Something for the Weekend: Pupil and master go to war
Jose Mourinho goes head-to-head with old pupil Frank Lampard in what is arguably the game of the weekend. Jamie Pacheco previews that and the other eye-catching matches in gameweek 18..
Friends or foes at the Bridge?
Talk about familiarity breeding contempt. Not only is Jose Mourinho facing Chelsea after two separate spells at the club but the man in charge of the Blues these days was one of his little darlings.
Frank Lampard played for several years under Jose Mourinho in his first spell and rarely missed a game. Mourinho seems a changed man these days but he wasn't best impressed when Lampard, during a break from the MLS season in the twilight of his career, rocked up at Manchester City on loan and scored against Mourinho's Chelsea, during the Portuguese boss' second spell at the club.
Only the two of them will know whether their relationship is sweet or sour these days but it just adds to the intrigue.
Spurs are favourites at2.46 with Chelsea 3.00 for the win. It would be some effort from Lampard to engineer a win against his former master.
Where are Liverpool this weekend?
The answer of course is that they're not on English soil and therefore not playing. They're away at the FIFA World Club Cup and they know that there won't be too much damage to their lead when they come back because their two main rivals are up against each other. That of course means that one - or both - will inevitably drop points so whatever happens, their price of 1.15 to win the Premier League shouldn't budge much at all by the time they return.
That City v Leicester game is, however, a huge game for the top two Finish market. Leicester are6.40 with City 1.21 and if the Foxes can avoid defeat, they should shorten considerably.
The other team not involved as a result of Liverpool being out of action? West Ham.
Where are all the hot favourites?
The weekend is going to be nothing if not competitive in the Premier League. So say the odds on the remaining nine matches where only Manchester City are odds-on. They're 1.40to beat Leicester with the next shortest price being the 2.26 that Brighton follow up Monday night's draw at Palace (where they probably should have won) with a win over Sheffield United.
It certainly promises to throw up some tight affairs so might not be the weekend to load up on a big five-way acca made up of favourites. Further proof that things are going to be tense and even is that the biggest price on offer after Leicester's 8.60 and the draw at 5.50 in that same game is Watford at 4.50, at home to Manchester United.
If it's accas you like, the play might be a two-way acca made up of a couple of draws. The 3.80on a stalemate in Aston Villa v Southampton might be a good place to start.
Seagulls and Blades make history
Here's some decent pub trivia ammo: which is the only fixture of the weekend that has never been contested in the top flight of English football before?
The answer is Brighton v Sheffield United. Both have spent plenty of time outside the division over the years and as we'be just seen, never have they been in it at the same time.
The Blades look a little under-rated here. They've already taken 12 points away from home this campaign and have lost just one of their last nine in the league. Surely a lay of the hosts at the 2.26 mentioned above is the smart play.
Hodgson not worried this weekend
In tennis you sometimes have match-ups that result in two players of similar ability having one-sided contests time and time again. Apparently, some players' styles just aren't suited to playing against a particular opponent and it just plays into their opponent's hands. So say the tennis experts.
And when it comes to English football management, one would think Roy Hodgson has Steve Bruce's number. He has been up against the former Manchester United defender ten times and never lost to him, his best record of any against a fellow Premier League gaffer.
If those stats hold up one more time then Newcastle could be a decent lay as well. It's 2.50 on the win for the Magpies with Palace and the draw the same price at3.25.