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Best Prem bets of the weekend

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Can Chelsea cover as road favorites on Saturday versus Aston Villa?

There are two big derby clashes in the Premier League on Sunday as Manchester United host Liverpool and Tottenham take on Arsenal. But the value in the betting markets lies near the foot of the table, where there are several crucial fixtures involving sides fighting to stay in England’s top flight.

Each week, I deliver my picks for the best bets of the weekend, incorporating numbers from ESPN Insider’s Soccer PickCenter.

Let’s take a look at this weekend’s best bets.

Fulham (home) vs. Newcastle

Asian Handicap: Fulham +0.25 (-118) vs. Newcastle -0.25 (+110)
3-Way Line: Fulham +213 / Newcastle +143 / Draw +246
PickCenter public consensus money line pick: 58 percent Newcastle
Total: 2.5 (Over -111, Under +102)

Key indicators on this game point toward a high-scoring encounter. Fulham have the division’s worst defensive record: They’ve conceded 65 goals in 29 fixtures (2.24 goals per game). In the three matches since taking charge, manager Felix Magath has had little discernible impact on the team’s back line; since a 1-1 draw at West Brom, Fulham have lost 3-1 to Chelsea (no shame in that) and, more damagingly, 3-1 at relegation rivals Cardiff City last weekend.

Lacking the time for fundamental repairs, Magath is having to make do. Eleven of Fulham’s 14 home matches have featured three or more goals (averaging 3.43 per game), while 10 of Newcastle’s 14 away matches have featured three or more goals (average 2.79 per game). The combined “over” stats on Fulham’s home and Newcastle’s away games suggest the minus-111 on over 2.5 goals is worth taking.

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