United to blast out of the blocks
Manchester United can get off to a fast start at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday according to our expert Ben Coley.
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United have rightly gained a reputation for starting slowly this season but the signs are that Sir Alex Ferguson has managed to turn things around.
They were in front at half-time against Reading and Man City, and they can repeat the feat against slow-starting Swansea.
Chelsea versus Aston Villa looks trickier and closer than the prices imply, and the best way to approach that game is probably to bank on the second half producing the most goals.
Swansea v Man Utd (1330)
United's policy this season has been somewhat simple: let's just score more than the opposition. Obvious that may seem, but it's important to acknowledge that only three of their 14 league wins have come to nil. With Swansea boasting Michu among their ranks, that means we should expect goals given that United have managed 43 in just 17 league games. Speaking of Michu, any man with 13 goals in 20 games and six in six in the league deserves respect, especially against a generous defence. He's 15/2 to score first and 12/5 to add to his tally at any time, and both prices are worth strong consideration. The other obvious policy is to back United to come from behind and win given their widely-covered trend for doing so, but Swansea's average first goal time is the 57th minute which doesn't bode well for such a wager. Indeed, twice of late Swansea have been well behind at the break - Reading were 2-0 up and Norwich 3-0 - and United have actually been ahead at half-time in each of their last four league games, a clear indication that Sir Alex Ferguson has both identified and addressed the problem. With that and United's exceptional record against Swansea in mind I fancy the visitors to start quickly and win well, so United-United in the double result market looks the way to go.
Swansea 1 Man Utd 3
Chelsea v Aston Villa (1600)
The theory must be that Chelsea's round-the-world adventures will catch up with them soon, the question is when? Make no mistake, a trip to Elland Road on Wednesday was a tough ask for a side who'd just flown back from the Far East, and to score five second-half goals was impressive. My inclination is to believe that they can ride the wave for another 90 minutes and beat Aston Villa, and it may just be that trips to Norwich and Everton between Christmas and New Year prove their undoing. That being said, Villa won at Stamford Bridge last year and Paul Lambert's boys were clinical in beating Liverpool at Anfield last week, so quotes of 7/1 in the draw no bet market aren't to be quickly passed over. My issue is that's basically the same price we took about Villa at Anfield and, jet-lagged or not, Chelsea are a superior side to Liverpool. To me the best bet here is that the second half will produce the most goals at 21/20. Five of Chelsea's last six in all competitions have seen this bet pay out and we may see a similar scenario to Villa's game at the Etihad Stadium, when they did well to a point before ultimately being outclassed.
Verdict: Chelsea 3 Aston Villa 1