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City can leave United’s title hopes in tatters

MANCHESTER CITY vs MANCHESTER UNITED

TOMORROW – 12.45PM SKY SPORTS 1

THIS must be one of the most important Manchester derbies in recent memory with United trying to gain ground on Chelsea and City looking to consolidate their fourth-place position. Add the whole Carlos Tevez saga, Gary Cook’s intelligent remarks and the fiery Carling Cup semi-final and we should be set for an absolute thriller.

When City lost at home to Everton last month many thought they were kissing goodbye to the final Champions League spot, but in fairness to Roberto Mancini’s side they have responded really well. They have won their last three, scoring an incredible 14 goals and conceding just two. It’s true that all three wins weren’t against top sides, but they go into this full of confidence and will be eager to end United’s title hopes, nearly as much as they want to bolster their own position.

The wheels have been coming off slightly at Old Trafford in recent weeks and they’ve now taken just a point from their last two league games. They have also lost five away games this season, while City have only lost once at Eastlands, so it was a surprise to me that the bookmakers have United as favourites. City are available to back at 15/8 on Betdaq and they should be more like 11/8 in my book, so a home win really does look like a good bet.

Tevez has been on fire recently and he scored three goals in the two legs of the semi-final between these two bitter rivals. He is on 22 league goals for the season and 11/2 about him scoring the first goal tomorrow doesn’t look like a bad price at all.

There have been 14 goals scored in the three games between these sides this campaign and the stats suggest that trend is likely to continue. In 10 of City’s last 20 home games there have been four or more goals, while four of United’s seven away trips to top-six sides since 2008/09 have produced at least three.

Buying goals with Sporting Index is definitely the call here, as I can see both sides conceding. If Wayne Rooney plays that will give United a big boost, but it’s the City strikers who have the self belief at the moment and I can’t resist having a small bet on City to win 3-1 at 25/1.

POINTERS...
Man City to win at 15/8 on Betdaq
Man City to win 3-1 at 25/1 general
Buy total match goals at 3.0 with Sporting Index


TOTTENHAM vs CHELSEA

TOMORROW - 5.30PM ESPN

TOTTENHAM put themselves right back in the hunt for the fourth Champions League spot with a gutsy 2-1 win over Arsenal on Wednesday night. That was their first league win against their local rivals in over a decade and they had goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes to thank for a series of extraordinary second half saves. Spurs still have a treacherous run-in, though, starting with tomorrow’s game against leaders Chelsea and then trips to both Man United and Man City in the next few weeks.

The title is in Chelsea’s hands and Spurs’ defeat of Arsenal means that United are now their only real challengers. It is no foregone conclusion, as they still have to travel to White Hart Lane and Anfield, but if they can take four points from those two games they will surely be crowned champions. However, in my mind their biggest test is going to be at the Lane tomorrow.

Harry Redknapp’s side are a match for anyone on their day and their home form has been excellent this season. They have won 12 of 17, losing just three and are unbeaten in north London since December. Chelsea are a very short price at 17/20 with William Hill, especially when they have lost two and drawn the other of their last three visits to Spurs. They weren’t convincing against Bolton in midweek and it has to be a concern that they’ve lost at Man City, Aston Villa and Everton this season.

The way Carlo Ancelotti approaches this game will be determined by the result at Eastlands and if City do manage to beat United, I would be even more confident of a Spurs victory. The safest option is to lay Chelsea on Betdaq, as this gives us the draw as well, but I also wouldn’t put anyone off backing the home side to make it two big wins in a week at 10/3 with William Hill.

POINTERS...
Lay Chelsea at EVS on Betdaq
Tottenham to win at 10/3 with William Hill

PORTSMOUTH vs ASTON VILLA

SUNDAY – 4.00PM SKY SPORTS 1

ASTON VILLA are all the rage for this contest at a best-priced 4/6 and it’s easy to see why. Portsmouth are already relegated and are looking ahead to the FA Cup Final against Chelsea. However, I haven’t been convinced by Martin O’Neill’s side recently, who have won just one of their last five league games.

Both of these sides have small squads compared to the rest of the league and it may be that fatigue sets in towards the end of the season. That has certainly appeared to be the case with Villa in recent campaigns and even though they could still mathematically claim fourth spot, they would need a miracle now.

Pompey showed incredible determination and bravery to beat Spurs in last week’s semi final and those guts were also on show at Wigan on Wednesday night where they managed to scrape a goalless draw with a depleted squad. Avram Grant has got his team working for each other, but it has to be a concern that they haven’t scored in their last four league games. However, two of those were 0-0’s and Villa haven’t exactly been prolific in recent weeks. Yes, they scored two late goals against Everton on Wednesday but prior to that they had only found the net three times in their last four games across all competitions.

There is no doubt that Villa are the most likely winners of this fixture, but they are too short a price and I’ll be looking to back the draw and have a small bet on no goalscorer. Spread bettors should sell goals with Sporting Index – it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a thriller.

POINTERS...
Match to be drawn at 11/4 with William Hill
No goalscorer at 10/1 general
Sell total match goals at 2.5 with Sporting Index