September 11th, 2019

The Premier League is almost back…almost!

By Jonny Houghton

The Premier League is almost back this weekend after what seems an eternity of international football. Maybe I’m being dramatic, who knows. The real stuff’s back and isn’t that what we all want?

Ding ding ding, we have a winner in the Premier League sack race. Actually wait, can’t say I’m surprised either, Watford have been pretty woeful so far haven’t they? Javi Gracia leaves the Hornets at the foot of the Premier League table on just a single point.

The Spaniard is the first Watford manager to last more than a full season since 2013, taking them to the FA Cup final last season loosing to Manchester City 6-0.

Sadly it didn’t really get any better from there and his sacking was announced rather bizarrely, at half time of the England’s European Championship Qualifier against Bulgaria.

Even stranger that Former Watford Manager Quique Sanchez Flores was immediately appointed as his replacement. There are other managers out there you know lads?

Early Saturday kick-off 12.30-Liverpool v Newcastle

With the Premier League almost back, Liverpool get things started in their lunchtime kick-off when they entertain Newcastle. A game that was once guaranteed goals on both sides has calmed down a bit over the last few years. The Reds are unbeaten against them since 2015 and are unbeaten at home since 2017 in all competitions.

Newcastle have started to find their shooting boots in recent games whilst Liverpool have only managed one clean sheet so far this season. Liverpool to win and both teams to score is the one for me here. It can be found at 17/10.

I like a Both Teams To Score double in the two early kick offs on a Saturday, so this match (6/5) doubled with the Fulham v West Brom match (4/7) could be one to consider for an interest on Saturday morning while you study the form (or this blog post) for the rest of the games.

Brighton v Burnley-Saturday 3pm

Brighton and Burnley go into their 3pm kick off with identical records so far this season (P4, W1, D1, L2) both sides played last season’s top 2 in the previous fixture, so they’ll be looking to set the record straight and both managers will see this as a winnable one.

Life under Graham Potter has been good for Brighton so far, despite their middling record I’ve seen enough of them to suggest they could come away with all three points. Burnley won’t make it easy though and have the prolific Ashley Barnes to call upon. Back him to score anytime (21/10), he’s got loads this year! Only Mane and Aguero have scored more.

Man Utd v Leicester-Saturday 3pm

Unbeaten Leicester travel to Old Trafford to face Man United after the Jamie Vardy party against Bournemouth last time out, the Foxes will be keen to continue their excellent start this season. Facing former team-mate Harry Maguire will probably give that extra motivation to Vardy and co I expect him and James Maddison to combine at some point.

United have plenty of pace though and Daniel James seems to be adapting brilliantly to life in the Premier League with three goals so far this term. It’s an interesting tie on paper and it’s a shame that it’s relegated to a 3pm kickoff, we’ll only get to see the highlights on Match of The Day (legally anyway).

Daniel James to score anytime (13/5) could be worth a small investment if the price is right but Both to Score and Either Team to Win – Yes looks the one for me at 11/8.

Sheffield United v Southampton-Saturday 3pm

I thought Sheffield United would struggle to adapt to the top flight, but they’re actually the only promoted team to not currently occupy a relegation place. Shows how much I know, doesn’t it?

The Blades are coping well with the demands of the Premier League and find themselves slap bang in mid-table, they took advantage of a Chelsea team that went to sleep last time out and salvaged a well earned point.

They face a Southampton side, fresh off a 1-1 draw with Man United last time out and Ralf Hassenhüttl’s men will hope to pick up some points. They’ll be missing Kevin Danso who was sent off against United but can call on Che Adams and Danny Ings to pick up the slack in front of goal.

The Blades will likely be bouncing into this game having largely had the international break to prepare for this match and I can see them nicking this one, it’ll be tight though. Sheffield United to win at 6/4.

Tottenham v Crystal Palace-Saturday 3pm

Tottenham welcome Crystal Palace, and while I’m usually reluctant to praise Roy Hodgson at all after his disastrous spells with Liverpool and England, he’s managed to get Palace into 4th and are currently riding a two game win streak.

Turns out they can win even when Wilfried Zaha isn’t on form, who’d have thought it? Strangely though, Hodgson was quoted this week as saying:

“There’s not going to be rainbows and blue skies and rose colored spectacles all the way through. There’s going to be plenty of fighting and heartache along the way.” Ever the optimist Roy!

Even though Spurs form is quite frankly a bit worrying, just 6 wins in their last 15 matches in all competitions, the quality is obviously there in terms of players. But I wonder if the exploits of the last few seasons are starting to take their toll on the squad.

Any team with Harry Kane is guaranteed goals and I expect him to get on the score sheet against Palace this weekend and bring their dream start to an abrupt halt. Kane wincast all day for me, you can get it at 4/5.

Wolves v Chelsea-Saturday 3pm

Really interesting this one, Wolves take on Chelsea in the last of the 3pm kick offs and while you could describe Chelsea’s form as indifferent, if you’re being polite, there’s been some really encouraging signs from Frank Lampard’s men.

Tammy Abraham has hit his stride in terms of goals so far and after having had a break over the internationals, will be chomping at the bit to get back on the field. Chelsea visit a Wolves side who have yet to register a win this season, after being last season surprise package.

Wolves had a good record against the top six last season, but given their extra European commitments this season Nuno Espirto Santos’ squad looks to be very stretched. Ruben Neves is always a threat outside the box, but if Chelsea can keep him quiet, I can see them extending Wolves’ winless run. Going to stick to my Abraham/Chelsea wincast guns on this one, it’s 3/1.

Norwich v Man City-Saturday 5.30pm

Premier League champions Manchester City visit Carrow Road in the evening kick off this Saturday. What can you really say about Pep Guardiola’s men? They’re strong all over the field, and while they’re missing Amyeric Laporte for an extended spell they can call on a whole host of talent to replace him (They could easily have a Man City seconds).

Oh and Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Kevin DeBruyne, Davi… It doesn’t matter, you get the picture. It would take Norwich to be at their absolute best and City to be at their absolute worst for any sort of upset here, but having said that, stranger things have happened.

The loss of Laporte could provide Teemu Pukki with an opportunity to add to his goal tally this season, but I expect City to run away with this with either or both of Aguero and Sterling scoring. Like I said, every time I look at the score they’re 3-0 (15/2) up. Maybe I just won’t look this time.

Bournemouth v Everton-Super Sunday 2pm

Sunday brings us a game that’s usually a bit of a mad one as Everton make the trip to the south coast to take on Bournemouth. 4 out of the last 5 meetings between these teams have given over 2.5 goals including a 6-3 home win for Everton in 2017.

The Cherries are on a two game losing streak while Everton beat Wolves last time out in a thrilling home game.

The Blues struggled a bit on the road last season and that’s continued a bit this season having gained a total of one point away from home, while Bournemouth are without a win at home so far this season. Both teams to score and Everton to win? Aye, why not. Decent value there at 16/5.

Watford v Arsenal-Super Sunday 4.30pm

Watford managed their point of the season last time out but it wasn’t enough to save Javi Gracia’s job.

Arsenal come rolling into town after a great comeback to rescue a point against Tottenham last time out, Aubameyang and Lacazette holding 5 goals between them so far and they should add to that against a poor Watford side who have only managed to score two this campaign.

It’s possible that Arsenal will look to rest players with their Europa League group fast approaching, but even at that shouldn’t have any problems with Watford.

Aubameyang to score the first goal (4/1) would be a smart choice but for extra value, you might want to add a correct score into the mix, Aubameyang first scorer and Arsenal 4-0 is 80/1.

Aston Villa v West Ham-Monday Night Football 8pm

Monday night football hits our screens and it’s a Claret and Blue derby when Aston Villa welcome West Ham. Villa haven’t exactly been disgraced on their return to the top flight, but with only 1 win in their first 4 matches, you could be forgiven for being a little bit worried about them.

They’ve played solid opposition but little defensive mistakes have let them down. West Ham however come into the game on the back of a 3 game unbeaten streak after their opening day mauling against Manchester City, no great shame there.

Sebastien Haller will want to continue his good form from before the break and it remains to be seen what affect an England call up will have on Tyrone Mings. Monday night under the lights does often provide us with plenty of goals.

I think West Ham just have the edge in terms of overall quality but Villa can hold their own here and will be buoyed by their own fans, I’m thinking both to score and a draw at 16/5 is good value.

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