Liverpool are favourites as they close in on the crown

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Slashed to 1/5 with BetVictor to be crowned champions after scrapping out another victory at Norwich on Sunday, Liverpool are closing in on the title.

And while avoiding defeat at home to Chelsea, an outcome rated at just 2/7 by William Hill, won’t be enough to mathematically secure the Premier League trophy, it would be hard to see them blowing it from there.

A victory for the Reds will rule the visitors out of the race and Stan James have installed Brendan Rodgers’ men as even money favourites to land three vital points while Jose Mourinho’s side are 3/1 (BetVictor) to make it a nervy end to the campaign for the leaders.

Punters expecting a tense tight affair on Sunday, can tackle bet365’s 14/5 about it finishing all-square, Paddy Power price a score draw at 10/3 and Ladbrokes mark 7/1 against a 1-1 scoreline.

However, Liverpool have only failed to win twice in 17 outings on their own patch so at the very least they’re worth an interest at 4/9 in Stan James’s ‘Draw No Bet’ market and indeed following Chelsea’s morale-sapping reverse against Sunderland, the Reds should enjoy the upper hand.

With a close encounter nevertheless likely, bet365 make them 3/1 to edge out the stubborn Blues by one and they’re 8/1 courtesy of to card a 2-1 success.

Luis Suarez, meanwhile, again gets the first scorer nod from bookies at 7/2 (betway) but there’s also likely to be cash in that market for in-form attacker Raheem Sterling at 15/2 with Skybet.

Watching that clash with interest will be Manchester City who will look to keep their fading title hopes alive immediately afterwards at Crystal Palace.

Manuel Pellegrini’s team are just 9/20 at betway to do the business at Selhurst Park and although the Eagles, Paddy Power’s 7/1 outsiders, are in buoyant mood having won five on the spin, City should have enough to sneak it, especially now that Sergio Aguero is fit again and back amongst the goals. The Argentine striker is 3/1 (Stan James) to break the deadlock.

Everton remain in the hunt for fourth place following the convincing 2-0 victory over Manchester United, a result that led to the Old Trafford club sacking former Blues boss David Moyes.

But the Toffees’ tough run-in means they’re as high as 4/1 at bet365 to overhaul Arsenal in the top-four battle.

Roberto Martinez takes his side to Southampton this weekend and despite the quality of the hosts, Everton will kick-off as worthy favourites at 6/4, Saints having faltered of late.

That would see the Toffees jump into the last Champions League spot but on Monday the Gunners should reclaim it, William Hill making them 1/3 to pile more misery on beleaguered Newcastle.

Slightly bigger, at 4/11 with BetVictor, are Manchester United who should mark Ryan Giggs’s first game as caretake-manager by beating desperate Norwich.

The likely loss for the Canaries will be a huge incentive for Sunderland and Cardiff as they face off at the Stadium of Light.

A reverse for either will probably condemn them to the Championship and it’s the improving Black Cats (10/11, bet365) that can boost their survival hopes.

Also at the bottom, Skybet quote Fulham at an enticing 13/10 to see off Hull, Ladbrokes chalk West Brom up at evens to conquer West Ham and also set for a home triumph, this time against Aston Villa, are bet365’s 4/6 jollies Swansea.

Finally, at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke are overpriced at 11/5 via Stan James ahead of the visit of Tottenham.

In the Challenge Cup, the tie of the round is undoubtedly the showdown between Leeds and St Helens at Headingley.

Aided by home advantage, the Rhinos are fancied by bookies, bet365 installing them as odds-on favourites at 4/7 while Stan James quote Saints at 11/8 to progress to the next stage.

The hosts have climbed to the top of the Super League table on the back of a couple of bank holiday weekend successes and as the visitors lost their unbeaten record with back-to-back Easter defeats, Leeds are worth backing in the handicaps at 10/11 (Paddy Power) when starting four-points adrift of their opponents.

Switching codes and the Heineken Cup reaches the semi-final stage this weekend with the only UK representative, Saracens, expected to bow out.

The Aviva Premiership outfit are Stan James’s 6/4 outsiders to get the better of Clermont (8/13, Paddy Power) at Twickenham, where the French side are 10/11 when starting three points adrift in BetVictor’s handicaps.

In the other last-four clash in Marseille, Toulon are just 1/3 via Skybet to see off Munster and 10/11 courtesy of bet365 to do so by more than seven points.

Bet of the week: Stoke to beat Tottenham – 11/5 (Stan James).

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