The Premier League title race is fast turning into a two-horse race between champions Manchester City and their neighbours Manchester United and it’s the latter that currently have their noses in front.
Their three-point lead, however, could be wiped out in just 90 minutes this weekend given that the two teams face off at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday and unbeaten City’s superior goal difference means they will hit the summit if they can better their bitter rivals.
They’re Stan James’ 13/10 favourites to do just that while Sir Alex Ferguson’s troops are 23/10 outsiders at BetVictor and it’s 5/2 courtesy of bet365 to finish all-square.
The latter will inevitably attract cash, along with Skybet’s 16/1 for it to be goalless but the pair have drawn just once in 17 competitive renewals of this fixture so it’s perhaps shrewd to focus on this being a conclusive affair and pick a winner.
Despite their status as underdogs and two away defeats this term, it’s United that appear to be the better value bet at what looks like a big price.
City toiled last weekend against Everton, requiring a penalty to preserve their unbeaten record while the league leaders demonstrated their battling qualities, coming from behind twice to see off Reading.
They still conceded three times in that clash, which suggests that this showdown, at 4/6 (Stan James) will produce three or more goals and those are 11/1 via bet365 to be shared 2-1 in favour of Ferguson’s charges, who can also be backed at 4/1 with BetVictor to prevail by a one-goal margin. William Hill, meanwhile, chalk Robin van Persie up at 11/2 to add to his two in two by breaking the deadlock.
Falling adrift of the pace after the loss at West Ham, Chelsea will be hoping for a draw in that Manchester tussle but they can close the gap on the top two before the match is played by beating struggling Sunderland – a result Paddy Power rate at 4/5.
A low-scoring affair, containing fewer than 2.5 goals (5/6, Skybet), is nevertheless on the cards at the Stadium of Light, where Ladbrokes price Rafa Benitez’s men at 6/1 to nick it 1-0.
Everton have drawn seven of their last nine and on that basis Stan James’ 5/2 for them to share the spoils with Tottenham will inevitably be well supported, although the Toffees might be worth a modest flutter at 11/10 (William Hill) to build on that respectable draw at City by sending Spurs home empty-handed.
In that battle for European places, Arsenal are 8/15 with BetVictor to see off West Brom but the Gunners’ form is far from reliable enough to warrant such a short quote and Skybet’s 7/2 marked against the stalemate is the eye-catching wager at the Emirates Stadium.
Similarly, West Ham and Liverpool are set to be inseparable, at odds of 23/10 with bet365 while the points could also be divided at the DW Stadium, where Betfred make Wigan and rock bottom QPR 12/5 to draw.
Staying at the foot of the table, Ladbrokes offer evens about Southampton boosting their survival hopes with a victory over Reading and Stan James consider Aston Villa to be slender 7/5 jollies at home to Stoke.
Finally, Paddy Power’s 5/6 for Swansea to overcome Norwich isn’t without appeal and on Monday, BetVictor lean towards Fulham, at 17/20, as they entertain Newcastle.
Following their stunning success against the All Blacks last weekend, England have been cut to 5/2 by Ladbrokes to win the Six Nations in 2013.
Stuart Lancaster’s men are also in to 8/1 (Stan James) to win the 2015 Rugby World Cup after they were drawn with Australia and Wales in Pool A this week.
At 13/10 via bet365, England are also favourites to clinch top spot in that group while the Wallabies are 13/8 with the same bookmaker.
In Boxing, BetVictor make James DeGale just 1/8 to secure his 14th career victory by getting the better of veteran scrapper Fulgencio Zuniga.
The 35-year-old Colombian has been in with some big names but has tended to lose when stepping up in class so DeGale should emerge victorious but he did take unbeaten Tavoris Cloud the distance not so long ago so it could be that the Londoner has to settle for a points victory, at 8/11 (Ladbrokes), in Hull.
Bet of the week: Manchester United to beat Manchester City – 23/10 (BetVictor).
Odds supplied by www.betrescue.com