2018, while Cowboy has had five bouts since then, winning three and only losing to top level competition in Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje. Some would say that is too much for Cerrone, but he would fiercely disagree.
He is also up at welterweight where he has only ever fought twice before, both times against Nate Diaz and he stands at 1-1 in those. Cerrone has vastly more experience at welterweight and is the bigger man, but only holds a record of 5-4 at 170lbs in the UFC.
Cerrone could look to be clever and employ a ground game in this one, where he has a substantial advantage over McGregor, but that is not his style. He likes to stand up and take the fight to his opponent with a pure kick-boxing match. He will do this again and he will live to regret it.
Cowboy has struggled against southpaws in the past and his style always sees him get hit. He backs himself to tough it out and survive bombs, but few people survive McGregor’s fabled left hand and when it lands, it will do damage. Cerrone has six stoppage losses on his ledger, four of which have come in his last 10 fights and he will get another one this weekend.
The price is prohibitively short for McGregor by knockout, so we look at a round and second looks the most tempting. He will look to replicate his classic win over Eddie Alvarez, which ended in the second, and after such a long lay-off he will not come tearing out of the blocks in the first. He should not take more than 10 minutes to land a huge fight-ending left, though.
Liverpool vs Man Utd – Sunday 19 January
Liverpool are undoubtedly a better team than Manchester United at present, but they have not always enjoyed playing them in recent years. The Red Devils are the only side to take points off the Reds in the Premier League this season, with a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford.
Jurgen Klopp has managed Liverpool against United 10 times and only won two of them, losing twice and drawing six times. However, it is time for the Premier League leaders to exert themselves on their old rivals.
United have a tough FA Cup tie with Wolves on Wednesday before the trip to Anfield, something that will really detract from their performance. They are already struggling with injuries, especially in midfield, and they will be forced into a lot of running by Liverpool, which will cost them as their hosts have no midweek game.
Klopp will be desperate to improve his record against United and he will go for the kill from the off, as Man City did to their local rivals in the Carabao Cup semi-final. Recent history has not been great for Liverpool in this fixture, but they should win comfortably.
- Man Utd have not beaten Wolves in their last five meetings
- Man Utd had no shots on target in the first leg at Molineux
- Marcus Rashford has scored six goals in his last eight games
- England have not lost a Test match in Port Elizabeth since 1957
- South Africa lost their only Test of 2019 in Port Elizabeth by 8 wickets to Sri Lanka
- Tommy Fleetwood is bidding to be the second man to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship three times
- Fleetwood has finished in the top two of his last two events
- Conor McGregor has only fought twice at welterweight before, winning once
- Donald Cerrone has more wins in the UFC than any other fighter
- Klopp has won just two of his 10 games against Man Utd for Liverpool