Tottenham v Chelsea, Live on Sky Sports 2, Saturday, 12.45pm
Andre Villas-Boas probably feels a little hard done by at Chelsea and wasn’t given an opportunity to make things work the way he wanted. He will be looking forward to this game but it is no different from beating United at Old Trafford which probably means more to him.
Everyone overreacted at the beginning of the season. They got beat by Newcastle on the opening day of the season but they haven’t lost a league game since and that’s a pretty good record. If you look at the games against Reading and Norwich they were 5 minutes in each game away from taking six points so they were very close to making a near-perfect start. AVB took a bit of stick but it takes time to change a team.
On paper it is the game of the weekend. It is tough to call a winner and the betting shows there’s nothing between the teams. A lot of punters will fancy the draw but momentum is huge. Having won at Old Trafford Tottenham will be very keen to close the gap at the top of the table and without John Terry, Chelsea are vulnerable.
If you’re against a team that are good on the ball and can dominate possession, players like Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata have less effect and Chelsea aren’t good when they don’t have the ball. As Athletico Madrid showed when they battered them in the Super Cup, if you get on the ball you can dominate Chelsea.
Manchester United v Stoke, Live on Setanta, Saturday 3.00pm
For Manchester United this is a banker. Look at Stoke’s record at Old Trafford. You’re not getting much back at 3/10 but that’s where the smart money is. United on the back of their good win at St James’, when they played a slightly different formation, will have far too much for Stoke.
You have to fancy someone at the top end of Manchester United’s attack to score first when they’re at home. They will always create chances and they tend to create them early. It’s hard to argue with Robin Van Persie at 11/5 and a Manchester United home victory.
Manchester United winning at half-time and winning at full-time at 5/6 is a great bet.
Norwich v Arsenal, Live on ESPN,
There won’t be an upset here. You talk about the international week and what players will be like when they get back but just look at Olivier Giroud. He scored against West Ham and what does he go and do? He scores against the Spanish and gets his team a great result. His confidence is going to be sky-high.
Santi Cazorla plays a bit-part for Spain because of the quality of their squad and you’re happy with that, he’s ready and not picked up a knock.
No-one has gone away from Arsenal who you’d worry about coming back in a downbeat mind. Thomas Vermaelen is coming back with two wins with Belgium and Lucas Podolski has enjoyed his travels away. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played a part for England and scored. All these players are coming back in a good mind and physically well. Arsenal have a team that is ready and confident.
Norwich have to stop conceding goals and they have to start being tough to play against. If that hasn’t registered yet it never will. Chris Hughton needs to play this game like an away game, making life difficult for Arsenal and trying to frustrate them. Arsenal will have to work hard but they should win at 8/15.
Giroud scored a goal against West ham and followed it up with one against Spain. Don’t be surprised if he opens the scoring against Norwich at 9/2.