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Five Talking Points

January 12th, 2015

1. Saints cut for top four finish

On Boxing Day, Southampton could be backed at 11/2 to finish in the Premier League's top four, but a run of seven points from three games against Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United has forced the bookies to take them much more seriously. After deservedly winning at Old Trafford for the first time in 28 years, the rock solid Saints are no bigger than 7/4 Bet365, BetVictor, Paddy Power) to finish in the Champions League places - quite incredible when you consider they were 7/2 for relegation with Bet365 on July 31st.

2. Burnley now 11/10 for survival

Just two weeks ago we recommended backing Burnley at 7/4 to avoid relegation and, following their 2-1 victory over QPR at Turf Moor, they are now a best price of just 11/10 with BetVictor, Paddy Power and William Hill. Keeping hold of star man Danny Ings until the end of the season is vital for the Clarets, but the statistics suggest that they are unmatched for sheer effort and determination to survive. They have been as short as 1/10 to be relegated, but can now be backed at 4/5 with Sky Bet.

3. Sullivan makes belated breakthrough

Last month we tipped Andy Sullivan to win the Alfred Dunhill Championship, saying the 28-year-old Englishman 'looks to be on the verge of a breakthrough'. Sullivan didn't come through for us that week, in fact he missed the cut at Leopard Creek, but on Sunday he was celebrating the first victory of his career at his very next event when he won the South African Open Championship. A four-shot swing over the last three holes earned him a play-off against pre-tournament favourite Charl Schwartzel and he won it with a birdie at the first extra hole.

4. Barca can forget winter woes

Barcelona look ready to move on from their recent troubles following their crushing 3-1 win over champions and title rivals Atletico Madrid on Sunday. After the match Lionel Messi, who scored his 14th goal in 10 games and was at his mesmeric best, dismissed speculation that he wants the leave in the summer. The departures last week of Andoni Zubizaretta and Carles Puyol are evidence that there are clear problems in the management structure, but the brilliance of Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, who all scored against Atleti, should keep them going strong on the pitch. Barca are 5/4 with Ladbrokes to win the first leg of their Champions League tie at Manchester City, and that price will look big when all the crisis talk has blown over. Ladbrokes also offer the best odds of 6/1 on them winning the Champions League again this season.

5. Australia honouring Hughes’ memory

The death of Phil Hughes in November could have inhibited the national team and seriously affected their focus, but it appears to have galvanised them and given them renewed drive. They completed a 2-0 Test series win over India last week having scored more than 500 in their first innings in all four matches, with new captain Steven Smith breaking all sorts of records by scoring a century in each one. The Aussies are 8/11 with Stan James to win this summer's Ashes series, but can be backed at Evens with Bet365, Ladbrokes and William Hill.

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