Toffees will provide United with a stern test

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Earlier this week, Manchester United were installed as Coral’s 1/8 favourites to claim the Premier League crown after neighbours and reigning champions City collected a fortunate point against Liverpool on Sunday.

There appears to be an inevitability about United’s surge to the title, though the record books suggest that Everton’s 1-0 win over them last August was no fluke.

The pair, who meet at Old Trafford on Sunday, have won two apiece of their last six duels, the other couple finishing all-square.

Nevertheless, with the benefit of home advantage, United are priced as BetVictor’s 13/20 jollies to secure a maximum haul this weekend, whereas Everton are Stan James’s 5/1 underdogs. Given Everton’s renowned tenaciousness, those odds look incredibly long, as does Skybet’s 10/3 for the match to end all-square.

Yet under Sir Alex Ferguson, United have become tenacity personified. Their 7/1 price (bet365) to win 2-1 catches the eye, though for contrarians, BetVictor’s 20/1, posted about a 1-0 away win, is worthy of further consideration.

Van Persie and Rooney both appeal at 4/1 to break the deadlock with Bet365 and Betvictor respectively.

This week’s Premier League fixtures are the reverse from the season’s opening weekend when perhaps the biggest shock was West Brom’s 3-0 dismantling of Liverpool at the Hawthorns.

The Baggies are 17/2 (William Hill) to secure a league double over the Reds on Monday night. They recorded their first win at Anfield since April 1967 last term when none other that Peter Odemwingie secured a 1-0 win, but at 2/5 (Paddy Power) Liverpool are accurately priced to secure three points, while they’re 7/1 (Ladbrokes) to win 2-0.

Bookies do not envisage neither Chelsea nor Tottenham suffering anything other than minor problems when facing Wigan and Newcastle respectively.

The Latics have become Chelsea’s whipping boys over the past few seasons and at 11/8 (Skybet) to win without conceding, Chelsea look decent value.

Meanwhile, although Spurs lost 2-1 at St James’s Park on the first day of the new campaign, they’ve won their last three against the Magpies at White Hart Lane without conceding a goal. They’re 21/10 (bet365) to win without conceding and 7/10 (Paddy Power) to record three points.

Matters promise to be much tighter at Villa Park on Sunday where West Ham are the visitors. The pair’s last three meetings have been conclusive, but three of the previous five ended all-square. Stan James posts 5/2 about the stalemate as have 11/2 marked against it finishing 1-1.

Norwich go into their fixture against Fulham as Ladbrokes’ 6/4 favourites even though Fulham beat them 5-0 at Craven Cottage back in August.

Both sides need the points, but as everyone knows, Fulham are a different team when they set foot outside of west London, hence the appeal of bet365’s 6/1 for City to register a 1-0 victory.

At St Mary’s, it’s difficult to see the Saints overhauling Manchester City, but they’re very capable of securing a point. Southampton are 6/1 (Coral) to win and William Hill offer the draw at 10/3, but there has been sustained support for Stan James’s 10/3 chalked against City emerging victorious following a drawn opening half.

Harry Redknapp’s QPR have become an awkward side to beat and kings of the goalless draw. Paddy Power post 9/1 about them drawing 0-0 with Swansea on Saturday – the Swans are 13/2 (Skybet) to win 1-0.

An Adam Le Fondre equaliser gained Reading a home point against Stoke in August, but the Potters (10/11, Stan James) are a much stronger, more competent outfit at home and a win for Tony Pulis’s men looks likely.

Finally, Arsenal and Sunderland registered a third draw in their last five meetings at the Emirates in August and rates the chances of both halves ending on level terms again on Saturday at 19/2.

Sunderland are a massive 10/3 (Coral) to win, but bet365’s 10/1, posted about a goalless draw, has attracted steady support.

Rugby Union fans should be in for a real treat on Sunday as Ireland and England collide in a potential Six Nations blockbuster.

The hosts are 10/11 via Stan James to come out no top in the Dublin with Stuart Lancaster’s men an even money chance at Betvictor to card what would be a crucial success in the battle for the championship.

There’s little between the pair and last week’s victories suggest there could be plenty of points. Take the first half to be the highest scoring at 11/10 with Betvictor and England to win by between 1 and 10 points at 2/1 with William Hill

On Saturday, Scotland are just fancied to see off Italy at Murrayfield despite the Azzurri’s brilliant victory over France last week and Bet365 make them 8/13 favourites to do so with the visitors 6/4 at Paddy Power.

France (1/3 Stan james) should bounce back at home to Wales (3/1 bet365) and in doing so better Betvictor’s seven-point handicap a 10/11.

In Super League, the first clash of the real heavyweights takes place and the bookies can’t choose between them – Betvictor offering 10/11 against both Wigan and Warrington.

Elsewhere, Bradford Bulls with an eight-point start look the value at 10/11 after their impressive start last week, travelling to a Hull side who got hammered at Leeds.

Finally, bet365 make England odds-on at 8/11 to defeat New Zealand in the pair’s three-match Twenty20 series and Ladbrokes chalk the tourists up at an enticing 6/4 to secure a 2-1 victory over the trio of fixtures. The first tussle, in Auckland is 4/6 at Skybet to go the way of the visitors.

Bet of the week: England to beat New Zealand 2-1 in T20 – 6/4 (Ladbrokes).

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