Back goals at the Bridge
The Premier League title race could take its first significant twist on Sunday when Chelsea and Manchester United strut their stuff at Stamford Bridge and though we're inclined to err on the side of the hosts at 6/4, that price pales in comparison to the 19/10 available on over 3.5 goals.
In general terms, United appear to be a team very gradually on the wane for as long as a host of thirty-somethings remain pivotal to their cause but their incredible goalscoring prowess more than makes up incremental weaknesses happening in other areas of the pitch.
The Red Devils scored an incredible 89 goals last season - their best haul for more than a decade - but they lost the title on goal difference and Sir Alex Ferguson responded by breaking the bank for Robin van Persie, strengthening the only area of the pitch that barely needed improvement.
So let's not be under any illusions about which way things are heading in this particular cycle of the Ferguson era and United will surely have to come out on the front foot if they wish to take anything from this game, they just don't have the personnel to grind out 1-0s with pragmatism and patience anymore.
Ferguson bemoaned United's habit for making slow starts after they went two goals down against Braga in midweek, but his opposite number Roberto Di Matteo should be wary of that particular red herring. United were ahead at half-time in 12 of their 19 away games last term and resumed that successful high-tempo early approach at Newcastle a fortnight ago.
Chelsea, for their part, demonstrated their ability to carve out gilt-edged chances in limited space when coming from behind to beat Tottenham at White Hart Lane last weekend and it would be a real boon for this bet if Di Matteo persists with the three playmakers behind Fernando Torres, rather than using Ramires (or Ryan Bertrand) in one of those advanced midfield positions in his favoured 4-2-3-1.
However, an injury to Frank Lampard in the midweek defeat against Shakhtar Donetsk appears to be a green light on that front, as does the suspension of chief organiser John Terry in light of United's excellent set piece record this term. So don't concern yourself too much with the outcome, sit back and be entertained as the two sides to go at it hammer and tongs.
Meanwhile, Newcastle were in Europa League action on Thursday and though Alan Pardew made nine changes to the 11 that started in the 1-0 win over Sunderland last weekend, we still believe they could come unstuck against West Brom. Take some of the 2/1 about the Baggies on the draw no bet market.
The Black Country outfit are comfortable travellers from the Roy Hodgson days and canny tactician Steve Clarke has merely added extra layers to the England manager's blueprint rather than ripping it up and starting again. Albion are currently sixth in the table and deserve to be there.
They will also be mindful of an impressive record at St James's Park in recent years. The Baggies were in esteemed company with Chelsea and Manchester City as the only teams to win on Tyneside last term, a 3-2 success stretching their unbeaten sequence at this venue to three matches going back to when the two sides were promoted together in 2009/10.
Albion, of course, suffered defeat in dramatic circumstances at home to ten-man Manchester City last weekend but they came close to an all-important second goal on numerous occasions in those helter-skelter closing stages of that game. It's hard to imagine this bet being available at this price had they taken the champions' scalp.
If you're still looking for a deal-breaker, consider the absence of suspended midfield enforcer Cheick Tiote. The Geordies mustered only one win when the Ivorian was out for six matches early this season.
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