Gunners are favourites to beat the champions

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Manchester United wrapped up their 20th Premier League title on Monday with four matches to spare.

But the newly-crowned champions, already BetVictor’s 6/4 favourites to retain the trophy next term, still face some crucial fixtures and they could have a significant say in who finishes in the top four given that their next two matches are against Arsenal and Chelsea.

Bookmakers are perhaps sensing something of a title hangover for Sir Alex Ferguson’s charges on Sunday as they head the Emirates Stadium and subsequently the in-form Gunners are William Hill’s 5/4 favourites for the points while United are 12/5 at Skybet to celebrate their title triumph with another victory.

BetVictor post 13/5 against a stalemate but as the pair have only shared the spoils once in 14 renewals, a conclusive contest is arguably more likely and it’s the buoyant visitors that look overpriced ahead of this one.

United have got the better of Arsenal in seven of the last eight meetings and with no other tournaments between now and the end of the season there’s no reason for them to take their foot off the gas. They’ll also be under no pressure at the Emirates, where they’re 11/1 (bet365) to sneak an open contest 2-1 and 4/1 via Paddy Power to prevail by a one-goal margin.

In attack, Robin van Persie will relish returning to his former club and also has the Premier League Golden Boot gong in his sights so he looks the pick of the bunch at 5/1 via bet365 to break the deadlock.

Wigan’s clash with Tottenham has implications at the bottom of the table and also in the scrap for fourth but after they came from behind to defeat Manchester City at the weekend, it’s hard to see past Spurs, who look decent value at 21/20 with Stan James to push the Latics closer to the relegation trapdoor. BetVictor mark 6/5 against Gareth Bale notching at any time at the DW Stadium, where it’s 4/5 courtesy of Stan James for a match tally of three or more goals.

Coral chalk Chelsea up at 4/11 to boost their own top four hopes by getting the better of Swansea and in Saturday’s teatime kick-off, the absence of Liverpool’s controversial striker Luis Suarez suggests hosts Newcastle have been underestimated a touch at 85/40 (Stan James) as the duo collide at St James’ Park.

On Monday, struggling Aston Villa could pull further clear of danger, but only by a point, Ladbrokes rating them at 12/5 to draw with rejuvenated Sunderland and in the showdown between the two teams effectively already down, Reading get the nod at 13/8 with bet365 to see off QPR.

Elsewhere, Stoke, at 21/20 (Coral) can move on to the magical 40-point safety mark by sending Norwich home from the Britannia Stadium empty-handed and Skybet offer 1/4 about Man City bouncing back from the loss of their title to beat West Ham at the Etihad Stadium.

Meanwhile, Stan James make Southampton and West Brom 11/4 to be inseparable on the south coast and Everton, who have beaten Fulham in nine consecutive Goodison Park meetings, are 8/15 with Paddy Power to extend that sequence.

The Heineken Cup reaches the semi-final stage this weekend and it’s 6/5 courtesy of BetVictor for the two teams that ultimately contest the final, to be Clermont Auvergne and Saracens.

The latter are 11/10 with Stan James to get the better of Toulon (10/11, bet365) on Sunday at Twickenham, where Skybet give the Aviva Premiership outfit a tiny one-point advantage in the handicaps at 10/11.

A day earlier, Clermont Auvergne tackle Munster in a showdown that looks a touch easier to call. The French side are worthy favourites at 1/8 via William Hill and Paddy Power post 10/11 against them covering the Red Army’s dozen-point advantage.

There’s little money to be made by backing Amir Khan to beat Julio Diaz in Sheffield on Saturday given that the Bolton boxer is just 1/12 (Ladbrokes) to get the better of the Mexican scrapper.

Even a knockout for Khan is no better than 1/4 via Paddy Power so the only way to bag a healthy profit is to take a bit more of a gamble. Ladbrokes for example, offer 5/4 about the 26-year-old racking up a 20th career stoppage in rounds one to six while more specifically, it’s 10/1 with BetVictor for Diaz’s challenge to come to an end in the fifth.

Bet of the week: Man Utd to beat Arsenal – 12/5 (Skybet).

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