TOMORROW – 12.45PM SKY SPORTS 1
CHELSEA are now a best-priced 4/5 with Paddy Power to claim back-to-back titles after comfortably winning their opening five fixtures. They look the most likely winners to me at this stage, but the season has barely started and they have faced very weak opposition so far.
Manchester City, despite being fourth in the table, have made a slightly disappointing start to what is a massive season for the club. They got back on track by beating Wigan last weekend, but they would have expected much more than the one point they took from the games against Sunderland and Blackburn.
Roberto Mancini’s side generally raise their game against the top opposition, though, as their comfortable 3-0 win against Liverpool last month demonstrated. They were the only side to do the double against Chelsea last season and a win tomorrow would give them something of an Indian Sign over the champions.
City have only lost three of their past 24 home games and with Chelsea yet to face a stiff test this season I won’t be rushing to snap up the 11/10 about an away win. At 11/4, the home win actually makes some appeal, but I think a draw is more likely and would advise backing that at 23/10 with Paddy Power.
The total goals market is an interesting one in this game as there have been at least three goals in three of City’s last five at Eastlands against the Big Four. There have also been a minimum of three goals in all of Chelsea’s last four trips to top-six opponents, while there were nine goals in the two meetings between the sides last season.
Chelsea were the joint-top away goalscorers last term (35) and City conceded the most goals at home of anyone in the top seven (20), so the stats suggest we will see plenty of goals. Sporting Index quote goals at 2.6-2.8 and I would suggest buying at 2.8.
Carlos Tevez is on fire for City – 24 goals in his last 28 games and three against Chelsea last season – while Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba are also playing with great confidence for the West Londoners.
I’m torn between recommending a first goalscorer bet on Tevez at 13/2 with Skybet and a 2-2 correct scoreline punt at 16/1 with William Hill, but I’m going to plump for the latter. It’s very difficult to split these two and we could be set for an absolute thriller.
Match to be drawn at 23/10 with Paddy Power
2-2 correct scoreline at 16/1 with William Hill
Buy total match goals at 2.8 with Sporting Index
BOLTON vs MANCHESTER UNITED
SUNDAY – 12.00PM ESPN
LAST weekend’s match against Liverpool was a must-win for Manchester United and they had Dimitar Berbatov to thank for an inspired performance. In truth, they really shouldn’t have let Liverpool back into the game but Berbatov had enough left in the locker to claim the vital winner.
Sunday’s trip to the Reebok Stadium shouldn’t give Sir Alex Ferguson too many worries – his side have won four of the last five visits there, including a 4-0 trashing last season. Bolton have improved under Owen Coyle, although they did suffer a disappointing Carling Cup defeat at his old club Burnley on Tuesday night.
The problem for Wanderers is that they have lost their last eight at home against the Big Four with six defeats to nil and six by at least two goals. United have also won by two or more goals in four of their last eight away visits to bottom-half sides.
It’s difficult to see anything other than a United win in this game, but I wouldn’t want to be steaming in at 8/15. They’ve drawn both their away fixtures so far this season and have generally been slow starters on their travels. They were level at the break in 10 of their 19 away games last campaign and went on to win five of those by the half-time draw / full-time win double result. A repeat of that can be backed at 7/2 on Betdaq and I would rather have a go at that and hope that Coyle’s side can keep United at bay until half-time.
Sporting Index are quoting United as 1.3-1.5 supremacy favourites prior to the game, but I would suggest waiting to buy until half-time, if the sides are level, at a lower price.
We’ve seen time and time again over the years how strong they are in the final third of matches and it wouldn’t surprise me if they went on to win by two goals having been level at the interval.
Draw HT / Man United FT at 7/2 on Betdaq
Buy Man United supremacy at HT with Sporting index if score is tied
TOTTENHAM vs WEST HAM
TOMORROW – 3.00PM
WEST HAM seem to have arrested the slide slightly over the past week by taking a point at Stoke last weekend and then beating Sunderland in the Carling Cup on Tuesday.
However, their record against Tottenham is terrible and they could come crashing back down to earth tomorrow afternoon.
Spurs have won seven of the last eight league meetings between the sides, drawing the other one. Harry Redknapp rested the majority of his first team for the midweek game against Arsenal, so they will be fresh for this one. There is an argument that they will have one eye on next week’s Champions League match against FC Twente, but they should still be too strong for the Hammers.
Avram Grant will obviously have been concerned with the start his team have made to the season, but he will be happier now they have a point on the board. Their defence has leaked goals left, right and centre, though, and they could easily have let in more against Stoke last weekend.
A feature of both these two teams has been high scoring games of late. There have been at least three goals in six of the Hammers’ last eight home matches and the same is true in six of Spurs’ last eight away trips to bottom-six sides. In fact, since the start of last season 61% (14/21) of West Ham’s games at Upton Park have produced three or more goals.
Tottenham to win at 11/10 on Betdaq
Buy total match goals at 2.9 with Sporting Index