After a plethora of nil-nil draws during the World Cup playoffs, it is with great excitement that the Premier League returns. The European fixtures next week mean we have a mammoth eight matches on Saturday, with six kicking off at 3pm.
The big boys are all in action on Saturday. The north London derby kicks off the weekend, but it’s the traditional afternoon starters that take our attention for this piece…
BOURNEMOUTH vs HUDDERSFIELD TOWN
After a dire start to the season, Bournemouth lurched themselves out of the bottom three with a victory at Newcastle before the break. That made it two wins from three, and has set the Cherries up to pull away from the drop zone.
They host a Huddersfield side that have started well. Beating Manchester United was the obvious highlight, but pipping West Bromwich Albion at home was a key result to keep themselves in the top half.
David Wagner’s side have not scored away from home since their opening day victory at Selhurst Park, however. Goals have been extremely hard to come by thus far, with the Terriers having scored only eight in their opening 11 league matches.
The potential absences of Josh King and Aaron Mooy could be massive, and reinforce my belief that this will be a low-scoring affair.
TIP: Under 2.5 goals @ 7/10
BURNLEY vs Swansea City
The loyal Turf Moor faithful seldom get treated to thrillers. They do get to see a functional, overperforming team, though. Sean Dyche has led the Clarets to a remarkable position of seventh, where they sit level on points with Liverpool and Arsenal.
In the opposing dugout this weekend, Paul Clement is under pressure. Now on a run of three straight league defeats, the Swans are in 19th and struggling. Tammy Abraham is seemingly their only goal threat, and Clement is yet to find the best use of a midfield-dominant squad.
While Burnley are defying their expected goals at both ends of the pitch, their visitors this weekend are having real trouble creating anything. Scoring only seven in the league so far, Clement’s team have kept matches tight, but been unable to convert that into points.
Although Burnley’s flying start seems unsustainable, they should have enough to edge past a Swansea side that are struggling for balance and prone to defensive error.
TIP: Burnley to win @ 27/25
CRYSTAL PALACE vs EVERTON
Everton’s search for a new manager is bordering on farce. David Unsworth is in line to take charge of the team again for what is a massive match with Crystal Palace.
The Eagles have improved immeasurably under Roy Hodgson. A shock victory over Chelsea has been followed by more strong performances, though the reliance on Wilfried Zaha in attack is evident. They will remain bottom even with a victory here, but this will present a real challenge for the Toffees.
Unsworth guided Everton to a crucial 3-2 win over Watford prior to the international break. It kept them from the bottom three, but they could slip down the table it if they fail to win at Selhurst Park. They have not won in any of their last 13 Premier League away matches.
Palace’s defence is far better than it was earlier in the season. Their attack remains extremely limited, however, which might save Everton this weekend.
TIP: Match to be drawn @ 43/20
Leicester City vs MANCHESTER CITY
Manchester City could make it 10 league wins in a row at the King Power Stadium. Their lead is already eight points at the top of the Premier League table, and it is starting to look like a question of when rather than if they win the title.
Their hosts this weekend are on a run of five unbeaten. Claude Puel was met with a lot of criticism when he was appointed, but early signs are good. The Foxes are looking solid in defence, and there are flickerings of the best of Riyad Mahrez.
Trying to predict Pep Guardiola’s line-up is a lottery. It could be any combination of players, but – such is their depth – the strength of the team will be about the same regardless.
City are arguably playing the best football in the world right now, and have been winning at half-time and full-time in seven of their last eight league matches.
Tip: Manchester City to be winning at half-time and full-time at 17/20
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*
Look no further than our very own 888sport north London derby preview - read our top tips ahead of Saturday's clash here!