Is there anything worse for the humble football than the international break? A complete absence of value betting opportunities – and a lack of interesting live action on the telly – leaves many of us in a purgatory state for the fortnight or so that it lasts.
Rejoice then in the return of the Premier League this week; and not just any return, as a handful of really intriguing fixtures catch the eye on Saturday.
Here are some betting tips to whet the appetite:
Manchester United vs Arsenal (12:30pm)
Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea….it’s fair to say that Manchester United have failed most of their big ‘gut checks’ so far this season. Two defeats and a draw against three of their main rivals for elite status in the Premier League does not bode well for Jose Mourinho’s men.
Their issues are multiple, and with the international break meaning that most of his stars have jetted off to all corners of the globe, opportunities on the training ground for Mourinho and his team have been few and far between.
The same scenario has befallen Arsene Wenger and Arsenal, but at least his side are in reasonable fettle. Okay, so they were rather flaccid against Spurs last time out, and needed a three-goal salvo in five minutes to see off Sunderland. But at least they are coming out of those matches with positive results, and in truth it is hard to see them being defeated here given Manchester United’s performances against quality opposition this term.
But United, at Old Trafford, will create chances – Mourinho will have really lost his mind if he sends his troops out in the same defensive manner as he did against Liverpool. His side bashed Stoke and Burnley at home but could only put the ball in the net once; be under no illusions, keepers Lee Grant and Tom Heaton were both out-of-this-world in those respective showings.
Both teams scoring here looks like a distinct possibility.
Arsenal Draw No Bet (21/20 with Betfair)
Both Teams to Score (8/11 with Betfred)
Crystal Palace vs Manchester City (3pm)
Both teams to score has been a market that has kept on giving in Manchester City matches this term, and even with Sergio Aguero possibly being rested – he has been away in South America this week, and City have a Champions League clash to consider next week – we would expect the Citizens to find the net against a Crystal Palace side that lost four out of four prior to the international break.
But any outfit with Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend on the wings, Yohann Cabaye pulling the strings in the middle and Christian Benteke up front stands a chance of netting, and even in defeat the Eagles have breached the defences of Leicester, Liverpool and Burnley at Turf Moor.
But Alan Pardew’s side are a tough back at the moment, and even the momentum-halting international break may not have been enough for him to instil the confidence in his side that they can get a result here. City, improving under Guardiola’s new 4-2-3-1 system, should have too much firepower.
Manchester City to Win & Both Teams to Score (2/1 with bet365)
Stoke City vs Bournemouth (3pm)
Punters, pundits, players….nobody was more miffed at the international break than Mark Hughes. His Stoke side were enjoying some marvellous forward motion prior to the enforced lay-off, and now the Welshman will be desperate that any momentum is not lost.
The Potteries outfit went W3 D1 L0 just prior to the break, with victories over sides at the wrong end of the table becoming something of a speciality. It’s not always pretty at the Be365 Stadium, but boy has it proven effective since the start of October.
Bournemouth suffered the ultimate indignity last time out: defeat to Sunderland. That does a disservice to the Black Cats, who were good value for the three points, but underlined the suspicion that Eddie Howe’s men have gone well and truly off the boil. Apart from a routine victory over hapless Hull, the Cherries were winless in October.
The South Coast side are yet to win on the road in 2016/17, and it is hard to see that changing here.
Stoke to Win (13/10 with Paddy Power)
Southampton vs Liverpool (3pm)
For the neutral football fan, there is nothing quite as exhilarating in the Premier League as watching Liverpool slice and dice opponents almost at will at present. Their 6-1 hammering of Watford took their goal tally to nineteen in their last six outings; an extraordinary feat that even the most hardened of Everton and Manchester United fans must acknowledge.
Jurgen Klopp must take most of the plaudits as he has set up his Liverpool side in such a positive way, and it doesn’t seem to matter if they are playing home or away they are still going to go for the jugular. The goalless draw with United – when Mourinho may as well have built a Trump-esque wall such was his defensive mindset – was the only time that Liverpool have failed to score two or more goals in a single game since August 27.
Quite frankly their opposition can’t cope with them at present, so quite how Southampton – who have lost 0-2 and 1-2 to Chelsea and Hull in their last two outings – will do so is anybody’s guess. The Saints are a fine side, but one win in five tells its own story.
Liverpool to Score 2+ Goals (10/11 with Coral)