Gunners an outstanding bet
Ben Coley and Matt Brocklebank preview Sunday's Premier League games with Arsenal considered bankers at Leicester.
- Related Content
Aston Villa v Hull (1330 BST)
I've been impressed with Aston Villa so far this season. Paul Lambert clearly has this group of players pulling together in the same direction and that's been a big factor in four points and two clean sheets. Clearly, it's not been a thorough test at the start of the campaign but not many teams keep a clean sheet let alone win at Stoke and they are fully entitled to favouritism here. Hull have to back-up from a hugely disappointing Europa League game on Thursday, if not in terms of performance then certainly outcome, although it didn't stop them a week ago as they fought hard for a luckless point against Stoke. Steve Bruce's side picked up a couple of important away wins in the second half of last season and continued that improvement with victory at QPR on the opening day, so they too are unbeaten in the league heading into Sunday's game. The issue for Steve Bruce's side is in attack as they don't produce enough goals from midfield to support what's often a lone striker and their task here is made more difficult by the return of both Ron Vlaar and Aly Cissokho for Villa, two key defenders who missed their midweek Capital One Cup defeat to Leyton Orient. Uruguay striker Abel Hernandez could be a massive help on that front but for now, Hull are going to struggle to pick up further points on the road. Villa have an excellent record in this fixture and it's a long time - over 25 years - since any Hull player scored against them. With that in mind it might be worth chancing a Villa win to nil as they bid for a third clean sheet in as many Premier League games. Sky Bet go 5/2, and to my eye that looks perfectly fair.
Verdict: Aston Villa 2 Hull 0 (BC)
Best bet: Aston Villa to win to nil
Andreas Weimann scored two goals in four minutes in this fixture last season.
Hull have failed to score in eight of their last nine games against Aston Villa.
Seven different Villa players have been booked this season in the Premier League, more than at any other club.
Tottenham v Liverpool (1330 BST)
Tottenham and Liverpool – two teams very much considered to be battling for a top-four spot this season, despite sitting sixth and second respectively at the end of the 2013/14 campaign. There are two key factors responsible for the general view that the gap between these two teams will be narrowed this time around and they are Liverpool’s loss of one of the world’s best strikers in Luis Suarez, and Tottenham’s managerial appointment of the well-regarded Mauricio Pochettino and their expected stability under the new man. Early indications from what we’ve seen so far have added further weight to the pre-season assumption and we head into Super Sunday’s encounter at White Hart Lane with bookmakers offering 17/10 the pair and 5/2 the draw. Given Brendan Rodgers’ side won the corresponding fixture 5-0 last December and almost repeated it with a 4-0 thrashing of Tottenham at Anfield in March, we have to give the Reds serious consideration. Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge have started the season brightly, while Philipe Coutinho and Jordan Henderson, widely expected to step up another level this term, look to be getting near to peak fitness. The possibility of a debut for new signing Mario Balotelli will likely attract plenty of headlines but it’s hard to see him usurping Sturridge as the first-choice front man and I’d be more concerned with Liverpool’s defence. Dejan Lovren is a good acquisition and Alberto Moreno could be the man to solve last year’s problems at left-back but the new-look back line is going to take a little while to operate as a solid unit judged by Monday night’s defeat at Man City and Spurs will be confident of breaking through. Pochettino recently put to bed rumours of Andros Townsend and Roberto Soldado leaving in this transfer window and Spurs have made a really bright start on the pitch with two victories, which put them top of the league at this early stage. There have been goals coming from all ver the pitch, too, with new defender Eric Dier netting in both games and Erik Lamela looking the proverbial ‘new signing’ under the guidance of fellow Argentinian Pochettino. Lamela had a woeful time of things last year following a £32million move from Italy but he looked to have turned over a new leaf in Spurs’ summer friendlies and it is just a matter of time before he opens his Premier League account. He and set-piece expert Christian Eriksen will no doubt come back into the team having been rested for Thursday night’s Europa League stroll and it’s tempting to back them both to find the net. They are double-figure odds to score the opening goal of the game but Liverpool’s attacking nature dampens the enthusiasm for this market and supporting the rejuvenated Lamela to score any time at 4/1 seems a sensible option and offers a more than fair price.
Verdict: Tottenham 2 Liverpool 1 (MB)
Best bet: Erik Lamela to score at any time
The Reds’ 5-0 win at White Hart Lane in December last season ended a run of five consecutive Premier League home wins for Spurs against Liverpool.
Liverpool won six points against Tottenham in the Barclays Premier League last season with an aggregate score of 9-0.
Liverpool’s defeat at Manchester City last Monday was their first away from home in the Premier League in 2014 (W7 D2 L1).
Tottenham have won five of their last six Premier League games (L1).
Leicester v Arsenal (1600)
Leicester have acquitted themselves well on their return to the Premier League and the big games keep on coming, with Arsenal the latest visitors to the King Power Stadium. Arsene Wenger's side have yet to convince this season having promised so much in the Community Shield, but in fairness they've just about done what they've needed to and remain unbeaten despite some tricky fixtures. This is another, but at first glance 5/6 does appear a very fair price about a side who accrue their points by beating bottom-half sides, which Leicester will surely be once the league table levels out. Arsenal picked up 28 points from a possible 30 in their away games against eventual bottom-half opposition last season, with only West Brom able to stop them, and most of these were comfortable - indeed, seven of nine wins were by more than a goal. The big question mark surrounds the wellbeing of the Arsenal squad, with Olivier Giroud out for around four months and striking options in particular looking thin on the ground. Alexis Sanchez put in an almighty shift on Wednesday as the Gunners edged into the Champions League group stage and he'll get better and better, but will he cope with the turnaround as he adapts to the helter-skelter nature of this league? Even those who are used to it such as Jack Wilshere, who was outstanding against Besiktas but also finished legless, may just be a shade short of full fitness and that's the worry for odds-on backers. That said, it's possible to argue that Aaron Ramsey is the key man at Arsenal now and he is in line for a welcome return. Leicester were also in action on Tuesday albeit in the less-intense Capital One Cup as they lost to Shrewsbury, a game for which Nigel Pearson made several changes. At the time of writing it's unclear wherher Esteban Cambiasso will be available but surely a starting role is too much to ask of the 34-year-old, who has been without a club since the start of summer and will need time. However, Danny Drinkwater should be ready to return and last season's Championship Player of the Year is a major asset as Leicester set about re-establishing themselves as a Premier League club. My expectation is that the Foxes will survive and that they'll do so by proving hard to beat. It took Chelsea over an hour to break them down and they were nothing if not dogged against Everton, so anything short of a focused, professional Arsenal performance could see them slip up. That said, I would've expected them to be a much shorter price for this assignment and at 17/20 they're a bet to beat Leicester in their first meeting since Arsenal put the seal on their unbeaten season in May 2004. That record against weaker opposition is outstanding and it's the big games in which the Gunners come unstuck. The stats suggest there's no better side for this particular set of circumstances so we'll act accordingly.
Verdict: Leicester 1 Arsenal 3 (BC)
Best bet: Arsenal to beat Leicester
Leicester won their first Premier League home game against Arsenal (2-1 in November 1994) but none of the subsequent seven games saw them claim three points.
The last time Arsenal played Leicester was the 38th and final game of the unbeaten 2003-04 Premier League campaign.
Arsenal have scored at least two goals in their last three Premier League away games.