City can smash Saints
Our team preview the Saturday Premier League programme and make Manchester City a banker to take the points at Southampton.
- 5pts Man City to beat Southampton at 4/5 (BetVictor) - visitors full of confidence, while Saints have started to wobble
- 1pt Eden Hazard to score first in Stoke v Chelsea at 8/1 (Coral) - found the net in three of last four top-flight games
- 1pt Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur to draw at 13/5 (general) - Black Cats still in fair form at home, while Spurs appear unsettled
Manchester United v Newcastle (1245 GMT)
"Two big decisions went against us and that was crucial in the result," said Alan Pardew after Newcastle fell to a 3-0 defeat at Swansea, a result which ended a four-match winning run. David Moyes had no such excuse after United lost to Everton at Old Trafford, but both results help to create a bit of a riddle here. United do own a fine record against Newcastle and on the face of it this is a decent chance to bounce back immediately, and it's important not to forget that they had gone 12 matches unbeaten prior to losing to a very good team. On the other hand, they had a brilliant record against Everton before Wednesday and what past results are worth in the here and now is open to much debate. With that in mind, one only needs to forgive Newcastle one bad result (or performance, depending on whether you take Pardew's side) to think they're tempting at 13/2. Ultimately, however, I'd probably want 9/1 or so before taking a chance but there's no rush to add United to the accumulator at 1/2. Those who like a trend may be tempted by Jonny Evans at 13/2 to score at any time, something he achieved in both meetings of these sides last season, but more tempting are prices close to 4/1 about Loic Remy, by far and away Newcastle's biggest threat. United have conceded to Stoke, Southampton and West Brom at home so Newcastle will feel they can score. However, this is a no bet game for me.
Verdict: Manchester United 2 Newcastle 1 (BC)
Man Utd have lost four Barclays Premier League games this season, only one fewer than the whole of 2012-13 (5).
Papiss Cisse scored on both trips to Old Trafford in all competitions last season (one league, one Capital One Cup).
Jonny Evans has scored in the last two Barclays Premier League meetings between Man Utd and Newcastle and also netted an own goal at Old Trafford in this fixture last season.
Crystal Palace v Cardiff (1500)
If the aim was to make sure that Cardiff simply didn't lose against Stoke on Wednesday night then it was mission accomplished for Malky Mackay, as the Bluebirds' principal remaining chance of claiming the win evaporated when Frazier Campbell left the pitch with a quarter of an hour still to play. Put frankly, it simply wasn't a good game. Perhaps a point will make all the difference at the end of the season and more attacking set-ups than that 4-5-1 have yielded goals but no points on occasions in recent months. However Cardiff need to be beating teams like Crystal Palace if they are to secure enough points to give themselves a secure foundation in the top league and their fans would presumably like to see something more aggressive here - the 4-4-2 might not work against more-skilled sides, but it should against Palace. Will Mackay see things that way though? Palace got their act together when beating West Ham 1-0 on Tuesday, but while it would be enjoyable to see them turn things around Tony Pulis, it's hard to believe that victory will ultimately prove anything other than a false dawn. All in all, a tough match to call, with much depending upon how the two managers choose to approach the game.
Verdict: Crystal Palace 1 Cardiff 1 (WH)
The last three league meetings between Cardiff and Palace have seen the team who opened the scoring go on to lose the game.
Cardiff have won four and lost just two of their last seven league visits to Selhurst Park, but Palace have won two of the last three in south London.
Cardiff City have gone three hours without scoring a Premier League goal.
Liverpool v West Ham (1500)
Liverpool are the shortest priced team on the coupon and it's not hard to see why. Led by Luis Suarez, they were at their rampant best in demolishing Norwich on Wednesday night and a display packed with the same attacking verve would see them brush aside West Ham with similar ease. Sam Allardyce has big problems on his hands after his side lost at Crystal Palace on Tuesday, the chief concern being an inability to hit the target. The absence of Andy Carroll is an issue of course but it's not like he's all that prolific and January surely can't come soon enough. For now, they're going to continue to struggle and although I'm obliged to mention that they did win at Spurs, I don't see any realistic chance of a repeat here. West Ham haven't scored in over 350 minutes at Anfield, a ground at which they always struggle, and while Liverpool conceded again during the week, I just don't see where the visitors are going to trouble the home goal so 23/20 about a Liverpool win to nil seems a logical starting point. It's not quite a big enough price for my liking, however, and nor is 5/2 about Suarez bagging a brace - he always fires against Norwich but so far West Ham have found a way to deal with him and that'll have been top of the Allardyce agenda during training. Stick Liverpool in your accumulator by all means but this isn't a game that offers a standout betting opportunity, although trends fans will take 9/1 about Glen Johnson scoring for the fourth time in five games against his former employers.
Verdict: Liverpool 3 West Ham 0 (BC)
Luis Suarez (13) has scored one more Barclays Premier League goal than West Ham have as a team (12) this season.
The Hammers have failed to score in five of their seven Barclays Premier League away games this season.
West Ham United have not won away in the league at Anfield since 1963, losing 29 and drawing 11 of their subsequent 40 trips since.
Southampton v Manchester City (1500)
City's 3-1 defeat in this fixture last season came via a performance which rather typified their efforts in the latter days of Roberto Mancini's reign. They simply didn't look interested as Mauricio Pochettino got his first win in just his second game in charge at St Mary's and if they turn up in the same mood a repeat is far from impossible. However, Manuel Pellegrini appears to have had a positive influence at the Etihad Stadium and while City's performances away from it haven't always convinced, what's certain is that right now they possess the division's most prolific attack and with it they can be strongly fancied to add to Wednesday's win at West Brom. Although the concession of two late goals means the 3-2 scoreline doesn't make for convincing reading, there can be no doubting the superiority City displayed in the Midlands (West Brom's only shot on target came after 94 minutes) and with Southampton conceding three in a defeat to Aston Villa, this game comes at a bad time for the hosts. On the other hand, City's captain Vincent Kompany came through 90 minutes on his return and with him in the side it's hard to see beyond an away win here, particularly given the red-hot form of Sergio Aguero and those supporting him in attack. City know that with Chelsea hitting their straps and Arsenal continuing to churn out results, now is not the time to fall back into old habits and it's worth noting that Yaya Toure was keen to point out the significance of the West Brom win while promising that it'll help City produce another good performance here. I don't see Southampton coping now that the wheels are beginning to wobble and 4/5 looks a fine price about an away win.
Verdict: Southampton 1 Manchester City 3 (BC)
Southampton have not lost four Barclays Premier Leagues in a row since their first four games of last season.
Man City are looking to win consecutive Barclays Premier League away games for the first time since January.
Sergio Aguero has scored 10 goals in his last nine Premier League appearances for Manchester City, as well as providing three assists.
Stoke v Chelsea (1500)
Stoke can be backed at double-figure odds to win at home this weekend but Jose Mourinho's expensively-assembled Chelsea are in town and it's almost impossible to construct a case for the Potters in light of recent results between the two sides. Their past 12 meetings in all competitions have yielded 10 wins for the Blues, the other two games being back-to-back draws in 2011, and it's no surprise to see them around the 6/4 mark to add to their impressive tally as they sit second in the table. Stoke endured a torrid time in the corresponding clash at the Britannia last term, Chelsea claiming a 4-0 win which included goals for Frank Lampard and Eden Hazard, as well as an unfortunate brace for Jon Walters in his own net. Hazard and Lampard arrive in fine form again, netting ten league goals between them this season, and the Belgium winger appears right at the peak of his powers after scoring twice in a barnstorming 4-3 win at Sunderland in midweek. He has now struck three times in his last four top-flight outings and, at 17/2, is well worth a small interest to open the scoring.
With Eto'o, Torres and Ba providing just four of the Pensioners' 28 Premier League goals and each seriously struggling to make the centre-forward spot their own, it looks a safe call to focus on the midfield assault. The competition for places is obviously very strong despite Oscar's recent injury, with Juan Mata seemingly back in the reckoning, but Willian and Andre Schurrle have yet to really make an impact and Hazard has absolutely nailed down his position on the left flank, starting 13 of the 14 games so far in the league. Opposite number Geoff Cameron could be in for a tough time if keeping his place at right-back and Hazard makes plenty of appeal to continue his rich vein of form.
Verdict: Stoke 0 Chelsea 2 (MB)
Stoke City have scored just three goals in 10 Barclays Premier League games against Chelsea, failing to net in the last four in a row.
Chelsea have won 10 and lost none of the last 12 meetings with the Potters in all competitions.
Chelsea inflicted Stoke's heaviest ever Premier League defeat - 0-7 in April 2010.
West Brom v Norwich (1500)
West Brom are struggling to win football matches currently, which makes the odds-on quotes to beat Norwich easy enough to resist. Steve Clarke's men have only tasted success in one of their last eight Premier League games, with a brace of goals only good enough for a draw and a loss against Aston Villa and Man City in their respective last two home encounters. Shane Long continues to blow hot and cold, while the hype surrounding rising stars Saido Berahino and Morgan Amalfitano has cooled noticeably in recent weeks. Victor Anichebe made an impact when coming off the bench against City in midweek but his late strike was the Baggies' first attempt on target and he hasn't started in the league since a 4-1 defeat at Anfield at the end of October. The fact Chris Hughton is now leading the Premier League sack race just about says it all in regards to Norwich, who can be backed at 7/2 to stop the rot after three straight defeats. Their sole success on the road this term came at Stoke in September and their squad is struggling to cope in light of several injuries. Big-money buy Ricky Van Wolfswinkel has clearly been missed as much as anyone and while fellow summer signing Gary Hooper looks to be bedding in reasonably well with two goals in his last four games, the service into him has been limited since Robert Snodgrass was ruled out with a knee problem. A draw looks on the cards but it's not a game to be getting heavily involved in, with both sides capable of shooting themselves in the foot, and I'm happy to sit it out.
Verdict: West Brom 1 Norwich 1 (MB)
West Bromwich Albion have won only one of their last eight Barclays Premier League games (D3 L4).
Robert Snodgrass opened the scoring in both Barclays Premier League games between Norwich and West Brom last season.
Norwich City have lost five and won just two of the last seven league meetings with the Baggies.
Sunderland v Tottenham (1730)
Ask the fan of any team languishing at the bottom of the table and they'll tell you that good performances are rarely converted into the points that they deserve and that certainly seemed the case when Sunderland produced another decent home performance, scored three goals and gave Chelsea a good scare, only to end up with nothing to show for it all. For Gus Poyet, the first aim will be to remove his side from their unfortunate location at the foot of the Barclays Premier League, but the fact that bookmakers still only quote Sunderland at a shade of odds-on to go down reflects the fact that the eight points they have so far accumulated this season isn't a fair reflection of where they're now at. Poyet has juggled his cards in recent weeks with some improvement in performance, Emanuele Giaccherini adding some spice to attack behind a more confident-looking Jozy Altidore and Ki Sung-Yeung increasingly established in midfield, with other options being chopped and changes around him. The volatile shape of the first 11 has been mirrored at Spurs so far this season, despite their very different location in the table. Hard work saw Hotspur grind out success over a Fulham side who were, to use racing parlance, 'off for their lives' on Wednesday evening. But AVB still has questions to answer after that victory - not least those from his own fans who started calling for his head as soon as Fulham took the lead - and it was interesting to note Lewis Holtby's post-match mention of "negativity" seeping into the side. Expect more changes to the visitors' final line-up - Capoue may need a break after a kamikaze first-half performance in midweek and Paulinho hardly sparkled either - but also expect Sunderland to put up a decent fight.
Verdict: Sunderland 1 Tottenham Hotspur 1 (WH)
Sunderland have lost eight points from winning positions this season, more than any other Barclays Premier League team.
Tottenham are one of only two teams (along with Newcastle) yet to score more than twice in a Barclays Premier League game this season.
Steven Fletcher has scored in three of his last five Premier League games against Spurs.