The FFT Flutter: Money in a convincing win for Manchester United this weekend
West Brom vs Arsenal (Sat, 12:45pm)
Back-to-back defeats for both of these sides means things can only get better for at least one of them - if only marginally. Unfortunately for the Baggies they go into this one with a poor head-to-head record against Arsenal, having won 0 of the last 7 against the Gunners in the Premier League. Goals have been an issue for Alan Irvine’s men - they’ve failed to net in 5 games this season - but face an Arsenal side with their worst points tally at this stage of a season for 32 years. They haven’t beaten a team above 14th; West Brom are 13th. The Gunners are still only two points off fourth place, but things have to improve soon.
Best bet: If you like playing by the numbers, then both teams to score at 8/11 is for you. Both sides have conceded and scored in 83% of their games at home and away respectively this season, while the Baggies have netted 77% of their goals on home soil.
Burnley vs Aston Villa (Sat, 3pm)
Burnley fans may well have thought they’d never see the days of enjoying life in the Premier League. But after a winless first 10 games the Clarets have only gone and won back-to-back matches against Hull and Stoke, and now face this winnable clash against struggling Aston Villa at Turf Moor. The two lowest-scoring teams in the top flight this season are still separated by two points, after Villa drew with high-flying Southampton on Monday, but won’t be expecting to put on much of a show this weekend having netted a combined 14 goals in 12 games this season.
Best bet: With two sides so hopeless in front of goal this season, neither of whom concede wildly either, the chances of goals are so very slim. 0-0 is 8/1 and Under 1.5 goals 2/1, but for a more likely bet try both teams not to score at 4/5 - Burnley have kept clean sheets in 3 of their last 5 at home (it’s 6/4 for another).
Liverpool vs Stoke (Sat, 3pm)
Lord knows Liverpool need to start picking up some wins soon. Brendan Rodgers is a man under increasing pressure after last season’s oh-so-close title tilt has been followed with a start to the current one resembling a wet fart. Despite heavy summer investment the team still mourns Luis Suarez’s departure, having lost 3 on the spin against Newcastle, Chelsea and Crystal Palace. Champions League uncertainty isn’t helping. Stoke continued their silly campaign with a home defeat to former bottom-dwellers Burnley, but will head into this one unfazed having beaten Manchester City, Swansea and Tottenham this season. That they’ve failed to win in 29 league visits to Anfield (D4 L25) won’t count for much this weekend.
Best bet: The two sides shared 8 goals in their last meeting at the Britannia Stadium, but Stoke games have produced the second-fewest number of goals in the Premier League this season (2.33). That said, with their visitors averaging 3.5 per game on the road, and 83% of their away games producing at least Over 2.5 goals, bank on some more haphazard defending for a repeat at 4/5.
Man United vs Hull (Sat, 3pm)
Consecutive wins for the first time this season and into the top four: this is more like it from Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United. They didn’t even play well in victory at Arsenal last weekend, but like every good side, won anyway. They’ve claimed the last 9 straight matches against Hull too, including 6 in the Premier League. Steve Bruce’s men, meanwhile, are struggling just above the drop zone after slipping to a third straight defeat against Tottenham - their fifth game without victory. The Tigers have grabbed just 1 win in 11, failing to net in 3 of their last 4. A trip to Old Trafford, then, isn’t particularly welcome.
Best bet: The odds are stacked firmly in United’s favour here. They haven’t lost at home in 5; the same number of games this weekend’s visitors have failed to win in on the road. Averaging just a goal per game on their travels, the Tigers can help their hosts win to nil at 11/10.
QPR vs Leicester (Sat, 3pm)
A big one in west London as two struggling promoted sides meet at Loftus Road. Bottom side QPR have claimed only eight points this season, but visiting Leicester are suffering in a horrible run stretching back to their most recent win against Manchester United (remember that?) over two months ago. The Foxes are without victory in 7 after a goalless draw with Sunderland last weekend - their sixth scoreless game in that run. Can they breach the league’s leakiest backline here? Harry Redknapp’s men look to be on more of an upward curve despite being winless in 3, backed up by improved organisation and goals of Charlie Austin.
Best bet: Leicester should have won last weekend, but the fact remains that goals are in desperately short supply - just 1 away all season (in a 1-0 win over Stoke). In none of their games on the road have both teams scored, with the same applying to half of QPR’s tussles at Loftus Road. A repeat is 5/6.
Swansea vs Crystal Palace (Sat, 3pm)
Swansea have claimed 72% of their points at the Liberty Stadium this season, form which has helped propel Garry Monk’s men to seventh above the likes of Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham. A sturdy defence that's shipped just 4 goals on home soil so far - bettered only by Southampton and Chelsea - has proved the bedrock of their success, making things very rosy indeed in South Wales. The same can’t be said of Crystal Palace, the nutcase south Londoners who’ve conceded in every away game this season and whose road trips have produced an average of 3.5 goals per game. One thing they’re not is boring - as demonstrated by last week’s big win over Liverpool at Selhurst Park.
Best bet: Swansea have kept clean sheets in half of their games at the Liberty so far, but 67% of Palace away games have seen both teams score, and feature Over 2.5 goals. Leaving those markets alone, have a stab at in-form Wilfried Bony bagging anytime at 13/10 - the top-scoring Premier League player in 2014 with 17 goals to his name.
West Ham vs Newcastle (Sat, 3pm)
Are you sitting down? Good. Newcastle United are fifth. Do not adjust your monitors. Take a moment to settle yourself, and then continue about your business. That West Ham are sixth is old news after the Hammers dropped out of the top four with defeat to Everton at Goodison Park, following draws with Stoke and Aston Villa. But all is very well indeed ahead of a game featuring two teams whose top bloke used to manage the other. After beating QPR at St James’ Park - incredibly, their fourth win to nil on the trot, and fifth in 6 overall - Newcastle are looking to win 6 Premier League games in a row for the first time since April 2012. DontsackPardew.com.
Best bet: These sides have both scored and conceded more of their goals after half-time this season - 79% of Newcastle’s net-ripplers have been registered in the second half; 60% of the Hammers’. Take on a highest-scoring second period at evens.
Sunderland vs Chelsea (Sat, 5:30pm)
Sunderland may have pulled off one of last season’s biggest shocks with victory at Stamford Bridge last season, but nothing suggests they’ll be walking away this weekend with much to smile about. Firstly, Chelsea look incapable of defeat this season, having avoided one in 12 games to boast a six-point lead at the top. Secondly, the Blues have won 17 of the last 19 league meetings with Sunderland; 9 in a row away from home. Another here would set a Premier League record for consecutive home defeats to the same opposition, say the clever bods at Opta. Want another fun fact? Diego Costa has scored 11 goals in 10 Premier League appearances; Jozy Altidore has scored 2 in 65 - one of them against Chelsea last season.
Best bet: Jose Mourinho’s side are still hunting a first away clean sheet of the season, but they can get it this weekend against a team that’s failed to score in 6 games this season. A win to nil for the Blues is 6/5.
Southampton vs Man City (Sun, 1:30pm)
For those who believe Southampton will fall from grace soon enough, this is where it all begins. Surprisingly, Ronald Koeman’s men didn’t take all three points off Aston Villa on Monday, but came away with their 5-game unbeaten run intact ahead of a nightmare run of fixtures. The Saints have won 6 of their last 8 Premier League home games, losing 0 of them and conceding just 2 goals along the way, a record which tests a Manchester City team that’s scored in all 6 of their away games this season. Tuesday’s late win over Bayern Munich was a timely boost for Manuel Pellegrini’s side, who beat Swansea last weekend but remain 8 points adrift of leaders Chelsea. They need a win here.
Best bet: City head in 13/10 favourites, but there’s little sense backing the visitors for victory at St Mary’s. Instead snap up Under 2.5 goals at 19/20, taking into consideration the Saints’ formidable defensive record.
Tottenham vs Everton (Sun, 4pm)
A brief glance at the table shows both of these sides marooned in mid-table after largely forgettable starts to the campaign. But they remain just 2 points behind fourth-placed Manchester United despite their poor patches. Both won last weekend, Everton to extend their unbeaten run to 5 and Tottenham to continue their recent spell of leaving it late away from home. At White Hart Lane, though, Spurs have been horrible. They’ve lost 4 of the 6 league games they’ve played there this season, just 1 of which came against a top-seven finisher from last season (Liverpool).
Best bet: 67% of both these sides’ matches this season have produced Over 2.5 goals. Thus, the 4/5 available for it to happen again is where the smart money should go.
The FourFourTwo five-for
Bolton (6/5) vs Huddersfield
Barnsley (17/20) vs Scunthorpe
Yeovil vs Preston (10/11)
Hartlepool vs Wycombe (evs)
Southend (5/6) vs Northampton
£5 returns: £142.45
Odds correct at time of publishing