Chelsea will start the weekend in 6th place, but know that any kind of win would put them back into fifth, and could put them within two points of a Champions League place, should London rivals Spurs or Arsenal lose.
We start our betting preview at Stamford Bridge, where Roberto Di Matteo has changed the fortunes of the Blues, leading them to semi-finals of the FA Cup and Champions League, as well as keeping up the fight for fourth place.
Chelsea vs Wigan Athetic (1500 GMT)
They entertain a Wigan side who are in their own fight, to stay in this division. Despite languishing in 19th place, they have lost just 1 on their last 7, collecting 11 points from them games, putting them 6th in the form table. A similar total may well see them stay up yet again, but with 4 of the top 6 still to play; it may well be a very hard task.
After the sloppy Benfica performance, Di Matteo has ordered a much bigger effort from his team, one that will not include Terry, Lampard, and Cole, due to injury.
The visitors will have Rodallega out through injury, but Diame should return, after missing the last two wins.
It’s fair to say that Wigans recent record against the Blues is poor. Despite a 1-1 draw at Wigan in December, the last results had been 8-0, 6-0, and 1-0 wins for Chelsea. Wigan have also lost 14 out of their 15 visits to London, conceding a mammoth 46 goals.
Chelsea want to score early to get any monkey off their back, and put them back into fifth early to calm any nerves. This is why I think a double result Chelsea/Chelsea might be worth a bet. Torres has returned to form, and this is a game where he will have chances, and if he takes one early, the floodgates may start to creak.
My bets for the day are:
Draw/Chelsea – 11/4 – 4 points
Torres to score 2 or more – 4/1 – 2 points
Chelsea to win to nil – 11/10 – 10 points
Prediction: Chelsea 3 – 0 Wigan (15/2)
Sunderland vs Tottenham (1245 GMT)
The Black Cats sit 9th in the table, but few will be surprised that since Martin O’Neill took charge, they sit 3rd in the form table, with 30 points from 17 games.
Frazier Campbell is a doubt for the home side, while fellow striker Nicklass Bendtner has four goals in five games, while the team have scored in 9 consecutive games at the Stadium of Light.
Only the brave would pick a result here, as Spurs know they cannot afford to drop any points, but face a team who don’t like to give them away at all.
Aaron Lennon continues to return to fitness, but Redknapp has said he will only be played in one of the two easter games, while they have no other injury concerns.
Chelsea will go into their game having known the outcome of this, so should they fail to win, it will certainly be a massive incentive to close the gap.
My bets for the game are:
Sunderland or Draw – 8/13 – 13 points
Both teams to score – 4/6 – 6 points
Prediction: Sunderland 1 – 1 Tottenham (11/2)
Arsenal vs Man City (Sunday 1600GMT)
After seven straight league wins, complacency might have set in last week, as they crashed to a defeat at QPR. They now face an awkward task, trying to deny their opponents a shot at the title, while trying to secure that third spot from three teams chasing them.
However, by the time they play, they well at least know how their opponents faired. After Newcastle winning 2-0 on Friday, with the right results, there could be just 2 points separating four spaces from 3rd-6th place.
Man City should welcome back Sergio Aguero to fitness, which could be crucial, as they have failed to win any of the four games with the Dzeko-Balotelli partnership.
Another stat City fans will not want to see is that of their last 36 goals in the league, only 5 have been away, although keeping the home side quiet will be the bigger task, as Robin Van Persie bids to end his “drought” of three games.
Interestingly though, Arsenal have not scored in five of their last six against City, including their last three at the Emirates.
I do fancy there to be goals though, as both sides need nothing less than a win, and only a brave man would call this match.
My bets are going to be:
Man City to score both halves – 9/4 – 4 points
Over 2.5 goals – 8/11 – 5.5 points
Man City or Draw – ½ – 10 points
Prediction: Arsenal 1 – 3 Man City (20/1)
By Brad Smith