Live on ESPN & Skysports 2: Sat 12.45 & 17.30: Chris Hutcheon studies this weekend’s Premier League action including Chelsea’s chances.
The last time Chelsea hosted Sunderland back in January, they ran out 7-2 winners and ambitious punters can speculate on a repeat of that scoreline at odds of 250/1 with bet365 as the pair renew hostilities at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
Of course, with their embarrassing 5-1 defeat at local rivals Newcastle still fresh in their memories, the Black Cats will be desperate to avoid further humiliation on the road and they can certainly ensure that the scoreline is a touch more respectable in this one, however their points tally from the clash is still likely to be zero according to bookies, with Ladbrokes installing the Blues as strong favourites at 1/4.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men are formidable defensively on home soil and a combination of their clean sheet total and the absence of Darren Bent for Sunderland points to a Chelsea victory ‘to nil’, available at 10/11 (Paddy Power).
More specifically, rate the hosts at 6/1 to strike twice without reply and punters seeking value in the handicaps can back the Blues at 8/13 courtesy of Betfred, when Steve Bruce’s charges kick-off a goal to the good. In attack meanwhile, it was Nicolas Anelka that started last season’s goal glut, putting Chelsea in front after just eight minutes and Totesport quote the French striker at 10/3 to break the deadlock again.
On Saturday, Manchester United follow Wednesday’s derby encounter at Eastlands with another tricky away clash, this time at Aston Villa. Sir Alex Ferguson’s troops are nevertheless odds-on at 10/11 (Betdaq) to collect a maximum haul in the Midlands but they’re likely to be pushed all the way by Gerard Houllier’s resilient Villans and 888Sport’s 13/5 for United to edge it by a one-goal margin is arguably the best bet at Villa Park.
Arsenal also face a difficult assignment as they head to Goodison Park on Sunday to face Everton and bookies aren’t entirely convinced that the Gunners will emerge triumphant. Admittedly, they’re favourites but Stan James’ 13/10 hints at an element of doubt and the Toffees undoubtedly have the quality to make a mockery of Paddy Power’s 23/10 chalked against a home win, especially in what is likely to be hostile atmosphere for the visitors. The draw at 23/10 (bet365) is perhaps the safest option on Merseyside.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis feels, with some justification, that his side haven’t had the rub of the green in terms of refereeing decisions of late and he’ll use that sense of injustice to galvanise his team ahead of the visit of Liverpool to the Britannia Stadium, where the Potters are a difficult enough opponent to nick a point (12/5, Coral).
Wolves and Bolton could also be inseparable at Molineux, a result rated by William Hill at 9/4 and it would be no surprise if the match between Wigan and West Brom finished all square (9/4, Partybets), however elsewhere, the programme is set to be dominated by home wins.
Man City are a banker at 2/5 (Paddy Power) to send Birmingham away empty-handed, Tottenham look a safe bet at 4/7 with Betdaq to see off Blackburn and bet365 chalk an eye-catching evens against struggling West Ham as they entertain Ian Holloway’s Blackpool while at St James’ Park Newcastle are available with Stan James at 10/11 to overcome Fulham.