City to heap misery on Gunners
David John, Andy Schooler and Ben Coley preview Saturday's action in the Barclays Premier League.
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David John, Andy Schooler and Ben Coley preview Saturday's action in the Barclays Premier League.
David Moyes has set a new record with the Red Devils as the 3-0 capitulation in midweek to Manchester City was their sixth home defeat of the campaign. After a little bit of respite against Olympiacos and West Ham, normal service was resumed and it was only City's over-elaboration at times that meant the game was not an absolute rout. Moyes did get something right - he admitted they are a couple of levels below their city rivals - but the current pattern does seem to suggest they can hold their own against mid-table opposition, the Hammers and West Brom for example. Villa are up next and they will feel they have something to prove having made Stoke look like world beaters last Sunday in a 4-1 reverse. Villa have won just once in their last 10 attempts against United - the latter came out on top 3-0 back in December - but the hosts are clearly a different animal these days and Paul Lambert's side are just the sort of tricky rival who could make an impact. They are just a fortnight removed from beating Chelsea and if that side turns up then this could be interesting. Villa are a fraction under 2/1 in the double-chance market but both teams to score could be more a more profitable route to take with the home side's defence likely to be exposed by the pace of the visitors on the counter attack.
Verdict: Manchester United 2 Aston Villa 1 (DJ)
Manchester United have taken more points against Aston Villa than any team versus any opponent in Barclays Premier League history (100).
The Villans have failed to score in four of the last five Barclays Premier League games against United.
Man Utd will be missing Robin van Persie, who has scored five goals and assisted two more in his last five Premier League games against Aston Villa.
It was mission accomplished for Chelsea last week as Jose Mourinho's plan to "kill" Arsenal was done and dusted after 10 minutes on the way to a 6-0 mauling. On paper, they face some less exacting London rivals but the Eagles are in a scrap of their own to avoid the drop - one which manager Tony Pulis still thinks they can win. His side held off Newcastle for 93 minutes last week before being sunk by Papiss Cisse's header but whether they can last that long holding back a potentially relentless Chelsea tide has to be a real doubt. The latter are 4/9 to take all three points and despite the fact they fluffed their lines at Aston Villa the other week, I just don't see Mourinho making the same mistake - reaching the same level of intensity as they did against the Gunners could be tough though. It is also worth noting that PSG in the Champions League loom large on the radar early next week so this could well be a further test of Chelsea's battling ability at the sharp end on two fronts. Samuel Eto'o will be sidelined a bit longer with the hamstring he tweaked early against Arsenal but Fernando Torres was excellent as his replacement as he brought the likes of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Andre Schurrle into the game from midfield. The Spaniard remains rather enigmatic and just four goals in the Premier League is a pretty feeble return. But Mourinho has got as much out of him as anyone and this is an ideal time for him to make a telling impact in a close-fought victory.
Verdict: Crystal Palace 1 Chelsea 2 (DJ)
The Eagles have won just five of their 25 Barclays Premier League London derbies at Selhurst Park.
Chelsea have won eight and lost none of the last 12 league meetings against Crystal Palace.
Chelsea are unbeaten in their nine Premier League London derbies this season (W6 D3).
2004-05 was the last time that Crystal Palace were in the top flight and they were relegated, while Chelsea won the title under new boss Jose Mourinho.
Alan Pardew edges closer to the football pitch this weekend as his stadium exile ends but the Toon boss will only be allowed to marshal his troops from the stand as he serves out a touchline ban. His side had their moments in midweek against a classy Everton outfit but are desperately missing the cutting edge of Loic Remy in front of goal. That said, I was quite impressed by Papiss Cisse and Yoan Gouffran with the former looking to be getting back to something near a threat to opposition defences while the Frenchman had a couple of chances on the night to give the Toffees something to think about. He scored in the reverse fixture against the Saints in mid-December and I quite fancy his chances at 9/2 to repeat the dose on the south coast. Just one point separates the pair and a stalemate could well be on the cards again. Southampton have punched above their weight this year and have some quality in their ranks but as last week's game at Tottenham pinpointed, they are not averse to one or two slips at the back. I would not be surprised to see a few goals in this despite Newcastle's lack of productivity, although going in on over 2.5 total goals means playing at odds-on.
Verdict: Southampton 2 Newcastle 2 (DJ)
Southampton have lost just one of their last 20 home league games against Newcastle United (W13 D6 L1).
Newcastle have won five and lost just one of their last nine Barclays Premier League games against Southampton.
Only Liverpool v Tottenham (8) has seen more own goals than Newcastle v Southampton (7) in Premier League history.
Southampton have won just two of their last nine Premier League home matches (W2 D3 L4).
Stoke have really built some momentum in recent weeks during a run of eight games which has brought just one defeat. The latest of those saw them win 4-1 at Aston Villa on Sunday - the first time since promotion to the Premier League that they have scored four goals in an away match. That sums up just how well things are going for Mark Hughes' side and with safety all but secured they can probably afford to play with the handbrake off from now on. We've often spoken about their strong home record (7-6-2 this season) and so they'll be confident of adding Hull to their list of victims at the Britannia. However, we mentioned in midweek how Hull have improved of late with our bet on them to win at West Ham undermined by an early red card. Still, I don't think they should be ignored here and am not convinced Stoke are cracking value at 6/5 despite their impressive form. A better way with getting with the hosts could be to side with Peter Odemwingie, whose confidence is soaring right now. Prepared to set off on his mazy dribbles and shoot on site again, he's playing better than for some time. The Nigerian was much maligned for his 'drive to London' antics last January, something which overshadowed the fact that he played exceptionally well at West Brom during the first half of last season. An ill-fated spell at Cardiff is now behind him and it appears Mark Hughes is getting the best out of him again. With Jonathan Walters still suspended, Odemwingie will keep his roving role that he's performed so well in of late, scoring in each of his last two matches. He's 12/5 to net again in this one which, if you are looking for a bet on this match, looks a decent way to go.
Verdict: Stoke 2 Hull 1 (AS)
There have been exactly two goals scored in each of the last four Stoke v Hull City matches at the Britannia Stadium.
Hull have won just one of their last nine league matches against Stoke (W1 D5 L3).
There has been a 90th minute goal scored in three of the last four Premier League meetings between Stoke and Hull.
This is an interesting affair as both teams try to put some daylight between themselves and the drop zone. If recent history at the Liberty Stadium between the two is anything to go by, then the pair are going to trade goals with Norwich prevailing 3-2 and 4-3 in the last two seasons. The Canaries blow hot and cold with a string of decent home performances allied to a run on the road that has seen them lose their last five and concede 14 in the process. To be fair, they have faced up to the issue this week and do admit to some mental fragility away from Carrow Road. That is something Garry Monk's side will look to exploit quickly on the back of some good performances away from home themselves in defeat at Napoli in the Europa League, Everton and then a very creditable point at Arsenal. Norwich may have a little pressure taken off them having crossed the 30-point barrier but I would not be particularly keen on them at 17/4 to end their away-day blues. Swansea have mixed it with some very good sides lately and a measured start from them and perhaps a goal from the in-form Wilfried Bony could well see the demons descend again among the visitors. But backing a team in the bottom half of the table at odds-on is not a very smart approach and this is a game probably best left alone.
Verdict: Swansea 2 Norwich 1 (DJ)
Swansea forward Michu has scored three goals in three games against Norwich City.
There have been 22 goals scored in just five Barclays Premier League meetings between Norwich and Swansea.
Robert Snodgrass scored in both Premier League games for Norwich against Swansea last season and also assisted two goals for the Canaries.
Snodgrass has scored in his last two Premier League appearances and has netted four in his last seven for the club in the competition.
A match for the brave with a home side who haven't won at home since January 1, and an away side who haven't won away since September. The bookmakers favour West Brom and that seems fair, as Cardiff continue to look destined for an immediate return to the Championship despite a promising start to the season which included victory over Manchester City. However, odds-on about a home win is too short and if you must side with Pepe Mel's team, it's probably a better policy to chance them winning to nil. Not only do the Baggies find goals hard to come by but Cardiff's away haul of eight is the second-lowest in the top flight and some way adrift of the next best. Again, though, prices of around the 2/1 mark just don't appeal - backing the 16th-placed team to both score and keep a clean sheet at skinny prices is a quick way to the poor house in spite of the opposition. There is a bet here, though, and it concerns lack of firepower from both sides with under 2.5 goals looking blindingly obvious yet fairly priced at 10/11. Eleven of West Brom's 15 home games have seen this bet pay out but more relevant is the fact that Cardiff's scoring record on the road could mean that the Baggies somehow score twice and this tip still pays out. Clearly, a look at the form book tells you that under 2.5 goals should not be considered of similar likelihood to a home win and anything upwards of 4/6 should be taken ahead of what's likely to be a nervous encounter.
Verdict: West Brom 1 Cardiff 0 (BC)
West Brom have won just one of their last 10 Barclays Premier League games at the Hawthorns (W1 D6 L3).
Peter Whittingham has scored in his last three league appearances against West Brom for Cardiff.
Cardiff City are unbeaten in their last five league meetings with the Baggies (W2 D3 L0).
Cardiff have won none of their last 12 Premier League away games and lost the last eight in a row (W0 D2 L10).
Betting is, of course, about predicting future events at a rate which enables you to stay ahead of the bookmakers. As such, reacting to short-term trends is dangerous and instead it can often pay to directly contradict recent occurrences because that is often where the value lies. However, Arsenal have become rather reliable over such a long time that backing Manchester City at 11/10 looks a really straightforward decision while they should also be considered to get on the scoresheet early. City are back as favourites for the title thanks to a straightforward victory at rivals United on Tuesday, and I don't see them as a side about to freeze under pressure. They've been here and done it before, they've already got a trophy in the locker this season and they know what winning is all about. They arrive here to face an Arsenal side whose season now concerns just the FA Cup - albeit they should finally get their hands on silverware in that competition. Arsene Wenger's side were abysmal against Chelsea and not much better against Swansea as their lack of a proven goalscorer and inability to perform in the big games has well and truly bitten. The former problem can be solved in the summer, but you wonder how Arsenal go about performing when it really matters because at present they're unable to. This season they've been beaten by Chelsea, City, United and Liverpool and while doing what's now a rare double over Tottenham counts for something, when it comes to taking on a genuine title contender they've disappointed. The main problem Arsenal have is that they keep starting these games slowly. They conceded after a minute at Liverpool, five minutes (and seven) at Chelsea and 14 minutes at City, while they were also behind before the half-hour mark at United. City have scored inside a minute against both Spurs and United this season, and a goal inside the first 10 for the visitors should be considered at 13/2 with Coral. In fairness to Arsenal they're much more solid at home so we'll leave these markets and instead focus on the match betting, where an away win should be odds-on. City will dominate midfield, Vincent Kompany will keep Olivier Giroud very quiet and whether it's Alvaro Negredo or Edin Dzeko who gets the nod up front in the expected absence of Sergio Aguero, they'll likely prove too much for a battered - mentally and physically - Arsenal side. A repeat of last year's 2-0 win for City is on the cards.
Verdict: Arsenal 0 Manchester City 2 (BC)
There have been six red cards in the last seven Barclays Premier League meetings between Man City (4) and Arsenal (2). Five of those have come in the last three meetings at the Emirates.
Manchester City scored six goals from just seven shots on target when they beat Arsenal 6-3 at the Etihad Stadium last December.
There have been just four goals scored in the last five meetings in all competitions between Arsenal and Man City at the Emirates Stadium.
Victory at the Emirates last season ended a run of 27 league games without a win for Man City away against Arsenal (D8 L19).