There are six Premier League fixtures on Saturday afternoon, all of them kicking off at the traditional time of 3pm.
Arsenal v West Brom is an interesting game. The Gunners lost limply 2-0 at home to Swansea last weekend and a under-strength line-up lost 2-1 away in Athens against Olympiakos in the Champions League in midweek, so Arsene Wenger’s men will be hoping to put a bad week to bed and get back to winning ways.
They have been incredibly inconsistent so far this season, which is why they sit in 10th in the Premier League table.
The Baggies have enjoyed a far better start to the season in Steve Clarke’s first season in management. They lie in fifth currently and look a strong and organised outfit.
I always find it strange that the ‘big club’ will always be a strong favourite, in spite of current form. It’s the same for teams like Liverpool. Arsenal are as short as 1/2 (SkyBet, StanJames) with the Baggies as long as 6/1 (Betfred, Coral) to take three points back up to West Bromwich.
I’m not sure if West Brom will have enough to get the victory, but I’m certain that Arsenal are not worth backing at 1/2. Those odds should be reserved for a much more confident selection. I like the draw which is available at 10/3 (Totesport).
Aston Villa v Stoke is a tricky game to call. Villa have been poor, while Stoke have been steady if not spectacular and their away form isn’t the best. It’s also a bit of a local derby, which are always difficult to call.
Having said all that, Villa have gone on a little run of three games unbeaten and the Potters won on the road last week at West Brom. Both teams struggle to score goals, so it may not be the opening game on Match of the Day! I could easily see it being 0-0 which is available to back at 17/2 (StanJames).
Southampton v Reading was a Championship fixture last season. Both sides have given a good account of themselves so far this season but still sit in the drop zone. Unlike Villa and Stoke, these sides do look capable of scoring goals. Reading hit three past Manchester United last weekend (but unfortunately conceded four the other end), while Ricky Lambert for the Saints has started where has left off in the lower divisions in recent years and is scoring goals in the top flight where some may have thought he’d struggle.
I’m sure there will be goals in this fixture, and over 2.5 goals can be backed at 4/6 (general).
Sunderland host Chelsea at the Stadium of Light. The hosts are going through a torrid spell with just one win in their last nine Premier League fixtures. Goals have been an issue with Steven Fletcher looking like the only real source of goals for the Black Cats.
It’s safe to say that Rafa Benitez’s appointment as interim Chelsea manager wasn’t the most popular. Boos before a ball had been kicked under his stewardship is quite a clear statement of the fan’s dissatisfaction. Two goalless draws was followed by a 3-1 defeat at West Ham last weekend, which has hardly helped Benitez’s cause. They did thrash Nordsjaelland 6-1 in the Champions League though, with even Fernando Torres getting on the scoresheet. So maybe things are on their way up?
I think Rafa will get his first Premier League win for Chelsea in this one. They have some fantastic players who have certainly not been performing at their best in recent weeks. But in truth, they probably won’t have to be at their best to beat Sunderland who are sttruggling very badly at the minute. Chelsea are available at a best price of 5/6 (Paddy Power).
Swansea v Norwich maybe doesn’t sound the most glamorous of games, but I can see this one being a good one. The Swans have continued to play good free-flowing football under Michael Laudrup, while the Canaries are enjoying a superb run of form after a bit of a shaky start to the campaign.
Both sides will be full of confidence and will be keen to continue their good form. And with that thought, I think both sides will be unbeaten in this fixture and I fancy a score draw. The draw is available at 27/10 (BetVictor) and a 1-1 tie is 13/2 (Coral).
The final fixture sees Wigan play QPR at the DW Stadium. Roberto Martinez’s team were well beaten 3-0 at Newcastle on Monday, but the result is greatly affected by an early (and harsh) red card given to Latics’ Maynor Figueroa.
Rangers are still seeking their first win of the Premier League season. Harry Redknapp has come in to take charge and has guided them to two draws so far. If they are to stay up, then they must be looking to taking maximum points here.