There are seven Premier League games being played on Saturday, with Aston Villa facing a Chelsea team full of confidence under Roberto di Matteo
Aston Villa v Chelsea 15:00 BST
Birmingham City went down with 39 points in the Premier League last season and Aston Villa are still 6 points off amassing that total, with recent performances suggesting that they might not break the 40 point barrier at all.
Last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at the Emirates was something of a surrender, with Arsenal easily continuing their winning run and the Villans offering little in the way of attacking intent.
Surely they will show more appetite for a battle in front of their own supporters, especially against a Chelsea side that might be a touch distracted by a successful Champions League run which should take them all the way to the semi-finals.
Aston Villa are a 4/1 chance (Bet Victor free bets) to claim victory against a team that they beat at Stamford Bridge on New Year’s Eve, something which has turned out to be the highlight of their season.
However, Chelsea seem more united since the departure of Andre Villas-Boas, with Frank Lampard, Salomon Kalou and Fernando Torres among the players who have spoken out against the former manager.
The visitors need to get on a winning run in the Premier League to haul in Arsenal or Tottenham with the bookies offering 10/11 (Paddy Power) about an away win and Roberto di Matteo will be able to restore the likes of Lampard and Didier Drogba to the starting line-up.
Drogba could be playing his final few games in a blue shirt before making a move to Shanghai and he is a 5/1 chance to score the first goal of the game, with the Chelsea defence starting to look watertight and you can get odds of 9/4 (Ladbrokes bookmaker) about them winning this match to nil.
Everton v West Brom: 15:00 BST
Everton produced one of their best performances all season when winning at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night, triumphing by a 2-0 scoreline and demonstrating greater desire than Sunderland to set up a semi-final clash with Liverpool.
While the Wembley spectacle is getting everyone excited, David Moyes will demand total focus on the Premier League as the Toffees look to finish as high up the table as possible and his team are strong favourites at 17/20 (Bet Victor bookmaker) to win this contest.
The one question mark over Everton is whether they might feel tired after their midweek exploits, with West Brom having the away form to make it a difficult afternoon for the home side at Goodison Park.
Last weekend’s 3-1 home reverse against Newcastle once again served to highlight that the Baggies seem to prefer matches away from The Hawthorns this season where they have collected 22 of their 36 points which is a troubling statistic for Roy Hodgson.
Paddy Power are among those firms quoting 7/2 about an away win which could turn out to be a big price although Albion are three games without a win since beating Chelsea at home, with the manager having to decide whether to persist with Marc Antoine Fortune and Peter Odemwingie in attack.
Shane Long came off the bench to score against the Magpies and can be backed at 9/1 to score first in this match, while Everton have a potential goalscoring hero who has proved an instant hit with supporters in the Gwladys Street end.
Nikica Jelavic scored the opening goal at Sunderland during the week and the former Rangers man is the 5/1 favourite to score the first goal of this game, with Everton looking a reasonable bet at 7/1 to win this game by a solitary goal.
Fulham v Norwich City: 15:00 BST
This fixture might bring back some painful memories for Norwich City supporters, thousands of whom travelled to Craven Cottage on the final day of the 2004/5 season hoping the Canaries would avoid the drop only to lose the match 6-0.
Seven seasons down the line and Norwich are back in the big time after a painful hiatus which saw them drop back to League One before Paul Lambert came to the club and brought about a revival of epic proportions.
The Scot has achieved a double promotion with City who are consolidating their place in the Premier League very nicely and last weekend’s win over Wolves surely means that they can look forward to another season of competing against the best teams.
What are the chances of victory this coming Saturday? Odds of 4/1 (Coral free bets) are probably a touch too large considering Norwich have four away wins under their belt and can play the remainder of the campaign with plenty of freedom, although the in-form Grant Holt is suspended for this one.
As for Fulham, they will have returned from Old Trafford on Monday feeling highly encouraged by that 1-0 defeat which should have seen the Cottagers earn a penalty at the end when Danny Murphy was sent tumbling in the penalty area.
Martin Jol’s side will also look to get themselves back on track at home following that embarrassing 3-0 reverse at home to Swansea City and the best odds available is the 8/11 at Betfred which could be a popular wager.
Pavel Pogrebnyak started his Fulham career like a train and the Russian is a 5/1 chance to score the first goal of the game, while Clint Dempsey is the same odds and the American has clearly been the standout player for his team this year.
Manchester City v Sunderland: 15:00 BST
The so-called mind games continue as Patrick Vieira tells a BBC journalist that Manchester United get the benefit of refereeing decisions that don’t befit other Premier League teams before the Frenchman claims he was misquoted.
This follows Roberto Mancini claiming that Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to restore Paul Scholes to the squad smacked of desperation, although the plain fact is that Manchester City trail the Red Devils by three points and cannot afford any further slip-ups if they are to claim their first ever title.
This really should be an easy three points for City and odds of 1/4 (Ladbrokes free bets) will populate many a weekend accumulator for a match against a Sunderland side whose season effectively ended when losing 2-0 to Everton on Tuesday.
Martin O’Neill’s team seem to be running out of gas as the season draws to a close and we shouldn’t forget that the renaissance that the Black Cats have enjoyed since the managerial switch in December following Steve Bruce’s poor start to the campaign.
At least Sunderland can come into this game with little to lose and the bookies are prepared to lay 14/1 (Bet Victor free £50 bet) about the visitors finally ending City’s 100% record at the Etihad Stadium although it’s hard to see anything other than a convincing home win.
A maximum haul and the goal difference being bolstered is what the manager will be demanding and the City HT FT outcome is easy to back at odds of 4/6 (Paddy Power bookmaker) considering that this is a team that have scored 44 goals in 15 home matches.
Vincent Kompany returns to the City defence for this contest and it’s hard to see Nicklas Bendtner and Co breaking through which leads to the natural conclusion that the even money with Ladbrokes is where the value is.
QPR v Arsenal: 15:00 BST
Queens Park Rangers have eight games left to save their Premier League skins, having failed to show any improvement since Mark Hughes took charge.
The Welshman can point to ill discipline costing QPR at various stages since he replaced Neil Warnock although it was his decision to sign Djibril Cisse who has twice been sent off since arriving at Loftus Road. The Frenchman is once again suspended for Saturday’s visit of Arsenal.
The Hoops were soundly beaten at Sunderland on Saturday and Hughes must decide whether to reinstate club captain Joey Barton who was substituted early against Liverpool before playing no part at the Stadium of Light.
QPR are a 5/1 chance (Coral free bets) to claim a second straight home win following that strange win against Kenny Dalglish’s team when they came to life in the final 15 minutes.
However, they are not playing Arsenal at a good time, with Arsene Wenger’s team having sprung into life since that 5-2 win over Tottenham at the Emirates in February and the away win will be a popular bet this weekend.
The bookies have already trimmed their odds about the Gunners following a deluge of bets and firms are offering a best price 8/13 (Bet Victor) about the visitors continuing their excellent run at the expense of Rangers.
Theo Walcott is a player who can blow hot and cold although the winger is coming into form at the right time for Arsenal and bet365 go 15/2 that he scores the first goal which is a viable alternative to the 3/1 (Paddy Power £100 free bets) about Robin van Persie breaking the deadlock.
Wigan Athletic v Stoke City: 15:00 BST
Wigan first entered the Premier League for season 2005/6 where they finished 10th under Paul Jewell, although it has become more of a struggle to remain in the top flight as clubs with an increasingly big wage and transfer budget surpass the Latics.
Perhaps we shouldn’t criticise Roberto Martinez’s team too heavily considering their financial constraints at the DW Stadium, especially when they went to Anfield and registered a 2-1 win against a team with a far heftier wage bill than they could dream of.
If Wigan are to remain in the Premier League, they do need to win a couple of their remaining four home matches, with odds of 17/10 (Boylesports free bets) about landing a precious haul of three points on Saturday.
Not that Stoke will be easy opponents although the Latics did manage to land a 2-2 draw at the Britannia Stadium in December and they have tasted defeat just once in their last seven matches.
Scoring goals at home has been a huge problem, with just 12 netted in 15 matches, with Franco di Santo looking for his first goal since scoring at Sunderland in November. Can the former Chelsea man find the net first in this game at odds of 7/1 (Coral).
Punters might prefer backing the in-form Peter Crouch who is pressing hard for an England recall after his wonder goal against Manchester City which demonstrated that the Stoke forward is better with his feet than his head.
Stoke are 9/5 (Paddy Power free bets) to claim a victory which would put a serious dent in the survival hopes of their opponents and Tony Pulis will certainly not be allowing any let-up in this match as the season draws to a close.
Wolves v Bolton Wanderers: 15:00 BST
Wolves are statistically the worst team in the Premier League although the good news for the Midlands team is that they have eight games to remain in the top flight.
We should know better than to write off any team and this is an ideal chance for Terry Connor’s team to get three points on the board and demonstrate that they are not yet finished this season despite an abysmal run of games.
Wolves are a best price 7/5 (Coral free bets) to land the spoils on Saturday against a Bolton team who are four points better off at this juncture and the fact that Owen Coyle’s team have a game in hand makes it even more important for the men in old gold to seal victory.
Indeed, a draw wouldn’t be a bad result for the visitors and this outcome can be backed at 21/10 (bet365 bookmaker), with a point on the board ensuring that the Trotters kept their heads above water, especially if QPR and Wigan fail to win this weekend.
Since the terrible Fabrice Muamba incident, Bolton have served up two spirited performances which has seen them beat Blackburn before bowing out of the FA Cup at the hands of Tottenham. It’s a question of whether fatigue might be catching up with the players, although they are 2/1 (Boylesports) to land a priceless away win.
It was a 1-1 draw when the teams met on New Year’s Eve and the same scoreline is on offer at 6/1 in this match, with a low-scoring encounter pretty likely considering that Wolves will be vehemently opposed to conceding the first goal and getting the supporters on their backs.