Tevez to Give Rafa the Blues
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1pt Swansea to beat Liverpool at 13/5 (Boylesports).
2pts Carlos Tevez to score at any time v Chelsea at 9/4 (Blue Square, 888sport).
1pt draw/Tottenham in the half-time/full-time betting at 19/5 (BetVictor).
Swansea v Liverpool (1330 GMT)
Tenth plays 11th here as Brendan Rodgers returns to the Liberty Stadium for the first time since leaving to take over at Liverpool. His replacement Michael Laudrup has done an admirable job and in Michu looks to have a player of absolute quality, a fact once again underlined with his performance at Newcastle last weekend. That Swansea victory bodes really well for their return home, where they've lost only once all season and held Chelsea to a draw last time. Rodgers made several chances in the Europa League on Thursday but the bottom line is it was another good performance with a modest result and they'll again rely on Luis Suarez, who is 5/1 favourite to open the scoring having been rested midweek. Liverpool's recent away performances haven't been particularly inspiring and there's no rush whatsoever to back them at 11/10, especially as you can have a bigger price about Suarez scoring which is probably essential if the Reds are to take maximum points. For me, there's not a lot in this and as such the advice is to have a small bet on Swansea at the price in the hope that they can keep the Uruguayan quiet.
Verdict: Swansea 1 Liverpool 0 (BC)
Southampton v Newcastle (1500)
At 12th in the table enterting the weekend, Newcastle are predictably struggling to match last season's achievements and a Europa League campaign is probably partly to blame. A strong side failed to fire against Maritimo on Thursday, and with Papiss Cisse not looking the player he was last season the pressure is on Demba Ba to find the net. So, I think everything is in place for a free-flowing performance from the hosts after a huge victory at QPR last week. Saints have shown themselves to be very dangerous going forward and a 4-1 victory over Aston Villa shows they have what it takes, as did a 1-1 draw with Swansea in a game they should've won. The trouble is, they've been the subject of a big gamble and are now strong favourites, to the extent that I can't advise a bet. If there is value it's probably in Rickie Lambert, who opened the scoring last weekend and has a good record at St Mary's, but I'm inclined to swerve this game.
Verdict: Southampton 2 Newcastle 1 (BC)
Chelsea v Manchester City (1600)
It'd be a mug punt to wade into Chelsea for this one solely on the back of the 'new manager effect' - but there is actually a decent case to make for them. Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Big Phil Scolari, Guus Hiddink, Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Di Matteo all won their first home game as Blues manager, while it's worthy of note that Rafa Benitez's first game at Anfield as Liverpool boss ended in a 2-1 victory...over none other than City. The last four league meetings between these two sides have ended as home wins and only Spurs have been on the receiving end of more Premier League defeats from Chelsea than City have. But even with that taken into account - and the 13/8 laid - it takes a braver man than me to put up a team who have been winning only one of their last eight matches at the end of regulation time and haven't won for four league games. So City at 7/4 then? Well, the case for them isn't watertight either. Though they're unbeaten in the league they've drawn more games than they've won on the road and needed late Edin Dzeko goals to snatch the three points in both of the matches they've won. Plus, we're yet to see how crashing out of the Champions League will affect them - last season they lost their first match after exiting...2-1 at Chelsea. Carlos Tevez was frozen out at that point, but he's firmly back in favour now and looks sharp. Despite all the hype about Mario Balotelli and Dzeko's late goals, for me City look a better team when Tevez starts - and that's how it's been in the league lately. He scored a couple of goals against Aston Villa last weekend and has six in his last six league games against Chelsea. He's worth a small play at 9/4 in the anytime goalscorer markets, particularly as he's 11/8 elsewhere.
Verdict: Chelsea 2 Manchester City 2 (RK)
Tottenham v West Ham (1600)
Tottenham will be looking forward to a chance to get back on track in a fixture they've not lost since 1999, especially having escaped with a point from a trip to Rome on Thursday. Their record after Europa League fixtures is actually very good, and with Mousa Dembele getting some action from the subs bench they're worthy favourites despite a poor run of Premier League form. Of course, defeats at Arsenal and Manchester City come with various caveats, but the performance they offered when beaten by Wigan here is of obvious concern to those taking 4/7. West Ham have been producing the goods at home but they're not a bad side away either, as victories at Newcastle and QPR demonstrate. My problem is that their strikers aren't really contributing and with one or two injury concerns in midfield, it's difficult to see where their attacking threat will come from. One interesting trend where Spurs are concerned is that all eight home goals have come after half-time, so with West Ham perhaps offering little in attack I'll back Spurs to win having gone in level at the break.
Verdict: Tottenham 2 West Ham 0 (BC)