Something for the weekend
In his regular Monday column, Matt Briggs seeks out the early value on the weekend coupon - with Crystal Palace looking tasty.
- Related Content
Crystal Palace v Manchester United
If Tony Pulis keeps Crystal Palace in the Premier League this season he should be named Manager of the Year.
The south Londoners were rock-bottom and 1/20 shots for the drop before Pulis took charge, but the former Stoke boss has weaved his magic and Palace sit in 14th spot. It's FA Cup weekend coming up but I see the following weekend's games are already priced up in places and I can't resist getting involved at this stage and felt it worth a mention They look well worth chancing at home to the fallen champions - Manchester United.
Palace are a huge-looking 17/2 to sink United at Selhurst Park and that looks rather disrespectful considering Palace have won their last three home games and kept five clean sheets since Pulis took charge. West Brom were brushed aside last weekend and it was Palace's new boys who did the damage with Joe Ledley and Tom Ince on target and that extra quality added to their resilience and organisation will come in useful against a United side who are struggling and as short as 2/5.
David Moyes' men were pegged back late on last week at home to struggling Fulham and that 2-2 draw must have felt like a defeat. Moyes will have to pick his men up for the trip to Arsenal in midweek with their confidence at a low ebb and a defeat at The Emirates will be less the ideal preparation for another scrap in the capital. United made a staggering 81 crosses in the draw with Fulham and Palace boss Pulis will have his side well briefed on how to defend balls into the box. Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Juan Mata all started against Fulham and whether Moyes will risk the offensive trio against Palace remains to be seen, but defensively United have looked vulnerable this season. Nemanja Vidic's pace has left him and loanee Ince and Yannick Bolasie have enough speed to threaten United's backline.
Coventry v Bradford
Ahead of the midweek trip to Carlisle, Bradford City had won one from their last 19 and that hardly inspires confidence in last season's League Cup finalists, but Phil Parkinson's new recruits look primed to make a difference and they're worth supporting at 16/5 to win away to Coventry at the weekend.
The Bantams have drawn far too many games and with Nahki Wells gone they cannot buy a win, but the arrivals of Aaron Mclean, Matty Dolan, Adam Reach and Kyle Bennett have injected some life into the squad and the return of key defender Andrew Davies has also been a welcome boost. The weekend's amazing 3-3 draw with Crewe proved the Bantams do have the know-how to score without Wells and but for an excellent goalkeeping display from youngster Ben Garrett they would have taken the points.
Coventry themselves are on a poor run and like Bradford have fallen away after an impressive start to the season. Just as Bradford have lost Wells, the Sky Blues have lost their inspiration too with Leon Clarke signing for Wolves and Callum Wilson, who caused Bradford all sorts of problems at Valley Parade earlier in the season, out injured. Only two points separate the sides in the table and with just one win in their last six at home, Coventry look vulnerable. They were rolled over 3-0 at Notts County over the weekend and boss Steven Pressley was left disappointed with his side's hunger - a characteristic that Bradford are likely to have in abundance after Pressley described Bradford's style of play as "dark-age football" after the 3-3 draw in West Yorkshire. There's no doubt Parkinson will have his men revved up and they might just return up the M1 with the points.
Bristol City v Tranmere
I can't see any reason why Bristol City (10/11) should be odds-on at home Tranmere on Saturday and the visitors look worth siding with at an attractive 7/2.
Steve Cotterill has so far failed to the turn the Robins around and Saturday's draw at Oldham saw them drop back into the relegation zone. They have only won four of their 16 home games and they should not be odds-on against a side who are three points better off in the League One table. Cotterill's men face a tough trip to Orient in midweek before they tackle Ronnie Moore's men in a relegation battle and Rovers have shown on numerous occasions they can battle away from home and nick the points. Four times on the road Rovers have claimed 1-0 wins, the latest of which was against play-off-chasing MK Dons and another narrow victory looks well worth backing in what will be a real dogfight at Ashton Gate.
- Selections given in order of preference.