Gunners to maintain title charge
Chris Hammer and Ben Linfoot preview Sunday's games in the Premier League with Arsenal fancied to beat Man United.
- 2pts Arsenal to beat Manchester United at 23/10 (William Hill) - Visiting sides to Old Trafford don't seem to be affected by the fear factor of old this season and Arsenal are flying.
- 2pts Sergio Aguero to score in a Man City victory at 13/10 (bwin) - Aguero is in red hot form and City should make another big statement this weekend.
- 1pt Spurs v Newcastle to be 0-0 at half-time at 23/10 (Ladbrokes) - Tottenham have been taking their time and Newcastle more solid of late
- 1pt Stoke to beat Swansea at 7/2 (Coral) - Swansea struggling for goals and Stoke playing well enough to take advantage
Tottenham v Newcastle (1200 GMT)
Newcastle are a very hard team to predict. One week they are losing to Hull and Sunderland, the next they are holding Liverpool despite an early sending off or beating Chelsea. Perhaps, from that limited evidence, they raise their game against the better teams. Tottenham can be bracketed in that category and they find themselves joint-second in the table on points despite chugging along without doing anything spectacular. Andre Villas-Boas' team have been winning their points by keeping the ball and limiting the chances of their opponents to very few. It's been working - Tottenham have conceded just five goals in the league this season - but they have only scored nine goals themselves. Many of their matches have been tight and they have been relying on more than the odd late goal to win games. Perhaps they will get the job done quicker against Newcastle. They almost certainly will if the Newcastle that turned up at Everton earlier in the season is on show at White Hart Lane. However, the Magpies have been more solid of late, taking Manchester City to extra-time in the League Cup after a goalless 90 minutes before beating Chelsea 2-0 last weekend. With Fabricio Coloccini also returning they could well be capable of at least containing Spurs during the first half. Three of Spurs' last four home games have been 0-0 at half-time and 23/10 about that being the case again appeals.
Tottenham have lost only one of their last seven Barclays Premier League games against Newcastle, after losing each of the previous six.
Newcastle have won six away games at White Hart Lane in the Barclays Premier League, they have only won more at Villa Park (8).
Spurs have kept a clean sheet in each of their last three games, the only team to record four in a row this season are Southampton.
Verdict: Tottenham 1 Newcastle 0 (BL)
Sunderland v Manchester City (1405 GMT)
Manchester City may well be as many as six points behind leaders Arsenal having already lost three games in the Premier League this season but Manuel Pellegrini's men are back as title favourites - albeit marginally - following a 7-0 demolition of Norwich last weekend which could suggest they're about to embark on a rampaging run. They fired five past a hapless CSKA Moscow outfit on Tuesday night to book their place in the Champions League knockout stages for the first time with two games to spare so it won't just be the pessimistic of Sunderland fans who'll be worrying about the potential margin of defeat this Sunday. Star striker Sergio Aguero is looking particularly potent in front of goal this season and jointly tops the Premier League goalscoring charts with eight goals while he's also bagged five in four Champions League games. His partnership with summer arrival Alvaro Negredo, who has netted in each of his last three outings in all competitions including a hat-trick against Moscow, is quickly blossoming into one of the most dangerous in the top flight and surely they'll be licking their lips at the prospect of coming up against Sunderland's leaky defence. The Black Cats have shipped 22 from 10 games - the worst record in the Premier League - although it has to be said most of the damage was done during Paolo Di Canio's woeful tenure at the helm. Gus Poyet is trying to turn things around but they've yet to keep a clean sheet in his opening four games in all competitions, which began with a 4-0 thumping at Swansea, so I just can't see City being at the end of another shock away defeat having already lost at Cardiff and Aston Villa. Pellegrini's men know they simply can't afford another slip-up like those for a while so I fully expect them to go for the jugular and make another big statement in the process. As I think it's a case of how many City will win by at the Stadium of Light, I'm very tempted to go for a three goals or more victory margin with Sky Bet. However, bwin's 13/10 about Aguero to score in a City win looks great value considering this double is odds-on with most other bookies.
Man City have scored at least six goals more than any other Barclays Premier league team this season.
Sergio Aguero has seven goals and three assists in his last five Premier League games.
Sunderland have collected three of the 12 red cards shown in the Premier League this season.
Verdict: Sunderland 0 Manchester City 3 (CH)
Manchester United v Arsenal (1610 GMT)
Table topping Arsenal are so far proving they're genuine title contenders this season as they prepare for Sunday's big trip to Old Trafford although there's still a fair share of doubters around who expect the Gunners to fade away at some point before May. Despite surging five points clear following last Saturday's well-deserved 2-0 home victory over fellow hopefuls Liverpool, the bookies view Arsene Wenger's side as third favourites behind Manchester City and Chelsea. Obviously Arsene Wenger's failure to bring any trophy to the Emirates in the last eight years has something to do with that as they've long lost that aura of being 'winners' in many football fans' eyes. However, having quickly recovered from that opening-day stutter against Aston Villa - a result which in hindsight was blown out of all proportion - they've not only won games in style with their entertaining brand of football but also displayed a mental toughness which Wenger's sides have often lacked in recent seasons. This particular quality was clear to see on Wednesday night when they battled so resiliently to become the first English side to beat Borussia Dortmund at their Westfalenstadion fortress thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 victory in the Champions League. It was a real test of character to stop last season's beaten finalists, who were chasing an eighth successive home win in the competition plus a ninth Westfalenstadion victory in a row this campaign, from even scoring especially considering what a crunch match this had become following their defeat to the German outfit last month. Although pundits and fans alike quite rightly point to Mesut Ozil's summer arrival as the catalyst for Arsenal's charge, the superb form of Aaron Ramsey can't be understated either following the Welsh star's 11th goal of the season in midweek. The Gunners are now unbeaten in 15 away matches in all competitions since their victory over Bayern Munich in March so I feel the 9/4 available about them picking up their ninth league win out of 11 this Sunday is rather tempting to say the least. No one needs reminding about David Moyes' sluggish start as Manchester United boss and so far at Old Trafford they've scored a paltry seven goals from five league games - which would have been unheard of in Sir Alex Ferguson's days in charge - and already dropped seven points there. Wayne Rooney had the cheek to say "let us see where Arsenal are in March" earlier this week but unless United buck their ideas up sooner than later, then he should be extremely worried about where is own side will be! The defeat to West Brom, the draw with Southampton while even the narrow 3-2 victory over Stoke in which the visitors were 2-0 up and led 2-1 with just 12 minutes to play, suggests the fear factor usually inherent in visiting sides is rapidly fading away. Arsenal certainly have no reason to be scared and must be snapped up to secure another valuable victory.
Arsenal are the only side to have scored in all 10 of their Barclays Premier League games this season.
Aaron Ramsey has scored six goals and provided three assists in his last seven Premier League appearances.
The last time that Arsenal failed to have a shot on target in a PL game was on 21st September 2003, also against Manchester United at Old Trafford.
Verdict: Manchester United 1 Arsenal 2 (CH)
Swansea v Stoke (1610 GMT)
Stoke have shown enough recently to suggest they are worth a small bet at 7/2 to beat Swansea. They scored two at Old Trafford when looking like winning for much of the game and their 1-1 draw with high-flying Southampton was also creditable. Swansea, on the other hand, have been lacking the cohesion they displayed with regularity last campaign and their Thursday-Sunday schedule enforced by the Europa League is catching up with them. Striker-less West Ham held them to a 0-0 the last time they backed up from a Europa League game and then they followed that up with a 1-0 defeat at Cardiff. Goals have been hard to come by - they've scored just twice in their last four games and Stoke might just take advantage. The only times Stoke have won on the road this season have been when they have kept clean sheets. Another could ensure they go home with the three points on Sunday.
Three of the last four league games between Swansea and Stoke have ended as 2-0 home wins.
Stoke's away wins in 2013 have coincided with their clean sheets on the road (two games).
Swansea have gone 208 minutes without conceding a Barclays Premier League goal at home.
Verdict: Swansea 0 Stoke 1 (BL)