After a wobble that saw them lose four Premier League matches on the spin, Southampton have really turned the corner – picking up an impressive ten points from four unbeaten matches against Everton, Crystal Palace, Chelsea and Arsenal.
That run has propelled Saints back into the race for Champions League places but Ronald Koeman’s troops face a real test of their top four credentials this weekend as they visit third-placed Manchester United.
Aided by home advantage, Louis van Gaal’s side get the nod from bookies, Paddy Power installing them as 4/5 favourites while the visitors are as high as 4/1 with BetVictor and it’s 14/5 via Stan James for Southampton to snare an impressive point.
The latter might attract cash given that United have shared the spoils in three of their last four but the hosts possess the second best home record in the top flight, having won eight and drawn one of their nine Old Trafford assignments since the opening day defeat to Swansea and subsequently they should have the edge.
Nevertheless, Saints can ensure it’s a tight affair so BetVictor’s 14/5 about a United triumph by a one goal margin catches the eye and as it’s likely that both teams will find the net (5/6, Winner.com), a case can be made for bet365’s 8/1 about van Gaal’s men nicking it 2-1, just as they did in December’s reverse fixture at St Mary’s Stadium.
Robin van Persie, meanwhile, bagged both goals for Manchester United in that one and he’s 4/1 at betway to break the deadlock again.
Joint-leaders Chelsea are just 1/5 via Stan James to retain a share of the lead by seeing off managerless Newcastle at Stamford Bridge and it should be a straightforward afternoon for the Blues, who are 4/6 in Skybet’s handicaps when kicking-off a goal in arrears.
More precisely, bet365 offer 5/1 about Jose Mourinho’s charges notching twice without reply, they’re 19/20 (William Hill) to lead at the end of each half and Paddy Power rate Diego Costa at 5/2 to open the scoring.
Champions Manchester City are a safe bet to keep pace with Chelsea, BetVictor chalking them up at 10/11 to get the better of a beleaguered Everton team rapidly sliding down the table.
Moreover, the Toffees are struggling for goals at present so Manuel Pellegrini’s team represent decent value at 13/5 (bet365) to prevail ‘to nil’.
Beaten by Southampton last time out, Arsenal are 1/2 with Stan James to bounce back at Stoke’s expense, revitalised Liverpool are Ladbrokes’s 19/20 jollies as they head to Sunderland and that pair combine with City in a tempting treble at 9/2 via BetVictor.
Elsewhere, Winner.com quote 11/10 about a Tottenham victory at Crystal Palace, Leicester (5/4, Ladbrokes) can overcome Aston Villa and Tony Pulis’ first league match in charge of West Brom is 11/10 at Stan James to result in a victory over Hull.
In the crucial relegation scrap at Turf Moor finally, Burnley and QPR are 12/5 (BetVictor) to be inseparable and it’s identically-priced, this time via bet365, for Swansea’s home clash with West Ham to finish all-square.
The NFL play-offs continue this week and all of the Superbowl favourites are in action.
New England get things underway on Saturday and they’re 1/3 at Stan James to get the better of Baltimore. The Patriots have to be fancied on home soil and in the point spread, Skybet make them a generous 21/20 to overhaul the Ravens’ seven-point start.
In the early hours of Sunday, a well-fancied Seattle outfit hold all the aces ahead of the visit of Carolina and the Seahawks are 10/11 (Winner.com) to prevail by more than 10.5 points.
Dallas, meanwhile, are worth an interest at 20/21 when given a six-point cushion at Green Bay and betway rate Denver at evens, when starting seven points adrift of Indianapolis.
Bet of the week: Arsenal, Man City & Liverpool treble – 9/2 (BetVictor).
Odds supplied by www.betrescue.com