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P.J. Murray 25th Mar 2011 - 19:02

Gary Speed's baptism of fire

Never before has a baptism of fire been more apt as Gary Speed matches up against Fabio Capello in the Millennium Stadium for his first competitive match as Wales manager.

Gary Speed's men are 7/1 to pull off what many outside of Wales will see as a highly unlikely victory while the unbeaten England are hot favourites at 2/5. However, England will be without key duo Rio Ferdinand and Steven Gerrard which could see a glimmer of hope for Wales.

Youth over experience seems to be the theme of this match up, Gary Speed has named young Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey as his captain. The 20 year old has only been capped 11 times at senior level and has bagged three goals and you can back him at 8/1 to bag his fourth international goal at anytime during the 90 minutes.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will be more than an interested spectator as another of his gems, Jack Wilshere, is making his first competitive start for England amid high praise from the England gaffer. The 19 year old has yet to open his scoring account and as such he is 11/2 to get his first goal at anytime in the 90 minutes.

Jermaine Defoe is the top scorer for the Three Lions as the Spurs striker has bagged three goals so far in the qualifying tournament, the diminutive England striker is 9/2 to score first.

Andy Carroll has been the subject of much scrutiny since his record breaking move to Liverpool. As of yet the Geordie has failed to do the business, but still Capello has said that he may play some part against Wales and as such we feel that he is an even money shot to breach the Wales defence.

Scoring has been something of a problem for the Welsh as they have only netted once so far, that coming in a 4-1 defeat away to Switzerland in October and at 8/11 you can back England to win to nil. But if you think that the likes of Craig Bellamy and Freddie Eastwood will notch at least one goal for the home side then at 8/5 you can back Wales to score at least once, 7/1 for them to bag a brace.

As always we offer a variety of interesting markets and if you think England will win and it will be a high scoring game well then why not double the selections and back England to win and over 2.5 goals at 23/20.

Wales will not be short of confidence going into this game, despite their current abysmal form there is a lot of pride at stake and being buoyed by 70'000 home fans might just give them the drive they need and as such you can back them at 19/10 to either win or draw the match in the double chance market.

The biggest talking point for England has been surrounding John Terry and the decision to give him the captain's armband once again, will the Chelsea midfielder repay the managers faith with a man of the match performance? If you think he will you can back him at 12/1 to be named the man of the match.

Undoubtedly, Wayne Rooney has been a talisman for England and although he hasn't been performing to his usual standard as of late he is still very much respected by us and we have him priced at 4/1 to be man of the match as well as 11/4 to be first goalscorer.

When the players take to the pitch at 3pm the entire stadium will feel like a pressure cooker and it will only take a small incident to ignite the passions that will have been building among the players and the referee might look to assert his control early on. If you think a card will be brandished within the first 15 minutes you can get 9/2 on this happening.

We, as always, are offering big 'Match Winner' specials on this game, you can back Wales to keep a clean sheet at the enhanced price of 11/2 or if you feel that newly re-instated John Terry will finally use his head and score a header you can back this at the massive price of 14/1.

All the markets point toward a very one sided game, but as it is said time and time again, football is a strange game and anything can happen over 90 minutes which is why I would be backing at 19/10 a double chance of Wales and the draw.



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