ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE 2017/18
Saturday October 14, 10.30pm ADST
It was a frustrating four weeks for Liverpool between the two international breaks as they won just once and their defence looked fragile in conceding nine times. Five of these came at a rampant Man City where they had Mane sent off but even if you include that result they still have an impressive W9-D9-L2 record against fellow ‘Big Six’ sides under Jurgen Klopp. Just at Anfield they’re W5-D5-L1 and in fact have an excellent defensive record as they’ve conceded only eight times across these. While they’ve been able to blow away the likes of Man City and Arsenal, they have a poor record when it comes to Man Utd – the only ‘Big Six’ club to stop the German’s side from scoring.
United have made a flying start to the campaign, scoring plenty of goals on their way to winning six of seven unbeaten games, but it’s telling that none of the teams they’ve played are currently higher than 12th. Although Jose Mourinho has greater attacking weapons in his armoury this season, history tells us that we shouldn’t expect a particularly open game now that he’s visiting a title rival.
Since returning to manage in this country in 2013/14, Mourinho’s sides have travelled to top-six opposition on 18 occasions and 12 have had fewer than three strikes while eight have finished all-square. The Red Devils lost three of five winless trips to top-six sides last term, failing to score in four, and while we expect an improvement on that this season, we think they would take a point back to Old Trafford, and given Mourinho’s ‘unders’ trend the draw seems even more likely.
Sunday October 11, 1:00am AEDT
Following the departures of two key players – Michael Keane and Andre Gray – in the summer, Burnley have done remarkably well to be seventh at this stage, especially given their tricky opening fixture list. However, we wouldn’t get carried away as their victories have all been by just a single goal and often ending with backs to the wall defending, while they were dominated during their draws at Wembley and Anfield. Against lesser sides at home they’ve struggled, managing just four shots against Huddersfield last time as their attack lacks firepower.
West Ham too have lacked a cutting edge this season and they only overcame struggling Swansea at home prior to the international break with the last kick of the game. Almost all their goals have come late on this season as they’ve netted just once before half time, and Slaven Bilic’s side don’t seem to be improving. Excluding the ‘Big Six’, the Hammers have a W5-D4-L7 record on the road since the start of last season, but just one of these victories have come in the last nine and five of the last eight have been level at the break.
Given the Clarets’ greatest strength is their organisation we’re expecting a cagey opening period here. Indeed, there have been just two goals all season at Turf Moor and nine of the last 11 have been all-square at half-time. Seven of these have been 0-0 and with two sub-standard attacks on show we’ll side with another goalless opening 45.
Sunday October 15, 1:00am AEDT
With no points on the board, and indeed no goals, Palace look in a perilous situation. After back-to-back defeats in Manchester by an aggregate of 9-0 things don’t get any easier as they host last season’s champions who have won all three of their away games while netting eight times. Roy Hodgson will be desperate to stop the bleeding but with Benteke out and Zaha still a major doubt it looks a tall order.
Chelsea have dropped points at the Bridge to Arsenal and Man City in recent weeks but in between gave Stoke a hiding at the Britannia and if you exclude top-six sides they’ve won 26 of 30 fixtures under Antonio Conte, including a W13-D2-L0 record on the road. Adding the Blues at 1.4 to boost any accumulators this weekend would be advised. Nine of these away victories have come to nil and although they are weakened by the injuries to Morata and Kante we don’t envisage any problems here. With key personnel missing for Palace, it’s unlikely they’ll be breaking their scoring duck in this one.
BACK – Chelsea Win to Nil at 2.25
Sunday October 15, 1:00am AEDT
Although it was only 1-0, Man City’s victory at Stamford Bridge was arguably their most impressive of the season. Having swept aside their past three Premier League opponents the visit to Chelsea required different demands – but they proved more than equal to the task. It was their fourth clean sheet in a row and their fifth in seven this term as their success is now built on a solid defensive foundation, which started to take shape at the backend of last season.
Since losing at Leicester last December, Pep Guardiola’s men have since won 17 of 19 unbeaten matches against sides outside the top seven while keeping 12 clean sheets. One of these came in Stoke’s 0-0 draw here last term but the Potters’ overall record at top-six sides under Mark Hughes is a dismal W3-D3-L18. They failed to score in 12 of these defeats, while on the road they’ve drawn a blank in seven of their last 11 against all opposition. The Citizens have shut out the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Watford already this term – all of whom look more dangerous than Stoke going forward – and we expect them to do so again in a routine victory.
BACK – Man City Win to Nil at 2.0
Sunday October 15, 1:00am AEDT
It’s been a poor start to the season for Swansea as their only victory has come against Palace while they’ve lost their opening three encounters at the Liberty. It was the same old story as they went down 1-0 at West Ham last time out after a display where they were comfortable on the ball, especially in the midfield area, but lacked any cutting edge up front. They’ve amassed just 11 shots on target this term, scoring only three, and as a result both teams have scored in just one of their fixtures and five have featured fewer than three goals.
Huddersfield were given a reality check about life in the Premier League as they were dismantled by Spurs in the opening 45 mins in their last match. It was just their second defeat of the season and the first time they’d conceded in the first-half. It was however their first fixture against one of the ‘Big Six’ so back in weaker company we expect them to hold their own once again.
Prior to the Spurs encounter, the Terriers had been goalless at the interval in five consecutive league fixtures. Whilst they’ve been stubborn at the back, they too lack firepower, only managing the solitary goal in their last five, resulting in all five seeing no more than two strikes. With two lacklustre attacks, this doesn’t have the makings of a classic but BTTS – No and under 2.5 goals are very short, so we prefer the half-time draw at evens. Clement has faced four promoted sides while at Swansea and all four have been level at the break.
BACK – HT Draw at 2.0
Sunday October 15, 1:00am AEDT
Spurs’ sensational away form continued as they thrashed Huddersfield but they’re yet to get off the mark at Wembley in the league. Despite dominating against Swansea and Burnley, both sides were able to frustrate Pochettino’s men thanks to a stubborn defensively display, an aptitude not often associated with Bournemouth.
Eddie’s Howe’s men have lost 10 of 13 trips to the ‘Big Six’ since their promotion, conceding at least twice in nine of their last 10 and three or more in seven of these. There should be plenty of opportunities for the hosts and with Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen in such scintillating form, Spurs should have no problem picking up their first league win at their temporary home.
Alarmingly for the Cherries, they have issues at the other end of the pitch as well. Only Swansea and Palace have scored fewer this season and half of their goals so far came at home against Brighton, while in their 10 defeats at ‘Big Six’ opposition, seven were without scoring. Jermain Defoe has just one strike to his name this term and with Callum Wilson still out and Joshua King a doubt we fancy a Spurs win to nil.
BACK – Spurs Win to Nil at 2.05
Sunday October 15, 3.30am AEDST
Arsenal took advantage of an easier set of fixtures between the two international breaks to win three of four unbeaten matches without conceding a goal. Only one of these was on the road, and while it was a very respectable goalless draw at Chelsea, there are still concerns surrounding the Gunners away from the Emirates. They’re W4-D2-L9 in their last 15 with just three clean sheets and they now face a tough trip to Vicarage Road.
Watford are an impressive 8th in the table with their sole defeat coming when they conceded six here against Man City, but plenty of teams will suffer the same fate this term. Since then they’ve salvaged a win and a draw thanks to last minute goals as Marco Silva has installed plenty of character within the squad, while in their season opener the secured a 3-3 draw with Liverpool in a similar fashion.
Many of Arsenal’s key players have been involved in crucial qualifiers over the past week, including Alexis Sanchez who must be a major doubt as he returns from South America and they’re winless in their last six matches when the Chilean has been out of the starting XI. Moreover, Shkodran Mustafi has picked up an injury and their new found defensive resilience might not be as strong now. In the two fixtures the German has missed this term the Gunners have conceded seven times and with their recent record on the road a poor one, we’ll take the visitors on.
LAY – Arsenal at 1.67
Sunday October 15, 11.30pm AEST
It’s clear that any chance Brighton have of survival will be reliant on their home form. They’ve lost three of four winless games on the road where they’ve scored just one goal, but at the Falmer Stadium they’ve beaten Newcastle and West Brom and only lost to Man City after holding them out for 70 minutes.
The Seagulls are certainly well-organised under Chris Houghton and should cause problems for this Everton side that have failed to score in four of their last five during their poor start to the season. Albeit they had a tough run of fixtures to begin with, the manner of the defeats and their most recent loss at home to Burnley have called for some to question Ronald Koeman’s position at the club. Indeed, the Toffees are winless in their last 11 away from Goodison and have an overall away record of W4-D7-L11 under the Dutchman, and so this looks an excellent opportunity to take them on at what looks a short price.
Everton have drawn five of six winless trips to promoted sides over the past two seasons and while we wouldn’t put anyone off the draw, we’ll side with Brighton +0.25 on the Asian Handicap as it wouldn’t surprise us to see the hosts claim all three points.
BACK – Brighton +2.5 Asian Handicap at 1.90
Monday October 16, 2.00am AEST
Southampton scored in defeat at Stoke but at home their goal drought continues as this area remains their weak spot. The Saints have now failed to net in eight of their last nine at St Mary’s, resulting in seven of these featuring fewer than three strikes, while five had no more than one. Some solace for Saints fans will be their terrific W8-D1-L0 record hosting promoted sides since 2014/15 but that draw did come in a goalless draw against Hull last term and they also only scraped past Boro 1-0.
Being hard to break down is often a trait of Rafa Benitez’s teams and it’s been no different with Newcastle back in the Premier League. Spurs are the only side to score more than once against them and both those goals came after Jonjo Shelvey was sent off. As a result five of their seven games have had no more than two goals with each of their three away fixtures having exactly one strike.
Given the defensive nature of both managers, we’re expecting a cagey encounter here. Under 2.5 goals looks very generous at 1.74 but this has all the makings of a dull affair and so we’re on Under 1.5 goals, as has been the case in 10 of Southampton’s 23 home matches since the start of last season.
BACK – Under 1.5 Goals at 3.23
Tuesday October 17, 6.00am AEST
Leicester are down in 17th but all four of their defeats have been against a top six sides from last season and in their only other home game they easily overcame Brighton. In fact, excluding the ‘Big Six’ they have a terrific record at the King Power, winning 24 of their last 32 there, including six from seven unbeaten matches under Craig Shakespeare.
West Brom conceded a last minute goal to Watford prior to the international break to extend their winless streak to five games which includes defeats at Brighton and Arsenal. They’ve won just four times on the road since the start of last season, losing seven of the last 12. The usual defensive solidarity we associate with Tony Pulis sides seems to have evaded them away from the Hawthorns as they conceded at least twice in nine of these recent 12 road matches. The Foxes have a terrific scoring record at home under Shakespeare and should have no problem securing all three points here.
BACK – Leicester Win at 1.99