Profit from pair of bore draws
David John, Chris Hammer and Ben Coley preview Saturday's action in the Barclays Premier League.
- Related Content
Roberto Martinez has labelled this as the biggest derby around as he prepares to take to the touchline for his first Merseyside clash. He has lost just one game at the helm for Everton and despite the usual local significance, the pair find themselves sat inside the top six separated by just three points. May's goalless draw was the first such outcome in 14 meetings between the two and the perceived wisdom is that the goals will flow again with Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Romelu Lukaku all on the pitch. The first-named duo have eight already while Lukaku seems to enjoy facing Liverpool with goals in both encounters last season when in a West Brom shirt. On the flip side, Suarez has managed to find the target on his last two visits to Goodison Park and looks to finally have settled back into his best form following his threats to leave Anfield throughout a turbulent summer. None of the trio have any secrets from the bookmakers and are sure to be popular with punters but I will look elsewhere and chance Jordan Henderson at a general 6/1 anytime. The midfielder has really discovered his confidence and his game has been elevated considerably as a result. He has arguably been the best player in his position at the club so far this season and an ability to get into goalscoring situations will be rewarded sooner rather than later. With the respective defences potentially overly focused on the major scoring threats, it could come down to someone like Henderson making the relevant impact.
Verdict: Everton 1 Liverpool 1 (DJ)
Liverpool have lost just one of their last 13 Merseyside derbies in the Barclays Premier League (W7 D5 L1).
There have been 20 red cards given in the 42 Premier League games between Everton and Liverpool; at least six more than in any other fixture in the competition.
Romelu Lukaku scored in both of his Premier League appearances last season for West Brom against Liverpool.
Both sides should be at full strength for a match which would see Arsenal remain top with a win, but could even see Southampton end the day at the head of the Barclays Premier League table after 12 games. Remarkable stuff, really, and there's been absolutely no fluke about their performances this season, particularly in the big games. In fact, they probably should've beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford and, when combined with a win against a Liverpool side who've impressed in their own right, it's clear that Saints make for a big threat to Arsenal. That being said, there is no denying that Arsenal deserve to sit top and that they only lost 1-0 at United despite playing poorly is a fair indication as to how far they've come in the last six or so months. With Theo Walcott likely to be back on the bench their attacking depth improves, but more crucial is the likelihood that Aaron Ramsey is fit despite missing international duty with Wales through a slight hamstring strain. He's 5/2 to score for the fourth home Premier League game running, a more than fair price. Ultimately I think the match odds pretty fairly reflect the likelihood of each outcome here, with Arsenal's price out to 4/7 as a mark of respect to Southampton's exploits. There shouldn't be a lot in this but there's not enough juice in 9/2 to back the visitors, with a narrow Arsenal win the most likely outcome. For me, though, it's a match to avoid.
Verdict: Arsenal 2 Southampton 1 (BC)
Arsenal have not lost a home league game against Southampton since November 1987, winning 13 and drawing five of their 18 matches since.
Only Arsenal (22) have won more points in the Barclays Premier League since the start of September than Southampton (18).
Southampton's win ratio against Arsenal in the Premier League (14%) is the lowest of any side they've played more than three times in the competition.
We correctly predicted that Fulham would have a torrid time last time out at Anfield and a 4-0 defeat saw them plunge into the relegation mire. The club has reacted by appointing Sir Alex Ferguson acolyte Rene Meulensteen to work alongside/under Martin Jol as they bid to bring a run of losses in all competitions that stands at four to a halt. This could be a bit of a Perfect Storm moment for the Cottagers - Meulensteen's arrival, a game at the Cottage where they are traditionally strong and the stark reality of their league position combining to bring out an improved performance. They are a best price of 23/10 to beat a side that has won two of their five games away from Wales and have already played a lot of football with their exploits in the Europa League. The international break will have been greeted by them I am sure with some glee as they try and freshen up but I also think they will be keen to get back to it after dropping points at home against Stoke. The emergence of Wilfried Bony as a goal threat has taken time with Michael Laudrup keen to give him chance to settle into life in the English top-flight. But a brace against the Potters and his manager confirming he is "getting better and better" in training makes him of interest at 15/8 here to keep up his good form and find the target once more against a rear-guard yet to convince.
Verdict: Fulham 1 Swansea 2 (DJ)
Fulham have scored exactly one goal in each of their last six Barclays Premier League games at Craven Cottage.
Swansea City have won three of their previous four Barclays Premier League meetings with Fulham (L1).
Wilfried Bony has scored 10 goals in 18 competitive appearances for Swansea this season, including three in his last two games.
Anyone who's stumbled across my previews of Crystal Palace games this season - or indeed my outright relegation tips - will probably think I'm going to back the Eagles to lose again this weekend. On this rare occasion, you'll be wrong...although I'm certainly not going to get carried away enough to tip them to win either! I'd only be repeating myself - and pretty much stating the obvious - by going into great detail on how toothless managerless Palace, with just six top-flight goals to their name, have been so far and I can't see this being any different against a Hull side who have only conceded one goal in their five home league games this season. I did also tip Steve Bruce's men to go down and although their better-than-expected start to the campaign leaves them in mid-table right now, they are also struggling for goals and I'm confident they'll start to slide down into the relegation reckoning sooner than later. Palace should view this as a game to pull themselves a point closer to Derby's lowest points record haul of 11 but their best chance will be to focus on nullifying the Tigers' not so sharp attacking teeth. With this in mind I sense a frustrating afternoon for the hosts and feel 10/1 about there being no goalscorer is worth a chance.
Verdict: Hull 0 Crystal Palace 0 (CH)
There have been just five goals scored in the five Barclays Premier League games at the KC Stadium this season; a league-low.
Crystal Palace are unbeaten in their last six league meetings with Hull City (W2 D4).
Hull City are one of only five teams to still remain unbeaten at home this season in the Premier League (W3 D2).
It's fair to say the international break came at the wrong time for both these sides, with Newcastle having beaten Spurs 1-0 at White Hart Lane and Norwich putting an end to a dreadful run with a vital win against West Ham at Carrow Road. Given those successes, both team sheets should read pretty similarly here although Anthony Pilkington is a doubt for Norwich while Steven Taylor could yet return for the hosts. On paper, a Newcastle win looks a shoo-in and with it 4/5 an outstanding price - that's if you're prepared to trust Alan Pardew's side. They beat Chelsea fair and square before that Spurs win and haven't lost at home to Norwich since 1988. While I can't put anyone off keeping things that simple, I just don't quite trust Newcastle yet - they're prone to shocking spells of play and the self-destruct button is pressed far too frequently - and that too just puts me off 23/10 about a third consecutive win to nil, which again looks entirely plausible on paper. For all that I don't trust Newcastle, though, I'm far from convinced Norwich have turned a corner and their porous defence could be exposed by the in-form Loic Remy. The French striker is a shade of odds-against to score at any time and 9/2 to open the scoring, but I like 6/1 that he bags two or more. Remy has already done so twice in nine Premier League games this season, both against lowly opposition, and Norwich have conceded a league-high 14 times away from home.
Verdict: Newcastle 3 Norwich 0 (BC)
Newcastle United have kept a clean sheet in each of their last three Barclays Premier League meetings with Norwich City (W2 D1).
Norwich City have won just three Barclays Premier League away games under Chris Hughton (W3 D7 L14).
Robert Snodgrass has created more chances without registering an assist than any other Premier League player this season (24).
I'm sure neutrals will be hoping my score predictions for both games I've previewed this Saturday don't come true - unless of course they've followed my advice - but I can't help but feel this has nil-nil all over it. On the one hand we have a Stoke side whose only goal in their last four home matches came from Asmir Begovic's freak goal kick and on the other we have a Sunderland outfit who have picked up just one point on the road this season. Sure, the Black Cats head to the Britannia Stadium on the back of a shock 1-0 victory over Manchester City which moved them to within three points of safety but offer Gus Poyet a point here and he'll probably take it as it would represent another building block in their recovery. Despite Stoke's difficulties to turn their new brand of passing football into many goals or victories, the Potters still aren't conceding many on home soil - just three in five games to be precise - and shouldn't find it too taxing to keep out Sunderland's mis-firing strikers. The Opta stats below also inform us that the visitors have failed to boss possession in all but one of their games in the top-flight this season so I don't expect many chances to come their way on this occasion. But if they can keep Man City's expensively-assembled squad at bay, there's no reason why they can't repeat the trick and frustrate lesser opposition. The 'no goalscorer' bet is available at 10/1 with totesport so that's where I'm heading once again.
Verdict: Stoke 0 Sunderland 0 (CH)
Stoke City have conceded only three goals in their five Barclays Premier League games at the Britannia Stadium in 2013-14.
Sunderland are unbeaten in their last four Barclays Premier League games against Stoke (W2 D2), keeping a clean sheet in three of these.
Sunderland have mustered just 26 shots on target this season; the lowest tally in the league.
West Ham lie perilously close to the relegation zone but I'm not quite convinced they're in as much bother as some may have you believe. Sam Allardyce has done pretty well to cope with probably the league's lengthiest injury list, and while that may not mean much when it comes to this fixture I think we'll soon see his side climb the table. That isn't to say Allardyce will be writing this off as zero points and nor should he, given that Chelsea have picked up just five on their travels. True, they've played some decent teams but they did lose 2-0 at Newcastle and these late kick-offs at the Boleyn Ground are never easy for visiting sides. Much may depend on the opening exchanges and it is worth noting that Chelsea have scored inside the first half an hour just once in their last nine Premier League games. West Ham have only conceded twice in the first third all season, so evens that this game is 0-0 after 30 minutes looks very interesting, as does BetVictor's 23/20 if you're willing to give up three minutes. That'd certainly be the angle we'd look at - a low-scoring, perhaps scoreless first half - but there will be an intense atmosphere inside the ground and if that filters through onto the pitch the action could be a little more frenetic than trends suggest is likely. It's no bet.
Verdict: West Ham 0 Chelsea 1 (BC)
West Ham are without a win in four Barclays Premier League home games (L3 D1); their worst such run under Sam Allardyce.
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last six Barclays Premier League London derbies (W4 D2).
Frank Lampard has scored in three of his last four Premier League appearances against former side West Ham.