United already odds-on

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The Independent Online
Twelve months ago, Manchester United were out to 5-1 for the Premiership after a first-day defeat at Villa Park. This season their odds are accelerating in the opposite direction. The puzzle is whether a positive judgement on the basis of 90 minutes play is any more reliable than a negative view taken on equally scant evidence.

Certainly, Ladbrokes have few doubts, cutting the champions to 10-11 from 6-4 on the basis of a 3-0 win at Wimbledon, who may turn out to be the weakest side in the division. There should, at least, be a tenuous form line when the Dons travel to St James's Park on Wednesday night, a match in which anything but a convincing victory for the home team would probably see them overtaken by Liverpool in the Premiership betting. Hills still make Newcastle 3-1 second favourites, with Liverpool on 7-2. Ladbrokes quote both at 7-2.

Everton, who beat Newcastle on Saturday, are 16-1 from 25-1 for the Premiership. In the Nationwide League Wolves are 11-2 from 7-1, and Queen's Park Rangers 13-2 from 9-1 in the First Division. In the Second Division Watford are 5-2 from 7-2 .

In a quiet week for sports betting, the third Test between England and Pakistan offers little relief. The pitch is not expected to offer help to the bowlers, while the weather forecast is not encouraging, and a draw is the favourite at evens with Coral (8- 11 with Ladbrokes). Top odds about a result are 15-8 Pakistan (Ladbrokes) and 4-1 England (Ladbrokes and Hills).

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