It wasn’t the best of weeks in the Champions League for the English Premier League teams, with only Manchester City winning. Meanwhile, Manchester United where held to a goalless draw at home by Valencia, whilst Liverpool lost away to Napoli, and Tottenham succumbed to the magic of Messi as they lost 4-2 in an absorbing match at Wembley.
Liverpool will have to pick themselves up quickly as they host Manchester City on Sunday in a match that could go a long way to deciding the destiny of this season’s Premier League title. Meanwhile, Tottenham and Manchester United have potentially much easier games as they respectively host Cardiff and Newcastle. Third-placed Chelsea will also be hoping to keep up their title challenge as they travel to Southampton, whilst Arsenal will be hoping to extend their winning run as they travel to Fulham for what is a new London derby this season.
Tottenham vs Cardiff (Saturday 3.00)
Two defeats in two matches in this season’s Champions League has left Tottenham with a mountain to climb if they’re to qualify for the knockout stages. However, whilst the world marvelled at the magic of Messi on Wednesday night as the little Argentinean inspired Barcelona to a 4-2 win at Wembley, Cardiff shouldn’t pose Tottenham anywhere near as many problems. Cardiff started the season by failing to score in any of their first three Premier League matches and, whilst they’ve scored in four of their last five matches, they’ve still lost their last five matches if including their home defeat to Norwich in the Carabao Cup. Meanwhile, though Tottenham definitely aren’t at their best at the moment, especially when Dele Alli is absent as he was against Barcelona, it’s hard to see them having much difficulty in keeping their Premier League aspirations alive with a win here. Tottenham are a best-priced 1/4 and they look an obvious addition to any accas this weekend.
Manchester United vs Newcastle (Saturday 5.30)
The gossip surrounding Manchester United is all about whether Jose Mourinho’s time as Manager of Manchester United is about to come to an end. The problem is you have to wonder whether Mourinho is all that bothered, as he would reputedly walk away with severance pay of over £20 Million and probably walk into another job somewhere tomorrow if he wanted to. The good news for United fans is that their team won this corresponding fixture 4-1 last season, leading at half-time and full-time, with Pogba, Lukaku and Martial all getting on the scoresheet.
Of course, Newcastle are currently in a worse predicament that Manchester United. Their recent home defeat to Leicester meaning they currently sit third bottom of the Premier League with just two-points from seven games, having also lost to Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup. Newcastle Chairman Mike Ashley reportedly took Newcastle Manager Rafa Benitez and the whole Newcastle first team squad to dinner this week to try and build some moral and it will be interesting to see if that tactic has a positive effect here.
In truth, you can’t back Manchester United with any confidence this weekend, as they look for their first win in five games. But, purely from a value point of view, the 1/2 on offer for a Man United home win against a bottom-three side is a tempting carrot, and one that many punters will be happy to add to their accas this weekend. But it’s not a carrot I’ll be having a nibble of any time soon.
Fulham vs Arsenal (Sunday 12.00)
Life in the Premier League has proved a bit of a struggle so far for a newly-promoted Fulham side that continues to try and play an attacking-style of football that former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger would have been proud of. However, you need the players that can do that at the top-level and one win and two draws in seven games so far this season suggest that Fulham’s players aren’t yet up to the job. A 3-0 defeat to Manchester City and a 3-1 defeat by Tottenham both seem indicative of where Fulham currently stand in the pecking order and Arsenal aren’t too far behind the best teams in the Premier League after five consecutive wins. Those wins have included away wins at Newcastle and Cardiff, and Fulham aren’t expected to cause Arsenal much more trouble than those two teams. Arsenal are a best-priced 4/6 to make it six wins in a row at Fulham this weekend and look a value-bet to do so.
Southampton vs Chelsea (Sunday 2.15)
This will be the first taste of playing Southampton for new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri but he’ll only need to look at last season’s results against The Saints to find plenty of fuel for his pre-match motivation. Chelsea beat Southampton three times last season, winning the corresponding fixture 3-2 thanks to a brace from Oliver Giroud and another goal by in form talisman Eden Hazard. They also beat Southampton twice at Stamford Bridge, once in the league and once in the FA Cup. Southampton also come here having failed to win any of their last three Premier League games and could easily get dragged into the relegation battle after winning just five points from their opening seven games.
Meanwhile, Chelsea are enjoying a new lease of life under Sarri’s attack-minded football and Eden Hazard in particular is starting to bloom after scoring two exceptional goals against Liverpool last week. Admittedly, Chelsea have only drawn their last two Premier League matches after winning their first five games of the season, but they should have too much class for Southampton. A best-priced 8/13, they may well form the final part of an all-London treble alongside Tottenham and Arsenal for many punters this weekend.
Liverpool vs Manchester City (Sunday 4.30)
The Sunday roast may get served a little later in many houses this Sunday as Liverpool vs Manchester City promises to be a thriller if last season’s confrontations are anything to go by. The pair clashed in the Champions League knockout stages and both matches proved mesmerising as Liverpool, surprisingly for many, beat City in both legs. They won the home-leg 3-0 before winning the away-leg 2-1. Their two Premier Leaguer clashed were stunning too, with City winning their home match 5-0 after Sadio Mane had been sent-off with City leading 1-0 halfway through the first half.
However, it was a different story in the return match at Anfield where Liverpool took a 4-1 led in the 68th minute, only for City to stage a last gasp fight back with late goals in the 84th and 91st minutes to set up a stunning last few minutes of injury time. Whether any of that back story helps us decide who’ll win this fascinating clash of the top two in the table this Sunday is a different matter, but past results do suggest that this should be another high-scoring thriller between two teams whose managers play the beautiful game like it should be played. So, the bets this weekend have to be more than 3.5 goals, more than 4.5 goals, and more than 5.5 goals. It’s then just a case of heading down to the pub on Sunday afternoon and hoping the likes of Salah and Aguero can deliver the goods.