Nil points for Newcastle
Stoke have conceded just once at home this season and look good value to beat Newcastle to nil on Wednesday.
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With bookmakers offering quotes of 1/2 to beat poor-travelling Fulham, it's clear that Chelsea fans aren't the only ones unconvinced by Rafael Benitez. Sunday's 0-0 draw with Manchester City had definite positives, but there's no doubt attacking prowess made way for (relatively speaking) defensive solidity and that's got to be the primary concern for backers. Fernando Torres still looked like little boy lost but Benitez will give him time, and it's time Chelsea can't afford as they bid to keep tabs on the dominant Manchester clubs. Fulham actually have a solid record at Stamford Bridge, with five draws since the turn of the century, but arrive on the back of successive league defeats and remain without Brede Hangeland at the heart of their defence. With that in mind this does look a game Chelsea should win, but it's hard to see them doing so in style and perhaps the best policy would be to back them to win by a goal at 3/1 with Ladbrokes. Likewise, 1-0 doesn't look a bad 17/2 chance and there could be mileage in Sky Bet's 7/4 that they win to nil, but we're among those Benitez has to convince and will steer clear of a bet.
Verdict: Chelsea 2 Fulham 0
It's a sign of the times that Everton are favourites to beat Arsenal, but while that's probably fair to an extent it must be remembered that, like Arsenal, they're hardly in top form. Saturday's 1-1 draw with Norwich was their fifth such result in seven and it's now nine games since they kept a clean sheet. Arsenal meanwhile weren't at their best against Aston Villa and remain unconvincing on the road, but Jack Wilshere should be back in the starting line-up and could help them to control this game. Also in favour of the visitors is the fact that they've done really well at Goodison Park in recent years, winning on four of their last five visits, although they do have a similarly solid record at Villa Park and couldn't do the business there. Ultimately, while I don't have a particularly strong opinion I also don't think Everton are as strong as the market suggests and BetVictor's 23/20 about Arsenal in the draw no bet market has to be the call. This is the sort of price I'd usually expect in the match betting market and while Arsenal don't have me totally convinced, it mustn't be forgotten that they did beat Spurs and Montpellier before that Villa Park draw, their second clean sheet in a row, and were 2-0 up at Schalke prior to that before sharing the spoils. A repeat of any of those performances would see us get our money back at the very least.
Verdict: Everton 1 Arsenal 2
Southampton are a shorter price to beat Norwich than they were a bang out of form Newcastle side on Sunday and while that's in part a nod to their display, it means they're not backable at 6/5. Yes, they've won two on the bounce and yes, they have been performing well at St Mary's for some time, but not enough has been made of the excellent work being done at Norwich. Saturday's 1-1 draw at Everton means they're now seven unbeaten, a run which includes victories over Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United, and Chris Hughton's side have a fantastic work ethic. As I wrote at the weekend, it must be noted that those recent victories have come at Carrow Road, but they're a really solid side on the road too and if there is a bet here it's another draw. However, I have to say that John Ruddy's injury is a concern and they had a tough, tough game at Goodison Park, to the extent that it'll be hard for the players to raise a similar level of performance even if they've had an extra day off compared to Saints. Everything consider a home win is slightly more likely than a draw, but not to the extent that I'd bet on it.
Verdict: Southampton 2 Norwich 1
Stoke have understandably been backed to beat an out of sorts Newcastle side who are struggling to find the provisions to compete domestically and in Europe. Tony Pulis thought his side should've won with greater ease than was eventually the case on Saturday and he's right, but ultimately they held on for yet another three points at the Britannia Stadium and yet another clean sheet. They've conceded just one goal at home this season, that to champions Manchester City, and that's where we'll look to profit. Although Steven Taylor is out, Newcastle will welcome Fabricio Coloccini back to the starting line-up but Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye were both missing on Sunday and their creativity is a big loss. With neither Demba Ba nor Papiss Cisse looking like they're in the sort of form that saw them win games almost single-handedly last season, it's hard to see this tired Newcastle side raising the effort needed for this physically demanding fixture and Stoke to win to nil looks a strong 12/5 shot.
Stoke 2 Newcastle 0
Swansea are back on track following a run of five games that saw them pick up just two points and, with only Manchester City able to beat them in their last seven, they represent a stern test for high-flying West Brom. The Baggies were superb at Sunderland again on Saturday and are clearly in great form, with fast starts paving the way for some exceptional results. We picked up on that trend on Saturday, when for the eighth time in nine matches West Brom took an early lead, and at 6/5 they're worth considering to score the game's first goal once more. That price looks particularly fair when one considers that Swansea haven't scored a first half goal in any of their last 10 Premier League games, but on balance they're a better attacking unit than Sunderland so, at the same price that rewarded us at the weekend, I'm inclined to pass. Swansea have come from behind to draw four times this season and in a closely-matched encounter, West Brom to lead at half-time and not win is a reasonable 10/1 chance with Coral, as is the 7/2 that they score first and fail to win regardless of the state of play at the interval. All things considered, however, we'll leave this game alone.
Verdict: Swansea 1 West Brom 1
Tottenham got back on track with an impressive 3-1 win over West Ham on Sunday and will be looking to build on that in a fixture which has been kind to them in recent years. Since Liverpool won here in May 2008, Spurs have taken all four Premier League meetings at White Hart Lane plus a League Cup tie which saw them 3-0 up at half-time, and with the Reds having looked average at Swansea on Sunday they will need to up their game. Indeed, if we could rely on Tottenham producing the same level of performance they achieved on Sunday they'd be a fine bet at 6/4, but that was only their third win in seven at home which makes the price appear about right. So, while I'm not keen on Liverpool, I do think they provide the best bet and that's Luis Suarez to score their first goal at 3/1 with bet365. The Uruguayan has done so six times in 13 league games this season, including each of the last four in which Liverpool have scored, and as Spurs have just one home clean sheet in the league it's fair to expect that he'll have chances. He's comfortably Liverpool's best and most prolific player and in a market that lacks depth, 3/1 is probably a point too big.
Verdict: Tottenham 2 Liverpool 1
It's been all or nothing for Manchester United so far this season, the only side yet to have drawn any of their 13 games, so if you don't fancy them to win you should be looking at the 12/1 offered about West Ham. However, far more likely is that United once again find the reserves to win a fixture they've taken 14 times in 16 Premier League renewals. That being said, United are sweating on the fitness of both Nani and Antonio Valencia and I do think they're a far better side when one of those is in play to offer width, although the energy Anderson provides in the centre in part allays that fear. West Ham have shown bits and pieces of form away from home but both wins were in part thanks to playing the right team at the right time, which certainly isn't the case here, and I can't see beyond the obvious here, just as I can't see any great value. West Ham to score first and not win is the one obvious angle for value hunters at 13/2 after United once again conceded first on Saturday, but for the life of me I just can't see this West Ham side being good enough to edge ahead.
Verdict: Manchester United 3 West Ham 0
Odds-on punters will look to history to justify a good bet on City at 4/7 but with four away draws in six they're a risky proposition even in a fixture they tend to dominate. It's now five games running that Wigan have failed to even score against City and with Roberto Martinez missing a few members of a relatively thin squad, it's asking a lot for them to be the first side to beat the champions in the league this season. Of course, City had a tough game at Chelsea on Sunday but they were just about the better side and my feeling is that had Carlos Tevez started the game, they might well have won. Surely, with five goals in six games for City against Wigan, he's going to come back into the side here and at 4/1 he's good value to open the scoring, especially as should he not start we'll more than likely get our stake back. Wigan's strikers have gone a little quiet of late so the stage is set for the champions to remind everyone how good they can be and in Tevez - who scored a brace when last given the nod to start a game - we have a player raring to go and with a fine record in the fixture.
Verdict: Wigan 0 Manchester City 2