ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE 2017/18
Saturday August 19, 9:30pm AEST
Man Utd put down a marker to the rest of the Premier League by thrashing West Ham with new signings Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku looking right at home. Swansea meanwhile, were very much second best in their bore draw at St Mary’s and with their attacking talisman Gylfi Sigurdsson completing a big money move to Everton they’re in desperate need of new blood going forward.
The Swans have an impressive W6-D1-L2 home record under Paul Clement but the two defeats both came against the only top-six sides they faced in this time. They’re winless at the Liberty against such opposition in their last 11, tasting defeat on eight occasions, including five from six last term.
Indeed, Swansea conceded at least twice in all six of these games and we expect United to record another comfortable victory. The Red Devils are W10-D1-L1 under Jose Mourinho when travelling to sides outside the top-eight, keeping a clean sheet in six of these victories and leading the break in eight. We wouldn’t put anyone off the half-time/full-time double, but the away win to nil is the preferred option at a similar price. Without Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente (who remains a major doubt) the Swans don’t look capable of threatening this United outfit.
BACK – Manchester United Win to Nil at 2.1
Sunday August 20, 12:00am AEST
Bournemouth had two-thirds of possession but just one shot on target at the Hawthorns in a frustrating opening fixture. They return to the Vitality Stadium where they had a decent W9-D4-L6 record last term with seven of the victories against sides outside the top eight. Nevertheless, they look too short at evens given their defensive frailties that has seen them concede at least twice in eight of their last 11 on home turf, while Watford proved in their opening game to be a threat going forward.
The Hornets showed great spirit to equalise late on against Liverpool but if they want to improve on last season’s 17th-placed finish then their form away from Vicarage Road must improve. They went W3-D3-L13 on the road last season, losing 12 of their last 14 and their only two clean sheets came against Middlesbrough and Swansea.
Bournemouth look a little skinny but we’ll avoid taking them on given the visitors’ poor away record, whilst new Watford manager Marco Silva has yet to register an away victory in the Premier League, losing seven of nine so far. Instead, goals appears the best bet here with 16 of the Cherries’ last 24 at home featuring at least three strikes, while this Hornets defence have conceded 16 in their last five outings.
Sunday August 20, 12:00am AEST
Burnley caused an almighty shock in the opening round of fixtures by downing the champions in their own back yard. It means they’ve already equalled as many away victories as they did the whole of last term as it was no secret that their form at Turf Moore was crucial to their Premier League survival. Sean Dyche’s men picked up 33 points on home soil and if you strip out their results against the top six then they had an excellent W9-D2-L2 record.
West Brom’s opening day victory against Bournemouth followed the standard Tony Pulis blueprint of the Baggies edging a cagey affair with a set-piece goal. They won just three times on the road last season, losing half, while 10 were level at the break. We don’t expect Pulis to go off script this year and in their 16 trips to bottom-six finishers during his tenure, Albion have drawn nine times.
Seven of the Clarets’ home wins last season were by just a single goal with many courtesy of a late strike. Moreover, an incredible 31% of their goals at Turf Moor were from outside the box which is surely unsustainable this season and with the departure of Andre Gray to Watford we expect many of their victories from last year to turn into draws this time round.
BACK – Draw at 3.14
Sunday August 20, 12:00am AEST
Leicester were extremely unlucky to leave the Emirates empty handed as two goals in the final 10 minutes for the Gunners ruined what would have been a perfect start to the season. Jamie Vardy bagged a brace and under Craig Shakespeare looks to have returned to his electric best, netting 10 in Shakespeare’s 14 games in charge and the striker will fancy adding to his tally here.
The Foxes return to the King Power where they have an impressive record – winning 58% of matches in the last two seasons (W22-D10-L6). Furthermore, that record reads W16-D3-L0 against bottom-half finishers with four successes from six against promoted sides, so we’d expect them to be a touch shorter than the 1.73 available.
It was a cautious debut in the Premier League for Brighton whose sit-back tactic showed us little of what they can offer going forward. As a result, it’s difficult to gauge how they’ll fare against a side that conceded four last week but at home Leicester tend to be a lot more solid. Spurs are the only side to score more than once at the King Power since Shakespeare took charge and so we envisage the hosts having little problem in picking up their first three points of the season.
BACK – Leicester at 1.73
Sunday August 20, 12:00am AEST
It was the same old story for Liverpool as their defensive shortcomings cost them dearly at Watford after some scintillating attacking play. Crystal Palace meanwhile, won at Anfield last season, but perform as they did in Frank de Boer’s maiden game in charge then they could find themselves on the wrong end of a hiding.
The Eagles also won at Stamford Bridge last season but otherwise it’s 18 defeats from their other 22 trips to top six finishers since their promotion. They kept just two clean sheets on the road last term but both were under the tutelage of Big Sam as 11 of 19 games featured at least three goals. Minnows Huddersfield managed to put three past de Boer’s Palace with alarming ease so the Dutchman has his work cut out preventing this Liverpool side from running riot.
Jurgen Klopp will be desperate to turn Anfield into a fortress but just 10 wins from 17 against bottom-half finishers during his tenure isn’t good enough. As a result, we’re not interested in a win price of 1.35 but Over 2.5 Goals did land in 14 of the 17 aforementioned matches with 10 having at least four strikes. Palace can’t be as poor as they were last weekend and Christian Benteke and co. will fancy their chances against the Reds defence.
BACK – Over 3.5 Goals at 2.42
Sunday August 20, 12:00am AEST
Neither of these sides were able to get on the scoresheet on the opening weekend and both will be desperate to pick up their first win of the season. At Alaves, Mauricio Pellegrino’s home games had a strong ‘unders’ trend and it looks as if little will change at St Mary’s. Southampton lacked a cutting edge against Swansea despite dominating possession and they’ve now netted just 17 times at home since the start of 2016/17, failing to score in any of the last six, much to the frustration of their fans.
West Ham will no doubt provide a greater attacking threat than the Swans did and we should see new signings Chicharito and Arnautovic involved a lot more heavily than they were at Old Trafford. They’ve failed to net in only six of their last 26 on the road but they’ll have their work cut out against a stubborn Saints defence.
The hosts are far too short at 1.73 given their recent attacking woes, but Pellegrino is a tactician and his past record suggests Saints will continue to be tough to break down. The Draw is certainly an option but Southampton have conceded just 10 times in14 home matches against sides outside the top-six since the start of last season and with nine of these featuring fewer than three strikes- Under 2.5 goals looks the best way to go in this one.
BACK – Under 2.5 Goals at 1.86
Sunday August 20, 2:30am AEST
Hosting top-six opponents, and in particular Arsenal, used to be games that the Stoke faithful relished but now they are met with trepidation having not won any of the last nine with seven ending in defeat. They lacked firepower against Everton with Shaqiri’s long-range effort their only shot on target, but the loan signing of PSG’s Jese should add an edge in this department.
Seven defeats on the road last season was a key factor in Arsenal failing to finish in the top four for the first time under Arsene Wenger, but five of these came at top-seven sides. Against the remainder the Gunners were W9-D2-L2. Alexis Sanchez remains a major doubt but everyone else is fit and with new signing Lacazette settling in well we expect the visitors to leave with all three points.
The Potters lost nine of 12 winless matches against the top six last season but seven of these defeats were despite scoring and only once did they not net at home. Mustafi and Mertesacker should return for Arsenal but Koscielny is still suspended as the defence remains vulnerable. With that in mind, we’ll back an away win and both teams to score.
BACK – Arsenal & Both Teams To Score at 3.5
Sunday August 20, 10:30pm AEST
It was a dream start to life in the Premier League for Huddersfield, leaving Selhurst Park with a 3-0 victory to their name. New signings Tom Ince and Steve Mounie were excellent on their debuts, but they may have a much tougher contest here against a side that finished five places above them in the Championship last season.
Newcastle were matching Spurs until Jonjo Shelvey got himself sent off and we think there’s been a slight over-reaction in the market to make the Terriers 2.4 favourites. The Magpies had the best defensive record in the Championship, conceding just 17 times and the bookies may have overlooked how unprepared and poor Palace were.
Newcastle won this fixture 3-1 in March last season and they went off at 2.65, whereas they’re 3.18 here. Against top-half finishers they netted at least twice in eight of their 11 trips, while no club in the top nine conceded more than Huddersfield. Given Rafa Benitez’s experience in the Premier League and the greater quality at his disposal, we think there is plenty of value in backing an away win.
BACK – Newcastle at 3.18
Monday August 21, 1:00am AEST
Chelsea suffered a disastrous start to their title defence as they found themselves down to 10 men after 15 minutes and then 3-0 down by half-time. They still dominated most of the play against Burnley and while that result shouldn’t affect them here, the two red cards mean they are short of options, particularly with a few injuries including Eden Hazard.
After a sluggish start last season Chelsea went W12-D2-L2 in their final 16 away matches. Those defeats came at Old Trafford and White Hart Lane but those were the only times they conceded twice in that time as 10 of the matches had fewer than three goals and they recorded eight clean sheets.
While that record is good it’s nothing compared to Spurs’ home stats as they won all of their final 14 matches at White Hart Lane while keeping nine clean sheets. Of course this season they’ll be playing at Wembley and they’ll surely struggle to match that record. So we’re not interested in a win price of 2.1 but Under 2.5 Goals did land in four of their five at home against the top six last term as well as three of the five reverse fixtures. Furthermore, six of the last 10 away matches Hazard has failed to start for the Blues have finished with no more than one goal.
BACK – Under 2.5 Goals at 2.0
Tuesday August 22, 5:00am AEST
Everton have spent another £45 million this week on Gylfi Sigurdsson as only the two Manchester clubs have spent more this summer. It’ll still take something special for the Toffees to break into the top six but they’ve started the season with three 1-0 wins ahead of their Europa League tie on Thursday and the signings of Michael Keane and Jordan Pickford certainly make Ronald Koeman’s side look tough to break down.
Defence is also where most of City’s investments have been directed, with Kyle Walker and Danilo both handed starts as part of a back-five last week. Guardiola’s side looked more assured at the back as last season progressed and they’ve now kept nine clean sheets in their last 17 league games. However, the attack struggled to click against Brighton and while City are deserved favourites for the title, they need to improve an awful record against top-eight finishers in the past two campaigns of just W4-D10-L14. They’ll surely do that under Guardiola and as well as Everton being at the lower end of those top teams they’ve had their own problems against the league’s elite as they’ve picked up just three points from 10 trips to the top five in the past two years.
City’s price is too short to be of any interest and so we’re going to turn our attention to the goals markets. Five of the six meetings between these teams since 2014/15 have had fewer than three goals and with both defences looking far stronger than last term we think there’s plenty of value in Under 2.5 Goals.
BACK – Under 2.5 Goals at 2.5