The Premier League title is set to remain in Manchester after both the city’s clubs won their matches on Sunday afternoon (as predicted in this preview). Table toppers City needed a last gasp penalty to see off Tottenham Hotspur while holders United won at Arsenal.
Manchester City blew a 2-0 lead when goals from Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale cancelled out strikes from Samir Nasri and Joleon Lescott in a nine minute spell that produced four goals in the second half. With five minutes of injury time on the clock, Ledley King clattered Mario Balotelli in the area and the striker went to score from the penalty spot.
Manchester United, who started the match six points behind City, found a late winner against Arsenal who suffered a third successive defeat. Antonio Valencia headed United in front on the stroke of half-time but Robin Van Persie hauled the Gunners level after 71 minutes. Danny Welbeck crashed in a loose ball with nine minutes left to secure all three points for Alex Ferguson’s side.
City are odds-on favourites to snatch the title from their local rivals and are a best-priced 1.44 (Ladbrokes) while United can be back at 3.4 (Sky Bet).
Top Four Finish
Arsenal’s defeat means they are five points behind Chelsea who currently occupy fourth place and so far qualify for a shot at lucrative Champions League football next season. They have to return to form quickly and Arsene Wenger’s side can be backed at a bet priced 3.5 (bet365) to finish in the top four.
Chelsea, despite mustering only a goalless draw at Norwich City this weekend, are a best priced 1.4 (Betfred) to finish the season in the top four while third placed Tottenham Hotspur are even shorter at 1.2 (Coral).
Liverpool, after finding themselves on the end of a 3-1 defeat at lowly Bolton Wanderers, are a best-priced 5.0 (bet365) to gatecrash the top four while Newcastle United, missing Demba Ba and Cheick Tiote to Africa Cup of Nations duty, are out to 67.0 (Sky Bet) with most other firms pricing them around the 26.0 to 51.0 mark. Their 5-2 battering at Fulham will not have helped their cause.
Wigan Athletic look doomed after a 2-1 defeat at fellow strugglers QPR and are now four points adrift from safety. If you want to back Roberto Martinez’s side for the drop, you won’t get better than 1.25 (Boylesports).
Despite a battling draw at Everton and maintaining their record of scoring in every away match so far, Blackburn Rovers still find themselves in the bottom three, albeit a single point from safety. They remain odds-on for the drop and the best you’ll get on them at the moment is 1.83 (Coral).
Bolton Wanderers are the bookmaker’s next favourite for relegation, even after a 3-1 victory against Liverpool that saw them climb out of the bottom three. They are a best-priced 1.83 (Paddy Power) which doesn’t look great value after this weekend’s results.
Wolverhampton Wanderers are a side in trouble after Saturday’s 3-2 defeat at local rivals Aston Villa extended their dismal run to eight Premier League matches without a win. They can still be backed at 2.0 (Bet Victor) for the drop.
Mark Hughes got his first victory as new manager of Queens Park Rangers against Wigan and with new signings aplenty in the pipeline, you feel they have enough to avoid relegation. If you disagree, back them at 3.25 (Sportingbet).
At longer odds, Swansea City may find themselves dragged into a relegation dogfight, but they are still eight points clear of the drop zone after Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Sunderland. They can be backed at 9.0 (bet365).
Next Manager to Leave Post
There were Twitter rumours last night that Mick McCarthy had been sacked but they proved to be untrue. Even so, the Wolves boss is 1.57 (Paddy Power) favourite to be the next manager to leave his post in the betting.
Elsewhere, Steve Kean is available at 5.5 (Skybet) but appears to have one of the safest jobs in top-flight football while Andre Villas-Boas is perhaps a more tempting 11.0 (Sportingbet).
Despite being rock-bottom of the league and looking utterly hopeless at times, Wigan manager Roberto Martinez can be backed at a best-priced 13.0 (Paddy Power).