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Five Talking Points

February 23rd, 2015

1. Reds popular for top four finish

In December we suggested backing Liverpool at 9/1 to finish in the top four and after their fine win at Southampton on Sunday this is a good time to revisit that bet. The Reds are now just two points behind fourth-placed Manchester United having been one of the main benificiaries of several challengers slipping up this weekend and the weight of money has pushed their price down to 2/1 - with several firms going shorter. If you fancy them, get on before that 2/1 from BetVictor and Stan James disappears.

2. Shock defeat causes Barca drift

Barcelona's 1-0 home defeat to Malaga on Saturday has reignited talk of a crisis at the Catalan giants and caused their price to drift ahead of their Champions League meeting with Manchester City. Barca beat City 4-1 on aggregate at this stage last season, when City were performing much more consistently and with Messi, Neymar and Suarez in attack they will severely threaten a home defence which has been shaky this season. That makes the 6/5 on offer from Betfred and William Hill look tempting, although in City's favour is the fact that Aguero, Toure, Silva and Nasri started together for just the second time this season against Newcastle, to devastating effect. It's on ITV, and should be one of the most attractive betting games of the year so far.

3. Casey primed for Open challenge

The last time the Open golf championship was staged at St Andrews in 2010, Paul Casey was at the top of his game and tied for third place. There has been talk for some time that the 37-year-old is getting back towards his best and he showed his quality by battling through the field to force a play-off at the Northern Trust Open this weekend, before losing a play-off to James Hahn. He will return to St Andrews this summer with a great chance of competing for the Claret Jug and can still be backed at 66/1 with Ladbrokes.

4. Don't rule out Tigers

Northampton impressed the bookies with their victory at Bath on Saturday and have been cut to a best price of 7/4 to repeat last year's Aviva Premiership title success. Although Saints look the best team again this year, you can never rule out Leicester, who drifted from around 6/1 to 9/1 (William Hill & Ladbrokes) for the title despite battling to a win at London Irish on Sunday. The Tigers are now within 4 points of Bath in second place and if they can force their way into the mix, anything is possible from the 10-time champions.

5. Beaten Nadal out to 6/4

For the last two years, Rafael Nadal has been a 4/6 shot to win the French Open, but after losing a semi-final on clay for the first time in 12 years at last week's Rio Open, the king of Roland Garros has been pushed out to 6/4 by Paddy Power to win his 10th title in 11 years (and sixth in a row). The Irish firm now make Nadal the joint favourite alongside world number one Novak Djokovic. Injuries have clearly taken their toll on the Spaniard, but he has three months to get in the best possible shape for Paris. Meanwhile Fabio Fognini, the man who defeated Nadal in Rio, remains a 100/1 shot with Bet365 (33/1 elsewhere).

Stan James
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