AFTER a full house last week Chris Graham (@ChrisGraham79) returns for more Premier League glory.
Arsenal v Stoke | Saturday 15:00
When you look at this fixture you immediately feel a sense of fear for Arsenal. They’ve had some bad episodes against Stoke in recent years.
There was the time two years ago this weekend when they were 3-0 down before half-time and Arsene Wenger was met with a chorus of boos at the railway station.
It’s fair to say they’ve never been able to put away the Potters in the Potteries but in North London it’s an entirely different matter. Yes, while Arsenal have won just one of their last 10 matches in Stoke, they won their last 14 games at home to the Potters. A staggering contrast!
While I enjoy the trends and fun of head to head stats it’s usually not something that would influence my betting strategy. However in this case I’ll make an exception. 14 times in a row is an incredible run of dominance.
There are of course lots of reasons to back Arsenal just now. They sit second in the table, are fresh from smashing West Ham 5-1 and have the warm glow of winning their Champions League group for the first time in 11 years emanating from them.
While I applaud Arsenal, I’m also a keen respecter of Stoke. They’re up in ninth now after a superb run of five wins from their last seven Premier League games and a Top 8 finish looks a very realistic prospect.
Mark Hughes’ side have kept it generally respectable at Arsenal in recent seasons and that’s what I anticipate on Saturday. The Potters have kept three clean sheets in their last seven matches and haven’t conceded more than one since mid-September. There’s a lot to like about them.
Ultimately though, it may be another fruitless journey to Islington but I doubt they’re in for a hammering and I’m happy to back an Arsenal win and Under 3.5 Goals at a generous 17/10 with Marathon Bet.
Burnley v Bournemouth | Saturday 15:00
There is a lot of love for Bournemouth at the moment after their fabulous comeback win over Liverpool on Sunday and quite rightly so. For me though the love has always been there for the Cherries when it comes to the views of the bookmakers.
I’ve rarely backed Eddie Howe’s side because I always feel they go off short and never seem a value proposition at the odds. With this factor in place along with their rousing win on Sunday it’s no surprise to see them as skinny as 13/10 for their trip to Burnley on Saturday.
Now, a team I have backed a lot this season is Burnley. Their unfashionable name, manager and style of play has lent itself to big prices and on Saturday they’re 5/2 to beat the Cherries.
You’re probably aware of Burnley’s home form this season but it is worth reiterating. For starters they’re in the Top 7 of the Home Table and only Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham have won more home fixtures than them.
Defeats came against Arsenal and Man City but the Clarets played with real credit in both these games. The other defeat was on the opening day of the season against Swansea – a very long time ago. As for victories, both Liverpool and Everton were beaten at Turf Moor and let’s not forget they got a point at Old Trafford too.
Yes, there’s lots of ticks on the Bournemouth side of the paper but you could say they’ve struggled against bottom half sides this season. Sunderland, Middlesbrough and West Ham have all beaten them this season and they’ve dropped points against Crystal Palace and Watford. They can be got at!
At the odds I’ll sidle in with Burnley here at 8/11 to avoid defeat on Saturday. It’s a home record that deserves the utmost of respect.
Leicester v Manchester City | Saturday 17:30 | BT Sport 1
It’s never a smart move backing odds on shots away from home but I feel an urge to get with Manchester City here in the teatime game at Leicester.
The Foxes fall from champions to bottom end of the mid-table is the perfect example of the Hangover Theory but it’s now getting to the stage where they might not be able to go into work on the Monday after an incredible Saturday night.
A mainstay of their form was always their record at the King Power and they only lost once there last season. That excellent record bled into this campaign when they went unbeaten in their opening five league matches on home turf.
Wins over the likes of Swansea, Crystal Palace and Burnley rather hid the true facts though and the shit really started to hit the fan when they lost 2-1 at the King Power to West Brom in early November.
Perhaps they felt their sheen of home invincibility had been peeled away from them that day because ever since they’ve taken just one point from fixtures against Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Watford. Worrying indeed.
Man City are a big step up from that trio and Leicester could feel the force of their ire after losing at home to Chelsea last weekend. This isn’t a three points the Citizens can afford to spurn.
Not sure whether we should read too much into Leicester’s 5-0 loss on Wednesday night as it was a second-string side but ultimately it can’t have done any good and wouldn’t have imbued Claudio Ranieri with much confidence.
I’ve felt all season that Man City are better away from the questionable atmosphere of the Etihad and form figures of P7 W6 D0 L1 in the league certainly back that up.
The absence of Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho is certainly a worry but Leicester could also be missing (in spirit) last season’s talismen Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy.
Arsenal v Stoke – Arsenal to win and Under 3.5 Goals (17/10 Marathon Bet)
Burnley v Bournemouth – Burnley +0.5 (8/11 Marathon Bet)
Leicetser v Manchester City – Manchester Cit to win (71/100 Marathon Bet)
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