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www.bettinglive.com‘s chief football writer, Jonathan Turner, previews the weekend’s Premier League action.
There’s no doubt at all about the match of the weekend as Manchester duo City and United lock horns at the Etihad for both bragging rights and potential Premier League title favouritism.
However that game has limited appeal from a betting perspective. Normally it’s a showdown which has everything, especially goals. Five of the last six clashes have seen both teams score but this time around we’ve got two new managers and plenty of new players for City so a cautious punting approach is the right way to go.
We’re therefore taking a watching brief on that one and head into the rest of the action on the back of a profitable weekend, courtesy of landing the 11/4 tip on less than 1.5 goals in Southampton v West Ham last Sunday which ended goalless.This week our banker bet is under 2.5 goals at Anfield when Liverpool host Southampton.
Liverpool top the table after a fine start to the season but until Jonjo Shelvey’s intervention on Monday night – when he scored early for Swansea but then gifted the Reds two goals – their matches had featured little goalmouth action at either end, having opened the campaign with three consecutive 1-0 wins.
They’ve now got a real problem to deal with as in-form Philippe Coutinho picked up a shoulder injury against the Swans which has ruled him out for six weeks. He’s been by far their most creative player this season (with Luis Suarez still on the sidelines as he serves out his 10-match suspension) and to underline that his departure coincided with a radical shift in momentum on Monday as Swansea had nearly 70% of the possession in the second half.
In opposition on Saturday is a Southampton side whose four games so far have seen a total of just four goals and whose whose last seven Premier games away have each been under the 2.5 goals line.
It’s therefore a big surprise that we can get odds against (11/10 with Coral) about that happening again, especially as Coutinho and Suarez will be watching from the sidelines. For what it’s worth this fixture finished 1-0 to the Reds last season, with a similar scoreline in prospect again.
We’re sticking to last week’s format and nominating two ‘next best’ singles.
First up is Sunderland to win the battle of the bottom two at West Brom (16/5 with bet365). There’s no disguising the Black Cats’ poor start to the campaign but there were some promising signs in their 3-1 defeat to Arsenal last week, which could have had a very different outcome had Jozy Altidore’s goal – which would have made it 2-2 – not been bizarrely ruled out by referee Martin Atkinson.
It’s at the back where they look particularly vulnerable – no side has conceded more than their eight goals – but that’s an area where they might just gain some respite against West Brom, with the Baggies barely offering a threat up front.
It took them no less than 360 minutes to score their first goal of the season (a Gareth McAuley header in added time at Fulham last week) and there was little in that match to suggest things are about to change.
So in a clash between two out-of-form teams we’ve no hesitation in siding with the one which actually possesses a goal threat and that’s Sunderland, who can be backed at a fraction over 3/1 for the three points.
It’s another north east side who provide the next interest in the shape of Newcastle. We opposed them last week for their trip to Aston Villa but got our fingers burnt – and while we don’t like to make excuses there were mitigating circumstances.
That’s because it had been unclear heading into the came whether French playmaker Yohan Cabaye would be involved for the Magpies. And not only did he start but he arguably proved the difference between the teams as he produced a superb performance to help them to a 2-1 win.
Cabaye’s on/off potential move to Arsenal saw him miss most of Newcastle’s first three games but once the transfer window closed he was re-introduced to the fray late on against Fulham (galvanising them to a first win of the season) before taking centre stage at Villa.
He’s still got work to do to appease all of the Newcastle fans but he’s made a decent start and is clearly their most influential player.
They face Hull this weekend and given the Cabaye dynamic there’s an argument that they offer a touch of value at 5/6. However a better option is backing the man himself in the anytime scorer market at 5/1. He went close at Villa last week, is clearly back to full match-sharpness and netted in six of his 26 league games last term which makes the price look generous for a home game against one of the relegation favourites. We also know now that – barring injury – he’s guaranteed a starting berth.
Our weekend staking plan is rounded off with a double - Romelu Lukaku to score anytime for Everton at West Ham (21/10 with Bet Victor) and both teams to find the net in Arsenal v Stoke (11/10 with Bet Victor).
Lukaku, signed on loan from Chelsea, should give the Toffees a much-needed added dimension as they’ve lacked a cutting edge in their opening games. His match fitness has to be taken on trust to some extent (he’s played just 71 minutes this term) but he scored 17 goals on loan at West Brom last season, including a debut effort against Liverpool.
He’s almost certain to start and looks perfectly positioned to take advantage of the numerous chances Everton have created – but rarely converted – over the last month.
We’re doubling that with both teams to score at odds against in Arsenal against Stoke at the Emirates.
Recent clashes between this pair have been low scoring (1-0, 0-0 and 1-1) but there are strong grounds for thinking that could now change.
Arsenal appear to be going with an ‘attack is the best form of defence’ policy while Stoke already seem a much more expansive side compared to the last few seasons and were a touch unlucky not to beat Manchester City last week.
The bookies’ don’t seem to have fully latched on to the Gunners’ tactics which are even more pronounced to accommodate Mesut Özil in the first XI (talking of whom, hopefully a few of you followed the closing advice last week to back him at 11/4 for an assist as he took just 11 minutes to oblige).
Weekend banker – under 2.5 goals in Liverpool v Southampton at 11/10 (Coral).
Double – Romelu Lukaku to score anytime for Everton against West Ham at 21/10 and both teams to score in Arsenal v Stoke at 11/10 (both top prices with Bet Victor, double pays 11/2)
You can read more about this weekend’s Premier League fixture list, and the bets to make, at www.bettinglive.com