Who will top Premier League on Sunday night: Arsenal or Chelsea?
Coral have a special market on which of the Premier League’s top two will hold first place ahead of the international break. Current leaders Chelsea are odds-on favourites at 1/6 and closest challengers Arsenal are 7/2 shots to overhaul them.
Jose Mourinho’s Blues travel to Fulham for a west London derby and the Gunners are at Stoke City – a side Arsene Wenger often had critical words for when Tony Pulis was in charge.
Fulham have beaten 11/8 second-favourites for the title Chelsea once in Premier League history back in 2006. The Blues have won half of the 16 meetings in all competitions since.
It’s fair to say Fulham have taken their fair share of points off their more illustrious neighbours then, but are now propping up the table.
Basement club Fulham are on their third manager of the season in Felix Magath, who makes his home debut in the Craven Cottage dugout here. A strict disciplinarian, the German has already made a firm decision that £11m January signing Kostas Mitroglou is not yet up to the intensity of the Premier League.
This judgment is based on a sub appearance in the draw with fellow strugglers West Brom last time out and what Magath has seen of Greece striker Mitroglou in training. His absence from their squad only strengthens Chelsea’s position, however, as odds-on favourites for victory at 4/9.
Recent Blues goals against Fulham have largely come from surprise sources. Four of their last five in this fixture have seen John Terry, David Luiz and John Obi Mikel on target.
Cultured defender Luiz is injured, but club captain Terry popped up against Everton to score a late winner in their last Premier League outing. He is 5/1 to net anytime again.
Fatigue could be a factor as Chelsea play this game less than 72 hours after a Champions League trip to Galatasaray. Expect Mourinho to rotate players and address this. The Blues have kept six clean sheets in their last eight against Fulham, so take odds of 7/5 on a win to nil.
Chelsea are far more likely to stay top than be overtaken as a win for them keeps them top no matter what happens at the Britannia.
Arsenal (15/2 for the title), meanwhile, have only won once at Stoke in the Premier League, but they now face a Potters team out of form under Mark Hughes. Their home victory over Manchester United in February is City’s only win in their last 10 league outings.
Only the Gunners’ north London rivals Tottenham have taken more points on their travels this term, however, and those facts together explain the odds-on price for an Arsenal victory at 8/13.
Mesut Ozil, who has created the most chances of any player in the top five European leagues this season with 73, will return following his Champions League penalty miss against Bayern Munich. That creative presence is more than Stoke can handle as they have the worst discipline of any Premier League team.
Punters can expect fouls (360 so far) and cards (58 yellow, three red) aplenty from the Potters. Six of the last 11 meetings, including an FA Cup win for Stoke in January 2010, have contained four goals or more, so odds of 11/4 on the match total being over 3.5 are great value.
As Hughes’ lads have netted in each of their last six home league matches, but have failed to keep a clean sheet in any, back an Arsenal win and both teams to score at 3/1.