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  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 1:03pm

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PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 March, 2007, 12:00am

A hectic few days lie ahead for four Premiership teams - Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham and Middlesbrough - who have league games tonight followed by FA Cup quarter-final replays on Monday night. United and Chelsea, who are separated by six points with nine games left to play, cannot afford any let-up in the title race and both can be expected to win tonight, though the odds are very short.


Tottenham and Middlesbrough, the other cup replay teams, might present more difficulties. Both have winnable home matches, but their chances could be affected if key players are rested ahead of the cup games. Spurs have won 28 out of 37 games at home to non-Big Four teams since Martin Jol took charge and in normal circumstances they would be a strong recommendation at home to Watford, but the team news will be a factor to consider. Boro coach Gareth Southgate is even more likely to rest players for the cup game, as Boro have little to play for in the league. On paper, though, their home form gives them a first-rate chance against Manchester City, who have scored only once in their last seven Premiership games. Boro have won seven of 10 at home to teams from outside the Big Four and should win again, unless Southgate makes wholesale changes.


The other strong home bet in the Premiership is Blackburn, who host West Ham. Blackburn have won five out of six at home to teams below them in the standings, while West Ham have lost all seven away to teams in the top half of the table.


French champions Lyon are better odds than usual for their visit to Nancy. Lyon suffered a blow when they were knocked out of the Champions League by Roma, but last week's 1-1 draw against Marseille suggested there was no real hangover from that result and they have won 11 out of 14 on the road. Nancy's home record looks good, but they've won only one out of 11 games overall against top-flight opposition since losing 3-1 at Lyon in the League Cup just before Christmas. St Etienne should be too strong at home to Troyes, who have difficulty scoring on the road against good teams.


Crystal Palace can continue their good run in the League Championship by winning at fading Plymouth. Palace have lost only two of their last 15 in the league and most of their dropped points on the road in recent months have been against the teams challenging for promotion. Palace are coming off an excellent 3-2 win at West Brom in midweek, while Plymouth lost 4-2 at home to struggling Barnsley and may suffer a reaction to their unlucky FA Cup defeat against Watford. Further down the ladder, League One side Northampton have been difficult to beat on their travels and look capable of getting something at struggling Bradford.


Homes: Middlesbrough, Blackburn, St Etienne.


Aways: Lyon.


Handicap: Crystal Palace, Northampton.


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