Dale Tempest: City too slick
Dale Tempest expects all three contenders for the Premier League title to gain important wins this weekend.
- Related Content
Former professional footballer Dale Tempest has turned bookie - he's now Sky Bet's public relations director.
A 16-year career saw him play for the likes of Fulham, Huddersfield and Colchester so he knows exactly how the game is played and these days he's very much got his finger on the pulse of the markets as both a punter and a bookie.
His regular Friday column explores the mindset of players and bookies and highlights the best bets for the weekend's action. Here's his take on this weekend's Premier League action with the title race hotting up.
This weekend brings another fascinating round of fixtures as we head towards potentially the closest ever Premier League title race.
The novelty this time is that we have three serious contenders rather than two and what makes this even more compelling is that the outsider of the three, Liverpool, play both the other contenders at home between now and the end of the season.
If you looked at Arsenal's home record of 10 wins, four draws and one defeat, you'd be mystified as to how they can be 12/5 for a home win against Manchester City. But the reality is their title ambitions are over and all they have left to fight for is the FA Cup in a couple of weeks, although with Tottenham and Everton lurking they still have work to do to finish in the top four.
It was 6-3 when these two sides met at the Etihad Stadium but that was a freak occurrence and Arsenal have conceded only nine goals at home all season, so I'm expecting a closer, much tighter game at tea-time on Saturday.
Both teams have played midweek fixtures so it's very likely that the intensity in their performances may not be at its sharpest early on, but with a growing Arsenal injury list and City now with a single focus, it's hard to oppose Yaya Toure and his team.
Rather than take 21/20, however, an unusual bet that not many people look at is the correct score grouping - here you can get 5/2 that City win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1. There have been just four goals in the last five renewals of this fixture at the Emirates and with those historical stats in mind, it's worth chancing this market rather than just a City victory.
The protesters are going to be out at Old Trafford for David Moyes and whilst you may read stats that say United have lost just once in over 30 games against Aston Villa, once again I have to point out that you need to rip up all old United facts and figures as this team and this manager bears no resemblance to the previous regime.
Villa going to Old Trafford will be a bit like when small nations come to Wembley - there will be no expectations but the players will be eager to get going - and we'll see a Villa more like the one that played so well against Chelsea than that which lost to Stoke. It's 6/1 about an away win but 9/2 draw no bet looks the way to go.
Chelsea have conceded just three in seven away from home and with Crystal Palace having failed to score in four of their last five the 6/5 about an away win to nil makes obvious appeal, whilst Stoke showed last week that they're better than many perceive and with Hull arriving off the back of a tough midweek game and the hosts welcoming back key players like Charlie Adam and Stephen Ireland, I fancy the a home win.
I don't normally play this bet, but a Stoke victory and both teams to score is 7/2 and with Mark Hughes' side having just one clean sheet in 15, and Hull's attack looking dangerous, in this case I'll make an exception.
I expect Southampton and Swansea to win their respective home games but I've got both sides wrong all season so I won't be investing any further, while I've also struggled to get West Brom right so I'll leave their game alone too - although one home win in 10 for the Baggies suggests the value is with Cardiff.
Onto Sunday, I'll be hoping my old team Fulham manage a victory against Everton but with four wins in their last 19 at home they won't be holding any of my money. The play in this game must be draw half-time, Everton full-time at 7/2. Seventy per cent of Everton's goals have been in the second half and they make assert after the break.
Finally, Liverpool host Tottenham having scored in the first half of their last 21 Premier League games which is a remarkable statistic. When Steven Gerrard curled in his free-kick on Wednesday it was Liverpool's 51st first-half goal this season, which again is incredible, and it shows the benefit of playing just one game a week for the most part and being fresh and motivated towards a single target.
Tottenham have lost their way recently but still hold an impressive away record. They won't be pushovers, so I'll take Liverpool to win by exactly one goal. It's a rare occasion where Liverpool have been asked to back-up a midweek win and it may not be as straightforward as prices around 1/2 suggest.