Baggies can thwart Reds
Our Andy Schooler and Ben Coley provide their match-by-match guide to the weekend's Premier League action.
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Ben fancies Arsenal to make another fast start against whipping boys Crystal Palace in the lunctime kick-off.
And Andy is siding with West Brom to cause Liverpool more problems at Anfield.
Check out their thoughts in full below:
Crystal Palace v Arsenal (1245 BST)
Pace-setters Arsenal look to have the ideal platform from which to bounce back after a midweek Champions League defeat to Dortmund. The Gunners didn't play badly against Jurgen Klopp's side - they just came up against a slightly more efficient and streetwise team whose manager got things spot on - and continue to look good in the league. It's managers that have been the talk of Crystal Palace this week after the club parted company with Ian Holloway by mutual consent - for once, that description appears accurate enough although Holloway ultimately made the decision. We often talk about the immediate impact a new manager can have but with Keith Millen taking charge for this game it's probably one the club have written off and it's not unfair to say any points will be a bonus. Palace were simply awful against Fulham on Monday night and losing 4-1 to a side who don't look particularly impressive is most worrying even if two goals were hard to prevent. Ultimately, Palace have added quantity and not quality to a squad which limped to promotion and Holloway's assertion that the spirit has gone is underlined by some lifeless displays. Simply put, it should be a case of how many for Arsenal even allowing for this being a London derby - so, too, was Monday's game. One tempting angle is both teams to score in an Arsenal win at bigger than 2/1 as the Gunners tend to find a way to concede, but if they strike early as expected only a lack of concentration is likely to cost them so we'll leave that alone. Indeed, the bet here is William Hill's 11/4 about Arsenal scoring in the first 15 minutes. It doesn't sound a massive price, that is until noting that Arsenal have found the net inside this window in half of their eight Premier League games, including when away at Sunderland, a side of similar ability to Palace. They only just missed the window last week against Norwich and Palace have conceded inside 15 minutes in two of their last four, with Fulham's opener on Monday coming after 19 minutes. The other angles of note are Olivier Giroud to score first - he's done so twice away in the league and both against poor sides he can bully - and the man-of-the-match market, where it'll either be an Arsenal attacker or the Palace keeper which helps narrow down a market which has Mesut Ozil as a 6/1 jolly.
Verdict: Crystal Palace 1 Arsenal 3 (BC)
Since their opening day defeat to Aston Villa, Arsenal have won 19 of a possible 21 points in the Barclays Premier League (W6 D1).
Arsenal are unbeaten in 13 competitive away games, winning 11 and drawing twice.
Palace have won just 40 points in their 44 Premier League London derbies.
Eight different Arsenal players have netted a goal in the Premier League this season; no side have had more individual goalscorers (Chelsea also have eight).
Aston Villa v Everton (1500)
Much has been made of Villa's poor home record, both on this site and others, and subsequently I expect many people will think high-flying Everton are good business here. Not me. While focusing on the hosts' deeply-entrenched wretched home form (this season alone they've won one and lost three, with the victory a fortuitous one against Manchester City), you ignore the fact that Everton have won just once in 12 league games on their travels. With this in mind, backing them at 5/4 looks a risky strategy. I'd far rather get with Christian Benteke to score in this one. The Belgian returned from injury at Tottenham last weekend when he made a sgnficant impact as a substitute. He bullied Johnny Heitinga into a host of errors at Goodison back in February, scoring two games in the process. Although the Dutch defender is unlikely to play in this one, Everton's defence, which has conceded in its last five games in all competitions, still looks set for a tough test and 15/8 in the anytime market looks a fair price. A stat worth mentioning for those who like a both-teams-to-score bet is that 11 of the last 12 games between these two sides have seen both find the net. It's also happened in Everton's last five (all comps).
Verdict: Aston Villa 2 Everton 2 (AS)
Everton have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 18 Barclays Premier League games against Aston Villa.
Aston Villa have conceded a goal in 15 successive Premier League home games; the longest current run in the competition.
The Toffees have won just one of their last 12 Premier League away matches (W1 D6 L5).
No side has conceded the first goal of the game more often than Aston Villa in the Premier League this season (6).
Liverpool v West Brom (1500)
As with the Villa game, don't let initial thoughts guide you too much in this one. Liverpool may have started the season better than many expected, but they look very short for this game, which pits them against a West Brom side exceeding expectations. It's now just two wins in six matches for Liverpool in all competitions and those victories came against Sunderland and Crystal Palace - currently the league's bottom two. West Brom may be in the bottom half but they will bring plenty of confidence in here. They drew with top-of-the-table Arsenal recently, while on the road they've yet to taste defeat with a win and three draws. Their defence has been particularly impressive, with only two goals conceded. Up against Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in this one, they are sure to look to keep things tight again. Throw in the fact that the Baggies have won on their last two visits to Anfield, and also beat the Reds at the Hawthorns last season, all without conceding, and you can make a strong case for backing them. The way I'm going to do that is in the double-chance market where 2/1 about the game finishing in a draw or an away win looks very tempting.
Verdict: Liverpool 1 West Brom 1 (AS)
Liverpool have not kept a clean sheet in their last five PL games. The only other time that Liverpool have gone this long without a clean sheet under Brendan Rodgers was in his first six league games at the club.
West Brom are unbeaten in five Premier League games (W2 D3); the longest unbeaten run in the competition since April 2011 (seven games).
Daniel Sturridge has scored in all but one of his eight Premier League appearances for Liverpool in 2013-14.
No referee has awarded more penalties since the start of last season in the Premier League than Jon Moss; with three of those coming this season.
Manchester United v Stoke (1500)
There's been plenty of off-field attention concerning United this week thanks to a certain book but on it they remain unconvincing. Even an improved display against Real Sociedad on Wednesday failed to appease the critics with the result always in doubt due to the Red Devils' inability to score a second, killer goal. The problem for those looking to oppose is that Stoke don't appear to be in the shape to trouble them. The Potters' paltry goal tally stands at four from eight games and they've failed to score in their last three. Whereas it wasn't rocket-science to suggest in-form Southampton could get something at Old Trafford last week (indeed my colleague Ben Coley made a strong case on these pages), it's hard to make a similar argument for Mark Hughes' side. Stoke also have an awful record against United, even judging by 'Sir Alex' standards. They've lost nine of 10 meetings to the champions since returning to the top flight. Given he's been the standout player for United this season, 4/1 about Wayne Rooney scoring first isn't the worst bet - you may even get someone going 9/2 or 5/1 on matchday given the spate of 'price boosts' now happening at the likes of Sky Bet and Ladbrokes - but there look to be more appealing opportunities on offer elsewhere.
Verdict: Manchester United 2 Stoke 0 (AS)
Manchester United have won all five of their previous Barclays Premier League home games against Stoke City.
Manchester United's 11-point tally is their worst return from a top-flight season since 1989-90 (eight points).
Stoke have failed to score in three successive Barclays Premier League games - they have never failed to score in four in a row.
Robin van Persie has scored eight goals in seven Premier League games against Stoke - only versus Blackburn (11) has he scored more.
Norwich v Cardiff (1500)
18th meets 17th at Carrow Road on Saturday in what is already looking like a big game in terms of relegation. While it's sure to have those involved tense, it doesn't look a mouthwatering clash from a neutral's perspective and neither are good bets standing out. Were I to have one, under 2.5 goals at 4/5 would probably be it. I can see a tight game unfolding. Neither side will want to lose to a close rival and neither is averaging over a goal a game so far. Norwich may have conceded seven goals in their last two matches (v Arsenal and Chelsea) but in general their defence has tightened up a lot, especially at home, since the same stage last season when goals were going in left, right and centre. Cardiff have already drawn at Hull and won at Fulham so won't be an easy touch. Another thing worth mentioning with regard to the Bluebirds (if it's still OK to call them that) is that Jordon Mutch now has two goals in his last three games. A player who likes to get forward from midfield, he started last time out at Chelsea and seems likely to do so again. At 25/1 for the first goal, Mutch looks a tad big, particularly given the paucity of top-quality strikers on the pitch.
Verdict: Norwich 1 Cardiff 1 (AS)
Norwich have lost just one of their last 10 competitive home games against Cardiff City (W7 D2 L1).
Cardiff have kept a clean sheet in just one of their eight Barclays Premier League games so far.
Norwich have lost four of their last five Premier League games (W1) and have netted just three times during this run.
Norwich have not scored a Premier League goals earlier than the 34th minute this season; the only side to not do so.
Southampton v Fulham (1730)
One side enters this match on the back of a draw while the other won 4-1, yet there's little doubt Southampton's trip to Manchester United produced a stronger performance than that which Fulham needed to thump Crystal Palace. Saints have been one of the season's success stories, with Mauricio Pochettino managing to blend creative flair with a rock-solid defence, and Fulham may find them really hard to break down. Darren Bent was virtually non-existent at Crystal Palace, wasting his one and only chance, and while Dimitar Berbatov did find the net he spent much of the game gesticulating towards the referee and was far from his best. And while Steve Sidwell and Scott Parker work hard and the former scored a superb volley on Monday, neither offers the creativity Martin Jol's side looks to need. This helps explain why Fulham had scored just one goal from their previous three away games and points towards a home win to nil, which looks worth a bet at just short of 2/1. Southampton have conceded just once at home - that in the third minute against Sunderland in August - and even more remarkably have only been breached three times and never more than once in a game; that's despite having visited both United and Liverpool. Quite simply, you have the division's meanest defence playing host to an attack which had been misfiring and was flattered last time, a fact which helps us to get a more than reasonable price about a highly likely outcome.
Verdict: Southampton 2 Fulham 0 (BC)
Southampton have the tightest defence in the Barclays Premier League so far in 2013-14; conceding only three goals in their eight games.
The Saints have lost only one of their last 10 Premier League matches (W4 D5 L1).
Fulham will be looking for their third successive Premier League win; something that they haven't achieved in the top-flight since March 2012.
Southampton have netted three goals in the final five minutes of Premier League games this season, more than any other side.
- The games at Crystal Palace and Southampton are being televised live in the UK on BT Sport and Sky Sports respectively.