Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can make a successful start to his time as Manchester United’s full-time manager as his side should beat Watford at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The 46-year-old Norwegian was handed a three-year contract on Thursday, just over three months after he had been appointed caretaker boss following Jose Mourinho’s departure.
Since then United have won 14 of their 19 matches in all competitions, although they have lost their last two – at Arsenal in the Premier League and to Wolves in the FA Cup.
Smalling to score the first goal @ 28/1
However, United have only lost one league game at home this season – to Tottenham in August – and won 2-1 at Vicarage Road earlier in the campaign.
Chris Smalling scored United’s second goal on that occasion and could find the net again this weekend against a Hornets side that have lost their last two away games at Liverpool (5-0) and Manchester City (3-1).
It has been a great season for Javi Gracia’s side though and they have seven more points than they did after 30 games last season while they also have an FA Cup semi-final against Wolves next weekend to look forward to.
That match will be at the forefront of the players’ minds and they may suffer a heavy defeat at Old Trafford with a 3-0 United victory available at 15/2.
Manchester City to score a penalty @ 53/20
Manchester City will be expected to ease to a routine three points at Craven Cottage although Pep Guardiola will be aware that title rivals Liverpool needed a late James Milner penalty to see off Fulham 2-1 a fortnight ago.
City will return to the top of the table if they come away from the capital with a victory which they will surely do before they embark on a hectic April which sees them play eight matches in just 25 days.
Guardiola’s team have won 10 of their last 11 league games with the only slip-up being the 2-1 setback at Newcastle and they cruised to a 3-0 home victory against Fulham in September.
Even though they still have seven games remaining the Cottagers are all but certain to be kicking off the 2019/20 season in the Championship.
They have lost their last seven league encounters since beating Brighton 4-2 in January and have conceded 70 goals already, 11 more than the next worst defence in the top-flight – Burnley with 59.
Crystal Palace to win by one goal @ 9/5
Crystal Palace’s form at Selhurst Park this term has been woeful but they have the perfect opportunity to win only their fourth home league game as rock-bottom Huddersfield Town are their visitors this weekend.
Only the Terriers have picked up fewer home points than Roy Hodgson’s team this season, with Palace’s only victories on their own patch coming against Burnley, Leicester City and Fulham.
In contrast, the Eagles have won six games on their travels with only five teams enjoying more success on the road.
Shot-shy Huddersfield have lost 23 games this season and they found a new way to drop points in their last encounter when they conceded three goals in the last 15 minutes in the 4-3 defeat at West Ham United.
There seems little prospect of Jan Siewert’s team enjoying any success in London again this weekend with a narrow defeat the most likely outcome. A draw at half time and Palace victory after 90 minutes is available at 49/20.
Southampton to draw at Brighton @ 43/20
Brighton entertain Southampton in a match between two sides that have eased their relegation fears recently.
Saints have won two of their last three matches while Chris Hughton’s side have emerged victorious against Huddersfield and Crystal Palace this month as well as sealing their place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup by beating Millwall.
There is still little margin for error for both teams though, particularly after Cardiff City beat West Ham earlier this month, and it looks set to be a tense afternoon at the Amex Stadium.
Burnley to win 1-0 @ 25/4
Burnley, 5/2 to be relegated this season, are desperate for three points as a run of four defeats in a row has left them just two points above Cardiff, who have a game in hand on the Clarets.
Sean Dyche will be hoping that Wolves will be focused on next weekend’s FA Cup semi-final against Watford and Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have a propensity to relax at inappropriate times, a fact that has allowed Huddersfield to complete an unlikely double over them.
Goals look set to be in short supply at Turf Moor on Saturday with one goal possibly proving to be decisive, as it did at Molineux in September when Raul Jimenez grabbed the only goal of the match to sink Dyche’s men.
Leicester to win from behind @ 6/1
Two wins in a row have lifted Leicester City into the top half of the table and Brendan Rodgers’ side can make it nine points out of nine by beating Bournemouth in a high-scoring affair.
The Cherries have not drawn an away match so far this season – winning four game and losing 11 – while only Fulham have conceded more goals on their travels than Eddie Howe’s team. Over 4.5 goals in the mid-table clash can be backed at 15/4.
Everton to beat West Ham @ 19/10
Finally two of the most inconsistent teams in the top-flight meet at the London Stadium – West Ham and Everton.
Marco Silva’s team have been poor away from Goodison Park this season – only winning four of their 15 games – but they did beat Chelsea on home soil a fortnight ago and have picked up seven points from their last four matches.
Everton will leapfrog ninth-placed West Ham if they win Saturday’s match and it would not be too much of a surprise if they did so as Manuel Pellegrini’s team were so nearly embarrassed by Huddersfield at home earlier this month.
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