Another weekend, another massive set of games in the Premier League. This weekend is all about the derbies; Two of English football’s most reversed clashes taking place on the same day, with all four teams desperately needing a win, as the two title favourites are also in action on a bumper day. The fixtures are all previewed today below, but a bet covering the whole weekend might be one to consider; the 9/4 Bet365 offer on there being 31 goals. The scores from these fixtures last year (allowing for the fact that West Brom have not played Burnley previously) would have tallied upto 26 goals, but there’s reason to believe that total can go higher this weekend. Everton and Liverpool’s defensive woes mean that at least matching their total from last year is eminently possible, Chelsea are yet to keep a clean sheet in the league, QPR have conceded 6 goals in their last 2 games, Hull have scored 4 in their last 2 (and take on Manchester City today, who are finding form), and Manchester United have scored 7 in their last 2, although they let in 3 against Leicester and face a West Ham side that put three past Liverpool with only one centreback likely to be in their starting XI.
Advice: 2 pts Over 31 goals this weekend (9/4 Bet365)
Liverpool (1) v Everton (7/2)
The anticipation is as high as ever ahead of this Merseyside Derby but neither side have lived upto expectations with Liverpool having been beaten three times already and Everton having won just one game so far. Liverpool’s slump is more serious when you consider that they arguably should have lost to Ludogoretz and Middlesbrough at Anfield in the meantime; Everton were knocked out of the League Cup comprehensively in midweek.
The most notable factor in this poor form has been the defensive errors that regularly hampered Liverpool last season, although worryingly Liverpool have been desperately short of creativity – they do not lack the cutting edge infront of goals with 7 scored so far about par for the course – since their win at Spurs a few weeks ago.
The conditions would normally be ideal for Everton to take their first derby win in four years, but their defensive errors have outranked even Liverpool’s with 13 goals conceded in their 5 games so far, including a criminal loss of control against Crystal Palace when they took an early lead and dominated for the first half an hour.
It is also a worth noting that against two teams from last season’s top 6 earlier on in the season, Everton conceded 8 goals at home- including losing a match that was there for the taking against Arsenal who were in disarray. In short, neither side makes too much appeal at the match odds and goals are the obvious route. The two league encounters between these two finished 3-3 at Goodison and 4-0 to the hosts here at Anfield, and a similar amount of goals would not surprise. It’s 3-1 and above on the match results with both teams to score mixed in, but the 31/20 on over 3.5 goals looks backable and the 8/13 on over 2.5 looks a banker.
Advice: 1 pt Over 3.5 goals (31/20 Boylesports, Bet Victor), 2 pts Over 2.5 goals (8/13 general)
Chelsea (1/4) v Aston Villa (15)
Chelsea were outplayed for the first time this season but a draw against Manchester City – despite losing an advantage held in the last 15 minutes – is a result that only enhance their title credentials and they should put three points on the board against Aston Villa, whose unbeaten run ended against a resurgent Arsenal last week. Villa are a threat Chelsea should be wary of, but Chelsea have accomplished all their wins by at least two goals and look worth chancing to beat the handicap again.
Advice: 2 pts Chelsea -1 (7/10 Bwin)
Crystal Palace (7/4) v Leicester (19/10)
The Leicester dream continued with a 5-3 win against Manchester United last week and they look more then capable of taking another win from their trip to Crystal Palace. Nigel Pearson’s men were opened up by United’s forward legion but many sides will be and their attacking response, with Richie De Laet and Jamie Vardy in particular excelling down the flanks, was immaculate and there is also much to be said about Leonardo Ulloa’s fine form with 5 goals in 5 games so far; Estaban Cambiasso slotted infront of the defence in fine style, helping to see the game out late, and there was nothing undeserved about another fine win. Crystal Palace’s win at Everton – much like Leicester’s – came after being dominated early but they too took advantage of defensive mistakes with aplomb – especially those of Tim Howard. That was their second time scoring 3 goals this season (also at Newcastle), so a goal threat is very much there, but Leicester showed great composure to hold out Stoke on the road and deny Arsenal a point and they also battled very well at Stamford Bridge.
Advice: 1 pt Leicester (19/10 Coral)
Hull (11/2) v Manchester City (3/5)
Manchester City will be conscious of not letting Chelsea get any further away than they have done so far but they were massively improved in that game and should prove too good for Hull with many of their key players beginning to come into form properly. That said, Hull’s new January contingent have played well in two games since and looked to be a real threat both against West Ham at the KC and Newcastle at St James’s Park. Both teams have scored in all but one of their games this season and that could be an option but City defended very well against Chelsea and the price on overs could be a good option.
Advice: 2 pts Over 2.5 goals (4/5 SkyBet)
Manchester United (2/5) v west Ham (15/2)
Liverpool quickly became the team to watch last season and that honour looks to have fallen on Manchester United after just two games with a new set of players. Falcao, Robin Van Persie, Ander Herrera and most importantly Angel Di Maria have helped score seven goals in just two matches, but like Liverpool last year, they have a defence that is miles behind their forward power and that led to Leicester scoring a remarkable 4 in 20 minutes to win 5-3 last week. Any side are capable of taking advantage of these decencies and Big Sam – looking to finally change his mentality at Upton Park – has signed extremely well so far with Enner Valencia in particular shining at the forefront of a team that carries itself well with his pace, as they showed when beating Liverpool at Upton Park comprehensively last week. Manchester United’s case is not helped at all by the fact that they are struggling with defensive injuries, with Darren Fletcher set to play at centreback to fill in alongside a left minded player in Marcos Rojo. Take the 8/11 Ladbrokes dangle about both teams scoring and put it into a United win if you want to back the Reds.
Advice: 2 pts Both Teams To Score (8/11 Ladbrokes)
Southampton (4/9) v QPR (7)
Southampton have belied negative pre season predictions with a stunning start to the season that included a win at Arsenal in the Capital One Cup in midweek; Noteworthy for the fact it was no weak side that Arsene Wenger put out as well as the significance of the result. QPR have struggled from the start and look immediate relegation candidates, with their 2-2 draw against Stoke barely deserved. Southampton can cover the handicap if playing with the fluency of previous weeks.
Advice: 1 pt Southampton -1 (7/5 Spread Ex)
Sunderland (17/10) v Swansea (19/10)
Swansea have started the season equally as impressively as Southampton and a 1-0 defeat to one of the form sides in the Premier League was harsh on the Welshmen last week as they were value for a point at the least. They can take three points from Sunderland, who were fortunate to take a point for Tottenham in their last game here.
Advice: 1 pt Swansea (19/10 general)
Arsenal (5/6) v Tottenham (4)
The Premier League has two of it’s biggest derbies today and both of them are linked by the fact that none of the four teams playing are in good form. Arsenal will be delighted with their position in the table but have been dreadful in every game apart from Aston Villa and their defeat to Southampton in midweek – where several likely first team players had a hard 90 minutes – in one of the competitions they have a chance of winning to boot. However Tottenham were no better against Nottingham Forest and were desperately disappointing against West Brom; To add to a disappointing showing against Sunderland last week where they dropped points begging to be taken. Arsenal’s home record alone is deserving of favouritism – they have won their last 6 against them at the Emirates in all competitions – is hard to argue with.
However Arsene Wenger’s non committal stance upon playing Mezut Ozil behind the striker there is a huge worry. The German gave his best performance in a year when put in that position last week and one gets the sense that his performances will be crucial to their season, with Arsenal looking a different side with him there and not. Danny Welbeck can thrive here, and Alexis Sanchez is beginning to, but they are not a side I’d like to trust at odds on.
Spurs do boast some fine players capable of troubling Arsenal – Erik Lamela, free of injury and personal troubles, chief amongst them – but they have lacked cutting edge going forward and this is best left.
Advice: No bet.