Manchester United can’t mathematically win the Premier League title against current holders Manchester City at Old Trafford on Monday night.
But victory will see them open up an almost insurmountable 18-point lead with only 21 points left to play for.
Remarkably, Sir Alex Ferguson’s champions-elect have won 14 of their 15 matches on their own patch and, desperate to respond following their muted performance in the FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Chelsea on Monday, it’s perhaps not surprising that Coral have installed United as 5/4 favourites to improve on their already-impressive record at home.
City are 5/2 with Stan James to triumph – the only result that is of any use to them at this stage – while it’s 13/5 via William Hill for the spoils to be shared.
But Roberto Mancini’s charges were dismal in their last away fixture at Everton and although they bounced back against Newcastle, it’s the hosts, keen to get the title wrapped up quickly, who hold all the aces.
Nevertheless, with the exception of last year’s freak 6-1 City success in the corresponding fixture, recent meetings have all been close with five out of six being settled by the odd goal. A United win by one appeals then at 31/10 (Ladbrokes), as does BetVictor’s 9/1 marked against a 2-1 scoreline in favour of the league leaders.
Wayne Rooney, meanwhile, has an excellent record against City and as Robin van Persie is just struggling a touch of late it’s the England man at 5/1 via bet365 that stands out in the first scorer betting.
Freefalling Sunderland head to Chelsea for Paulo Di Canio’s first match in charge but the change in management is unlikely to revive their fortunes in the short term as the Blues are just 1/3 at Stan James to send the Black Cats home empty handed.
BetVictor make Rafa Benitez’s team 13/2 to strike twice without reply at Stamford Bridge, where bet365 quote 21/20 for any Chelsea triumph ‘to nil’.
Everton’s slim hopes of gate crashing the top four will all but end if they lose at Skybet’s 19/20 chances Tottenham and, shorn of the services of suspended pair Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar, the Toffees look set to suffer a damaging defeat.
Arsenal, however, can stay in the hunt for the Champions League places – Stan James pricing them at evens ahead of the trip to West Brom and Liverpool are 4/11 courtesy of Paddy Power to boost their own prospects of securing European football at Anfield next season by seeing off West Ham.
At the bottom, QPR have to beat Wigan in the pair’s Loftus Road six-pointer if they are to retain any hope of survival and if they can avoid the kind of disastrous start they made at Fulham last time out, they should justify the 13/10 favouritism afforded to them by bet365.
Reading also need a win and BetVictor make them a generous 9/4 to get it as new boss Nigel Adkins’ come face-to-face with former club Southampton for the first time while desperate Aston Villa might have to settle for a point at Stoke – a result Skybet rate at 12/5.
Finally, Swansea are overpriced at 2/1 (BetVictor) as they go to Norwich and Stan James chalk Newcastle up at 11/10 to overcome Fulham.
The snow has melted, British Summer Time is here, even if the temperature makes that hard to believe, and it means that the world’s greatest steeplechase – the John Smith’s Grand National is almost upon us.
A huge test for both horse and rider, the Aintree showpiece is the race on which millions enjoy a flutter, many of them making it their only bet of the year. So where is the money going this time around?
On His Own is the clear favourite at 7/1 courtesy of Stan James and he’s not without a chance. Travelling well in 2012 when falling at Bechers on the second circuit, many feel he might have figured in the final reckoning but the price is a touch skinny in what is such a unique test and indeed the chances are he could go off even shorter so it’s not a bad idea to look elsewhere.
Cappa Bleu, an 11/1 chance at bet365, was fourth last time around and was still scrapping away at the finish so he obviously stays well enough. The 11-year-old has been prepared with this race in mind by trainer Evan Williams, who has a decent record in the event and carrying 2lb less this time – he’s arguably the most attractive of the leading contenders.
Meanwhile, further down the list, punters looking for a lively outsider could do worse than risk a quid or two, each-way, on Lost Glory at 66/1 with BetVictor. The eight-year-old is another that will favour drier ground, connections have enjoyed recent success in the race and he has won on four of his last five starts.
Bet of the week: Man Utd to beat Man City by one – 31/10 (Ladbrokes).
Odds supplied by www.betrescue.com