West Brom were soundly beaten by Chelsea last weekend, reaffirming my belief that their early season form was something of a misrepresentation of their ability. Arsenal received a huge boost of confidence with their emphatic victory over Borussia Dortmund. They managed to overcome the injury of Jack Wilshere and reinstall a sense of belief in the entire Arsenal project. I feel that Arsenal may be on the brink of a good six game run - their idiosyncratic brand of possession football stands in stark contrast to the counterattacking tactics of West Brom. Nevertheless, it is unwise to get too carried away with the Gunners currently. Back them on the Double Chance to win or draw at 1/5.
Sean Dyche will be feeling cautiously optimistic in the aftermath of Burnley’s shock victory over Stoke last week. Paul Lambert’s managerial career is hanging by the proverbial thread following Aston Villa’s failure to hold onto all three points on Monday night. This match should please old school football aficionados, with both sides championing a no-nonsense route one approach that should make for an interesting battle of attrition. I couldn’t possibly predict the winner in this relegation regatta, but with both sides battling to find the back of the net with regularity, betting against Both Teams to Score seems best at 15/20.
Liverpool have failed to capture the imagination in a season punctuated by disappointment. The Mario Balotelli experiment has flopped in a gargantuan manner, while Mark Hughes is battling to keep his pragmatic Stoke side afloat. The fact that Liverpool’s European destiny lies in their own hands should give them some added confidence against a poor Stoke side. Look for Adam Lallana to have a big impact, Liverpool just have to win this one. You’ll get the Reds at 7/10.
Manchester United’s troubles have been completely offset by the general malaise accompanying many other top sides. Louis Van Gaal has managed to ninja United into the top four while former United legend Steve Bruce is struggling to manage a major injury crisis at Hull. You cannot really expect Tom Huddlestone to command a midfield diamond at the Theatre of Dreams. Juan Mata should dictate terms against a makeshift Hull midfield line-up. Go big on United here. Take them on the halftime-fulltime double at 8/10.
Harry Redknapp will be feeling particularly fragile in the wake of Burnley’s shock win at Stoke last week. Charlie Austin’s prodigious goal scoring feats are not fuel enough to propel QPR to league safety. Leicester have experienced a rather alarming culture shock in recent weeks, battling to score goals as effortlessly as they did in their first few weeks. A switch to a midfield diamond is the likely cause, less width equalling less service for Leonardo Ulloa. I expect QPR to overcome Leicester with their superior knowhow, which will always trump a strong work ethic. Get QPR at 13/10.
Swansea City have fashioned themselves an interesting niche in the congested Premier League narrative this season. Enigmatic to a fault, Garry Monk has built an impressive home record that gravitates around the talismanic abilities of Gylfi Sigurdsson. How Spurs let the influential Icelandic playmaker depart is a mystery that will baffle me until the end of time. Neil Warnock’s Crystal Palace were flattered by a truly atrocious Liverpool side at the weekend. Bolasie’s incisive running should prove less influential against a Swansea side noted for their hegemonic will to boss possession. Swansea at 15/20 will do nicely.
Andy Carroll will be relishing the opportunity to put one over his former employers when high-flying West Ham face a similarly buoyant Newcastle side this weekend. West Ham have lost a bit of traction since an inopportune injury to Diafra Sakho and will be hoping to put the disappointing result at Everton behind them. Newcastle have been riding high on the euphoric bliss that is the Alan Pardew adventure, but this trend should begin to plateau in the forthcoming weeks. West Ham should be able to dictate the midfield against a Newcastle side perhaps overly comfortable in the hue of their recent results. Additionally, they may be forced to miss the service of Tim Krul between the sticks, an integral part of their three consecutive clean sheets. West Ham to win or draw on the Double Chance at 3/10.
Chelsea’s fabulous start to the season should not be curtailed by a Sunderland side struggling to implement a cohesive game plan. Mourinho’s magic formula is perfectly exemplified in the way Chelsea set up away from home. They have perfected the art of calculated counterattack and have only improved since Cesar Azpilicueta’s reintroduction to the side. Gus Poyet’s side are overly reliant on the goalscoring exploits of Fletcher and will battle to coordinate a suitable game plan to harness Chelsea’s devastating counterattacking style. Chelsea on the halftime-fulltime double is the bet here at even money.
Who would have thought that this would be a top of the table clash in the wake of Southampton’s veritable squad decimation last year? Their draw with Villa on Monday night was encouraging in the sense that they were truly awful and still managed to pick up a point. They seem to possess the necessary application to see them through dark times when their aesthetically pleasing brand of football fails. Manchester City will feel emboldened by their European victory over Munich - a victory which only serves to paper over enormous defensive issues which still pervade Manuel Pellegrini’s side. This is extremely difficult to call, but there is value in backing a temperamental City side to take this one at St Mary’s at 13/10.
Mauricio Pochettino and Roberto Martinez represent the new breed of top flight management in English football. Brash, confident, aggressive to a fault - both managers are battling to marry their ideological agendas amidst the cutthroat bottom line that is Premier League security. I am going to go a bit leftfield and back the blue half of Merseyside here. Everton have been far better than their points tally would suggest and should have too much coherence for a Spurs team comprised of fragmented talent. Perhaps the prudent option would be to go for Everton to win or draw on the Double Chance at 11/20. I cannot imagine Spurs winning here.
10-leg English Premier League Multiple Price - 238/1
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