Manchester United v Southampton

Saturday August 20, 5:00am AEST

The first Friday Night football of the season sees Jose Mourinho’s new look Manchester United side, fresh from a 3-1 triumph at Bournemouth, travel to Claude Puel’s Southampton, who had to come from behind at home to rescue a point in a 1-1 draw against Watford.

United finished strongly at Old Trafford last term, winning seven of eight unbeaten games. Indeed, in the last couple of seasons under Van Gaal, the Red Devils had a W26-D7-L5 record at home, but they struggled relatively against sides that finished between 5th and 10th, against whom they went W6-D2-L3, with two of those defeats 1-0 losses against Saints themselves. Five of the games had fewer than two goals whilst the first half was level in seven and at least one team failed to score in eight.

Saints had a mixed W7-D6-L6 record on the road last term while they’re W2-D2-L4 when travelling to top-four sides in the last couple of seasons. They were level at the break in five of these games and half went on to have fewer than two goals, with at least one team failing to find the net in five. Indeed, Southampton have certainly proved competitive when travelling to top-four sides as City were the only ones to beat them by more than one goal in this time, though it’s worth noting that they failed to score in three of their four defeats.

With that in mind, Saints may be of interest +1 or +1.25 on the Asian Handicap but with some uncertainty surrounding them with a new manager coming in and several key players leaving the club, we’re instead going to turn our attention to the goals markets where Under 2.5 is a standout as 12 of United’s 19 home games last term saw fewer than three goals, whilst at least one team also failed to score in 13.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Under 2.5 Goals at 1.99

BACK – Both Teams to Score ‘No’ at 1.8

Stoke v Manchester City

Saturday August 20, 9:30am AEST

Stoke were perhaps fortunate to pick up a point at the Riverside Stadium as they came from behind thanks to a second-half Xherdan Shaqiri free-kick, while Manchester City had some luck of their own as their winner came in the 87th minute via a Paddy McNair own-goal. They did however since put in an emphatic performance in hammering Steaua Bucharest 5-0 in their Champions League qualifier, despite two missed penalties from Sergio Aguero, who still managed to net a hat-trick.

Stoke tend to be earmarked as a team that are tough to beat at home but struggle on the road, however that view is somewhat outdated as the Potters’ PPG of 1.21 on the road last term was only marginally worse than the 1.47 they managed at home. However, where Mark Hughes’s side are undoubtedly strong is when hosting top-four sides as they’re W4-D4-L4 against these teams and you’d have made an 81% profit from backing them in these games, including when they beat City themselves 2-0 last term.

City struggled on the road last season after they won their opening three, managing just four wins in their next 16 away games. Their record when travelling to sides between 7th and 12th is W9-D5-L4 since 2013/14 but last season it was just W2-D2-L2 against these teams as their wins came over strugglers Chelsea and Everton. As a result, and since Stoke have a solid record over an extended period of time when hosting the top teams, it’s worth taking on City here, particularly after their midweek exertions in Romania.

Betting Strategy

LAY – Man City at 1.73

Burnley v Liverpool

Sunday August 21, 12:00am AEST

Burnley’s return to the Premier League saw them concede a late goal when hosting Swansea in a 1-0 defeat, though Sean Dyche can have few complaints as the Swans dominated the game and were deserved winners. Liverpool, meanwhile, started their season with a bang as they came from behind against a depleted Arsenal side at the Emirates to lead 4-1, before the Gunners got a couple of goals back.

Burnley stay at Turf Moor for their second game and if we go back to 2014/15 then their last seven Premier League games have all seen fewer than two goals. More broadly 13 of their 19 home matches in 2014/15 saw fewer than three strikes while 11 had fewer than two as the Clarets only managed 14 goals at home, but conceded just 21. When hosting top-six teams their record was W1-D2-L3 as five of these games saw fewer than two strikes, while four were goalless at the break and Chelsea were the only team to beat them by more than goal, in their opening game of the season.

Liverpool’s away record under Jurgen Klopp last season was W7-D2-L6 as they managed some impressive wins over Chelsea and Man City, but slumped to defeats against the likes of Newcastle, Watford and Swansea. They won five of their six trips to bottom-six sides under the German, scoring 16 goals in the process, but keeping just two clean sheets as only one of their wins was by more than one goal.

Indeed, the Reds have won five of their six trips to promoted teams in the last couple of seasons, but managed just one clean sheet and they proved against Arsenal that they’re far from solid defensively. As a result, we expect the sequence of low-scoring games at Turf Moor to be broken here.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Liverpool to Win and Both Teams to Score at 3.5

Swansea v Hull

Sunday August 21, 12:00am AEST

Despite taking until the 82nd minute to make the breakthrough, Swansea dominated their opening game of the season at Burnley and were well worth their three points. The same can be said of Hull, who overcame the uncertainty surrounding their managerial position and the fact that they only had 13 fit senior players to shock the Champions with a 2-1 win.

Swansea’s home record last term was W8-D6-L5, but under Francesco Guidolin they were W4-D2-L1 as they managed wins over Chelsea and Liverpool, together with a draw against City. They only conceded four goals in the matches and just one in the first half, while six of these games had fewer than three goals and four saw fewer than two. What’s more, they’ve won five of six unbeaten matches against promoted teams in the last couple of seasons and each of those wins were either 1-0 or 2-0 scorelines.

When they were last in the Premier League, Hull had a W3-D6-L10 record on the road as they only managed 14 goals and were level at the break 13 times. When travelling to sides between 7th and 13th, Hull’s record in 2013/14 and 2014/15 was W2-D2-L10 as they trailed at the break in half and failed to score in six, whilst half their defeats were by more than one goal. As a result, we expect Swansea to pick up the three points here and continue their excellent record when hosting promoted teams.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Swansea to win at 1.86

BACK – Swansea to Win and Under 2.5 Goals at 3.4

Tottenham v Crystal Palace

Sunday August 21, 12:00am AEST

Spurs took a while to get opening in their opener at Goodison Park and as a result had to come behind to pick up a point against an impressive Everton side, whilst Palace were beaten 1-0 in a low-key affair at Selhurst Park against Tony Pulis’s West Brom.

Spurs’ record at White Hart Lane last season was W10-D6-L3 as they were in fact only marginally better at home, where their PPG was 1.89, compared to 1.79 on the road. Their record when hosting bottom-six sides is however an excellent W24-D2-L4 since 2011/12 with 13 W/W doubles, 14 wins without conceding and 16 wins by more than one goal.

Following an excellent first half of last season that saw Palace up in fifth, Alan Pardew’s men have since struggled and have a W2-D5-L13 record in the Premier League as they’ve managed just 16 goals and trailed at the break 11 times. The Eagles’ record when travelling to top-six teams is W2-D2-L14 since2013/14 as they failed to score in 11 of these matches. What’s more, Palace have lost arguably their best player, Bolasie, and as a result we expect Spurs to pick up their first win of the season, and in good style.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Spurs/Spurs Half Time/ Full Time at 2.2

BACK – Spurs to Win to Nil at 2.4

Watford v Chelsea

Sunday August 21, 12:00am AEST

Watford took an early lead in their opener at St. Mary’s and from that point understandably tried to protect their lead, but Saints broke through around the hour mark and it finished 1-1, despite Ben Watson seeing red for the Hornets on 76 minutes. Meanwhile Conte began his Chelsea career in winning fashion thanks to a late Diego Costa strike at Stamford Bridge as they beat West Ham 2-1.

The Hornets only lost five of their opening 18 games last term to leave them up in 8th, but they lost 12 of their next 20 to drop down to 13th. Their home record was W6-D6-L7, but when hosting top-six sides (which is surely where Chelsea will end up this season) they were W0-D1-L5 as they only managed three goals in these games, but only one defeat was by more than one goal and they were level at the break in five of these matches.

Chelsea lost five of their opening eight road games last term under Mourinho, but away performances improved once Hiddink came in as the Blues had a W6-D3-L2 road record under the Dutchman. What’s more, their record when travelling to sides between 11th and 16th is W10-D2-L6 since 2013/14, although they only led at the break in seven of these games. As a result, we’re going to back Draw/Chelsea in the HT/FT market and since only six of Chelsea’s last 16 away wins were by more than one goal, we’re backing the Blues to only come out on top narrowly.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Draw/Chelsea HT/FT at 4.6

BACK – Chelsea to Win by One Goal at 3.5

West Brom v Everton

Sunday August 21, 2:30am AEST

West Brom edged a fairly dreary encounter with Palace at Selhurst Park in their opener, thanks to a 74th minute Salomon Rondon header, with the Venezuelan going somewhat unnoticed despite netting seven times in his last 13 starts amidst the transfer speculation once again surrounding Saido Berahino. Everton, meanwhile, impressed in their first game under Ronald Koeman, dominating the first half before Spurs got back into the game and earned a 1-1 draw.

West Brom’s home record under Tony Pulis is W11-D6-L11 and when hosting sides between 7th and 12th their record is W4-D2-L3, though it’s important to note that three of those wins came in 2014/15. Last season the Baggies’ games against these teams tended to be high-scoring, with both teams scoring in five of the six and four seeing more than two goals.

Everton drew nine of their road games last season and had a W5-D9-L5 record overall, though three of those defeats came in their last three away games. Their record when travelling to sides between 12th and 17th is W3-D6-L3 in the last two seasons in games that have tended to be high-scoring, with both teams finding the net in eight and seven seeing more than two goals.

Though the Toffees looked better in their opener under Koeman, they’re yet to prove themselves on the road and so we’d certainly side with the Baggies ‘Draw No Bet’, but the best bet looks to be in the goals markets, where Over 2.5 looks overpriced, while we’re also backing both teams to score, given these sides’ records against relevant opposition types.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Both Teams to Score ‘Yes’ at 2.01

BACK – Over 2.5 Goals at 2.42

Leicester v Arsenal

Sunday August 21, 2:30pm AEST

Both these sides haven’t gotten off to the best of starts this season, with the Champions shocked at the KCOM Stadium by Hull, while the Gunners trailed 4-1 at home to Liverpool before they got a couple of goals back to add some respectability to the eventual 4-3 scoreline.

Leicester lost only once at the King Power Stadium last term, where they had a W12-D6-L1 record, but that defeat was a 5-2 thumping at the hands of the Gunners themselves. Having kept only one clean sheet in their opening eight at home, they managed eight in their next 11 and won seven of their last nine. However, they failed to register a home win against the top teams, suffering that defeat against Arsenal and drawing against Spurs as well as both Manchester clubs.

Having won five of their opening six road games last term, the Gunners only managed three wins in their next 13 away, with a W8-D7-L4 record overall. When travelling to top-four sides have been notoriously poor, with a W3-D4-L14 record since 2009/10, but there are signs that Wenger’s men are improving in these fixtures as they’re W2-D3-L1 in the last two seasons, with that sole defeat against 2014/15 Champions Chelsea. As a result, and since both Koscielny and Wilshere look set to return here, we’re siding with the Gunners to pick up their first points.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Arsenal 0 Asian Handicap at 1.87

Sunderland v Middlesbrough

Sunday August 21, 10:30pm AEST

Sunderland came close to picking up a point at the Etihad, but an 87th minute own goal from former United man and late substitute Paddy McNair handed City the three points, as David Moyes continues to be haunted by Manchester United. Meanwhile, Middlesbrough had to settle for a point against Stoke after Shaqiri’s free kick made it 1-1 at the Riverside Stadium.

Sunderland’s W6-D6-L7 at the Stadium of Light last term was the 12th best home record in the division as they conceded only 20 goals, but found the net just 23 times themselves. As a result, 11 of their 19 home games saw fewer than three goals while seven saw fewer than two and at least one team failed to score in 11. When hosting promoted teams, Sunderland are W2-D3-L4 since 2013/14 as they failed to score in five and trailed at the break in each of the defeats.

While Boro were imperious at home in the Championship last season, they lost seven games on the road, which was more than Brighton, Burnley, Derby and Birmingham. They managed only 29 goals in their 23 road games and as a result 14 had fewer than three goals. In truth it was a fairly dreary affair in Boro’s opening game, with just three shots on target in the whole game and since at least one team failed to score in seven of Sunderland’s last nine home games against promoted teams and seven saw fewer than three goals, we think this one could be a cagey affair.

Betting Strategy

BACK – Both Teams to Score ‘No’ at 1.84

BACK – Under 2.5 Goals at 1.64

West Ham v Bournemouth

Monday August 22, 1:00am AEST

The Hammers missed out on a point at Stamford Bridge after Diego Costa netted a late winner but in truth they were somewhat fortunate that it was that close as Chelsea dominated the game both in terms of possession and shots. Bournemouth were similarly outclassed at home to Man Utd, conceding three goals in the space of 24 minutes before they grabbed one back.

West Ham will be hoping to take their Upton Park form from last season to the Olympic Stadium, as they’ve lost only one of their last 17 home matches, having lost their first two, one of which was against Bournemouth themselves. Their record when hosting bottom-six sides is W12-D5-L1 in the last three seasons as they’ve managed an impressive 13 clean sheets in these 18 games and 11 of their 12 wins were without conceding.

Bournemouth in fact picked up more points on the road than they did at Dean Court last term and backing them in their away games would have provided a 22% profit as they had a W6-D4-L9 road record. However, they lost four of their six trips to sides between 6th and 11th, netting just two goals in the four defeats and as a result we’re backing the Hammers, who’ll likely be boosted by the return of star man Payet to the starting line-up, to continue their excellent record against bottom-six sides and win this one without conceding.

Betting Strategy

BACK – West Ham to Win to Nil at 3.4

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