FFT's Joe Brewin picks out his best bets from every Premier League tussle this weekend...
Newcastle vs Liverpool (Sat, 12:45pm)
It’s official - with 129 net-ripplers, this is the goaliest fixture in Premier League history. Liverpool have netted more goals against the Magpies (84) than any other opponent in the competition, and are just two shy from reaching 600 away from home. But what looked like an easy fixture a fortnight ago perhaps isn’t such a cakewalk now, Newcastle having seen off Manchester City 2-0 in the League Cup after back-to-back league wins over Leicester and Tottenham.
They also have an in-form Papiss Cisse and his league-best goal every 61 minutes this season (he’s 21/20 anytime), though Liverpool fans were finally able to cheer another Mario Balotelli (5/4 to net) goal in midweek against Swansea.
Best bet: It’s the game that guarantees goals - there hasn’t been a 0-0 between these two teams since February 1974. Both teams can still be relied upon to be unreliable at the back, while Liverpool have netted 3 goals twice away from Anfield this season. The Reds to score in both halves is 7/4.
Arsenal vs Burnley (Sat, 3pm)
It doesn’t get any easier for Burnley. Fresh from back-to-back defeats against West Ham and Everton, the Clarets face their first daunting trip of the season when they face Arsenal at the Emirates. Arsene Wenger’s men edged past Sunderland at the Stadium of Light last weekend, and another victory here seems assured.
Burnley have scored in only 1 of their 4 away games this season (at fellow promotees Leicester), are still searching for a first win of the season and come up against a team unbeaten on home soil – though Arsenal have fallen behind in every one of their 4 home games.
Best bet: Wenger’s side are unbeaten in their last 22 home Premier League matches, and that’s highly unlikely to stop here. A win to nil at evens is the best way to beef up the Gunners’ price.
Chelsea vs QPR (Sat, 3pm)
Another comfortable home win is expected for leaders Chelsea against their struggling west London foes, even if QPR finally won for the first time in two months on Monday night against Aston Villa.
Chelsea are unbeaten in 9 and don’t give much away at Stamford Bridge, having kept an eye-popping 10 clean sheets in their last 12 leagues games at home. A win to nil is 8/11.
Best bet: There isn’t much value to be found in the handicaps market, or Chelsea HT/FT, so instead back the Blues to win both halves at 11/10.
Everton vs Swansea (Sat, 3pm)
Wins over newly promoted sides were welcome for both of these sides last weekend; Everton putting Burnley to the sword 3-1 at Turf Moor, after Swansea had beaten Leicester 2-0 a day earlier at the Liberty Stadium. The former have now racked up back-to-back wins for the first time this season, and remain in reach of the top four being only 4 points behind West Ham.
Everton have never lost to Swansea in 18 league meetings - the longest run of its kind in English football’s top four divisions - but they face a side who grabbed their first win in 6 last time out, and with Wilfried Bony having netted 5 goals in as many games for club and country. The Ivorian is 12/5 to net at Goodison Park.
Best bet: Games at Goodison have averaged over 5 goals per game this season, while 3 of Swansea’s 4 away games have produced at least 3 goals. Take on Over 2.5 goals at 4/5.
Hull vs Southampton (Sat, 3pm)
Life has improved for Hull over the last month - draws against Liverpool and Arsenal followed victory over Crystal Palace - but the Tigers won’t be particularly enthused about facing the top flight’s surprise package next. High-flying Southampton sit second in the table after a superb start of 6 wins from 9 games, and advanced to the quarter-finals of the League Cup in midweek with a 3-2 win at Stoke.
Graziano Pelle added another pair to his bulging tally at the Britannia, and the Italian heart-throb seems a good bet at 13/10 to get himself on the scoresheet again.
Best bet: Ronald Koeman’s team have conceded only 5 goals this season, and go in search of a 6th clean sheet at the KC Stadium. Hull are hardly poor in front of goal - they’ve netted 7 home goals in 4 games this season - but the Saints are looking mightily impressive right now. Try an ambitious win to nil for the visitors at 5/2.
Leicester vs West Brom (Sat, 3pm)
The waters have been muddied for Leicester after their 3rd straight defeat at Swansea last weekend, but the Foxes will welcome a return to the King Power Stadium after back-to-back away matches.
Nigel Pearson’s men are unbeaten at home this season, having scored 10 of their 11 goals there (half of which came against Manchester United). West Brom fought back from two goals down to draw with Crystal Palace, and Alan Irvine’s men are 23/10 to claim their first win in 4 against a team they’ve won 7 of their last 9 games against. History doesn’t count for much here, though - not least when the Baggies have won just 1 of their last 7 away trips in the Premier League.
Best bet: Leicester are a much more adventurous team on their own patch, which should open things up against a West Brom side who’ve netted just twice on the road this season. Both sides have fared better after half-time this season, so take Over 1.5 goals in the second period at 10/11.
Stoke vs West Ham (Sat, 3pm)
It’s just not quite falling into place for Stoke yet. A cup defeat to Southampton is nothing to be ashamed of, but the Potters had also gone down to the same side four days previously.
Results have been mixed throughout the season, but they’re still only out of the top half on goal difference and can claim to have won their last 2 at home. Big Sam’s sexy new West Ham could put a stop to that, but they’ll be trying without free-scoring Diafra Sakho, who’ll have to wait to see if he can break the newbie record for consecutive games scored in (7). The Hammers have now bagged in 8 successive Premier League games; their best run in the competition since November 2009 (10 games).
Best bet: Those killjoys from Staffordshire could put a stop to that, though - Stoke have allowed their opponents fewer shots on target than any other side in the top flight (22) this season. Back at least one of these sides drawing a blank at 10/11.
Man City vs Man United (Sun, 1:30pm)
If losing to West Ham last weekend wasn’t bad enough for Manuel Pellegrini, repeating the feat at home to Newcastle in the League Cup has surely tipped the Chilean over the edge. The Man City chief now has to begin chipping away at the 6-point gap between his side and leaders Chelsea, starting with this crucial derby against Man United - a fixture his team won 4-1 last season.
City have won 5 and lost just 1 of the last 6 Premier League Manchester derbies, but Louis van Gaal’s visitors aren’t quite the flaky side of last season. They clawed a late point against Chelsea last weekend, and are now unbeaten in 4. They need the points just as badly.
Best bet: With City misfiring and United having welcomed back defensive reinforcements in the last fortnight, there’s a case for a lower-scoring affair than expected. The 13/10 on offer for Under 2.5 goals is tempting.
Aston Villa vs Tottenham (Sun, 4pm)
Villa have now gone almost 9 hours without scoring in the Premier League, losing their last 5 matches to nil against the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and, er, QPR. Monday’s defeat was a bitter pill to swallow for Paul Lambert’s men, but there’s no time to wallow in self-pity with a tough visit of Spurs to contend with.
The north Londoners had a bad time of it themselves last time out, falling asleep and losing to Newcastle after conceding the equaliser eight seconds into the second half. Simply, 1 win from 7 isn’t good enough.
Best bet: But Tottenham do at least boast a strong record against the Villans, winning 8 and losing 0 of the last 11, and shipping just 1 goal in the last 6 league meetings. Back Mauricio Pochettino’s side to bounce back with victory at 21/20.
Crystal Palace vs Sunderland (Mon, 8pm)
Something to look forward to on a Monday night or what, eh? A game that looks like it has ‘horrible draw’ plastered all over it (12/5, because you’re asking) rounds up the weekend action... but wait. Palace have won their last 4 home games in all competitions against Sunderland, while the Eagles’ last 3 Premier League games on a Monday have produced 17 goals, including last season’s 3-3 draw with Liverpool.
They failed to win any of those games (D1 L2), though, which isn’t so hot. Sunderland have indeed drawn 5 of their 9 games this season, but lost consecutive games to Southampton (*shiver*) and Arsenal, and, weirdly, haven’t won any of their last 20 top-flight matches on a Monday (D8 L12). What’s with that?
Best bet: On current, wild form, the result is too difficult to call. Both of these teams have gone in level at the break in 6 of their 9 games this season, though, so based on that evidence we’ll be backing another slow start - the half-time draw is 11/10.
The FourFourTwo five-for
Watford (4/5) vs Millwall
Notts County (6/4) vs Walsall
Rochdale vs Preston (11/8)
Sheff United (4/5) vs Barnsley
AFC Telford vs Bristol Rovers (8/11)
£5 returns: £166
Odds correct at time of publishing