Premier League betting preview: Bet on the Devils you know

 

Chelsea's big-game mentality hasn't stood up to scrutiny too often this season, regardless of what Andre Villas-Boas made of home wins over timid Valencia and ten-man Manchester City, and they could be in for a rude awakening once again when Manchester United visit Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

However, while there's nothing wrong with the 19/10 match price about the away win, which we expect to contract between now and Sunday afternoon, there's a couple of other angles that offer greater value, most notably the 5/2 quote about Man United to be winning at half-time.

It's been a recurring theme of United's season that they've been exceptionally daring in the early exchanges of their domestic away games, as illustrated by a first-half away record in the Premier League that reads: P11 W8 D2 L1 F13 A2.

Put simply, United are a team in a hurry. They know how to close games out from a winning position - they've won 17 out 19 when scoring first this season - and that's what others find so frustrating. This hardly ranks as the most flambuoyant team of the Ferguson era but they know their limitations when games become a grind and a bit more craft is required to unlock settled defences.

Indeed, those stats appear to be Ferguson's direct response to United's Achilles heel last season when they triumphed only five times on the road from just three half-time leads.

As for Chelsea, they will come into the game confident that their traditional stranglehold over United at Stamford Bridge will count for something but they remain a club in transition and the traditional heavyweights will sooner battle through the stigma of years gone by if they detect any shortcomings that haven't been evident on previous visits.

Arsenal and Liverpool (twice) have already triumphed in west London, so that should be enough encouragement for United to believe that something has changed and victory on this ground is eminently more achievable nowadays. As such, we also like the look of the 4/1 quotes on the Man Utd/Man Utd double result, which is the method that accounts for ten of United's 11 domestic away wins.

Meanwhile, a quick look at Aston Villa's away record highlights value in the 5/2 on the draw for their game at Newcastle - they've drawn all six away games that haven't been against either the top four or the bottom four.

It's not a statistic that will surprise too many punters who have followed the career of Alex McLeish. His teams aren't always the most ruthless at closing games out but he has enough quality in his ranks at this club to salvage something on occasions when they have to chase.

In truth, Villa would probably be much further up the table under a more positive manager, perhaps on a par with Newcastle, and this game could highlight how little there is to choose between them if it follows the general pattern of other matches at St James's Park this term.

The outstanding 3-0 win over Manchester United aside, the Magpies have yet to dispatch anyone with genuine comfort on home soil.

Wins over Fulham, Wigan, Everton, Blackburn and QPR have been narrow and hard-fought, while Swansea snatched a point and West Brom triumphed, the mean of which suggests Villa might have the quality and knowhow to nick something but, knowing McLeish, it won't be all that it might be.

Recommended bets:

1pt Newcastle v Aston Villa draw at 5/2

1pt Man Utd to win the first half against Chelsea at 5/2

1pt Man Utd/Man Utd double result at 4/1

For more betting news and views, please visit Bestofthebets.com. You can also follow Mike Holden on Twitter: @Miguel_BOTB

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