Saturday 18th October
Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur 12.45
Fresh from the international break and this Irish supporter has completely forgotten that football exists outside of that arena. And so it is, with somewhat of a bump, that one is hit by this opening match between City and Spurs. City sit second in the table some 5 points behind Chelsea in first. After a stuttering start, Spurs have steadied themselves in recent games with two wins and two draws in their last four games.
However, the head-to-head battles between these teams over the last three seasons makes for grim reading if one were of a Spurs persuasion, City having won all the games and often times by quite some margin with the aggregate score from last season reading 11-1 in favour of the Citizens. The bookies anticipate no difference this time either with City favourites to win; a price of 1/2 is available from bwin.com amongst others. Money in the bag, one would think.
Arsenal v Hull 15.00
This is an intriguing match, mainly due to the fact that Arsenal are already mired in their now traditional injury crisis. Quotes from Wenger during the week suggest he is mystified by what is happening to his players but he is surely in a myopic minority of one in this regard as any armchair pundit could call this before the season had even begun. Due to injury, he is now without Ozil, Giroud, Koscielny, Ramsay, Sanogo, Giroud, Debuchy and Walcott as well as the suspended Chambers.
The eagle-eyed amongst you will note that three of the players mentioned above are defenders, an area of the field that Arsenal were hardly overflowing with prior to the beginning of the season. In fact, it is an area of the field that Wenger saw fit to leave himself a man short, with three defenders leaving whilst only two were brought in. Against this series of utterly avoidable calamities, we have Hull coming in off the back of an impressive win against Crystal Palace. There’s little doubt that Arsenal are still favourites but I wouldn’t be entirely surprised by an upset with Betvictor offering 4/1 for the draw and Boylesports are dangling a price of 8/1 for the Hull win.
Burnley v West Ham 15.00
Hardly a marquee match but one which is offering some tasty odds. West Ham have surprised many with their open, more offensive style this year; a style which has reaped dividends to the tune of 10 points which leaves them joint fifth in the table. Not unsurprisingly, this has come at a cost to a defence which kept fourteen clean sheets last season but has only managed one in their first seven games of this one. Luckily for them, they are up against an extremely goal-averse Burnley side who have managed just three scored in their last eight games.
Having said that, Burnley possess a relatively mean defence, with clean sheets in three of their matches thus far. Still, West Ham really should account for them tomorrow and the price of 7/4 for an away win from Ladbrokes looks far too good to pass up.