Cardiff are coming out of a run of three incredibly tough fixtures on Saturday, but they aren’t doing so in high spirits. They have had to face Arsenal, Chelsea, and Manchester City this month, and while they were never expected to claim any points from these matches they will still be disappointed after shipping 12 goals in just three games.
Neil Warnock’s men were always likely to struggle in the top flight this season, and they are winless in their opening six Premier League games, with only two points to their name after draws with Newcastle and Huddersfield.
The Bluebird finally managed to score their first goal in their 3-2 loss at home to Arsenal, and they netted again against Chelsea the week after. Unfortunately it’s simply not been enough for them to threaten an upset, but they will be hoping a home match against a struggling Burnley will end their winless run.
Unfortunately for them, Burnley are coming into Sunday’s game in much higher spirits than expected after their shock 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth last weekend. Prior to that, the struggling Clarets were also winless in the league and had managed just one point from a possible 15, but such a morale boosting victory could well be enough to revitalise them.
Their 2-1 loss to Burton in the EFL Cup in midweek brought them back down to earth somewhat, but the overwhelming focus will be on the Premier League campaign. They earned an excellent 7th place finish last season against all the odds, but the early efforts of their doomed Europa League campaign severely hampered them in the Premier League. The continental hangover is most certainly a real problem for squads as small as Burnley’s.
These two sides aren’t exactly know for their forward going nature, but we think there could be a few goals in this one. Three of Burnley’s six Premier League outings this season have seen at least three goals scored, and The Clarets netted four last weekend against the in form Bournemouth.
Similarly, three of Cardiff’s outings in the league this season have seen three or more goals, and they have seen 15 goals in their last three outings. Burnley’s five matches against fellow bottom 14 clubs in the Premier League have seen 15 goals in total, an average of three per game.
Due to the perception of both of these sides being overly defensive, we’re getting very generous odds on the Over 2.5 Goals market here, so we’re going to back that along with a 2-1 win for the visitors.
After losing their opening four Premier League games of the new season, despite recruiting a Premier League winning manager and spending big over the summer, there were understandable murmurs of discontent emanating from the tense London Stadium. Could this be yet another season of failure and disappointment for The Hammers?
Well, it certainly could be, but they have gone some way to repairing that early damage done over the last couple of weeks. First, they managed to lay a claim to their first points of the season with an impressive 3-1 win over the equally disappointing Everton, and they followed that with an unusually solid defensive display when they played host to Chelsea last weekend.
Manchester United, on the other hand, will not be entering the game with the same high hopes. They fell to a penalty defeat against Derby in midweek, following on from their 1-1 draw at home to Wolves last weekend. They have won just three of their six Premier League outings this season, and the tension between players, fans, and manager alike is reaching a boiling point.
Shortly before the encounter with Derby it was revealed that Jose Mourinho had told Paul Pogba that he will never captain Manchester United again, a response to some ill considered statements from Pogba that seem to not-so-subtly scathe Mourinho’s tactics. The dispute between Pogba and Mourinho will do nothing but harm Manchester United’s performances on the pitch.
This is an interesting side plot, but as far as the actual game goes we’re not expecting much in the way of goals. West Ham are likely to set up with their backs to the wall like they did against Chelsea, and two of their three home games this season have seen fewer than three goals. The Hammers have scored just one league goal at the London Stadium this season, so backing Under 2.5 Goals here along with a 1-1 draw looks a good choice.
It has been a decent start to the Championship season for Bristol City, however, they have lost their last two games and must respond in this game to stop the rot. Their last match was away at Wigan last Friday night, which finished in a 1-0 win for the hosts. Manager Lee Johnson claimed he was “embarrassed” by the performance and he was partially justified with this emotive response. The team lacked tempo, desire and did not create chances until stoppage time in the second half. Although Bristol City had more possession, Wigan were simply more dynamic with the ball.
This result had followed on from their defeat against West Brom, in which they lost 4-2 away from home. Bristol actually played much better football in that match than against Wigan. They controlled the game for large parts of it but were outdone by some quality counter-attacking by the hosts, in addition to sloppy Bristol defending at times.
Despite these results, however, Bristol had shown their quality in the games preceding the losses. They had won four on the spin, beating promotion rivals Sheffield United and Swansea in determined performances that showed resolute defending, whilst thrashed QPR and Blackburn to complete what was an excellent run of form. It pointed to a settled team that Johnson had wanted after a summer of departures and the good form of new signings like defender Tomas Kalas and striker Andreas Weimann.
Bristol City have also drawn with Nottingham Forest and Bolton Wanderers at the start of the season to ensure they consolidated a top-ten position coming into this match. However, a good performance is needed in this game to maintain confidence and belief that they can reach the promotion places.
After a fantastic start to the season, Aston Villa have tailed off and manager Steve Bruce is under constant pressure to keep his job. This could be a hugely important match in deciding that.
They were unbeaten in their first six matches, even equalling a club record that had stood for 50 years as they started the campaign with three consecutive wins. Victories over Wigan, Hull, and Yeovil in the Carabao Cup were followed by draws with Ipswich, Brentford and Reading. Whilst the team showed great character to achieve this early run, they were never wholly convincing in any of them and accusations of an unclear style of play and problems in defence resurfaced quickly.
Indeed, these claims heightened after being knocked out by League One Burton in the Carabao Cup, as well as being thrashed in an atrocious performance away at Sheffield United, where they went in at half-time three goals down. They then had to rely on Conor Hourihane to score an injury-time equaliser against Blackburn to rescue a point but a 2-0 win against Rotherham offered a little respite for Bruce’s team. However, the pressure was ramped right back up at the weekend with a 2-1 home loss to Sheffield Wednesday. Despite midfielder John McGinn, who has looked a quality signing, scoring arguably the best goal seen in the Championship for several years, his team still lost the game.
It has meant Villa have only got three wins from nine games now and Steve Bruce is under real pressure now to lift the team, otherwise he will be sacked. The new players signed by Bruce, such as Yannick Bolasie, must step up now, as Tammy Abraham did with two goals against Rotherham and McGinn against Sheffield Wednesday. With no new defenders acquired after the exit of Tommy Elphick, their back-line still looks very thin and this could be Villa and Bruce’s undoing.
Thus, this game truly represents a crunch match and one neither can afford to lose this early on in the season. Both teams possess significant attacking quality, so a BTTS bet looks appropriate for this game. The choice for a correct score is 1-1, given the tight nature of the game. The potential lack of confidence, and pressure may lead the teams to cancel each other out. The result would be of benefit to both teams, as Bristol City would stop the losses, whilst Villa would have secured a decent away point.
This Thursday’s clash between Real Valladolid and Levante features two sides that were involved in pretty remarkable weekend games that featured 14 goals in total. Valladolid fought back from 2-0 and 3-1 down to claim an excellent draw at Celta Vigo but it was a disastrous weekend for Levante, who were hammered 6-2 at home by Sevilla.
Clearly it is the hosts that will take greater momentum into this one having scored their first goals of the season in dramatic fashion in Galicia. This game presents them with a golden chance to pick up their first win back in the top flight. Valladolid have impressed at times and gave Barcelona a bit of a fright in their first home game but they remain without a home point and they could really do with rectifying that situation here, as home form is key for any newly promoted team.
As for Levante, the worry may be that their bubble has now burst, with just 1 point from their last 4 matches. Paco Lopez did a brilliant job in guiding them to safety, with 8 wins from their final 11 games last term. However he now faces by far the biggest test of his short time at the helm in trying to muster a response out of his side after a defensive horror-show against Sevilla.
It’s quite a difficult game to read, given it’s hard to know how the two teams will respond to the weekend drama. Valladolid looked like an organised team but one that would offer very little goal threat, until they were forced to chase the game in Vigo. Their ability to score three times in that situation should convince Sergio that a slightly bolder approach is the way to go and he does have some attacking weapons at his disposal, with the likes of Enes Unal up top. We should see a more attacking Valladolid here as they will know this is a game they need to win.
For all their defensive frailties, Levante are always a threat on the break though and they’ve only failed to score twice in 16 matches in La Liga under Paco Lopez. 63% of those games produced goals at each end and backing Both Teams to Score could be worth a punt here at decent odds, certainly when you consider the types of games these sides were involved in at the weekend.
This Wednesday’s match in La Liga will be a good test of the credentials of both Athletic Bilbao and Villarreal. The Basque side are desperate to improve on a poor bottom half finish last term and a win over perennial Europa League hopefuls Villarreal would show they are on the right track. For the visitors they are still looking for the victory that could truly kick their campaign into life.
Their only win so far was a scrappy 1-0 win at Leganes and they were involved in another tight game at the weekend. They failed to make a man advantage pay as their home derby with Valencia ended goalless. While the knives aren’t exactly out, there is a bit of pressure growing on Javier Calleja to improve on a start that has yielded just 5 points from 5 games after a fairly active summer of recruitment.
Athletic Bilbao meanwhile have already shown clear signs that they will be stronger this term although that’s not saying much after a shocking season under José Ángel Ziganda. While they are only a point better off than their opponents, the Basque giants have played a game less and they remain unbeaten despite having faced tough games against Real Madrid and Real Betis. The trip to Betis on Sunday could easily have yielded maximum points with Athletic two up inside twenty minutes but the sending off of Susaeta halfway through allowed the Seville club a route back into a game that would finish level.
It was the second time this season already that Athletic have thrown away a two goal lead to draw so Eduardo Berizzo will be wondering what might have been with even the 1-1 draw with Real Madrid having seen Athletic lead heading into the final thirty minutes. After last season, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’ve forgotten how to see games out and win matches and it would be no surprise to see this one finish level again.
Villarreal have drawn 3 of their last 5 in all competitions too and all their matches have been tight. Overall there’s not a great deal to choose between the teams and backing the Draw appeals in the Full-Time Result market.
Going for Under 2.5 Goals also looks good. Villarreal’s last 4 league games have produced a grand total of just two goals. It’s clear that their new-look midfield and attack isn’t quite clicking yet and Calleja seems to have sacrificed a bit of attacking flair to make sure they are tighter at the back. In a tough away game, they are likely to be pretty cautious again and Athletic may find them tougher to break down than their previous opponents this term.
This all-Premier League encounter on Tuesday night could be what picks out the dark horses in this season’s Carabao Cup. Wolves have shown themselves well-equipped for the top flight following a strong start. They’re in the top half of the table after some good form this season, level on points with Leicester. The 2016 Premier League champions are hungry for more silverware, while Claude Puel is aiming to go one better than he did in this competition with Southampton in 2017. Which of these two will progress to the last 16?
Wolves managed to land a 1-1 draw with Man United at the weekend, a result which has put them in a great position in the league. It came just as the Red Devils looked to be getting back to their best, so it’s a very credible point for the newly promoted side, who are also the only team to take Premier League points off Man City so far this term. Can that form translate to League Cup success this week?
Leicester have been in mixed form across their six games so far, winning three and losing three. They were a cut above in the last round of this competition, winning 4-0 against Fleetwood. However, that win was followed by losses against Liverpool and Bournemouth, so the Foxes do have some issues to deal with. They come in to this week’s cup action following Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Huddersfield, but they face a tough ask to add to that success in this visit to Molineux.
The hosts will be looking to avenge the 2-0 defeat they suffered at the King Power earlier this season. Meanwhile, they’re out for progress in the cup, as the club aren’t merely looking for survival this term. They want to make a major splash in the highest levels of English football, so a cup run would be a strong message from Nuno Espirito Santo’s side. They should certainly make an impression going forward, given that Leicester have conceded in five of their six league games so far.
The visitors aren’t just conceding the odd goal, they ended last season with a 5-4 defeat to Spurs, and so far this term they’ve shipped 10 goals in their six matches. We expect them to concede here, but they’ve also managed to score in every game. The Foxes have seen both teams score in their last five away trips in this competition, while they’ve scored in 22 straight away ties in the League Cup. That great form should bring a goal here, so we’re backing both teams to score with rotated defences likely.
Once again we have a thrilling title race in prospect in Turkey, which has four sides pushing for top spot. However, the opening weeks have been a struggle for Fenerbahce, who are slightly off the pace after their start. They return from a Europa League defeat to face rivals Besiktas in this Istanbul derby on Monday night, but can the hosts claim all three points to turn their season around? Or will the hosts just end up even further off the leaders with another damaging result?
Fenerbahce lost 4-1 at Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday night, which was an awful way to kick off their hopes of a run in the Europa League. They have had a pretty torrid time in the Super Lig of late, losing three of their last four matches in their domestic league. They pulled off a 1-0 win at Konyaspor in their last domestic fixture, but that narrow win wasn’t exactly deserved. Next up brings Besiktas across Istanbul for this encounter, but can they secure a win?
The visitors are certainly in form, with three victories on the bounce ahead of this huge encounter. They seem to be benefiting from their early start to the season in the Europa League, which helped warm them up for the start of the domestic season. With 10 points from their first five matches, they’ve done quite well so far. However, winning this fixture would be a huge message for the recently dethroned champions to send out.
Besiktas managed to win their last Super Lig game, while they’re chasing a victory over their bitter rivals here. The visitors will at least provide us with an entertaining clash, given that they’ve seen both teams score in their last seven matches in the league. The visitors haven’t had the most secure defence of late, and that’s likely to be a problem in Monday’s meeting.
Fener have seen over 2.5 goals scored in 16 of their last 19 home league games, and that run should be extended here. Both of their home matches so far have seen at least three strikes, while four of Besiktas’s five matches have seen over 2.5 goals land. That has us tempted by goals here, and over 2.5 is our main tip, along with a 2-1 victory for the in-form visitors.
West Ham’s torrid start to the new Premier League campaign finally came to an end last weekend as they battled to a 3-1 victory at Goodison Park, ending a run of four consecutive league defeats and lifting them off the bottom of the table.
It’s a promising sign for Manuel Pellegrini, and he’ll be hoping that it sparks the resurgence that the London Stadium are so desperately craving. The Hammers have seen a huge mix up over the summer, with swathes of players leaving and arriving along with the appointment of their new manager. It was always likely to take some time to gel, but they finally seem to be back on track.
They’re certainly not out of the woods yet though. They have already endured trips to Liverpool and Arsenal this season, but their next two Premier League outings see them host both Chelsea and Manchester United, so things could easily take another turn for the worse.
Chelsea are the main threat from these two sides. Maurizio Sarri has adapted to life in the Premier League with apparent ease, bouncing back quickly from their Community Shield defeat to Manchester City and putting together an excellent start to the league campaign.
Last weekend they quickly recovered from going a goal down at home to Cardiff, eventually smashing the newly promoted outfit 4-1 at Stamford Bridge. This makes it five wins from five for The Blues, and puts them right at the summit of the Premier League table. Despite their slip last season, there is no mistaking the fact that this Chelsea side are capable of challenging for the title.
They may both be Italian, but the managerial differences between Sarri and his predecessor Antonio Conte are clear for all to see. Chelsea built up a reputation for their fierce defensive attributes under Conte, but Sarri’s eye catching football with Napoli is what brought him to London in the first place. Chelsea have scored 14 goals in their five games so far, but have only kept two clean sheets in the process.
Sarri’s approach is undoubtedly very entertaining, but the Chelsea defenders aren’t getting much in the way of protection, and that’s something that West Ham will look at exploiting. Despite their awful start to the season, their enigmatic attacking outfit have managed to find the net in three of their five games, and Andriy Yarmolenko’s brace at Goodison Park last weekend will be a huge boost for them.
The Hammers have scored in each of their last seven meetings with Chelsea, with both teams finding the net in six of those games. They have also scored in ten of their last 13 home Premier League games, so we’re expecting them to find the net against their visitors on Sunday. However, with Chelsea winning all six of their competitive games this season and Eden Hazard coming in fresh from a welcome midweek rest we’re still expecting Sarri’s side to triumph, so we’re backing Chelsea to Win and Both Teams to Score along with a 3-1 correct score predictions.
Liverpool managed to transfer their excellent domestic form to the continent on Tuesday as they began their Champions League campaign with a stunning 3-2 win at home to PSG. This five goal thriller makes it six wins from six in all competitions this season, and the Anfield faithful will already be eyeing up another Champions League final.
Obviously it’s far too early to talk about silverware, but at the moment Liverpool are certainly looking like one of the favourites for the Premier League this term. They, along with Chelsea, are one of just two teams to maintain a perfect Premier League record, and not many will be backing that run to end on Saturday.
Last weekend they secured their first big scalp of the season with a 2-1 win away to Tottenham, and that midweek success against PSG will have the squad brimming with righteous confidence.
Southampton aren’t exactly low on confidence at the moment either, which is a surprise considering they started the season with just one point from a possible nine in the league. However, a League Cup victory over Brighton buoyed the squad, and they have followed that with a 2-0 win at Crystal Palace and a home draw with Brighton in the league.
That most recent game will be one of the most disappointing though. They were 2-0 up with just 25 minutes left to play on Monday, but a quick deficit reducer from Shane Duffy was followed by a last gasp Glenn Murray penalty to draw the scores level. Still, this is a far better Southampton side to the one we saw in the opening few games.
However, The Saints’ chances of getting a win at Anfield are looking extraordinarily slim. Liverpool haven’t lost a home league game since April 2017, and have won ten of their last 12 there. Additionally, Jurgen Klopp’s men have managed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last seven home league games.
Despite all of the talk surrounding Liverpool’s attacking trident, we’re not actually expecting a goal fest here. The hosts’ newfound defensive stability means that just one of their five league games so far have seen over three goals scored, with only one of Southampton’s five outings passing this marker as well.
In addition, none of the last six meetings between these sides have seen four or more goals, so backing a Liverpool Win and Under 3.5 Goals along with a 2-0 correct score predictions looks the best option.
Wigan have continued to enjoy an impressive start to season and, after victory in mid-week against Hull, they now sit 7th in the league after eight matches, with a very respectable 13 points.
At home on Tuesday, they saw off a confident Hull side 2-1 thanks to goals from Sam Morsy, after his red card against Brentford was rescinded, and new signing Josh Windass. The team did well to repel Hull attacks, particularly in the first half, as the away side played some good football and got a goal back through Jarrod Bowen. However, Wigan finished the match strongly and could have scored several more with some excellent attacking play.
This has followed on from a number of positive results by Wigan, particularly at home. Ten of their thirteen points have come at the DW Stadium as they have beaten Sheffield Wednesday and Rotherham, as well as drawn with a quality Nottingham Forest side, who hit a late equaliser in that match.
Under manager Paul Cook, Wigan have played some dynamic, attacking football, with a number of quality players within their ranks. In particular, attacking midfielder Nick Powell has scored three times and got four assists in seven matches to help conduct Wigan’s style of play and subsequent drive up the table.
A criticism would be their relative failure at times to replicate this form away from home, losing three out of four league matches on the road so far. Whilst they secured an impressive 3-0 away at Stoke where they did show their class, they looked rudderless in games at QPR and Rotherham, teams which they should be doing better against. If they can sort that out, then a top-half finish should be secured.
On the other hand, Bristol City’s four-match winning streak came to an end on Tuesday after they were dismantled in a thrilling 4-2 away defeat to West Bromwich Albion.
Despite what the score-line suggested, Bristol City played relatively well, as they finished the match with 23 shots on goal and pressurised the home side throughout the second half. However, they were outdone with three West Brom goals in eight devastating minutes as the home side utilised the counter-attack to great effect. Whilst Bristol City replied twice thanks to Lloyd Kelly and Famara Diedhou, they were ultimately well-beaten and had nothing to show for their good play.
Due to this, Bristol will not be too disheartened after they had been on what was an impressive run. They beat promotion rivals Sheffield United and Swansea City, whilst thrashed QPR and Blackburn Rovers to climb into the play-off places. In addition, they also drew in their first two matches against Nottingham Forest at home and Bolton Wanderers away, coming from two goals down in that game to secure a point, which adds to the impression Johnson has constructed a side with a strong, competitive mentality.
Throughout this time, they played some excellent football and it seems as if manager Lee Johnson has an increasingly settled side after the departure of crucial players in the summer, such as Aden Flint and Bobby Reid, as well as the return of other players from injury.
Although, he will hope that his side can settle further, as Bristol have seen 24 goals in their opening eight games, the joint-third highest in the division, along with their opponents for this match, Wigan. Whereas Bristol have scored 14, they have conceded 10, whilst Wigan have scored 13 and let in 11. This points to a game which will be full of goals, with an Over 2.5 Goals bet an appropriate one to make.
With regards to a correct score, despite the defeat against West Brom, Bristol are one of the strongest sides in the division and will pose a huge threat to Wigan’s unbeaten home record. We don’t think Bristol will ultimately manage it, as Wigan are looking dangerous in attack themselves, so a 2-2 entertaining match is more likely to happen.
It’s been a difficult and at times entertaining transition at the Emirates so far this season, with Unai Emery coming in to try and stamp his mark on a team that can barely remember the last time Arsene Wenger wasn’t in the dugout.
It didn’t go to plan at all at the start of the season as The Gunners succumbed to back to back defeats against Manchester City and Chelsea, but they have since found their stride under the new boss. A 3-1 victory over West Ham followed, and then a rather fortunate 3-2 win away to Cardiff. Saturday saw them pick up their third victory on the trot away to Newcastle, and you can almost feel the team building in confidence now.
Unai Emery is something of an Europa League specialist as well. The Spanish coach made history as the boss of Sevilla when he guided them to three consecutive Europa League crowns, and he’s already announced his intention to pick up a fourth winners medal with Arsenal this season. Considering they made it all the semi-finals last season before being eliminated by eventual winners Atletico Madrid, you certainly wouldn’t back against them enjoying another deep run.
This first challenge certainly shouldn’t pose too much of a threat for them. Vorskla aren’t exactly a household name in the footballing world, and this campaign represents just the second time they’ve made it as far as the group stages.
The first was back in the 2011/12 iteration, with them failing to win a single one of their group games and eventually finishing rock bottom. Since then they have endured a poor spell before bouncing back to European qualification in 2015, although in both that season and the 2016/17 campaign they failed to make it past the 3rd qualifying round.
Vorskla are undoubtedly the underdogs for this group, and we’re expecting Arsenal to make a statement of intent on Thursday. We’re expecting a strong squad selection from Emery as he looks for another piece of European silverware, but their vulnerable defence is still questionable. They have conceded nine goals in their five games this season, so Vorskla will fancy their chances going forward.
All of this points towards a potentially high scoring game. Three of Arsenal’s last four outings have seen four or more goals scored, and Vorskla’s last Europa League outing in September ended in a 3-2 defeat to Lokomotiv Zagreb. In fact, four of their last seven Europa League games have seen at least four goals, so we’re backing Over 3.5 Goals along with a 3-1 win for the hosts.
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