You Bet

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 April, 2007, 12:00am

Manchester United and Chelsea moved a step closer to another big showdown with their midweek Champions League wins, but tonight it is back to business in the Premiership as they face tough games against top-six opposition.

Chelsea have the advantage of playing at home to Bolton and they can be expected to collect another three points. Of all the top teams, Chelsea appear to have fewest problems against Bolton, bar the first meeting of Jose Mourinho's reign when Bolton came from 2-0 behind to force a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge. Since then, Chelsea have won four out of four against Bolton, by an aggregate of 10 goals to one.

United have the head-to-head results against Everton in their favour, too - four wins and one defeat from five league and cup visits since David Moyes took charge at Goodison Park - but a draw wouldn't be a surprise.

For the best bets in the Premiership, look at two of the middle-ranking teams. Reading are a perfect eight-from-eight at home to bottom-half teams and can make it nine on Monday night against Newcastle, whose season has fizzled out since their exit from the Uefa Cup. Newcastle have won only one out of six since then and failed to score in four, while Reading have come on strong in pursuit of a Uefa Cup place, with five wins out of seven at home in 2007.

Blackburn also have a good home record against lower-ranking sides, with six wins out of nine against the teams below them in the table, and they have the form to send Charlton closer to relegation. Charlton have more at stake, but Blackburn are not out of the hunt for a Uefa Cup place and should have enough incentive to produce their best form.

Incentive is a big variable at this stage of the season and the match in the Premiership where one team certainly have more to play for is Sheffield United at home to relegated Watford. Expect United to get the victory that will put them on the verge of survival.

In the Championship there are eight teams with more incentive - Hull, West Brom, Leeds, Southampton, Preston, Southend, Wolves and Derby. Overall in the English leagues last weekend, there were four wins (all at home) and two defeats (both away) for the teams with more incentive. There are other examples this weekend in England's League One and it is also worth bearing in mind that Inter and Lyon have won their respective titles in Italy and France.

The best bet in Spain is Real Madrid, who visit Bilbao. Under Fabio Capello, Real have been very strong away to lower-ranking teams and last season they won at Bilbao in the league and cup.

In Germany it could be worth chancing Hertha Berlin, who are capable of winning at Aachen. Despite their poor recent form, Hertha have lost only three games home and away to bottom-half teams this season and they appeal on the handicap.

Homes: Blackburn, Reading.

Aways: Real Madrid.

Handicap: Hertha Berlin.