The match at the Emirates Stadium kicks things off in the Premier League this weekend, with the three teams challenging for the title also playing on Saturday. Manchester United have a difficult evening game at Carrow Road, Manchester City host Aston Villa and Chelsea have a tricky match at The Hawthorns.
Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur 12.45
This fixture was a cracker last season, with an in-form Tottenham side racing into a 2-0 lead before Arsenal surged back and won the match 5-2. The Gunners found their mojo and ended qualifying for the Champions League, while Spurs relinquished that big lead over their rivals and missed out on Europe’s premier competition.
It’s possible that the two sides will be thrashing it out for fourth place this season although they currently occupy 7th and 8th spot, with Arsenal having won just four of their eleven Premier League matches to date. They are naturally warm favourites at 19/20 (Paddy Power free bets) to claim three points but it doesn’t smack of value.
After all, last weekend’s 3-3 draw against Fulham summed up Arsene Wenger’s team who are generally creating and scoring goals, although defensively they haven’t been tight since the opening few games of the campaign when it had been thought that Steve Bould’s addition to the coaching team was going to see Arsenal become defensively solid.
Tottenham certainly have the players to cause some damage and BetVictor’s 31/10 does appear a particularly big price considering Andre Villas-Boas’ side won 3-2 at Old Trafford and also went into a 1-0 lead at the Etihad Stadium last weekend before Manchester City claimed a late victory.
Even so, Spurs have lost their last two Premier League games and generally appear short of goals, with Jermain Defoe facing a race against time to be fit for this contest. Perhaps we will see Emmanuel Adebayor leading the line and odds of 8/1 (Blue Square) are on offer about the ex-Arsenal striker coming back to haunt his former club.
Olivier Giroud scored two goals against the Cottagers and the Frenchman now has four goals in his last four games, with odds of 6/1 that he breaks the deadlock in this match.
Liverpool v Wigan Athletic 15.00
Supporters of Liverpool FC are fairly realistic these days, knowing that the club is nowhere near challenging for the Premier League title at the moment, although they would like to think Brendan Rodgers can steer them towards the top six in the table.
Performances have been a real mixed bag this season and victories have been scarce, with Reading and Norwich the only teams that have lost against the Merseyside outfit who sit eight points behind Everton after eleven games played.
Even so, Liverpool come into this match off the back of a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday and it’s now six games unbeaten in the Premier League even if four of these matches have ended in a draw. Victory against Wigan would not be a surprise but you have to weigh up whether a best price of 9/20 (BetVictor free bets) represents value.
The Latics are typically unpredictable this season, losing at home to West Brom last weekend having previously won at White Hart Lane and a 4-0 trouncing at Old Trafford was the only time where Roberto Martinez’s team have been soundly beaten on the road.
Wigan are on offer at 7/1 (Coral bookmaker) to claim victory at Anfield and they will certainly be aware that one man is currently causing all the damage for Liverpool, with Luis Suarez responsible for over half his team’s goals so far and he’s likely to be a popular player on First Goalscorer betting markets this weekend.
The Uruguayan is a best price 15/4 to score the first goal of the match and seems to be as slippery as an eel right now, with BetVictor the only firm to quote odds-on about him finding the net during the match.
Manchester City v Aston Villa 15.00
These teams have already met at the Etihad Stadium this season and the visitors emerged with a surprise victory, although quite whether that Capital One Cup victory will have any bearing on Saturday’s result remains to be seen.
Roberto Mancini has never taken the League Cup too seriously and the team that night were missing players like Yaya Toure, David Silva and Vincent Kompany, with the champions available at 2/9 (William Hill free bets) to beat the same opposition this time around.
Manchester City are not playing with the same fluency that saw them score hatfuls at White Hart Lane and Old Trafford last season although they are scoring lots of late winning goals and Edin Dzeko is proving to be a super sub despite the Bosnian clearly wanting more game time. Perhaps he has done enough to earn a start at the weekend and Paddy Power go 4/1 that he scores first.
Villa stormed into a 2-0 lead against Manchester United last weekend before being reeled in and Paul Lambert will hope his team draw confidence from the performance if not the result. There are signs that the Midlands team are starting to improve although they remain perilously close to the relegation zone and what they would give for a point in this match, with the draw backable at 13/2.
As for the away win, there was a time not long ago where the visitors would be favourites to win this fixture although firms are now happy to go 14/1 about a club that can’t compete with City financially and perhaps the best bet is to back the draw at half-time before City triumph at odds of 18/5.
Newcastle United v Swansea City 15.00
Newcastle are actually having a decent season although expectation levels have increased after last year’s heroics which saw the Magpies challenging for a top four place in the Premier League.
Tenth place is not a bad place to be and Alan Pardew’s men have a chance to climb a bit higher by beating Swansea City which can be backed at a best price 10/11 (bet365 £200 free bets), with the north-east side looking to bounce back from Sunday’s home reverse against West Ham.
One of the big problems for Newcastle is the form of Papiss Cisse who scored some excellent goals after arriving in January last season although the forward might not even be able to play against the Swans after Senegal took offence that the player withdrew from the international squad with a back problem that was never reported.
Not that Cisse has been in excellent scoring form this season, with Demba Ba finding the net once again and he’s a 5/1 shot to get United up and running, although Swansea might feel this is a good time to be heading to St James’ Park and Michael Laudrup’s side are having a decent season.
The Welsh club sit just one point behind their opponents in the table and have been keeping things pretty tight on the road, with just six goals conceded in five away games and they came from behind to nick a point at St Mary’s last weekend.
Swansea can be backed at 10/3 (Ladbrokes) to claim a maximum haul on Tyneside, although City haven’t won on the road since that amazing 5-0 victory at QPR on the opening day of the season.
QPR v Southampton 15.00
There seems to be a strong likelihood of either Nigel Adkins or Mark Hughes standing down as manager after this match, although wouldn’t it just be typical if the bottom two clubs in the Premier League play out a draw which leaves both in deep trouble.
QPR haven’t been able to find a win from their opening eleven games and owner Tony Fernandes might be looking to make a change if three points are landed from this fixture, although a home win can be backed at 20/23 (Boylesports bookmaker) and Hughes will be hoping this is the game that kickstarts the season.
Rangers played reasonably well at the Britannia Stadium last weekend and the two teams were seperated by just the one goal, although form at Loftus Road has been shabby to date, with three draws and two defeats.
Scoring goals at home seems to be a problem although Djibril Cisse is the sort of player that might enjoy playing against a porous Southampton defence who can’t seem to keep a clean sheet and he’s a 5/1 chance to score the first of this game.
As for the Saints, they can be backed at 16/5 (Betfred bookmaker) and this sort of price would have seemed big twelve months ago when Adkins’ team were storming clear at the top of the Championship. However, can we trust a team that have lost all five away games this season.
Eighteen goals have been shipped in these games and it’s hard to see them turning around their away form at the moment, although a draw seems a better value bet at 5/2 than you can get about the home win seeing as QPR are without a three-point haul!
Reading v Everton 15.00
The Toffees sit fourth after amassing 20 points from 11 games although Everton are not a team to be trusted on the road, with David Moyes’ men having managed just two victories from six away matches.
Early season wins at Swansea and Aston Villa were convincing, although QPR and Fulham have held them to a draw more recently and one wonders if backing the visitors at odds-on in this match is the right way forward.
Perhaps the Merseyside club will oblige at odds of 5/6 (Blue Square free bets) although only Tottenham have won at the Madejski Stadium this season and Reading are scrapping for their lives at the bottom of the Premier League, having played out a goalless draw against Norwich last weekend.
It’s surely a matter of time before Brian McDermott’s team get that first win and BetVictor offer a meaty 7/2 that the Berkshire club inflict Everton’s second defeat of the season, with the Toffees prone to conceding the odd away goal or two.
Reading certainly need to get a handle on Marouane Fellaini and the Belgian is on fire this season, with his form attracting the attention of other Premier League clubs and Chelsea are reported to be especially keen on this versatile player.
Fellaini is outscoring Nikica Jelavic at the moment and is a 7/1 chance (bet365) to break the deadlock in this match, having scored both of Everton’s goals in their previous away game at Craven Cottage, while his Croatian team-mate is an 11/2 chance.
However, you would have to say the draw is a better shout at the prices and Blue Square go 11/4 that this one ends all square, something that has happened on four of the five Reading home games to date. The Royals are not a poor team but just lack a bit of quality.
West Brom v Chelsea 15.00
A couple of bookies are dangling a carrot of even money about an away win at The Hawthorns on Saturday, although West Brom’s record of five wins and a defeat in six home matches suggests that the Blues could be worth opposing.
It’s 5th versus 3rd this weekend and only four points separate Chelsea and the Baggies, with Steve Clarke excelling in the first few months of his stint with the Midlands club and he’ll look forward to plotting the downfall of his former club.
Clarke made over 300 appearances for Chelsea as a player and also spent time as assistant manager to Jose Mourinho, although the Scot will now be looking to sink the Blues and odds of 3/1 (Stan James) look big about a team that were unfortunate to lose that sole game against Manchester City.
Victories against Everton and Liverpool have been comfortable enough and Clarke has built a solid defence, with striking options up top and the excellent James Morrison pulling the midfield strings.
Chelsea have slipped from top spot in recent weeks and have the added headache of an impending match against Juventus next week, although Roberto Di Matteo can ill-afford to change things too much for what is a difficult Premier League encounter.
The west London side have won three of their five games on the road and that includes wins at Tottenham and Arsenal, so they have the pedigree to claim victory in this match even if John Terry is once again sidelined, this time with an injury.
Bet365 are one of the bookies to offer evens about Chelsea and they’ll be keen to make amends for that recent 1-1 draw against Liverpool where the Blues should have been out of sight before Luis Suarez scored a late equaliser.
Norwich City v Manchester United 17.30
Sixteen points separate these two teams in the Premier League, although Norwich can boast some strong recent form, having beaten Arsenal and Tottenham recently at Carrow Road, while they have also landed victory at home to Stoke and picked up draws at Reading and Aston Villa.
Chris Hughton is starting to galvanise this Canaries team who face arguably their toughest test to date when Manchester United arrive on Saturday evening, although Norwich will be confident of testing a leaky defence who have conceded 16 goals in 11 games this season and they are on offer at 7/1 (Sky Bet).
OK, so the Red Devils don’t lose too many matches although they were 2-0 down against Aston Villa and a bit more composure from the Midlands side might have seen them land victory. Even so, the stark fact is that Sir Alex Ferguson’s team have won five of their six away matches this season.
United know how to get the job done and that’s why they are a best price 4/9 to win Saturday’s game, with Javier Hernandez likely to start after an excellent sub’s appearance at Villa Park which helped turned the game on its head.
Chicharito is an 11/2 chance to score first in this match, with Robin van Persie predictably short at 10/3 and it could be worth considering the Mexican to find the net at any stage. He’s 13/8 to do exactly that.