Welcome to the week 8 preview of the Premier League after an international break to cater for some World Cup Qualifiers. As always, it feels like an eternity when an International break takes place but it at least gives some clubs a bit of a breather and to consolidate. The Manchester clubs certainly would have welcomed this break regardless of their star players being absent for international duty. Both sides have been underwhelming thus far for the talent their squads boast and whilst they both have winnable games this week on paper, neither of their opponents will be pushovers in West Ham at away for City and Southampton at home for United. So could we have another twist in the tale this weekend? Let’s get stuck into it!
Best Bets this week:
Stoke and West Brom under 2.5 goals at $1.71
Everton to win at $1.48
Great Value this week:
Arsenal half/full time at $1.87
Betting odds from Betfair as at 18/10/13
Newcastle ($4.6) Vs Liverpool ($1.88), Draw ($3.9)
This has the makings of a great contest with Newcastle hosting Liverpool in the opening match of the weekend. Whilst Liverpool have the 5 wins and a draw from their 7 games, Newcastle with 3 wins and a draw have been fairly solid for a side that struggled throughout last season. Whilst Liverpool will be pinning their hopes on the partnership of Suarez and Sturrdige up front, Newcastle do have an in form Remy who has been terrific with 5 goals in his last 3 games.
Liverpool hold a very good record over Newcastle in their recent encounters with 7 wins from their last 10 meetings. The last time they went to St. James Park they ran away 6-0 winners with Sturridge scoring a brace and with Suarez absent. Everything so far points to a win for Liverpool with their strong form this season putting them in a very good position to start the season. Newcastle have been impressive of late thanks largely to Remy and the return of Cabaye and despite Liverpool’s strong form thanks to Sturridge and Suarez, I’m leaning towards a draw in this one
Predicted result: Draw 1-1
Best bet: Both teams to score at $1.66
Best Bet Confidence: 85%
Arsenal ($1.31) Vs Norwich ($13), Draw ($6)
Arsenal takes on Norwich this weekend at home with Ozil likely to line-up despite picking up a knock whilst on national duty. Sitting pretty at the top of the table with 5 wins and a draw, Arsenal will be very confident heading into this one with Norwich performing below expectations after a decent season last year. Two wins and a draw leaves them languishing in the relegation zone despite all the strengthening they did in the summer transfer window to establish themselves in the top flight for years to come. Whilst I can’t yet see them being relegated, they do need to start picking up a few more points before their mentality dips.
With Arsenal undefeated in 9 of their last 10 meetings with Norwich, and undefeated in their past 5 at home, it’s hard to see anything but an Arsenal win here. Confidence is sky high with the likes of Ramsey, Giroud, and Ozil leading the way. I can’t see Norwich going too hard for the win here knowing that a draw would be a big boost for them. So they’ll look to frustrate Arsenal a little bit and push them on the counter. It will be to little avail though as Arsenal should just have too much firepower to get them over the line at home.
Predicted result: Arsenal 2-0
Best bet: Arsenal half/full time at $1.87
Best Bet Confidence: 85%
Chelsea ($1.25) Vs Cardiff ($16), Draw ($6.6)
There is a bit of drama behind the scenes at Cardiff with owner Vincent Tan making some changes to backroom staff which could have an unsettling effect on the side as they travel to Chelsea this weekend. Mackay is a good manager though, so he should be able to keep the dressing room free of any drama. Chelsea on the other hand has had a pretty solid patch of form despite a striker still not scoring a goal in their 7 league games so far and with Torres out injured, the goal scoring duties look likely to rest with Ba or Eto’o.
This is really Chelsea’s game to lose and although I think they’ll get the win, Cardiff will be no pushovers despite the dramas happening off the pitch. Chelsea’s wealth of attacking midfield options as well as the fact this is a home game makes it tough to go against them here.
Predicted result: Chelsea 2-1
Best bet: Chelsea half/full time at $1.76
Best Bet Confidence: 80%
Everton ($1.48) Vs Hull ($9.2), Draw ($4.5)
This should be another fascinating game with Everton taking on a Hull side that has been very impressive so far. If they are to take anything away from this game though, they’ll need to stop Lukaku who has been in some serious form. 4 goals in his last 3 games for Everton as well as a brace for Belgium during the week against Croatia will put his confidence sky high here against Hull at home. The big blow for Hull here will be the loss of Robbie Brady to injury. He’s scored half of Hull’s goals in all competitions and will be a big blow to their chances this weekend.
With Barry to return having been ineligible to play against parent club Manchester City last time out as well as the in form Barkley and Lukaku, Everton should be too strong at home. This could be another Lukaku show this weekend.
Predicted result: Everton 2-0
Best bet: Everton to win at $1.48
Best Bet Confidence: 90%
Manchester United ($1.58) Vs Southampton ($7), Draw ($4.3)
Manchester United take on Southampton this weekend in what is perhaps a bit of a danger game given Southampton’s strong recent form. Southampton’s form sees them sitting comfortably in fourth with 4 wins, 2 draws and a loss. They’ll be hoping they aren’t the West Brom of 2013/14 as they look to continue their form into November and beyond. Manchester United could have been in a much worse position if not for the heroics of young gun Januzaj having been 1-0 down against Sunderland away. A loss in that game would have seen them pushed down to 14th position with the heat well and truly put onto Moyes.
The international break would have been a welcome one for United despite a number of stars absent for international duty. If anything it would have given Moyes a chance to regroup and assess his squad. Southampton pushed United in both encounters last season only losing by a goal and given United’s poor showings this season, a similar result is very likely. Which way the result falls will be very interesting and although Southampton are a big chance of taking away a point or more here, I can see United consolidating for a win at home. Look for both teams to score here with Southampton a real threat up front with the likes of Lambert and Osvaldo.
Predicted result: Manchester United 2-1
Best bet: Both teams to score at $1.84
Best Bet Confidence: 75%
Stoke ($2.34) Vs West Brom ($3.5), Draw ($3.35)
Stoke started the season well but 3 straight losses puts them in a precarious position sitting 16th in the league. Whilst they have done well adopting a different style of play, they need to bring in a few more players to help facilitate the change a little more. Creativity has and still is their issue so they’ll need to address that if they are to get the 3 points at home to a West Brom side that has had great past few weeks. Wins against Sunderland and Manchester United as well as a draw against Arsenal last time out puts this West Brom side back to their best from the early stages of the 2012/13 season.
The likes of Amalfitano and Sessegnon have given a big boost to this Baggie’s side that were struggling without a win in their first 4 games. West Brom’s form and the fact they are unbeaten away to Stoke in their past 3 gives me the impression that there could be a bit of an upset result again. Stoke are a tough side at home and are rightful favourites at $2.34, but I think West Brom can do enough in a low scoring game to get the points here.
Predicted result: West Brom 1-0
Best bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.71
Best Bet Confidence: 80%
Swansea ($1.62) Vs Sunderland ($6.6), Draw ($4.2)
With a new manager taking over at Sunderland, a positive showing will be the minimum expectation from Gus Poyet in contrast to the majority of Sunderland fans expecting their first win of the season. They’ve had two decent performances at home since the sacking of Di Canio, but this will be a tough test away. Swansea also have a bit to play for here too given that they are searching for their first home win of the season. Conceding 8 goals in 3 games at home compared to 3 goals in 4 away games is something that Laudrup will be looking to rectify quickly.
I have no doubt that a new manager in Poyet will have a positive effect on this wounded Sunderland side, though I can’t help but feel that a little of the spur teams usually get from a manager’s sacking would have dissipated over their past 2 home games. Swansea should still remain very wary in this one, though I think they can sneak over the line in a tight and exciting contest that should see at minimum goals from both sides.
Predicted result: Swansea 2-1
Best bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.9
Best Bet Confidence: 75%
West Ham ($5.7) Vs Manchester City ($1.73), Draw ($3.95)
The Hammer’s were impressive against Tottenham last time out as this Tottenham fan sat stunned on the couch in the early hours of the morning. Whilst I was disappointed my side didn’t turn up and got outplayed, I can only commend Big Sam’s tactics. He suffocated the midfield to not allow Tottenham any space or any creativity. So as they take on Manchester City this week, a side that has had its ups and downs this season, it’ll be interesting to see how he approaches this one. I can see West Ham playing a similar game plan this week in the hope of at least stifling Man City’s potency up front to take at minimum a draw. If anything it’ll be a pretty interesting midfield battle.
Manchester City’s away form has been pretty woeful this season with 2 losses and a draw from their 3 away fixtures so they’ll be looking to turn that around pretty quickly this weekend. For me, City’s issues stem from injuries to key players. Kompany is yet again injured which is a big blow to their defence whilst Silva has also been a notable absentee on a couple of occasions. The absence of Kompany will put a bit more pressure on Hart after his pretty poor form this season but the return of Silva and the form of Negredo should be enough for City to get their first away win in the league this week.
Predicted result: Manchester City 1-0
Best bet: Manchester City to win at $1.73
Best Bet Confidence: 65%
Aston Villa ($4.1) Vs Tottenham ($2.04), Draw ($3.6)
Aston Villa host Tottenham this week and will be keen to reverse their last meeting when they got thumped 4-0 in their league Cup meeting earlier this season. It won’t be as easy for Spurs this time around though given that a lot of the big name players for Villa will be back as well as Benteke likely to return from a hip injury which could be a key factor in this one. Also likely to return to a starting spot is Soldado after having been relegated to the bench to make way for a somewhat in form Defoe after his Cup and Europa league form.
Tottenham’s impressive recent record over Villa puts them in a good position heading into this one and they’ll be hungry to get back on the winning list after an appalling showing at home last time to West Ham. Villa haven’t beaten Tottenham at home since the 2007/08 season and despite their poor showing against West Ham they should be able to continue that run. Up until the West Ham game, Tottenham had only conceded 2 goals in 6 games against Chelsea and Arsenal. If the likes of Dawson and Vertonghen are switched on enough to keep control of Benteke, then they have a good shot here knowing that Lloris is in sparkling form at the moment. In saying that, I think Villa will score or at the very least create enough chances to score but Tottenham should have enough fire in them to get over the line and bounce back
Predicted result: Tottenham 2-1
Best bet: Over 2.5 goals at $2.02
Best Bet Confidence: 70%
Crystal Palace ($2.8) Vs Fulham ($2.8), Draw ($3.4)
The last game of the week sees a London derby take place with Crystal Palace hosting Fulham. Both sides are under a bit of pressure with the fans continuing to call for Jol to be sacked whilst Palace are looking more and more likely to be relegated having lost 6 of their opening 7 fixtures. There’s no doubt Fulham has more quality across the pitch but it just seems as though the new faces are still getting used to each other a little bit. I like the Berbatov/Bent partnership as it frees Berbatov to be more creative behind Bent, but I think he needs to score to kick-start his season. This could be just the fixture to do that with a Derby the type of game that a lot of players tend to get up for. The International break would have also given both sides time to work on a few things tactically.
Whilst I see Fulham as the stronger side on paper, I think Crystal Palace will be up for this one and will be eager to put in a good performance in front of their home crowd. With the pressure more so on Fulham and Jol to get the 3 points this could be a great opportunity for Palace to pick up a point here to get their season back on track and give a bit of a boost to the dressing room. Look for a pretty even game here with a goal apiece the minimum likely outcome for me.
Predicted result: Draw 1-1
Best bet: both teams to score at $1.87
Best Bet Confidence: 80%