Chelsea face a must-win game to stay in contention

Northampton Saints star Courtney Lawes will be part of the England side when they get their World Cup campaign under way tomorrow night
Northampton Saints star Courtney Lawes will be part of the England side when they get their World Cup campaign under way tomorrow night

Champions Chelsea have lost three of their opening five Premier League fixtures as their title defence endures a somewhat rocky start.

Already a whopping 11 points behind pacesetters Manchester City, Jose Mourinho’s men are now as high as 16/1 with Paddy Power to retain their crown.

Indeed, even at this early stage, the Blues’ showdown with Arsenal looks like a must-win game if they are to stay in touch with the leaders and Stan James think Chelsea are favourites at 7/5 to get their campaign back on track.

The Gunners head to Stamford Bridge priced at 11/5 by William Hill to inflict more misery on Mourinho while BetVictor rate the clash at 5/2 to finish all-square, a result that would be better for the visitors than the hosts.

Arsene Wenger’s charges make the short journey to west London having won both of their away matches and as Chelsea appear far from reliable in any department at present, the Gunners will fancy themselves to emerge with a positive result.

Punters sharing that confidence, however, should be wary of the wounded Blues, especially on their own patch so it might be worth hedging bets by backing the Gunners at 11/10 in bet365’s ‘Draw No Bet’ market.

Utimately though, it’s the stalemate that stands out and in turn, a case can be made for Ladbrokes’s 3/1 about a score draw or a 1-1 scoreline at 13/2 via BetVictor.

Table-topping Manchester City have now won five out of five following the last-gasp, 1-0 triumph at Crystal Palace and they’re 3/10 (Stan James) to maintain their 100 per cent record as West Ham head to the Etihad Staidum.

The Hammers have impressed on the road so far but will find the going tough against Manuel Pellegrini’s rampant charges, who are 11/8 courtesy of BetVictor to rack up yet another victory ‘to nil’.

More accurately, the same firm mark 8/1 against City notching twice without reply and Skybet go 8/11 about them leading at the end of each half.

Manchester United are BetVictor’s 13/10 jollies ahead of their trip to Southampton but Louis Van Gaal’s team look a touch skinny at that mark and the shrewd cash at St Mary’s will be Ladbrokes’s 23/10 for the spoils to be shared.

At Anfield, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is under fire after his side went down 3-1 at Old Trafford last time out but the Reds are odds-on at 8/13 (Stan James) to ease the pressure on their manager by seeing off Norwich.

Also set for a home success are Bournemouth, a 4/6 chance at William Hill to overcome Sunderland and Paddy Power price Stoke at 7/5 to burst high-flying Leicester’s bubble at the Britannia Stadium.

The Potters, meanwhile, combine with the Cherries and Liverpool at 11/2 (BetVictor) in a tempting treble.

Elsewhere, Tottenham command 19/20 favouritism with Skybet as they prepare to entertain Crystal Palace, bet365 chalk Newcastle up at 6/4 to register their first win at the expense of Watford at St James’s Park and Aston Villa (13/10, Ladbrokes) tentatively get the nod in their derby clash with West Brom.

At the Liberty Stadium, finally, Stan James quote Swansea and Everton at 12/5 to take home a point apiece.

The Rugby World Cup gets under way tomorrow (Friday) evening and hosts England go into the tournament as second favourites to capture the trophy they last lifted in Australia back in 2003.

Stuart Lancaster’s charges are a 9/2 chance at Stan James to emerge triumphant in the final on October 31st but New Zealand are surely the team they all have to beat, the All Blacks heading the betting at just 5/4 (Paddy Power).

South Africa, meanwhile, are a 13/2 chance at BetVictor while William Hill chalk the Aussies up at 9/1 and the winner looks set to come from that quartet.

Bet365 quote odds of 4/1 for England to contest the final with the Kiwis and it’s just 1/66 at Ladbrokes for Lancaster’s men to start as they mean to go on by defeating Fiji at Twickenham in the opening fixture. It’s likely that the hosts will dominate the contest once they’ve extinguished the Fijians early fire and bet365 rate them at 11/10 to cover their opponents’ 26-point start in the handicaps.

Switching codes to Rugby League and in tomorrow’s big televised showdown, St Helens and Wigan are both 11/10, at Skybet and bet365 respectively to prevail in the derby clash at Langtree Park.

Home advantage though, might suit Saints who are 11/10 (Stan James) when starting two points adrift of their neighbours.

Bet of the week: New Zealand to win the Rugby World Cup – 5/4 (Paddy Power).

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