The Swans entertain West Ham on Saturday lunchtime, while the Cottagers have a rather more daunting game when they travel north to face Manchester United, while last weekend’s biggest losers face off at Carrow Road and QPR could have a completely new-look defence!
Swansea City v West Ham 12:45
Few were backing Swansea to win at Loftus Road last Saturday, let alone by a 5-0 scoreline although Michael Laudrup’s team did him proud despite losing Joe Allen, Steven Caulker and Gylfi Sigurdsson in the summer.
Scott Sinclair looks set to join the exodus although the new Swans manager appears to have recruited wisely, especially in the case of defender Chico and midfielder Michu, the latter of which scored twice against QPR and prompted fantasy football managers to consider the Spaniard.
Swansea are available at 11/10 (William Hill free bets) to win this match and make it a dream start for the Welsh club, although they might not find the Hammers defence as quite as accommodating as the Hoops, with Sam Allardyce’s team managing to shut out Aston Villa on the opening day of the season.
West Ham were good value for the win and boasted the best away record in the Championship last season so there might be a few people expecting an ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ scenario at the Liberty Stadium and availing themselves of the 11/4 (Boylesports) about the visitors.
Even so, they will have to keep Michu on a tight leash after the attacking midfielder ran the show and he’s a best price 6/1 (bet365 £200 free bets) to score the first goal of this game, although Danny Graham was the one banging them in during pre-season and he’s on offer at 11/2.
We know that West Ham will be looking to keep things tight and build on that clean sheet, with bet365’s 17/20 looking like a decent shout that we see Under 2.5 Goals.
Aston Villa v Everton 15:00
Manchester United aren’t known for losing too many matches although the Red Devils were never allowed to find their stride at Goodison Park on Monday night and were deservedly beaten 1-0 by a vibrant Everton side who look determined to avoid that customary slow start.
David Moyes will be urging his side to forget about that famous win and produce the same level of performance at Villa Park, with the Toffees a best price 6/4 (Sky Bet) to claim another victory which will have supporters dreaming of a top-four finish this season.
There was no doubting the stand-out performer on Monday and it will be interesting to see the tactics deployed by Villa when it comes to stopping Marouane Fellaini, with the Belgian essentially proving to be unplayable against United. He’s as short as 15/2 to score first on Saturday although Sportingbet offer a more competitive 14/1.
The Villans will be going out to attack their Merseyside opponents and perhaps the 19/10 (bet365 bookmaker) will end up looking like a huge price about Paul Lambert’s side who might not have shown much cut and thrust at Upton Park but will be a lot more adventurous in front of their own supporters.
Darren Bent was starved of chances against West Ham but he can be backed at odds of 6/1 to score the first goal of this game, even if the Everton rearguard looked very strong against United, with Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin proving to be rocks in the middle of the defence.
Another 1-0 win for the Toffees doesn’t look to be out of the question at 7/1 and that man Nikica Jelavic will surely get on the goal trail soon, with the Croatian a 6/1 poke to score first.
Manchester United v Fulham 15:00
Fulham sit proudly near the top of the Premier League going into this match, a position that Manchester United are more accustomed to enjoying, although the Red Devils are under a little pressure to bag three points on Saturday after their early slip-up against Everton.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s team were bullied at Goodison Park and the manager was left bemoaning that the influence of the home supporters saw decisions go against his team, even though there was everything to like about the Toffees’ victory.
It’s imperative that United return to winning ways on Saturday and they are a best price 7/20 (William Hill free bets) to claim victory in front of their own fans, with the manager likely to give Robin van Persie his full debut.
Fergie bemoaned the fact that his team didn’t create enough chances for the Dutchman when he made a second-half appearance although RVP will surely get more ammunition from Kagawa and Co this time around and he can be backed at 7/2 (Paddy Power) to score the first goal of the game.
It appears that Wayne Rooney will play in a deeper holding role thanks to the signing of the £23 million striker although it’s not yet clear who is on penalty duties and odds of 4/1 are available that the England striker breaks the deadlock.
Fulham don’t have a good record at Old Trafford although what team does? They do have that 5-0 win against Norwich under their belts and Martin Jol will be encouraged by the central defensive crisis which means Rio Ferdinand, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans are all on the sidelines.
The Cottagers are available at 10/1 (Stan James) to claim victory and they will be feeling super confident after beating the Canaries so handsomely, although they might stand a greater chance of getting something from the game if Clint Dempsey hadn’t decided to stop playing for the west London side ahead of the transfer window closing.
Norwich City v QPR 15:00
The bottom two clubs in the Premier League meet at Carrow Road. While just one round of fixtures have been played thus far, it will have alarmed Chris Hughton and Mark Hughes to see their teams beaten so heavily, especially the latter as his team were favourites to beat Swansea City.
Indeed, the Welshman has looked to strengthen his Hoops squad since that 5-0 defeat and we might see several players make their debut on Saturday including Ryan Nelsen and Michael Dawson if the latter arrives from Tottenham in time.
QPR were pretty miserable on the road under Hughes last term although odds of 11/5 (bet365) look quite big about the visitors considering the Canaries also looked out of sorts when getting a gubbing against a Fulham side that were without wantaway midfielder Clint Dempsey.
Norwich are a best price 11/8 (BetVictor bookmaker) to land the spoils and Hughton might look to start the match with Steve Morison, Elliott Bennett and Wes Hoolahan, all of whom were on the bench at Craven Cottage.
Grant Holt barely got a sniff in front of goal last weekend although the striker might have joy in front of the Norwich supporters and Coral offer a stand-out 6/1 that he breaks the deadlock in this match which might actually be a low-scoring affair.
After all, both managers will want to tighten up defensively after conceding five goals and we might consequently see a cagey match. Under 2.5 Goals looks a spot of value at 21/20 as a result, with a QPR 1-0 win catching the eye at odds of 10/1.
Southampton v Wigan, 15:00
St Mary’s will be buzzing for Southampton’s first Premier League match at home for several seasons and this ground was something of a fortress for the Saints last term, with Nigel Adkins’ side claiming 16 wins from their 23 matches in front of their own supporters.
Southampton averaged more than two goals per game at home last season and demonstrated against Manchester City last Sunday that they will attack any team in the top flight this season, with odds of 23/20 (William Hill free bets) that they come away from this clash with three points.
It’s easy to back the Saints based on their performance at the Etihad Stadium and Adkins wil surely restore Rickie Lambert to the starting line-up after the forward scored almost immediately after appearing as a substitute. Last season’s Championship top scorer is difficult to play against and he’s the 11/2 jolly to score the first goal.
Wigan were virtually out of their match against Chelsea within ten minutes last Sunday and Roberto Martinez will be taking measures to ensure his team avoid a sluggish start in their first away game, with odds of 13/5 available that the Latics claim the points.
Victor Moses looks set to complete his move to Chelsea and you wonder once again whether this is the season that the north-west team suffer relegation although their Spanish manager always seems to confound predictions like this by the end of the season.
Even so, this isn’t a great time to be playing Southampton who are still fuelled by optimism that they can stay in the Premier League and odds of 12/5 about Saints leading at half-time and full-time look pretty attractive, especially with the visitors looking to recruit more firepower after the departure of Moses.
If you think that Lambert can bag himself a memorable hat-trick, bet365 offer 50/1 about the striker, although Jay Rodriguez was another player that scored a bundle of Championship goals last term and he’s 8/1 for first scorer.
Sunderland v Reading, 15:00
It’s been an eventful week for Reading FC, who managed to score a late equaliser against Stoke City on Saturday before giving Chelsea a scare at Stamford Bridge during the week only to lose 4-2 which left Brian McDermott pointing an accusing finger at the referee’s assistant.
The bottom line is that the Royals have one point on the board and this is their last game before the upcoming international break, so McDermott will want to take at least a point from this game to keep morale high at the Madejski Stadium.
The visitors are a very big price at 19/5 (Stan James free bets) to claim victory based on their performance against Chelsea, especially as they created several chances at the Bridge and have a striker in Pavel Pogrebnyak who doesn’t need too many chances to score.
It was a deft header on the run from the Russian which levelled matters on Wednesday and the international looks overpriced at 8/1 to score first in this match against a Sunderland team who produced a solid if unspectacular performance at the Emirates on Saturday.
Martin O’Neill looks to have finally got his man in Steven Fletcher and it could be that Jermain Defoe is lured to the Stadium of Light before the transfer window closes, although for now the Black Cats have a lack of firepower and it’s hard to like the odds-on quotes about the north-east side landing all three points.
Sunderland will certainly be looking for a second clean sheet on the bounce, with Carlos Cuellar partnering John O’Shea in defence again and a 1-0 win for the home side is a 6/1 chance with Louis Saha looking to set to make his full debut for the Black Cats.
Tottenham v West Brom 15:00
Tottenham played reasonably well at St James’ Park last Saturday and Jermain Defoe’s 76th minute strike cancelled out Demba Ba’s opener before the visitors went down to a late penalty.
It’s perfectly possible that Andre Villas-Boas will pick the same starting XI for this weekend’s match against West Brom, despite the rumours surrounding several of his players including Jermain Defoe who has been linked with a move to Sunderland or QPR.
Spurs created enough chances to beat Newcastle and hit the woodwork twice, with odds of 11/20 (William Hill free bets) available that the north London side claim victory although they will be up against a West Brom side fresh from a 3-0 spanking of Liverpool which filled their supporters with unadulterated glee.
The Baggies will make themselves tough to break down in this match and might be playing Tottenham at a good time, with odds of 6/1 (Betfred bookmaker) on offer that Steve Clarke continues to work his magic and the visitors go back to the Midlands with all three points.
However, there could be plenty of feel good factor after Emmanuel Adebayor returned to White Hart Lane permanently in the week and he’s a 4/1 chance to break the deadlock, even if there’s a reasonable chance that Jermain Defoe could start the match after scoring for England and Tottenham in his last two games.
Sky Bet could be taking a chance with their 7/1 quote about Gareth Bale scoring the first goal considering the Welshman gets in advanced positions regularly for his team, with a 3-0 correct score bet looking tasty at 12/1.
Chelsea v Newcastle United 17:30
The 2011-12 goal of the season was scored in this fixture last season, with Papiss Cisse producing an amazing volley to help Newcastle to an unexpected 2-0 triumph at Stamford Bridge.
It also helped the Magpies finish above Chelsea in the Premier League table, although Alan Pardew’s men will do very well to achieve that feat again, especially with their opponents having splashed the cash to sign several international players in the summer.
Among them is Eden Hazard who has had a hand in virtually all of his team’s goals so far this season, with Chelsea overwhelming favourites to scoop their third win on the bounce and continue to lead the way at the top of the table.
It’s surely a matter of time before Hazard scores his first goal at Stamford Bridge and odds of 8/1 (Coral) that he breaks the deadlock in this match, although Frank Lampard has already done this twice from the penalty spot and can be backed at 7/1.
Newcastle were also in action during the week although Pardew selected a weakened side that travelled to Athens to claim a 1-1 draw against Atromitos on Thursday, with the north-east club looking to book their place in the Europa League group stage with a minimum of fuss.
United do look a touch big at odds of 6/1 based on their excellent win at the Bridge last season and the fact that they managed to beat Tottenham last weekend to illustrate that they could be just a potent force this season.
Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse look to be thriving in the same team and the latter will hope to add to his happy memories of playing at this ground, with odds of 9/1 that he scores the first goal of the game.