Belfast Telegraph

The Punter: Axe for Ancelotti if Chelsea don’t win the title

One thing is certain. If Chelsea don’t win at Portsmouth tonight, their Premier League title hopes will be dead and buried.

A few weeks ago, such a thought would have seen those suggesting such a thing being taken away by the men in white coats.

But the last couple of weeks have seen the Chelsea frailties emerge big time and no one looks gloomier than boss Carlo Ancelotti.

It’s as if he knows the writing is on the wall and he looks a certainty to be gone by the end of the season.

The odds against that are a remarkable 5-1 so snap that up because the beginning of the end will come at Fratton Park if his boys don’t pick up three points.

The Italian is rated at an unbelievable 1-9 to be in charge next August, but who in their right mind would consider that?

One-time odds-on to wrest the crown from Manchester United, Chelsea are now the outsiders of the top three with the Red Devils at evens, Arsenal 5-2 and the Pensioners — well named as most of their side is now growing old together — at 11-4.

Is is just coincidence that Chelsea’s woes have kicked in since John Terry’s off-the-field exploits? All does not seem will within the camp.

The Blues are a very short 1-4 to win at Pompey, but even hardened pro punters will hesitate about diving in at such a price after Chelsea failed to put Blackburn Rovers to the sword when having them at their mercy.

United are four points clear of Chelsea, but surely that will be only one after tonight which would then set up a potential title clincher at Old Trafford on April 3.

Arsenal may have something to say about that and a look at the fixtures would suggest they have the easier run-in.

Their trip to Birmingham on Saturday will certainly be a defining moment for Arsene Wenger’s side.

Not an easy game by any means, but one that the Gunners must win.

Liverpool are up against it to make the top four and are available at 5-1 to do so while Rafa Benitez is as low as 4-6 to be out of Anfield before the new season.

More worrying for Liverpool fans is that Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres could also depart of their own accord and layers are as low as 11-8 that both will leave. Hill’s go 8-1 Gerrard, Torres and Benitez will all be gone by the time August comes and 11-4 the trio being in situ. As for the next boss at Anfield, Martin O’Neill is worth an interest at 14-1.

We are set for an exciting last few weeks with the title decision possibly coming down to goal difference which gives United a big edge.

The Gunners are big losers in the Ladbrokes’ book and that’s why they are only 2-1 about Arsenal while odds of 7-2 are available for goal difference to come into play and 50-1 all three to finish level on points.

“We fear Arsenal,” said Ladbrokes’s David Williams. “If Wenger pulls this off, it will be the horror result for us.”

Meanwhile, hope you all jumped on Wayne Rooney at 3-1 to outscore Cristiano Ronaldo’s seasonal best of 42 goals at Old Trafford.

Rooney’s latest strike on Sunday against Liverpool gives him 33 from 39 games. He is well on target and has been cut to 7-4.

Hill’s: To be at Liverpool on first day of next season: Benitez: evens yes; 8-11 no; Torres: 1-2 yes; 6-4 no; Gerrard: 1-4 yes; 11-4 no.

Who will be next permanent boss: 7-2 Kenny Dalglish, Guus Hiddink; 4-1 Jose Mourinho; 6-1 Jurgen Klinsmann; 10-1 Frank Rijkaard; 12-1 Marco Van Basten; 12-1 Alex McLeish; 14-1 Roy Hodgson; 14-1 Martin O'Neill.

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