By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
With the trophy secured and the champagne gleefully wasted, we’ve reached an odd part of the season. for many teams, safety has been guaranteed and aside from logging on to Ryanair.com, Europe is beyond reach for others. The reasons for a lot of teams to give a toss are getting fewer and fewer by the week. It’s the time of the season when strange things happen. Not possibly as strange as what we saw last Sunday, but strange nonetheless. That’s kind of reflected in the most popular bets of this weekend’s action. Here’s the five best backed teams that Paddy Power will be secretly hoping bite the dust.
For about 75 minutes of the game with City last weekend, Tottenham gave the ball to Gareth Bale in the vain hope he’d do something magical. For about the last 15 minutes he actually did something. His pass for Dempsey’s goal was sublime and his finish for the ‘icing on the cake’ third goal delightful. There were some other Tottenham players playing, but none of the other pundits seem to talk about them much, so why should we? After looking ordinary in Bale’s injury absence, Spurs look supreme when he’s playing and that explains why their being backed to successfully negotiate a tricky game away to the Latiki-taka stylings of relegation scrapping Wigan.
Yes they look like their mega rich stars already have their minds on which perfectly manicured tropical beach to plonk their arses for most of the summer, but punters are sticky with City to deliver a win. The Citizens did alright for large parts of the game at White Hart Lane, but it’s mainly the last 15 minutes of phoning it in that stands out in the mind. Still though, they’re at home to a West Ham team with nothing to play for other than boosting Sam Allardyce’s ego – surely that’s the type of open goal that not even Gareth Barry could miss.
The Toffees are trendier than taking pot-shots at poor innocent Justin Bieber for no other reason than his … em … behaving like a massive tit. Ignore the fact that Everton have actually only won one of their last four games and that was at home to QPR. And yes, they did lose to Sunderland, but those draws away to Spurs and Arsenal were pretty impressive. Weren’t they? I’m less than convinced, but at home to an out of form Fulham team loving a bit of mid-table obscurity, plenty of punters are banking on a tasty return from the Toffees.
Proving that logic does always need to be solid or unanimous to be right, plenty of people are siding with the Hammers to upset City. It’s for similar reasons to why people are backing City to beat West Ham except at a price that’s not completely insane. City rather tamely handed their title back to United and with Champions League football looking nailed on to happen, they don’t have a whole lot to play for. Of course, that’s exactly the same accusation you could throw at the Hammers, but at 9/1, it’s much more rewarding speculative punt.
Taking time out from uploading some rather lame photos of their title celebrations to Instagram, United travel to the Emirates. They may have league title number 20 in the bag, but the master of motivation that is Lord Fergie has been talking about maintaining a high level of performance to break the Premier League points record giving him bragging rights when the Special One returns to Chelsea next season and the two of them enjoy a vaguely romantic post-match glass of wine together. The problem is the Gunners are finishing the season strongly, which isn’t something we’ve said very often. Still though, over 2/1 on United against a less than convincing Arsenal – that doesn’t sound too shabby.