Fulham fancied to see off Villa
Fulham rate as Ben Coley's Premier League bankers on Saturday while it may continue to pay to oppose Liverpool at Anfield.
- Related Content
League leaders Chelsea arrive at White Hart Lane on a five-game winning run, but face an improving Tottenham side who have adapted quickly to life under Andre Villas-Boas. Spurs showed excellent resilience to cling on to three points at Old Trafford before a convincing victory over Aston Villa, allaying fears over defensive depth, and are unbeaten since losing their first game of the season at Newcastle. But if there is value in the match markets, it's probably Chelsea at 19/10 with BetVictor. They've already won away at Arsenal and while it was Eden Hazard who drew the early plaudits, his co-creator-in-chief Juan Mata looks like he's going to star during his second season in England. At 4/1, the Spaniard is a tempting bet to score for the fifth time in as many games, especially if allowed to drift towards the left-hand side and expose Kyle Walker, while 11/1 about him assisting the first goal is worth a look for those with Boylesports accounts. But Tottenham's record in home Premier League games against fellow London clubs reads played 20, won 13, drawn seven since they lost to Arsenal in 2007, and that record is strong enough to force us away from a small bet on Chelsea. A fascinating game in prospect, but one that's as difficult to call as the prices suggest.
Verdict: Tottenham 1 Chelsea 1
Free-scoring Fulham are odds-on to beat an Aston Villa side whose solitary away point came in a scrappy draw at Newcastle. Otherwise, they've been beaten comfortably by Southampton and Spurs along with an opening-day defeat at West Ham, and with striker Darren Bent unhappy having been benched for the last two games, Paul Lambert is already under the gun. Indeed, this is Aston Villa's worst ever start to a Premier League season and pressure is mounting. In contrast, the signing of Dimitar Berbatov - who faces a late fitness test - was a great bit of business by Martin Jol and more than made up for his failure to secure Pavel Progrebnyak on a permanent deal, and his side are the division's second most prolific scorers behind Manchester United. Although beaten by Manchester City at Craven Cottage, the league champions had to come from behind and Fulham's other two games show eight goals scored and none conceded. As such, they're a very solid 5/6 punt and for those prepared to go the extra yard, there's the option to back them to win minus a goal at 12/5. Despite Villa's issues they do pose an attacking threat and that puts us off 9/4 about Fulham winning without conceding as they have done against West Brom and Norwich, and ultimately the best policy is a chunky bet at 5/6, a generous price. Villa have held the upper hand in recent meetings of the sides, but it's Fulham who are superior in every department right now.
Verdict: Fulham 3 Aston Villa 1
Liverpool are laughably priced once again at Anfield, and once again it's a simple decision to oppose them. This is no fault of theirs nor Brendan Rodgers, but the layers continue to price them abysmally short and, presumably, some punters continue to back them and do their dough. Yes, there are bright moments, like when they beat Norwich 5-2 to our chagrin. But over time, if you keep opposing them in fixtures like this you will make money. So far this season they've won once in seven games at Anfield, that against FC Gomel, and have failed to beat the likes of Stoke and Hearts along with defeats to Manchester United, Arsenal and Udinese. Of course, Reading aren't of the calibre of the latter trio but they're capable of getting a point at least if taking chances which will come their way. Remember, even if we go back to last season, Liverpool failed to beat Fulham, West Brom, Aston Villa, Wigan, Stoke, Blackburn, Swansea, Norwich and Sunderland at home, and 12/5 about Reading avoiding defeat is too big. Remember, they're unbeaten in three, two of their three Premier League defeats came against Tottenham and Chelsea, and Liverpool are not of that quality. Ultimately, this is a tip which needs very little explaining as the facts are there for all to see.
Verdict: Liverpool 1 Reading 1
It's been all or nothing for United so far with eight wins and two defeats from their 10 games in all competitions, but back-to-back away victories set them up nicely for this visit of Stoke. In complete contrast, Stoke have played eight games, drawing six after 90 minutes, and worked typically hard for their point at Anfield last time. There are no fresh injury concerns for Sir Alex Ferguson and he'll be keen for his side to erase the memory of their 3-2 Tottenham defeat with an emphatic victory, and with Stoke offering little in attack against the league's better sides it's reasonable to expect that Sir Alex will get what he wants. However, history shows that his side might just have to be patient and Paddy Power have set their time of first goal line very low at 23 minutes. Yes, United were 2-0 up inside 15 at Newcastle and a goal down after just a couple when last playing at Old Trafford, but those facts alone don't justify the spread. Stoke have only conceded once inside the first 25 minutes this season and that came via the penalty spot, while in their last eight meetings with United, just one of the 22 goals scored has come inside that time frame. In addition, United haven't scored in the first half of either game that's followed an international break so far this season and if they do prove rusty, Stoke are equipped to keep them quiet for a time.
Verdict: Manchester United 2 Stoke 0
It's surprising to see Swansea, who are winless in five Premier League games, as even-money favourites for this. Their fast start to the season is a rapidly fading memory and one wonders what price they'd have been for this game under Brendan Rodgers had they not won in so long - surely no shorter is the answer. With that in mind they're the first bet to be dismissed and indeed there is temptation to side with Wigan, who were a tad unfortunate to draw with Everton last time and have produced arguably their best performances on the road so far this season. Arouna Kone and Franco di Santo have struck up a partnership already and if Wigan produce the sort of display that saw them thump an open Southampton side 4-1, they'll be very difficult to beat. However, Swansea do have a good record in this fixture and perhaps the international break came at the right time, so while this game makes our Going For Goals preview for reasons that will be given there, we'll leave it out of our Premier League staking plan.
Verdict: Swansea 2 Wigan 2
This game has a banana-skin look to it, with West Brom having a blemish-free home record and Manchester City having won just two of their last seven, failing to truly impress in the manner they did for so much of last season. They are unbeaten on the road in the Premier League but were perhaps fortunate to register their sole win at Fulham, and with a crucial Champions League game on the horizon they're definitely a risky betting proposition here. Indeed, if you consider that West Brom have hosted both Liverpool and Everton and saw off both without conceding, there really is a strong temptation to have a speculative wager on them at slightly bigger than 4/1. However, for all their failure to establish momentum City simply don't lose very often, indeed they're unbeaten in the Premier League. And while David Silva's expected absence is a blow, they've the depth to cope and will welcome back Vincent Kompany, so it's fair to assume even with changes this will be a very strong side on paper. Ultimately, our message for this one is that it's probably wise to leave City out of accumulators, but they might just edge past the Baggies in scrappy fashion.
Verdict: West Brom 1 Manchester City 2
A match between two sides who were plying their trades in the Championship last season and one for which the layers make West Ham odds-on favourites. Sam Allardyce's side currently sit in the top half after a solid start and gave Arsenal a few moments of alarm last time, so they'll be confident against a generous Southampton side. Saints have allowed their opponents more shots on goal than any other Premier League side so far and have been behind in each of their games, which tend to be dramatic from an in-running perspective. They've lost a total of 11 points from winning positions, but in fairness did show some heart to come back from 2-1 down to salvage a point against Fulham when last in action. With that in mind and the Hammers having scored most of their goals in the first half, backing Southampton to get something from behind is fair at 9/2, but in a game which should involve goals we'll take an any time scorer punt. Jos Hooiveld found the net twice against the Hammers last season and with his overall record reading eight in 47, quotes of 12/1 about him finding the net are more than fair on the face of it. He'll be eager to atone for an own goal last time and rates decent value for a small bet.
Verdict: West Ham 2 Southampton 2
One of just three teams yet to register a win so far this season, times are tough for Norwich and new boss Chris Hughton. Most worryingly, his defensive influence doesn't look to have helped the Canaries, who shipped four at Chelsea last time having previously lost 5-2 at home to Liverpool. As well as Saturday's opponents, they still have Chelsea, United, City and Spurs before the year is out and early signs are this season will be a long battle to avoid the drop. Arsenal did well to win at West Ham last time and Olivier Giroud's first Premier League goal was a welcome one. He scored a last-gasp equaliser for France during the week so should be confident coming into this game, although it's too early to justify quotes of 13/8 about him adding to his tally. Instead, it may pay to get the rest of the Arsenal attack on-side too by taking Sky Bet's 9/2 about the visitors scoring four or more goals. Norwich have conceded that many in three of their seven games, and Arsenal's last five tallies against Norwich read 3, 2, 4, 4, 5. Boosted by the potential returns of key men Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna, we'd expect them to make the most of a poor Norwich side.
Verdict: Norwich 1 Arsenal 4