Manchester United return to the home comforts of Old Trafford this weekend to take on rock-bottom and managerless QPR having suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Norwich City a week ago.
United were well below par at Carrow Road, especially in terms of creating chances, as they succumbed to a superb Anthony Pilkington header.
The defeat was the Red Devils’ third of the season and saw them concede top spot in the Premier League to their great rivals from the blue side of Manchester.
Having lost in the league on Saturday, the week got worse for Sir Alex Ferguson as he had to watch an inexperienced and much-changed side lose 1-0 away to Galatasaray in the Champions League.
The reverse in Istanbul was less significant given that United had already secured top spot in the group before the game, but two defeats in the matter of a few days certainly is significant for them, so they must be delighted that they take on the only winless side in English league football on Saturday afternoon.
After a testing week for the Red Devils, it would seem, on paper at least, that a return to winning ways is on the cards against a QPR team led by Eddie Niedzwiecki and Mark Bowen after owner Tony Fernandes finally ran out of patience with Mark Hughes, making him the second top-flight managerial sacking of the week.
While the home side are clear favourites at 9/50, you would struggle to find a side with much longer odds against them this weekend than Rangers, who are 15/1 with bwin, while even the most positive QPR fan could be put off betting on a draw at 21/4.
The simple fact is that with no wins to their name, only four points earned from 12 games and possibly the worst of a succession of poor performances coming last weekend in defeat to Southampton, Rangers already looked doomed to relegation.
So desperate is the situation that even at this relatively early stage of the season, the Hoops are as short as 13/20 to drop into the Championship.
The task for second-placed United should be a fairly comfortable one on Saturday, then, as they have only lost once at home and Rangers have managed to collect just one point on their travels.
But with United such obvious favourites, looking beyond the 3way market is necessary to find value. So it is to the goals markets that we go in search of money-making odds and for starters, 19/20 on there being over 3.5 goals in the game looks reasonable considering over half of United’s games so far this term going this way.
United have made a habit of starting slowly in games and then coming out all guns blazing after the break so I certainly think that 21/20 on more goals to be scored in the second half is worth pursuing, as is the 13/5 on the home side to score more in the second period than before the interval.
These are all strong odds on paper, but QPR, despite their dreadful position, have actually scored in 66% of their games, so my top bet for the game is on Manchester United to win either 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 at an excellent 29/10.
Anyone joining bwin.com today can claim a free £20 bet and placing it on United to triumph by any of those three scorelines would return a cool £78 if successful.
After all, it would be no surprise to see United concede in light of their defensive struggles so far this term, while QPR can reasonably be expected to play with more freedom following Hughes’ departure.
The visitors should be good for a goal as they await the likely appointment of Harry Redknapp but United’s class will prevail and the 29/10 on a 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 home triumph appears to offer excellent value.