Arsenal (2/1) v Manchester City (13/8)
Arsenal’s pre season promised so much but they have proven to be an exact example of why not to trust such form and unless previous standards improve then they look set to suffer another defeat to a key title rival at the Emirates today. Last year Arsenal were remembered at the end of the season for their FA Cup win and also the thrashings they endured at Anfield, the Etihad, and Stamford Bridge.
Arsenal’s home record against other members of the elite actually reads fairly well – They drew against City and Chelsea and deservedly took down a high flying Liverpool side last year at the Emirates – and that offers encouragement for their crunch clash but at that time they were playing far better than they have ben now and the evidence on the pitch is worrying. Arsenal are yet to play well in a competitive game so far this season – for the full 90 minutes – with a win snatched against Crystal Palace and qualification or the Champions League sealed after a horrendously tight encounter which could’ve gone either way against Besiktas – those are the only two wins that Arsenal have to their name, with Everton having collapsed late on (although the resilience showed to claw the game back was impressive compared to their 3-0 thumping last year) and Leicester having held them comfortably in their two league daws, the latter a particularly frustrating affair where Arsenal never looked like taking three points.
Yaya Sanogo – who had seven shots without a goal – proved to be painfully below standard in attack against Leicester, do the arrival of Danny Welbeck from Manchester United in a deadline day swoop is an excellent move for the short term assuming that he can keep fit with his pace and direct running exactly what Arsenal need, and a double of England goals in midweek sure to have helped his confidence following few opportunities. If Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey both play, his presence should be a major boost, but it remains to be seen if Ozil plays in his best position and if Ramsey plays at all.
Manchester City’s squad has been at varying levels of form and fitness – a plague affecting so many of Europe’s elite – but their clinicality against Newcastle and Liverpool was right were they dropped off from last year and it would be unwise to read too much into their defeat against Stoke; One of the occasions where the chances didn’t stick throughought the season. City have won just once at Arsenal in recent times but they would be my marginal favourites and the prices look right for a game which could end a score draw but also one that I’m not keen on backing hard.
Advice: No bet
Chelsea and Swansea are the top two ides in the Premier League but it’s the home side that’s expected to end the season at the top of the table and they can make it 4 wins on the bounce at Stamford Bridge.
Swansea deserve big credit for the way that they’ve started the season with smart transfers helping them to execute the clinical, smart style of football they’ve become known for in recent seasons and they should be looking towards a top half finish at the least if maintaining their current level of form. A 1-0 win against Burnley had some hairy moments but they fully deserved their wins against Manchester United and West Brom and have been one of the most impressive sides around so far.
Chelsea were predicted to throw down a big title challenge before the season started and have proven as good as their word in going three from three in style. A first half blitz at Burnley showed just how Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas could link and if they made harder work of things against Leicester at Stamford Bridge afterwards, they were phenomenal at Goodison Park in what became a pinball shootout that they were never in any real danger of losing where their midfielders ran riot and Diego Costa bagged two. There are supposedly injury concerns against Diego Costa, whose hamstring continued to cause him trouble, but the arrival of Loic Remy from QPR should provide more than ample cover with the Frenchman fresh from scoring the winner for France against Spain.
Swansea can be expected to put up a big showing but Chelsea are yet to win by less than two goals and can keep that trend up today on home turf.
Advice: 3 pts Chelsea -1 (19/20 Spreadex)
Burnley were relegation certainties in the eyes of many at the beginning of the season and they looked it after being taken apart on the opening weekend by Chelsea, but since then they’ve proven themselves to be well upto par and they can gain another point at least at Selhurst Park this weekend.
Crystal Palace made a return to the brave old world of Neil Warnock in style last week with a thrilling point gained at Newcastle while Sean Dyche’s Burnley took their first point of the season with a thoroughly deserved 0-0 draw against Manchester United that could’ve been a repeat of the fairy-tale 1-0 success in 2009.
Since their opening day thumping at the hands of the Blues, Dyche’s men have been aggressive, sharp, inventive and tight at the back, holding United comfortably while threatening in patches and also being unlucky not to take a point at least from their game against Swansea. While one can appreciate the tenacity showed by Crystal Palace so far this season (they were particularly unlucky to lose to Arsenal), they have conceded three in their last 2 league games which gives encouragement that Burnley can get the goals needed to take at least a point here and the 8/11 on them doing so looks like value.
Advice: 2 pts Burnley/Draw (8/11 Ladbokes)
Southampton (5/6) v Newcastle (4)
There were fears for Southampton after a transfer window that saw them lose countless key players over the summer but on all this evidence of this season they have recruited extremely smartly both in terms of their management and players; Newcastle have made a solid enough start to the campaign without winning so far – impressing with the amount of chances they made against Manchester City before being well held by a stubborn Aston Villa side and pegged back by Crystal Palace at home.
It’s hard to rate either of these sides with any conviction – Newcastle offered nothing against Villa going forward but created no end of openings against Palace – but they also let in three goals that day.
If Newcastle are as open again then Southampton should fancy their chances of being able to take those opportunities as they did at West ham but at 5/6 they look short enough and Newcastle look to have been readily dismissed at a price of 4/1 in a game that looks an awful lot tighter on paper than the odds suggest.
Stoke (23/20) v Leicester (3)
Following their 1-0 win at Manchester City – a result that was not undeserved – Stoke are understandably favourites to beat Leicester at their home haunt of the Britannia. However, twice before they had been deservedly beaten by Aston Villa and scrapped a point away against a 10 man Hull, and bookmakers have been quick to dismiss Leicester, who have put up fine showings on all three of their games back in the top flight.
While Leicester’s draws against Arsenal and Everton came at the King Power stadium, they were at least as impressive against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, when they restricted Jose Mournhio’s side for long periods and were a major threat on the break too. If anything, there has been more consistency to their showings than Stoke and at 3/1 are temptingly priced to give Stoke a big shock today. That game at Stamford Bridge was the first time in 34 that the Foxes haven’t scored once at least and it would be a surprise if this remotely as straightforward as the odds suggested. Instead, look to under 2.5 goals with Stoke having had three games go under while Leicester have seen two.
Advice: 2 pts Under 2.5 goals (8/11 Bet Victor)
Tottenham had their ambitions and flaws exposed when they were taken apart by Liverpool but it would be unwise to judge them solely by that game and they are more than capable of taking three points off Sunderland this afternoon.
Maurichio Pochettino’s side were torn to shreds by Liverpool’s running game with the pace of Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge overwhelming Spurs’s back four as Mario Balotelli’s impressive work rate proved to be a big factor in their success with the runs of Sterling being supplied in fine style by Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen in general. Their midfield was second best in mobility terms and was beaten as their own game – Mauricio Pochettino’s high pressing system – but today face a different task.
Sunderland bring plenty of energy and industry but were deservedly beaten by QPR at Loftus Road – the same side that Tottenham tore to pieces on the second weekend – last week and may have been flattered by a very poor Manchester United performance with their 1-1 draw here.
It’s easy to forget just how well Nacer Chadli, Christian Eriksen and especially the healthy Erik Lamela have started this season and Emmanuel Abdebayor has also shown plenty of his best form so far. The worry is that Adam Johnson and Emmnanuel Giaccherini can get in behind Danny Rose and Eric Dier but Spurs boast more than enough class to take three points.
Advice: 6 pts Tottenham (23/20 Paddy Power)
West Brom (13/5) v Everton (13/10)
Everton’s attacking standards don’t look to have dropped the slightest from last season but their defending looks to be a serious issue and they could be involved in a high scoring game at the Hawthorns today.
Everton have scored 7 goals in their first three games, a very healthy scoring total – but come away with just 2 points thanks to conceding 10. While some perspective is needed – 6 of those came against a Chelsea side that are league favourites in the eyes of many and two came against Arsenal – but there has been a notable lack of composure at the back which has cost them notable points.
They should be too good for a West Brom side which has performed with notable endeavour so far if they bring their best form to the table, with a wealth of attacking options including Steven Naismith and Samuel Eto’o – both of whom scored against Chelsea last week – but the defence questions remaining mean that the price on overs of 20/21 makes more appeal.
Advice: 2 pts Over 2.5 goals (21/20 general)
Liverpool (3/10) v Aston Villa (10)
Liverpool, if playing in the same form that saw them beat Tottenham last week, should be able to find a way past Aston Villa without too much fuss but Paul Lambert’s side have made a very impressive start to the season and deserve respect going to a venue where they have not tasted defeat in their last three matches at Anfield. However, taking on Hull, Newcastle and Stoke is a different challenge to this and this game may well be best left.
Advice: No bet