Something for the weekend
Our Matt Briggs seeks out the early value on the weekend football coupon in his weekly column.
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Manchester United are the new Liverpool.
A few years ago Liverpool were a side that punters worldwide loved to punt on the back of their name and illustrious history. That often meant the Reds were ridiculously short home and away, regardless of the opposition. They were certainly a side to oppose simply on the basis of them being the wrong price week in week out. That's not the case anymore because the Merseysiders have now got a squad that can get results, but United seem to have slipped into the void left by the Reds.
Take last weekend's home defeat by Newcastle. The faltering champions were 1/2 to beat a Newcastle side despite only winning three of their seven home games, while Newcastle, who had an impressive record of three away wins from seven were a 7/1 shot. The hosts were beaten 1-0 - their second successive home defeat - leaving David Moyes with a crisis on his hands with the champions of England in ninth spot and 13 points behind the leaders Arsenal.
Moyes has a massive problem with the title seemingly out of reach and a top-four spot looking a big ask. In truth, United have an average squad and their league position is about right. They are not in a false position. They have not had a hard run of fixtures or been battering teams without enjoying the rub of the green. They have struggled to create chances and their two home conquerors of the last week, Everton and Newcastle, deserved their wins.
But despite United's obvious inadequacies, punters, like they did with Liverpool, are still happy to back them - whatever the price. This weekend they travel to Villa Park to take on another average side, Aston Villa, but backing United at around 4/6 is gambling suicide. Villa are 4/1 at present and although they are have been far from strong on home soil, United have simply got to be opposed. Villa have only won two of their seven home games, but at the prices they are worth a small bet, but Villa and the draw in the double-chance market is the one to have a decent punt on.
United have a midweek Champions League clash to contend with too and even though talisman Wayne Rooney is likely to return they look far too short away in Birmingham.
Derby gave us plenty of joy a couple of weeks ago and they are the form team of the Championship and well worth backing again to win at Charlton.
Steve McClaren's men have the best away record in the second tier with six wins from nine away games and the prices about them making it seven from 10 look worth snapping up now.
McClaren is getting the best and more from his Pride Park squad and they are brimming with confidence after coming back from a goal down to smash Blackpool 5-1. The Rams are definitely worth getting while they are hot against a Charlton side, who have lost four of their nine home games.
Newport have made a smooth transition to life in the Football League and they look a decent bet at the current 85/40 to heap more woe on struggling Portsmouth.
Pompey, who have just appointed Richie Barker, have been unpredictable at home this term with four wins, one draw and five defeats and they are worth taking on against a solid Newport side.
Newport have just one win away and six draws, but they look capable of turning their draws into wins - starting on the south coast.