BETTING: Newcastle United backed to give Birmingham the Blues

Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez.
Newcastle United boss Rafa Benitez.

Neither Newcastle nor tomorrow’s opponents Birmingham City finished their last league contests with a full compliment of players, but both will need to be disciplined when they lock horns at St James’s Park this weekend in a match the league leaders kick off as Betway’s 1/2 favourites.

Birmingham, who saw their duel with Barnsley slip away from them after having a man sent off, suffered only their third defeat in 15 matches last weekend.

They make the journey north priced as Marathonbet’s massive 15/2 underdogs.

The visitors, like many punters, are no doubt mindful that returning home with a point would represent a good day’s work; the likelihood of a score draw is rated a 10/3 shot by bet365.

Elsewhere, Paddy Power chalk 6/5 against the first half ending on level terms, with Matchbook.com chalking 9/4 against the first period finishing goalless; a 1-0 home win is priced at 11/2 by 188bet.

Few goals are predicted when Sunderland face fellow strugglers Swansea at the Liberty Stadium tomorrow: Unibet offer even money against the contest yielding fewer than 2.5 goals.

As the home side, City kick off as Coral’s even money favourites to register maximum points and maintain their pursuit of Premier League safety.

None the less, it’s a surprise to see the Black Cats quoted at 13/5 (BetVictor.com) to win after three victories in their last four league contests.

Five of the pair’s last seven duels (and three of their last four) have ended with honours even and given what’s at stake, the draw, priced at 5/2 by Skybet, could offer punters solid insurance.

Indeed, backers poring through correct score market odds will note that the most heavily-supported result is a 1-1 draw (11/2, Betway), although it’s difficult to ignore the 8/1 available at Winner.com for Sunderland to win 1-0.