Spurs have more in their arsenal
Ben Coley previews Sunday's three games in the Barclays Premier League and he's anticipating a thriller at the Emirates.
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Manchester United visit Anfield and Arsenal host local rivals Tottenham Hostpur in a Super Sunday of Premier League action while not forgetting the clash as the Hawthorns between West Bromwich Albion and Swansea.
The latter game could be too close to call according to Ben but he does fancy United to bring a temporary halt to the Rodgers' revolution while it could be goals, goals, goals in North London!
Liverpool v Manchester United (1300 BST)
David Moyes knows all about big games with Liverpool and leads United into this one on the back of what's been a more than satisfactory start to life in charge at Old Trafford. It's somewhat possible to pick holes in United's 4-1 win at Swansea on the opening day of the season, but the fact that it owed much to the brilliance of their strikers is nothing new and what's certain is that it wasn't the first time they've won thanks to Robin van Persie. He scored in both meetings of these sides last year, including the winner from the spot in this fixture, and it's hard to see Liverpool keeping him as quiet as Chelsea managed to on Monday night. Indeed, therein lies the problem for Brendan Rodgers, whose side have won both Premier League games 1-0 having been somewhat profligate while at times relying on fortune to keep the opposition out. Certainly, their weakness from set-pieces was exposed by Notts County in the Capital One Cup as it was by Stoke on the opening weekend of the season. Of course, it wasn't their strongest defence we saw on Tuesday night but Simon Mignolet, Glen Johnson and Kolo Toure were all involved and I'm not convinced that the return of Martin Skrtel is enough to shore them up sufficiently for this test. Indeed, Kolo is a serious doubt for the game and if you're looking to get with a goal scorer here, it may pay to think outside the box, as it were, and chance the likes of Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand. However, as is so often the case in this particular fixture the bet has been made easy by the bookmakers as, astonishingly, United are underdogs. We could debate the respective qualities of both managers long and hard. We could argue that this isn't the United of old and that Liverpool, even without Luis Suarez, are improving. We could even question Moyes' record against Liverpool when in charge of Everton. But the key facts are these: United are a better side, they've got comfortably the game's best player and one most likely to decide the outcome, and they've won each of the last three meetings. Those who like to play the trends might back 2-1, the score by which United have won each of those three games, but I'd rather keep things simple. Although there's clearly much to do before we can consider Moyes' United as good as Sir Alex Ferguson's, early indications are that they'll prove equally as effective at least until the pressure is truly applied. Having registered a solid point on Monday and rested up since, United must be backed at close to 2/1 on value grounds.
Verdict: Liverpool 1 Manchester United 2
Robin van Persie has scored four times in his last three Premier League appearances against Liverpool (twice for Arsenal and twice in two games for Manchester United).
Manchester United have been given eight red cards versus Liverpool in the Barclays Premier League; more than against any other team.
Manchester United have not lost any of their last 13 Premier League away games - the longest current run in the competition.
West Brom v Swansea (1330)
With no disrespect whatsoever to either club, particularly given their commendable exploits last season, this game rather drops into the background on Super Sunday. Ordinarily, that means better betting opportunities but I happen to find this game extremely difficult to assess. I do fear for West Brom this season and zero goals in 180 minutes of Premier League play confirms that the absence of Romelu Lukaku is having a huge impact on their attacking effectiveness. But Swansea have lost both Premier League games and while defeats at home to United and away at Spurs are excusable, they don't give us much of a platform from which to recommend a bet at under 2/1. The other issue we must consider here is how Swansea will cope with their midweek European adventure, one which saw them lose in Romania. Michael Laudrup did make changes but Michu was required to start after Wilfried Bony was injured, a fact which again provides some cause for concern. The fact that there have been three or more goals in every Premier League meeting of these sides isn't enough to convince me there will be this time and with both sides likely to see this as a fine opportunity to get a first win on the board but surely desperate not to lose, we could be set for a tight game devoid of goalmouth action. With that and both sides' attacking issues in mind, evens about under 2.5 goals looks reasonable. If forced to take a view on the match I'd lean towards Swansea, who do have superior attacking quality when at their best and have won twice at The Hawthorns in recent years. However, nothing stands out in truth so we'll focus on the televised action.
Verdict: West Brom 0 Swansea 1
West Brom have failed to score in four of their last five Barclays Premier League matches.
Only five teams have had more shots on target than Swansea City (11) so far this season. However, the Swans have only scored once.
Swansea have won three of their four Premier League clashes with West Brom (L1).
Arsenal v Tottenham (1600)
Arsenal go into this game as favourites having secured a trio of straightforward wins since losing against Aston Villa on the first day of the season. As is so often the case, the reality of each game is less entertaining than the extremes used to describe it. They weren't that bad against Villa, even if clearly they weren't very good. But nor were they flawless against Fulham and Fenerbahce, and my instinct is that 11/10 is too short. Yes, they've won each of the last two renewals of this fixture and have a good record in it generally, but Arsene Wenger's threadbare squad has taken another hit with the injury to Lukas Podolski and if either Jack Wilshere or Aaron Ramsey were to miss this game - both suffered knocks on Tuesday night - they'd be in a spot of bother. Tottenham have started the season quietly and efficiently, a complete contrast to the rumbling saga around Gareth Bale's move to Real Madrid. To his credit, Andre Villas-Boas has handled the whole situation impeccably and continues to suggest that, in contrast to what some Chelsea fans may have you believe, he's a manager with a very bright future and he's at the right club, too. Spurs have expanded their horizons this summer and while the money they've spent brings with it added pressures, I'd expect them to cope under the guidance of their unflappable leader. What he needs to do, though, is transfer that calmness and security into this fixture, one which they've lost 5-2 in each of the last two years having taken the lead on both occasions. It's unreasonable to think they won't have learned lessons from each defeat and some of the key protagonists are no longer in and around the starting line-up. What I'm trying to say is that Spurs are as big a threat to Arsenal now as they've been for many years, whether that belief reveals itself in this game or not. I find it a match which is very hard to predict. So much depends on who starts for Arsenal, because if their midfield is at full-strength I do feel their dynamism would cause Spurs - whose weakness remains in defence despite their start to the season - serious problems. With that in mind Ramsey is particularly tempting to find the net at 7/1 with William Hill and a small bet there is the way to go, with stakes refunded if he isn't passed fit. Ramsey is at his absolute best right now, his second goal against Fenerbahce showed how composed and clinical he's become when presented with a chance, and he's scored against Spurs before. It's a value play in a game where the 90-minute markets and appealing side-bets (both teams to score, over 2.5 goals) have been priced accurately, although trends buffs may want to take twice the price about Per Mertesacker given that he scored in both meetings last term.
Verdict: Arsenal 2 Tottenham 2
Arsenal have failed to score in just one of their last 29 Barclays Premier League meetings with Tottenham.
There has been a Tottenham player sent off on each of their last two Premier League visits to The Emirates.
13 of the last 14 league matches between Tottenham and Arsenal have gone over 2.5 goals.
- Liverpool v Manchester United and Arsenal v Tottenham are live in the UK on Sky Sports 1 HD