Let’s hope that this week’s Sunday schedule lives up to that of seven days ago, with Manchester City and Southampton serving up a tasty battle and Chelsea handing Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United a taste of sweet retribution.
This week’s two fixtures don’t carry the sub-plot of ‘The Return’, but do feature four teams capable of putting on an excellent show. So here are the pic of Sunday’s Premier League betting tips.
Everton vs West Ham (1:30pm)
The international break at the start of October has had a funny effect on these two teams, with their fortunes rather contrasting ever since. Everton have failed to win either of their fixtures since the break (admittedly tough encounters with Manchester City and Burnley away), but to be honest their rot set in just prior to the internationals: defeat to Bournemouth and a draw with Crystal Palace are proof of that. Have the Toffees regressed to their mean after a fine start?
Look at West Ham; a team reborn in the past fortnight. With just one win in seven prior to the break they looked in dire straits, but with a pair of victories since then in the league (with clean sheets to boot) and a triumph over London neighbours Chelsea in the EFL Cup in midweek, everything is coming up Slaven Bilic at the moment.
The secret to the Hammers’ success has been to revert to a more defensive system. In has come a 3-5-2 shape with wing backs in Michail Antonio and Aaron Cresswell tasked with prioritising defence over attack. A bank of three midfielders in front has acted as a brick wall, and it’s no wonder that Crystal Palace and Sunderland have been able to break them down.
It’s lucky really, because frontman Simone Zaza couldn’t hit a cow’s backside with a banjo, but at least Bilic has tightened up at the back.
Everton will pose an all-together different threat, but their attacking play has lacked the fluency and vigour in recent weeks that took them to the summit of the division earlier in the campaign. They may sneak over the line, but don’t expect a goal-fest under West Ham 2.0.
Southampton vs Chelsea (4pm)
A tea time treat for Sunday as Southampton, one of the most eye-catching sides in the Premier League and unbeaten in five, welcome a thriving Chelsea to St Marys.
The Blues have been an unstoppable force in recent weeks thanks largely to Antonio Conte’s tactical reshuffle. The Italian has deployed his preferred 3-5-2 system and it has worked, resoundingly, with three wins, three clean sheets and the scalps of Manchester United and Leicester to particularly enjoy.
The formation is an inherently attacking one; in possession Chelsea will have Cesar Azpilicueta, Victor Moses and Pedro/Willian all active on one flank and Gary Cahill, Marcos Alonso and Eden Hazard on the other. Southampton will need Nathan Redmond and Dusan Tadic, not renowned as the most hard-working wingers on the planet, to roll their sleeves up and put a shift in in order to manage a potential overload situation on either wing.
The big concern for Saints fans must be that Cuco Martina will continue at right back in place of the injured Cedric. Martina is, for want of a better phrase, a bit of a loose cannon, and it is not hard to imagine Hazard who will drift into pockets of space in the inside left channel, having plenty of joy against him. The Belgian has found his shooting boots this season, and he is expected to do plenty of damage here.
The nature of Chelsea’s recent victories has been so dominant that even though we rate the Saints highly, we simply have to get involved with the Blues priced at odds-against to win this encounter. Don’t forget, Southampton failed to see out a win at Manchester City last week when well placed, and that suggests a certain frailty on their part. At this present time, Chelsea are weakness-less.