The FFT Flutter: Man United to start strong, West Ham and Chelsea keeping it clean
Man City vs Spurs (Sat, 12:45pm)
It’s very early to call games must-wins for any side yet, but Manchester City really can’t afford to drop many more points if they’re to catch Chelsea at the top of the table. Already five points behind the Blues, Manuel Pellegrini’s champions have little room for error as they hunt a third successive victory against an up-and-down Tottenham side who beat Southampton before the international break.
Man City have won 6 of their last 7 against Spurs, making them unsurprising 4/9 favourites, and netted a whopping 11 goals against the north Londoners in the two games last season. Sergio Aguero has bagged in 4 of his last 6 against Spurs, and is 3/1 to open the scoring here.
Arsenal vs Hull (Sat, 3pm)
A repeat of May’s FA Cup final at the Emirates, as Arsenal aim to ignite a dreary campaign which has produced 4 draws in 7 games. Arsene Wenger’s men have only won twice all season, and went down at Chelsea a fortnight ago, but the 4/11 Gunners have beaten Hull in the last 7 meetings (all competitions). The Tigers did at least end a 5-game winless run with victory over Crystal Palace at the KC Stadium, but Steve Bruce’s side have also failed to beat Newcastle and Aston Villa on their travels. On the plus side, they’ve scored in every game this season.
Burnley vs West Ham (Sat, 3pm)
Finally, a chink of light for Burnley in this otherwise dark season. So their bright second-half display at Leicester didn’t earn them a first win, but it helped them to a point when they may have otherwise caved. The Clarets trebled their goal tally from six games (nice!), but still bemoan the top flight’s lowest shot-conversion rate of 5% (boo!). West Ham, meanwhile, have already won as many games this season (3) as they did from their first 20 last term. Sam Allardyce’s rejuvenated troops have scored in every game since the opening day, with Diafra Sakho (12/5 anytime) on course to match Carlton Cole’s record of notching in 5 consecutive Hammers games.
Crystal Palace vs Chelsea (Sat, 3pm)
John Terry won’t need reminding of this fixture from last season, having bagged the decisive goal – at the wrong end. But the match which also saw Jose Mourinho berate a ball boy already feels long ago. This is a new Chelsea machine; one that’s well-oiled, in full flow and steamrollering all in its wake. The Blues have won 6 of their 7 games this season, and in Diego Costa have a 9-goal striker who’s netted more times than any Palace player since their return to the top flight last season. Bet against them at your peril.
Everton vs Aston Villa (Sat, 3pm)
Everton are stuck in the relegation zone after going winless in 3 and losing at Old Trafford last time out, so Roberto Martinez’s side will be desperate to claw back some points against traditionally obliging opposition here. The Toffees have lost just 1 of their last 11 Premier League meetings with Aston Villa (W3 D7), although 5 of the last 7 at Goodison have ended as a draw (grab that at 3/1 this time). Paul Lambert’s men are built to withstand pressure while offering relatively little at the other end; indeed, only Burnley have netted fewer (3) than their 4 goals this season.
Newcastle vs Leicester (Sat, 3pm)
Any way will do for Newcastle – they just need a win. The Magpies are yet to win in 7 attempts this season but come up against a Leicester side looking for their first triumph in 3 after late disappointment at home to Burnley two weeks ago. Papiss Cisse is “the only one” capable of scoring goals for the hosts according to Alan Shearer, and he’s not far wrong: the Senegalese hitman has netted 4 in his last 3. At 11/2, there are worse first goalscorer punts.
Southampton vs Sunderland (Sat, 3pm)
In a rare role reversal, before the international break Southampton lost (at Tottenham) and Sunderland won (hosting Stoke). You can be forgiven for expecting a return to normality at St Mary’s, though, mainly because the Saints are yet to lose on home soil and their visitors are without victory from their 3 road trips. That’s not to say that Gus Poyet’s men will roll over and die, however – they’ve proved they can make life awkward by drawing 5 of their games this season (claim another at 3/1).
QPR vs Liverpool (Sun, 1:30pm)
QPR are a higgledy-piggledy mess. For starters they’re bottom of the league after losing 5 of 7 games this season, and conceding a messy 15 goals to go with it. If they were facing the Liverpool of last season, this may well have been a massacre. Thankfully for ‘Arry & Co. they’re not, although Daniel Sturridge could return to beef up the Reds’ frontline (a 7/2 shot for the game’s last goal). Brendan Rodgers’ team have looked rather meek in front of goal so far, netting as many as Crystal Palace (10) up to this point, but against the struggling west Londoners there’s no better team to add to the tally against.
Stoke vs Swansea (Sun, 4pm)
So it probably won’t be one to remember, or even be worth staying up to catch on Sunday night, but Stoke really could do with staying awake for it. Getting beaten by Sunderland (in their most entertaining game of the season) saw the Potters sink to 16th in the early standings with only 2 wins to their name. They’re hardly scoring (6 in 7) but shipping relatively few at the other end (8), culminating in a snoozy 2 goals-per-game average. Swansea haven’t won in 4 after throwing away two leads against Newcastle, and have produced mostly forgettable matches since their opening-day humbling of Manchester United. Liven it up, one and all.
West Brom vs Man United (Mon, 8pm)
The Baggies didn’t quite have enough spring in their step to take anything from Anfield before the international break, but Alan Irvine’s men are at least proving early-season doubters wrong after a string of positive displays. Leading light Saido Berahino celebrated qualification to next summer’s Under-21 Euros with England in midweek, and the Burundi-born forward is 5/4 to extend his impressive scoring streak here – 5 of his 6 goals this season have come at The Hawthorns. Meanwhile at Manchester United, there’s nothing to see here. In fourth place and only 3 points behind rivals City, Louis van Gaal’s side have seemingly averted the Big Crisis by winning their last 2, including a hard-fought victory over Everton. More of the same needed for the Dutchman to stay happy.
The FourFourTwo five-for
Fulham vs Norwich (7/5)
Ipswich (11/10) vs Blackburn
Chesterfield vs Oldham (Draw 12/5)
Hartlepool vs Luton (23/20)
Wycombe (21/20) vs AFC Wimbledon
£5 returns: £377.10
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Odds correct at time of publishing