1. John Showing He’s Got Stones
After all the talk and all the offers, John Stones stayed put. Jose Mourinho didn’t get his man and Chelsea embarked on a bizarre double deal that saw them sign two defenders, in Michael Hector and Papy Djilobodji, that quite simply aren’t good enough to play for a top Premier League club.
The former Barnsley centre-back can show Jose what he is missing, and he will fancy the challenge up against a misfiring Diego Costa. Stones is now renowned for his ability on the ball but in shackling the Spaniard he can underline his physicality to the watching public.
Talk was that he wanted the move to Stamford Bridge, he won’t get a better chance to impress Mourinho.
Everton to concede under 1.5 goals 1.66
2. Gunners Turning Possession Into Points
There’s always talk about Stoke being Arsenal’s nemesis, but the Potters haven’t won at the home of the Gunners since 1981. The visitors are missing Ibrahim Afellay and Charlie Adam, while first choice goal-getter Mame Biram Diouf is a doubt.
Arsene Wenger’s side have yet to win on their own patch and their shot conversion rate of 5.6% is worsened only by Liverpool. The north Londoners have had a league high 65% possession so far and they need to turn that into goals.
Their creative midfielders, they’ve got a few, could be crucial against a weakened City outfit, and Mesut Ozil could do with showing he’s a goal threat.
Ozil to score 3.70
3. Are City Slick Without Their Silva Lining?
Manchetser City have been far and away the best team in the division so far. They’ve got more points than anyone, scored more goals and haven’t conceded. Not bad eh? Well, they face a genuine challenge in the shape of Alan Pardew’s Palace (no, that’s not his new nightclub), but perhaps more importantly, they are without David Silva.
The majestic Spain international is out with a knock and that could seriously hamper the Citizens’ preparations. The diminutive playmaker has laid on four goals already this season, as well as grabbing one himself.
Kevin De Bruyne will come in, with his 20 Bundesliga assists from last year following him around like an unavoidable shadow. Stepping into Silva’s delicate boots may prove a big ask on debut.
Crystal Palace to win or draw 2.48
4. New Boys Putting On A Show
Both these sides look like worthy additions to the top-flight and it would be no great surprise if they were both to survive. However, defensive issues have reared their head already, with neither side registering a Premier League clean sheet.
Norwich's games have seen 13 goals so far, and in Callum Wilson Bournemouth have a striker in form. The Cherries are pretty poor at defending set pieces, five of the six goals they have conceded have come from them, and the hosts are pretty impressive from a dead ball.
That equation provides only one answer – you’ll get your money’s worth at Carrow Road; expect goals.
Over 3.5 goals 3.30
5. Swans Wings Being Clipped By Hornets
Watford haven’t exactly gotten everyone very excited about their return to the Premier League. The Hornets have been pretty dour so far, and their ‘gameplan’ of trying to defend at the Etihad last time out was a little stale.
They seem to lack any sort of spark in behind a regularly isolated Troy Deeney but defensively Quique Sanchez Flores seems to have solidified a previously stodgy rearguard. The London club have already recorded two clean sheets in four matches.
Nullifying their opponents’ threat seems to be their strength and, while they won’t have the firepower to defeat an unbeaten Swansea, expect them to make life extremely hard for Gomis and Co.
Watford to concede under 1.5 goals 1.40
6. Baggies And Saints To Bore In The Black Country
This one has last on Match of the Day written all over it, so don’t get too carried away. Southampton have only ever scored one goal away at the Hawthorns in the Premier League era, and that was scored by Rickie Lambert, who now plays for West Brom.
The previous four clashes between these two sides have produced a mere three goals. The Baggies have yet to win consecutive games under Tony Pulis, while Saints haven’t won two in a row since January.
The Berahino sideshow may be as entertaining as it gets in the Black Country.
7. Rooney To End Run Against Reds
St George himself, Wayne Rooney has not scored in 10 Premier League games, equalling his longest barren run at this level. It’s about time he bagged isn’t it? Well, now everyone has dropped him from their fantasy teams he’s probably going to score here.
The ex-Everton man has notched more goals in this fixture in the Premier League era than any other Man United player and he will be keen to overshadow the arrival of Anthony Martial. David De Gea could be back between the sticks and suddenly it all looks rosy in Louis van Gaal’s Old Trafford garden.
Rooney to score 2.70
8. Kane’s Christmases Coming All At Once
Sunderland’s defending has looked as solid as Dick Advocaat’s promise to retire so far this season. The Black Cats have been a shambles at the back, conceding 10 goals in their four games and are routed to the bottom of the league.
Harry Kane scored two nice goals for his country in the international break and if he can’t score against Sunderland he may as well give up. The England forward is guaranteed chances in the north-east and with new signing Son Heung-min expected to provide some much-needed support, the 22-year-old could well enjoy himself.
Harry Kane to score 2.28
9. Shinji Sending Sherwood Into A Sweat
Leicester’s start has been one of the most refreshing things about this season so far. The Foxes have belied their tag as relegation candidates and are unbeaten. Riyad Mahrez has been the man getting the headlines but Shinji Okazaki deserves some credit.
The Japanese international has been superb up top and already has a goal. The former Mainz striker has averaged almost a goal every other game over the last two years and he can cause Aston Villa’s backline some serious problems with his clever movement.
Okazaki to score 2.95
10. Bilic, The Brolley And A Battle At The Boleyn
Steve McClaren must have nightmares about Slaven Bilic. The Newcastle manager will be praying it stays fair on Monday evening, if just to avoid a repeat of that drab night at Wembley, when the new West Ham Boss and his Croatia side broke Three Lions hearts.
West Ham are the most schizophrenic side on the planet at the moment, while the Toon need a spark for them to explode into the new campaign. Expect the unexpected in east London but assume this will be feisty. These two have five reds and 17 yellow between them this term.
Over 4.5 cards 2.07