Sunday’s impressive 2-0 success at Newcastle means that Manchester City are so close to the Premier League title they can almost taste it and with only QPR now standing between Roberto Mancini’s men and the coveted trophy, the league leaders are just 1/8 with Skybet to be crowned champions, to the chagrin of their neighbours Manchester United.
However, as the two bitter rivals are both locked on 86 points, only a victory for City will guarantee them top spot and Ladbrokes rate them at 1/7 to clinch the maximum haul they need at the Etihad Stadium.
BetVictor make Rangers 18/1 to stun the hosts and they’re 17/2 via Boylesports to spoil the party by picking up a share of the spoils but as Mancini’s charges have taken 52 points from a possible 54 on their own patch this term – only Sunderland having avoided defeat there – it’s difficult to envisage anything other than a home victory.
Lending weight to that argument is the fact that Mark Hughes’ side have lost 13 out of 18 on the road, the highest away loss tally in the top flight and although QPR are desperate for points in their battle for survival, they could be beaten ‘to nil’, an outcome Paddy Power price at 10/11.
William Hill chalk 13/2 against a second consecutive 2-0 City success and they should be able to ease any early nerves by getting on the scoresheet in the first period so they look decent value at 4/9 (Stan James) to be in front at the end of each half. Yaya Toure meanwhile, bagged a brace to see off the Magpies at the weekend and he was also responsible for the winner when the teams met at Loftus Road so he’s bound to be well backed at 8/1 via bet365 to break the deadlock.
Manchester United head to Sunderland knowing that their inferior goal difference, which is 8/15 via William Hill to decide matters, means the defence of their Premier League crown is effectively out of their hands, with Manchester City just needing to win to clinch first place.
All Manchester United can do then is pick up three points at the Stadium of Light and hope their rivals slip-up against QPR. Sir Alex Ferguson’s men are a banker at 4/9 courtesy of Coral to see off the Martin O’Neill’s troops on Wearside, where Skybet rate them at 6/4 to combine victory with a clean sheet and Betfred offer 8/1 for them to notch three times without reply.
United’s greater need coupled with the hosts’ poor end to the season points to a relatively comfortable away success and as a result the visitors are worth considering in BetVictor’s handicaps where they’re 11/10 when starting a goal in arrears.
Elsewhere, Boylesports rate Ferguson’s side at even money to possess a lead at the 45 and 90-minute marks, Ladbrokes 8/13 is the best quote for the contest to produce three or more goals and it’s perhaps not surprising that Wayne Rooney is bet365’s 10/3 favourite to be responsible for the first of those.
The Manchester United front man is identically priced, courtesy of the same firm, to help himself to at least a brace.
Chelsea’s presence in the Champions League final means that the battle for top four places is now a tussle for third and currently in that position, Ladbrokes’ 7/10 chances Arsenal can guarantee a place at Europe’s top table by getting the better of West Brom at the Hawthorns.
Depending on the result in Munich next weekend, fourth might be enough for Champions League qualification and that looks set to be where Tottenham will finish, Paddy Power marking 4/9 against them beating Fulham at White Hart Lane. That means Alan Pardew’s unfortunate Newcastle are the ones about to be left out in the cold; the Magpies face a tricky trip to Goodison Park, where they may have to settle for a point against in-form Everton, a result Stan James offer at 5/2.
At the bottom, a victory at Stoke, available at 7/4 (Paddy Power), would probably ensure Bolton’s survival given that QPR look set to emerge empty-handed at Manchester City but at 6/4 (William Hill), the Potters might have other ideas and they could be set to hand Rangers a reprieve by sending Wanderers down to the Championship.
Finally, in a quartet of effectively dead rubbers, Stan James price Chelsea at just 1/3 to heap more misery on relegated Blackburn, Norwich are overpriced at 5/4 with Coral as they face hapless Aston Villa, Betfred quote Liverpool at 6/5 to end a disappointing campaign on a high by overcoming Swansea at the Liberty Stadium and Skybet chalk jubilant Wigan up at a tasty 8/13 ahead of the visit of rock-bottom Wolves.