The weekend begins with a low key scuffle between a wretched Queens Park Rangers and a baffling Stoke City. Harry Redknapp’s rabble were eviscerated at Old Trafford last Sunday, playing with all the natural enthusiasm of men on their way to the scaffold. Stoke, meanwhile, have won the only game in which no-one gave them a chance and have failed to win all the others. By all accounts, the Potters have played better than results suggest, as opposed to QPR for whom results have been accurate barometers of their uselessness. Don’t expect too many goals though. In eight games involving the two teams, they’ve only scored three goals between them.
A soul-crushing 0-0 draw is available at 7.00
There should be far more entertainment at St James' Park where there will be a real festival atmosphere on Saturday. Unfortunately, that festival is ‘Guy Fawkes Night’ and Alan Pardew is the Guy. Mass protests are planned and even Mike Ashley won’t be able to ban every reporter who mentions them in his copy. All of which should play nicely into the hands of Steve Bruce, one of a number of managers who has been linked with the Newcastle job and one who would do well to avoid it. Hull have scored in every game this season and with Abel Hernandez looking perky already, that run should continue here. Unfortunately, this doesn’t bode well for Newcastle.
Hull are 3.60 shove Pardew towards the exit door and win
Arsenal’s league campaign thus far has been a series of defeat-defying escapes, but you wonder how long their luck can hold out. Victims of the most emphatic 2-0 defeat in years in Dortmund, they really need a result on Saturday to settle their nerves. Unfortunately for Arsene Wenger, he must travel to Villa Park, the lair of Paul Lambert and Roy Keane’s dream destroyers. With ten points in four games, Aston Villa have already amassed more points than many people thought they’d have by December. Arsenal love to play in space, while Villa abhor the very notion of space. Arsenal are vulnerable to the counter attack, while Villa live to counter. This could be messy.
The Lambert-Keane Dream Team are 4.85 to deliver another victory
In the evening, Liverpool will attempt to stabilise their shaky start at Upton Park, but that’s always easier said than done. West Ham were impressive at Hull City on Monday, playing with typical cohesion, but also with less than typical expression, particularly through the gifted Mauro Zarate and a disconcertingly effective Stewart Downing. Brendan Rodgers’ team, for their part, are still trying to incorporate all of their new players and with no Daniel Sturridge, they’re at a disadvantage. Don’t expect Rodgers to leave Sterling out this week. Defeat here, a third in five games, would not go down well.
Imagine said defeat coming via a Downing goal?! The Downing Anytime-West Ham Wincast is 17.00
Manchester United take their top heavy band of monied troubadours to Leicester on Sunday where they’ll hope to build on their destruction of QPR last weekend. Leicester are rather more resolute than the Hoops, however, and manager Nigel Pearson is the sort of chap you sense would actually enjoy a stout, 90 minute rearguard action. But United’s new era is underway and with Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao blooded and ready, Leicester will be up against it. If there is a weakness in this United side, and it’s possibly I’m being picky, it’s that they have barely any defenders. But let’s not be churlish. When was the last time that they were this much fun to watch?
It's 2.67 for there to be at least four goals in the game
But the weekend reaches its heady climax on Sunday afternoon with the twice-annual battle of the gazillionaires at the Etihad Stadium. Unusually for this fixture, neither team is in top-top condition. Chelsea have won their first four league games, with Diego Costa happily guzzling goals, but they’ve also shipped five in their last two games and another goal against a depleted and demoralised Schalke in midweek cost them two Champions League points. Manchester City, on the other hand, haven’t won in three games, which is quite unlike them. Still, with Manuel Pellegrini blowing his top last weekend and Jose Mourinho happy to blow his top about anything from poor officiating to underwhelming cloud formations, this certainly promises entertainment one way or another.
You can get 11.00 on both teams scoring in both halves
Read Iain Macintosh every week
Vote For Bet.Unibet As Best Gambling Blog At The Football Blogging Awards! Click Here