City are favourites but a derby stalemate stands out

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Despite neither making the most convincing start to the season, Manchester pair City and United are both in the top five, just three points adrift of Liverpool at the Premier League’s summit, as they prepare for the first derby showdown of the campaign.

Obviously, as recent appointments, neither manager has taken charge of a Manchester scrap before but City boss Manuel Pellegrini presided over a couple of El Clasico contests when with Real Madrid while David Moyes was Everton chief for plenty of Merseyside battles so the pair are no strangers to such passionate clashes.

It looks like they’ll start on a level playing field then but, aided by home advantage, Pellegrini’s troops are nevertheless Paddy Power’s 6/5 favourites while United are a 5/2 chance with BetVictor at Eastlands.

The champions appear a touch overpriced considering the two sides have yet to hit full stride and they certainly tempt at 7/10 via bet365 to avoid defeat.

However, in the circumstances, it’s the stalemate at 12/5 (Skybet) that stands out and in a contest that looks set to yield fewer than three goals (21/20, Stan James),’s 6/1 marked against a 1-1 scoreline isn’t without appeal.

Finally, in attack, speculating on the first scorer is something of a minefield given the number of realistic candidates so the shrewd might back Robin van Persie at 11/8 with Ladbrokes to strike at any point. Stan James quote City’s Alvaro Negredo at 2/1 in the same market.

There’s also a west London derby on the agenda this weekend and Chelsea are 2/7 with bet365 to bounce back from last weekend’s loss at Everton by seeing off Fulham.

The Blues kept clean sheets in both meetings between the two last term and as Jose Mourinho’s troops have been pretty solid defensively so far, they’re cracking value at 13/10 via betway to defeat the Cottagers ‘to nil’. Alternatively, a 2-0 home victory is a 6/1 shot at BetVictor.

At the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal are home bankers at 4/11 (Stan James) as they take on Stoke City, despite the visitors’ decent start and Ladbrokes chalk the Gunners up at a generous 7/1 to bag the only goal.

At odds of 13/2 courtesy of BetVictor, another team that can rack up a 1-0 triumph is Liverpool, who tackle Southampton. The Reds have registered that scoreline twice at Anfield already and the league leaders are a safe-looking 1/2 with bet365 to rack up another win.

In South Wales, William Hill price Tottenham at 10/11 to edge out Cardiff and Skybet rate them at 11/4 to do so by a one-goal margin while Everton, buoyed by their victory against Chelsea last weekend, can also prevail in a close affair against West Ham – Stan James making them 7/5 chance at Upton Park.

Bet365 mark 7/5 against Norwich as they face up to former boss Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa but it looks set to finish all square (12/5, BetVictor) and it’s also 12/5, this time via William Hill, for Crystal Palace and Swansea to be inseparable.

Finally, Paddy Power offer 5/6 about a third straight Newcastle win as they host Hull and BetVictor quote West Brom at 21/20 to send Sunderland home empty-handed.

In tomorrow’s (Friday) Super League play-off encounter, champions Leeds are 8/15 (Ladbrokes) to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat at Warrington by overcoming St Helens at Headingley, where Saints are Stan James’s 9/5 outsiders.

Aided by home advantage and with a knack of putting in decent performances at the business end of the campaign, the Rhinos should keep their hopes of yet another Grand Final appearance alive and they tempt at even money via bet365 to cover the visitors’ six-point head start in the handicaps.

Frankie Gavin, the only Englishman to be a world amateur champion, can clinch the Lonsdale Belt outright if he gets the better of David Barnes this weekend and the unbeaten southpaw is just 1/12 at Skybet to successfully defend his British welterweight title in the Copper Box Arena.

In the form of his life after a difficult period in his career the Birmingham scrapper should secure a 13th career knockout at the expense of his Manchester opponent as they face off on the undercard of Billy Joe Saunders’s tussle with John Ryder for the British Middleweight strap.

Saunders is 4/11 (Paddy Power) to prevail in the Olympic Park venue but it won’t be an easy night against a fighter who, like Saunders, has yet to taste defeat as a professional. The Commonwealth and British champion should eventually come out on top but it’s set to go to the scorecards, where Saunders is 11/8 via Stan James to get the nod from the judges.

Meanwhile, in Liverpool’s Olympia, Stan James rate Derry Matthews at 4/9 to get the better of former footballer Curtis Woodhouse (11/5, Ladbrokes) in a Commonwealth lightweight match-up. The best bet in that contest is Paddy Power’s 4/9 for it not to go the distance.

Finally, the Formula One season moves on to Singapore this week and Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel is just 11/8 with BetVictor to continue his dominance of the Drivers Championship by picking up a fourth victory in five races at a track where he has prevailed on his last two visits.

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