MM’s Weekend Wager: Manchester City to trade victories with United after Wigan secure massive win at West Ham

By Jeremy Culley

We hope you all cashed in during the week after MM rightly forecasted West Ham scoring first against Manchester United and not winning, as well as City’s clean sheet victory over Wigan.

Another packed weekend awaits, with Wigan hoping to go one better than United by winning at Upton Park, before City travel to Spurs on Sunday and the champions-elect welcome Aston Villa to Old Trafford on Monday night.

MM once again gives you the punter-friendly guide to every kick, with a crucial programme ahead for Manchester’s football league sides as well as relegation-haunted Stockport in the Blue Square Premier.  

West Ham United vs. WIGAN ATHLETIC, Upton Park, Saturday 3pm

West Ham United (13/10, William Hill); Draw (12/5, 888sport); Wigan Athletic (5/2, StanJames)

This is a tricky one. Sam Allardyce’s Hammers were impressive in holding United, while Wigan are in good form despite languishing in 18th, three points adrift of safety.

They were unlucky to lose at City on Wednesday and comfortably brushed Millwall aside to reach the FA Cup Final last weekend.

With a slight leap of faith, we are plumping for another Wigan success story in the capital this weekend.

West Ham may have expended too much emotional and physical energy against United and, while not mathematically safe, have far less to play for than Roberto Martinez’s team.

There is a great 5/2 price on the outright Wigan win, particularly given their record in East London – they have won on four of their last eight visits.

Latics will hope former star Mohamed Diame does not compound their relegation fears with another goal, after he netted against United. Bet365 rate it a 15/2 shot.

The turnaround market seems ideal for a match as tough to predict as this one. West Ham half-time/ Wigan full-time is 40/1 with BetVictor, with the same bookmaker offering 30/1 on the reverse of that.

Goals are often on the agenda in East London, with West Ham having scored seven in their last three home games.

StanJames will give you 20/1 on 3-1 West Ham and a tasty 33/1 on 3-2 to the home side.

But don’t be tempted. Wigan will get something.

Tip: Wigan draw no bet (6/4, William Hill)

Tottenham Hotspur vs. MANCHESTER CITY, White Hart Lane, Sunday 1.30pm

Tottenham Hotspur (9/4, Boylesports); Draw (13/5, Bet365); Manchester City (29/20, BetVictor)

Like Wigan, City return to the capital fresh from FA Cup success at Wembley, and will make it two wins in two in London by beating a Spurs team seemingly in decline.

Much will depend on Gareth Bale’s fitness for the North Londoners, who are now out of the Europa League and off-the-pace in race for a Champions League spot.

Bale has missed Spurs’ last two games, but Andre Villas-Boas hinted yesterday he will be available for selection on Sunday.

Youwin have the Welshman 23/4 to open the scoring but City have enough quality players to not be unduly troubled by Bale, whose absence sparked Spurs’ downturn in form.

For all the City fans out there with a big sum of money they fancy building up, BetVictor’s 29/20 on the champions winning is a colossal price given Tottenham’s recent stutter.

Tottenham’s last three matches have ended 2-2 – a fourth in succession is 15/1 with BetVictor.

But the smart money would be on a tighter encounter than that, with Villas-Boas targeting a defensive improvement.

Add into the mix a determination from Roberto Mancini’s men to delay United’s title celebrations as long as possible, and a narrow City win looks the most likely.

City wins by 1-0 and 2-1 margins command 17/2 and 19/2 respectively from BetVictor, with a City clean sheet priced agreeably at 7/3 with Betfair.

Tip: Draw half-time/City full-time (11/2, BetVictor)

MANCHESTER UNITED vs. Aston Villa, Old Trafford, Monday 8pm

Manchester United (2/7, William Hill); Draw (23/4, Bet365); Aston Villa (123/10, Betfair)

Depending on how City fare in North London the day before, this clash with Villa could ultimately be a coronation for Sir Alex Ferguson’s astonishingly consistent United side.

Destined for title glory regardless, United will brush Villa aside despite the troubled Birmingham club desperately needing the points to stave off relegation fears.

In salvaging a point in a hostile environment at West Ham on Wednesday, United displayed all the hallmarks that have won them this year’s title: tenacity, courage and quality.

Thrilling away wins have been crucial to United’s success this year – with the reverse fixture at Villa a prime example –  Javier Hernandez netting a hat-trick as United came from 2-0 down to win.

The Mexican is 22/1 with Coral to repeat the feat and could well start, with reported Paris Saint Germain target Wayne Rooney having been deployed in a midfield role recently.

Bet365 will offer 9/2 on the ex-Evertonian reinforcing his commitment to United by opening the scoring against Villa.

United are so short on the outright market that the home team winning both halves, or winning at full-time after drawing at half-time represent the best value for a sizeable bet. 

William Hill are offering 15/4 on the latter – not inconceivable as, with Villa scrapping for their lives, a tight, goalless opening period could follow.

Villa’s fragile defence – they shipped eight at Chelsea in December – should be better exploited than that, however, and Bet Victor – nearly always best value for scorelines these days – will give you 75/1 on 6-0 and 225/1 on 7-0.

Tip: United to win both halves (17/10, BetVictor).

Lower league accumulator: (Bolton, Oldham and Hyde to win, Stockport, Bury and Rochdale to lose (61/1, BetVictor)

Stockport must win to avoid slipping into the Blue Square North but will find promotion-chasing Kidderminster too strong.

Bury and Rochdale both face tricky away games, but Bolton should return to winning ways in their pursuit of a Championship play-off place against Middlesbrough.

Hyde should sign off for the year by beating Lincoln at home while 7/5 on Oldham to beat a Crawley team with nothing to play for is a huge price.

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Picture courtesy of nicksarebi, via WikiCommons, with thanks.

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