Southampton are rock bottom of the table and this weekend’s match against Swansea has a must-win feel about it, while Rangers have a tricky trip to Stoke where a point would be regarded as a good result.
Meanwhile, Manchester United travel to Villa Park for the Saturday evening kick-off, while Reading have a chance to earn their first Premier League win against Norwich and Arsenal host Fulham at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal v Fulham 15:00
The Gunners are 7th in the table although it’s worth noting that Arsenal have played six of their ten Premier League games on the road and will still feel confident that they can qualify for the Champions League come the end of the season. At a recent club AGM, Arsene Wenger said 4th place was akin to winning a trophy although supporters don’t exactly see it that way.
After a defeat at Old Trafford and a draw at Schalke, it’s high time the north London side returned to winning ways and they are 8/15 (BetVictor free bets) to beat a Fulham team who don’t have a great record at the Emirates. Theo Walcott is still undecided over whether to sign a new deal with Arsenal although the winger impressed in Germany and could be worth a gamble at 13/2 (bet365) to score first in this game.
The Cottagers are level on points with their opponents after a reasonable start to the season which has seen them win at Wigan and land points away to Southampton and Reading, with scoring goals hardly proving an issue on the road.
Martin Jol’s men will be nice and fresh for this game and 6/1 looks a big price about a side boasting the in-form Bryan Ruiz and Dimitar Berbatov, although twelve goals have been conceded in five away matches and it’s hard to see them shutting out Arsenal for ninety minutes.
The bookies agree and Blue Square offer a top price 8/13 about three goals or more being scored, while it might be worth plumping for a crazy scoreline such as 3-2 or 4-2, with the Arsenal defence hardly proving watertight at the moment.
Everton v Sunderland 15:00
So far, so good for Everton who sit fourth in the table after ten games and six of those matches have been on the road, with West Brom the only side to have defeated the Toffees all season.
David Moyes’ men might have more points on the board had they not thrown away leads against Newcastle and more latterly Fulham, where the Merseyside club had a hatful of chances to score before conceding a late equaliser at Craven Cottage.
Even so, it’s hard to bet against Everton in this match and Ladbrokes are one of the few firms to go 8/15 about a home win against a Sunderland team that simply can’t buy a goal at the moment.
Marouane Fellaini was a revelation against Fulham and the Belgian is racking up the goals this season and will prove a handful on Saturday afternoon, with bet365 proving bravest with their 6/1 quote about the Belgian breaking the deadlock.
Nikica Jelavic will also be looking to return to the scoresheet after a few games without a goal and he can be backed at 9/2 (Paddy Power bookmaker) although Everton could find their opponents determined to defend solidly and come away with a valuable point.
Martin O’Neill brought about a reversal in form when replacing Steve Bruce last season although Sunderland have scored just six goals in nine games and that is the root of their problem and explains why the north-east club are 16th in the table.
A relegation scrap isn’t unthinkable now that the confidence has seeped out of the team and a draw at 16/5 is the best that the visitors can surely hope for, with the bookies prepared to go 7/1 about the Wearsiders claiming all three points.
Sunderland do at least know how to keep things tight and Under 2.5 Goals can be backed at 19/20, although it’s also worth considering a bet on Everton 1-0 and 2-0.
Reading v Norwich 15:00
There’s already a four point gap between Reading and Premier League safety, with Brian McDermott aware that a first Premier League win is desperately required so that the Royals can give themselves every chance of a top flight stay that lasts more than twelve months.
Supporters haven’t seen their team badly on a consistent basis and a first win has narrowly eluded them on a couple of occasions, with the Berkshire side taking the lead at Loftus Road last Sunday before the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
Reading are the 5/4 favourites (Betfred £50 free bet) to win this match against a Norwich side that looked to also be in dire straits after shipping a lot of goals only for Chris Hughton to identify the problems in defence and bring about a turn in form which has seen the Canaries beat Arsenal and Stoke City.
The visitors will therefore arrive in confident spirits and you could do worse than back City for their first away win of the season at 23/10 (Sky Bet), with Norwich likely to keep things tight and look for a chance to pinch a goal at the other end.
Perhaps the most likely result is the match ending all square which would suit the visitors a lot better and Under 2.5 Goals appears to offer value at 11/10 considering that Reading might sacrifice their gung ho approach for a bit of finesse as the games become must-win.
Southampton v Swansea City 15:00
Nigel Adkins is likely to receive a warm reception from the home supporters at St Mary’s who keep faith in the former Scunthorpe manager to ensure the Saints become a permanent fixture in the Premier League.
Adkins is perhaps a victim of his own success after achieving double promotions with Southampton although that might not prevent a change of personnel should the home team lose to Swansea City on Saturday, something that the manager knows very well.
The bookies do make the Saints slight favourites at 11/8 (Blue Square) to claim a valuable three points, having lost eight of their ten matches although they did whip Aston Villa 4-1 two months ago which seems to have been easily forgotten.
There are some quality attacking players in the team and nine goals have been scored at St Mary’s although too many are being conceded at the back and it’s hard to know whether a change of tactics will be effective or simply confuse a set of players who have gone for the jugular since the first game of the season.
Perhaps Jay Rodriguez can produce a moment of magic against the Swans and the former Burnley marksman is a 7/1 chance to score the first goal of the game, with the visitors having lost their last three games on the road since that amazing 5-0 win at Loftus Road back in August.
Nevertheless, Michael Laudrup’s team have played Manchester City and Chelsea in their last two matches and narrowly lost 1-0 at the Etihad Stadium before drawing with the London side at the Liberty, so confidence will be high among the players.
It would be a surprise if Swansea don’t score in this game and odds of 2/1 are perhaps a little too big about the away win based on the Saints plight, although a correct score of 2-2 could be the bet to have at 12/1.
Stoke City v QPR 15:00
This fixture ended 3-2 in favour of Rangers last season, one of the few bright notes for QPR on the road and pretty much the last time that Neil Warnock led the Hoops to a Premier League victory before Mark Hughes was drafted in to improve results.
The Welshman just about kept the west London side safe last season although it’s been a different story this term where just four points have been claimed from ten matches and Hughes has a matter of games to keep himself employed at Loftus Road, irrespective of what owner Tony Fernandes says.
What are their chances of winning at the Britannia Stadium this time around? Rangers have claimed just a solitary point on the road this term and that came at Norwich back in August, with four straight defeats following hard on the heels of that result. It’s the reason why the bookies are prepared to offer 7/2 about the visitors winning this one.
Stoke are not faring a good deal better although the Potters are unbeaten at home this season from games against Arsenal, Manchester City, Sunderland and Swansea. They have conceded just one goal in that quartet of fixtures and can be backed at 10/11 (Coral) to win this game and worsen the plight of their opponents.
It’s easy to forget that Peter Crouch had a spell with QPR earlier in his career which helped him blossom into an England international although the striker could cause problems for the defence on Saturday and he’s 6/1 to break the deadlock.
We’re likely to see no quarter given in this match and the visitors will be putting emphasis on being defensively solid and coming away with a goalless draw if possible. Odds of 5/2 are available on this game ending all square and Under 2.5 Goals simply has to backed at 4/5 (Blue Square) considering both teams are shot shy this season.
Wigan Athletic v West Brom 15:00
The Baggies have a very healthy return of 17 points from their first 10 matches this season and any prospect of a relegation struggle seems to be a remote one despite Steve Clark’s protestations that the first aim is to ensure enough points to bank Premier League safety for another campaign.
The West Brom manager would dearly love to see his team break their duck on the road this weekend after two draws and two defeats thus far, although Fulham away was the only time the Midlands side served up a poor performance and they were unlucky to taste defeat at Newcastle.
Perhaps they are overpriced at 9/4 (Betfred) to win at the DW Stadium considering they won for fun away from home last season when Roy Hodgson was manager and you couldn’t fail to be impressed with the ease by which they swept aside Southampton on Monday.
Peter Odemwingie helped himself to two goals in that match and the Nigerian is 8/1 (Coral) to score first in this game, although he might face stiff opposition from Shane Long for that first Baggies goal.
Wigan are slight favourites at 13/10 (Paddy Power bookmaker) and will be buzzing after that richly-deserved 1-0 win at White Hart Lane on Saturday which means they are in a mid-table position and looking to kick towards the top half of the table.
Aston Villa v Manchester United 17:30
If you had to pick the best time to face Manchester United, it would probably be just after a midweek European tie on the road and Aston Villa will look to follow up last weekend’s 1-0 win at Sunderland with another three points against the Premier League leaders.
Paul Lambert’s team did well at the Stadium of Light and the Scot will urge them to show no fear against a side enjoying a big winning run, with Gabriel Agbonlahor looking to score in the third game running and the forward is as big as 11/1 to fire his team into a 1-0 lead.
The Villans are half that price to actually beat the Red Devils and they have mustered just one win at Villa Park all season, with United having the attacking players to make it a difficult evening for their opponents and Sir Alex Ferguson sensibly rested Robin van Persie away to Braga with this match in mind.
Manchester United are a best price 4/7 (Coral) to be celebrating another win come the final whistle and their master Dutchman just can’t stop scoring for his new club. The bookies seem to shorten his odds to score first every weekend and Paddy Power are one of the few going 7/2 about someone who looks like winning the Golden Boot for a second campaign running.
One slight problem area for the visitors is the defence where the team haven’t kept a clean sheet for six matches and it’s more likely that this match will finish 2-1 or 3-2 than 1-0 in their favour. Villa to be leading at half-time before United claim the three points is a 25/1 shot and has happened on a few occasions this term.