By Antony Jordan
The international break is over and the Premier League returns to our TV screens and bet slips with a bang this weekend as the last two EPL champions in Chelsea and Leicester do battle at Stamford Bridge in the early kick off!
As well as this thrilling start to round eight of the season there is also the clash of Man City and Everton as well as the evening game of Crystal Palace and West Ham that promise action, excitement and, most importantly, goals. We preview all of the seven matches playing around England this Saturday with online sportsbook Bet365.com to provide our best EPL picks.
The opening match from this weekend’s EPL action sees the second meeting of Chelsea and Leicester this season following a thrilling six goal, two hour match in the EFL Cup that saw The Foxes looking in great shape to progress until a Gary Cahill goal at the half time whistle saw them lead only 2-1 at half time before losing 4-2 at the end of extra time. Claudio Ranieri’s men will have revenge on their minds for this match, but with three defeats in three EPL matches away from The King Power Stadium this season will they be able to manage to upset the odds?
The Foxes triumphed 2-1 on home soil against Chelsea last season and recorded a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge, but with their poor away form as well as the likelihood of seeing Danny Drinkwater and Nampalys Mendy miss this match through injury they will not be confident of ending their away day hoodoo this season.
Chelsea are not in the best of form either as they have won just one of their last five games in all competitions and two of these clashes have seen them second best to Liverpool and Arsenal. However, with Leicester conceding ten goals in three away matches this season and Diego Costa in fine form, as well the fact that four Stamford Bridge based games this season have produced 14 goals, we feel that there is will goals in this first match back after the international break.
We are backing Over 2.5 goals to be scored and Both Teams to Score – Yes at odds of 2.10 in this Chelsea v Leicester clash.
The international break will not have been a comfortable time for new Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola as his side saw their lead at the top of the Premier League slashed in their final match before the break as they were comfortably beaten by Tottenham and now they face the impressive Everton upon their return to action. The sides shared the spoils on this ground last season as they played out a 0-0 draw and with the teams looking for their first win in three and four matches respectively they’ll both be out to avoid another draw at The Etihad this weekend.
City have been boosted by news of good injury recoveries for a number of players, including Vincent Kompany, Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Stirling, but this game may still come too soon for these big game players. However, with nine goals scored in three home matches this season City certainly have more than enough to bag goals in this game no matter who plays and who remains on the sidelines.
After winning five matches in a row in league and cup between the end of August and mid-September Everton have scored just one goal in their last three matches and still finding their feet under manager Ronald Koeman at this early phase of the 2016/17 campaign. The Dutch manager will hope that they international break will have given his men time to recharge for this clash – and seeing defender Leighton Baines return from injury will be a massive boost. However both teams have had players playing around the world over the last two weeks so we expect there to be tiredness and mistakes creeping in late on, so we are also backing goals in one of the biggest clashes of the weekend – with the rested Romelu Lukaku being the pick of the bunch!
There would have been very few people who would have predicted that after seven matches of the season that Crystal Palace would come into their game against West Ham this weekend ten places and seven points better off than a West Ham side mired in the relegation zone having taken just four points so far. Last season saw Palace barely win in 2016 while West Ham raced towards Europe, but Palace have won three and drawn two of their last five games to sit in the top eight coming into this weekend as Christian Benteke has already lived up to his billing as key striker as he settles in South London. He wrote his name into the record books during the week after the first goal of a hat-trick against Gibraltar was scored after just seven seconds, but can he fire The Eagles to all three points at Selhurst Park too?
West Ham have a serious amount of injuries since the season has begun and this has prevented manager Slaven Bilic from playing his favoured side and the areas that The Hammers have been worst hit are defensive ones. They have the worst defensive record in the division with 17 goals conceded in seven matches and with 11 of their 12 away EPL games played in 2016 having seen at least three goals scored we feel that this will be another game that will treat to a number of goals this weekend.
Welcome to the Premier League Bob Bradley! The former Team USA manager takes over his first match in England this weekend as his Swansea side travel to the capital and The Emirates to clash with an Arsenal side that is unbeaten in nine in all competitions since losing 4-3 to Liverpool on the opening weekend, winning seven of those. With strikers Fernando Llorente and Jefferson Montero out of this match with injury and them scoring less than a goal a game so far this season this’ll be a tough one, but are there any weak spots they can take advantage of in North London?
Arsene Wenger will see Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey remain on the sidelines for this match, but with ten goals scored and five conceded (four of which came against Liverpool) in four games on home soil this season, including beating Southampton, Chelsea and Basel, the hosts will not be short on confidence. We believe in them too and we see them taking all three points against a Swansea side with just a single win this season – and we see The Gunners doing it in style too with Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott adding to their first half goal tallies so far this season.
Both of these two sides will be happy with their starts to the season as the home side at The Hawthorns sit 9th in the table having won two and drawn three of their seven games so far while Tottenham are looking to go even better than their season long title challenge last time around as they are Man City’s closest challengers as they sit just a point off the summit of the EPL table. Both will be confident for this match as they aim to move up the table even further, but can they separate themselves from each other as four of the last six meetings have seen both sides share the spoils?
Tottenham are missing Harry Kane for this match still with his ankle injury while midfielder Mousa Dembele is a doubt too, but with Heung-Min Son having netted three in three whilst being the man of the match for these games do they really need Kane right now?
They may very well need the England striker as West Brom are unbeaten in their last three matches and have scored six goals in this time, with four of them coming in the victory of West Ham in their last home game. Add to this the fact that Nacer Chadli is the top goalscorer and assist maker for The Baggies this season following his move from Tottenham and you can be sure that he’ll be desperate to show his former employers what they’re missing in this game.
Chadli offers excellent value to score anytime in this match at odds of 4.50 and we could not argue against anyone backing this match, but we’re sure that Tottenham will get chances in this clash too and we’re taking a more conservative angle on this EPL match.
It has been a story of injuries and failure to win for both Stoke and Sunderland this season as the teams sitting 19th and 20th of the 20 sides in the English top flight do battle at the Bet365 Stadium this Saturday afternoon. This match is vital for both teams and both will see this as a must win as victory could move both sides from the bottom three and into the safe zone with all three points, but which side will claim the points?
Jack Butland, Glen Johnson, Stephen Ireland and Ibrahim Afellay are all definitely out for Stoke for this match, but if they can get Joe Allen, who has netted three in three for club and country, from doubtful onto the pitch then Mark Hughes will be a little more confident of securing all three points for the first time this season and continuing their upturn in fortunes that have seen back to back draws for the first time this campaign.
Sunderland see Vito Mannone, Jan Kirchhoff, Sebastian Larsson, Adnan Januzaj and Fabio Borini all out of this match while the doubtful list is just as long with Jason Denayer, Lee Cattermole, Steven Pienaar and Victor Anichebe touch and go to make this match. With Swansea having already fired their manager there is considerable pressure on David Moyes at Sunderland, but despite collecting just one point in three on the road seeing just single goal defeats to the top two sides in the league shows that Sunderland have fight in them.
Jermaine Defoe has netted four times already this season and with Stoke having kept just two clean sheets in 2016 we feel that, while this match could easily see both sides win or share the spoils, the safe money is on the former England striker to find the net.
The final match of the day we’re previewing sees a first meeting of Bournemouth and Hull since The Tigers triumphed 4-0 on the road in a third tier clash in League One 11 and a half years ago! Much has changed since then as both sides are now in the top flight, but with the home side 13th and their guests two places and one point worse off both sides will feel that they must win this match as they aim to stay out of the drop zone at the foot of the league.
Bournemouth report that a number of players that were away for the international break have returned with serious injuries, although the player names were not released, and Hull have plenty of injury issues themselves with striker Dieumarci Mbokani and defender Michael Dawson the biggest losses. Taking a look at form prior to the international break it is certainly the home side who are the better of the two teams with a 1-0 win over Everton and a 2-2 draw with Watford are far better than 5-1 and 2-0 losses to Liverpool and Chelsea, but with Mike Phelan having been given the Hull job permanently in recent days Hull will be boosted by this and will be out to secure their first win since August.
We see goals in many of the other matches being played this weekend, but we cannot see many being scored at the Vitality Stadium between these sides and if there are goals scored we do not believe that either of these sides will be able to escape from the other at full time. As a result of this we see these two equal teams sharing the spoils and we’re backing the draw on the south coast.