Our writer previews week three of the 2016/17 English Premier League.
It might still be early in the day, but the title race is already looking like a three-horse race. Some may call this rash but it’s clear that Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd are far superior to their rivals – on the pitch and in the stands. Liverpool’s optimism was short lived, while Arsene Wenger has kept his hands firmly in his pockets for the duration of the transfer window. Spurs don’t even warrant a mention. If the title winner doesn’t come from one of those three I’ll eat my hat. The only side that worries me are Hull City...
Saturday 27 August
Tottenham 27/20 | Draw 24/10 | Liverpool 39/20
We start the week at White Hart Lane, with Liverpool heading to the capital for the second time in a fortnight. Which Reds side will we see? The one that played some high voltage Heavy Metal Football on the opening weekend or the one that looked a garage band outfit just mashing around on their instruments with no real direction. Who knows? One thing I can tell you is Simon Mignolet has merrily allowed each of the last five shots on targets he’s faced to go into the goal, so you can expect goals. Hopefully Daniel Sturridge could be bothered to show up this week and Philippe Coutinho can actually find the target, or better yet, a teammate. As with last week, I’m going with Both Teams To Score, this time at 6/10.
*Click here for our full preview
Chelsea 1/4 | Draw 9/2 | Burnley 10/1
Chelsea continued to plug along in the most Chelsea of fashions with a come-from-behind 2-1 win at Watford. Antonio Conte was brave enough to make three substitutions and was duly rewarded in the final 10 minutes. Where have we seen that before? For the second week in a row it was Diego Costa who grabbed the winner after being lucky to still be on the pitch. This week they will play host to Liverpool’s conquerors at Stamford Bridge. Expect a similar approach from Sean Dyche’s team as they sit deep and look to use Andre Gray and Sam Vokes on the counter. The only difference is Chelsea have the players to pick you apart if you give them that much possession. A home win for me, with Michy Batshuayi to get on the scoresheet once again.
Crystal Palace 5/4 | Draw 22/10 | Bournemouth 47/20
Following their defeat to Spurs it’s now 13 points in 23 league games for Crystal Palace and Alan Pardew. Where’s your dance moves now Pards? On Saturday they play host to Bournemouth and they’ll need their shiny new signing to hit the ground running, once he figures out which club he’s actually playing for. His opponents on Saturday are a Bournemouth side who have endured a tough start to the new campaign. A trip to Selhurst Park should allow them to pick up their first points of the new season. Last season they triumphed in this fixture and a repeat comes in at odds of 23/10.
Everton 7/10 | Draw 26/10 | Stoke City 4/1
Everton’s victory over West Brom saw some extremely encouraging signs for the Toffees. After falling behind, Ronald Koeman showed great tactical flexibility to turn things around, with the reintroduction of Romelu Lukaku proving the catalyst. It seems the talented Belgian won’t be getting his move away from Goodison Park, which could prove a good thing for both parties involved. Everton have a top-class striker again and Lukaku has the game time he needs. He’ll lineup this weekend against a Stoke side who were easily brushed aside by Man City at home. This fixture produced seven goals last season, but Roberto Martinez is gone and Everton look much sturdier at the back. A fairly routine home win should suffice at odds of 7/10.
Leicester City 15/20 | Draw 51/20 | Swansea 39/10
It was always going to be tough for Leicester to replicate last season’s form and after a disappointing opening day, they responded well with a draw against Arsenal. They kept one of the better attacking units in the Premier League at touching distance throughout and were rarely troubled. On Saturday they’ll face a Swansea side who were extremely wasteful in front of goal as they went down to Hull City at home. A pre-season pick for relegation, I still feel Swansea haven’t done enough to keep themselves out of harm’s way. Leicester should keep them scoreless on the way to their first three points of the season. The matchbet comes in at 15/10.
Southampton 6/10 | Draw 28/10 | Sunderland 5/1
It didn’t take long for the Sunderland fans to turn on David Moyes. Forty-five minutes to be exact. The Scotsman has done himself no favours with his pessimistic outlook on things and his side’s performance in defeat against Middlesbrough showed a distinct lack of belief. This week they travel to Southampton, who were pretty decent despite going down at Old Trafford. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was classy in the centre of the park and looks to be a great signing by Claude Puel. I worry about their lack of striking options without Sadio Mane and Graziano Pelle, but they should have no problem seeing off a poor Sunderland side.
Watford 36/10 | Draw 11/4 | Arsenal 15/20
After commiserating with Arsenal fans last week, I find myself feeling a bit sorry for their manager this week. When West Brom are asking for £25 million for Jonny Evans, the world truly has gone crazy. Why he’s in for Evans is another question for another day. One positive for the under-fire Frenchman is the return of his fellow countryman, Laurent Koscielny. His assured performance against Leicester was just what was required to quell the nerves. They’re slowly building into the season and will be hoping for all three points from their visit to Vicarage Road. Watford went toe-to-toe with Chelsea and I don’t expect them to curb their enthusiasm. However, as with last season’s 2-1 victory, I expect Arsenal to do just enough to secure a morale-boosting victory.
Hull City 6/1 | Draw 31/10 | Manchester United 5/10
Two of the early season pacesetters will go head-to-head at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday evening when Hull City host Manchester United. The Tigers have already sprung two surprises this season and will be hoping to make it three-from-three, despite fielding a central midfielder at centre-back, a left midfielder in central midfielder and filling the rest with kids from their academy. It might be enough against lesser sides, but not this United side. They’ve exuded the power and pace associated with the Mourinho sides of old, with Eric Bailly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba taking to the English game with startling levels of ease. I was a bit worried last week. I shouldn’t have been. United should complete the perfect opening month with a comfortable win here. They’re 13/10 to win on the -1 Handicap. Get stuck in.
Sunday 28 August
West Brom 31/20 | Draw 2/1 | Middlesbrough 39/20
Could you imagine a less entertaining fixture than West Brom against Middlesbrough? Sure, Boro might be playing some decent ball, but it’s still Middlesbrough. As for West Brom, I can’t honestly think of one player in their squad who excites me. If I was to have my way, Mike Dean would ref and just give out five penalties each and then blow for full-time. At least we’d get some intrigue without the aimless Craig Dawson hoofs upfield. Whenever the Baggies are in action, I like the draw. That’s where I’ll be going here at odds of 2/1.
Manchester City 3/10 | Draw 9/2 | West Ham 17/2
After a solid start to the season, Manchester City face their toughest opponents yet when they host West Ham United. The Citizens failed to beat Slaven Bilic’s Hammers last season, but under new coach, Pep Guardiola, Man City have every right to believe that they can knock any team in their way to glory. Since Pep’s arrival, City have played with a certain swagger about them. But just how will that pan out for the Sky Blues against a more robust and fearless West Ham side? The Hammers just might be able to hold Man City to a draw.
*Click here for our full preview
Written by Commodore Vegas @Hollywoodbets