CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraham79) takes to the floor with his three best bets of the Premier League weekend.
Burnley v Manchester City | Saturday 12:30 | BT Sport 1
Tough game to assess this. Burnley’s 4-0 defeat at the hands of West Brom on Monday night was manna from heaven for the data geeks. They’d been screaming down our lugs for weeks now that the Clarets were over-performing on their shots numbers and it certainly came home to roost on Monday.
Next up for the gritty side are title favourites Man City and it will be intriguing to see how Sean Dyche’s men react to their Monday spanking. As usual, the odds guide me towards my decision.
The thing is with Man City at the moment they’re just not cruising down the Premier League road. It’s been an odd October and November with just two wins from their six league games.
Pep Guardiola’s side managed to take all three points last weekend but it was hardly emphatic as they slouched past struggling Crystal Palace 2-1 aided by the hitherto ostracised Yaya Toure.
Man City are simply not a side I can trust at short prices and bookmakers have chalked them up at 1/3 here against a side with a fantastic home record this season.
It’s too short for me of course but one thing to consider is City’s stronger form away from the occasionally maligned Etihad. The title favs sit top of the away table with five wins from six games. Their only slip up came at Spurs in a performance that will rank as one of the finest under Mauricio Pochettino, so let’s not be harsh there.
So that simply leads me towards Both Teams To Score here. We know City are proficient away from the Etihad and have notched in 11 of their 12 Premier League matches this season while the stats also shine on Burnley.
The Clarets lie in the Top 4 of the home table after four wins from their seven matches at Turf Moor. Goals have come in five of their last six games there and they’ve gone Over 1.5 in three of the last four.
You could certainly make a case that Monday’s humbling defeat at the hands of West Brom might damage the spirit and belief that the shrewd Dyche has harvested but at 9/1 I’m happy to chance them to oblige on a secondary market.
Leicester v Middlesbrough | Saturday 15:00
Now that a place in the Champions League Last 16 has been secured via the group winners position Leicester can focus back on the Premier League. There’s a general assumption in the media that they’ll scoot up the table on the back of this but it’s not a cert for me.
Having said all that, while the feels are still alive from their brilliant night on Tuesday I think they’ll put up a good performance here against a buoyant home crowd.
Naturally it’s the price that draws me in. 9/10 looks attractive for a side with just one Premier League home loss in the last 14 months. That loss of course came last time out against West Brom but it really was a blip in the grand scheme of things.
Middlesbrough deserve a lot of plaudits for the way they’ve been exceptionally hard to break down recently. They haven’t lost by more than one goal in over two months and have squared up to four of the Top 5 in that period.
Hull, Swansea and Burnley await Middlesbrough before the death of 2016 and that spells a great opportunity for Aitor Karanka’s side to jump up the table as we hit the halfway mark of the season.
So while there’s certainly lots to like about Boro I’m going to oppose them here and get with the champions at 9/10. It’s a price I’m not willing to ignore while the good vibes hang around them.
Liverpool v Sunderland | Saturday 15:00
I took a bit of a pounding last week when opposing Sunderland in their six pointer against Hull. A 3-0 win for the Black Cats was not what I expected but in truth I was delighted for David Moyes.
This looks a gruesome challenge though as he takes his troops to Anfield (a place he’s historically struggled at) to take on a Liverpool side with no defeat to their name in over three months.
I still feel it’s going to be a fruitless, ugly few months for Sunderland and David Moyes and the positive bubble of the last three weeks should get pricked here.
In fairness, as always with Liverpool, it’s a nightmare trying to side with them as they get priced up so short and 1/5 is hard to get aroused by. Even backing them -2 on the Asian Handicap only offers quotes of around 4/6. But the thing is, Sunderland rarely get hammered.
In 13 Premier League matches this season the Black Cats have gone down by more than one goal on only three occasions. Everton and Arsenal are the only sides to take them out by more than two goals.
Of course, Liverpool can be electric. We saw that against Watford and Crystal Palace recently but they looked a lot flatter last week against Southampton in a nothing-to-be-ashamed-of 0-0 draw against Southampton.
David Moyes has intimated he’ll be setting up his side with an emphasis on staying strong and not conceding and it’s not silly to suggest they can keep it tight like they did against Man City on opening day and against Spurs in September.
Summing up, I’ll take the 11/10 on a Liverpool win in a match involving three goals or fewer. Six of Sunderland’s eight league defeats have come in this way and I’m hoping it occurs again on Saturday.
Burnley v Manchester City – Both Teams To Score (9/10 Marathon Bet)
Leicester v Middlesbrough – Leicetser to win (9/10 Marathon Bet)
Liverpool v Sunderland – Liverpool to win and Under 3.5 Goals (11/10 Marathon Bet)