It’s Chelsea who have a chance to steal a march over their title rivals on Saturday when they face a Stoke team fresh from holding City to a draw, while there are six other Premier League matches taking place.
Swansea and Everton have both enjoyed bright starts to the season and lock horns in the lunchtime kick-off at the Liberty Stadium, while Newcastle host Norwich just two days after playing away to Maritimo in the Europa League.
Southampton are the only team without a point although games against Arsenal, City and United haven’t helped on that front and they will be confident of beating Aston Villa.
Swansea v Everton 12:45
The Swans made a flying start to the new season by thrashing QPR and West Ham, although they have taken just one point from matches against Sunderland and Aston Villa. It’s still possible that Michael Laudrup could struggle to emulate Brendan Rodgers’ achievements at the Liberty Stadium and this game will tell us a great deal about their prospects.
Swansea do look attractively priced at 11/5 (William Hill free bets) to claim their third win of the season considering they have scored five times at home this season, with Michu having hit the net in three of City’s opening four matches.
Central defender Chico will return from suspension to partner Ashley Williams at the back, with Laudrup looking for his team to match a physical Everton side who will be feeling a sense of injustice after failing to beat Newcastle on Monday.
The Toffees twice led against the Magpies and had a perfectly good goal chalked off, with David Moyes looking for his team to make another fast start in this contest and Everton are the 6/4 favourites (Paddy Power) to claim the points.
Nikica Jelavic could be struggling to be fit for the trip to south Wales after sustaining a knee injury, although Victor Anichebe is certainly in good form after scoring an excellent goal v Newcastle and he’s 10/1 to score first in this match.
Kevin Mirallas will be hoping for his first Premier League goal, while Michu is an 8/1 chance to get back on the scoresheet and there could be some value in going for Nathan Dyer at 14/1.
Chelsea v Stoke City 15:00
Stoke might consider this to be a good time to visit Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea having played a Champions League match against Juventus 72 hours earlier and Roberto Di Matteo is sure to rotate his team accordingly.
The Blues manager has several options when it comes to fielding different players, with Gary Cahill, Cesar Azpilicueta, Oscar and Victor Moses among those who could start against the Potters for a match where the bookies offer a best price 4/11 (BetVictor) that Chelsea continue their 100% home record.
Fernando Torres is the 9/2 favourite to score the first goal of this game and the Spaniard looks full of confidence now that he’s the number one striker at the club, although Daniel Sturridge might get a chance in the lone striker role and looks a better bet at 6/1, with the impressive Eden Hazard available at 15/2.
There’s a good defensive look about Chelsea at the moment and 11/8 about them winning to nil looks an attractive wager considering they have kept three clean sheets to date. Stoke will clearly be setting up to make life tough for their opponents and scoring chances might be scarce.
Tony Pulis was delighted to see his team hold Manchester City to a 1-1 draw even if there was an element of fortune about Peter Crouch’s NBA goal, with Stoke available at 9/1 to claim a surprise win at Stamford Bridge and 4/1 to come away with another draw which would represent a very good afternoon.
It has been four consecutive draws for the Potters this season, with Crouch having scored in his last three matches and the former England man is 10/1 to score first in this match.
Newcastle United v Norwich City 15:00
Alan Pardew selected several fringe players for Thursday’s match in Portugal, with the Europa League regarded as little more than a distraction at this early stage of the season, although the manager had little choice when you consider their game against the Canaries takes place less than 48 hours after the Maritimo match.
Monday’s game at Everton saw the Magpies wake up in the second half to take home a share of the spoils and they are warm favourites to follow this up with three points against Norwich, with bet365 offering odds of 7/10 about this happening.
This will be the first time that Chris Hughton returns to St James’ Park since being cruelly axed as manager two seasons ago. The City boss will receive a warm reception from the Toon Army, having taken Birmingham into the play-offs last term before being poached by Norwich.
Hughton will not be sentimental about his return to the north-east when there’s a chance to take advantage of potential fatigue within the Newcastle ranks and the Canaries are 9/2 (Paddy Power bookmaker) to claim the three points.
It’s not a bad price when you consider Norwich played well at White Hart Lane when securing a 1-1 draw against Tottenham recently, although there is a lack of cutting edge which might cost them dear this season.
Papiss Cisse was ruled out of Thursday’s Europa League match although the Senegal star is a 5/1 chance to score first, while team-mate Demba Ba scored twice at Goodison Park and is on offer at the same odds to break the deadlock.
Southampton v Aston Villa 15:00
Will this be the match where Southampton finally get a point or three on the board? While the fixture list hasn’t been kind to the Saints, they did have a winnable home match against Wigan between the games against City, United and Arsenal with Nigel Adkins having to keep morale levels high following four straight losses.
Southampton did play well against the Red Devils when losing 3-2 and a repeat performance could see them land the spoils on Saturday afternoon, with odds of 11/8 (Paddy Power) about a home win although the defence needs to be a good deal tighter after conceding 14 goals in those four matches.
Indeed, Aston Villa have regrouped following successive defeats against West Ham and Everton to take four points from games against Newcastle and Swansea which means that Paul Lambert’s side can approach this match with an air of confidence.
The visitors are 2/1 to inflict a fifth straight defeat on the Saints and Lambert will be encouraging his troops to kick their opponents while they are down, with Karim El Ahmadi among those new signings who have looked impressive to date.
Darren Bent is still without a goal although the likes of Stephen Ireland and Barry Bannan are creating plenty of chances for the forward men and Christian Benteke came off the bench to score against the Swans.
Do Southampton play in a more cautious manner in this game following that 6-1 drubbing at the Emirates? Less than 2.5 Goals makes appeal at even money considering that Villa are hardly blessed with goals on the road and have been involved in two low-scoring encounters in their away matches at Upton Park and St James’ Park.
West Brom v Reading 15:00
Steve Clarke will have been encouraged after watching Reading succumb to Tottenham last Sunday, with the Royals failing to compete with Spurs for the entire match and going down 3-1 as a result.
West Brom will certainly be in the mood to take advantage of any weakness in the opposition ranks having impressively beaten Liverpool and Everton with a combined aggregate score of 5-0. The Baggies appear intent on making The Hawthorns a fortress and 5/6 (Paddy Power free bets) does seem rather generous.
Albion will be missing Peter Odemwingie following his moment of madness against Fulham, although Shane Long will be available to face his former club and the Irish striker has admitted he won’t be celebrating any goals scored against Reading.
Long is 11/2 to break the deadlock against a team where he spent six seasons and scored 46 goals, although Reading would certainly like the 25-year-old in their ranks as they attempt to remain in the Premier League this term.
Brian McDermott’s team have played just three games and their only away game to date saw the Berkshire side race into a 2-1 lead at Stamford Bridge before losing 3-2 which suggests the Royals could be better suited to road matches.
The visitors are as big as 15/4 to win the game and 13/5 to land a draw against their opponents, something which would be a good result following that Tottenham game where they simply failed to compete with their opponents.
At least they have a class act in attack with Pavel Pogrebnyak likely to cause problems for a West Brom defence that conceded three at Craven Cottage last weekend.
West Ham v Sunderland 15:00
If the stories are correct, then Martin O’Neill came desperately close to replacing Avram Grant as West Ham manager two seasons ago before deciding against the move. Grant subsequently failed to avoid relegation from the Premier League and Sam Allardyce has steered them back to the top flight.
It’s been a solid start for the Hammers who have seven points on the board and a 100% home record to date, with the east London side picking up a point at Carrow Road last weekend. They are still missing the injured Andy Carroll but are favourites at 5/4 (Stan James free bets) to win this contest against a Sunderland side who have drawn all three matches to date.
Considering the Wearside team have faced Arsenal, Swansea and Liverpool, this is no mean achievement and another match ending all square looks to be the value bet at 12/5 with Coral, with Sunderland having a striker who is bang in form following his £14 million move from Wolves.
Steven Fletcher is clearly enjoying life at his new club and can be backed at 15/2 (Stan James) to open the scoring for the third game running, with the Scot looking to become the first player to penetrate the West Ham defence at Upton Park this season.
Sunderland are a fairly big price considering they have been a permanent fixture in the Premier League for several seasons compared to an untested Hammers team, with bet365 potentially living to regret to offer a best price 13/5 about the visitors.
It’s a pretty decent Black Cats starting XI which includes Stephane Sessegnon and Sebastian Larsson so the away team could be worth taking on the Draw No Bet market, especially if Fletcher continues to wear his shooting boots.
Wigan v Fulham 15:00
The Fulham team has changed a fair bit over the past few seasons although the Cottagers have remained consistently poor away from home, with Roy Hodgson, Mark Hughes and now Martin Jol struggling to get the best from this team on the road.
While there aren’t many Premier League sides who win regularly away from their own patch, Fulham are particularly dire given that they regularly post emphatic scorelines at Craven Cottage, where they have already thrashed Norwich and West Brom before.
Jol’s men are 2/1 with bet365 to claim three points at the DW Stadium, with Dimitar Berbatov likely to cause problems for the Latics defence and the Bulgarian could turn out to be one of the bargains of the season. The former Spurs and United striker slotted two goals past the Baggies and is 7/1 to score the first of this particular contest.
Wigan have four points on the board from their first four matches, although they have played Chelsea and Manchester United so Roberto Martinez will be relatively pleased with the start the team have enjoyed.
Once again, the Spaniard attempts to silence those predicting relegation for Wigan and victory on Saturday would be a big three points, with Stan James the only firm to offer 6/4 about the home side claiming the spoils.