Premier League football betting preview: Saturday 24 March
There are eight Premier League matches taking place on Saturday and it all kicks off at Stamford Bridge at 12:45 when Chelsea look to close the gap on an ailing Tottenham Hotspur team.
Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur 12:45
The Spurs fans were reminding Arsenal supporters to â€˜mind the gapâ€™ a few weeks ago, although the Gunners have since embarked on a winning run which saw them leapfrog Tottenham during the week.
A couple of months ago, people were talking about Harry Redknappâ€™s team as potential Premier League title contenders, although they are a full 16 points behind Manchester United and could quite feasibly drop out of the top four. Especially if they lose to Chelsea on Saturday.
The bookies make this a strong possibility with their 10/11 quote (Bet Victor free bets) about a home win at Stamford Bridge and the Blues gave a good account of themselves at Eastlands when losing 2-1 on Wednesday after racing into the lead.
Chelsea do seem rejuvenated under Roberto Di Matteo and should welcome back John Terry for this contest, with the captain a 25/1 shot (Coral bookmaker) to score the first goal, while Gary Cahill has scored in his past two games and also looks overpriced at 25/1 (Sky Bet).
Everyone says it would be a shame to see Tottenham miss out on a Champions League place although the season runs for nine months and it just appears that the north London side are running out of steam with a furlong of the season left.
The visitors have won six games on the road this term and can be backed at 10/3 (Paddy Power Â£100 free bets) which would have seemed like a huge price earlier in the season although it appears as though fatigue are setting in.
Perhaps Rafael Van Der Vaartâ€™s late equaliser against Stoke City will spark the Dutchman into life and he could be worth a punt at 11/1 to score the first goal of this lunchtime London derby.
Arsenal v Aston Villa 15:00
The Manchester clubs are racing away at the top of the Premier League, although Arsenal have been largely on a par with City and United if you take into account their woeful start to the season which included an 8-2 demolition job at Old Trafford.
Itâ€™s strange to think that Arsene Wengerâ€™s future at the Emirates Stadium was being called into question by inept journalists in September considering that the Frenchman has got his team clicking into gear despite several things going against them this term.
Saturdayâ€™s game against Aston Villa should see Arsenal continue their winning ways and they will be a popular accumulator selection at 4/11 (Paddy Power) against an Aston Villa side that have proved relatively obstinate on the road, with the Midlands side having only lost three away games all season.
Something else to note is that the Villans have had a fortnightâ€™s rest since their 1-0 win against Fulham due to their midweek game against Bolton being postponed. This could mean they are a little ring-rusty or it could see Alex McLeishâ€™s side prove tough to beat and odds of 4/1 (bet365 Â£200 free bets) are available about the visitors nicking a point at the Emirates.
With QPR and Blackburn winning during the week, Aston Villa will want to get towards 40 points as quickly as possible, with 9/1 (Boylesports bookmaker) on offer about an away win, although it seems improbable that Robin Van Persie will be denied.
The Dutchman might yet be playing out his final few games for the Gunners and who knows where his valuation stands at considering the goal glut he has enjoyed this season. Unibet are the only firm brave enough to lay 11/4 about him scoring the first goal.
Bolton Wanderers v Blackburn Rovers 15:00
This is going to be a tricky match for both Bolton and Blackburn on Saturday, with Fabrice Muambaâ€™s cardiac arrest last weekend casting a big shadow over the Reebok Stadium.
The Wanderers players have been mixing training sessions with trips down to London to visit their recovering team-mate, although Owen Coyle now needs total focus on a crucial Premier League match which will go a long way to determining whether the club will stay in the top flight.
QPRâ€™s win against Liverpool on Wednesday night means that the Trotters are 18th in the table although they did win at Ewood Park before Christmas and can be backed at 6/4 (Bet Victor free bets) to claim a rare league double over Rovers.
The atmosphere is sure to be muted and in stark contrast to that reverse fixture three months ago where Bolton raced into a 2-0 lead and Steve Kean was harangued by the home supporters throughout the ninety minutes, even though Blackburn came right back into the contest in the second half.
Kean has done brilliantly to keep things together at Ewood and Rovers are probably the value at 21/10 (Paddy Power bookmaker) considering that they have claimed victory in their last two outings, winning 2-0 at Wolves before triumphing by the same scoreline against Sunderland on Tuesday.
Yakubu and Junior Hoilett are combining really well for the Lancashire side and the former is an 11/2 chance (Blue Square) to score the first goal of this contest against a Bolton side that were slightly fortunate to beat QPR in their last match at the Reebok.
Liverpool v Wigan Athletic 15:00
Norwich City and Blackburn Rovers have won as many home games as Liverpool this season, although neither team would be priced at 3/10 (Paddy Power Â£100 free bets) to beat Wigan Athletic and there is no real reason why Kenny Dalglishâ€™s team are so short to prosper at Anfield on Saturday.
Yes, they should beat the Latics this weekend although the Reds somehow managed to toss away a two-goal lead at Loftus Road on Wednesday and their opponents have the advantage of extra rest ahead of a contest where all the pressure will be on the home side.
Liverpool have been in decent nick at Anfield in recent weeks, playing Arsenal off the park despite losing and picking up victories against Everton and Stoke in quick succession. Steven Gerrard is back to full fitness and can be backed at an eye-catching 5/1 (bet365 free bets) to score the first goal of this contest.
Dalglish will certainly want his team to be more watertight in defence after conceding those three late goals against QPR and another 3-0 triumph can be backed at 7/1 (Ladbrokes bookmaker), while a Liverpool win to nil looks pretty tasty at even money considering that Wigan are really short of goals this term.
Roberto Martinez has remained positive throughout the campaign despite the Laticsâ€™ meagre points total and it is not inconceivable that the visitors will land the spoils at 12/1 (Bet Victor) against a team who seem to hit the woodwork as much as they do the back of the net.
However, Wigan simply fall short in terms of quality and it would be no surprise to see Liverpool out of sight by half-time with odds of 5/6 about this happening. Luis Suarez is looking really sharp at the moment and merits an odds-on quote with firms when it comes to Anytime Scorer.
Norwich City v Wolves 15:00
Terry Connor hasnâ€™t given up hope that Wolverhampton Wanderers might stay in the Premier League and they are just a win from drawing level with QPR in the Premier League, although victories are as rare as henâ€™s teeth in the west Midlands at the moment.
Connor saw Wolves claw back a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 at Newcastle in his first game in charge, although two 5-0 spankings have sandwiched a 2-0 home reverse to Blackburn and itâ€™s hard to make a case for them winning at Carrow Road on Saturday.
It is getting to the point where the Midlands side donâ€™t have anything to lose from having a go at their opponents and odds of 4/1 (Boylesports free bets) are available about an away win, although Jamie Oâ€™Hara is injured and the teamâ€™s confidence is shot following a series of defeats that were triggered by that Black Country derby humbling.
At least they will play a Norwich side who have temporarily hit the buffers following a bright campaign which has seen the Canaries already do enough to stay in the top flight, with Paul Lambertâ€™s team having landed just one point from their last four Premier League games.
In fairness to City, all of their recent defeats have been by the odd goal and they created plenty of chances at Newcastle on Sunday although were simply missing that final bit of quality when it mattered. The manager will probably persist with the impressive Steve Morison in attack and the former Millwall man is a 5/1 chance (Sky Bet) to score first.
As for the odds about a home win, the bookies are taking few chances with their 4/5 quote (Coral bookmaker) although some will consider that a decent price considering that Wolves conceding an early goal seems to have such a devastating effect on morale.
Sunderland v QPR 15:00
Sunderland are 12 points better off than the Hoops in the Premier League although it is possible to get odds of 11/10 (Boylesports free bets) about a home win at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.
Boylesports should actually be applauded for their odds-against quote compared to most other firmsâ€™ 10/11, although there is a method behind their madness. Ultimately, the Black Catsâ€™ big game comes three days later when they host Everton for a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
Therefore, Martin Oâ€™Neill would probably take defeat in this game if it meant a last four date with Liverpool at Wembley and the same applies to supporters who have thoroughly enjoyed the season since the manager replaced Steve Bruce at the Stadium of Light.
Queens Park Rangers were a 4/1 chance to beat Liverpool at Loftus Road and duly obliged in the final few minutes of the game, with Mark Hughes now hoping that the late comeback against the Reds will act as a catalyst that will help the west London club out of the relegation zone.
The bookies have them at 3/1 (Paddy Power Â£100 free bets) to claim back-to-back wins which should propel them further away from danger and they will certainly have some momentum after Wednesdayâ€™s unlikely victory.
It remains to be seen whether Joey Barton starts the game after an abject performance, although Djibril Cisse looks a great shout at 15/2 (bet365) to break the deadlock against one of his former clubs, having scored against Liverpool a few days ago.
We should at least consider the Hoops on the Draw No Bet market at 2/1 with Coral considering that the Black Cats arenâ€™t going to trouble the European places and their best route into the Europa League is undoubtedly by winning the FA Cup.
Swansea City v Everton 15:00
Manchester United and Norwich City are the only teams to have won at the Liberty Stadium this season, with Swansea having been stubborn opponents in front of their own supporters all campaign and they need just one more point to reach that magical 40 mark.
They will probably achieve this on Saturday when they entertain an Everton side who sit just below them in the table, although the Toffees do come into this contest with less recovery time after Wednesdayâ€™s 1-0 reverse against Arsenal where David Moyesâ€™ team were a bit unlucky not to get a point from the game.
Swansea are the 5/4 favourites (Paddy Power free bets) to claim their sixth home win of the season and the Welsh side are riding the crest of a wave following wins over Wigan, Manchester City and Fulham. Brendan Rodgers is rightfully receiving plaudits for the results and the displays being produced by the super Swans and he made an inspired January signing.
Gylfi Sigurdsson was under Rodgersâ€™ tutelage at Reading and the Icelandic midfielder has been pretty special since arriving on loan from Hoffenheim, scoring four goals in his last three games and he is surely worth a punt at 9/1 (bet365) to score the first of this particular contest.
Everton will have one eye on Tuesdayâ€™s FA Cup replay at Sunderland, with David Moyes having to work out a way to prevent his players suffering from fatigue if they are to stand a chance of playing Liverpool in the semi-finals. The away win can be backed at odds of 12/5 (bet365).
Stoke City v Manchester City 17:30 GMT
Stoke were given some welcome news this week when Tony Pulis was spared a driving ban by claiming that the Potters would be dicing with the relegation zone if the City manager wasnâ€™t able to hit the motorways and drive well over the speed limit.
Pulis can now focus on doing Manchester United a favour by making life tough for Manchester City on Saturday night and itâ€™s easy to see Stoke getting something from the contest at the Britannia Stadium, especially as the Pottersâ€™ style is sure to ruffle a few visitor feathers.
Swansea City did a number on the Citizens a fortnight ago and Stoke are a 5/1 chance (bet365 free bets) to claim three points which seems like a big price considering the Staffordshire outfit have won their last two matches at the Brit, while they were close to winning at White Hart Lane on Wednesday night.
Cameron Jeromeâ€™s goal was nearly enough to win the match and the home side are available at 11/4 (Coral bookmaker) to claim a point against a team that might be untouchable at Eastlands although it is a different story when they take to the road.
Roberto Manciniâ€™s team have a win rate of just 50% in away games and they have been recently beaten away at Sporting and Swansea, although there is obviously no doubting the quality throughout the squad and City should be boosted by the return of Vincent Kompany in defence.
The captainâ€™s calming presence at the back could stop Stoke from causing too much damage and a win for the visitors can be backed at 8/13 (bet365), something which would see the team leapfrog Manchester United until Monday when the Red Devils play Fulham.
Carlos Tevez is back in the City fold after wasting most of the season following his well-documented spat with Mancini, although it is Sergio Aguero with the magic touch in front of goal and he is 9/2 to score first.