Chelsea fancied to end United’s lingering title hopes

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It’s rare to see the Premier League champions given an odds-on quote to lose a match, regardless of the opponent.

But that’s the case as a vulnerable-looking Manchester United head to the capital to face in-form Chelsea.

The Blues are 17/20 at Paddy Power to effectively put paid to any lingering hopes David Moyes’s men have of retaining their crown, while BetVictor price United at 7/2 to inflict a rare home reverse on the Blues and it’s 11/4 via Stan James to finish all-square.

Inevitably, the latter will have one or two backers given that this is a collision between two of the top flight’s heavyweights but in reality, Jose Mourinho’s charges look significantly stronger, especially in the absence of the visitors’ influential front man Robin van Persie and it would be no surprise to see their price come down significantly in the lead-up to kick-off.

Bet365 post 13/5 against the hosts shading it by a one-goal margin at Stamford Bridge, where Ladbrokes price them at 7/1 to bag the only goal and it’s a tempting 9/4 at Skybet for Chelsea to combine victory with a clean sheet, a quote made more attractive in light of the question marks over Wayne Rooney’s fitness.

At the other end, meanwhile, Fernando Torres is beginning to look a bit more like his old self and will undoubtedly attract cash at 5/1 with William Hill to break the deadlock.

Still in possession of a 100 per cent record on their own patch, Manchester City are just 1/7 via Stan James to overcome Cardiff and with that price not exactly a money spinner, punters might be better advised to consider the handicaps.

There, Manuel Pellegrini’s side are 11/10 ( when conceding a two-goal advantage to the visitors and more specifically, BetVictor chalk them up at 13/2 to notch three times without reply.

It should be an equally straightforward afternoon for Arsenal, another of the title contenders, as they entertain struggling Fulham.

Bet365 make the Gunners just 2/9 for a sixth straight win in all competitions, Paddy Power mark 4/6 against them leading at the end of each half and it’s 6/1 courtesy of betway for them to run out 2-0 winners.

Completing a trio of high-flyers set to record easy home victories are Liverpool. The Reds are 1/4 (William Hill) to get the better of Aston Villa and the Reds combine in a treble with City and Arsenal at 4/5 with Stan James.

Fifth-placed Everton are 13/10 via BetVictor to boost their chances of gate-crashing the top four by securing the points at West Brom and hot on the Toffees’ heels are Tottenham, a slightly heftier 7/5, this time at bet635, to see off Swansea at the Liberty Stadium.

In Saturday’s early contest, BetVictor go 85/40 about Sunderland following the morale boosting 4-1 success at Fulham by sending Southampton home empty-handed but Saints look strong enough to nick a point (23/10, Stan James) and it would be no surprise if West Ham and Newcastle were also inseparable, an outcome William Hill offer at 5/2.

Tony Pulis meanwhile, is 11/8 (Ladbrokes) to get one over on former club Stoke by guiding his Crystal Palace troops to victory in the pair’s Selhurst Park contest and Norwich are also 11/8, courtesy of Skybet, to edge out Hull.

After carding a comfortable win in the opening ODI against England, Australia are already in to 1/9 with William Hill to come out on top in the five-match series while the tourists are 6/1 (Ladbrokes) to bounce back and claim overall victory.

The second clash takes place at the Gabba in Brisbane in the early hours of Friday and the Baggy Greens are just 4/11 with to take a 2-0 lead in the series, with Alistair Cook’s beleaguered side a 9/4 chance at Skybet to level matters.

The best bet from an England perspective however, is bet365’s 6/1 for Gary Ballance to top score with the bat for his team following his knock of 79 in Melbourne on Sunday.

In the NFL, only four teams remain and that quartet do battle this weekend for a place in the 48th Super Bowl.

In Sunday’s first showdown, Denver entertain New England and it’s difficult to see past the hosts, who are 2/5 (Stan James) to come out on top. The Broncos should also beat the point spread, Skybet pricing them at 10/11 to cover the Patriots’ 4.5-point start.

San Francisco head to Seattle for the NFC Championship game and again it’s the home side, this time at 5/9 with bet365. The Seahawks meanwhile, are 20/21 via BetVictor, to defeat the 49ers by more than 3.5.

Bet of the week: Chelsea to beat Man Utd by a one-goal margin – 13/5 (bet365)

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