The fixture gods are smiling on us this week, and for once the Saturday line-up of games in the Premier League looks just as appetising as the Sunday selection.
Is Manchester City vs Chelsea a title six-pointer? Only time will tell, but the lunchtime kick off will be a fantastic watch. Bookending the day will be West Ham vs Arsenal, where the beleaguered hosts might just fancy their chances of coming away from the game with something.
Here is the pick of the Premier League betting tips for Saturday:
Manchester City vs Chelsea (12:30pm)
There are, occasionally, those matches where we look at them and think ‘that one has got draw written all over it’. In such scenarios, it is worth acting accordingly and backing the stalemate in the markets.
Pep Guardiola is a smart man: he knows how important claiming three points is for his side here if they plan on overtaking Chelsea in the race for the Premier League title. There will be no tactical tinkering, no resting players – this will be Manchester City at their best.
The concern, however, is that their best isn’t all that impressive anymore. In attack they have Sergio Aguero to get them out of jail – a happy knack indeed, but at the back they remain slightly comical. John Stones is a walking disaster, and neither Nicolas Otamendi nor Aleksandr Kolarov are particularly any more reliable by his side. Opportunity knocks for Chelsea.
The Blues will look to exploit it without deviating from the formula that has seen them pick up seven consecutive victories in the league. Their three at the back should be able to mop up Aguero and co, and Eden Hazard and Pedro will pick up pockets of space either side of the outstanding Fernandinho. Diego Costa vs John Stones? Don’t make us laugh.
But this City side certainly has a goal or two in them, and so we return to our original hypothesis. This match has got a draw written all over it.
The Draw (13/5 with William Hill)
Correct Score: 1-1 (13/2 with BetVictor)
Crystal Palace vs Southampton (3pm)
Whether you support the sacking culture that pervades in modern football or not, it has to be said that Alan Pardew is a very lucky boy if he hangs on to this job at Crystal Palace. Statistically the Eagles are the worst Premier League side of 2016, and you only have to look at their goals conceded column – 26 in 13, eighteen in their last six – to see where the problems are. No amount of Christian Benteke’s can solve a crisis at the back as crippling as this.
We are big fans of Southampton, and you only need to look at their shots on target data – 5.38 per match for, 2.38 against – to realise that, in the long term, they are going to win significantly more matches than they lose.
A clean sheet last time out against free-scoring Liverpool suggests the Saints can handle the threat of Benteke and co, while in attack Charlie Austin remains a waspish frontman for whom goals never look far away. Against this Palace backline, he should have plenty of chances to add to his tally.
Southampton to Win (7/5 with Betfred)
Charlie Austin Anytime Goalscorer (13/10 with bet365)
Tottenham vs Swansea (3pm)
These are worrying times for Tottenham: out of the Champions League, they have now won just one of their last six Premier League outings; and that was a rather jammy 3-2 victory over West Ham courtesy of two goals in the last three minutes.
Coincidence or otherwise, the injury suffered by Toby Alderweireld has coincided with a run of just one clean sheet in half-a-dozen; defending is usually Spurs’ strong point. Perhaps the Belgian’s absence is being felt more widely than we had first envisaged.
There’s not much to say about this Swansea side; they are trying, but not really improving under Bob Bradley. One thing they are good for though is goals; they’ve bagged ten in their six starts, and even accounting for the five they notched against Palace at the weekend they have still netted against Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton and Stoke in the past month or so alone.
Both Teams to Score (10/11 with bet365)
West Ham vs Arsenal (5:30pm)
Where’s your money for this one? The majority of punters will be siding with the Gunners, and that’s fair enough: this West Ham side looks a shadow of its former 2015/16 self.
But in truth we’re not overly sold by this Gunners side: they average 4.54 shots on target per 90 minutes but yield 3.54, and long term that will hamper their hopes of even getting close to the Premier League title race.
Arsenal have conceded in five of their last six matches, and one area which the Hammers might want to exploit is diagonal balls into their right winger Michail Antonio, who possesses an exceptional leap and scores plenty with his head. He will be marked by left back Nacho Monreal; all 5ft 8in of him. Not to be ‘height-ist’, but that does not bode well.
Michail Antonio Anytime Goalscorer (7/2 with Betfred)