English Premier League – Week 3 Preview

English Premier League - Football

The English Premier League is starting to kick into full swing as we head into week 3 and to no surprise there has already been plenty of ups and downs. Manchester United in particular are the talking point as they prepare to kick off the week with an away meeting at Burnley. It’ll certainly be a game of great interest especially if the worst happens and they suffer another loss. Luckily though it’s not the only intriguing fixture of the weekend with a meeting between Everton and Chelsea followed on Sunday by a clash between Tottenham and Liverpool sure to keep us entertained.

**Odds from Sportsbet as at 30th August

Burnley ($6) versus Manchester United ($1.6), Draw ($3.8)

The show has to roll on for Manchester United and with a defeat and a draw from their opening two games they are in desperate need of a win this weekend when they travel to Burnley. The signing of Di Maria during the week is a quality one but it’s certainly not one of value given the amount they reportedly paid for him whilst there also remains the question of where he fits in with this side and Van Gaal’s system. As a result I wouldn’t be surprised to see United play a different formation until at least the right players come in through the transfer market. The likely debut of Di Maria could be the key here if he gets off to a good start which should no doubt lift the spirits and confidence of the players around him. Bunrley of course though will no doubt fancy their chances especially if they can score early as it’ll no doubt put United on the back foot after a tumultuous few weeks culminating in their loss to MK Dons during the week. This isn’t a game I’m overly confident on from a results point of view but I think there comes a point when something, even if it’s small, has to click amongst this United time. Di Maria could be that small thing and although we shouldn’t underestimate Burnley at home here we will surely see United get their first 3 points of the season.

Predicted score: Manchester United 2-1

Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.87 (75%)

Next Best: Manchester United to win at $1.6

Manchester City ($1.20) versus Stoke ($14), Draw ($7)

Two wins on the trot and it is business as usual at Manchester City as they get ready to host Stoke this weekend. They had a strong win over Liverpool last weekend and are starting to look in pretty good form and should get on with a 3rd win this weekend against Stoke who have thus far been disappointing. Stoke have brought in some good players over the summer but it’s clear they’ll need some time to gel with just the one goal scored from their opening two games from a defender in Ryan Shawcross. I dare say they were lucky to snatch a point from Hull last weekend too having had a an extra man advantage since the 14 minute mark which clearly points to some much needed improvement up front. It will come of course, but I doubt it’ll start this weekend away at Manchester City. The last 6 meetings between these two have been less than impressive from a goal scoring perspective with 5 of the 6 going under 2.5 goals. This weekend should be different though and expect a strong performance from the reigning champions. Aguero is starting to get to full match fitness and could mark a start here.

Predicted score: Manchester City 3-0

Best Bet: Manchester City for the Half-Time/Full-Time Double at $1.57 (75%)

Next Best: Both teams to score – No at $1.57

Newcastle ($1.75) versus Crystal Palace ($5), Draw ($3.5)

There’s been plenty of promising signs from Newcastle early on in their season but they failed to break the deadlock last weekend against Aston Villa which ended in a drab 0-0 draw. They take on Crystal Palace at home this week and will fancy their chances against a side that were well beaten by West Ham in the end. Palace of course now have a new manager in the return of Neil Warnock which will no doubt boost the players morale coming off a loss and the shock departure of Pulis before the start of the season. As a result I’m sure Palace will no doubt recapture their form from the second half of last season but for me this game has to be all about Newcastle at home. Two tough games but great signs from the likes of De Jong and Cabella will surely pay dividends at home this weekend. Palace will no doubt be a test but I’m expecting a Newcastle win here as they score their first goals of 2014/15.

Predicted score: Newcastle 2-0

Best Bet: Newcastle to win at $1.75 (80%)

Next Best: Over 1.5 goals at $1.34

QPR ($2.4) versus Sunderland ($3), Draw ($3.25)

QPR were absolutely horrible last week against Tottenham and were deservedly thumped 4-0 as they allowed Spurs to get rolling early. They’ll be looking to bounce back against Sunderland this weekend who will have been buoyed by their draw with Manchester United last weekend despite perhaps being a little unlucky not to win as they were well in the game. It was their second draw of course having shared the points in their opening game with West Brom and whilst they are yet to get a win, they’ll take great confidence in their results so far. If you saw QPR last week you’d fancy their chances this week given how sloppy QPR were. You’d expect a much better performance from QPR this week though as they look to bounce back in front of their home crowd. It’ll be interesting to see if QPR persist with their 3-5-2 formation that they are trying to learn or revert back to something more conventional. It was clear they have plenty of work to do but I’m also confident they would have learnt from the loss to Spurs as well. I can’t see QPR winning but I can see them getting a point against the Black Cats here in a tight game.

Predicted score: Draw 1-1

Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.54 (70%)

Next Best: Double Chance Sunderland at $1.54

Swansea ($1.85) versus West Brom ($4.33), Draw ($3.4)

A fantastic start for Swansea sees them with two wins looking for a third as they prepare to take on West Brom. An incredible win over Manchester United followed up with a handy win over Burnley is perhaps better than what many would have thought and they are right on track to make it 3 from 3 here. West Brom themselves have done ok with 2 draws against Sunderland and Southampton and will be see this as a key game early in the season with Everton and Tottenham to follow. Whether they have enough to get past a strong Swansea attack is another thing though with Sigurdsson in particular in excellent form. A goal and 2 assists from his first two games is an excellent start in his second stint at Swansea and I’d expect him to again be the key to their attacking charge this weekend. West Brom will of course be dangerous but I don’t feel they have the clinical edge just yet to get this away win. With 5 of the last 6 between these two resulting in over 2.5 goals with Swansea looking dangerous up front I think we’ll be in for a similar score line here.

Predicted score: Swansea 2-1

Best Bet: Swansea to win at $1.85 (85%)

Value option: Sigurdsson to score anytime at $3.5

West Ham ($2.7) versus Southampton ($2.62), Draw ($3.25)

The Hammers bounced back strongly to get a win over Crystal Palace last weekend having not taken their chances against Tottenham a week earlier. They take on Southampton this weekend who themselves will be looking to build some momentum after their first point of the season against West Brom. The absence again of Nolan is a blow but in some ways it at least allows West Ham another striker to come in up front in support of Carlton Cole. Southampton have done ok to start the season considering their off-field transfer business which largely decimated the side. A fairly bright start in their loss to Liverpool was followed up with a pretty poor showing at home against West Brom which for me shows they still need some time for their new players to get used to the Premier League. Despite West Ham’s first up loss to Tottenham at home, they looked a threat going forward especially through Downing who’s had a pretty good start to the season. Their attacking exploits again showed against Crystal Palace last weekend and I’d expect them to continue that trend this weekend. It of course isn’t a certain victory as Southampton could well shock but West Ham should have just enough to get over the line.

Predicted score: West Ham 2-1

Best Bet: West Ham Draw no bet at $1.91 (80%)

Next Best: Both teams to score at $1.72

Everton ($3.5) versus Chelsea ($2.15), Draw ($3.3)

One of the big matchups of the weekend with Everton taking on Chelsea in what should be an exciting contest. Everton haven’t had the start they would have liked to 2014/15 with 2 draws and in particular their defence hasn’t been up to scratch having uncharacteristically conceded 4 goals already in two games. They take on a Chelsea side that have had looked to have cruised through their first two games with the likes of Costa and Fabregas proving to be excellent signings. This will no doubt be their biggest test so far against a traditionally tough side to play away in Everton. The injury cloud over Diego Costa could be a blow for this game if he doesn’t start but I don’t feel it’d impact the end result too much here. Perhaps the most intriguing thing about this game though will be seeing Lukaku taking on his old side as well as new signing Eto’o who could make an appearance from the bench. Everton have won 2 of their last 3 against Chelsea at home but I can see Chelsea evening that up here and getting away with the 3 points. I’m starting to question Everton’s defensive credentials of late. They need to get back to their defensive best if they are to get anything from this one.

Predicted score: Chelsea 2-1

Best Bet: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.83 (70%)

Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $2.07

Aston Villa ($2.25) versus Hull ($3.3), Draw ($3.2)

This isn’t exactly a glamour game by any means and with just the 3 goals scored between these two in their first two games, we could well be in for another low scoring game. Villa in particular are lacking up front and are eagerly awaiting the return of Benteke from injury. I think the big improvement though from Villa has clearly been their defence. Senderos and Hutton have been in good touch along with stalwarts Vlaar and Guzan. As soon as Benteke returns I think their goal scoring concerns will dissipate. N’Zogbia has looked good on his return and I’m sure Villa fans will be looking forward to seeing him link up with Benteke later this season. Looking at Hull, they’ve had a busy few weeks with the premier league and Europa league qualifying games combined. It’ll be interesting to see how they back up from their loss on Thursday in the Europa league and if there are any tired legs about. It’s also important to remember they are coming of a pretty hard game against Stoke where they had 10 man for 75 minutes so a couple of the players could be forgiven for feeling a little lacklustre. As a result they’ll need to make a change in defence after Chester’s red card which could signal the debut of Michael Dawson in defence. Both sides are strong defensively so I’d expect to see a pretty low scoring game with the edge to Villa at home.

Predicted score: Aston Villa 1-0

Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.45 (80%)

Next Best: Both teams to score – No at $1.67

Tottenham ($2.62) versus Liverpool ($2.62), Draw ($3.4)

This is looking like a really good matchup with Tottenham hosting Liverpool at White Hart Lane. Spurs were thumped by Liverpool by a combined 9-0 over their two meetings last season but an improved looking Tottenham will be looking to reverse those results this time around. Spurs were a little lucky to get away with a win against West Ham but then put in perhaps one of their best performances since Harry Redknapp was in charge to thump QPR 4-0. This is of course a much stronger opponent in Liverpool this week but it showed what they can do when they click. Looking at Liverpool they’ve had a nervy looking start to the season which is understandable after the loss of Suarez and the influx of new faces. I don’t for one second think Liverpool will struggle as much as Tottenham did after the sale of Bale but they do need a little time for a couple of their signings to gel. Balotelli was signed during the week and he could debut here after hints from Brendan Rodgers. They may need to make some changes at the back as well with Moreno, Johnson, and Skrtel under injury clouds. I think the key here though for both sides will be central midfield. Liverpool haven’t looked as strong as last season through Gerrard and Henderson and it’s an area they’ll need to be focused on this week with Spurs looking pretty solid in that department after good starts from Capoue and Bentaleb. In the end we should have a pretty even contest. If Spurs play the way they did against QPR last week then they should get the win, otherwise we could be in for a high scoring draw.

Predicted score: Draw 2-2

Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.61 (90%)

Next Best: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.5

Leicester ($4.5) versus Arsenal ($1.8), Draw ($3.6)

The final game of the week sees Arsenal take on Leicester away with the Gunners looking to move on quickly from the disappointing injury to Giroud which has left them really light on in the striking department. A late win over Crystal Palace and a late equaliser to get the draw at Everton is the most ideal of starts for Arsenal and combined with the loss of Giroud they certainly look a little on the back foot early on this season. Leicester have been pretty good this season having pushed Everton all the way for a deserved 2-2 draw and keeping Chelsea pretty quiet despite losing 2-0 last week. As a result I’d expect a pretty similar showing here from Leicester in that Arsenal won’t find it easy to get the win here. With Giroud out we could again see Sanchez up front in his place as he did against Besiktas in their Champion’s League qualifier. Hi goal during the week will no doubt give him a boost in confidence to kick on this weekend after a slightly underwhelming start to the season after high expectations. In general play this should be a pretty tight game but I think Arsenal will somehow manage to snatch it in the end as they did against Crystal Palace.

Predicted score: Arsenal 2-1

Best Bet: Second half with most goals at $2.04 (70%)

Next Best: Arsenal to win either half at $1.40

Please Note:
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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As an Australian growing up AFL was always my no.1 sport especially given I was lucky enough to grow up a few blocks from Carlton’s home ground, Princes Park, where I was lucky enough to attend many games. That’s where my passion for sport began but it was until the early 2000’s when I discovered a real passion for football with the Socceroos 2002 World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay accelerating my football journey. From there I began to follow the Premier League and haven’t looked back since. These days I’m a massive Tottenham fan where I’ve enjoyed many sleepless nights religiously watching them without missing a game despite many roller coaster feelings. There’s just something magical and glamorous when you watch the EPL and knowing the Profits owners Drew and Euan through studies, I’m now lucky enough to be able to share my thoughts on each game each week of the season.

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