Chelsea are worth backing to prevail
at Anfield as Benítez is faced with some very tough choices
Punters will be hoping to avoid swelling the bookmakers' satchels
further after Manchester United let them down on the opening weekend of the
season. United's failure to defeat Reading saw bettors fall short in the final
leg of a hugely popular treble after Arsenal and Chelsea had won at
Ladbrokes expect to see another bumper weekend with as much as
£10m gambled on fixtures that include the Manchester derby and Chelsea's
visit to Anfield. This Sunday's matches are not as clearcut as last week's
appeared to be, when all three of the selections were odds-on, and Chelsea's
trip to Liverpool is the trickiest to call.
The Blues have been cut to a best price
5-4 (general) to win the Premier League following two successive wins and will
travel to Anfield in the knowledge that they have won five of the six league
meetings since Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benítez took charge of their
respective clubs in the summer of 2004.
Chelsea are 21-10 (Bet365) to
win on Merseyside, a price that screams value. Liverpool, after narrow
victories over Aston Villa and Toulouse, are 6-4 (general) with the draw 11-5
The 16th meeting between these two teams in the last
three years (Chelsea have won six, Liverpool five and there have been four
draws in 90 minutes) is expected to see the return of John Terry for the
visitors who have failed to keep a clean sheet this season - Totesport offer
21-10 they will do at Anfield. The England captain should help shore up a
defence that has looked suspect so far.
Of bigger interest to punters
is the fitness of Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool captain limped off in his
team's win in southern France on Wednesday with a foot injury but is expected
to play on Sunday; it will be intriguing to see where. Benítez has said
that Gerrard, who is 10-1 (Paddy Power) to score the first goal and 3-1
(Skybet) to net at any time, will play as one of two central midfielders. The
Blues' counter-attacking style may force a rethink. If he does play in the
middle, this could result in an open game that might reward backers of more
than two goals in the match at 6-4 (Bet365). If Benítez opts for a more
conservative approach, with perhaps both Javier Mascherano and Xabi Alonso
acting as holding players, a dour game can be expected and Liverpool's odds for
the title are unlikely to change from their current mark of 9-2 (general).
United's price for a successful defence of their Premier League crown
has drifted to 2-1 (general) following two draws but although Sir Alex Ferguson
cannot call on the injured Wayne Rooney or the suspended Cristiano Ronaldo, the
champions are odds-on to beat Manchester City with every firm - 4-5 is freely
available. City, trading at 12-1 (Betfred) to win the league in the market
"without the big four" after six points from two matches, are 7-2 (general) to
defeat United on Sunday with 5-2 (Boyle Sports) available about the draw.
United's attacking options have diminished, which places the
responsibility on Carlos Tevez, who has netted 10 times in his past 16 games
for club and country. The Argentinian is 5-1 (general) to score the first goal
and 7-4 (Ladbrokes and Sky Bet) to find the net at any time.
probable that Sven-Goran Eriksson will revert to the more defensive approach he
followed with England in this match, in both tactics and personnel. Sporting
Index's bookings market makes for interesting reading. The Kennington-based
firm have issued a quote of 46-50 (yellow cards are worth 10 points and reds
25). The average make-up of the last eight league Manchester derbies is 44
while in Mark Clattenburg the Premier League has appointed a referee who has
not sent off a player in 49 top-division matches.
Players from both
sides have not been afraid to get stuck in so far this season but only one of
the four matches that the two sides have played in would have seen sellers at
46 show a loss. It is risky, but a small stakes sell is advised.
bookings in Manchester derby A slightly risky option but worth a small stakes
sell (Sporting Index)