What Happens Next
Our Monday column looking for ante-post value pinpoints a potential summer golf angle for the Open Championship.
Tommy Fleetwood's home course stages the Open Championship in July
A curious weekend in the Premier League in which the top six, who have often appeared to be playing a separate competition of their own, all showed some degree of vulnerability. Chelsea and Arsenal were the only two of the pair to win, while Manchester United needed a last-gasp moment of Wayne Rooney brilliance to draw at Stoke.
Top football boffins are still studying Manchester City's 2-2 draw with Spurs to ascertain precisely how that match came to end all-square while, worst of the lot, Liverpool threw in a truly dreadful display to lose 3-2 at home to a Swansea side that had been in freefall.
That result is not an isolated one for Liverpool, who have endured a torrid start to 2017. Since beating Manchester City in their final game of 2016, the Reds have won just one of six games in all competitions – and that a 1-0 FA Cup third-round replay against Sky Bet League Two side Plymouth.
The focus returns to cup competitions for Liverpool this week, and they look mighty vulnerable. Southampton take a 1-0 EFL Cup semi-final lead to Anfield on Wednesday night, but it's Saturday's FA Cup fourth-round clash with Wolves that catches the eye.
Wolves have endured a tough Sky Bet Championship season, but things are looking up with four wins out of the last seven in all competitions – including a 2-0 success at Premier League Stoke in round three of the cup – and also earned a creditable 0-0 draw at Sheffield Wednesday.
Jurgen Klopp's third-round selections and the Southampton semi-final on Wednesday night both suggest that we can expect to see something of a scratch Liverpool side in Saturday's lunchtime kick-off, and double-figure quotes of Wolves draw no bet look well worth an interest given the Reds' current woes. (Dave Tickner)
Atlanta and New England will contest Super Bowl LI in Houston on February 5 and the early spread sees the latter having to give up 3.5 points on the handicap.
That equates to a best price of 4/6 with Sky Bet and Betfred on the money line and in what will be a myriad of punting opportunities across all sports at that sort of price, there will be a lot worse wagers on offer.
Quarterback Tom Brady – despite his own claims that he has moved on – is on a mission to stick a middle finger up to the NFL authorities following the drawn out Deflategate affair and what better way to gain compensation by being handed the Vince Lombardi trophy by commissioner Roger Goodell in a fortnight.
It doesn't start or end with Brady either – the Patriots defense has quietly gone about its business all season and lead the league by allowing their rivals on average just 15.6 points per game.
That is a rather handy statistic as they prepare to tackle a high-octane Falcons offense that trampled all over Green Bay and have developed a habit of making a fast start and piling on the pressure.
They have averaged 39 points per outing since week 13 with quarterback Matt Ryan playing at an incredibly high level and an array of talent on offense that is able to score at will currently.
But we have seen this all before – Carolina 12 months ago are an ideal example – so I would be much more inclined to side with a Patriots defense well capable of slowing down Atlanta and forcing them to try and scramble for a plan B. (David John)
A weekend for overdue winners as Tommy Fleetwood took the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and Hudson Swafford bravely secured a thrilling renewal of the CareerBuilder Challenge.
While the future is bright for both, Swafford is plying his trade on the most competitive Tour in the world and it's very difficult to know exactly how far he can go.
Having made him one of my 25 PGA Tour players to watch in 2017, I take a generally positive view of his prospects and it could well be that this win sees him become a frequent PGA Tour contender, but for now we're best to wait and see the impact of victory rather than try to predict it.
Fleetwood is a player I tipped on several occasions towards the end of 2016, as I'm a firm believer that long-term consistency from tee-to-green is the most straightforward path to success.
He had a miserable record in Abu Dhabi, but when your ball is effectively on a string, you can win anywhere.
Now up to 53 in the world, Fleetwood is on the verge of securing starts in all the big events and it's no surprise that he's 125/1 from 200s for the Open Championship.
As I wrote in my preview of this year's majors, Fleetwood had to be considered for The Open given the quality of his play and the fact that it's being played at Birkdale, close to his home and a course he knows back to front.
As a fine links exponent who is bursting with confidence, I wouldn't put anyone off backing him now. I'm near certain he'll make the field – something which couldn't be taken for granted before last week's event – and his career path is very similar to Danny Willett's with major success very much a possibility.
Looking ahead to this week, Fleetwood is towards the top of the betting for the Qatar Masters and looks to have stronger claims than several others at similar prices. (Ben Coley)
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