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Motivation key for Chelsea

Sky Bet's Dale Tempest has joined us once again to pick out his two best bets ahead of the weekend's Premier League action.

Last Updated: 03/05/13 at 13:36 Post Comment

Chelsea are worth siding with at Old Trafford

Chelsea are worth siding with at Old Trafford

Fulham, Huddersfield and Colchester were among his clubs during a 16-year career so he knows exactly how the game at the top level is played.

These days in his role as Sky Bet's public relations director - you may have seen him on Sky Sports News or Racing UK - he's very much got his finger on the pulse of the markets as both a punter and a bookie.

In this week's column, he explores the mindset of teams and their respective motivations at this stage of the season and how this can help give you an edge in the betting markets.

Manchester United v Chelsea (Sunday 1600 BST)

Chelsea may well have booked their place in the Europa League final following Thursday night's victory over Basle but the likes of Juan Mata, David Luiz, Eden Hazard and Oscar didn't really come to Stamford Bridge to compete for that prize. They came for Champions League football.

Just three points separate the third-placed Blues with fifth-placed Spurs as the race for the top four nears its climax so Sunday's trip to Old Trafford remains a big motivation for Rafael Benitez's side despite their exploits in Europe.

Sir Alex Ferguson and United will obviously say how focused they are to win every game but deep down, when the league title is already wrapped up, it's hard to force yourselves to put in that extra effort. The percentages are so small at the highest level and that can make all the difference.

They started slowly and lethargically at Arsenal last week and never really got going against Manchester City when the title was all but won, so a similarly flat performance against a hungrier side could be on the cards.

During Sky Sports' coverage of last Sunday's draw between Arsenal and United, Graeme Souness explained how a Liverpool side he was part of under Bob Paisley clinched the title with five games to spare and despite going into each of the remaining fixtures firmly believing they were determined to win, they lost the lot.

So the bet here is to back Chelsea to win at 12/5 or if you want to take the slightly safer approach then side with the Blues in the draw no bet market at 11/8.

Sunderland v Stoke (Monday 2000 BST)

Rather than wait until Monday, it might prove a shrewd decision to back the draw in Sunderland's clash with Stoke prior to Saturday's Premier League programme.

The odds are currently 23/10 for these struggling sides to share the points while the tempting 'no goalscorer' bet is 15/2 - but both those prices could well come in slightly if third-bottom Wigan fail to boost their survival hopes with a win at West Brom.

In that eventuality a draw will be a more acceptable result for the Black Cats, who go into the clash on the back of a heavy 6-1 defeat at Aston Villa which hauled them back into danger.

Sunderland will be without suspended star player Stephane Sessegnon, who scored the winner against Everton and the first in their pivotal 3-0 victory at Newcastle, so they might struggle for goals anyway while Danny Graham has looked rather flat-footed in recent weeks.

In regards to Stoke, the Potters have been the joint-lowest scoring side away from home in the Premier League this season and it's also important to note their recent revival has been built on two narrow victories to nil, with Tony Pulis taking them back to basics.

A Wigan win on Saturday shouldn't alter the draw prices for Monday night so there really is nothing to lose by thinking ahead.


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