United favourites to close the gap on Arsenal

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Manchester United may have endured a tough start to the season and indeed to life after Sir Alex Ferguson.

But despite being written off in some quarters, the champions will only be five points adrift of Premier League leaders Arsenal if they manage to defeat the Gunners at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Of course, looking at it another way, David Moyes’s charges will be a whopping eleven points off the pace if they are beaten but they’re 5/4 favourites with BetVictor to pick up a vital maximum haul and a heftier 12/5 via Skybet to be turned over.

Already holding a substantial lead over United, Arsene Wenger’s charges would probably settle for a share of the spoils, a result Stan James rate at 5/2, however, the test won’t phase the table-topping visitors, who were clinical in seeing off high-flying Liverpool and they might be worth a modest flutter to emerge triumphant.

They certainly aren’t without appeal at 11/8 in William Hill’s ‘Draw No Bet’ market, especially as a score draw (3/1, bet365) can’t be ruled out but with all of the pressure on the home side, the Gunners could nick it.

Of course they’ll be wary of former favourite Robin van Persie, a 4/1 shot at Paddy Power to break the deadlock. But in Olivier Giroud, a generous 7/1 (Stan James) to net first, they have their own in-form striker and a case can be made for Arsenal to prevail in a match that sees both teams find the net – an outcome Ladbrokes offer at 19/4.

Struggling Sunderland entertain Manchester City and it’s hard not to fear for Gus Poyet’s side, who are 2/5 courtesy of Stan James to suffer a fifth home reverse in six attempts at the Stadium of Light.

Manuel Pellegrini’s team fired seven past Norwich last weekend and although this one is likely to be closer, City still catch the eye at evens in bet365’s handicaps, when starting a goal in arrears. Alternatively, betway chalk the visitors up at 6/4 to win ‘to nil’.

Tottenham open up Sunday’s mouth-watering triple-header as they host Newcastle and despite lacking cutting edge against Everton last time out, Spurs can justify the 8/15 favouritism afforded to them by BetVictor. Meanwhile, second-placed Chelsea, beaten by the Magpies at the weekend, are 3/10 at Winner.com to bounce back at the expense of West Brom and they double up with Andre Villas-Boas’s men at evens (betway).

Liverpool weren’t at their best as they went down to Arsenal but they have to be fancied at 1/4 with Winner.com to bounce back as they tackle struggling Fulham at Anfield, where BetVictor rate a Reds victory ‘to nil’ at evens.

Their Merseyside rivals Everton can also triumph, ahead of the pair’s derby showdown next weekend, BetVictor offer 4/7 about the Toffees getting the better of rock-bottom Crystal Palace.

The pressure is intensifying on Chris Hughton after his Norwich side were hammered 7-0 at Manchester City on Saturday and it’s perhaps surprising to see the Canaries boss available at 5/2 (Paddy Power) to be the next Premier League manager out of a job.

Defeat at home to West Ham would surely put Hughton in a precarious position and the Hammers are 15/8 with bet365 to give the Carrow Road board something to think about.

In the three remaining matches, Ladbrokes go 4/7 about Southampton having too much for Hull, Swansea are 19/20 via William Hill to see off Stoke and BetVictor quote Aston Villa at 20/21 to get the better of Cardiff.

England made a winning start to the autumn internationals as they saw off Australia in a close encounter at Twickenham. But Stuart Lancaster’s team are expected to enjoy a slightly more comfortable afternon as they take on Argentina on Saturday.

Ladbrokes offer a home win at 1/8, bet365 give the hosts a 14-point handicap to overcome at odds of 10/11 and William Hill rate England at 1/3 to lead at the break as well as full-time.

In Cardiff, Wales are 11/8 (William Hill) to get the better of South Africa (4/6, BetVictor), who are 10/11 at Stan James to cover a three-point Welsh advantage in the handicaps.

Meanwhile, William Hill rate Scotland at 10/11 to end up at least 17 points better off than Japan at Murrayfield and BetVictor go 10/11 about Ireland overhauling Samoa’s nine-point start in Dublin.

Switching codes to Rugby League and England are just 1/40 to see off Fiji, courtesy of Paddy Power, who give them 28 points to overhaul at 10/11 in the handicaps.

Bet of the week: Arsenal to beat Manchester United & both teams to score – 19/4 (Ladbrokes).

Odds supplied by www.betrescue.com