United the outsiders at Old Trafford

Louis van Gaal's Manchester United are the outsiders for this weekend's clash with Chelsea
Louis van Gaal's Manchester United are the outsiders for this weekend's clash with Chelsea

Even taking into account how poorly they performed for large swathes of last season, it’s rare to see Manchester United chalked up as outsiders for a match at Old Trafford.

But that’s the case this weekend as Louis van Gaal’s side, at odds of 7/4 with bet365, entertain Premier League leaders Chelsea.

The Dutchman insists his side can still catch the table-topping Blues in the race for the title but a defeat in Sunday’s showdown, priced at 8/5 by BetVictor would see United fall 13 points behind Jose Mourinho’s troops and surely send their odds to be crowned champions drift from their current marker of 25/1 (Skybet).

Given their defensive frailty, which was precisely what prevented them taking all three points at West Brom on Monday, it’s easy to see the hosts suffering a reverse at the hands of in-form Chelsea, especially if Diego Costa is declared fit for the visitors.

That’s a big ‘if’ though and as United have looked reasonably effective on their own patch this term, Ladbrokes’s stalemate quote of 12/5 is about the best match bet.

Goals certainly look likely so a score draw at 7/2 courtesy of BetVictor isn’t without appeal and bolder punters, sensing a match tally of more than 2.5 goals (4/5, Stan James) might also fancy William Hill’s 14/1 about it finishing two-apiece.

The prolific Costa meanwhile, is generously marked up at 11/2 (Stan James) to break the deadlock but the Spaniard’s ongoing hamstring issues mean it would be wise to see the starting line-ups before taking the plunge.

Manchester City maintained their pursuit of Chelsea with an emphatic victory over Spurs last weekend and they’re just 4/7 with Winner.com to collect another maximum haul as they travel to West Ham.

The Hammers, however, have carded three victories in four to move into fourth so they’ll be no pushovers and subsequently, a better bet at Upton Park could be betway’s 7/10 about in-form striker Sergio Aguero getting on the scoresheet at some stage.

At Anfield, Liverpool tackle Hull just a few days after taking on slightly more decorated opponents in the shape of Real Madrid.

Brendan Rodgers, however, shouldn’t have too much trouble raising his players now they’re on the fringes of the top four and they look a safe bet at 4/9 (Stan James) to collect maximum points.

Third-placed Southampton, fresh from an 8-0 trouncing of Sunderland, are also home-banker material, this time at 3/5 via bet365 and Saints double up with the Reds at 13/10 (Stan James).

Sunderland are refunding supporters that made the trip to the south coast for that 8-0 drubbing but the best compensation they could provide for Black Cats supporters would be a success against Arsenal at the Stadium of Light (9/2, bet365).

Sadly, the Gunners get the nod in this one at 7/10 with BetVictor and Paddy Power’s 5/6 jollied Everton also look set to collect three points on their travels, as they go to Burnley.

Elsewhere, Tottenham are one to include in an accumulator, winner.com rating them at 7/10 to see off Newcastle, Skybet quote QPR at 6/4 to record a much-needed success at the expense of freefalling Aston Villa and Ladbrokes chalk West Brom up at 19/20 to overcome Crystal Palace at the Hawthorns.

Swansea and Leicester meanwhile, are 13/5 (Stan James) to be inseparable.

The European Champions Cup takes centre stage again in Rugby Union with no fewer than eight matches featuring on live television.

Munster entertain Saracens in Friday’s encounter and after they prevailed by a point at Sale last weekend, the hosts get the nod at 8/13 courtesy of BetVictor.

Munster are also decent value in the handicaps, where they have just three points to overhaul at 10/11 (bet365) and on Saturday, Northampton are another enticing handicap pick as they look to bounce back from their reverse at Racing Metro on Saturday.

The Saints tackle Ospreys this time around at Franklin’s Gardens and Skybet give them an 11-point deficit to recover at 10/11.

Elsewhere, Leicester are 10/11 with Stan James to get the better of Llanelli Scarlets, Toulouse get a six-point advantage at Bath at odds of 10/11 via Ladbrokes and Paddy Power make Wasps 10/11 to cover Harlequins’ four-point start on Sunday.

Switching codes to Rugby League and the Four Nations Championship gets under way this week.

Australia are the overwhelming favourites to win the tournament at 9/20 via betway, ahead of Skybet’s 3/1 chances New Zealand while BetVictor’s quote England at 8/1 and Samoa are bet365’s rank outsiders at 150/1.

In the opening fixtures, William Hill price the Kangaroos at 10/11 to defeat the Kiwis by more than ten points in Brisbane, where Paddy Power rate England at an identical price to make short work of Samoa’s 14-point cushion.

Bet of the week: Liverpool and Southampton double – 13/10 (Stan James).

Odds supplied by www.betrescue.com