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Chelsea, Newcastle fight for Champions League as Man Utd face must-win situation



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Man United is in danger of slipping to third as Spurs step up their game as Newcastle and Chelsea face-off for the UEFA Champions League spot. The Gunners are expected to cruise to victory in their visit to 19th place Wigan.

Newcastle United v Chelsea

Premiership surprise package Newcastle United take on Chelsea in the big game of the weekend (12.45pm KO Sat, Live on Sky Sports 2) and the draw looks he most likely outcome at odds of 3.4.

Alan Pardew’s side have suffered just one defeat in their last 16 English Premier League games to give them the best start to a season since 1996-97.

They were fortunate to get a share of the spoils at Old Trafford last week after they were awarded a controversial penalty, but they are proving tough nuts to crack and it won’t be easy for Andre Villas-Boas’ side to come away with all three points in the cauldron that is St James’.

I find it surprising that the bookies make Chelsea clear favourites at around 2.1 to bag all three points, as Andre Villas-Boas’ side have been really struggling of late and didn’t have to be at their best to register a much needed 3-0 success over Wolves last weekend.

The stats do however slightly favour Chelsea and that’s probably why the bookies have come down on their side.

The Magpies have won none of the last eight Premier League meetings with Chelsea (D4, L4) and have managed to keep just one clean sheet in their last 9 PL matches.

However do have a red-hot striker in the shape of Demba Ba who has netted 16 goals so far this season and snuffing him out will not be easy given the frailties of the Chelsea defence which have been exposed so many times so far this season.

I think Newcastle are good enough to get a share of the spoils here, and at 3.4 with bet365, Boylesports and Paddy Power the draw looks a fair bet.

1-1 is my idea of the outcome of what promises to be a fiercely fought battle, and you can get 7 about that scoreline with Boylesports.

Aston Villa v Manchester United

Manchester United may not have had the best of weeks but they are still odds-on at a top price of 1.73 to bounce back and notch an away victory over Aston Villa.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s young guns were frustrated in their 1-1 draw with Newcastle last weekend, as Javier Hernandez’s opener was cancelled out by Demba Ba following a controversial penalty decision that the gaffer described as “shocking”.

They then slipped to a 2-1 defeat at home to Crystal Palace on Wednesday to bow out of the Carling Cup at the quarter-final stage, after which Ferguson apologised to supporters for the performance having rested several senior players and relied on inexperienced young blood to deliver the goods.

It will be back to the first-choice starting XI for the trip to Villa, and that should be enough for United to land odds of 1.73 with bet365, Betfred and Paddy Power and bag all three points.

The stats are certainly in United’s favour as far as this clash is concerned.

Villa have won none of their last 15 Premiership home games against United, drawing six and losing nine, and overall they have won just one of 31 meetings between the two sides.

United have also won 11 times at Villa Park in the PL, and with Wayne Rooney, Chicharito, Nani and Nemanja Vidic all expected to start it would take a brave man to back against them not notching another win over Alex McLeish’s men.

I certainly expect them to prove too strong for the Villans, who have made their worst start to the season since 2005/06 and were very poor in their 0-0 draw at Swansea last weekend.

With Villa struggling to score I fancy United to win this to nil, and the 2.8 on offer with Paddy Power about that outcome looks huge.

Wigan v Arsenal

Arsenal are a top priced 1.57 to beat Wigan at the DW Stadium, and at those odds I rate them the banker bet of the whole weekend.

Wigan have won only one of their 12 Premier League meetings with the Gunners and have the worst conversion rate in the top flight having scored with just 9% of their shots.

Prior to their 2-1 away win against struggling Sunderland last weekend they had looked in dire straits, and it will be a major surprise if Arsene Wenger’s boys do not put them to the sword.

What is a surprise however is that Arsenal are 1.57 for victory given that they were 1.5 in the same fixture last season and come into the game on a terrific unbeaten league run which has seen them climb into seventh and put themselves in contention for a top four finish.

They are going for their third successive away win on the bounce, and goal scoring exploits of Robin van Persie have been nothing short of phenomenal.

I can see the Dutchman, who has done us bags of favours in the goal scorer markets this season, wreaking havoc and at 3.75 to net the opener with bet365 he looks worth another investment.

In the last four meetings between the Latics and the Gunners where both sides have scored, so the 1.67 with Betfred and Paddy Power about both teams netting also looks worth a wager for those that like to play at odds-on.