Caution will draw the sting from
Chelsea's title bid
Whatever happens between Manchester United and
Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tomorrow, the title prices will change dramatically.
A win for United would mean the 1-8 quotes that are available about Sir Alex
Ferguson's side would disappear.
Although it will still be
mathematically possible for Chelsea to win the league should they lose, most
layers would be expected to follow Paddy Power and pay out early on United as
champions. Some might even do that if the match ends as a draw. Avram Grant's
side are 6-1 (Totesport) to pip United, but should they win at home Chelsea
could be as short as 6-4, with United 1-2, according to industry insiders.
Midweek events at Camp Nou and Anfield
ensured both teams remained at the summit of the Champions League betting
market and are expected to meet in the final in Moscow. Indeed, Chelsea were
cut to a freely available 9-4 from 10-3 to win the competition, while United
are 9-5 (Coral) favourites.
However, the midweek results, somewhat
surprisingly perhaps, failed to persuade the bookmakers to cut Chelsea's price
for tomorrow's game even though it could be argued that John Arne Riise's
stoppage-time own-goal at Anfield, coupled with Cristiano Ronaldo's penalty
miss in Barcelona, has given the Blues a little bit of momentum going into the
But the compilers do not appear to have been swayed by
under-par performances from both teams, and the match prices have remained
static for tomorrow's match - with Chelsea 6-4, United 2-1 and the draw 11-5
all generally on offer.
Of the three it is the outside bet, the draw,
that is the most appealing. In spite of the pressure, there is no doubt that
Grant will stick to his safety-first approach tomorrow as the Chelsea manager
views next week's return European game with Liverpool as the more important
Chelsea, significantly, have managed only one win from five
league meetings with the other "big four" clubs this season. Meanwhile, United
have shown their resilience in recent games, coming from behind to defeat
Arsenal and to draw with Middlesbrough and Blackburn. Surprisingly, United have
won just three times on their last 11 visits to the capital (including
Wembley). And four of the past five games between United and Chelsea, including
last year's FA Cup final, have ended as draws at 90 minutes.
or over 2.5 goals" market is likely to get plenty of attention from punters
and, because goals rarely flow when these two sides meet, most will want to
take a position "under" the 2.5 quote. Six of the past seven and 10 of the past
13 meetings have produced two or fewer goals, an outcome that can be backed at
4-6 (general), which seems a more than fair price.
offers their bookings market at 52-56 - a quote at which buyers would have
returned a profit in five of the past seven encounters. However, Alan Wiley,
who has issued only one red card in league games this season, is the referee at
Stamford Bridge, which tempers any advice to buy. The Staffordshire official
controversially denied Middlesbrough a penalty last weekend against Bolton but
is 5-2 with Sky Bet to award one tomorrow. Blue Square will lay you 22-1 that
United miss from the spot.
One bet that could represent value is the
3-1 Blue Square is offering that Didier Drogba outscores Wayne Rooney, who is
10-3 with the tie 4-7 (bets void if either or both don't start). The United
striker played out wide in midweek and could do so again tomorrow. If so,
Drogba, who is always the fulcrum of Chelsea's attack, will surely have more
chances to score.
Selections Fewer than three goals during
the game at Stamford Bridge at 4-6 (general) Chelsea and Manchester United
to draw at 11-5 (general) Didier Drogba to outscore Wayne Rooney at 3-1