Manchester United can keep title race alive

April 30th, 2016 | Ian Carnaby's Sports News

Leicester are so close now to one of the biggest shocks in football history and many neutrals are willing them over the line in the Premier League title race. Frankly, Everton have looked so poor in recent weeks that Claudio Ranieri’s team should defeat them in their final home game to prompt a massive celebration but it wouldn’t surprise me if Tottenham still had a faint chance after this weekend’s fixtures.

Leicester go to Old Trafford, where Manchester United still have a chance of a top four finish and will not be in accommodating mood. Louis Van Gaal appears to be on his way out but United, though seldom producing the sort of football their supporters demand, have actually done quite well, reaching the FA Cup Final and closing to within touching distance of a Champions League place.

The key to this is their two young strikers, Martial is particular, who will have the chance to shine whereas Leicester will be without Jamie Vardy once again. They coped all right without him last week but that was against a truly woeful Swansea team who will be among the early favourites for relegation next term. Unlike Leicester, the Swans look unlikely to stage the revival of all revivals.
United can be backed at 11/10 with at least three firms and I think that is a fair price. It is a measure of Leicester’s astonishing progress that no one can remember a time when their illustrious opponents were odds against to beat them at home.

Tottenham go to Chelsea on Monday and almost certainly need to win if the Foxes are beaten. Chelsea will do then no favours at all and Spurs will be without Dele Alli, who needs to curb his nasty streak without delay.

The best of spurs will be good enough but there is no point in tipping them at this stage because the battle may have been decided if Leicester win on Sunday. Of course, if they lose and Spurs draw, there could still be an extraordinary late turnaround on goal difference, but Everton at home followed by a far less motivated Chelsea away should still see Leicester home. I suspect things will not be finally decided for another week at least.

Southampton still have a chance of European football next term but probably need to win at least two of their last three matches. That could happen, because Manchester City will be between Real Madrid assignments on Sunday, while Crystal Palace will have the FA Cup Final on their minds on the final day. The Saints can look very good at home sometimes but the bookmakers have factored in City’s timetable and 17/10 about the home team is skinny enough.

Palace are never easy to beat and will want survival guaranteed as soon as possible. That is why Newcastle cannot be a major bet to beat them on Saturday, though there is no doubt Rafa Benitez has got them playing now and the Londoners will be walking into a cauldron at St James’ Park. I still think the home team will win and keep their hopes alive. It is hard to imagine Norwich getting anything at the Emirates, while Stoke, so disappointing of late, look tricky opposition for Sunderland. Newcastle are certainly not without hope.

MANCHESTER UNITED 15 units at 11/10 to beat Leicester
SOUTHAMPTON 15 units at 17/10 to beat Manchester City
NEWCASTLE 30 units at 21/20 (Hill’s) to beat Crystal Palace