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Divine inspiration with weekend football previews

by Rob Dore | August 24, 2012

By Rob Dore

Just one week in to the new Premier League season and some fans are already losing faith, teams are in need of some divine intervention and rivals are lording it over each other.

QPR and Norwich fans must have felt forsaken after their opening weekend thrashings. Liverpool’s latest saviour has yet to start performing the miracles the club needs. Fellaini parted the red sea to give Everton a surprise win over United. Chelsea still have a higher power helping them to win games, though suspicions are rising that Roberto di Matteo may have sold off his soul for some Stamford Bridge success. And Andre Villas-Boas’ London resurrection didn’t get off to the start he would have been praying for. Sorry for all the religious gobbledygook. The man upstairs made us do it.

Will we see any miracles this weekend?

LAUD AND PROUD: The Swans got off to a flying start under Michael Laudrup

Swansea v West Ham

Things couldn’t have gone much better for Michael Laudrup in his first Premier League game as Swansea boss. A 5-0 win and one of his new signings, Michu, hits a brace and it was all done playing the same passing style of football which worked so well last season. Brendan who?
West Ham also got off to a good start and with Allardyce in charge they should comfortably stay up this season.
This is likely to be a game of Swansea style against the brute force of the Hammers. Away from home West Ham will be even more focused on defence particularly after Swansea’s goal spree in their opener. This has the whiff of a low-scoring draw about it. 1-1 draw at 5/1 and under 2.5 goals at 4/6.

Aston Villa v Everton

Going on the performances of their first games then this would be a definite away win for Everton at 6/4. However can the Toffees replicate the high standard and intensity which earned them a 1-0 win over Manchester United? There’s no guarantee. It’s too early to tell how Aston Villa will shape up under Paul Lambert but his impact hasn’t been immediate. Away to West Ham was always going to a tough game and David Moyes will be prepared for a reaction from the Villans. If Fellaini plays the way he did on Monday night and his team-mates can find him as successfully then he could be the decider. Fellaini will be up against a newly formed backline and is well priced at 9/1 to score first and 10/3 to score anytime. Lambert still has some work to do at Villa Park so I’m picking Everton to win at 6/4.

Manchester United v Fulham

Fulham on top of the table and Man United hovering above the relegation zone. Take a picture Fulham fans because these two clubs could well be passing each other this weekend. United struggled to get going against Everton with Wayne Rooney’s poor form from last season and Euro 2012 continuing in to the new season. It’s a good thing they picked up Robin van Persie and it will be a big surprise if the Dutchman doesn’t start in this game. He’s the 7/2 favourite to score first with Paddy Power.
Shinji Nagawa looked particularly good and the goal-scoring playmaker is 2/1 to score anytime. If Ferguson gets a reaction from his players then Martin Jol may have to chuckle off a heavy defeat. United -2 goals at 23/10.

Norwich v QPR

Officially the two worst teams in the Premier League so far after their respective 5-0 thrashings last weekend. Both managers have reacted by strengthening their backline after a couple of defensive horror shows. Michael Dawson moving to QPR should give them a bit of steel.
This is a tricky one to call with both sides bedding in a lot of new players and Norwich a new manager. Home field advantage sees Norwich as the 5/4 favourites. If Robert Green in between the posts for the visitors then that 5/4 starts to look like a decent bet.

Southampton v Wigan

The Saints impressed in defeat to the defending Premier League champions with a performance that would certainly be good enough to beat Wigan at home. Roberto Martinez’s Latics had a poor start against a less than convincing Chelsea side and once they were 2-0 down, Roberto Martinez’ men never really looked like getting back in to the game. They look like they’ll be battling against relegation again this season.
Nigel Adkins’ Southampton will be feeling positive despite losing and are strong favourites at 11/10 to beat Wigan. Ricki Lambert continued his excellent scoring record for the Saints with a goal against City and is 13/10 with Paddy Power to score anytime.

Sunderland v Reading

Martin O’Neill’s side weren’t exactly adventurous away to Arsenal but they came away with a point, which was clearly the target from the outset. Their home fanes will expect them to show more attacking intent against newly promoted Reading at the Stadium of Light.
The Royals were possibly a little unlucky not to get something out of the game against Chelsea but they showed against Stoke that they’re a team which will continue to battle until the final whistle.
This is an interesting game and though Sunderland are strong favourites at 5/6, the draw at 23/10 is more appealing.

Tottenham v West Brom

After beating Liverpool so convincingly Steve Clarke must be thinking this management lark is a piece of piss. Quite the opposite to poor Andre Villas Boas who has been chasing his tail ever since moving to the Premier League. Another loss this weekend and the papers will start making up rumours about his head being on the chopping block. The permanent signing of last season’s top goalscorer, Emmanuel Adebayor, is a big boost for AVB and the Ivorian is sure to start this weekend, possibly ahead of Jermain Defoe. Both players are 7/2 to score first but the former Man City player should get the nod. Unless the home side has a shocker then Spurs should prove too much for a West Brom side which isn’t as coherent as the win over Liverpool suggests. Tottenham -1 goal at 7/5.

Chelsea v Newcastle

Two wins from two games is hard to argue with but does anyone else get the feeling that Robert Di Matteo is still just a jammy sod? We’d love to be proven wrong but the Blues have looked vulnerable in both of their wins. Newcastle will certainly test this hypothesis with a ballsy attempt to win and they certainly have the attacking talent to do it. Keeping hold of Demba Ba was one of Alan Pardew’s best bits of business over the summer and the Senegalese repaid that faith with a goal. He and countryman Papiss Cisse have the physicality to trouble Terry and Cahill. Away from home they are both healthily priced at 9/1 to score first and 11.4 to score anytime.
Newcastle are 6/1 to win this game. It’s a big ask against a team as strong as Chelsea and a manager as lucky as Di Matteo but at that price they’re worth considering.

Stoke v Arsenal

With Robin van Persie gone there was a distinct cutting edge to Arsenal’s attacks in their scoreless draw at home to Sunderland. This could prove an even greater issue against Tony Pulis’ Stoke City, who are notoriously difficult to break down at the Brittania Stadium. Santi Cazolrla certainly looked good in the midfield but unless Giroud or Podolski click in to gear before Sunday, Wenger’s side may continue to struggle to break teams down. This has a draw at 12/5 written all over it but with Stoke priced at 11/4 to win at home, Pulis’ side are worth backing.

Liverpool v Manchester City

After some positive pre-season performances Brendan Rodgers was served a dose of reality against West Brom. Some of the decisions may have been a little harsh but it’s clear he still has some hard work ahead of him at Anfield. The scoreline flattered West Brom and facing one of the big teams in their next game could prove to be just what he Liverpool players need.
City were shaky in their 3-2 against Southampton , needing two late goals to overcome the newly promoted Saints. There’s no questioning the quality of the defending champions but if they are getting off to a slow start then Liverpool could take advantage at Anfield. The Reds have tended to save their best performances for the bigger teams so they can’t be discounted at 2/1 with Paddy Power to win this game.
Luis Suarez was wasteful in front of goal against the Baggies and the purchase of an out-and-out goalscorer should be high on Rodgers’ list. With that the Uruguayan is 6/1 to score first but with the far more clinical Carlos Tevez priced at 11/2 to score first, the Argentine striker offers the better betting value.

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