The game of the weekend in the Premier League is the Saturday lunchtime derby clash between Tottenham and Chelsea and there are strong reasons for thinking Spurs are the value call at 17/10.
No club had a busier transfer window, losing the talismanic Gareth Bale to Real Madrid but re-investing the world record fee and more on a host of new arrivals, so it’s to their immense credit they’ve made such a strong start to the season.
They are second in the early table, with leaders Arsenal only above them on goal difference, and have won eight out of nine in all competitions, keeping no fewer than eight clean sheets.
Indeed the only goal they’ve conceded came from the Gunners in the north London derby so there’s lots to like about their defensive qualities.
And at the other end of the pitch Christian Eriksen and Erik Lamela look to be the missing pieces of the jigsaw which Spurs required. Danish international Eriksen provides the link between striker Roberto Soldado and an ultra-powerful midfield while Lamela brings everything together.
It’s helped them create chances aplenty in their recent games and 2-0 and 1-0 successes in their last two matches against Norwich and Cardiff in no way reflected their superiority.
Crucially too the underlying trends are also hugely positive. They’ve had more shots per game than any other side, the most corners and have conceded the fewest goals and shots so there doesn’t appear to be any fluke about their success.
However they’ve crept in a little under the radar, with attention instead focussed on early table toppers Arsenal and Liverpool plus high profile new managers at big guns Manchester City, Manchester United and Saturday’s opponents Chelsea.
In contrast Chelsea’s chances appear to have been massively over-hyped by the return of Jose Mourinho and even the ‘Special One’ has had to dampen down expectations a little in the last couple of weeks. They’ve already suffered shock defeats at Everton in the league and at home to Basel in their Champions League opener, look light up front and don’t seem to have yet settled on a first-choice XI, with Juan Mata’s position in particular a matter of much debate.
There’s no doubting the Blues have been a level above Spurs in recent years – and they won this fixture 4-2 last season – but all the signs this term indicate the gap has closed massively and that’s not fully reflected in the match prices on Saturday’s game which have the two sides both on offer around the 7/4 mark despite Spurs having home advantage.
We’re therefore making the White Hart Lane side, managed by former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas, our banker bets this weekend – they’ve got both power and guile in midfield which should be more than a match for the Blues while up front and at the back they simply look the stronger side.
Back Spurs at 17/10 with Ladbrokes.
And we’re also going to suggest a first long-term bet of the season, namely Spurs to be the top London club at 5/1. As hinted above we’re keen to oppose Chelsea on both a short and long-term basis and we’re far from convinced that Arsenal will be able to maintain their excellent start to the season. They edged out Spurs by the narrowest of margins at the end of the last campaign but the balance of power in north London is changing, despite the result of their derby clash a couple of weeks ago.
Spurs to be top London club is 5/1 with Boylesports.
Talking of Arsenal brings us to our next recommendation for this weekend – over 3.5 goals in the Gunners’ game with Swansea in the teatime kick-off at the Liberty Stadium at 11/5.
Goals haven’t exactly flowed in recent clashes between the pair but plenty has changed at the two clubs in the last couple of months.
Mesut Ozil’s arrival at the Emirates has only served to make the Gunners even more positive – though potentially more vulnerable at the back too – while Swansea have latched onto a winning formula in the last few games, with strikers Michu and new signing Wilfried Bony both among the goals.
The Welsh side have scored two or more goals in each of their last three Premier League games and the last time that happened was back in December. And the Swans haven’t just been scoring regularly, they’ve been creating lots of other chances too.
Stats fiends will also like the fact this pair are the only two Premier League clubs with a shots on target/total shots ratio of over 50% so there’s precision and accuracy there too. And one final point – both are giving up over 10 shots each game too, the only teams in the top 10 apart from Liverpool to be so ‘generous’ at the back.
All of which we believe adds up to a high goal expectation. Both teams to score is 4/6, over 2.5 can be backed at 5/6 and while they are both tempting, we’re going to be a little more ambitious and take the 11/5 about over 3.5.
Over 3.5 goals is 11/5 in Saturday’s early evening TV game, with sportingbet.
Our final advice this weekend concerns Southampton’s match with Crystal Palace where Luke Shaw to score anytime at 16/1 is a longshot bet that appeals.
The 18-year-old full-back may still be waiting for his first goal in a Southampton shirt but he’s been a fantastic impression in his 26 appearances to date and has already established himself as a key member of the first team.
His rampaging runs down the left flank caused Liverpool all sorts of problems last weekend and only an amazing triple save from Simon Mignolet prevented him getting on the scoresheet.
It was a similar story first up against West Brom and Southampton’s pressing game opens up acres of space for him to exploit, especially at St Mary’s. He’s now up against a brittle Palace defence which has conceded eight goals in five games and at 16/1 is well keeping a close eye on.
Try Luke Shaw to score at any time at 16/1, with Coral.
Weekend banker – Tottenham to beat Chelsea at 17/10 (Ladbrokes).
Next best single – over 3.5 goals in Swansea v Arsenal at 11/5 (Sportingbet).
Longshot – Luke Shaw to score anytime in Southampton v Crystal Palace at 16/1 (Coral).
Ante-post advice – Tottenham to be top London team at end of season at 5/1 (Boylesports, Sky Bet and Stan James).
Record so far
Weekend bankers – W 11/10, L 23/20, W 11/10, PROFIT=1.2pts
Next best singles – W 11/4, VOID, L 16/5, L 5/1, PROFIT=0.75pts
Doubles – L 9.4/1, W 11/2, PROFIT=4.5pts
Trebles – L 9.8/1, L 7/1, LOSS=2pts
Longshots – none so far
Ante-post advice – none so far
Overall – 10pts staked, PROFIT=4.45pts
You can read more about this weekend’s Premier League fixture list, and the bets to make, at www.bettinglive.com