A 13/5 winner from his picks last weekend, Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) returns with three more Premier League shouts this weekend.
Crystal Palace v Aston Villa | Saturday 15:00
As you’ll be aware, I’m flying the flag for Crystal Palace this season. In fact I’ve backed them on the handicap. After a professional win over Norwich on opening day Palace enhanced their reputation even further on Sunday despite losing to Arsenal. The fact the Gunners had to fight and niggle their way to three points was just what I expected and it speaks volumes for the improvement Palace have made.
This is a side I expect to finish in the Top 10; since Alan Pardew arrived in the opening hours of 2015 the side have been transformed. After being in the relegation mire when he turned up, Pardew managed to get his side into the Top 10 after a spectacular second half of the season.
Summer signings like Yohan Cabaye and Patrick Bamford have increased the feel-good factor around Selhurst Park and the only way is up for the club.
On Saturday they face Aston Villa and at 5/6 I have to get involved. Palace need to be beating teams like Aston Villa at home if they want to mingle with the European spots.
Yes, it’s fair to say the South London club found it tough on home soil last season with just six wins from 19 but surely that’s an area Pardew has targeted for improvement. This provides an ideal opportunity to attack that hitherto weakness.
Leicester v Tottenham | Saturday 15:00
One of the best things about this time of year is taking on short-term views. People are quick to form strong opinions on the basis of a couple of games – one of those kicking about at the moment is that Claudio Ranieri is a good appointment for Leicester. That was a quick about-turn eh?!
I’ve put Leicester up for relegation and I’m not willing to toss my slip away after two games. Look I could be wrong about Ranieri but I need to see more evidence before I dig into humble pie.
The three sides I’ve tipped to finish in the bottom three are Sunderland, Leicester and West Ham. Leicester so far have played Sunderland and West Ham so as you can imagine I don’t think the form of their victories is up to much.
While Leicester are feeling good, it’s not the same for Spurs. They’ve picked up just one point from their two matches so far and blew a 2-0 lead at home to Stoke last weekend. Having said that though, I think they’re a much better side than Leicester.
Tottenham are 7/4 to win this game and that could look huge by Christmas. Spurs beat them both times in the league last season and finished 23 points ahead of the Foxes.
Yes, they’re are a few issues with the club and you’d like to see more new blood come in before the window shuts, but I’d be surprised if they finished outside the Top 6.
Spurs were 5/4 in this fixture last season and now we’re getting 7/4. That feels too big a jump. Rather than back them outright I’ll back them at 68/67 off 0 on the Asian Handicap (essentially Draw No Bet). Nine points out of nine for Leicester is not something I’m expecting.
Norwich v Stoke | Saturday 15:00
Norwich manager Alex Neil is my favourite person in English football. What an inspiration he is. 34 years old, understated, Scottish and successful. Neil has already secured promotion with Norwich and has caught the eye of many – including the bookmakers.
I say that as I think his Norwich side look a tad short on Saturday against Stoke at 7/5. Similar to my sentiments on Crystal Palace, I feel this is a fixture ambitious and aspirational Stoke should not be losing.
Mark Hughes’ side have started the season fairly well. An unfortunate 1-0 defeat to Liverpool was followed by a tremendous comeback draw at White Hart Lane on Saturday.
Their signings have been well documented and the club is looking upwards after a ninth place finish in 2014/15. Hughes will surely be targeting something from this game.
Norwich were a little unfortunate to lose against Crystal Palace on opening day but fought back from that well to beat Sunderland last week. That was Sunderland though. The team that I expect to finish bottom this season.
This might be the Canaries toughest test yet this season and it’ll be interesting to see how Neil marshals his troops. A win would be a tremendous achievement.
Stoke are 12/5 to win this match, but like in the previous game I’ll back them in the Draw No Bet market (or rather Asian Handicap 0) at 11/8. As much as I love the brilliant Alex Neil I can’t see him masterminding victory here.
Crystal Palace v Aston Villa – Crystal Palace to win (5/6 Bet365)
Leicester v Tottenham – Tottenham 0 Asian Handicap (68/67 BetVictor)
Norwich v Stoke – Stoke 0 Asian Handicap (11/8 BetVictor)
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