Take Suarez to sink Norwich
We preview Saturday's seven Premier League matches, with Luis Suarez and Liverpool heading the staking plan.
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Suarez and co have torn into the Canaries in the past and can do so again, according to our David John.
Manchester City are also fancied to beat Fulham convincingly, while Aston Villa and QPR could offer some value on their travels.
- 1.5pts Luis Suarez to score first v Norwich at 3/1 (Coral) - Demolished the visitors on their last two meetings and in red-hot current form.
- 2pts Liverpool (-2) to beat Norwich at 21/10 (Paddy Power) - Starting to come together and can put the Canaries to the sword.
- 1pt Manchester City to beat Fulham 3-0 at 8/1 (BetVictor) - City only conceded nine at home and this looks the most likely result.
- 0.5pt Man City to beat Fulham 2-0 at 13/2 (BetVictor) - Worth saving in case City take their foot off the pedal late on.
- 2.5pts Aston Villa to beat West Brom at 72/17 (Pinnacle) - Chance to improve current situation with pressure on flailing hosts.
- 1pt Aston Villa to beat West Brom 2-1 at 18/1 (Betfred, totesport) - Worth a play at big odds on Villa finding their touch in front of goal.
- 1pt QPR to beat West Ham at 31/11 (Pinnacle) - Certainly improving, while West Ham have problems at present.
Liverpool v Norwich (1500GMT)
I have a theory that Liverpool will be a team to follow financially until the end of the season as Brendan Rodgers continues to mould his team in general while Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge thrive up front. They put in a good display in the second half last week at Old Trafford after being a bit too respectful of Manchester United with the hosts opening up a two-goal lead and then holding on. Suarez has been in electric form recently and he loves playing the Canaries - he has filled his boots twice with back-to-back hat-tricks having given Chris Hughton's men the runaround. With that in mind, he looks much nearer the general quote of 9/4 to open the scoring at Anfield than the 3/1 dangled by Coral so we shall help ourselves to a bit of the latter. Hughton was happy enough with the home point in a 0-0 draw last week with Newcastle but his backline rarely came under pressure from an isolated Papiss Cisse and this is going to be a far sterner assignment altogether. Striker Grant Holt is easing himself back into things but that is still no wins in five for Norwich in the Premier League and it is tough to envisage a repeat of their 1-1 draw in the corresponding fixture last season. Rodgers will be hoping his team can start getting results against the top sides in the section but Norwich are the kind of outfit - like Sunderland, QPR and Fulham - they have trounced recently and more of the same is on the cards.
Verdict: Liverpool 3 Norwich 0 (DJ)
Manchester City v Fulham (1500)
It's six wins in seven for a resurgent Man City and although they don't quite have everyone convinced, it's difficult to see anything but a straightforward three points here. Rivals United remain the only side to have won at the Etihad in the Premier League since December 2010, and notoriously poor-travelling Fulham are unlikely to ruin that fact. Of course, they did win their last away league game at West Brom and scraped through to the fourth round of the FA Cup at Blackpool, but extra-time at Bloomfield Road is no way to prepare for this. It must be noted that they do actually own a good record at City - they were unbeaten in four visits prior to last season's 3-0 defeat - but City's mean defence and vibrant attack will prevail. How to get them on-side is less straightforward, but it's surely worth noting that as well as last year's win they've managed two 3-0 victories in 11 home games this year and another looks the most likely result by some margin. It's usually prudent to save when playing a correct score and a small bet on 2-0 is also added to the plan.
Verdict: Manchester City 3 Fulham 0 (BC)
Newcastle v Reading (1500)
These are the only two sides in the division without an away Premier League win so logic would suggest that home advantage is a huge factor here. Newcastle do remain very difficult to beat on their own patch and recent results show victories against QPR and Wigan alongside understandable defeats at the hands of both Everton and Man City. The trouble is they remain way below full strength and Loic Remy's decision to join QPR at Newcastle's expense is a blow, as is the continued problems surrounding the future of want-away centre-back Fabricio Coloccini. All of this considered, they can't be backed at 8/11 against a side who have improved of late. Reading's come-from-behind victory against West Brom last week was probably the recovery of the season, and that really could spark them into life in a fixture they shouldn't fear. Those who do want to get with the hosts should consider backing them to win to nil as Reading have just one goal in their last five Premier League away games, but both Pavel Pogrebnyak and Adam Le Fondre have found their scoring boots of late and at 11/4 the former makes some appeal to find the net. However, there are too many imponderables here so we'll keep our powder dry.
Verdict: Newcastle 1 Reading 1 (BC)
Swansea v Stoke (1500)
Swansea have a reputation of being fairly strong at home but the fact is they've won just three of 11 so far in the league. We mentioned last week how they are not a side at their best when the game is physical and that - plus that low winning percentage at the Liberty - would have to be a concern to anyone considering backing them at 6/5. To be fair, Swansea did gain a point at Everton last week but they were second best for long periods. Expect Stoke to be in their face from the word go here - don't expect the hosts to have plenty of time to knock the ball about. Stoke, who will have had an extra 24 hours to recover from midweek FA Cup action, won the reverse fixture comfortably by two goals to nil and don't look too bad around the 14/5 mark here. What puts me off is their poor goalscoring record away from home. Seven goals in 11 away league matches is truly awful and they've failed to find the net in their last four away from the Britannia (in all competitions). The Potters to edge a tight contest may just be the value call here, but I'll swerve on this occasion.
Verdict: Swansea 0 Stoke 1 (AS)
West Ham v QPR (1500)
If Harry Redknapp does manage to pull off a Houdini act at QPR this season, the 3-0 home defeat to Liverpool could well prove to be the turning point. So bad were the R's that day that a new focus was needed and it would appear that Redknapp has opted to go back to basics, turning his attention to keeping the goals out as since that game QPR have conceded just once in four outings, staying unbeaten in the process. That run includes away wins at Chelsea and West Brom, the latter in the FA Cup. Loic Remy has since been added to the ranks as they seek much-needed goal power and at 3/1 for this match, they could offer a bit of value. As well as QPR's own turn in fortune, their hosts are struggling for numbers. Sam Allardyce said he was "down to the bare bones" for Wednesday's trip to Manchester United with defenders particularly thin on the ground. That could well result in the Hammers being more cautious than would usually be the case at Upton Park, especially when you also consider QPR will have had an extra day's rest. I can see a narrow away win here - 11/1 about 1-0 QPR seems a tad big - but will play safe and simply back QPR to triumph at 3/1. Under 2.5 goals - achieved in QPR's last four games - is also worth considering at 17/20.
Verdict: West Ham 0 QPR 1 (AS)
Wigan v Sunderland (1500)
Wigan, a side who have won just two of their 11 home league games, look too short at 6/5 for this one, especially given they're without top scorer Arouna Kone at present - he's at the Africa Cup of Nations. With just three goals in their last four games - and 13 in 11 at home overall - the mind immediately turns to the goal markets and going low. That thinking is backed up by the fact that Sunderland have managed to net just 10 times in their 11 away games thus far. They've taken more points away (10) than Wigan have at home (9) but a lack of consistency steers me well clear of them too in the outright market. Which side will show up - the one which beat Manchester City or the one dumped out of the FA Cup at home to Championship Bolton? Under 2.5 goals would be the bet here if I had to have one but frankly there's better fare on offer elsewhere on Saturday's coupon.
Verdict: Wigan 1 Sunderland 1 (AS)
West Brom v Aston Villa (1730)
Villa boss Paul Lambert looks to have aged 20 years in the past month but he could earn some respite and his side look worth a shot to take three points in a Hawthorns derby at a little over 4/1. Last week's 1-0 defeat at home to Southampton saw them drop into the bottom three and the league's joint-lowest scorers with just 17 goals quickly need to find a way to get back on track in that department. Christian Benteke's contribution has dried up with just one goal since a brace at Liverpool in December that made everyone sit up and take note but he had plenty of chances against the Saints and surely won't be long in regaining some form. The Baggies look there for the taking as their own season continues to splutter and an FA Cup exit in midweek against QPR means they have gone five games without a win since Boxing Day. Observers in the second city are making this make-or-break for the hosts and I just wonder whether they will be able to rise to the occasion under the added pressure in a game they are odds-on to win. All-in-all, I think Villa can poach this and with seven of the last 12 encounters ending 2-1 one way or the other, it may pay to roll the dice at 18/1 on Villa finding their shooting boots and coming up with that scoreline.
Verdict: West Brom 1 Aston Villa 2 (DJ)
- The match at West Brom is being televised live in the UK on ESPN.