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Five Talking Points

March 2nd, 2015

1. Canaries mount serious challenge

It's difficult to recall a more open race for promotion to the Premier League, with the top eight in the Championship separated by just eight points. Defeats for both Derby and Middlesbrough on Saturday left the door ajar for Norwich, who took another giant step towards an instant return to the top flight with victory over Ipswich - their sixth successive win and their eighth in 10 games under Alex Neil. The Canaries were 16/1 for the title just two weeks ago but are now no bigger than 3/1 with Ladbrokes (9/4 elsewhere).

2. Goal-shy Villa too big at 11/10

At the bottom of the Premier League things are equally tight, with Burnley, Aston Villa and Leicester currently occupying the bottom three places. Despite being 19th and scoring an unprecedented tally of just 13 goals, Villa are fourth favourites and odds against for the drop at 11/10 with William Hill and Betfred (just 8/11 with Ladbrokes), as punters continue to believe in the myth of Tim Sherwood - an unproven manager elevated to the status of prospective saviour by a hopeful media, eager to champion a young English boss. He might keep them up, but there's little evidence to justify the hype and his miserable side should be odds-on. Villa face West Brom next, with the Baggies rejuvenated by Tony Pulis and boasting what is currently the league's meanest defence.

3. Confident Ireland a better bet than England

At the start of the RBS 6 Nations Championship we tipped Ireland at 2/1 to retain their crown, and they are one step closer to doing so after battling past England on Sunday afternoon. The Irish, who are now just 8/13 with Bet365, have not been given enough credit for being the northern hemisphere's most consistent side over the last 18 months but if they can beat Wales and Scotland to complete a grand slam, they may just go into the World Cup at a shorter price than the current 10/1 with Ladbrokes. That looks a much better price than the 4/1 Stan James are quoting on England.

4. Sullivan bags South African double

Only eight weeks have passed since Andy Sullivan recorded the first victory of his career at the South African Open, but the 27-year-old from Nuneaton has already claimed his second - just down the road in Joburg on Sunday. Sullivan is far from being a household name but he is one of the European Tour's rising stars, having finished 145th in the Race to Dubai in his debut season in 2012 and 33rd last year. Some players fade away for a while after their maiden title, but Sullivan now has a place in the Open and a top 10 Race to Dubai ranking to defend. It could be a big summer ahead.

5. Coric makes his mark

Unless you're a particularly keen follower of tennis you're unlikely to know too much about Borna Coric, but the talented teenager raised his status by dumping Andy Murray out of the Dubai Open quarter-finals in straight sets last week. At 18 years and three months, Coric is the youngest man in the world's top 100 and is rising quickly through the rankings and is certainly one to watch for the future.

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