Rafael Benitez has yet to win over the fans after successive goalless draws and knows that defeat here could see Manchester City stretching their legs by beating Everton, while Manchester United also have a winnable match at the Madejski Stadium.
Meanwhile, Harry Redknapp has an ideal chance to record QPR’s first win of the season when they face Aston Villa at home, although Paul Lambert will be feeling confident after seeing his team claim a recent 1-0 win over Reading.
West Ham v Chelsea 12.45
Sam Allardyce is likely to have set his team targets as the season progresses and 19 points from an opening 14 matches is pretty decent, with the West Ham defence stronger in the Premier League this season than it was in the Championship a year ago.
Allardyce has not transformed the squad too much but quality players have bolstered each position and he will be confident that his Hammers team can claim at least a point against a Chelsea team who have gone off the boil after that blistering early pace they set everyone.
West Ham are a best price 10/3 (Betfred free bets) to win this London derby and they have won three matches at Upton Park this season, beating Aston Villa, Fulham and Southampton. Defensively, they have been pretty sound by conceding six goals and three of them were in one match against Arsenal.
Kevin Nolan will relish pitting himself against this Chelsea team and the former Bolton and Newcastle player has been among the goals this term, with Paddy Power going 11/1 about the scouser opening the scoring in this match and team-mate Andy Carroll is an 8/1 chance.
Carroll signed for Liverpool after the Merseyside club received £50 million from Chelsea for Fernando Torres and one of Rafael Benitez’s key aims is to get the Spaniard firing again after another poor start to the campaign which has seen the striker score just once in his last eleven games.
Perhaps this is the match where it all comes together for Torres and he’s a 6/1 chance to score the first goal, while his Chelsea team can be backed at 19/20 (BetVictor bookmaker) to enjoy their first win under Benitez even if the visiting supporters will make their feeling clear about this controversial managerial appointment.
Arsenal v Swansea City 15.00
Arsene Wenger has come in for more supporter criticism this season although fourth place remains very much within Arsenal’s reach after a solid enough start to the campaign which has seen them accrue 21 points from 14 matches.
The Gunners have played 8 of these games on the road and now have a chance to move towards those Champions League spots, with the bookies making them warm favourites to beat a Swansea side that are just a point behind them at this stage.
Coral offer a best price 1/2 about the home win and Arsenal were 5-2 victors over Tottenham when they last played at the Emirates although Emmanuel Adebayor’s reckless challenge certainly tilted the balance in favour of the Gunners.
Wenger will hope the team can defend more robustly at home and avoid the sloppy mistakes which has led to scorelines such as that 3-3 draw with Fulham, although he has a form player in Theo Walcott and the England winger could be a great bet at 13/2 (bet365) to score the first goal of the game.
Swansea arrive in north London off the back of a good start to the campaign and Michael Laurdrup has done very well to follow in the footsteps of Brendan Rodgers and bring about results such as Wednesday night’s 3-1 victory against West Brom.
The Swans recently won at Newcastle and can be backed at 13/2 (Stan James) to claim victory in this match, with Spanish midfielder Michu likely to play in an advanced role again and he’s 11/1 with bet365 to score the first goal of the game.
Fulham v Tottenham 15.00
Martin Jol comes face to face with his old team at Craven Cottage, with Andre Villas-Boas following in the footsteps of Jol, Juande Ramos and Harry Redknapp at White Hart Lane. AVB is in a similar position to his Dutch opposite number, with the board and supporters yet to be convinced by their new manager.
Spurs sit fifth in the table after Wednesday’s 2-1 win against Liverpool although the north London side really ebbed away after a bright opening and a draw would have been a fairer result. Even so, it keeps the momentum going and the visitors are the 29/20 favourites (BetVictor free bets) to win this particular contest.
Should Tottenham be favourites? They have won three and lost three on the road to date, while Fulham have won three, drawn one and lost two at the Cottage. One of those defeats came recently against Sunderland although Brede Hangeland’s red card made life difficult and we shouldn’t forget that Jol’s team earned a point at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
Perhaps we should be siding with the home side in this match at 21/10 (Paddy Power) considering Fulham are generally pretty reliable in front of their own supporters and they have a former Spurs striker ready to make life difficult for his old club.
Dimitar Berbatov may not have scored for three matches although the Bulgarian might get some joy against a team who don’t keep many clean sheets and he’s 13/2 (Sportingbet) to score the first goal of this game.
Gareth Bale produced a virtuoso performance for Spurs as they beat Liverpool and the bookies go 8/1 that the Welshman breaks the deadlock at Craven Cottage.
Liverpool v Southampton 15.00
Seven points from the last three games have certainly made the Saints feel as though they belong in the Premier League although Nigel Adkins’ team face a tough task on Saturday when they travel north to Merseyside.
Southampton’s away form doesn’t make happy reading and it was five successive defeats before triumphing 3-1 at Loftus Road in a match which saw Mark Hughes sacked as manager and Harry Redknapp installed at QPR.
Even so, Liverpool appear to be warming up this campaign and were unlucky to lose 2-1 at White Hart Lane, with the Reds a best price 4/9 (Ladbrokes free bets) to win their third home match of the season and continue moving in the right direction.
Brendan Rodgers’ team dominated possession against Tottenham and it’s likely to be a similar story here, with Jose Enrique continuing to operate in an advanced position and the Spaniard looks a big price at 12/1 (Paddy Power) to score the first goal of the game.
Luis Suarez is predictably short at 10/3 although he scored twice against Wigan in the last match at Anfield, while Raheem Sterling is the third attacking player for Liverpool and looks attractive at 8/1 considering he’s improving all the time.
Southampton have conceded 19 goals in their six away matches and it’s possible they could be over-awed in this match although Betfred go 8/1 about the Saints claiming three points at Anfield and once again clambering out of the relegation zone where they find themselves after a 1-1 draw with Norwich.
Even so, Liverpool are looking defensively tighter and the 8/5 (Coral) about them winning to nil looks a tasty price considering their opponents will be looking to defend for their lives.
Manchester City v Everton 15.00
City have certainly developed the knack of winning football matches without playing too well, with Roberto Mancini knowing that pretty performances are no guarantee for the three points and he will be encouraged to see his team starting to defend well again.
Last season’s title triumph was founded on clean sheets and successive shut-outs at Stamford Bridge and the DW Stadium helped the Citizens continue their unbeaten start to the season, with the bookies making the home side a best price 6/11 (Bwin free bets) to beat Everton.
The Toffees have only lost twice all season and got their campaign off to a flyer by beating Manchester United at Goodison Park although recent form has been a good deal shabbier and they appear over-reliant on Marouane Fellaini to make things happen, with the Belgian scoring the team’s equaliser against Arsenal on Wednesday.
David Moyes could be missing the influential Leighton Baines for the match and will set his team up to defend for this contest, with the draw on offer at 3/1 (Sky Bet bookmaker), an outcome which would delight the bookies who are likely to take plenty of bets on the home side.
Everton have managed to win this fixture a couple of times recently and can be backed at 6/1 (BetVictor) to end that unbeaten run by claiming the spoils in this game, with that man Fellaini available at 12/1 to score first although he could be thwarted by opposite number Yaya Toure who is crucial to his team’s hopes this season.
Mancini opted for Sergio Aguero and Mario Balotelli in the attack for the 2-0 win at Wigan, with the Italian scoring his first Premier League goal of the season and he can be backed at 11/2 to score first in this match.
QPR v Aston Villa 15.00
Harry Redknapp is likely to receive a rapturous welcome at Loftus Road on Saturday afternoon, although Mark Hughes was afforded the same applause a year ago and his reign ended with supporters accusing the players of only being at QPR for the money.
Redknapp is totally aware that he faces a huge challenge when it comes to keeping Rangers in the Premier League although Tuesday’s goalless draw at the Stadium of Light was a start and a precious three points from this match would start to make the garden look a little rosier.
Despite having no win in fourteen matches, the Hoops are no bigger than 21/20 (Ladbrokes) to win the game although one does wonder how QPR justify those odds after mustering just five points to date. They have claimed just three points from six games at home and scored just four goals in the process.
Perhaps the Redknapp factor will help the team turn the corner, although Aston Villa will be looking to prey on fragile confidence and Paul Lambert’s team collected a goalless draw with Arsenal last weekend before narrowly beating Reading on Tuesday.
The Villans are no great shakes on the road although they can be backed at 3/1 to win at Loftus Road and really leave Harry scratching his head as to how to keep Rangers in the top flight.
It could be the case that Darren Bent arrives at QPR in January having fallen out of favour with Lambert this season, although Christian Benteke is clearly enjoying himself at Villa and the Belgian is an 8/1 chance to break the deadlock for the second game running.
West Brom v Stoke City 15.00
Stoke have traditionally been the Baggies’ bogey team although that changed somewhat last season when West Brom claimed a 2-1 win at the Britannia Stadium and Steve Clarke’s side will now be looking to break a home curse which has seen the Potters win at The Hawthorns four times in the past six years.
It’s an amazing stat considering that City haven’t been brilliant away from home at any stage of their time in the Premier League although Tony Pulis’ team clearly enjoy making that short trip to the west Midlands and the visitors are 11/4 (bet365 £200 free bets) to continue their winning streak at a ground which has been a fortress for the Albion this season.
Manchester City are the only side to have escaped defeat with West Brom winning their other six matches including wins against Chelsea, Liverpool and Everton. Clarke will be hoping to see his team bounce back from that 3-1 defeat at Swansea and the bookies go 21/20 (Paddy Power) that they make it seven wins at home this term.
Baggies supporters are in dreamland as their team sit fourth and they will hope the bubble hasn’t burst after that defeat at the Liberty Stadium although there are lots of goal threats in the team including Peter Odemwingie, Romelu Lukaku and Shane Long, with the latter likely to be reinstated to the team for this game.
Lukaku has scored in his past two games and looks overpriced at 6/1 (Blue Square) to score first against a Stoke team who came from behind to beat Newcastle on Wednesday although they have struggled to earn points on the road and might be happy with a point from this one.
Reading v Manchester United 17.30
The Red Devils have won eleven of their fourteen matches in the Premier League this season although recent form has been less than convincing. After Robin van Persie broke the deadlock with less than a minute on the clock against West Ham, you might have expected Manchester United to score several times although they hung on for the 1-0 win in the end.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s team were beaten on the road last time out when a well-drilled Norwich team denied them any clear chances and the Canaries were full value for that 1-0 victory, with Reading now hoping to replicate that performance and ease themselves towards safety.
The Royals have actually only lost once at the Madejski Stadium and beat Everton in their last home game, so odds of 7/1 (Ladbrokes bookmaker) looks reasonably attractive about a side that came from behind to beat the Toffees.
Brian McDermott remains positive that last season’s Championship title winners can finish above at least three teams this season and Adam Le Fondre (12/1 Blue Square) is likely to continue in attack against a team not renowned for keeping clean sheets this season.
United have won five of their seven games on the road although it was only at Newcastle where the league leaders played really convincingly, with Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans potentially set to continue in central defence which would mean Rio Ferdinand on the bench.
The Red Devils are a best price 4/9 (Coral) to win the game and will be the cornerstone of many accumulator although there’s a nagging feeling that United aren’t firing on all cylinders at the moment and it could be worth looking to side with Reading on the handicap.