Big six are proving to be Premier punters' top pals
The gap between the best and the rest in this season's Premier Leaguehas been highlighted on a weekly basis and bookmakers will once again be on high alert after taking a bashing from favourite backers.
Manchester United have not managed to sustain the pace set by their fellow elite outfits but the unbeaten trio of Manchester City, Chelseaand Liverpool combined with north London pair Tottenhamand Arsenal have made mincemeat of most top-flight teams.
City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal have played a combined 39 matches against non big-six opponents, winning 35, drawing three and losing just once, a 2-1 defeat for Tottenham at Watford on September 2.
Spurs get the multiple rolling against Crystal Palace at a shade of odds-on this Saturday, followed by home dates on Sunday for Liverpool (v Fulham), Chelsea (Everton) and Arsenal (Wolves) with the acca returning £50.31 for a £10 stake with Betfred and 188Bet. Those who want to add City at home to United in the Manchester derby can boost to return £70.44.
Liverpool have been perfect against teams outside the big six, City last dropped points in such circumstances at Wolves in August, while Spurs and Chelsea are faultless since September.
Arsenal dropped points at Selhurst Park two weeks ago, offering brief respite for beleaguered bookmakers, but the layers remain on the ropes, particularly after taking a surprise pasting during the October international break. Instead of a breather from Premier League action it turned into a nightmare with 12 of the 14 teams priced up at 13-10 or shorter in the Football League all winning.
On the Ladbrokes coupon, nine of ten Sky Bet League One favourites obliged.
"That October 13 weekend was painful followed by nine of the top ten selections winning last Saturday, then on the Sunday all the domestic favourites won with the underdog scoring which really hurts us these days because the match result and both teams scoring is such a popular bet," said Joe Crilly of Hills.
"The Premier League favourites have been quoted at considerably shorter prices than in previous seasons but the low number of draws - 22 from 110 games - doesn't help us."
Alex Apati of Ladbrokes also believes the lack of Premier League draws is in the favour of punters. He said: "We are averaging a draw every five games, or two a weekend. To put that into context last season there were 94 draws in 380 games, just over a draw every four games - a big difference across the season."
Coral's John Hill added: "You only have to look at the table to see how predictable it has been this season and that has been the main architect in us suffering some awful sets of results.
"The Premier League teams always feature more prominently in accumulators therefore those games are more significant to us each weekend. We very much hope this trend changes pretty quickly otherwise it could be a long and hard season for the bookmakers."
United have been the one team to ease the pain, although bet365's two biggest in-play losses this season came when Jose Mourinho's men rallied back from losing positions to beat Newcastle and Bournemouth with last-gasp winners.
"There's been a lot of chat about the perceived decline of United but they still retain the support of the punting public in those type of situations," said bet365's Steve Freeth.
However, Freeth was happy to look at the bigger picture and added: "The Premier League results have been noticeable but we have had fair results in the Champions League and it also helps that Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are struggling domestically."
Results against teams outside the Premier League's big six