We're craving goals at the Cottage
Our experts David John and Ben Coley provide a game-by-game preview of Saturday's Premier League action.
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Everton v Southampton(1500)
This is an interesting fixture as the wheels came off Everton's fine start to the season to some extent in midweek as they were dumped out of the Capital One Cup by Leeds. David Moyes was furious with their first-half performance even though he made six changes to the team that swept aside Swansea last weekend. The regular names will be back from the start as they bid to build on 10 points garnered from 15 on offer with some observers already drawing an early comparision between them and highflyers of the mid-1980s. They will probably go in a few accumulators this weekend but look short enough at 4/9 against a Saints team that has won back-to-back games and may just be getting on a roll. Having given their all against Manchester City and Manchester United, the trip to Arsenal and a 6-1 drubbing was perhaps a bridge too far but they bounced back well to notch a first Premier League win against Aston Villa last weekend. The 15/2 for an away win does look a little tempting but that is tempered by the fact that you have to go back eight visits for the Saints last win at Goodison Park. Rickie Lambert has started well up front and and both teams to score could be an angle but that is another bet I will leave alone on balance at 10/11.
Verdict: Everton 2 Southampton 1 (DJ)
Fulham v Manchester City (1500)
Defending champions City have not had things all their own way so far and a tricky fixture in west London is on the cards. Roberto Mancini's side have shipped 14 goals in seven games so far as the Italian admitted "the defenders don't work well at this moment". Fulham are looking for a third straight win in the Premier League and the arrival of some new faces over the summer really has freshened the place up for Martin Jol. They are the joint-top scorers in the section with 12 goals alongside Manchester United and it would be no surprise to see them add to that tally considering City's current malaise at the back. A quick trip down memory lane shows that in the last 17 meetings between these two, on just one occasion have both teams failed to score. That latter market is priced up at 8/11 and although those odds will not be everyone's cup of tea, history and current form suggests that it has an extremely good chance of going in again.
Verdict: Fulham 2 Manchester City 2 (DJ)
Norwich v Liverpool (1500)
It's said that there are no certainties in football, but sometimes that just isn't the case. One such certainty is that Liverpool will often be over-bet, and that's the only way to explain quotes of 5/6 about them beating Norwich. Some will argue that they deserved to beat Manchester United last week, but isn't that exactly the point? Liverpool should've beaten both Manchester clubs this season, but they beat neither, and they should not be odds-on to win at any Premier League ground right now. It must be noted that they won this fixture 3-0 last season thanks to a superb Luis Suarez hat-trick, but the evidence is that Norwich are now a much more solid if less entertaining unit under Chris Hughton, and Liverpool will need to be ruthless in front of goal if they're to take the points. The home side were thumped 5-0 at Fulham on the first day of the season, but since then they've been hard to beat, with Newcastle just edging to a 1-0 win last Sunday to end a run of three Norwich draws. Both Premier League games at Carrow Road have ended in low-scoring draws, and a third is very much possible here. Indeed, the best bet just has to be under 2.5 goals at evens. Four of Norwich's five Premier League games have seen fewer than three goals, and Liverpool remain unconvicing in front of goal. They may well win, but is that more likely than there being under 2.5 goals? Not for a second.
Verdict: Norwich 0 Liverpool 1 (BC)
Reading v Newcastle (1500)
Using the above game as a guide, Newcastle rate the bet here at 6/4. Quite simply, the evidence so far is this: Reading aren't as good as Norwich, and Newcastle are roughly as good as Liverpool. Yet, where Liverpool are 5/6, Alan Pardew's consistently underrated Newcastle are 6/4. It's a fine price about a side who, in Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, have two of the league's most dangerous strikers. Indeed, Tottenham fans would love to have either one among their ranks, and even with Jermain Defoe leading the line on his own they were good enough to beat Reading at ease when they visited the Madejski Stadium. The home side have won both Capital One Cup games 3-2, the most recent at QPR on Wednesday, but with Fabricio Coloccini back Newcastle won't quite be so generous. Indeed, if they can keep the excellent Pavel Progrebnyak quiet that's half the battle, and their performance at Everton last week demonstrated that even when below form they're a constant threat going forward. Reading needed a 90th minute penalty to salvage a point from their game with Stoke on day one of the season and Newcastle are clear value here.
Verdict: Reading 1 Newcastle 3 (BC)
Stoke v Swansea (1500)
Swansea's excellent opening in the Premier League has cooled somewhat and Saturday's trip to the Potters sees them trying to avoid a third straight defeat. The pressure has increased on new boss Michael Laudrup but a midweek cup win at Crawley Town was a timely boost and the key will be not descending into panic. They got a battering physically in this fixture last year in a 2-0 defeat and the hosts will pinpoint this as a great chance to notch a first Premier League success of the season themselves. Four draws and a narrow loss at Chelsea last weekend - where they held their own for much of the game - has been the return so far as Tony Pulis looks to improve on a record of just one league success in 16 matches stretching back to the start of March. They are odds-on across the board with the layers to pick up the three points and the best way to reach that end is to surely keep up the pressure on the Swansea backline from set-pieces. It could see captain Ryan Shawcross - talked of as possible England material this week - get off the mark for the season and he is worth a small punt to score at 9/1.
Verdict: Stoke 2 Swansea 1 (DJ)
Sunderland v Wigan (1500)
Sunderland have made a marvellously regimented start to the season - four games, four draws, four goals scored, four goals against and four points in total. Martin O'Neill's outfit have been winning in the cup though and a midweek success with 10 men over the MK Dons after Lee Cattermole was sent off might just give them some impetus at home in the league. The visitors wasted some good chances last week in the home loss to Fulham and their opening to the new campaign has been a bit Bertie Bassett's once again - LWDLL - making them tough for punters to predict. Sprinkled in have been two big away victories in the Capital One Cup and it looks like boss Roberto Martinez is going to have to rely on a flurry of good performances rather than consistency to keep them out of the relegation zone. The Latics are a capable team though with some talented footballers and this is the sort of game where they could pop up and pinch three points. They are 3/1 with a few firms and that looks a price worth chancing while the Black Cats try and find their own rhythm.
Verdict: Sunderland 1 Wigan 2 (DJ)
It seems like every year, Manchester United are judged to be playing badly in the middle of a sensational run of results. That's been the case of late, with Sir Alex Ferguson's side responding to defeat at Everton with six wins on the trot but still failing to impress some viewers. Results are all that matters though and they should be good enough to make it seven by beating Tottenham. It may take time for Andre Villas-Boas to get Spurs doing what he wants them to do, and although like United they've won their last three without convincing, this is clearly going to be a thorough examination of their credentials. They've certainly had some bad luck in this fixture over the years but the fact is United have won the last six and they'll be cornerstones of many an accumulator on Saturday. However, the best bet lies elsewhere, and it's once again the second half to produce the most goals at 11/10. We took advantage of this price last week as Tottenham helped land this bet for the sixth time in their seven games this season, the exception being a 0-0 draw with Lazio. United, meanwhile, would've helped land it in five of their seven, and Spurs are definitely strong enough to keep this very tight for a time. Even if there's one first-half goal, the prospects of two after the break are very good, and quite simply this should be 4/5 and not 11/10.
Verdict: Manchester United 3 Tottenham 1 (BC)