Arsenal v Man Utd is the big game in the Premier League this weekend and there are two ways of looking at it. One is that Arsenal will be the more motivated as they chase a Champions League spot while United take their foot of the gas after winning the title. The other is that Sir Alex Ferguson will demand that his team give 100%, their extra class will tell and they'll continue their dominance over a Gunners side they've beaten seven times in the last eight meetings. Both theories are plausible but I prefer to look at the scorer markets and the obvious one is a goal for Robin van Persie on his return to The Emirates. It's 5/4 he finds the net, 7/1 he scores a brace and 33/1 he bags a hat-trick. However, the bet I like best is the 5/1 (Sky Bet price boost) that he scores the first goal - just as he did in the reverse fixture at Old Trafford and also against Aston Villa on Monday night.
The impact of Luis Suarez's 10-game ban is already affecting prices and Sky Bet responded to the suspension, which starts immediately, by easing Liverpool from 11/10 to 11/8 to win away at Newcastle on Saturday. However, the feeling is that he'll remain at Anfield, with Sky Bet going 4/11 that the striker stays and 2/1 that he'll be off. If he does go, Bayern Munich are 7/2 favourites to sign him, while Manchester City are 5/1 second best. In the Uruguayan's absence, Daniel Sturridge has a great chance to shine but the best bet against Newcastle on Sunday is for Steven Gerrard to score the game's opening goal at 10/1 (another Sky Bet price boost). He's got a good record against the Magpies and, of course, will be on penalty duty.
A few weeks ago I wrote that Sky Bet were offering 9/4 about an all-Spanish Champions League final and 15/2 for an all-German one. So it's fair to say the Leeds layers, like so many, were somewhat shell-shocked by this week's semi-final first leg results: Bayern Munich 4 Barcelona 0 and Borussia Dortmund 4 Real Madrid 1. Now it's just 2/9 for an all-German final and 60/1 all-Spanish. Bayern are the new hot favourites to lift the trophy at 8/13 with Dortmund at 15/8 while Real are 8s and Barca way out at 33s. Those who believe Lionel Messi can somehow turn on the magic and dig his team out of a huge hole can get 66/1 that Barca win the second leg 5-0 and make the final. Madrid at least have an away goal and Sky Bet make Jose Mourinho's 100/30 to book their place in the Wembley final on May 25th.
Having won this year's Premier League in a canter, Manchester United have been installed as 6/4 favourites by Sky Bet to defend their title in 2013. Manchester City are 15/8 to wrestle it back while Chelsea are considered the only other realistic threat at 5/1. It's then back to 14s Arsenal, 18s Spurs and 22s Liverpool. Back to this year's battle for Champions League spots and Sky Bet believe it's Tottenham who will miss out. They quote Arsenal and Chelsea at 1/3 for a top four finish while Spurs are 4/5. Cardiff have booked their place in the top flight next season and the good news for the Bluebirds is that Sky Bet think they won't go straight back down. It's 11/8 they'll be relegated but just 8/15 they stay up.
* Also check the golf section for Dave's weekly betting previews. He's tipped winners at 55/1 (Jamie Donaldson), 25/1 (Phil Mickelson) and Dustin Johnson (14/1) already this season. His 40/1 tip in this week's Ballantine's Championship, Pablo Larrazabal, is tied for the lead with a round to play.