After 6 weeks at the top of the league, Manchester City has relinquished their lead to an arch rival in Manchester United as we head into week 8. A fine run of form for United with 3 wins in a row in combination with City losing their last 2 games has given them top spot but it could be an interesting weekend of football to see if they both remain where they are. United have to tackle Arsenal away whilst City have a more favourable draw with Newcastle at home. It may all seem miniscule right now but every point counts in the race for the title and it’s looking like a tight race this year. Chelsea continues to struggle after an away draw at Newcastle leaving them still on just the 2 wins from 7 games. Chelsea have a tricky fixture this weekend too with the visit of Southampton and given both sides stuttering form this season that match could end either way. In the end though it’s undoubtedly going to be another twisted weekend of EPL action.
**Odds from Sportsbet as at 3rd October
Crystal Palace ($1.83) versus West Brom ($4.5), Draw ($3.5)
Palace were back to winning ways last week with a 1-0 win over Watford however they face a tricky visit of West Brom who have yet to lose away from home in the league this season. I think a key trend from West Brom’s away games should take place here as well in that we won’t see a lot of goals with just the 2 coming in the Baggies last 3 away. Palace too have had some low scoring contests of late with their last 3 games seeing just 3 goals with Palace scoring just 1 of those. West Brom will need to bounce back defensively though from last week’s defensive efforts against Everton. Ahead 2-0 they let the game get away from them in the 2nd half to lose 3-2 and I’m sure we’ll see a much more resolute defence in reaction to that with their previous 3 games registering clean sheets. Palace are no doubt the favourites and should probably win but if they do I don’t think there will be more than a goal in it.
Predicted score: Crystal Palace 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.68 (80%)
Next Best: Crystal Palace to win at $1.83
Aston Villa ($2.5) versus Stoke ($3), Draw ($3.2)
Villa are on a really poor run losing 5 of their last 6 and points won’t come easy this weekend when Stoke visit. The positive for Villa though is that they have been competitive in those games and probably should have had a few more points from them with the results of those matches decided by no more than a goal. Defensively though they have to sort it out because conceding 2 goals a game in their last 6 isn’t going to get you far. Stoke will have been given a confidence boost after they captured their first win of the season against Bournemouth last week. I think it’ll be tough for Villa to get a win here and Stoke’s first win of the season last week may just get the ball rolling for them. It’ll be tight but Stoke are a good shot at sneaking this from a Villa side low on confidence.
Predicted score: Stoke 2-1
Best Bet: Half-time Draw at $1.91 (70%)
Next Best: Stoke to win at $3
Bournemouth ($2.05) versus Watford ($3.6), Draw ($3.5)
Watford have been solid this season and especially defensively where they hold the equal 2nd best defensive record in the league with Man City and just 1 goal behind Tottenham and Man United. They’re well organised and it will certainly get them more points this season but they do need to start scoring more goals otherwise finding wins could become more difficult as the season goes on. Both sides have 2 wins so far but Watford have been more difficult to play in securing 3 draws. I don’t see a lot of goals coming in this one and I can see Watford being strong defensively in line with similar results between these two in recent times. The last 4 between these two in all competitions have all resulted under 2.5 goals with a win for both and two draws. I think Bournemouth may struggle for goals up top as well given the loss of Callum Wilson to a knee injury. He’d already scored 5 of their 9 goals this season so there may be a bit of time needed to readjust up front. With that readjustment comes Glenn Murray who’s a good striker in his own right but is a bit different to Wilson so they’ll need to adjust to the way he plays as well. Whilst I think a draw is a good outcome for both I feel like Watford might sneak this one. Defensively they have the game to do so and up front despite just the 5 goals scored they have the talent to win a game in Deeney and Ighalo.
Predicted score: Watford 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.78 (80%)
Next Best: Draw No bet Watford at $2.61
Value bet: Bournemouth to score no goals at $4
Manchester City ($1.25) versus Newcastle ($10), Draw ($6.5)
A shock loss for City at Tottenham last week should spark something at home this week when they take on Newcastle. There was certainly a positive result for City to build something on in their Champions League win after a late come from behind win away at Borussia Monchengladbach. They’ll need some confidence too after some poor results losing their last 2 league games to West Ham and Tottenham with their result against Tottenham last week their biggest loss since being taken over back in 2008. I think we’ll see a good performance here from City this week after relinquishing their top of the table position to Man United after losing to Tottenham. Another thing that will boost City is the potential return of Zabaleta as well as the expected recall of Joe Hart after a poor display from Caballero against Tottenham. That will be more than enough for them to get the win this week with Newcastle struggling for the majority of the season so far with just the 3 draws from 7 games.
Predicted score: Manchester City 3-0
Best Bet: Manchester City -1 Handicap at $1.62 (90%)
Next Best: Manchester City Half-Time/Full-Time at $1.67
Norwich ($2.3) versus Leicester ($3.1), Draw ($3.4)
Just the 3 losses between these two along with a combined 26 goals scored and 26 conceded should make for a good contest. There’s no doubt Leicester have caught the eye this season but Norwich are not far behind sitting relatively comfortably in 12th behind 8th placed Leicester. For me this game looks like it will produce goals especially given Norwich have only failed to score once this season in 9 games across all competitions this season. It’s a similar pattern for Leicester except they have scored in all of their 9 games in all competitions this season. I doubt either side will be suddenly focusing on defence either. Leicester had their first loss of the season last week against Arsenal and I’d expect them to bounce back in a competitive way here but Norwich have been pretty solid this season so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take something from this game either. Over 2.5 goals looks pretty likely given neither side have shown much defensively and offensively they’ve both been able to score regularly.
Predicted score: Draw 2-2
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.71 (90%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – yes at $1.57
Value bet: 4 or more goals in the match at $2.84
Sunderland ($3.1) versus West Ham ($2.3), Draw ($3.4)
The results haven’t been coming for Sunderland and the fixtures don’t get much easier either with the visit of West Ham this week. West Ham have been on fire lately undefeated in their last 4 with 3 wins and a draw including wins over Liverpool and Man City. Sunderland are struggling at the bottom of the table with 3 losses in a row and without a goal scored in those 3 games. Add to that 16 goals conceded in 7 games and they have the worse defensive record in the league at the moment. It doesn’t bode well with West Ham boasting the current equal best offensive record in the league with 15 goals along with Leicester. We can’t forget either that the Hammers have a perfect away record this season with wins over Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City. I think with that though there should be some caution with West Ham clearly playing well against the big clubs they may have to adjust to how they play against the struggling sides. With that said though, I don’t think Sunderland will have enough to get too much out of this game.
Predicted score: West Ham 2-1
Best Bet: West Ham to win at $2.3 (80%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.89
Chelsea ($1.75) versus Southampton ($5), Draw ($3.6)
Another draw last week for Chelsea continues their stuttering form that sees them in 14th with just the 2 wins and 2 draws against their name. There is definitely no certainty around Chelsea’s performances at the moment and it’s clear some of their big names are struggling. Hazard has yet to show the form of last season and Ivanovic looks a shadows of his former self whilst the likes of Terry and Cahill haven’t helped Begovic in between the sticks much either. It’s clear to me that Chelsea are no certainties for this one coming off an away loss at Porto during the week in the Champions League along with the continued absence of Diego Costa through suspension even if he’s been struggling for form himself. Southampton will fancy themselves to get something out of this one too. Last season they got two draws from this fixture and whilst they themselves are not the Southampton we saw last season it’s not the same Chelsea side either. Chelsea may well click this week finally but it’s too risky to bank on that one. A draw looks a likely outcome on recent form for both.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.72 (75%)
Next Best: Chelsea to lead at Half-time at $2.3
Everton ($2.7) versus Liverpool ($2.7), Draw ($3.25)
Everton have some momentum after winning 2 of their last 3 and losing just 1 of their last 7. For Liverpool they seem to be under immense pressure winning just 1 of their last 5 and it’ll be interesting to see how they back up from a poor 1-1 Europa League draw with Sion at home which they really should be winning. Heading into a derby they don’t look like they have had the right preparation and look a bit scrappy. Then again a derby can always get the best out of some players so we could see a better performance from Liverpool this week. I think they’ll have a lot of work to do though as Everton may be a little fresher and will be boosted by their come from behind win away at West Brom last time out. Lukaku found some form too in that game with 2 goals and I think he’ll cause some trouble to Liverpool at the back who look like they are back to leaking goals like last season with 9 conceded in their last 4 games. We should have a good game derby wise here but I think Everton will get this one in a tight game. Liverpool look under too much pressure at the moment.
Predicted score: Everton 2-1
Best Bet: Everton Draw no bet at $1.81 (85%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.91
Arsenal ($2) versus Manchester United ($3.75), Draw ($3.5)
It’s a clash between 1st and 4th here and perhaps could be a cagey one. United won’t be keen on allowing Arsenal a win to leave them equal on 16 points whilst Arsenal won’t want United to skip out to a 6 point gap on them and maintain their small lead over Man City. Sometimes these clashes between the big clubs can produce tight and low scoring contests as they look to not lose too much to the other and this could be one of those games. I don’t think it’ll be a goalless game but I do think it will be a tight one. Arsenal will be boosted by their scoring form at Leicester last week with 5 goals but before that they struggled and United won’t be easy to score against boasting the equal best defensive record in the league with just the 5 goals conceded. Arsenal have been pretty good defensively as well with just the 7 goals conceded but will be looking to bounce back from conceding 3 at home to Olympiakos in their Champions League fixture. For United they will be full of confidence after a 2-1 win over Wolfsburg in their Champions League fixture to add to their 3 game winning streak in the league. On form I’d say United should be winning this but with the uncertainty around how some of these clashes go between top sides a draw is a safer play.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Half-time draw at $2.1 (75%)
Next Best: Under 2.5 goals at $2
Swansea ($2.7) versus Tottenham ($2.62), Draw ($3)
Tottenham will be full of confidence after their stunning 4-1 win over Manchester City at home last week. Of course there was some controversial decisions in that match with 3 offside goals missed (the opening goal for City and 2 for Tottenham) but sometimes that happens in football and now it’s just history. Spurs will be keen to take advantage of some poor Swansea form lately that has seen them drop to 11th after 2 losses and a draw in their last 3 games. In contrast, Tottenham are undefeated in their last 6 league games winning their last 3 to push their way into the top 6. What Tottenham may find difficult this week though will be backing up from an away trip to Monaco and then an away trip to Swansea. That could play into the hands of Swansea but if anything for me that just gives Swansea a chance of a draw. Tottenham have been playing some good football and the belief is building and I don’t see them getting anything less than a draw here. A win isn’t beyond them either and we can’t forget either that the 8 premier league meetings between these two have resulted in 7 wins and a draw in favour of Tottenham. Interestingly in contrast to previous seasons, there has been a clear improvement in Tottenham defensively. They currently hold the equal best defensive record in the league with Man United after 7 games.
Predicted score: Tottenham 2-1
Best Bet: Tottenham to win either half at $1.82 (85%)
Next Best: Half-time draw at $2