Welcome to week 2 of the English Premier League and after a fantastic opening round of games for the 2014/15 season there is plenty more to come this weekend. It’s difficult to make judgements on sides after just the one game but there are some warning signs for some sides whilst other sides look capable of a few surprises. Manchester United are one of the sides no doubt with a few alarm bells ringing after a pretty poor performance against Swansea and with no major signings since Shaw and Herrera, it could be another long season. On a different note, Chelsea looked absolutely superb in their first match against Burnley and whilst they conceded the first goal, which in itself was a fantastic shot, they rallied well and put the foot down to get a comfortable 3-1 win. They are certainly the ones to beat at this early stage. A few key contests this weekend include Everton taking Arsenal and the rounding off of week 2 with the clash of heavyweights Manchester City and Liverpool which will no doubt draw plenty of attention.
**Odds from Sportsbet as at 23rd August
Aston Villa ($2.5) versus Newcastle ($2.87), Draw ($3.3)
Aston Villa take on Newcastle at home in the first game of the weekend as they look to build on their strong performance last week when they beat Stoke 1-0 away. It was a great win for Villa in a game where Stoke were largely expected to at minimum get a draw. Additionally it will instil plenty of confidence as they head into this home fixture although they will need to be on their game as Newcastle, despite their loss to Manchester City, had some really impressive passages last week and were unlucky to not score. I was particularly impressed with Remy Cabella who looked a constant threat in his first game for Newcastle and I’d expect the same enthusiasm here. There’s positives that can be drawn from both sides here heading into this one with Villa looking a lot more solid defensively with the addition of Senderos and the return from the wilderness of Hutton whilst Newcastle’s new signings all showed good signs against Manchester City. Newcastle will be confident of a good result here having claimed the double over Villa last season and I can’t help but feel that for all of the good things Villa did last week, Newcastle may just snatch this one.
Predicted score: Newcastle 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.69 (70%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – No at $1.91
Chelsea ($1.22) versus Leicester ($13), Draw ($6.5)
Chelsea had to wait a while to get their season underway but they did it in style with an effortless 3-1 win over newcomers Burnley. Yes they did go down early, and perhaps surprisingly, but at 1-0 down they really kicked into gear with Diego Costa equalising at 1-1 which was then followed up with perhaps the best assist you will see all season when Fabregas put Shuerrle in to make it 2-1. From there it wasn’t long until they made it 3-1. They knocked in 3 goals in 17 minutes in a fantastic display. It can be argued the opposition was the weakest of the league but there is no denying, for me at least, that this Chelsea team put in the best team performance of the weekend. They face another newly promoted side in Leicester this weekend at home and they’ll be keen to put in another strong performance in front of their fans. Leicester played really well against Everton at home coming from behind twice to level the game and take a well-deserved point. This one however will be a much tougher ask to topple the title favourites. It of course isn’t impossible but it certainly doesn’t look likely. Look for goals in this one as Chelsea continue to put the foot down.
Predicted score: Chelsea 3-0
Best Bet: Chelsea for the half-time/full-time double at $1.62 (90%)
Next Best: Chelsea to win to Nil at $1.86
Crystal Palace ($2.5) versus West Ham ($3), Draw ($3.2)
Another London derby for both these sides with Crystal Palace hosting a West Ham side perhaps a little rattled after a poor showing against Tottenham last weekend. The Hammers had the opportunity to put the game away early with Spurs down to 10 but Noble’s missed penalty and their inability to be clinical in the final third meant Spurs were able to claw their way back and steal the 3 points. That perhaps is the key point about the West Ham side in that they lack that clinical edge up front especially with Carroll out injured. They do have a few more options this season in Valencia and Zarate but they may need some more time. Palace had good game against Arsenal against the odds last weekend where they would have been excused for imploding having their coach quit just days earlier but they did very well to maintain their focus and execute their game plan pretty effectively where they were perhaps a tad unlucky to not snatch a point with a second yellow for Puncheon and a late goal from Ramsey sealing the win for the Gunners. The key for Palace’s game plan is based on defence and they showed that under former manager Tony Pulis and I’d expect no less under interim manager Keith Millen. As such with a combination of an impotent West Ham defence under a heap of pressure to play with more attacking flair against a solid defensive unit in that of Palace we could be in for a low scoring game here in a 1-1 or a 0-0 draw. Palace certainly have the edge but you’d expect the Hammers to bounce back at some capacity.
Predicted score: Draw 0-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.5 (85%)
Next Best: perhaps a little more of a value play, but West Ham to keep a clean sheet at $3.04
Southampton ($1.85) versus West Brom ($4.33), Draw ($3.6)
Southampton will look to get their season underway against West Brom at home having lost at Liverpool last week in a game where they certainly held their own. It was perhaps widely expected that Liverpool would come out and almost put on a clinic against a Southampton side depleted of their best players from last season. I was impressed with Southampton considering the losses they have had. Wanyama looked solid in midfield and assuming he can stay fit, he and Schneiderlin will no doubt be a key part to their success this year. Tadic also looked lively and I don’t think he’ll take long to settle into Premier League life. They take on a West Brom side coming off a draw with Sunderland though I’m not sure if they have enough quality to get a good result away from home this week. If the Saints can throw up a good performance at home this week then I’m sure we’ll see them back on the winner’s list after a tumultuous lead up in the transfer market.
Predicted score: Southampton 2-1
Best Bet: Southampton to win at $1.85 (75%)
Next Best: I fancy Tadic to get on the scoresheet this week – To score anytime at $3.3
Swansea ($1.67) versus Burnley ($5.5), Draw ($3.75)
Swansea couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season then what they had at Old Trafford last week. It was a really well-deserved win and they took advantage over some sloppy and nervy play from their opponents. Sigurdsson in particular played a fantastic game with a goal and an assist which setup the win and if he can continue to contribute in that fashion this season then Swansea have a great chance of pushing into the top 10. It is of course early days and they must first focus on getting past Burnley this week who are coming off a 3-1 loss to Chelsea. They didn’t shame themselves of course having taken the lead from a well taken Arfield shot on goal but it was relatively clear that they need to improve quickly if they are to get results in the top flight. A step down in opposition quality may help them get into their game a little more but with Swansea flying high they could be facing another loss this week. It will be interesting to see if Gomis gets a start ahead of Bony this week as he certainly showed some spark when he came onto the ground in the second half against United last week. For a side that lost Michu on loan and were looking a little light on in attack, they certainly have some options now. I don’t think Burnley will be overrun as much as they were against Chelsea, but we should see a home win here.
Predicted score: Swansea 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.82 (80%)
Next Best: Swansea to win at $1.67
Everton ($2.75) versus Arsenal ($2.7), Draw ($3.25)
Arsenal head to Everton this weekend looking to consolidate their late win over Crystal Palace last weekend and perhaps redeem themselves after a tough game during the week in their Champion’s League qualifier. Coming off a trip to Turkey won’t be easy for the Gunners so we could expect to see a couple new faces from the team last weekend that played Palace. Mertesacker should slot back in the heart of defence which will be a big boost whilst Id expect Giroud to start ahead of Sanogo in this one. Ozil could also play a part in some capacity here which is an exciting prospect to see him line-up alongside Sanchez, Ramsey, and Cazorla. For Everton it’ll likely be the same line-up that drew 2-2 with Leicester last weekend and they’ll need to show some improvement this weekend if they are to get something out of this contest. Ross Barkley’s injury is a massive loss for them as he was one expected to improve again this season. Big money signing Lukaku will need to show his worth after a relatively poor start to his season against Leicester. Last season’s meetings between these two saw some interesting results with Everton winning 3-0 in their home encounter whilst Arsenal could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Everton. Both sides were less than convincing last weekend and as such it’s a pretty difficult game to predict. For me I can see this one ending in a draw with a slight edge to the Gunners with their returning stars.
Predicted score: Draw 2-2
Best Bet: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.62 (80%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.82
Hull ($2.4) versus Stoke ($3.1), Draw ($3.2)
Hull got their season off to the perfect start with a good win away at QPR with a home meeting with Stoke this weekend their next test. Stoke meanwhile had a little bit of a wakeup call losing to Villa at home and they’ll be eager to get something out of this game. Looking at Hull, they’ve had a good summer of transfers but they suddenly look a little light in attack having lost Snodgrass to injury and selling Shane Long to Southampton without a replacement just yet. They’ve also had to deal with Europa League during the week and whilst I don’t think fatigue will have much impact this early in the season, it’ll be interesting to see how they back up a few days after a loss away. Perhaps importantly for this match key players such as Jelavic didn’t play a big part in their Europa League loss. The last time these two met in last season’s corresponding fixture we were dealt a 0-0 draw whilst Stoke won their home meeting with Hull 1-0. Stoke have certainly improved on paper offensively through their transfer dealings and whilst I’d expect this to be another low scoring game I’m keen on a Stoke win here to kick off their season.
Predicted score: Stoke 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.5 (85%)
Next Best: Both teams to core – No at $1.72
Tottenham ($1.44) versus QPR ($8), Draw ($4.33)
It was a roller coaster of a game for Spurs fans last week having gone down to 10 men in the first half against the Hammers to somehow rescue the game and take the 3 points thanks to some fantastic play from Harry Kane to play Eric Dier to score on debut in added time. They take on QPR this week with the added ingredient being the Harry Redknapp’s arrival back at White Hart Lane. I’m sure it won’t be a hostile affair for Redknapp as he was generally well liked amongst Spurs fans and that is of course assuming Tottenham get the 3 points. QPR had a tough game against Hull last week where they had a chance to rescue a point through a penalty but a tame effort from Charlie Austin meant Hull ran away with the win. They have a much tougher ask this weekend though against a Tottenham side growing in confidence after two come from behind wins against West Ham and AEL Limassol in their Europa League match earlier in the week. Sometimes these sorts of comeback results can instil great belief in a side and to see Tottenham come back from behind when so many times they capitulated when in the same situation last season is surely only a good thing. QPR will be a test with the likes of Remy a big threat for this Spurs defence that needs to time to gel but I think Tottenham will just be too strong in the end to get the 3 points.
Predicted score: Tottenham 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.75 (80%)
Next Best: Tottenham to win at $1.44
Sunderland ($4.75) versus Manchester United ($1.75), Draw ($3.75)
Louis Van Gaal will be looking for a much better performance from his new team after a fairly lacking performance against Swansea last weekend. There were some good signs in particular Rooney who could have easily had two goals but had to settle for the one. It was clear after watching that game that they have plenty they need to work on as Van Gaal doesn’t have the ideal personnel to suit his preferred formation. To his credit he shook things up in the second half with a different formation which shows his tactical awareness. They take on Sunderland away this weekend in what will be an interesting test for them. Having drawn with West Brom last week there’s still plenty of room for improvement and they’ll need it if they are to deal with United this week. United have plenty of injury concerns with clouds over Evans and Van Persie, although the latter could make his return this weekend in some capacity. Regardless of their injuries to the likes of Carrick, Shaw, Welbeck, and Fellaini, I’d expect to see a pretty strong response from United this week. I don’t think Sunderland will get beaten comfortably but I think United led by Rooney will get the 3 points.
Predicted score: Manchester United 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.82 (75%)
Next Best: Rooney to score anytime at $2
Manchester City ($1.83) versus Liverpool ($4.2), Draw ($3.75)
This will be the biggest matchup of week 2 no doubt with Manchester City taking on Liverpool. Sometimes in these early meetings in the season between two title contenders we see cagey affairs with little to no goals as both sides look to ensure they don’t lose but I’m not sure if that fits the bill here with Liverpool too much of an attack focused side to worry about not losing. Much can be said of Manchester City as well especially at home and going off their home form last season where they had just the 1 loss and 1 draw I doubt they’ll be taking a backward step here. Both sides enjoyed wins last week with Manchester City the more convincing of the two with a good 2-0 win over Newcastle away whilst Liverpool managed a 2-1 win over Southampton. No doubt Liverpool’s focus over the summer has been to tighten their defence especially in the wake of Suarez leaving as they’ll look to replace some of his goals with a better defensive record. They were a little nervy at the back last week as they let Southampton get 5 shots on target and they can ill afford to do the same against a much more potent attack this weekend. I like with they’ve done defensively in terms of the recruitment of Lovren and Moreno but with that it’ll take a little bit of time for them to gel. As a result I think they are in danger once more of being a little lose in defence ahead of this game which may open the door up to a Manchester City win here.
Predicted score: Manchester City 2-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score at $1.53 (85%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.59
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk.
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