Premier League betting preview: Manchester United ready to take swift revenge

 

Few teams get the better of Manchester United twice in the space of a fortnight and we see nothing to suggest the current Liverpool side will be any different, so take one of the coin-toss quotes about Sir Alex Ferguson's men posting a routine victory over the Merseysiders at Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime.

The match is already threatening to become a sideshow following the return of Luis Suarez from an eight-match ban but once the handshakes have been scrutinised and we get down to business, expect United to be cold-eyed, determined and fully-focused on claiming top spot, which will turn the heat up on neighbours City before their trip to Villa Park the following day.

Liverpool got gratification by knocking United out of the FA Cup at Anfield two weeks ago but the league is United's territory, Old Trafford will be as inhospitable as it can be and we should rest assured that this game will be played on their terms. The Scousers have lost on seven of their last eight visits and we only see that poor sequence stretching further on the back of a tough month fighting on three fronts, during which time their resources have been pushed to the limit.

Kenny Dalglish might have more players to call upon now than at any prior point in the season but questions must be raised about the condition of his most important performers.

Suarez might benefit from his incarceration over the remaining three months, but it might take a couple of weeks for him to rediscover his match sharpness. Steven Gerrard might be in danger of burning out having been relied upon in a succession of big matches after a long lay-off. And Craig Bellamy is coming through his most intense period of match action for quite some time.

In any case, we fancy United to put their visitors on the back foot from the whistle and keep them in a headlock until they have the all-important breakthrough. We considered several bets for this match and the 6/4 about United to be winning at half-time has serious appeal on the basis of their first-half record in domestic action this term.

However, it's the win over 90 minutes that gets the nod because it's the three points are all that United covet and last weekend's unlikely comeback at Chelsea serves as a timely reminder that they can skin a cat in many different ways now that the title race is hotting up. Given their record at this time of year, odds of 9/10 about the home win are rather generous.

Meanwhile, Harry Redknapp will emerge from a difficult few weeks in high spirits but it doesn't necessarily translate that his Tottenham side will see the benefit and we like attractive odds of 5/1 about Newcastle (draw no bet) in the evening kick-off at White Hart Lane.

We've paid Spurs plenty of respect at various points over the past few weeks but this is a price that doesn't do likewise to the Magpies given what Alan Pardew has achieved with them this term.

Pardew was quick to distance himself from the England job on Thursday, which prompted a rather thoughtless response from many on Twitter at the time, but the former West Ham and Southampton boss should rightly regard himself among the elite of the English football management fraternity, which admittedly isn't blessed with many who have stood the test of time at the highest level.

However, we suspect it wasn't the perceived arrogance that compelled Pardew to put his cards on the table, rather his desire to keep Newcastle's preparation for this match low key, which is hardly a luxury that will be awarded to Redknapp, who is the obvious candidate to replace Fabio Capello.

Redknapp, despite his protestations to the contrary this week, has never made any secret that he would consider it a honour to lead the national side and unless he rules himself out between now and Sunday, potential uncertainty about the future could undermine Tottenham's chances of victory.

Either way, the Lilywhites haven't been at their best since their gut-wrenching defeat at Manchester City three weeks ago and this price, with the safety net of the stalemate, is more than big enough to justify our involvement.

Recommended bets:

3pts Man United to beat Liverpool at 9/10 (BetVictor)

1pt Newcastle (draw no bet) against Tottenham at 5/1 (Stan James)

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

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