This week's top picks in Premier League: Manchester City should overcome low-scoring Liverpool
Reds face tough encounter against table toppers, while Spurs can take points off West Ham
The English Premier League resumes this weekend with two standout clashes involving top-half teams - Manchester City v Liverpool tonight and Tottenham v West Ham tomorrow.
The first of those matches only just falls into the category of a top-half showdown, with City heading the table and Liverpool nine points behind in 10th, and the odds reflect the superior form of the leaders.
City stuttered in September, losing to West Ham and Tottenham in the Premier League and Juventus in the Champions League, but since the last defeat they have won seven out of nine in all competitions and the only failures came in goalless draws on the road against Manchester United and Aston Villa.
The home defeat by West Ham is City's only loss in a Premier League game at the Etihad this season, and indeed one of just two in the whole of 2015 (the other was against Arsenal in January). Their home record in the EPL in 2015 is won 13, drawn one, lost two and most teams have a limited chance of a positive result because they are unable to stop Manuel Pellegrini's side from scoring.
Juergen Klopp has brought a new sense of defensive discipline to Liverpool and achieved a notable shutout in his first game with a goalless draw at Tottenham, which is likely to be the template for his tactics tonight.
Stopping City is a much more difficult task, however, and it is highly questionable whether Liverpool will be able to keep pace with the home attack. In six of Klopp's seven games in charge, Liverpool have scored nil or one - the sole exception being the 3-1 win at Chelsea.
Their limitations were exposed in their last match when Crystal Palace won 2-1 at Anfield, which leaves the Chelsea result as Klopp's only win so far in the Premier League.
City usually score at least two goals in their home wins - their last 1-0 victory was almost a year ago - and they look worth backing on the handicap against the low-scoring visitors.
Tottenham v West Ham is a closer match judged on the league table, with the teams separated only on goal difference in fifth and sixth.
The balance appears to have tilted significantly in the home side's favour, however, as West Ham are without star player Dimitri Payet after he went off injured in their last game against Everton.
Away games are the best place to back Tottenham, one of the best counter-attacking sides in England, but they are increasingly solid under Mauricio Pochettino and should win.
The biggest gap in the table between two opponents this weekend is between third-placed Leicester and Newcastle in 17th, which makes Claudio Ranieri's in-form side the best bet on the Premier League programme.
Newcastle's only wins have been against other teams in the bottom six and they have lost six and drawn three of their nine games against sides outside that group of strugglers.
Leicester have become highly efficient at disposing of sides below the elite and this is another good opportunity.
There is some potential for an upset at Watford, who host Manchester United in tonight's early kick-off. Louis van Gaal's visiting side are not that convincing on the road, with just eight goals in six away games, and they could have difficulty breaking down well-organised Watford.
Three of Watford's four defeats came against high-scoring sides (Manchester City, Arsenal and Leicester) and they have lost only one out of six when they have restricted their opponents to fewer than two goals.
The doubt concerns Watford's ability to outscore United, but they are worth considering on the handicap.
Swansea are worth chancing at home to Bournemouth, who have been a team to avoid ever since promising striker Callum Wilson was ruled out by long-term injury. Since then, Bournemouth have scored only three goals in six matches and the problem is getting worse as they have now gone 359 minutes since their last goal.
Admittedly, Bournemouth were extremely unlucky in their last game - a 1-0 home defeat by Newcastle - but the Premier League is unforgiving of any weakness and Eddie Howe's team have problems at both ends of the pitch, ranking low for goals scored and clean sheets.
Swansea have also run into problems in recent weeks, with blanks in three of their last four games, and backing them is not without risk. Their underlying form is pretty good, however, and this looks a decent chance.
Swansea, Sheffield Wednesday, Atalanta