The FFT Flutter: Why a flying start for Villa could boost your bank balance
Burnley vs Southampton (Sat, 3pm)
Back-to-back wins haven’t quite proved the springboard for glory where Burnley are concerned, but the Clarets are holding their own better than most expected this season. For a start they’re not bottom, though last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at QPR was a game they could have done without losing. It was the 7th game that Sean Dyche’s men have failed to score in, which doesn’t stand up well considering the defensive strength of Saturday's visitors Southampton.
The Saints have kept the most clean sheets (7) of any side and allowed the fewest shots on target (41), but are suffering their first mini-slump of the season after consecutive defeats to both Manchester clubs and Arsenal.
Best bet: Burnley have scored exactly once in each of their last 5 games at Turf Moor, but the shot-shy Clarets may struggle to do so against Ronald Koeman’s south-coasters. Southampton to win to nil is 7/4.
Chelsea vs Hull (Sat, 3pm)
Finally, the Blues' resistance was broken for the first time in 22 matches this season, after Newcastle went where no side had managed to before with an impressive win at St James’ Park. Jose Mourinho’s men will be desperate to return to winning ways in the league at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, a ground struggling Hull have never won at (L15 D5).
Steve Bruce’s Tigers are now 8 without a win in the top flight and into the relegation zone after their goalless draw against West Brom. With just 2 strikes recorded in their last 7, the Tigers’ abysmal start looks set to go on at least another week.
Best bet: There’s no value in a Chelsea victory at 2/11, nor a win to nil at 4/6 (which they’ve achieved in 10 of their last 14 at home). Instead take them to net Over 2.5 goals at 10/11.
Crystal Palace vs Stoke (Sat, 3pm)
Things aren't going particularly well for either of these sides at the moment, but last weekend was positive for both. Palace held Tottenham to a draw at White Hart Lane, while Stoke continued their Jekyll & Hyde campaign with a huge home win over Arsenal. Mark Hughes’ team haven’t beaten a team in the bottom half, though, and lost 4 of their last 5 away from the Britannia Stadium. Neil Warnock has problems of his own, with his Eagles side claiming victory in just 1 of their last 9.
Best bet: Palace’s clean sheet at Spurs was their first in 9. Stoke have conceded in their last 9 games. Both teams to score is 10/11.
Leicester vs Man City (Sat, 3pm)
Leicester have quickly discovered that being good in the Championship is rarely indicative of success in the Premier League. Fellow risers Burnley and QPR are both faring better than Nigel Pearson’s mob, who now haven’t won in 10 after last weekend’s blown lead at Villa cost them three points. A lack of punch at one end has been complemented by defensive incompetence.
The Foxes' saving grace this Saturday is that Sergio Aguero is injured for visiting Man City, who secured their route to the Champions League knockouts with a 2-0 win at Roma on Wednesday. The champions are on a roll domestically too, having won 4 in a row to lift themselves to within three points of Chelsea. It’s well and truly back on now.
Best bet: Leicester’s backline has cost them dearly in recent matches, which bodes badly for the visit of Manuel Pellegrini’s in-form side. Over 2.5 Man City goals is 11/8.
Sunderland vs West Ham (Sat, 3pm)
Draw specialists Sunderland picked up their fifth 0-0 of the season at Liverpool last weekend - and, would you believe it, that’s more than any other side. The Black Cats have drawn 9 of their 15 games this season, in fact, which means they’re well on the way to beating the all-time Premier League record of 17 (for a 38-game campaign). Yaaawn.
Can Big Sam’s claret-and-blue machine wake Gus Poyet’s sleepwalkers from their slumber? Current form suggests so. West Ham are fourth after 3 straight wins, most recently over Swansea at Upton Park, with summer signing Diafra Sakho having bagged 7 in his last 8 for the Hammers. They’ve netted in every away game this season, meanwhile - not good news for a Sunderland side who’ve failed to net in a league-high 7 games this season.
Best bet: Sakho’s 7/4 to score anytime. The form is most certainly in his (and your) favour.
West Brom vs Aston Villa (Sat, 3pm)
It’s derby day in Birmingham, albeit the not-so-big one for either. But with their closest foes scrapping it out in the Championship, this’ll have to do - and the hosts in particular could do with some points. West Brom’s goalless draw with Hull, in which they saw an early penalty saved, was their 5th without a win (and 4th scoreless match of that run) to leave the Baggies just a point above the drop zone.
Remarkably, visiting Villa are up to 11th after notching back-to-back wins with a come-from-behind victory over Leicester last weekend. Paul Lambert’s men are now 5 unbeaten, and head into this one knowing they’re better away from Villa Park, having claimed 3 of their 5 wins this season on the road.
Best bet: Villa have scored the highest percentage of first-half goals in the Premier League this season (80%), say the Opta bods. West Brom have conceded the highest percentage of first-half goals in the top flight this season (60%). Villa to score in the first half is a chunky 13/8.
Arsenal vs Newcastle (Sat, 5:30pm)
Arsenal have long carried a reputation of being a bit flimsy, but the Gunners took it to new heights last weekend after going three down to Stoke before half-time. Their second-half fightback wasn’t quite enough in the 3-2 defeat, leaving Arsene Wenger’s men four points adrift of fourth-placed West Ham. The north Londoners haven't scored in the first half of any of their last 6 Premier League matches, and haven’t led at the break in any of their 7 matches at the Emirates Stadium either.
Looking to extend that run are a Newcastle side who’ve managed the feat only once all season themselves, but are now level on points with Arsenal after breaking Chelsea’s hold at St James’ Park. Happy four years indeed, Pards.
Best bet: Arsenal have scored in every home game this season; Newcastle have netted in 4 of their last 5 away from Tyneside. Both teams to score is 10/11.
Man United vs Liverpool (Sun, 1:30pm)
Where’s that perch gone? If Liverpool thought they’d found it with last season’s oh-so-close title tilt, the Reds have well and truly fallen off 15 games into the new campaign. Brendan Rodgers’ men are floundering in 9th after a goalless draw at home to Sunderland, and were knocked out of the Champions League by Basel on Tuesday night. Goals may be at a premium at Anfield, but away from there the shackles come off - games on the road average 3.57 goals, compared with just 1.63 at their spiritual home.
But up next is a trip to face a Man United side revelling in a 5th-straight win at Southampton on Monday night. Louis van Gaal’s men, in third place, have seemingly mastered the art of grinding out the big wins. They’ve bagged in every game at Old Trafford, meanwhile.
Best bet: With the winner market best left alone, snap up Over 2.5 goals at a fairly generous 3/4. But there’s one more thing: Mario Balotelli netted twice in his only previous league appearance at Old Trafford - Man City’s 6-1 demolition of their neighbours in October 2011. It’s 11/5 he bags again.
Swansea vs Tottenham (Sun, 4pm)
Sunday’s clash pits strong home performers against decent travellers, as Swansea host Tottenham at the Liberty Stadium. Garry Monk’s hosts have won 5 of their 8 matches on home turf this campaign, conceding just 5 of their 12 shipped goals in South Wales along the way. It helps that in Wilfried Bony they boast one of the Premier League’s most in-form strikers, the Ivorian having netted 7 in his last 9.
Tottenham scrapped a disappointing home draw against Palace last time out, but look more capable away from White Hart Lane (unless they’re playing a big side). Spurs have lost 0 of 6 Premier League games against the Swans, and won the last 5 in a row.
Best bet: Supporters at the Liberty have hardly become accustomed to high-octane entertainment this season - 4 of the last 6 there have produced Under 2.5 goals. It’s the bet you should take at 17/20.
Everton vs QPR (Mon, 8pm)
Everton’s decline isn’t showing too many signs of improving. Injuries haven’t helped, but the Toffees’ 2nd defeat in 3 at Man City last weekend leaves them stranded in the bottom half with just 6 points from as many matches. Roberto Martinez’s men have only won 2 of their last 8 top-flight tussles at Goodison Park (D3 L3), meanwhile, having been held at Hull last time out.
Luckily for them, QPR have lost all 7 away games this season (though they all came at current top 10 opposition), scoring just twice. The R’s have, however, won 2 of their last 3 to lift themselves off the foot of the table.
Best bet: This is an easier fixture for Everton than last weekend, and at home they should be able to capitalise on their visitors’ poor run away from Loftus Road. A home win to nil is 13/10.
The FourFourTwo five-for
Leicester vs Man City (1/2)
Charlton (5/6) vs Blackpool
Norwich (7/10) vs Huddersfield
Oldham (8/11) vs Yeovil
Exeter (21/20) vs Carlisle
£5 returns: £82.75
Odds correct at time of publishing