Attention turns to the drama at the bottom

Joe Root will be aiming to help England to a Test series win in the West Indies
Joe Root will be aiming to help England to a Test series win in the West Indies

As Chelsea almost have the Premier League title wrapped up and the race for the Champions League places is all but settled, the drama in the top flight is all at the foot of the table, where the battle to avoid relegation is reaching a dramatic conclusion.

Leicester have been the form horse down there of late, finding another gear in April to climb out of the bottom three despite having looked bankers for the drop when propping up the rest just a month ago.

The Foxes are odds-on to improve their chances of staying up this weekend too, bet365 making them just 19/20 to get the better of a Newcastle side in danger of sliding into a relegation dogfight themselves.

The Magpies, on the back of seven straight defeats, are just five points away from trouble and it’s hard to see BetVictor’s 3/1 outsiders stopping the rot at the King Power Stadium, where Nigel Pearson’s men are 14/5 courtesy of Stan James to edge it by a one-goal margin.

John Carver’s under-fire troops have failed to find the net in their last four matches on the road so a City success ‘to nil’ catches the eye at 12/5 (Paddy Power) and bet365 price the hosts at a generous 15/2 to card a crucial 1-0 triumph.

Newcastle’s neighbours Sunderland are in even deeper trouble, their Tyne-Wear Derby win their only one in 10 attempts and they won’t find it easy to claim a maximum haul at the expense of a Southampton outfit with European aspirations, even if the Black Cats do enjoy home advantage.

Indeed Saints head to the Stadium of Light as betway’s even money favourites while Dick Advocaat’s side are as high as 7/2 (BetVictor) and Stan James post 23/10 against it finishing all-square.

The latter could prove to be the shrewd pick in what looks set to be a tight affair and for ambitious punters William Hill’s 7/1 about a goalless affair on Wearside isn’t without appeal.

QPR have been cut adrift of safety a touch and their dismal record on their travels suggests they’ll struggle to reduce the gap at Liverpool.

Admittedly, the Reds have been somewhat indifferent of late but they should be too strong in this one and Ladbrokes agree, rating them at just 4/11 to keep the three points at Anfield.

Also a home banker are Manchester United, on offer at an identical 4/11 this time with Skybet to overcome West Brom at Old Trafford and Chelsea aren’t much bigger at 2/5 (Stan James) as they aim to wrap up the title when they host Crystal Palace.

The Blues, United and Liverpool meanwhile, combine at 8/5 via BetVictor in a tasty treble.

Rejuvenated Everton have won five of their last six, drawing the other but they may have to settle for a point at an Aston Villa side with work to do to secure their Premier League status.

Bet365 quote the pair at 23/10 to be inseparable at Villa Park and it’s a heftier 53/20 at to prove inconclusive in the White Hart Lane contest between Tottenham and Manchester City.

Elsewhere, rock-bottom Burnley are 11/10 (betway) to emerge from their trip to West Ham empty-handed, William Hill chalk Arsenal up at 4/6 to prevail at Hull and Stan James’s 13/10 chances Swansea get the nod at home to Stoke.

Boxing aficionados might feel that the fight has come a couple of years too late but there has still been plenty of anticipation ahead of this weekend’s mouthwatering Las Vegas showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao – the richest contest in the sport’s history.

Paddy Power give the unbeaten Mayweather the nod at 8/15 with the Filipino a 2/1 shot at bet365 and given the Pretty Boy’s defensive capabilities those odds look about right.

Indeed, the Michigan fighter is so elusive that he’s impossible to oppose at the MGM Grand, where he’s just 8/11 (Ladbrokes) to prevail on points.

England are 1-0 up against West Indies in their ‘best of three Tests’ battle and the tourists are odds-on at 8/11 with to wrap up the series in the final clash in Barbados.

The value bet however, is in the ‘Top England Batsman’ market, where the impressive Joe Root is on offer at 4/1 courtesy of William Hill.

Finally, in Rugby Union’s European Champions Cup final, Stan James have installed Toulon as 4/5 favourites to edge out Clermont Auvergne (13/10, betway) and BetVictor make them 10/11 to do so when starting two points in arrears in the handicaps.

Bet of the week: Joe Root to be top England batsman – 4/1 (William Hill).

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