By Elliot BusbyFollow @JfGpodcast
A coupon, a line, a Mixu (‘Put-a-line-on’); whatever you call it, betting brings fans together. Yes, it’s a beautiful game and yes it’s exciting without gambling. However, there’s nothing more nerve wracking that watching Sky’s Soccer Saturday’s ageing parliament of pundits when you’re on the verge of coming into a wad of cash. Many men have tried to predict results for decades, and many have failed – as resident pundit and JfG host Stuart Martin knows all too well from recent failures – and though I do not have a Premier League crystal ball, and neither do I read the stars (ala Raymond Domenech). I merely offer a statistic based, form guided look at what I believe to be the most likely results of the forthcoming weekend. Read at your own pleasure, bet at your own peril.
Enough drivel, here’s my predictions, reasons, and the best odds you can find online for each score.
Arsenal 2 v 2 Chelsea – 1245ko
Saturday’s early kick off will be an almighty clash. Two on-form teams going head-to-head at the Emirates – which, thanks to a rejuvenation of sorts, is a much tougher place to go than it was 12 months ago. Di Matteo’s Blues will take the short trip across the capital hoping to build on their unbeaten record this season. Daniel Sturridge could return and is rated 50/50 for the match, but the league leaders don’t lack options in attack. Neither do Arsenal, with the astute summer signings of Santi Cazorla and Lucas Podolski adding to their potent and pacey front line. In defence, both are well organised and uncompromising. Belgian Thomas Vermaelen returns for the Gunners, and with Olivier Giroud opening his account in midweek (albeit against Coventry) he could well get a starting berth. This will be a close and brutish encounter that will end a point a piece, with neither keeper cleaning a clean sheet.
Best odds available: 14/1 @ numerous including Bet Victor
Fulham 2 v 1 Manchester City
This prediction may look like a typo, or you may be thinking that I’ve lost my mind, but let me explain. Both Fulham and City sit on nine points from a possible 15, which is anything but a great start for the champions. The Cottagers have been on glowing form at home – two wins from two, eight goals for, none against – and City have been travelling like an incontinent dog – unable to put games to bed, drawing two in two. Mancini’s men haven’t been able to keep a clean sheet so far this season, and that won’t change in London’s West End on Saturday. They do however have Samir Nasri back available for selection, so Scott Sinclair – so obviously out of his depth at City – could be set for a stint waiting in the wings rather that playing on them. This has the potential to be the biggest upset of the weekend, and I believe it will be.
Best odds available: 16/1 @ Bet Fred
Norwich United 0 v 1 Liverpool
It’s no secret that Liverpool haven’t enjoyed the best of starts, with some people effectively calling time on Brendan Rodgers reign already, a move that is quite frankly absurd. This weekend will see them claim their first Premiership win away at Norwich. Goals will be at a premium once again for Rodgers men as the Canaries have been miserly at the back so far this season, not to mention the well documented striker-shaped void in Liverpool’s front line. Norwich welcome back Sebastien Bassong from injury, but loanee Harry Kane is out with a suspected broken foot. As for Liverpool, they are without first team regulars Agger, Kelly and new addition Fabio Borini. Chances are this will be a drab affair, with Liverpool sneaking a win.
Best odds available: 7/1 @ William Hill
Reading 1 v 4 Newcastle United
There should be no surprise at The Madejski this weekend, it will be purely a question of how much Pardew’s men can put past their hosts. Ba and Ben Arfa are on scintillating form and should destroy the hugely inept Reading back line. Going forward, Brian McDermott’s men have been scoring and even though they will put one past Newcastle’s shaky defence, it won’t be enough to take anything from the match. The Magpies will claim their first away win of the season with consummate ease.
Best odds available: 80/1 @ Coral
Manchester United 3 v 1 Tottenham Hotspur
Since losing to Everton – which is no disgrace considering the Toffee’s fantastic start to the season – Man U have been in imperious form, scoring at free will. Their defence has been a little suspect though, letting in two at St Mary’s after conceding two at home to Fulham. That said, I can’t see any result besides a home win here for Sir Alex’s men. Spurs welcome regular starter Kyle Naughton and enigmatic front man Emmanuel Adebayor back from injury. Both could be key players for AVB as earlier in the week he called for Spurs to attack United – a move that could back fire and blow up in his face. Spurs are yet to adapt fully to the new style of play the Portuguese is enforcing, and Sir Alex will know how to take advantage of that. Wayne Rooney and Darren Fletcher are available for selection after long spells on the side lines, and having featured prominently in the midweek cup win over Newcastle both could play a key role on Saturday evening. Goals a plenty in this one.
Best odds available: 12/1 @ Bet Victor
Everton 2 v 1 Southampton – 8/1 @ Bet Victor
Stoke City 2 v 0 Swansea City – 17/2 @ Bet Victor
Sunderland 3 v 0 Wigan Athletic – 16/1 @ Paddy Power
Aston Villa 1 v 1 West Bromwich Albion – Sunday; 1600ko – 6/1 @ William Hill
Queen’s Park Rangers 0 v 0 West Ham United – Monday; 2000ko – 10/1 @ Labrokes