Matched by Everton before suffering defeats at both Napoli and Manchester City, Arsenal are perhaps starting to hit something of a sticky patch.
So they will be keen to return to winning ways on Monday in the crucial encounter at home to Chelsea and ensure they celebrate Christmas as Premier League leaders.
Aided by home advantage, the Gunners are Stan James’s slender, 11/8 favourites and the Blues, not entirely convincing themselves at present, are 21/10 via BetVictor to emerge with the derby spoils. William Hill meanwhile, chalk 12/5 against the stalemate and as both teams will potentially be happy to simply avoid defeat at this stage, an inconclusive affair is perhaps the most likely outcome.
It’s likely that both teams will find the net (8/13, bet365), meaning that a case can be made for a score draw at 16/5 with Paddy Power and more accurately, it’s 14/1 at BetVictor for the clash to finish two-apiece.
In the league this term, Arsene Wenger’s men have opened the scoring in an impressive 13 of their 16 games and betway rate the Gunners at 17/20 to break the deadlock again in this one. Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey are the two players most likely to oblige in that department; they’re 11/2 (Ladbrokes) and 12/1 (Paddy Power) respectively for the opener.
Liverpool eased back into second spot after they blew away beleaguered Tottenham 5-0 with a stunning performance at White Hart Lane. Little wonder then that Brendan Rodgers’ men have not only been cut to 13/2 by Stan James to be crowned Premier League champions but are also emphatic 2/9 favourites at BetVictor to pick up another maximum haul as they host Cardiff City (14/1, Winner.com).
Another 5-0 success is possibly too big of an ask at 20/1 via Stan James but there’s every chance that Rodgers’s charges will beat the goal-shy visitors ‘to nil’, an outcome BetVictor chalk up at even money and taking that a touch further, bet365 price the Reds at 13/2 to notch twice without reply.
Having hammered Arsenal 6-3 at the weekend, Manchester City are BetVictor’s 5/4 title jollies and the same firm quote them at 2/5 to strengthen their claims by collecting three points at struggling Fulham, where it’s 15/8 (William Hill) for City to prevail but also concede. Manchester United are also strongly fancied, this time at 1/3 with bet365, as they entertain West Ham but unlike their neighbours, they should win ‘to nil’ at Old Trafford (5/4, betway). The champions double up with City at a safe-looking 5/6 courtesy of BetVictor.
Tottenham’s 5-0 mauling against Liverpool cost Andre Villas-Boas his job but Spurs might find that a managerial change doesn’t cure their ills immediately and Southampton look overpriced by William Hill at 17/10 to see off the North London outfit.
There could also be home victories for Sunderland and West Brom, who are 11/10 and 10/11 respectively at Ladbrokes to overcome Norwich and Hull while Stan James rate Crystal Palace at 23/10 to snare a point against Newcastle. In-form Everton meanwhile, have only lost once but at 12/5 with BetVictor, they may have to settle for a share of the spoils and finally, Skybet quote a stalemate at 23/10 as Stoke host Aston Villa.
Dismal England have already relinquished the Ashes after Australia racked up an unassailable 3-0 victory in another one-sided Test match in Perth and Alistair Cook are merely playing for pride now in the Fourth Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground starting on Boxing Day.
The tourists’ capitulation means that the Baggy Greens are now just 15/8 at bet365 to inflict a humiliating 5-0 whitewash on England, who are as high as 7/4 (Stan James) to win one of the remaining two games.
Ian Bell has struck the most runs so far for the visitors so he’s 11/4 with BetVictor to stay out in front but Ben Stokes - England’s only centurion of the series - is only 23 runs adrift of Bell and perhaps looks overpriced at 7/1 by betway to be his team’s top scorer overall.
Meanwhile, at the MCG, the Aussies are odds-on at 8/11 courtesy of Skybet to pick up where they left off at the WACA by beating the tourists again, Paddy Power price a much-needed England triumph at 7/2 and Stan James go 3/1 about a draw.
Finally in boxing, Stuart Hall will have to upset the odds if he’s to walk away from the Leeds Arena on Saturday with the vacant IBF bantamweight title. The Darlington scrapper is a 15/8 underdog at BetVictor to see off South Africa Vusi Malinga but shouldn’t be written off.
Bet of the week: Ben Stokes to be top England batsman in the Ashes – 7/1 (betway)
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