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Same old Mourinho for Blues

Dale Tempest wonders whether Arsenal will cope with a busy schedule as well as title rivals Chelsea and Manchester City.

Last Updated: 21/02/14 at 11:59 Post Comment

Jose Mourinho: Specialist in edging to victory

Jose Mourinho: Specialist in edging to victory

Former professional footballer Dale Tempest has turned bookie - he's now Sky Bet's public relations director.

A 16-year career saw him play for the likes of Fulham, Huddersfield and Colchester so he knows exactly how the game is played and these days he's very much got his finger on the pulse of the markets as both a punter and a bookie.

His regular Friday column explores the mindset of players and bookies and highlights the best bets for the weekend's action. Here's his take on this weekend's Premier League action with European football having an impact on several teams at the moment.

Bookmakers permanently react to European football and how it can relate to club form. You have to take those games into account, too, when reviewing your Premier League weekend as squads adapt differently to the challenges that competing on all fronts brings.

Chelsea know all about balancing commitments and are 8/15 to see off Everton this weekend. The visitors have just three wins in eight as their squad struggles to keep up an effort which once looked like it might yield a top-four finish but now looks destined to come up short.

Jose Mourinho will have one eye on next week's Champions League clash with Galatasaray, but his side this ability to keep nicking results when they need to and should be good enough to win.

Eight of their last nine victories over Everton have been by one goal and that's typical of Mourinho's sides so, given the distractions which lie ahead, a one-goal home win looks the best way to play this game.

In contrast to Chelsea, Arsenal have struggled to keep up their challenge at this stage in recent years and understandably looked shattered - mentally as well as physically - at the end of the Bayern game on Wednesday.

They look a tad uninspired at the moment and while its 21 years and counting since Sunderland won at Arsenal, I couldn't back the hosts here. Gus Poyet's side haven't lost away from home in six games and with the Gunners at least defending well at home now, under 2.5 goals at odds-against looks generous.

Neither Cardiff nor Hull can really afford to lose when they go head-to-head this weekend. At last we can finally use the phrase 'relegation six-pointer', although it feels like we've been ready to do so since November given how many teams are involved in this year's battle for survival.

Hull have lost 11 of their 13 away games, but I just feel at the prices I'd rather be with them at 9/5, especially given that they have Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic up-front and therefore always pose a threat.

Manchester City to beat Stoke is the weekend's banker for most people. City have beaten Stoke 3-0 in four of their last five meetings at the Etihad, but the 5/6 about a home win to nil would be my idea of the best bet.

West Brom are 8/11 to beat Fulham and give Pepe Mel his first win since replacing Steve Clarke. I wouldn't want to be taking that price about a team with one win in 16 in the league, regardless of the opposition. Fulham are hard to assess with Felix Magath at the helm but I'll be backing the draw.

Nobody in football can work out why Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino rested players in the FA Cup last week, a reminder perhaps that foreign coaches don't always understand the importance of cup competitions.

Other than that, Southampton's recent away form has been good and you get the feeling that opponents West Ham start every game with the ambition of not losing. This isn't an easy game to weight-up and I'll possibly leave it alone.

Another team who start from that 'must-not-lose' foundation are Crystal Palace, and when you look at the fact they've taken just a point all season when they've gone behind you can understand why.

Under 2.5 goals at 5/6 looks the bet when they host Manchester United, who still don't look fluent in attack and may also start the game slowly.

Moving to Sunday, Loic Remy's return for Newcastle is key to their chances of beating Aston Villa as they've not scored in seven of their last eight. But at 11/10 I'm happy to leave them alone, especially as Villa travel well.

Tottenham will be one of the best-backed teams of the weekend at Norwich, and with the best away record in the Premier League it's easy to see why. However, Chris Hughton has his team playing for him and they could just take a draw - one which would be a massive bonus as we head into the run-in.

Liverpool have 38 goals at home this season and continue to impress, particularly in the first half. With that in mind, backing them in the half-time/full-time market looks a straightforward decision against Swansea and rates one of the bets of the weekend.


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