League leaders Manchester United have been provided with the perfect opportunity to forget their derby defeat this weekend as they travel to a Stoke City side that are in freefall, while Liverpool head to bottom club Reading and West Ham will be looking for victory at Southampton.
Regular readers of ‘Playing Away’ columns will know that we generally highlight each of the three tips on their individual merits rather than imploring punters to get on the treble, even if the price for all three to come in is always mentioned.
But you will have to forgive me for eyeing another treble on this occasion after the spectacular outcome of last week’s article, when Southampton, Arsenal and Aston Villa justified my faith in them and brought home a superb 14/1 winner.
The winnings on offer for the latest treble are not quite so appealing, although 8/1 is not to be sniffed at, especially with returns of £187.49 on offer for anyone backing it with their free £20 bet after registering with bwin.
Liverpool to beat Reading @ 11/25
Despite the maths not yet confirming so, bottom club Reading will be preparing for life back in the Championship next season as they sit eight points adrift of safety with six league matches remaining ahead of the visit of Liverpool this weekend.
Saturday’s 2-0 loss at home to Southampton meant the Royals have failed to pick up a single point in their last seven matches, and it is too late for new boss Nigel Adkins to maintain their Premier League status.
The major reason for their current predicament is their tendency to concede goals, with no other defence having been breached more times than the 63 the Royals have shipped in 32 matches.
Reading have recorded just three clean sheets in the league all season, their last coming in a narrow 1-0 win at home to West Ham at the end of last year, which doesn’t make for good reading as they prepare to welcome the league’s top scorer.
Luis Suarez has netted 22 Premier League goals for the Reds this term, three more than his closest rival, and he’ll be looking to get his name back among the goals against the league’s most generous defence having failed to score in his last three.
Only Manchester United and Chelsea have found the net more times on their travels than Brendan Rodgers’ men, who head into the game with just one defeat in six and sit seventh in the table, three points behind neighbours Everton in sixth.
The Reds saw off their hosts 1-0 courtesy of a Raheem Sterling strike when the sides met at Anfield earlier in the campaign, and they look a good bet to all but seal their Royals’ fate by claiming the double over the Berkshire club at the Madejski Stadium.
West Ham to beat Southampton @ 16/5
This certainly is a risky bet given the recent form of Southampton, who sit level on points with the Hammers just below mid-table, but West Ham could pull off a win at St Marys to secure a league double over Mauricio Pochettino’s men.
The London club ran out comfortable 4-1 winners when the sides met at Upton Park earlier in the season and head into this game having picked up four points from their last two outings, including last weekend’s credible goalless draw at Anfield.
That result followed a 3-1 home success over West Brom on Easter weekend in what has been a solid return to the top flight for Sam Allardyce’s men, with one more win likely to be enough to secure their Premier League status for another season at least.
The Saints have picked up three successive wins and seen off the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City at home this term, but there have also been some disappointing results on the south coast too.
Wigan Atletic, Sunderland and QPR, all of whom find themselves in the bottom four, have secured victories at Southampton this season, while Reading, who currently prop the table up, were narrowly seen off 1-0 at this ground earlier in the season.
The Hammers picked up their first away win since November last month when they saw off Stoke City 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium and in a game the Southampton fans will be expecting their team to win, West Ham could return to London with the points.
Manchester United to beat Stoke City @ 11/20
Manchester United saw their 18-match unbeaten run in the league brought to an end on Monday evening as they went down 2-1 at home to neighbours Manchester City – the first time they had failed to secure at least a point in a game since mid-November.
However, the league leaders have been presented with a great opportunity to get back to winning ways this weekend as they travel to Stoke City, who head into the game on the back of successive defeats and find themselves just three points above the drop zone.
The Potters have picked up one point from their last seven outings and have managed to claim victory on just one occasion since the turn of the year, with relegation to the Championship looking a genuine possibility for Tony Pulis’ side.
They went down to a disappointing 3-1 home defeat to fellow strugglers Aston Villa on Saturday courtesy of two late goals and welcome a United side that has won eight and drawn one of the last nine league meetings between the two clubs.
The two sides played out an entertaining fixture at Old Trafford earlier in the season, Stoke taking an early lead before going down 4-2, with United top scorer Robin van Persie among the goals as he continued his remarkable scoring form against the Potters.
The front man has bagged eight goals in seven encounters in all competitions for previous club Arsenal and United, finding the net in his last five appearances against the Potters, and he’ll fancy his chances of ending his ten-match barren run at the Britannia Stadium.
No side has scored more goals in the league than United, who have notched 71 in 31 matches, as opposed to their hosts, who have scored a league-low of 28, so expect United to add to their 11 wins on the road with victory this weekend.