Play away on Super Sunday
We preview Super Sunday, with victories for away sides Arsenal and Manchester United tipped up.
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Since Chelsea toyed with a hapless Aston Villa in an 8-0 victory just before Christmas interim manager Rafa Benitez has seen his side struggle at home. They underestimated QPR and paid the price with a 1-0 defeat and a week later lost 2-0 at home to Swansea in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final thanks to two howlers from Branislav Ivanovic. Then, on Wednesday, they had a real chance to get back on track when Southampton were the visitors, especially considering they were 2-0 up at half-time. But back came the Saints to snatch a 2-2 draw, prompting familiar boos aimed at the already under-fire Benitez. You can only conclude that this Chelsea team, a Chelsea team that is bursting with talent, is feeling the pressure emanating from the stands at Stamford Bridge. This point is underlined by looking at their away form during the same period. In the last three weeks they've earned victories at Everton (2-1), Southampton (5-1) and Stoke (4-0) and look a completely different team on their travels. But back at the Bridge, would you trust them to beat Arsenal at a best-price 5/6? There's no doubt Chelsea are a better side than the Gunners, with better individual talents and a red-hot striker in Demba Ba who has settled into his role as main man up front without fuss. I just feel Arsenal are slightly overpriced here at 7/2. They haven't been in flying form by any means but you have to go back to November 3 for the last time they lost away from home in the Premier League and that was at Old Trafford. Arsene Wenger's side are similar to Chelsea in that they too can sometimes feel the pressure at home but they look an altogether more solid outfit away, as four draws and two wins from their last six road trips indicate. If they can frustrate Chelsea and get the home fans on their back, something which shouldn't be too difficult, they have the pace on the counter-attack to cause the Blues problems. Jack Wilshere is in fine form and after his goal against Swansea the other night I raised an eyebrow when I saw he was available at 28/1 to score first. He's not prolific in front of goal, though, so we'll keep this simple and back the Gunners.
Verdict: Chelsea 1 Arsenal 2
Manchester United continue to find a way to win games and they're 13/10 to get another three points at White Hart Lane. Sir Alex Ferguson's team lost to Spurs at Old Trafford earlier in the season but that was during a spell where United kept on conceding first and that was one of the few games where they couldn't quite turn it around. Being slow out of the blocks is a problem Fergie has fixed, though, as the Red Devils have opened the scoring in each of their last nine games. Noticeably they've started well in the high-intensity encounters recently, going 2-0 up at Manchester City before half-time and scoring inside 16 minutes against Liverpool last weekend. It will be tougher at Spurs who are in good form but Andre Villas-Boas' team have had a kind run of fixtures and the last time they faced a top side they lost 2-1 at Everton. I have to think quotes of 13/10 about United are fair but I'm even more tempted by the 100/30 Coral dangle about the Red Devils winning at half-time and full-time. They're in the zone now when it comes to grinding out wins and scoring early is paramount to their recent success - this bet has landed in four of their last five games. With Robin van Persie in red-hot form and Wayne Rooney on the way back too, United have awesome creativity in the final third and it could be the difference between the two sides as Spurs are lacking in that department. Having said that, there should be little between the two teams and colleague Ben Coley flagged up United's habit of winning by exactly one goal prior to their 1-0 win over West Ham in midweek. They have now won 24 times in all competitions this campaign, 16 times by a goal, and the bookies go 7/2 about a single-goal win for United again. It's a price well worth considering.
Verdict: Tottenham 1 Manchester United 2