March traditionally arrives like a lion and leaves like a lamb, although while the weather usually becomes less furious, the same cannot be said of the beautiful game.
Football fixtures increase in intensity throughout this pivotal month when title or play-off aspirations are strengthened, or survival hopes are dealt a further blow.
There’s plenty on the line at the Hawthorns on Sunday when West Brom welcome Manchester United with both teams needing the points for different reasons.
Albion haven’t triumphed over United in a home league contest since 1984, an abysmal record which is surely due for revision, although bookies appear to disagree – the Baggies are offered at 4/1 by Betway to claim three points en route to what their supporters hope will be a confirmation of Premier League survival.
That United are Paddy Power’s 5/6 favourites to win is no surprise, particularly as Albion’s defence has been criticised at various points throughout the campaign.
This apparent weakness has been noted by bookies, Tony Pulis’s men are 11/4 (Skybet) to retain a clean sheet.
While matters are expected to be tight, few backers would rule out an early goal and Stan James’s 15/8 for the game’s opening strike to arrive inside the first 15 minutes has found favour amongst punters.
Predictably, Saido Berahino is BetVictor’s 7/5 favourite to score at any time during the 90 minutes, a market in which Marcus Rashford is priced at 5/2 by bet365.
The draw is offered at 9/4 by William Hill and while the score draw is attractively priced at 10/3 by Ladbrokes, both teams fancy their chances of winning.
Punters who concur may fancy the 3/1 (Stan James) for United to enjoy a one-goal margin of victory; those on the other side of the fence – or seeking insurance – are more likely to be tempted by Coral’s 10/1 for Albion to win 1-0.
Earlier in the day, Liverpool head to Selhurst Park desperate to finish their inconsistent campaign with a flourish.
The same could be said of Crystal Palace who have faltered alarmingly following an excellent start to their season and bookies are inclined to believe that Palace’s woes will continue this weekend, Betway offering them at 6/4 to win.
Liverpool, keen to banish the ghosts of Selhurst Park, venue of their title implosion a few seasons ago, are installed as Betfred’s 5/4 favourites, although the draw (5/2, Skybet) appears more likely – Stan James price a 1-1 result at 13/2.
Sponsored by www.sportsbookofthemonth.com
This week’s offer
Win a signed copy of Barca: A People’s Passion by Jimmy Burns. Visit www.sportsbookofthemonth.com for further details.