Jonathan Turner of bettinglive.com was in excellent form last week, and gives his expert opinion on the weekend’s Premier League action…
Sunday sees the biggest match of the Premier League season as title favourites Chelsea and Manchester City lock horns at Stamford Bridge but the best bets this weekend look to be elsewhere.
Those keen for a wager on the title showdown could do worse than backing Yaya Toure for man of the match at 10/1 as he’s a player who thrives on the biggest occasions and one who positively relishes playing against Chelsea.
The City midfielder’s power-packed style of play has caused the Blues all sorts of problems in the recent past and, with the personnel at Stamford Bridge largely the same this season despite the change of manager, there are strong grounds for expecting that trend to continue.
Toure landed the man of the match bubbly in the league clash between this pair at the Etihad where he also scored the opening goal and repeated the trick when they met again in the FA Cup semi-final. And just for good measure he was also on the scoresheet when they squared up in the Community Shield.
So in a game which we expect to be tight, with little between the sides, another pivotal display in the middle of the park should put him right in the reckoning.
However the banker bet this week comes in another 4pm kick-off on Sunday – under 2.5 goals in Swansea v West Ham at 21/20 with Bet Victor.
Both the Swans’ home form (last week’s success over rock-bottom Sunderland was their first league win at the Liberty since the start of March) and West Ham’s results on their travels (just two wins in nearly 12 months) are seriously suspect.
And the way Sam Allardyce sets up the Hammers away from home has led to a paucity of goals. Even taking their ‘freak’ 3-0 victory at Spurs into account, there have still been just four goals in their four away matches this season.
Another resolute display from them is likely on Sunday but with striker Andy Carroll still on the sidelines through injury their attacking options are massively limited.
And added good news for those going low on the goals is the strong pattern to Swansea’s results this term when they have played the Sunday after a Europa League match.
The Welsh side’s heavy workload – they’ve played 16 games compared to West Ham’s 10 – may not yet have led to a decline in results (they’ve won two and lost two after playing in Europe) but it has definitely sparked a decrease in goals.
If we separate out Swansea’s matches on a Sunday after a Europa League tie (they played Kuban this week) the goals make-ups have been 1, 2, 2 and 2 compared to 5, 4, 3 and 4 when they weren’t in European action.
All of which suggests getting odds against about less than 2.5 on Sunday is a decent bit of business.
We expect a very different story at Villa Park on Saturday, with over 2.5 goals in Aston Villa v Everton at 20/21 kicking off our weekend double.
Recent history between this pair is very much on our side – it was 3-3 last time they met and 42 goals have been scored in the last 11 games between them.
But more important is the fact that both sides are set up in a positive manner this season, Villa starting to flourish under Paul Lambert while the Toffees have made a hugely encouraging start for new boss Roberto Martinez.
Each also has a top-notch striker – Christian Benteke returned from injury last weekend for the Villans while Romelu Lukaku has hit the ground running for Everton ever since his loan move from Chelsea.
And the icing on the cake for backers at over 2.5 are the suspect defences of both teams, especially at set-pieces. Villa have managed just two clean sheets in the league in 2013 while Everton haven’t shut a side out since mid-September – with West Ham, Fulham (in the Capital One Cup), Newcastle and Manchester City all putting at least two past them in that period.
Pair that up with Southampton to beat Fulham at 8/13 at St Mary’s, with the double coming in at a touch under 11/5.
Comparing results to the identical fixtures last season, Southampton are the most improved team in the top flight by a big margin and it’s 10 points from the last 12, with the latest fine display coming in a thoroughly deserved 1-1 draw at Old Trafford last Saturday against reigning champions Manchester United.
The Saints have conceded a Premier League-low of just three goals and they face a Fulham side who allow the opposition a worryingly high number of chances (15 shots per game, the highest in the top flight this season) while creating little at the other end.
Everything fell perfectly for the Cottagers on Monday night against Crystal Palace – highlighted by a goal of the season contender from Pajtim Kasami – but the underlying figures mark that out as a fluke rather than a game changer and they’ll find things altogether more difficult against Southampton.
Finally we’re keen to get with West Brom for their trip to Liverpool, with the Baggies 11/2 in the ‘draw no bet’ market at Stan James.
Steve Clarke’s men have stepped up several levels in recent weeks, winning at Manchester United and drawing with Arsenal and they simply look overpriced to carry on the good work on Merseyside.
They’ve won their last three league matches against the Reds – all to nil – including a 2-0 success at Anfield in February and while Liverpool sit third in the table they still don’t fully convince.
They’ve already lost on home turf to Southampton, were held 2-2 by ten-man Newcastle last week and definitely aren’t as creative without the injured Philippe Coutinho who again misses out this weekend.
Weekend banker – under 2.5 goals in Swansea v West Ham at 21/20 (Bet Victor).
Double – over 2.5 goals in Aston Villa v Everton at 20/21 and Southampton to beat Fulham at 8/13 (both prices with Ladbrokes, double pays 2.15/1).
Longshots – West Brom to beat Liverpool in ‘draw no bet’ market at 11/2 (Stan James) and Yaya Toure to be man of the match in Chelsea v Manchester City at 10/1 (Bet Victor).
Get a full break down of all the Premier League games this weekend at bettinglive.com