The FFT Flutter: Why there's money in the death of entertainment this weekend
Newcastle vs Chelsea (Sat, 12:45pm)
It could have been worse for Newcastle, but Tuesday’s disappointing draw at Burnley was a far cry from the performances Toon fans had been accustomed to in recent weeks. Their 6-game winning run was ended by West Ham on Saturday, before Papiss Cisse’s goal rescued a point at Turf Moor. It means the Magpies have failed to score in in the first half of 11 of their 14 games this season, which hardly bodes well for a visit of Chelsea, who thumped Tottenham 3-0 at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday to keep their unbeaten start to the season intact. Sunderland may have halted their winning run last weekend, but Jose Mourinho’s Blue machine keeps rolling over almost everything else in its path.
Best bet: Given the home side’s penchant for slow starts, take Chelsea to win the first half at 5/6.
Hull vs West Brom (Sat, 3pm)
It’s not been an enjoyable season for Hull – just 1 win in their last 13 (all competitions) says as much – but Steve Bruce’s boys finally showed some resolve to claim a point from a goal down at Everton in midweek. They’re still suffering at the sharp end, though, having netted only twice in their last 5 games. Meanwhile, West Brom are enduring their worst run for a year after another defeat against West Ham in midweek, the Baggies’ fourth in a row to crank up the pressure on boss Alan Irvine. They’ve claimed 2 of their 3 wins on the road this term, but netted just 3 times in 6 games (and also concede fewer away too).
Best bet: Two sides low on confidence and struggling for goals: Under 2.5 is 43/40.
Liverpool vs Sunderland (Sat, 3pm)
Liverpool claimed back-to-back wins with a 3-1 victory at Leicester on Tuesday, as Steven Gerrard netted his first goal from open play since January (you may have heard) to leave them within five points of fourth-placed Manchester United. Brendan Rodgers’ side have struggled to break down opposition sides at Anfield this season, however, having netted an average of 1 goal per game there while conceding only 0.86. Sunderland are winless in 4 after blowing a lead to lose 4-1 against Manchester City at the Stadium of Light, leaving them just two points above the bottom three. The Black Cats are another side lacking points on the road – just 1 per game – and haven’t scored in 4 of their last 5 away from Wearside.
Best bet: Gus Poyet’s men are, however, draw specialists (8 in their 14 games this season) and could frustrate Liverpool on their own patch. Don’t put your house on it, but a dabble on the Draw-Sunderland Double Chance is tempting at 13/8.
QPR vs Burnley (Sat, 3pm)
A 2-0 defeat at Swansea denied QPR any momentum after last weekend’s entertaining win over Leicester, leaving them in the bottom three a point ahead of the bottom-placed Foxes. Burnley, meanwhile, let slip a one-goal lead against Newcastle but are out of the drop zone after claiming a point at Turf Moor. Rangers have, at least, claimed all 11 of their points at Loftus Road this season, with Burnley winning last time out at Stoke but having failed to net in 4 of their 6 away games.
Best bet: Both teams have improved since the season’s kick-off, but at home you’d have to fancy QPR at 11/10 – despite Burnley being unbeaten in their last 9 against QPR in all competitions (W5 D4).
Stoke vs Arsenal (Sat, 3pm)
It isn’t getting any better for Stoke. Their third defeat on the spin came at Old Trafford, which is generally nothing to be ashamed about, but followed a late loss to Liverpool and dreadful home display against Burnley. Goalscoring is a problem, having netted just 14 in as many games this season, and unlike past seasons their home defensive record isn’t what it used to be – just 1 clean sheet in 6 at the Britannia Stadium this campaign. They have a useful history against Arsenal in these parts, though, having lost only once against Arsene Wenger’s men in 7 meetings (all competitions) since promotion in 2008. They’ve won 4 of them. But this is an Arsenal side who finally have something significant to cheer after Alexis Sanchez’s 89th-minute goal downed Southampton on Wednesday. The Gunners have actually proved a decent force on their travels this season too, keeping clean sheets in 3 of their last 5 away from the Emirates Stadium.
Best bet: Both of these sides’ respective home and away games this season are averaging Under 2.5 goals, but Both Teams Not To Score at 10/11 is slightly more valuable.
Tottenham vs Crystal Palace (Sat, 3pm)
After back-to-back wins, Tottenham’s season came crashing back down around them with a 3-0 pummeling at Chelsea. They’ve got the chance to improve their poor home record against another struggling side this weekend, though, after Crystal Palace’s patchy run continued with a weak home reverse to Aston Villa, meaning the Eagles have won only 1 of their last 8 Premier League tussles, and, perhaps more worryingly, only 2 of their last 9 top-flight home games stretching back to April. Away from Selhurst Park they’re at least faring better in front of goal (2 more scored), but they’re also conceding more frequently too. At least Neil Warnock’s men are entertaining – just like this weekend’s opponents.
Best bet: Spurs haven’t kept a clean sheet in 7; Palace 8. Both Teams To Score is 8/11.
Man City vs Everton (Sat, 5:30pm)
Manchester City might feel like they’re roaring back into the title race after big wins over Southampton and Sunderland, but the holders still trail Chelsea by six points despite coming from behind to win 4-1 at the Stadium of Light. Sergio Aguero took his league tally to 14 with another brace against the Black Cats. Everton’s poor run of form goes on, meanwhile, after they chucked away two points to draw with Hull. With just 1 win in 5 the Toffees are marooned in mid-table, and floundering.
Best bet: Roberto Martinez’s strugglers have scored in every away game this season but, considering both teams’ form, could face their first shutout of the season. City to win to nil at 2/1 is lucrative.
West Ham vs Swansea (Sun, 1:30pm)
West Ham are firing on all cylinders once again after winning their second successive game against West Brom in midweek, coming from behind at The Hawthorns to claim all three points. This weekend they return to happy home ground Upton Park, where Big Sam’s high-flying team have won 5 of 8 games this season. Swansea, on the other hand, are far weaker on their travels than at the Liberty Stadium, having won only 1 of their 6 away games and averaged just a goal per game.
Best bet: You’d be hard pushed to bet against the Hammers’ home form right now, and the 13/10 available for another victory looks sound value.
Aston Villa vs Leicester (Sun, 4pm)
You can’t get away with spirit alone in the Premier League – as Leicester will attest. The Foxes could learn a thing or two from Villa when it comes to grinding out results, after losing at home to Liverpool in midweek despite an encouraging display, while Paul Lambert’s side played badly and still came away from Crystal Palace with all three points. Now the Midlanders are five points clear of safety, while their blue neighbours remain rock bottom. Villa have been better on the road than at home, however, winning 1 of 6 at Villa Park compared with 3 of 8 on their travels. Leicester are now scoring again, but are winless in 9.
Best bet: Villa have netted just 4 goals on home soil too, to Leicester’s paltry 3 away from the King Power. The hosts’ matches are averaging a league-low 1.86 goals per game. Under 2.5 net-ripplers is 3/4.
Southampton vs Man United (Mon, 8pm)
The decline has begun for Southampton, but for how long it continues remains to be seen. The fixtures certainly aren’t about to get any easier for Ronald Koeman’s men, but after losing to Manchester City (0-3) and Arsenal (0-1) within a week, the Saints relinquished second spot and are still to prove they can beat the league’s best sides this term. It’s not a good time to be playing Manchester United either, who’ve won not 1, 2 or 3, but 4 (!) games on the trot – for only the second time since Fergie’s retirement. Are they really back? Tuesday’s ground-out win over Stoke at Old Trafford suggests that’s possible. 3 of those wins have come at Old Trafford, however, with the Reds claiming just 1 from their 6 away games so far.
Best bet: Despite the recent setbacks, Southampton have conceded only 4 goals in 7 games at St Mary’s this season, and at 9/10, Under 2.5 Goals is not to be sniffed at.
The FourFourTwo five-for
Blackburn (10/11) vs Sheff Weds
Blackpool vs Birmingham (11/8)
Cardiff (5/6) vs Rotherham
Huddersfield vs Brentford (9/5)
Ipswich (4/5) vs Leeds
£5 returns: £209.45
Odds correct at time of publishing