By Antony Jordan
The Premier League returns this Saturday following the international break with eight matches from round four of the season and it is the first game back that will take all of the headlines this weekend. This clash sees Manchester United and Man City do battle at Old Trafford for the first time this season as Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola look to keep their 100% winning runs going as they restore hostilities from their times in charge of Real Madrid and Barcelona.
We preview this mouth-watering clash from the red half of Manchester, as well as this Saturday’s seven other matches too, with online sportsbook Bet365.com to bring you our biggest and best EPL picks.
The big news for the Manchester Derby is that Pep Guardiola will be without his main weapon as Sergio Aguero has been banned for violent conduct after appearing to elbow West Ham defender Winston Reid in City’s last match before the international break. The Argentine striker now joins long term injured captain Vincent Kompany on the sidelines, but attacking players Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan as well as goalkeeper Claudio Bravo are in line to make their debuts while Bacary Sagna may return after injury. The big question is will Pep keep faith in youngster Iheanacho or have summer signing Nolito lead the line?
Manchester United are almost at full strength with only Antonio Valencia and Henrikh Mkhitaryan minor doubts for the clash and this will see United manager Jose Mourinho in the more confident mood for this match despite having won just three of the previous 16 meetings with Guardiola. Two clean sheets against Southampton and Hull in their final two games before the international break will fill the home side in this derby match with confidence too as will the fact that City are yet to keep an EPL clean sheet and miss their top scorer for this match.
It is difficult to predict how things will go in a derby match, especially when you consider these sides both have three wins in three and are coming back from the international break, but we feel that the signs are pointing towards a home win in this one and we’re backing Manchester to be red for the weekend!
A 63rd minute goal from Christian Benteke saw Liverpool triumph in last season’s Liverpool v Leicester clash at Anfield and that was an exception for the eventual champions as Leicester lost only two more games across the 2015/16 campaign and with them bouncing back from a 2-1 loss to Hull on the opening day with four points against Arsenal and Swansea they will be aiming for their first win on the red half of Merseyside since 2000. They are still missing the defensive duo of Nampalys Mendy and Jeff Schlupp through injury, but new attacking signing Islam Slimani may make his EPL debut to boost the forward options for The Foxes.
Liverpool have a little all over the place at the start of this season with a 4-3 win over Arsenal, a 2-0 defeat to Burnley despite dominating possession before drawing with Tottenham in a match they feel aggrieved not to have won. The only constant in these games, as well as their 5-0 win over Burton in the cup, is that they have all been on the road and this match will be their first test at the newly expanded Anfield this season. They have conceded six in three in the league this season and Leicester are sure to be able to punish them as Emre Can and Ragnar Klavan are out injured leaving Jurgen Klopp short on defensive players.
Liverpool still have plenty of attacking threat for this game and will push the EPL champions all the way, but we feel that Leicester have shown themselves to be a more rounded side, especially in defence, this season and we’re backing them to take something back to the Midlands.
After losing 4-3 at home to Liverpool and then drawing 0-0 with Leicester after beating them home and away last season the Gunners faithful were getting restless and putting pressure on manager Arsene Wenger for their on and off the pitch performances. A 3-1 win at Watford helped ease some of the pressure and the longest serving EPL manager will hope new signings of Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez in defence and attack will answer his critics. They are the big favourites to win this match despite seeing Per Mertesacker, Gabriel and Aaron Ramsey all injured, while Jack Wilshere has been allowed to leave on loan, but can the new boys push Arsenal to all three points?
Southampton are taking time to settle under new manager Claude Puel as they are yet to win in the league having drawn at home with Watford and Sunderland as well as having suffered a two goal defeat at Old Trafford to Manchester United. Record signing for The Saints Sofiane Boufal is still not fit enough to play after a long term knee injury and despite them recording three clean sheets in a row against Arsenal – winning two of those games – we see this run coming to an end for the south coast team.
Our money is on Arsenal to beat Southampton by at least two goals (Arsenal -1) at odds of 2.40 at The Emirates this Saturday.
The Hammers triumphed in their first EPL clash at the new London Stadium thanks to a last minute Michail Antonio header as they bounced back from a 2-1 loss to Chelsea in their league opener and now they’ll be looking to do the same this time around as they were beaten 3-1 by Man City before the international break. They still have issues up front though with Sakho, Carroll and Ayew all out injured, although they do have new signing Simone Zaza as well as Manuel Lanzini, Sofiane Feghouli and Havard Nordtveit who return from injury all available for this match.
Watford may have just a single point to their name so far, but they have faced Chelsea and Arsenal in their last two clashes following that opening day draw at Southampton, and they are arguably deserving of more so far. They are playing well under new manager Walter Mazzarri but their start is one of the toughest in the league and we do not see this clash being any easier for The Hornets. Key French midfielder Dmitri Payet is likely to start for the home team and we can see one of the players of last season helping West Ham to a second successive win at their new home.
Although there were eight goals in the two meetings between these sides last season as Tottenham let a two goal slip to draw 2-2 on home side before thumping The Potters 4-0 on this ground, this season has not produced many goals from either of these two teams. Stoke have just two goals and one point after losses to Man City and Everton following a 1-1 draw with newly promoted Middlesbrough in their opener, while their guests at the Bet365 Stadium have scored just one more goal in their opening three matches. The critical difference between the sides is that Tottenham have conceded just two goals and have seven points while Stoke have conceded three times that amount, but will this produce goals this Saturday afternoon?
Stoke will be hopeful of being better both going forwards and at the back after landing Wilfried Bony and Bruno Martins Indi on transfer deadline day and both players will certainly boost the quality of the squad. However, key winger Xherdan Shaqiri remains out injured and number one goalkeeper Jack Butland could be out for another ten weeks too.
Tottenham welcome back their goalkeeper Hugo Lloris after injury, although this is dampened by the knowledge that Danny Rose is out at left back, but they have not really started this season despite their win and two draws recorded so far. They also have seven games coming up in the next 20 days and manager Mauricio Pochettino will rotate and will not risk players for matches, so we can see Stoke getting chances in this game. It could go either way, but even though there have been few goals scored by these teams so far this season we are backing goals!
Our best Stoke v Tottenham bet is back Both Teams to Score – Yes at odds of 1.80 at the Bet365 Stadium.
Although this clash at the Vitality Stadium will see the meeting of a south coast side and a team from the Midlands all the talk in the build-up is about players from North London as the hosts claimed Jack Wilshere on loan from Arsenal for the season and The Baggies broke the club record to sign Nacer Chadli from Tottenham. Both players will make their debuts in this match and will boost both teams that have not had results go the way they’d like so far this season.
The home side sit second bottom of the league having lost to Manchester United and West Ham before taking a point at Crystal Palace while West Brom have beaten Palace in their first match of the season before losing to Everton and drawing with Middlesbrough to claim four points, but letting the lead slip at home to The Toffees will hurt Tony Pulis most. His side have recorded 23 clean sheets under his management since taking over in January 2015 and he’ll be desperate to add to that and we feel that this way of thinking will be the way that the match is played. We can see both sides sitting deep and aiming not to concede before bagging a goal of their own and, as a result of this, we see few goals in this one.
These two sides meet for the first time since the 2012/13 season when both teams claimed home victories and eight goals were scored – although it was Palace who were promoted to the EPL via the Play Offs – and the home side will be looking to continue their unbeaten start to their first campaign back in the top flight after seven years while the away team will be desperate to collect a first victory of the season. Can Alan Pardew upset the formbook and some terrible luck to win this match?
Palace are out of the bottom three on goal difference alone and if not for Scott Dann’s 90th minute leveller against Bournemouth before the international break they would be bottom with no points at all. They have made some signings to hopefully turn their fortunes around, but striker Loic Remy has returned to Chelsea after suffering injury shortly after signing on loan and midfielder Yohan Cabaye is out too. However, Christian Benteke – and his younger brother who Pardew has included in the squad – is ready to go and he’ll be aiming to fire in the goals to get his career back on track after a torrid time at Liverpool.
Boro welcome George Friend, Marten de Roon and Victor Valdes from injury and they’ll be strong once again, but they’ve thrived in being the underdogs so far. It’ll be difficult to play the offensive football that is expected from the home favourites as Palace still have enough quality to make life hard despite their poor results and we feel that this match may see the biggest upset – odds wise at least – in the league.
We are backing Crystal Palace to beat Middlesbrough on the Draw No Bet market at odds of 2.37 in the Bet365 Sportsbook!
The fates of these two sides have been intertwined recently with them both being promoted to the EPL at the end of last season having been relegated to the second tier the previous season. As the sides have shared the same divisions during this time they have clashed on four occasions and it is Sean Dyche’s Burnley that has done the better as The Clarets have won three of these meetings 1-0, losing only at the KC Stadium last season. However, it is Hull who have started the better of these two sides despite having an awful pre-season followed by a large number of injuries and they come into this match in fifth place in the top flight having won two of their first three games. Can they make it three from four today?
Hull are still without a permanent manager after Steve Bruce left before the season to leave Mike Phelan in charge and the caretaker could easily be taking manager of the month for August his side have played as a team with heart and desire to defeat reigning champions Leicester and Swansea before coming within seconds of drawing with Manchester United. The manager has brought in six new faces to boost the side and all are available for this match to freshen up the side, but can he see off a compact Burnley side?
The Clarets have been active in the transfer market too as they have boosted their midfield and attacking options with Jeff Hendrick and Patrick Bamford, and this was needed after failing to score against Swansea and Chelsea in the league as well as Accrington Stanley in the cup. They did show that they can beat anyone on their day with the 2-0 win over Liverpool too, but we can see Hull’s team spirit making things difficult for the home side.
Best EPL Picks:
While confident in all eight of these selections from Saturday’s EPL action, we’ve selected our favourite trio of EPL picks to make it easy for you to decide what offers the best value:
- Home win in the Manchester Derby @ 2.37: With Aguero banned for this match and City leaking goals this season, United are the deserved favourites with home advantage and we’re backing the home win.
- West Ham to beat Watford @ 1.90: West Ham have played well for the most part this season but have not always got the results, but with Dmitri Payet back for this match they’ll be far too strong for The Hornets.
- Leicester/Draw Double Chance v Liverpool @ 2.20: Liverpool have shown that they can play football this season, but they’re weak defensively and will be even more so in this match as they’re missing players at the back. Expect the champions to be ruthless and take something from Anfield.