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MORNING ROUND-UP: Manchester United tighten grip on Premier League crown

by Aidan Elder | February 24, 2013

MAIN HEADLINES

  • CITY TRY TO PUT A DENT IN THE LEAD v CHELSEA
  • HOLLYWOOD’S FINEST GATHER FOR AN EVENING OF FAKE SMILES AT THE OSCARS
  • ENGLAND MARCH TOWARDS A SIX NATIONS GRAND SLAM

Football

We know we’ve been able to stick a fork in the Premier League title race for the last few weeks, but even City’s vague and overly optimistic hopes of overhauling the deficit could be shattered if they fail to beat Chelsea at the Etihad this afternoon. Thanks to Manchester United’s routine victory over a QPR team who look to have all the fight of a new born kitten, the defending champions find themselves 15 points behind their local rivals and although the Pensioners have been as patchy as David de Gea’s beard, they can still cause problems, not just to the local ball boys. One cloud on Fergie’s horizon was the potential injury to Robin van Persie after he came off second best in a clash with a camera.

We’ve already paid out on United to win the league and their latest odds of claiming league title number 20 are a Ronnie Corbett-short, 1/50. Even a resounding victory for the Citizens is unlikely to see that price drift to any significant degree. City are Evens for victory today with Rafa Benitez’s team 11/4 to pull off a shock.

In other virtual certainties, QPR are 1/8 to get relegated and it looks like even Arry Redknapp’s inspirational qualities will not be enough to save them.

Elsewhere, Newcastle host Southampton with the loser likely to be sucked back into the relegation scrap.

It’s also Capital One Cup Final day as Bradford hope to continue their run of giant-killing by beating Swansea. Yes, when did you ever think Swansea would count as ‘giants’? Andy Gray reckons the Premier League team’s quality should see them to victory and whilst he’s view on sexual equality are at times questionable, he’s probably right about this.

Rugby Union

England are 60 per cent of the way to a Grand Slam after claiming victory against slightly less crap than they have been France at Twickenham on Saturday evening. Les Bleus managed to pose a substantial threat in the first half, but in the second half, England took control via the relentless discipline and work ethic Stuart Lancaster has brought to the team. The Sweet Chariot are 4/7 to claim their first Grand Slam since their World Cup winning year of 2003. The Championship looks like an even bigger certainty at odds of 1/16 for an English victory.

Wales managed to cling on to their coat-tails by over-coming Italy in Rome and today Ireland get the opportunity to do the same. They’re in Murrayfield to take on Scotland and without several first choice options to due a combination of injury and whacking opponents in the head, Ireland aren’t the convincing favourites you might normally expect. Declan Kidney’s mean are Evens to win -2 points on the handicap, but they’ll undoubtedly be interest in backing the resurgent Scots to win the match at 11/8.

We’ve got a great Money-Back Special on the Scotland v Ireland match. If Brian O Driscoll scores a try, we will refund all losing try scorer bets on the match.

Oscars

It’s time for the night of glamour, back-slapping and smiling through gritted teeth more commonly known as the Academy Awards. At 1/50 Daniel Day Lewis is expected to pick up his third Best Actor award for his turn as Abraham Lincoln, whilst Jennifer Lawrence is the ‘far less of a certainty’ favourite for the Best Actress gong at an uneasy 4/7.

Argo is favourite to win the Best Picture Oscar and it’s justified because although Danial Day Lewis, sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones et al are fantastic in Spielberg’s epic, it’s a wee bit boring. Spielberg is 2/7 to gain some level of compensation by winning the Best Director award, but that’s almost by default after the surprise exclusion of Ben Affleck from the nominations.

We’ve got all you need for Oscars night that doesn’t involve an ill-advised dressed and a patchy fake tan. We’ve trawled through 30 years of stats to look at the trends behind the winners at Hollywood’s biggest event and Hollywood insider, Patricia Danaher gives us the inside track on the politics and bitchiness that could see some shock results.

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