Last updated at 15:12, Sunday 9th December 2012

Canaries can deny on-song Swans


Mike Holden
Premier League - Saturday preview

Swansea City took the plaudits when winning at Arsenal last weekend, but Mike Holden believes that underrated Norwich can stop the Welsh club in their tracks on Saturday afternoon...

2pts Norwich (+0.5) to beat Swansea on the Asian handicap at 26/25The Swansea secret is out but Canaries remain an unheralded force and can avoid defeat.1pt Reading to beat Southampton (draw no bet) at 2/1 Royals can use familiarity to their advantage and go level on points with fellow newcomers.

Swansea did the business in some style for Best of the Bets followers last weekend, shooting down Arsenal at the Emirates with a late double-salvo from Spanish star Michu, but now we have a duty to be just as ruthless by turning the gun on the Welsh outfit when they entertain Norwich on Saturday.

It was a sensational result for Michael Laudrup's men against the Gunners and sensational results get sensational reactions, but it wasn't like they hadn't given fair warning of their threat in the weeks leading up to it.

Now that the recognition has finally arrived, it could turn a few heads - note the sudden deluge of transfer speculation about Michu - and this is when the Swans could be at their most vulnerable, against opposition who now pick up the mantle of the Premier League's most under-rated.

Back Norwich (+0.5) to beat Swansea on the Asian handicap at 26/25

It's something of a surprise to see Norwich being taken so lightly given that they dispatched Manchester United in such a professional manner only three weeks ago and they've proved it was no flash in the pan by staying unbeaten in three subsequent matches, including testing trips to Goodison and St Mary's.

As good as Swansea have been in recent weeks, they don't possess anything like the goal threat of Everton or United, so it's hardly stretching the imagination to suggest they can avoid defeat with another show of tactical discipline at the Liberty Stadium.

It's also worth pointing out that both sides have winnable home ties in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday, so this is not the time to be throwing in a stinker from a confidence perspective. Both teams have unbeaten runs to protect and the lure of Wembley only serves to increase the draw potential in our view.

Therefore, we'll set our stall out with a bet on Norwich (+0.5) on the Asian handicap at odds-against. Taking everything into account, it's a bet with incredible mileage in a fixture between two clubs who have charted an almost identical rise over the past few years.

Back Norwich (+0.5) to beat Swansea on the Asian handicap at 26/25

And speaking of clubs who have charted similar paths, we can't resist getting involved in the game at St Mary's where Southampton could struggle to impose themselves against a Reading side that pipped them in the race to the Championship title last term.

The two teams are scraping around for points in the top flight as things stand but we reckon the best is still to come from both and while the Saints are starting to make some headway on the back of successive wins over QPR and Newcastle, we fancy the Royals can use familiarity to give themselves a leg-up and keep pace with Nigel Adkins' men.

The Berkshire club have only managed one win so far, and they had to wait three months for that, but they've looked more assured in recent weeks and should be inspired by the memory of their televised 3-1 win on the south coast four games from the end of last season when automatic promotion was in the balance for both sides.

That offers ample evidence of how Brian McDermott's men can perform when the stakes are high and a small wager on Reading (draw no bet) at 2/1 looks like a solid play and covers our overall position just nicely.

Back Reading to beat Southampton (draw no bet) at 2/1

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