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Mar 26, 2014

Best Prem bets of the weekend

Chelsea have been successful on the road this season. Can they continue this weekend?

Midweek wins for Manchester City and Liverpool mean the title race remains intriguing while just six points separate six teams at the foot of the table. Most teams still have something to play for so it promises to be another fascinating weekend in the Premier League.

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

Here's a rundown of the weekend's top picks.

Manchester United (home) vs. Aston Villa

Asian handicap: Man Utd -1.25 (+104) vs. Aston Villa +1.25 (-114)
3-way line: Man Utd -220 / Aston Villa +750 / Draw +380
PickCenter public consensus money line pick: 72 percent Man United
Total: 2.5 (Over -125, Under +115)

Tuesday night felt like the latest step on a journey to nowhere for Manchester United. The most striking thing about their 3-0 home defeat to Manchester City was how predictable it was. From the opening minute United looked and played as though they didn’t believe the result would be anything other than what it turned out to be.

The visitors won at a canter, at times faintly bewildered by how little resistance the hosts put up. United have won just six of 15 home games this season and in only four of those 15 home fixtures (27 percent) have the Red Devils won by two or more goals. Aston Villa have lost just five of 14 games on the road and only one of those five defeats was by more than a single goal (2-0 at Fulham on Dec. 8).

In other words, the stats suggest Villa stand a good chance of avoiding defeat by a two-goal margin or more.

The pick: Aston Villa +1.25 Asian handicap (-114)


Crystal Palace (home) vs. Chelsea

Asian handicap: Crystal Palace +1 (+121) vs. Chelsea -1 (-137)
3-way line: Crystal Palace +900 / Chelsea -220 / Draw +350
PickCenter public consensus money line pick: 93 percent Chelsea
Total: 2.5 (Over +105, Under -105)

Crystal Palace’s tally of five wins in nine home games under Tony Pulis is respectable enough, but their form at Selhurst Park has started to slip in recent weeks. On Feb. 22 they lost 2-0 to Manchester United before suffering a 1-0 defeat versus Southampton on March 8. Those two losses and a lack of goals in general -- Palace have scored in just one of their last five games -- cast doubts over their chances of causing an upset agai...