Friday Flutter: Can Kevin Palmer beat the bookies for a third week in a row?
Our prediction that last Sunday’s Manchester derby would finish in a draw earned our charity another €160 and our Paddy Power bet for this week can be found at the bottom of our guide to the best bets available on this weekend’s big matches.
CHELSEA v LIVERPOOL
Is this really make-or-break for Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho?
There would be a certain irony in Liverpool inflicting the fatal blow to his Stamford Bridge story, with the Reds so often in the opposition corner in the big games that have shaped his two tenures as Chelsea boss.
Jurgen Klopp would have been a strong contender to replace Mourinho if he had not accepted the offer to take over as Liverpool boss earlier this month and now he goes in search of his first Premier League win in what is likely to be a surreal atmosphere at the Bridge. Mourinho dare not lose again.
- Liverpool’s Christian Benteke to score any time - 2/1
- An own goal to be scored - 8/1
- Mourinho to be the next manager to get the sack – Evens (favourite)
CRYSTAL PALACE v MANCHESTER UNITED
United boss Louis van Gaal keeps telling us that he is in the midst of a process at Old Trafford that will need time to deliver results, but this veteran Dutchman is only going to be in his post until the summer of 2017 so he needs to hasten the progress being made.
As former United hero Paul Scholes pointed out this week, United are struggling to inspire under Van Gaal and a raucous atmosphere at Selhurst Park will test their resolve to the full.
It will also be fascinating to see whether Van Gaal finally reinstalls Anthony Martial as his lead striker. Skipper Wayne Rooney needs to be either ‘rested’ or played in a more reserved attacking role.
- A penalty to be scored by either team - 4/1
- Anthony Martial to score the first goal of the match - 9/2
- Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha to score against his former club - 11/2
SWANSEA v ARSENAL
Garry Monk’s Swansea completed a league double over the Gunners last season and this is the kind of fixture that will test the Gunners title credentials.
Arsenal’s pre-Christmas injury crisis is developing nicely after Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are sidelined after picking up knocks in the shock Capital One Cup defeat against Sheffield Wednesday last Tuesday.
Swansea have failed to win in their last three Premier League games at their Liberty Stadium and will be keen to put that right.
- Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud to score a hat-trick - 12/1
- Both teams to score in this match - 8/13
- Swansea free-kick king Gylfi Sigurdsson to score - 7/2
WATFORD v WEST HAM
West Ham's owners are talking up their chances of finishing in the Premier League’s top four this season and after securing wins at Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea in the last few weeks, their claims appear to have some credibility.
Upsetting the giants of the division is a skill Slaven Bilic has mastered in his first few weeks at Hammers boss, but his side have also lost against Bournemouth and failed to beat lowly Sunderland and Norwich, so winning away at Watford would banish the notion that they are a team that only perform at their best on the biggest of stages.
- West Ham’s Dimitri Payet to score first - 8/1
- Watford fail to score - 12/5
- The Hammers to finish in the top four - 9/1
Here is our Independent.ie bet for this week, in association with Paddy Power:
- Crystal Palace v Manchester United to finish as a draw
- Manchester City to beat Norwich
- Tottenham to beat Aston Villa
Potential return: €306.94.