Leicester v Arsenal – Saturday 26th September
Yet another great display in midweek for Claudio and his Foxes as they saw off West Ham in the League Cup. West Ham’s. Adrian denied both Schlupp and Riyad Mahrez to cap another brilliant performance, or else the scoreline could have been higher.
Wenger rested the trio of Walcott, Ozil, and Sanchez for their victory over Spurs which’ll mean they’re raring to go on Saturday. Ranieri however made ten changes of his own, and to win with such style against an in form West Ham will serve to elevate belief even higher in the Leicester camp. They’ll go into Saturday’s game viewing themselves as the unbeaten side they are after 8 games, as opposed to ‘newly promoted side v Arsenal’. Such a mentality will be vital, and their attacking nature could capitalise on Arsenal’s sometimes vulnerable defence. The draw seems generous, currently at 4.0 on the Spiffindex, and should definitely drop below that figure.
Off the field it was revealed this week that Arsene Wenger has reportedly split with his wife. In the past the Frenchman has noted that the pressures of managing Arsenal has put pressure on the relationship. According to the Daily Mirror, papers have been filed for a legal separation in his hometown of Strasbourg. An important match against a team full of confidence, away from home, and with old hand Ranieri at the helm, could not come at a worse time.
Verdict: The Foxes are showing no signs of slowing down, whilst Arsenal will try to take the momentum of victory over their arch-rivals into this one. Expect fireworks, and don’t be surprised if Leicester continue their run. Expects odds for a Leicester victory to fall from a surprisingly high 4.5 on the Spiffindex. Buy Leicester Under.
Stoke v Bournemouth – Saturday 26th September
After an uncertain start things appear to be coming together for Mark Hughes and his Stoke side. Peter Crouch scored his first of the season on Wednesday, grabbing the only goal in a win over Fulham. Crouch offers a different, and incredibly useful option, for Stoke on the field whilst off the field, his mere presence in the match-day squad will be beneficial. He’s been at Stoke since 2011, is their top Premier League goal scorer (35), and is a very popular figure at the club, as he is throughout football. After the game in midweek, Crouch stated: “Hopefully, now I’m full of confidence and feeling good, I can take that into the Premier League. I’m totally healed – and I’m getting some sleep (after the birth of his second daughter in June). The groin’s perfect now and I’m ready to get going in the league.”
A happy Crouch will help ensure a happier and more united Stoke. Bournemouth’s odds to win to rise to over 3.00.
The performance of Bojan in their 2-2 draw with Leicester will also have taken some of the sting out of throwing away a 2-0 lead. The Spaniard scored a good goal, had 74% pass accuracy, and generally looked dangerous. Bojan, and fellow dangerman Arnautovic, were rested in the Fulham game seemingly to ensure they’re fresh for Saturday. As a side who like to attack, Bournemouth are very unlikely to survive 90 minutes without conceding; in Bojan, Arnautovic, Afellay, Walters, and the ‘Alpine Messi’ (Shaqiri), Stoke have a multitude of players handy in front of goal. Preston forced extra time and penalties in their League Cup clash against Bournemouth in the week, and this could prove costly at the weekend.
Verdict: A well rested pairing of Bojan and Arnautovic, along with Peter Crouch’s influence, should be enough for Stoke to see off the Cherries at home. Stoke’s odds to win to will fall below 2.55 so buy Stoke Under.
Watford v Crystal Palace – Sunday 27th September
A midweek demolition of rivals Charlton in the League Cup coupled with 8th place in the Premier League; Crystal Palace fans are enjoying life right now. Prior to Wednesday, they’d suffered two narrow defeats to Spurs and Man City, and so will be looking to get their league record back on track after a superb start. Dwight Gayle scored a hat-trick against the Addicks, and in doing so, staked his claim to play on Sunday.
The fact that Palace had been struggling for goals despite playing well, and employing a striker-less system at times, could prompt Pardew to place his faith in Gayle against the Hornets. If Gayle plays, Palace will have more of a cutting edge. Palace’s odds to win to fall below 2.9.
Watford’s Ben Watson spoke out recently on the fantastic support their fans have been giving the side of late. He said: “The place was rocking and when they’re like that, that’s what makes you want to play. You just want to be involved.” Evidence of some happy Hornets then, whilst the performances of strike partnership Ighalo and Deeney (41 goals between them last term) are very promising indeed. These two are showing they can handle the step up to the Premier League, and will be a threat on Sunday.
Verdict: A Palace buoyed by a dominant display over their rivals will head to Watford with nothing less than three points on their radar, but Watford’s Ighalo and Deeney are a significant threat. Buy Draw Under with the Spiffindex at .3.35