The Black Cats are in action on Saturday evening against a Liverpool side who are already feeling the strain after taking just one point from their first trio of games, while Stoke City fans will be looking forward to the prospect of seeing Michael Owen playing against Manchester City.
Norwich v West Ham United 12:45
The Canaries were humiliated 5-0 in their opening match against Fulham, although subsequent draws against QPR and Tottenham have put Norwich on a more even footing coming out of the international break and this is an ideal chance to get their first win on the board.
The home side are a best price 11/8 (Coral free bets) to rocket up the table by claiming a maximum haul, having played very well at White Hart Lane a fortnight ago and Robert Snodgrass’ late equaliser was the least that City deserved against Spurs, although scoring goals could be a problem.
Grant Holt enjoyed a great campaign last season although the striker is yet to get off the mark and can be backed at 7/1 to score first in this match, with Simeon Jackson currently getting the nod ahead of Steve Morison.
West Ham bolstered their attacking options by signing Andy Carroll on loan before the transfer deadline expired although they will be missing the Liverpool striker for several weeks, something which makes them less backable.
The Hammers are an 11/5 chance (Stan James) to win at Carrow Road, having impressed when beating Fulham 3-0 although punters might keep their powder dry considering they were underwhelming when losing by the same scoreline at the Liberty Stadium the previous week.
Perhaps another draw for Norwich is on the cards, with 23/10 available that this match ends all square and a 1-1 scoreline looks attractive at 13/2 which was the same outcome when the Canaries played QPR in their first home match.
Arsenal v Southampton 15:00
Plaudits don’t mean a lot for losing performances and Nigel Adkins’ team face a third Premier League title challenger on Saturday with a point yet to be gained since Southampton gained promotion to the top flight.
The Saints have been given a hellish fixture list to open proceedings, although that performance against Manchester United will have given them considerable hope that they can thrive amongst the big boys, with Southampton having twice led against the Red Devils.
It was a similar story away to Manchester City where Adkins’ men were 2-1 ahead to lose 3-2 and you can get odds of 10/1 that the visitors win at the Emirates on Saturday against a team that have failed to score in two of their three Premier League matches to date.
The Gunners finally came to life a fortnight ago when winning 2-0 at Liverpool and Arsene Wenger will now hope to build up some momentum ahead of the Champions League starting, with his team likely to form the cornerstone of many a weekend accumulator at odds of 7/20 (William Hill free bets).
Santi Cazorla was man of the match at Anfield and the Spaniard is already looking like an inspired buy for Arsenal, with Olivier Giroud getting himself into many scoring positions even if the Frenchman has yet to his stride in England.
There’s a strong chance that Arsenal can take full advantage of a Saints team that have conceded eight goals in three opening matches and you can get 5/6 (Paddy Power) about the home side leading at the interval and full-time, while a 5-0 win is available at 28/1.
While Southampton were involved in a five-goal thriller at the Etihad, they actually managed to keep things tight against City for a large part of the match and a clean sheet in this match would be a big step forward, with the draw on offer at 4/1.
Aston Villa v Swansea City 15:00
Swansea won this fixture last season and it would be no great surprise to see the same thing happening on Saturday, with Michael Laudrup’s team having enjoyed a bright start to the season and the Villans struggling for form.
However, there is a long way to go and we might see the Swans being in a relegation scrap and Villa working their way into the top half, with Paul Lambert’s team collecting a creditable draw at Newcastle last time out, while the Welsh club scrambled a point against Sunderland.
The Midlands side are a 6/4 chance (bet365 £200 free bets) to win their first Premier League game of the season, although Lambert doesn’t have a lot of quality in his squad and Darren Bent will only score goals if he receives the right level of service.
As is often the case, the striker is the 5/1 favourite to break the deadlock in this match although he will hope that the likes of Stephen Ireland and Barry Bannan can tee him up with some decent service against a Swans side that like to attack in numbers.
City’s previous away match saw them score five times at Loftus Road and some will like the 23/10 on offer about the away win, with Laudrup continuing the good work of Brendan Rodgers by encouraging his side to play creative attacking football which has already yielded ten goals.
Michu has already proved himself to be a £2 million bargain and the Spaniard is 10/1 to score the first goal of this game, having been on the scoresheet in all three Swans matches this term, while Danny Graham is also commanding the lone striker position.
All three of Swansea’s games have featured three or more goals, with Over 2.5 available to back at even money and that is a tempting price.
Fulham v West Brom 15:00
You might expect these teams to finish tenth and eleventh in the Premier League this season, although the Baggies currently occupy a top four position after a superb start to the campaign which has seen them beat Liverpool and Everton at The Hawthorns.
These victories sandwiched a draw at White Hart Lane and Steve Clarke will be hoping the international break doesn’t dismantle this good early season form when his side travel south to Craven Cottage.
West Brom are a 3/1 chance (Paddy Power) to collect three points from their trip to London, with the defence looking stout and conceding just one goal to date. Jonas Olsson and Gareth McAuley are looking strong in front of Ben Foster, with Claudia Yacob proving adept in front of the defence.
As for Fulham, they came out of the traps flying when beating Norwich 5-0 although subsequent defeats at OId Trafford and Upton Park are doing nothing to change their reputation for being poor travellers and the sale of Moussa Dembele to Tottenham was a big blow.
Dimitar Berbatov will make his home debut and the Bulgarian is a 6/1 chance to break the deadlock in this match, for which Fulham are warm favourites at 19/20 (bet365) although the absence of Dembele certainly makes the Cottagers a less attractive bet against a team that are looking particularly solid.
We can see this being a tight contest and a 1-1 draw can be backed at 13/2 (Hills) which would keep West Brom’s season ticking over nicely, while Martin Jol’s men will need to do some soul-searching after being three down at the break against West Ham.
Manchester United v Wigan Athletic 15:00
It’s been a peculiar start to the season for United, who have six points on the board despite being in trailing positions on several occasions.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s team lost their opener against Everton before recovering from a goal down to beat Fulham and they were twice behind at St Mary’s before the late show helped the Premier League title challengers to claim the points.
Ferguson will have been less than impressed by his team’s defending to date and David de Gea will be reinstated in goal, although it’s aerially where his team struggled against Southampton, with Rafael and Patrice Evra both exposed at the back.
United traditionally win this fixture comfortably and they are a best price 1/4 (bet365) to win their third game on the bounce, with Robin van Persie back from international duty and looking to continue racking up the goals.
The Dutchman bagged a hat-trick despite missing a penalty at St Mary’s and the bookies are taking no chances with their 3/1 quote about RVP breaking the deadlock, with Wayne Rooney continuing to recover from a gashed leg which will see him miss most of September.
Wigan were beaten by Chelsea in their opening match although they have subsequently taken four points from matches against Southampton and Stoke, with Roberto Martinez once again coping admirably with the departure of key players such as Victor Moses.
The Latics are a massive 16/1 to win this game and they did beat the same opponents towards the end of last season, a 1-0 victory that was fully deserved and helped put the brakes on United’s title tilt while simultaneously ensuring Wigan remained a top flight entity.
However, they have a lot of attacking prowess to handle and United to be leading at half-time and full-time looks an attractive proposition at 4/6.
QPR v Chelsea 15:00
It appears as though John Terry could be missing for Chelsea for their match at Loftus Road and that might be a good thing for his team as the former England captain would be guaranteed an extremely hostile reception at Loftus Road.
Terry was involved in alleged racist spat with Anton Ferdinand in this fixture last season during an ill-tempered encounter which saw the Blues have two men sent off on their way to a 1-0 defeat.
Chelsea will be determined to keep their discipline for this west London derby after making a flying start which sees them top of the Premier League and they can be backed at 4/5 (William Hill free bets) to claim a fourth consecutive victory of the season.
Even so, Roberto Di Matteo’s side were humbled 4-1 in the Super Cup by Atletico Madrid which will have given the Italian food for thought as Falcao scored a hat-trick against a Chelsea defence that were pulled all over the place.
Clearly QPR don’t possess a striker with that sort of finesse although they played pretty well when losing 3-1 at Manchester City recently and Mark Hughes will have them fired up for this fixture, knowing a victory would be a massive confidence booster ahead of matches against Tottenham, Reading and West Ham.
Rangers are 4/1 to repeat their trick of last season and win this contest which is probably a shade too big considering that Hughes has invested heavily in the summer to recruit the likes of Jose Bosingwa, Fabio Da Silva, Jung-Si Park and Esteban Granero.
Another 1-0 win for the home side can be backed at 13/1 and there will be a clear aim to keep Eden Hazard tightly marked considering the Belgian has been assisting so many goals from midfield.
Stoke City v Manchester City 15:00
Stoke finally got their man when Michael Owen agreed to sign for the Potters and the striker could play some part of Saturday’s match against the champions, with Owen deciding that a move to the Britannia Stadium suited him best.
Stoke were always the club that appeared the most interested in the former England striker and Tony Pulis will hope that the goals for column is boosted as a result of this free transfer which stipulates that Owen will only earn top dollar for playing games.
The Staffordshire side are a best price 4/1 to win this weekend and it seems a lumpy price considering City have not been at the races yet this season. They were made to work hard for a victory over Southampton before scrambling a point at Anfield.
Roberto Mancini will not have appreciated most of his squad jetting off for international duty and this was a fixture which saw Manchester City land just a point last term, with Peter Crouch scoring an unbelievable volley which saw the net bulge from thirty yards out.
Perhaps the Citizens will come away from the Brit with a maximum haul although one can’t feel too confident of taking the odds-on 3/4 (William Hill) about an away win considering Arsenal were held to a draw and the 11/4 about this game ending all square is surely the value proposition.
The script might be written for Owen to appear off the bench and score the winning goal for his new club and there are odds of 10/1 about him scoring first or last in this game, although Carlos Tevez is half the odds and the Argentine has scored in each of his team’s first three matches.
Sunderland v Liverpool 17:30
Three games played, one point on the board. Not quite the start that Brendan Rodgers was seeking after replacing Kenny Dalglish as manager, although Liverpool supporters are getting used to being patient and are aware that Rodgers’ hands were tied before the transfer deadline which means this will be a transitional season.
In addition, facing West Brom, Manchester City and Arsenal is a tough opening and the fixtures will now start to get progressively easy, with the Merseyside club warm favourites at 13/10 (Blue Square) to win at the Stadium of Light and get their campaign properly up and running.
Sunderland are hard to judge at the moment, with the Black Cats having earned a point from trips to Arsenal and Swansea which perhaps suggests they are overpriced at 12/5 (bet365) for their first home match of the season after their previous match against Reading was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch in August.
Martin O’Neill was delighted to see expensive new signing Steven Fletcher bag a brace on his debut for the Wearside club and the Scot is a 15/2 chance to score the first goal of the game, with the forward having burned his international bridges with Craig Levein.
Liverpool’s previous away game saw them beaten 3-0 at West Brom although it was a harsh scoreline considering the visitors dominated the early exchanges and Luis Suarez was particularly profligate in front of goal.
The Uruguayan is a 13/2 chance to score first in this match although this is yet another of Saturday’s match where the draw could be the best bet and the 23/10 is worth backing.