DANIEL MCCULLOCH (@DMcCulloch1984) has been in outstanding form so far this season. He's back attacking the Saturday 3pm Premier League games
Arsenal vs West Ham | Saturday 25th August, 15:00
Pointless Arsenal take on pointless West Ham at The Emirates on Saturday afternoon in an encounter that I believe will be tighter than the bookies anticipate.
The tactics of new Gunners boss Unai Emery have come under fire at the start of the season but while zero points from two games is clearly a concerning statistic, I don’t think realistic Arsenal supporters expected much from the game with Manchester City and they were a tad unfortunate to lose to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
With all due respect to their opponents this weekend, West Ham are an easier proposition and I believe their start should be far more concerning to their supporters than Arsenal’s. Jack Wilshere and Mark Noble look too pedestrian and ill-disciplined in the centre of midfield and there is the familiar concern of support to Marko Arnautovic.
All things considered, I really struggle to see West Ham getting their first point of the season in this match. For all Arsenal’s problems in the last few seasons, one area they haven’t struggled is at home to sides beneath them in the league table.
Since the start of the 2014-2015 season, they’ve won 47/56 (84%) of home games against sides who have finished 7-20th. Moreover, they have dominated this particular encounter, winning eight of their last ten games when hosting the Hammers.
There are two bets that really take my fancy here. Firstly, Arsenal to win and under 4.5 goals to be scored. That is available at 9/10 with BetVictor. It has been a winner in six of their last ten home games against The Hammers and 36 of their last 56 (64%) home fixtures against sides outside of the top half dozen.
If you want a more aggressive punt, I like the look of Arsenal and under 3.5 goals at 6/4 with the same firm. That would have been a winner in 54% of games against said teams in the last four seasons. I would recommend putting 60% of your stake on the second bet, so you are still in profit if Arsenal win 4-0 or 3-1.
There are concerns about Arsenal’s backline, but I think that has been the case throughout the last few seasons so while I wouldn’t rule out a West Ham goal, we will still break-even if they win 2-1 or 3-1.
Southampton vs Leicester | Saturday 25th August, 15:00
Last season, 63% (23/38) of Leicester games and 55% (21/38) of Southampton games saw both sides find the net. I am therefore surprised that Paddy Power are offering Evens on said bet this weekend.
Jamie Vardy is missing for Leicester but in Demarai Gray, Kelechi Iheanacho and James Maddison, they still have the potential to cause opponents plenty of problems and they certainly have issues at the back.
Only Wolves can explain how they failed to find the net last weekend and I expect Southampton to trouble them tomorrow. Danny Ings and Charlie Austin struck up a decent partnership at Burnley and I wouldn’t be surprised if both of them returned double figure goals returns this season.
All things considered, I would take this bet if it was 5/6 so Evens is far too big. I originally looked at Leicester in the DNB market but I think this is better value.
I originally looked in the Bournemouth vs Everton goal scorer market to see what price Gylfi Sigurdsson was. The Icelandic international is playing more centrally for Marco Silva’s side and I expect a good goal return for him this season.
However, I couldn’t justify a 12/1 punt when Richarlison is available at 8/1 (Bet365) in the same market. The Brazilian has been a constant threat in his opening two games for the Toffees, scoring three goals in those matches, including the first goal against Wolves. He has gone a long way to justifying his transfer fee and I expect you won’t be getting such a price in a couple of months.
As usual, I would recommend around 20% of your usual stake on such a bet.
Arsenal v West Ham – Arsenal to win & under 4.5 goals (9/10 BetVictor)
Arsenal v West Ham – Arsenal to win & under 3.5 goals (6/4 BetVictor)
Southampton v Leicester– Both Teams To Score (1/1 Paddy Power)
Bournemouth v Everton – Richarlison first-goalscorer (8/1 Bet365)