Ramsey to roar for Gunners
There are seven Premier League games on Saturday and Rickie Lambert heads our selections for them.
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Ian Brindle and Andy Schooler have teamed up to bring you their match-by-match preview with the former fancying Lambert to shine for Southampton against Crystal Palace.
There's also a televised showdown between Tottenham and Chelsea, while leaders Arsenal head to Swansea in the evening kick-off. Here's our verdict.
Saturday's lunchtime fixture has thrown up a tantalising affair as Tottenham play host to Chelsea and much of the media spotlight has predictably fallen upon the managers. Andre Villas-Boas is involved in a period of evolution with his team at this stage of last season and, in many senses, Jose Mourinho is doing the same although the exiling of David Luiz and Juan Mata from the squad against Fulham suggested that it wouldn't be happening quietly. Mata made the most of his appearance against Swindon in the Capital One Cup, and he could keep his place on this occasion given the Blues' Champions League appointment in Bucharest on Tuesday. The Spaniard scored twice during last year's encounter at White Hart Lane but I really can't see another 4-2 defeat on the cards for the home team here. Spurs created enough chances to score more than just the one goal against Cardiff and a lack of goals hasn't been a problem for them in the cup competitions this term. Christian Eriksen demonstrated last weekend why AVB was prepared to pay £11.5million to secure him and, along with Gylfi Sigurdsson, they could prove too hot to handle for a Blues outfit still getting to grips with a distinct style of play. Tottenham are 17/10 to take the points and with Chelsea needing to make up ground in the Champions League that looks a fair bet.
Verdict: Tottenham 2 Chelsea 1 (IB)
Spurs have won only three of their 42 Barclays Premier League games against Chelsea.
The last three competitive meetings between Tottenham and Chelsea have produced a total of 16 goals in total (an average of 5.3 per game).
Five of Tottenham's last six Barclays Premier League games have ended 1-0 (W4 L1).
Manuel Pellegrini may have had his critics but after his team's 4-1 demolition of Manchester United he'll be confident that his team can come away with all three points from Villa Park. Aston Villa managed to take the points on the road at Norwich last week but this will be a much tougher task and they will be without Christian Benteke on Saturday. The Belgian won't be back for at least four weeks though his predicament gave a chance to Libor Kozak, and the former Lazio man needed just 90 seconds to make a positive impact. The bookmakers rate him as a 10/1 chance to repeat the trick and score first in this fixture. The Villains are able to carry the ball forward yet their ability to convert chances has often been an Achilles heel as they managed 17 chances to four against Liverpool but still ended up on the wrong end of the result. City are yet to win away from home in the Premier League and any punting strategy has to take into account the fact they are due to play Bayern Munich on Wednesday. Given the performance they put up against Stoke before their previous Champions League fixture, their current odds of 8/15 are hardly generous. Pellegrini started against Stoke with Stevan Jovetic and Alvaro Negredo with Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero on the bench, but with Dzeko starting (and scoring) against Wigan in the Capital One Cup, there's a likelihood of him getting the nod here and the general 5/1 on offer about him scoring first makes plenty of appeal given he's in decent form with three goals in six games so far this term. The last two Premier League meetings at Villa Park saw City prevail 1-0 and it's not difficult to see a similar scenario here.
Verdict: Aston Villa 0 Manchester City 1 (IB)
Aston Villa have conceded nine goals from penalties since the start of last season; a joint-PL-high with Arsenal.
Man City have won only three of their last 10 top-flight matches away from the Etihad Stadium (D3 L4).
Aston Villa have lost their last three Premier League home games and have suffered nine defeats in their last 13 at Villa Park.
Fulham will aim to get back on track on Saturday after a humbling at Chelsea but they can do so with Dimitar Berbatov back in the side having recovered from a hamstring injury. Martin Jol had come under pressure from certain sections of the Craven Cottage crowd following his side's disappointing draw against West Brom but he'll have been delighted to have got his first win in front of the club faithful since April when they accounted for Everton in the Capital One Cup in midweek. With the Bulgarian, along with Darren Bent, on the scoresheet on that occasion Jol will hope for more of the same. Cardiff were given a torrid time by Tottenham last week and they had David Marshall to thank for keeping them in the game until Paulinho's stoppage-time strike. Malky Mackay's men have to be given credit for staying in a game in which they were so palpably outclassed, but that was the latest in a series of tough matches for the Welshmen and they could find this a bridge too far. Fulham are 11/10 to get the points and that seems about right. .
Verdict: Fulham 2 Cardiff 0 (IB)
Fulham have taken only one point from their last six Premier League home games (L5 D1) - their worst such run of results in the PL.
No team has won more points from losing positions than Cardiff (4) this season in the Premier League.
Only one away team has failed to score (Stoke in February 2013) in the last 17 Premier League games at Craven Cottage.
Sam Allardyce's laptop may have been in for a service since last weekend and the Hammers could be in for a tough time as they head up to the KC Stadium to take on Hull. The Tigers will be buoyed by the gaining of three points against Newcastle and despite statistics that suggested them to be outplayed in terms of possession and shots, they showed plenty of quality when they had the ball and Aluko's winning goal was apt. Ex-Manchester United man Robbie Brady has been a revelation since moving across the Pennines and having scored twice already this term, he's a 4/1 chance to get on the scoresheet. The Hammers managed two goals against Everton but their frontline has looked a shadow of itself without Andy Carroll and they were guilty against Everton of conceding far too many fouls. Ricardo Vaz Te has had to be patient as Modibo Maiga and new signing Mladen Petric have had their chances in the team ahead of him, but his header in the final stages of their Capital One Cup match against Cardiff might just cut him some slack with the fans and Big Sam. There's little doubt that Mark Noble's absence will be a big blow to their prospects and this looks to be the sort of fixture where Kevin Nolan may excel. The attacking midfielder netted 10 times last term and he's unafraid to put his foot in when it matters. That could count for plenty against a Hull side who often give away possession cheaply and he's no forlorn hope at a general 8/1 to score first. This is a tough match to call though. Something rather than nothing would rate a decent result for either team and the draw at 11/5 appears the best option if you must have a bet.
Verdict: Hull 1 West Ham 1 (IB)
West Ham are the only team yet to concede a goal in the opening hour of games this season.
Three of West Ham's last six Premier League away games have ended 0-0.
Hull's last five Premier League home games have all seen fewer than three goals scored.
These are two sides currently performing below the standards they have set for themselves. Having been thoroughly outclassed by local rivals City last weekend, United will look to take confidence from their midweek victory over Liverpool, although it should be noted not too many players appeared in both games. Expect a mixture of the two teams when the United line-up is announced. Marouane Fellaini will surely play again. This is the type of game he used to run at Everton so it will be interesting whether he can start to win over those who doubt his credentials. Meanwhile, regular readers of Betting Zone will already know I'm far from surprised to see West Brom start the season poorly. They did win last weekend but I'm not reading too much into a home victory over an awful Sunderland side who, by most accounts, had little respect left for their manager. The market here - United 3/10; West Brom 11/1 - looks rather like you'd expect during a period of United dominance, which isn't currently the case. That suggests there could be some value in backing West Brom. The draw is 19/4 which may tempt some but given my thoughts on what is a Baggies side which has now taken just 21 points from their last 24 games, if I were to have a bet on this one it would probably be United to scramble home by a one-goal margin. That can be backed at 3/1.
Verdict: Manchester United 2 West Brom 1 (AS)
United have conceded 11 goals in their last six Premier League games, one more than they had in their previous 18 games.
Three of WBA's four goals this season have come in the closing 15 minutes of games.
Six of Man Utd's 13 Premier League titles have seen them win only two of their opening five games.
Victory against an in-form Liverpool at Anfield appeared a tough ask for Southampton, but such is the belief in the Saints squad at the moment that a Dejan Lovran strike inflicted a first defeat upon the then-league leaders. The locals will be hoping that Mauricio Pochettino's men can bring some of that magic to St Mary's on Saturday as they have had to sit through draws against Sunderland and West Ham, and a predictable though unconvincing Capital One Cup win over Bristol City. With 11 changes made on Tuesday, there will be a much more familiar look to the line-up on this occasion and I'll be hoping that the name of Rickie Lambert will also return to the scoresheet. The England man is enduring something of a drought by his own high standards but with chances likely against a defence that is prone to conceding penalties, the 100/30 about him scoring first looks too good to miss. Crystal Palace will have at least one change from last week as Ian Holloway resumes his position at the touchline rather than from the hospitality boxes or any other vantage point. It's fair to say that Palace have had a tough run of matches on their re-introduction to the top tier and things won't be getting any easier as they have fixtures against Liverpool and Arsenal on either side of the international break. Holloway described his team as "awful" against Swansea and it's not an opinion that many would choose to disagree with.
Verdict: Southampton 2 Crystal Palace 0 (IB)
All three of Southampton's league goals this season have come from set pieces. They are the only side yet to net in open play this term.
Crystal Palace have now gone three hours without a Premier League goal.
No player in the Premier League this season has had more shots at goal (excluding blocked ones) than Rickie Lambert (15).
Few had Arsenal to be sitting top of the league at this stage of the season. Talk of a sustained challenge in what looks a poor-quality renewal of the Premier League title race is growing louder and this match will be something of a litmus test for such hopes. Much has been spoken about Swansea's ability (or lack of) to cope with a European campaign. However, after losing their opening two league games, the Welshmen have performed well and have put that poor start firmly behind them. Take out the midweek League Cup defeat at Birmingham - Michael Laudrup's team selection showed he had little interest in the competition this season - and Swansea are unbeaten in four with three wins and a draw against then-leaders Liverpool. Crystal Palace were dismissed with ease last weekend when the Swans really could have scored six or seven. It's worth noting, however, that they have found results easier to come by on the road so far and that may well be the case again here. Arsenal will be happy to play on the counter and make it hard for Swansea to break down their improved defence. I would expect the visitors to justify favouritism but quotes around the 5/4 mark about the Gunners winning an eighth straight league game away from home aren't for me. Instead backing Aaron Ramsey to continue his goal streak has to at least be considered - youwin will give you almost 6/1 in the anytime market which is an outrageous price given his record of seven goals in his last seven club games. With other firms as short as 11/5, it has to be worth a nibble.
Verdict: Swansea 1 Arsenal 2 (AS)
Swansea have scored the two fastest Premier League goals this season (Michu v Palace 1:20 & Shelvey v Liverpool 1:27).
Arsenal are the only team to score in all five of their Premier League games this season.
Seven of the nine goals scored in the four games between Swansea and Arsenal last season came in the final 10 minutes of matches.
- The matches at Tottenham and Swansea are being televised live in the UK on BT Sport and Sky Sports respectively.