English Premier League: Week 5 Preview

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

The international break is now over, allowing us to focus our collective energies on what matters most. I may as well just get this out of the way; Manchester United host Liverpool this weekend. The unbridled excitement that this fixture generates is undeterred by the relative struggles of the two most successful clubs in England.

In fact, it only serves to intensify the issue, with both managers knowing that a defeat here will really exacerbate growing pressure surrounding these two huge clubs. Struggling champions Chelsea return to the scene of a famous 6-3 victory last season, as Everton look to invoke the curse of John Stones and further tarnish Chelsea’s aura. Those are just the pick of yet another action-packed edition of the Barclays Premier League.

Saturday 12 September

Everton  28/10
Draw  23/10
Chelsea  19/20
Roberto Martinez pulled off the transfer coup of the season by retaining the services of fleet footed centre-half John Stones. The signing of Mori has actually strengthened their defensive lineup, which will no doubt give further pleasure to the Goodison faithful. John Stones’ professionalism will no doubt be affected by the visit of his would-be suitors Chelsea. Chelsea were outplayed against Palace, with Eden Hazard largely anonymous whilst Ivanovic was once again dominated for pace. A few minor defensive signings have thrown some more bodies at the issue, but Mourinho’s key task now is to lift the suffocating gloom that has engulfed the champions of late. Chelsea’s free-flowing 6-3 victory at Goodison last season represented the peak of Chelsea’s swagger, but something tells me that this will be a far tighter affair. Everton to win or draw on the Double Chance is the tip at 15/20.

West Brom  2/1
Draw  21/10
Southampton  14/10
The Saido Berahino saga may well come to a head this weekend with the visit of a somewhat resurgent Southampton side. Tony Pulis must be severely frustrated with the entire transfer saga, because the idea of Berahino playing off Rondon is one of the more enticing attacking prospects that the Albion have ever had. Southampton will be pleased with the return to form of both Tadic and Pelle, with Jay Rodriguez slowly regaining fitness and confidence after a crippling injury break. This game is set up perfectly, with West Brom’s counterattacking style complimenting Southampton’s tika taka style beautifully. I expect goals but can’t quite predict who will edge it. Take Both Teams to Score at 19/20.

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Watford  16/10
Draw  21/10
Swansea City  17/10
Watford’s functional start to the season will need to produce a few results soon or else they may find themselves caught adrift of their slightly more progressive compatriots. Gomes actually saved Watford more blushes with a courageous performance in goal to keep a rampant City side at bay.  Swansea have been a revelation of late, with Gomis in scintillating form in front of goal. Andre Ayew may be the sleeper signing of the season while Jonjo Shelvey is beginning to emerge from the Gerrard shadow that has loomed over him since his time at Anfield. I expect Swansea, just brimming with confidence following the United victory, to be far too classy for a workmanlike Watford side. Back the away side at 17/10. 

Norwich City  5/4
Draw  23/10
Bournemouth  2/1
Alex Neil’s Norwich were soundly beaten by a polished Southampton last week, with Whittaker’s lapse in discipline costing them severely. Bournemouth picked up a solid point against Leicester, with Callum Wilson scoring a spectacular overhead kick that solidified his status as a promising Premier League sharpshooter. This should be a tightly fought battle between two hard-nosed promoted sides that have both tasted victory already this season. It’s a bold move to actually predict the draw, but I feel it is on the cards here, with both sides eager to accumulate points after the international break.  

Crystal Palace  39/10
Draw  31/10
Manchester City  6/10
Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace may actually pose Pellegrini’s City their biggest threat thus far. Sako and Bolasie have the pace and power to disrupt City, while De Bruyn’s signing may initially prove burdensome to the club. The versatile attacking midfielder’s price tag warrants automatic inclusion, but he still has to be integrated into a winning side. That being said, this City side seems to have the maturity now to deal with such integration. Even the cantankerous Samir Nasri has swallowed his pride and bought into the collective team spirit of the club. I feel that Pardew’s side will hold on valiantly towards half-time, but the pace of Sterling and Aguero will ultimately tell for City. The halftime-fulltime Draw-Man City market is tipped at 34/10.

Arsenal  1/4
Draw  9/2
Stoke City  97/10
Stoke City will be without both Charlie Adam and Affalay for the trip to the Emirates following last week’s tempestuous loss to West Brom, which will cause Mark Hughes some real headaches going into this fixture. Shaqiri will have to impose himself in this game, ensuring that Nacho Monreal does not get too adventurous, while Diouf will be tasked with testing the occasionally brittle Arsenal defence. Arsenal have had some troubles creating clear-cut chances and have been slightly narrow in recent weeks. It would be refreshing to see Wenger start with either Walcott or Oxlade-Chamberlain, providing some width for Giroud to exploit. Arsenal should be able to exploit a depleted and bedraggled Stoke City side. Back the Gunners to Score in Both Halves at 9/10.

Manchester United  17/20
Draw  23/10
Liverpool  32/10
The big match of the weekend, if not the entire calendar season. Regardless of the respective difficulties facing both clubs, historical significance trumps title relevance when this rivalry comes around. Liverpool have issues with selection, with injury to Henderson and suspension to Coutinho essentially stripping them of their two best players. Added to this is the calamitous defending of Lovren, which had only been a simmering issue prior to last weekend’s shambolic performance against West Ham. United are dealing with their own problems, mainly trying to integrate the vast array of players at their disposal into a winning system. Their major issue seems to be LVG’s insistence on playing certain players in the wrong positions. Personnel issues will prove more troubling than the formation issues at United, but I’m backing them to win at 17/20.  

Sunday 13 September

Sunderland  31/10
Draw  5/2
Tottenham Hotspurs  17/20
Sunderland showed some more attacking threat against Aston Villa, with new signings Toivonen and Lens providing some spark that has sorely been lacking of late. Their defensive woes, however, continue, with Kaboul looking absolutely prehistoric in the centre of defence.  Spurs were impressive against Everton but were unable to find the back of the net.  Harry Kane scored on international duty and will be hoping for the goodwill to transfer to what has been an insipid start to his domestic campaign. Spurs will be able to exploit Sunderland’s copious defensive issues, with Harry Kane and new signing Heung-Min Son likely to capitalise on Sunderland’s woeful defensive speed and organization. Back the away win at 17/20.

Leicester City  8/10
Draw  26/10
Aston Villa  32/10
Claudio Ranieri’s shrewd business sense and tactical proficiency has helped the Foxes to an excellent start. The pace of Vardy, Albrighton and Mahrez has brought a swagger to the Foxes that has unfortunately left many to forget the heroics achieved under Nigel Pearson. Tim Sherwood’s new look Aston Villa have excitement in their ranks: Amavi seems to possess a much needed creative spark, Traore’s speed is electrifying and Scott Sinclair is finally getting some much needed game time. Sherwood will take some time amalgamating all of these players under the captaincy of Micah Richards, but they should give high-flying Leicester a good game this weekend. I see this one producing Over 2.5 Goals at 17/20.

Monday 14 September

West Ham  11/10
Draw  23/10
Newcastle United  9/4
West Ham are proof positive of the absurdity of this entire predictive enterprise. They defeat Arsenal at the Emirates, and then lose consecutive home matches to Bournemouth and Leicester, only to go and convincingly turn Liverpool over at Anfield. Diafra Sakho has shaken off his personal problems to remain consistent while Mark Noble has been instrumental to their success - he will miss this match through suspension however.  Cresswell went from ridiculous to sublime last week and will surely give Janmaat huge problems. Mitrovic’s absence will be a loss for Newcastle while Wijnaldum and Sissoko attempt to force West Ham on the back foot. This one is almost impossible to call but I don’t expect a goal-fest as both sides look to bring some stability to their performances. Under 2.5 Goals is the bet at 17/20.

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