In the last four Aviva Premiership meetings between Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints, on three occasions the Saints have slotted the first points of the match so a punt on Northampton to do this in the final at 11/10 on bet365 is worth a go. And if you want tries, then the best bet is on Leicester to cross the whitewash before the Saints, a feat they have managed in all of their previous four meetings.
The basic facts and figures suggest the Tigers will be lifting the trophy come 5pm on Saturday, but having suffered back-to-back Premiership final losses and the Saints recent run of good form, give Northampton a go at 21/10.
While North London hosts football’s Champions League showpiece on Saturday, there is also a champion card of boxing taking place across the capital at the O2 Arena as Carl Froch attempts to unify the super-middleweight division against WBA titlist Mikkel Kessler.
IBF champion Froch suffered a unanimous decision defeat against the 'Viking Warrior' three years ago, and now the 'Cobra' is hellbent on inflicting revenge. Will Kessler be able to last the full 12 rounds once more? A group bet of Froch to win in rounds 7-9 looks a good choice at 17/2 with bet365.
South East London will also be treated to two other glowing British talents on the undercard, as George Groves fights Noe Gonzalez Alcoba for the vacant WBA Inter-Continental super-middleweight belt and Tony Bellew faces Isaac Chilemba for the WBC silver light-heavyweight title.
With Groves as short as 1/33 to win the bout, value has to be found elsewhere. Bellew was lacklustre in March's split decision draw with Chilemba at the Liverpool Echo Arena and will no doubt be eager to get the job done at the second time of asking.
Fancy all three Brits to prosper in front of their home crowd? The treble of Froch, Groves and Bellew all to win their respective fights comes in at a fraction over evens with the company and looks an interesting option.
Daniel Vettori could return to the Test side for the first time in 10 months after Bruce Martin was ruled out of the rest of New Zealand's tour, but it would be a gamble playing a man whose last first-class match was back in July. But if he does play then class will out, and he has to represent good value at 4/1 to be the most successful New Zealand bowler in the first innings.
And given England's fragile batting at Lord's, a fact disguised by New Zealand's capitulation on the fourth day, the tourists at 5/2 to take a first-innings lead might be worth a thought.
Joe Root was the England batsman who really impressed and on his home ground he is 5/1 to top score in England's first innings. Fellow Yorkshireman Jonny Bairstow in 17/2.
Posted by Martin Williamson 2 days, 21 hours ago
Following Tony Pulis' departure from Stoke City on Tuesday, bookies are offering odds on British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland to take up the job at the Potters.
If you fancy an outside bet on Gatland, then you can get odds of 5000/1 on the Kiwi to step into Pulis' shoes. And if you feel he is unlikely to take up the role, then you can also have a flutter on Sir Clive Woodward and Martin Johnson who are both available at 500/1.
Posted by Chris Medland 2 days, 21 hours ago
The Monaco Grand Prix has a tendency to throw up a few surprises - think Olivier Panis winning from 14th on the grid in a Ligier in 1996 as only four drivers finished - and we could see a new 2013 winner this weekend.
So far, only the top three of Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso have won races this year, but that could be set to change with Mercedes' one lap pace central to its race hopes. A Merc has been on pole at each of the last three races but failed to convert any of those in to victory as it struggles to look after its tyres. That's reflected in the odds of Lewis Hamilton - 11/2 - and Nico Rosberg - 13/2 - to win the race, but with tyre degradation expected to be low and overtaking nigh-on impossible, if a Mercedes starts on pole for the fourth race in a row it is likely to stay there.
It has been a mad few weeks in the Premier League; the FA Cup winners Wigan have been relegated, Britain’s most successful manager Sir Alex Ferguson has issued his retirement and last season’s champions Manchester City have already sacked Roberto Mancini.
Plenty of talking points are to be had in and around England’s 20 elite clubs as the managerial roundabout begins to turn once more and, while the new season does not begin until August, the betting markets are already open on who will taste success next year.
Champions Manchester United are 15/8 favourites with bet365 to retain their title under Ferguson’s newly appointed successor David Moyes. But while the former Everton boss gained a solid pedigree from his time at Goodison Park, inheriting a young United side is a whole different kettle of fish and winning the title in his first full season at Old Trafford could prove a step too far.
Chelsea, on the other hand, will go into the 2013/14 campaign full of confidence after enjoying European success for the second consecutive season. Rafael Benitez has done a fine job in securing Champions League football and a trophy as interim manager, but the Blues are now set to name a familiar face in charge.
Jose Mourinho won two Premier League titles with the Stamford Bridge club and, if named as manager for a second time, the odds of Chelsea lifting the trophy look an enticing 5/2 with the company. With Manchester City and neighbours United embarking on new eras, Chelsea could well sneak under the radar and take the trophy back to London.
It seems highly unlikely that Sunday will pass without any drama as Arsenal and Tottenham enter a Battle Royale for the final Champions League spot at St James' Park and White Hart Lane respectively. With no other issue to settle in the league, a straight-forward Arsenal win in which they lead from the fifth minute onwards just does not adhere to the dramatic script that Premier League final days tend to follow.
For a start, Tottenham are the type of team who tend to make life difficult for themselves. They need to win at home to Sunderland and hope that Arsenal drop points at Newcastle, so back Spurs to fall behind before emerging victorious at 11/2 with Bet365.
Arsenal too, have scraped many a match in this excellent end-of-season run of theirs, claiming three of their last five victories by a one-goal margin. A victory of any kind will see them celebrate at the expense of their neighbouring rivals this weekend, so an agonising wait, eventually culminating in a 1-0 triumph over Newcastle, seems likely as the Gunners go back to the old days at 17/2.
It’s the first Test of the summer, as New Zealand head to Lord’s, and England will be eager to show they are focused on this task and not the Ashes.
Having struggled to swing the ball in New Zealand last winter, England are back in familiar surrounds and with a familiar Dukes ball in hand.
England really do have a superb bowling attack, with James Anderson, Stuart Broad and either Steve Finn or Tim Bresnan backed up for the spin threat of Graeme Swann.
Expect England to prove too strong for New Zealand in the series, but you won’t get rich with the 4/11 on offer at bet365.
The individual markets offer more tempting options and we’re convinced the returning Swann can set himself up for a golden summer by topping the wicket charts in the series – 4/1.
For New Zealand, it could be a summer of toil but in Ross Taylor they have a classy batsman and he is a tempting 5/1 to prove their top series run scorer.
"Chelsea cruise to win in Europe" – there’s a headline that’s not seen the light of day for a while. Ever since Roberto Di Matteo’s salvage job kept Chelsea in the competition against Napoli in early 2012 and guided them to that dramatic Champions League final victory, the Blues have made a habit of keeping their fans on the edge of their seats in the continental competitions.
This season’s run to the Europa League final has been no different. Sparta Prague were one away goal from knocking Chelsea out in the round of 32, and Steaua Bucharest led the round-of-16 tie entering the second half of the second leg. Even Rubin Kazan, soundly beaten in Russia, gave Rafael Benitez a nervy final 15 minutes in the quarter-finals when they too needed just one more goal to knock out the European champions. Basel were only put out of sight in the second half back at Stamford Bridge – and then only courtesy of a last-minute strike from David Luiz in Switzerland a week earlier.
So don’t bank on a cakewalk against free-scoring Benfica, who have scored 14 goals in their eight matches en route to the final. With the Blues denied a fully-fit John Terry, they are likely to ship goals against the Portuguese side – but in true Chelsea form they will find a way, at least through 90 minutes.
Six of the last 13 Europa League finals have gone beyond 90 minutes; with little to pick between two well-matched teams, the Amsterdam ArenA could play host to the seventh final to head into extra-time. A 2-2 draw after 90 minutes is available at 14/1 with Bet365, with 6/1 available on either side settling the result in the extra half-hour. Which way? Well, that’d be telling…
No team has ever won the FA Cup and been relegated in the same season, but it’s asking a lot of Wigan to ride the adrenaline of their shock win against Man City at Wembley all the way to The Emirates. Wigan may be fighting for survival – it’s win or virtually bust for the Latics – but Arsenal are also in a dogfight for Champions League qualification next season. A win will see them rise above Spurs into fourth with one game remaining.
With both sides chasing victory and neither team with the meanest defensive record – Arsenal have shipped 22 goals at home this season, while Wigan’s 67 goals conceded is the joint-worst record in the league – goals are all but a certainty, and back Theo Walcott to be among them. The England striker has 13 goals and 13 assists for the Gunners this season, including two in his last two outings. With Olivier Giroud still suspended, a cheeky punt on Walcott scoring first in a 3-1 Arsenal win is available at 30/1 with bet365.
There may be little more than pride resting on Man City’s trip to Reading, but how the former Premier League champions react to the double blow of losing the FA Cup final and their manager in three days will be intriguing. Reading were irresistible against Fulham last time out – shame it came a week after their relegation – but City’s stars have a point to prove and could romp to victory at the Madejski. A City win after going in level at half-time brings in a respectable 10/3 with bet365.