BACK after the international break, Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) picks out his three best Premier League weekend bets.
Arsenal v Southampton | Saturday 15:00
This clash last season was one of the key results of 2015/16 for me. The reverse fixture played on Boxing Day night came fresh after Arsenal beat Manchester City to wrest title favouritism and sit snugly behind Leicester in the festive table.
The match up at St Mary’s resulted in a stunning 4-0 win for Southampton and a huge blot on Arsenal’s copybook. Questions over their mental fragility were thrown at them and it was the prelude to a disappointing second half of the season for the Gunners.
Saturday’s renewal looks a bit more straight-forward with the game at the Emirates and the home side ending the first phase of the season on a high after beating Watford.
For Southampton the picture is less rosy. They’ve yet to get off to a winner this season with two draws sandwiching the 2-0 loss at Old Trafford in mid-August.
Saints’ other opponents were Watford and Sunderland so it’s a little bit concerning they failed to garner a win over those sides, the Hornets had the better of their fixture on opening day and a 1-1 draw at home to Sunderland looks poor.
Claude Puel is clearly taking time to find his feet on the South Coast and while things may improve on Saturday I doubt they get close to Arsenal to be honest.
8/13 on Arsenal seems a very fair price. In fact, in my opinion it’s too big so I’m heading straight to the handicap markets here and backing Arsenal -1 on the Asian Handicap at 41/40 with Marathon Bet.
This bet means that if Arsenal win by exactly one goal my stake gets returned and anything bigger sees a full payout. I’m fairly certain I won’t be losing cash here.
Why back Arsenal with so much confidence? Well, it’s these kind of games where they near relentlessly churn out wins. No side won more home games than them in the division last year and when faced with sides below the very best they tend to take the three points.
The opening day defeat to Liverpool has acted as a sharpener for the club (as per usual) and I expect them to build on their win over Watford and bag another three point haul here against a side who I expect to get nowhere near the levels they reached last season.
Bournemouth v West Brom | Saturday 15:00
Bournemouth and Liverpool for me are always the sides who look too short every week. That looks the case again this weekend with the Cherries just a shade of odds against to oblige. I’m ashamed to say it but I’m breaking my golden rule here and ignoring the price to get into bed with Bournemouth.
A combination of a tough card and a strong feeling has pushed me towards the not-value odds of 21/20 and I hope it doesn’t backfire and leave with me with egg on my face.
Ok, here’s the rationale. I think these sides are at opposite sides of the mood spectrum at the moment. Bournemouth, despite poor form, look in a happy place after the impressive capture of Jack Wilshere on loan, a transfer that would have sounded so utterly absurd just three years ago.
Their form this season hasn’t been great with just one point accrued but there have been a few positives. They’re the only side so far in the Premier League to score against Manchester United, they were unfortunate to lose to West Ham and probably deserved all three points against Crystal Palace two weeks ago. A one point return doesn’t seem fair.
Their opponents on Saturday have four points to their name but it’s been a frustrating season so far for West Brom. Winners over Crystal Palace on opening day was followed by home defeat to Everton and a draw against Middlesbrough in what was a torrid game.
Off the field though it’s been worse. Their transfer business over the window looks very light and there seems a real disconnect between the fans and manager Tony Pulis. That disconnect may also spread to the new owners and it looks like the Welshman is involved in his final throes at the club.
So for me there’s a sense that this match brings together positivity and negativity and naturally I want to be with the happy side. The Cherries took four points off West Brom last season and beat Manchester United and Southampton at the Vitality Stadium. Hopefully they’ll have another rousing home performance on Saturday.
Liverpool v Leicester | Saturday 17:30 | BT Sport 1
The lunchtime fixtures on Saturday have very much overshadowed this match but Liverpool v Leicester looks another intriguing encounter on an epic Saturday. Naturally Liverpool look like going off too short at 4/6 but it’s a goals angle I like in this Anfield showdown.
Backing Liverpool at odds on looks a very dangerous hobby. We saw that three weeks ago when they were beaten and shut out by Burnley and indeed at various points last season they were given a bloody nose by sides much further down the table (Newcastle and Watford spring to mind).
No, Liverpool are a side (for the moment) to side with when up against fellow Top 4 challengers. This theory has already come to fruition this season with Jurgen Klopp’s side winning against Arsenal on the opening weekend.
But how do we categorise this fixture? Leicester are of course champions but were a bigger price in the betting than Liverpool at the start of the season and come into this match closing in on 5/1 quotes.
My feeling is that I’d much rather back Leicester than Liverpool at the prices but feel that a Foxes win is unlikely. Goals look on the cards though and that’s why I’m backing Both Teams To Score at 7/10 with Marathon Bet.
There remain issues with Liverpool’s defence and any side taking them on just now must be approaching the game with hope that they can unlock their rearguard.
Arsenal breached their defence three times, Burnley twice and Tottenham once last week. With 68 goals scored last season Leicester can get in on the act here.
If you go back to last season Liverpool have conceded in seven of their last eight Premier League matches. It’s stats like that that make BTTS appealing.
Leicester themselves have leaked in five of their last six Premier League matches and with a new look Anfield making it’s 2016/17 bow you’d imagine that there will be a real strong current behind Liverpool.
1-1 and 2-1 Liverpool appeal to me in this match but I’ll keep it simple and back Both Teams To Score at 7/10 with Marathon Bet. Hopefully this game can bring just as much excitement as the lunchtime matches earlier in the day.