Everyone said that Manchester United would beat Swansea because Louis van Gaal was here and it was all going to be different. Everyone said that Manchester United would beat Sunderland because everyone has had a bad first day, but Louis van Gaal was here, he would show the players his bits and they would obviously work harder. Everyone said that Manchester United would beat Milton Keynes Dons because, for the love of all that is holy, they’re a third flight franchised club and this is still, whatever else has happened, Manchester United. It’s a strange thing, but all of a sudden no-one is particularly confident that Manchester United will beat Burnley. The Clarets have lost both of their opening games and it’s already looking pretty bleak for armageddon-voiced manager Sean Dyche. But the last time United visited Turf Moor, they lost 1-0. That can’t happen again. Can it?
Burnley to win 1-0 is 13.00
There were high hopes for Stoke City at the start of the season, but after an unexpectedly troublesome start, it’s quite likely that they’ll end the weekend near the bottom of the table. A trip to the Etihad Stadium is never a pleasant experience for Mark Hughes, but this year’s journey promises to be especially difficult given that his old club have started the campaign like a rocket. On Monday, Manchester City took the the time to recreate everyone’s favourite scene in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’. They quietly watched Liverpool show off some flamboyant swordsmanship, then sighed and blew them away without a second thought. What on earth are they going to do to Stoke?
The champions are 3.25 to score at least four goals
Neil Warnock makes his return to top flight football this weekend when he takes Crystal Palace up to Newcastle in 'The Battle to Avoid Being Called The Crisis Club.' Palace’s problems are well documented: their manager walked out on the eve of the season, they almost replaced him with Alf Garnett, they were rejected by a gilet-wearing Bantersaurus, they lost their opening two fixtures and they ended up sobbing their hearts out in the arms of former lover Warnock. Meanwhile, Newcastle are yet to score this season and the uneasy truce between Alan Pardew and the supporters is creaking already. A draw wouldn’t be a terrible result for either team, but if someone loses this one expect fireworks.
Palace to win or draw is 2.18
The evening game sees Chelsea face their first big test of the season at Goodison Park. Jose Mourinho’s side made short work of Burnley and, after a frustrating hour, broke Leicester City’s resistance too. Everton are a very different proposition. Roberto Martinez will still be irritated at his team’s decision to clock off early last week and allow Arsenal to regain a share of the points. He does have two ex-Chelsea strikers at his disposal in Romelu Lukaku and Samuel Eto’o, but neither of them are expected to be 100%. However, Mourinho’s biggest concern, and I do realise how odd this sounds, is the form of Steven Naismith whose hard work and deadly finishing could prove critical.
Naismith is 4.35 to score at any time
The biggest game of the weekend is at White Hart Lane on Sunday where Tottenham face Liverpool. It seemed far too optimistic to expect Mauricio Pochettino to immediately inculcate his methods, but four wins from four in all competitions suggests otherwise. Granted, you would usually expect Spurs to beat West Ham, QPR and Limassol, but you can’t ignore the attitude and enthusiasm of the players. For the first time in ages, it seems as if everyone at the club has bought into the same strategy at the same time.
Liverpool have been doing that for two years, of course, and they’ll have high hopes of shrugging off Monday’s unpleasantness and reasserting themselves in the title race. One of the few benefits to be taken from their defeat at City was the introduction of a number of their new signings, most notably one Lazar Markovic. Last season, Liverpool came to London and mauled Tottenham with such ferocity that Daniel Levy was moved to sack Andre Villas-Boas. They’d probably settle for a quiet 1-0 this time.
Liverpool are 11.00 to win 1-0
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