At one stage it looked it would be a two-horse race between Chelsea and champions Manchester City for the Premier League title.
But Manuel Pellegrini’s troops have lost three of their last five to slip down to fourth in the table, leaving their bid to retain their crown in tatters.
The pressure is subsequently mounting on boss Pellegrini, who looks unlikely to be at Eastlands next term and indeed the Chilean has been cut to a top price of just 13/5 at Paddy Power to lose his job before the season concludes, although his employers will probably wait until the end of what has been a disappointing campaign to swing the axe.
Nevertheless, Pellegrini’s position will come under increasing scrutiny if his side lose at neighbours Manchester United on Sunday and, as faltering City have lost three on the spin on their travels, it’s certainly the hosts at 6/4 with bet365 that catch the eye at Old Trafford, where the visitors make for no appeal at 9/5 (Stan James).
As it’s a derby, Ladbrokes’s 12/5 about an inconclusive affair will undoubtedly attract cash but Louis Van Gaal’s side, for all their well discussed shortcomings, possess a tremendous home record and have registered five straight league wins, so they can’t be opposed here.
City still possess the quality to trouble their rivals and should find the net so BetVictor’s 15/4 about United prevailing but both teams finding the net stands out, it’s 3/1 (Skybet) for Van Gaal’s side to triumph by one and more precisely, bet365 post 10/1 against a 2-1 home success.
In attack, meanwhile, Wayne Rooney has notched six times in eight outings across all competitions so he’ll be well backed at 11/2 courtesy of Stan James to break the deadlock.
At Loftus Road, Chelsea are just 4/11 (Winner.com) to overcome struggling QPR but Rangers, BetVictor’s 8/1 underdogs, have arguably been underestimated a touch given their desperate need for points as they seek to avoid relegation.
Couple that with the fact that the Blues have almost got the title wrapped up and a modest flutter on Chris Ramsey’s men to claim a point (4/1, betway) starts to appeal alongside bet365’s 12/5 for the hosts to avoid defeat.
Currently Chelsea’s nearest challengers, Arsenal can tighten their grip on second spot by seeing off gritty Burnley at Turf Moor, a result William Hill rate at 4/7, Liverpool are 4/9 (Stan James) to bounce back from consecutive defeats by beating a demoralised Newcastle outfit and it’s 11/20 at Ladbrokes for Southampton to overcome relegation–threatened Hull. A Gunners, Reds and Saints treble comes in at a generous 12/5 courtesy of BetVictor.
At White Hart Lane, Aston Villa’s survival hopes are 8/13 (BetVictor) to suffer a blow at the hands of Tottenham and another home win is on the cards at the Liberty Stadium, where Stan James chalk Swansea up at 6/4 to end Everton’s run of three straight wins.
Elsewhere, Paddy Power quote Leicester at 12/5 to clinch a valuable point at West Brom, it’s also 12/5, this time via Ladbrokes for West Ham and Stoke to be inseparable at Upton Park and bet365 offer 11/5 about Sunderland sharing the spoils with visiting Crystal Palace.
Despite what can only be described as a disastrous year, England’s cricketers are odds-on at 8/15 with Winner.com to triumph in their first Test series of 2015, against the West Indies (9/2, BetVictor).
Bet365 rate the three-match contest at 15/4 to finish all-square but it’s hard to say where beleaguered England are at right now and punters will get a better idea after the first Test, which gets under way on Monday.
Skybet rate the tourists at 11/10 to clinch victory in Antigua, where the consistent Ian Bell looks overpriced at 4/1 (Winner.com) to be his team’s best batsman and Stan James quote Jimmy Anderson at 11/4 to take the most wickets for England.
Sebastian Vettel may have won the Malaysian Grand Prix in the Ferrari but bookies expect the Mercedes team to restore their dominance as the F1 season moves to China.
Lewis Hamilton is just 4/6 at betway to register his second victory but at odds of 3/1 (Paddy Power) his team-mate Nico Rosberg might represent better value to repeat his 2012 success at the Shanghai International Circuit.
Bet of the week: Man Utd to beat Man City & both to score – 15/4 (BetVictor).
Odds supplied by www.betrescue.com