Ian Ogg is backing Newcastle for a narrow win against Brighton in our preview of Sunday's only Premier League game.
Brighton v Newcastle United (Sunday, 1600 BST Sky Sports 1)
By Ian Ogg
Brighton and Newcastle were separated by just a point in last year’s Sky Bet Championship but there’s no doubt who’s expected to fare better in the Premier League with the Football League sponsors offering even money and 8/1 respectively about the pair for relegation.
Newcastle have picked up nine points so far, including an away victory at Swansea (they lost to Huddersfield on their other road trip), whereas Brighton have garnered five points from as many games with their sole victory being a 3-1 defeat of West Bromwich Albion at the Amex Stadium.
Goals have otherwise been an issue for the Seagulls who have netted just once more in the top-flight and that will obviously make life difficult against a Newcastle side that took six points off them last season.
The hosts are only marginal favourites and Newcastle make a reasonable amount of appeal at a best of 2/1 or even at about 10/11 draw no bet. Five players have already contributed league goals this season and being able to spread a goal threat across their eleven could prove key to their chances of retaining their Premier League status.
Their win in Wales has been sandwiched by home victories against West Ham and Stoke and Rafa Benitez’s side should be riding on the crest of a wave and Benitez has had plenty of time to prepare for this game as Newcastle (unlike their rivals) weren’t involved in the cup in midweek.
They have already proved to be a threat from set-pieces and that will no doubt be an area where they will look to expose a perceived weakness in a Seagulls backline that has already conceded twice from dead ball situations.
While Newcastle are expected to seal the points, there is unlikely to be much in the game with the visitors two away games this season producing just a goal apiece. It’s possible that could be turned on its head here as Brighton will view last year’s title rivals as one of their better opportunities to pick up points but backing over 2.5 goals at around 6/4 doesn’t make any great appeal with plenty of evidence pointing to the unders (around 4/7).
The suggestion is to try and enhance the price of an away win by either backing Newcastle to win by a single goal (best of 7/2) or to back a couple of the correct score outcomes and it’s the latter option that’s preferred with the stakes split between 1-0 and 2-1 scorelines in favour of the visitors.
Prediction: Brighton 0-1 Newcastle – Sky Bet odds 7/1
All of Saturday's previews by David John...
West Ham v Tottenham (Saturday's 1230, Sky Sports Premier League)
The Hammers are looking to make it three on the spin at home against arch-rivals Spurs following May’s season-defining victory at the London Stadium that propelled them to Premier League safety and extinguished any flickering title hopes for the visitors.
It has been another testing spell for Slaven Bilic but the green shoots of revival are tentatively starting to emerge with two wins from three – including the Carabao Cup clash against Bolton – and a hat-trick of clean sheets.
A quote of 5/1 for all three points catches the eye with key figures Winston Reid, Andy Carroll and Michail Antonio getting a consistent run in the team while Marko Arnautovic is available once more after a ban and ran the show in midweek against the Trotters.
The Irons are always fired up for this fixture and Bilic has to be careful it does not spill over into indiscipline as they will feel their upturn in form and a spluttering start from the visitors gives them a good deal to be optimistic about.
The Wembley woes continue to be tough to conquer for Mauricio Pochettino’s side but they have been perfect on their travels with no goals conceded.
So a quick-fire run of three more games on the road though starting here might help to get things rolling in the right direction having huffed and puffed at home against Swansea and then Barnsley in the League Cup.
The away record just tips things in Spurs’ favour for me in what is sure to be a game with a real edge but the run of clean sheets may well come to an end on the way to sneaking off with maximum points.
Prediction: West Ham 1-2 Tottenham - Sky Bet Odds: 7/1
Burnley v Huddersfield (1500)
Both these sides fielded much-changed line-ups in midweek and were dumped out of the Carabao Cup so the Premier League becomes the sole focus of attention until the FA Cup in the new year.
Sean Dyche and David Wagner will have been delighted with the starts the pair have made in the top-flight, Dyche impressing in particular with the way he has been able to secure points at Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool – a far cry from last season’s abysmal overall away record.
The trick is to now get going at Turf Moor with just one success on the slate so far against Crystal Palace in a match they were gifted an early goal and then spent the remainder of the game pretty much under the cosh.
That form does not really equate to a quote of 11/10 for me against Wagner’s well-drilled, no-frills outfit although some of the early-season momentum has started to stall after no wins in their last four outings.
I don’t think there will be much between the pair and it might well come down to a solitary goal with Chris Wood or Robbie Brady for the hosts possessing that little piece of quality required to make the difference.
Rather than back them, I will invest in under 1.5 total goals instead with the duo very sound operators at the back and unlikely to be swamped by a hatful of opportunities.
Prediction: Burnley 1-0 Huddersfield - Sky Bet Odds: 9/2
Everton v Bournemouth (1500)
It shows the levels of desperation manager Ronald Koeman had reached to try and scrape out any type of victory as even misfit striker Oumar Niasse was given a chance in the midweek Carabao Cup clash against Sunderland.
It was far from convincing at times but something to build on at last to go with a committed second-half effort in the 4-0 defeat against Manchester United following a torrid spell for the Toffees where the sky seemed to be falling in on the expensively-assembled Merseysiders.
The markets have reacted by pricing them up at around 4/6 and I for one would certainly need a fair bit more evidence that some sort of corner had really been turned before rowing in at odds-on.
You would think there might be some scope in backing the Cherries then but they hardly represent rock-solid form themselves having at last got off the mark in gutsy fashion after a 2-1 success over Brighton.
They managed to repeat the trick against that rival in midweek and Eddie Howe feels at the very least they now have the chance to push on and start picking up some points.
The little shot of confidence both have gained recently remains pretty fragile to my eye and I would not be surprised in the slightest to see them eke out a point each before moving on.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 Bournemouth - Sky Bet Odds: 6/1
Manchester City v Crystal Palace (1500)
The betting suggests Palace should probably not bother turning up with the hosts 1/7 as Roy Hodgson attempts to try and stop a rampant City who made a pretty reasonable Watford side last weekend look like they had never played a game together.
Hodgson is off the mark at his new club at the second attempt having edged out Huddersfield in midweek in the Carabao Cup but has rightly predicted sorting things out is going to take some time and top-flight survival is the ultimate goal.
This represents the classic "free-hit" with little in the way of expectation on them at the Etihad and the key will be to avoid the sort of hiding City dished out to the Hornets.
The soothing influence of Mamadou Sakho at the heart of the defence should help on that score after he managed 70 minutes against the Terriers and Hodgson expects him to be full speed by Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s men had to work a bit harder than expected for their Cup victory at West Brom after taking an early lead but expect the Spaniard to go back to his preferred XI which no-one has been able to successfully get in the way of so far this season.
Punters will probably feel this is another golden chance to for them to boost their goal difference but I am going to fly in the face of the consensus view a little and put some faith in the nous and experience of Hodgson.
They could even have a goal in them too as Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Andros Townsend and Christian Benteke start to click so can keep things much closer than expected and perhaps avoid an avalanche at the wrong end that has become the norm between the pair lately.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-1 Crystal Palace - Sky Bet Odds: 10/1
Southampton v Manchester United (1500)
The Saints are a team capable of making things awkward for the league leaders at St Mary’s but a contribution is well overdue from a front line that has found the net just once from open play in 27 hours of football.
Captain Steven Davis popped up last weekend with the winner to sink Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park to end a run of three games without victory but with the best will in the world, I can’t see a solitary strike being enough to get something out of this one.
They rode their luck a bit in south London and were fortunate to come up against a team that have currently turned missing clear opportunities into an art form so expecting Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford to be quite so forgiving in the final third is optimistic in the extreme.
Fourteen goals from five games is impressive from the Red Devils but their defence has been just as eyecatching with goalkeeper David De Gea in imperious form as he kept out another couple of very good chances to preserve his clean sheet against Everton.
Jose Mourinho has the depth to revolve his players and cope without the sidelined Paul Pogba while the way they have been finishing games strongly having seemingly been frustrated for long spells gives them the appearance of real title challengers once more.
An away win to nil would be the course of action for me if pushed but that is hardly announcing anything revolutionary to the punting world and is reflected by the price on offer.
Prediction: Southampton 0-2 Manchester United - Sky Bet Odds: 13/2
Stoke v Chelsea (1500)
The Potters are in my bad books currently after immediately being ousted from the Carabao Cup in feeble fashion at Bristol City.
Mark Hughes may have made a number of tweaks to his team for the trip to Ashton Gate but it was still good enough to a job down there and another early exit from a knockout competition is becoming tedious.
The quest for Hughes is now to avoid three defeats in a week having stumbled 2-1 up at Newcastle so there will be no excuses for a lack of focus against the champions.
"I know for a fact we will be better than we were tonight," said Hughes in the aftermath of the midweek debacle and if you feel his optimism is well founded then 5/1 is available for them to pick up all three points.
Chelsea’s second and third stringers walloped Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, a game more notable for Eden Hazard getting through 90 minutes and looking extremely lively in the process.
They huffed and puffed three days earlier in a 0-0 draw against Arsenal where the latter probably had the better chances but the craft and guile of Hazard from the start should give Antonio Conte an additional option.
Stoke have beaten Arsenal and drawn with Manchester United already this season at the bet365 Stadium so clearly rise to the occasion when the really big boys are in town.
Hopefully Ryan Shawcross will return from a back issue to slot in for Kurt Zouma, who can’t face his parent club, and if that is the case, I think they can deliver a performance worthy of getting a result.
Prediction: Stoke 1-1 Chelsea - Sky Bet Odds: 6/1
Swansea v Watford (1500)
It was fourth against second last week when Watford played host to Manchester City but that is the closest they are going to get to one another as the Hornets were given a sharp lesson in the finer points on how to execute an utterly ruthless performance.
Sometimes you just have to sit back and applaud so I doubt very much Marco Silva and his players will dwell too much on the 6-0 reverse against a team that few on the planet would have been able to cope with that afternoon.
To be fair, it wasn’t actually that bad a display from them as they managed to create some chances but Silva will require any similar openings to be put away in south Wales for a showdown much more on a level playing field.
The Swans punched above their weight at Wembley with a thoroughly committed effort in a 0-0 draw against Tottenham as Paul Clement’s team responded to a dressing room rant from their manager after the home to defeat to Newcastle.
Clement is quietly moulding a decent little outfit and they highlighted all is moving very much in the right direction by seeing off Reading for a comfortable Carabao Cup victory in midweek.
The situation is only going to improve further as Renato Sanches, Wilfried Bony and the lively Tammy Abraham really find a connection while Alfie Mawson is emerging as an excellent talent in the back four.
The betting hints there will not be a lot between this pair and a couple of key defensive absentees for Watford due to injury can be exploited by the home side.
That said, I don’t expect much of a hangover lingering on for the visitors and an entertaining draw gets the vote.
Prediction: Swansea 2-2 Watford - Sky Bet Odds: 12/1
Leicester v Liverpool (1730 BST, BT Sport 1)
I doubt whether Liverpool will have stayed over in the east midlands for a second clash with the Foxes in the space of four days but I’d be willing to bet any amount of money Jurgen Klopp would not have been a fun holiday companion if that was the case.
The German is officially "sick" of conceding sloppy goals and tore a strip or two off of his players following the 2-0 Carabao Cup defeat at the King Power Stadium on Tuesday, a game they should have been out of sight in by half-time.
Klopp now has to cater for even more problems at the back with Dejan Lovren struggling to be fit while Emre Can and Joel Matip have both missed training this week which could leave Ragnar Klavan and Joe Gomez to fill in at the heart of the defence.
On a more positive note, the 45 minutes delivered by Philippe Coutinho at Leicester contained bags of promise for the immediate future and the Reds were nowhere near the same after the break without the classy Brazilian’s direction.
He must be very close to getting the nod for a full 90 minutes and the 11/4 for him to score anytime is extremely tempting now all the talk about a move to Barcelona has been placed on the back-burner for the time being at least.
The Foxes have been ticking along quietly enough and showed some character last week to fight back from a goal down and get a 1-1 draw at Huddersfield.
The win over Liverpool should give everyone a lift but they could be without Jamie Vardy again due to a groin injury, although manager Craig Shakespeare seemed a little more upbeat about him making the line-up come Saturday.
Life is delivering Klopp a few curveballs currently with Sadio Mane’s sending off and the subsequent hammering by Manchester City then only managing a 2-2 draw with Sevilla in their opening Champions League outing.
They are odds-on here for three points so we will really get to see what they are made of but I do fancy them to come up trumps at last with Coutinho pulling the strings.
Prediction: Leicester 1-2 Liverpool - Sky Bet Odds: 7/1
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Saturday's games posted at 0715 BST on 22/09/17 & Sunday's posted 1349 BST on 22/09/17