Jake Pearson takes an early look at the weekend's Premier League action, determining which sides are worth backing sooner rather than later, in order to beat the market.
1pt DRAW in Leicester v Manchester United at 13/5 (General)
1pt Crystal Palace or Draw v Arsenal at 17/10 (Sport Nation)
The international break couldn’t have come at a better time for Leicester, their season yet to really get going and Brendan Rogers’ men in real need of a bit of time to sit back and take stock of what exactly has gone wrong.
The Foxes manager admitted himself after a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace that Leicester had not been at their best this term, but in reality, this is the first real muddy patch that Rodgers has had to endure since he took over at the King Power.
A bad spell was always going to come, and a home game against Manchester United could be the best way to kick start their season.
Manchester United are just two points off league leaders Chelsea, but performances have been far from flawless, and in fact, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have won just two of their last six matches in all competitions, losing three.
The pressure is mounting on the Norwegian manager, with excuses about a lack of quality in the squad no longer applicable, and his fragilities as a tactician being exposed on a weekly basis.
Against Everton, Ole was given a lesson in coaching by Rafa Benitez, and there is no doubt that Rodgers himself is a more accomplished manager than the United boss.
Initially, Rodgers struggled to get a hold on Manchester United, losing his first two games as Leicester manager against the Red Devils, but the Foxes have triumphed in the two sides’ most recent meeting, with Leicester unbeaten in the last three face-offs.
Rodgers does have a tendency to approach games against the league’s big four in a pragmatic manner however, and given Manchester United’s exemplary away record, it is difficult to see this match swinging heavily one way or the other.
The DRAW is currently available at 13/5, having already shortened slightly this morning, but that sort of price still makes enough appeal about two sides that have already drawn four Premier League matches between them this season.
Three games into the Premier League season and only Norwich were below Arsenal in the table, the Gunners failing to pick up a point in their three opening matches.
A further three matches in and Mikel Arteta’s men had nine points, winning three in a row, including an impressive 3-1 victory over Tottenham.
It has been a topsy-turvy start to the campaign, but for all the delirium following the North London derby, a stalemate away at Brighton must have been a grounding experience for the Arsenal players, second best for the entirety of the game, unable to get hold of the ball and fortunate to come away from the seaside town with a point.
Crystal Palace have impressed plenty of people this season, Patrick Vieira’s men playing with plenty of energy and purpose, collecting draws against two of last season’s top six (West Ham and Leicester), as well as hammering Tottenham 3-0 at Selhurst Park.
The Eagles are without a win in their last three Premier League matches, but they have faced three accomplished sides – certainly more accomplished sides than Arsenal.
Away at West Ham, Palace could be backed at 11/2, the same price they are to beat Arsenal. Taking the name of Arsenal aside, that is incorrect. West Ham are a better team than Arsenal.
Arsenal are still consistently priced up as a top six team, particularly when at home, despite being a long way off that level.
In fact, taking the opening price on Arsenal to win at the Emirates over the last three seasons (including this one), would have seen you surrender a fair amount of expected value (an average of -2.02 EV per bet).
Given also that Palace have proved one of the most inaccurately priced teams this season, shortening in five of their seven fixtures thus far, and by a significant amount, a price of 17/10 about CRYSTAL PALACE OR DRAW may not still be available come Monday evening.
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