Free scoring sides set to light up the Bridge

Bill Esdaile
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SUCCESS in the Champions League is of paramount importance to both Jose Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini, but clearly neither manager would turn their nose up at lifting the Premier League trophy in May.

The bookmakers still have Manchester City as favourites, although a defeat at Stamford Bridge on Sunday would undoubtedly see Chelsea installed as the new market leaders in what is the most open title race we have seen in years.

The west London side are on a fine run of form having notched four straight wins across all competitions and they also have a 100 per cent home record in the league. However, they are yet to play any really strong teams in their own backyard.

Mourinho was pleased with his team’s display in the 3-0 win against Schalke on Tuesday night and they have the advantage of an extra day’s rest compared with Sunday’s opponents who held on to earn a 2-1 victory at CSKA Moscow on Wednesday.

City are in decent fettle at the moment and it would have been a relief for Pellegrini that his men finally earned their first away league win of the season at West Ham last Sunday.

The 2011-12 champions have responded well to the mauling they received from Bayern Munich a few weeks ago and they will feel they have every chance of picking up back-to-back successes in the capital.

This is a hard game to call with Chelsea very difficult to beat at home, while City are finding their feet under Pellegrini. The draw looks the safest option and is worth backing at 23/10 with Coral.

Both sides have been finding the net with ease recently – City are the league’s top scorers with 20 goals and Chelsea have hit 14 in their last four games – so I expect this to be a high scoring encounter. The 2-2 correct scoreline is worth a small investment at 15/1 with BetVictor.

It’s still early days, but you’d have to say that both Sunderland and Crystal Palace look doomed. The latter were easily brushed aside by Fulham on Monday night, while Sunderland suffered a 4-0 reverse at Swansea two days earlier.

Gus Poyet has an incredibly tough job on his hands and his first home game in charge is a nice, “easy” local derby against bitter rivals Newcastle.

The Black Cats are yet to pick up a point at the Stadium of Light this season, although they’ve had a tricky run with their last three matches against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

They got on the scoresheet in all three of those contests, and I’d expect them to do the same on Sunday, but ultimately Newcastle can be backed at 17/10 with Coral, the same price as the hosts, and that has to be the bet.

Alan Pardew’s side sit in 10th place and, having already picked up two away wins this campaign, I expect them to compound Sunderland’s misery.

Talking of misery, Arsenal travel to Palace for tomorrow’s lunchtime kick-off where the league leaders will surely take another three points.

Ian Holloway has left Selhurst Park and assistant manager Keith Millen takes charge, but he couldn’t wish for a harder introduction. Back the Gunners to do the HT/FT double at evens with Coral.

Arsenal HT/FT v Crystal Palace at evens with Coral
Newcastle to beat Sunderland at 17/10 with Coral
Chelsea v Manchester City draw at 23/10 with Coral
2-2 correct scoreline at 15/1 with BetVictor