Your Best Bet
Sky Bet tipsters outline where their money's going ahead of this weekend's boxing, rugby and football.
Last Updated: 23/02/13 3:49pm
Punters are spoiled for choice when eying up the sporting events calendar this weekend, but we've handpicked three events on which there's money to be made.
Sky Bet's Steve Bramley lends his rugby knowledge as the Six Nations returns on Saturday, with England aiming to take a step closer to the Grand Slam by beating France.
Boxing tipster Jamie Casey weighs up the odds on David Price's match-up with Tony Thompson at Liverpool's Echo Arena on Saturday night before offering his prediction on Sunday's League Cup Final.
Ahead of this year's Six Nations there was little to separate England and France, but two games in Stuart Lancaster has his sights set on the Grand Slam, while Les Bleus remarkably are fighting to avoid the wooden spoon.
The Azzurri's stunning victory over Philippe Saint-Andre's charges, who were 1/9 on favourites, rocked the rugby world but to follow that up with a home defeat to a Welsh side without a win in eight was equally unexpected.
Now the French visit Twickenham looking for their first win in six outings but I seriously doubt there will be another upset on the cards and I'll be lumping on a third successive win for the men in white.
England's gutsy victory in Dublin has proved that they have plenty of backbone and while France will pose plenty of problems up front England to win by 1-10 points on the alternative margin at 7/4 market looks a safe bet to me.
Manu Tuilagi, who destroyed the All Blacks back in November, is also recalled and I'd also have a small wager on the England centre to score the first try at 12/1.
Price v Thompson
Boxing promoter Frank Maloney has been criticised for scheduling somewhat protective fights for his heavyweight hope David Price, but in Tony Thompson he faces a beatable veteran with a creditable history, so I can see the thinking behind Saturday night's bout.
Wladimir Klitschko deemed the American worthy of a rematch, before knocking him out for a second time in July last year, so if Price can inflict a successive defeat on the 41-year-old it'll be a big step forward towards fighting the dominant Ukrainian, or even his older brother.
Maloney certainly doesn't want too much too soon for his fighter, a late bloomer, and in Thompson the only potential stumbling block is The Tiger's southpaw stance, which may prove awkward for the orthodox Price, though the Liverpudlian has the quality to adjust his style to suit his needs in the opening rounds.
Ten of undefeated Price's 15 victories, 13 of which have come by way of knockout, were finished in the opening three rounds, but I'd be surprised if Thompson is stopped so soon (5/4). Anyone who can take a Klitschko to 11 rounds (albeit in 2008) is going to take some wearing down.
I'd be tempted by the 9/2 odds that Price wins between rounds 7-9, but only fellow-orthodox Raman Sukhaterin has taken the 29-year-old beyond the sixth, so the safer option is to lump on the home favourite to win in rounds 4-6 (9/4) in Sky Bet's Group Round Betting.
League Cup Final
League Two side Bradford are bidding to become the first team from outside the top tier to win the League Cup since Sheffield Wednesday in 1991, in what is the Bantam's first major domestic final since 1911.
To put things into perspective, Phil Parkinson's side have reached the last two out of 92 participants, the large majority of which are ranked above them, but it's perhaps one tall order too far to actually lift the trophy (4/1) at the expense of a slick Swansea side.
No matter what happens in Sunday's showpiece, nothing can be taken away from Bradford's achievement, but their best chance of success may come via a penalty shootout (16/1) as, remarkably, they've won their last nine on the trot, a record in English football.
Neither side head into the final on the back of good form, but the Swans will be well rested and star performer Michu is quite rightly the shortest price to open the scoring at 3/1. However, it'd be more tempted to back the Spaniard to score two goals at any time at the slightly greater odds of 7/2, or, if you're greedy, Michu to score in both halves at 6/1.
Over the last 20 finals, only Aston Villa (1996) and Manchester United (2006) have won by at least a three-goal margin, and I'm expecting Bradford's work rate to prevent a Swansea onslaught, albeit to no avail. Therefore, Swansea -1 at evens is sure to be a banker.
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