Tottenham v Burnley
Great at home but rubbish away, Owen Coyle will be hoping to change that at White Hart Lane. Hoping but not really expecting. Tottenhams perfect start to the season came to an end with two straight defeats but in fairness they were against Chelsea and Manchester United. Burnley arent quite on par with either of those sides and Harry Redknapp will be hoping to get things back on track with a good win. Crouch, Defoe and Keane all hit the net in the league cup and whoever the manager goes with will fancy their chances of adding a few more in this game. Modric wont be as badly missed against this level of opponent and Spurs -1 goal at 10/11 looks a very decent bet.
Portsmouth v Everton
Bottom of the table and pointless Portsmouth against a resurgent Everton whove won four of their last five, scoring eleven goals in their last three wins? It appears to be an easy one to call but you have to take into account that two of Evertons high-scoring wins came against an embarrassingly poor AEK Athens and Hulls reserve team, plus despite some good results theyre still awaiting their first away win in the league. Portsmouth, though pointless, have lost their three home games by just the one goal and the little bit of confidence gained from beating Carlisle should see them put up a decent fight. Everton are playing with confidence and with all their strikers now fit and available,Â the defence shored up, Osman knocking on the door of the England squad and Bilyaletdinov looking a very shrewd addition,Â the Toffees should take the three points. Cahill is always a good bet to grab a goal in a tight game, while the returning Yakubu looks sharp and hungry.
Birmingham v Bolton
Neither side has looked particularly good or bad so far, and this one doesnt promise to be a very exciting affair. A draw appears the most likely result though Ecuadorian striker Christian Benitez looks a match winner for Birmingham and could make the difference for a home win.
Blackburn v Aston Villa
After losing their first two games of the season Aston Villa have won six on the trot, keeping clean sheets in their last four. Blackburn have been physical and generally uninventive as is Allardyces way and the home side will look to make things as uncomfortable as possible for the visitors. Villas much improved backline should be able to cope with Rovers direct approach and having won impressively at Anfield and dealt with the pressure to win the derby in St Andrews, they look to have the steel and creativity to take the win. Agbonlahor to make it five in five?
Liverpool v Hull
The naysayers have quitened down thanks to a run of five wins and though they havent always impressed, confidence will be growing in the Liverpool camp. Hull have shipped some big numbers already this season and with an unimpressive frontline and a very breachable defence Liverpools confidence could get a further boost with a big win. Yossi Benayoun has been in excellent form and Hull have a defence hell fancy his chances of dancing through. Fernando Torres hasnt been at his best but has been getting sharper with every game and scoring goals along the way. The Spaniard and the Israeli could have some fun here.
Stoke v Man Utd
A defence struggling with injuries, an inconsistent and imbalanced midfield and only one striker in real form. Yet they keep on winning. Manchester United look to be playing themselves in to form and though theyre still far from impressive, they keep managing to pick up the points. Luck, and the referees watch, have been on their side and unless they improve all over the pitch they could well drop some points in this game. Chelsea needed four minutes of extra time to grab a win at the Britannia Stadium and its not a ground any team will relish visiting this season. United are unlikely to be given such a generous time allowance this weekend and with Stoke and Burnley being very similar sides at home, Tony Pulis will be optimistic of holding the champions and his optimism may well be rewarded. A win at 8/1 would be a great result but Pulis would happily take the draw at 7/2.
Wigan v Chelsea
10/1 for a shock home win anyone? Its certainly worth a small punt if youre a believer of the It has to happen sometime school of betting. Unfortunately, a freak result aside, the facts show that Wigan have already been hammered by both Arsenal and Manchester United. Chelsea are in better form than either of their top 4 friends and should be expected to cruise to victory. If Drogba starts hes the one to back for first goal with Lampard a very close second. Chelsea -2 goals at 13/5 could reward the braver amongst you.
Fulham v Arsenal
Chelsea won at Craven Cottage when they made the short trip there last month but then the Blues are well suited to breaking down stubborn sides. Arsenal not so much. Fulham are a tough proposition at home and Arsenal may struggle on a small pitch, with the home fans creating an uncomfortable atmosphere. Arshavin would be a welcome return for Wenger but without him the Gunners may struggle against Fulhams solid defence. The 5/1 on the home side could be the outside bet of weekend, especially with Arsenal conceding goals a little too easily and losing their last two away fixtures in the league, but the draw looks a better choice. 1-1 at 6/1 has a nice ring to it.
Sunderland v Wolves
Burnley and Stoke are difficult places for anyone to visit while no one has managed to stop Chelsea so far this season so Steve Bruce wont be too disappointed with his sides start to the season. Darren Bent looks reinvigorated since his move up north and with a slimmer Andy Reid providing, Sunderland will certainly create chances against the midlanders. Wolves have battled to some good results but theres a distinct lack of star quality in the side and would be very happy with a draw at the Stadium of Light. If the home side take their chances then theyll ease to a comfortable win.
Man City v West Ham
Adebayor is still out but Craig Bellamy has been at his tenacious and brilliant best and the circumstances of their defeat at Old Trafford should fire them up to bounce back with a win. Their Carling Cup display wasnt particularly impressive but Fulham are a tough team and its a competition that will be low on Citys inflated goals for the season. West Ham are good side to watch and put in a good showing against Liverpool. Theyre away games so far have been tight, low or no scoring affairs but they may struggle to contain the home side. De Jong providing cover, Ireland providing the passes, Wright-Phillips the width and Bellamy the fire up front. If they play with the passion they did against their local, if not city, rivals, then West Ham will fall valiantly again. Lescott for first goal can pay the same rewards at City as during his time with Everton.
By Rob Dore
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