City face waiting game
Footballer turned bookie rep Dale Tempest analyses the weekend's Premier League games - including Man City v Chelsea.
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Former professional footballer Dale Tempest has turned bookie - he's now Sky Bet's public relations director.
Fulham, Huddersfield and Colchester were among his clubs during a 16-year career 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 the bookies and highlights the best bets for the weekend's action. Here's his take on this weekend's Premier League action, headlined by Manchester City's top-of-the-table clash with Chelsea.
If there's any team in the Premier League who can set up to keep it tight, it's Jose Mourinho and Chelsea.
It was ironic for him to be having a go at Big Sam (Allardyce) for shutting up shop at Stamford Bridge in the week as that's exactly what Mourinho did at Manchester United and Arsenal earlier in the season - and that's what I expect he'll do again on Monday night.
City have looked untouchable at home and they've now won 11 on the bounce there.
The one worry for them would be Sergio Aguero's fitness after he limped off against Spurs on Wednesday. He's looked really sharp since coming back from injury so losing him would be a negative.
However, even without him you have to believe that City, having scored 68 goals in 23 games so far, will be able to add to their tally on Monday.
5/6 about the home win will be fine for most people but it could actually take City a while to break Chelsea down and draw-City in the HT-FT market offers value when you know Chelsea will come trying to take a point. That's available at 7/2.
The same can be said for Arsenal v Crystal Palace on Sunday. I can't say I'm interested in the 1/5 on Arsenal. In recent home games it's taken them until the second half to score the first goal against both Fulham and Cardiff. Palace's defensive record is better than both of those and they only lot by one at the Etihad, so draw-Arsenal looks a standout bet at 11/4.
The theme of the season so far has been the gulf between the top teams and those towards the bottom. When the fixture list has thrown the two against each other the bookies have been taken to the cleaners.
With this in mind, I like Southampton away to Fulham and Spurs away to Hull this weekend.
Both visiting sides are attacking, dynamic teams. Hull haven't scored in four, while Fulham only have three goals in 2014. 11/10 and 10/11 about the favourites looks good and both will certainly be in my selections for the weekend.
Finally there are two games where the bookies might get a result.
Villa have not lost in their last seven visits to Everton and at 9/2 in the draw-no-bet market are not the worst bet in the world, particularly given Everton's growing injury crisis.
Gabby Agbonlahor's pace will be key in this game, I think, and he could really stretch Everton in the way Liverpool did in midweek. Villa have only lost seven of their last 25 away games. They won at Arsenal and are one of few teams to come away from Anfield with something this season.
The other game where the favourite may well struggle is Newcastle v Sunderland; 5/6 about the hosts is too short. Every team has key contributors, players who set the pace and the whole team ethic.
Yohan Cabaye, sold this week, simply can't be replaced and Loic Remy is missing as well through suspension. Between them the pair have scored 18 of Newcastle's 32 league goals this season.
Sunderland are unbeaten in five away and are well placed to capitalise at 100/30.
For them, Adam Johnson is a real confidence player and he's thriving at the moment. Given Newcastle's lack of goal threat, 10/1 for somebody in form who's likely to be taking free kicks and penalties in the first scorer market is worth a second look.