We enter week 3 of the EPL on the back of two profitable weeks. As the transfer window will be closing this weekend, we will learn more about how each team will be shaped up for the season.
Sat 30.08.2014 (Early Game 12:45 GMT)
Burnley V Man Utd
Two defeats in two games don’t entirely tell the whole story on Burnley’s return to the Premier League. They were out muscled and outclassed by Chelsea in the opening weekend before going down narrowly 1-0 to Swansea at the Liberty Stadium. Their second half performance in Wales offered plenty of hope for the season though as they troubled Garry Monk’s side but just couldn’t quite find the desired quality to make the pressure pay. Adding such quality to the ranks has been the hardest part of Premier League life for Sean Dyche thus far as he admitted to being priced out of the market for almost all of their potential targets. Like many top-tier clubs, the Clarets were knocked out of the Carling Cup in midweek, doing down 1-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday and such is the thin nature of Dyche’s squad he won’t be able to make too many changes from the side that were dumped out of that competition.
Manchester United have become so comedic in their make-up over the last 12 months to the extent now where they can break the British transfer record for a player and also lose 4-0 to a League One team in the same day. The arrival of Angel Di Maria was almost overshadowed on Tuesday by their woeful drubbing at MK Dons in the Capital One Cup, where United’s defensive frailties were clear for all to see once again. New boss Louis van Gaal is still searching for his first competitive win after losing 2-1 on the opening weekend to Swansea then stuttering to a 1-1 draw at Sunderland. Di Maria is available for selection at Turf Moor but where Van Gaal will decide to play the Argentinian is less clear. Will he change his much discussed 3-5-2 to accommodate him? Will Juan Mata have to be sacrificed for his inclusion? “The process needs time,” Van Gaal said. “We shall see whether with Di Maria we have to change the system or not.” A great player, yes. But the right player at the right time for United? I’m far from convinced. United will obviously make wholesale changes to the young side that were demolished in Milton Keynes but Marouane Fellaini, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw and Michael Carrick are still short of fitness and will miss out while new signing Marcos Rojo needs to gain international clearance by Friday afternoon if he’s to make his United debut.
Before you get carried away and jump on the Manchester United negative bandwagon and lump your mortgage on a Burnley based bet, listen to this. Last season, United had the BEST record in the division away from home against teams in the bottom ten, taking 28 points from a possible 30. Say what you want about the current state of the United side, and plenty have, but you cannot deny their imperious attacking firepower and that is, as the previous record shows, what wins matches against lesser quality teams. Under David Moyes, they averaged 2.5 goals a game on the road against bottom ten teams, including 3-0 wins at West Brom and Aston Villa and a romping 4-0 blitzing of Newcastle at St James’ Park. All of those was achieved without the skills of Di Maria too, who will add much needed quick creativity to their attacking play. Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie will be licking their lips. This is why the +165 available on a Man Utd win & Game over 2.5 goals double is, in my opinion, the best bet of the match. As we’ve seen already this campaign, Van Gaal’s team are vulnerable all across the defensive line, therefore with this bet you also have the strong possibility of a Burnley goal on your side too. You’ve just got to hope the United frontline outgun the Burnley one, as they achieved against inferior opponents at will last season on the road.
Man Utd & Game over 2.5 goals double @ +165
Sat 30.08.2014 15:00 GMT
Newcastle Utd V Crystle Palace
Crystal Palace begin life under Neil Warnock with a fixture which has historically been most unkind to them. Last season, Newcastle won this game 1-0 and the reverse 3-0, and since the turn of the century they’ve won six of the seven meetings between these sides with the other ending in a 0-0 draw. What that means given the cycles these clubs have been through is debatable, but I’m not surprised to see the hosts made odds-on favourites despite having failed to score in their two Premier League games so far. Certainly, there was more encouragement than an eventual 2-0 defeat would suggest from their opening game against the champions and it’s just the finishing touches which are lacking. That has to be a worry for those taking -135 though, especially as a Gillingham own goal in Tuesday’s 1-0 Capital One Cup win means no Newcastle player has found the net so far this season.
It may seem perverse, then, to advise a bet on over 2.5 goals at +120 but this strikes me as a classic case of past events being given too much credence as we attempt to predict what will happen on Saturday. Certainly, Crystal Palace hold an attacking threat – they’ve scored five times in three games, all of which have involved three or more goals in total – and Alan Pardew was clear in his approach to this assignment on Tuesday, saying: “It would be nice to score two or more goals on Saturday. The way Palace play, how quick they are on the break, you sense that they could score, so it might mean we do need to get two or three goals so that’s what our focus must be.” Of course, Pardew wanting goals and Pardew getting goals are two very different things but Siem de Jong and Emmanuel Riviere do look more than capable on what limited evidence we have so far, and I expect they’ll click sooner rather than later. Eleven of the 19 Premier League games played at St James’ Park last season featured over 2.5 goals and it’s my belief that the odds-against price we can take should actually be odds-on.
Over 2.5 goals @ +120