Sunderland versus Arsenal, Saturday, October 29
Draws for Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal and a comprehensive 4-0 win for Chelsea against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge last weekend left the top five in the Premier League separated by just a single point. However, Arsenal can steal a march on their rivals and return to the top of the table, at least temporarily, when they play Sunderland at the Stadium of Light in the early kick-off on Saturday.
The Black Cats have made their worst ever start to a Premier League season, with just six goals and two points from nine games since David Moyes took over from Sam Allardyce in the summer. Jermain Defoe has scored four of those six goals, but the 34-year-old was largely anonymous during the 1-0 defeat by West Ham at the London Stadium last Saturday, touching the ball just once inside the opposition penalty area.
Despite enjoying 75% possession against Middlesbrough at the Emirates Stadium last Saturday, Arsenal lacked conviction in front of goal and the 0-0 draw was the sixth time in seven Premier League meetings that they’d failed to beat the Teesiders. Nevertheless, the Gooners are unbeaten in the Premier League since a 4-3 defeat by Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on the opening day of the season and have scored 19 goals in total, while conceding just nine. It’s frankly difficult to hold out much hope for rock-bottom Sunderland, so let’s try Arsenal -1 in the handicap betting market at 21/20 with Coral or Stan James.
Selection: Arsenal -1 (21/20 with Coral or Stan James)
AFC Bournemouth versus Tottenham Hotspur, Saturday, October 22
Bournemouth made it three home wins in a row with an impressive 6-1 victory over Hull City last Saturday, despite the absence of Brad Smith, Lewis Cook and Max Gradel, who all returned from international duty with significant injuries. Unbeaten Tottenham Hotspur, on the other hand, relied on a late equaliser from Dele Alli to rescue a point against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns, despite enjoying more than 70% of possession.
Spurs’ striker Harry Kane was originally ruled out for eight weeks after injuring his ankle on September 18, but could be in contention for the trip to Dean Court, but defender Toby Alderweireld is unlikely to feature in Saturday’s match after being carried off on a stretcher at the Hawthorn. Nevertheless, Mauricio Pochettino’s side displayed admirable determination against what Baggies’ goalkeeper Ben Foster called “a classic Tony Pulis team” last Saturday and look bona fide title contenders.
In terms of betting opportunities, let’s not over-egg the pudding and go for Tottenham to win at even money with Betfred, Sporting Bet or plenty of others.
Selection: Tottenham Hotspur to win (1/1 generally available)
West Bromwich Albion versus Tottenham Hotspur
West Bromwich Albion have made fair, if unspectacular, start to the Premier League season, but face bona fide title contenders, in the form of Tottenham Hotspur, for the first time at the Hawthorns this Saturday. The Baggies played with width and pace when beating West Ham 4-2 at the Hawthorns three starts ago, but proved less effective in subsequent 1-1 draws against Stoke at the Bet365 Stadium and Sunderland at the Stadium of Light and may find themselves firmly on the back foot against an unbeaten Tottenham side.
Spurs’ high-octane brand of football proved too much for Premier League leaders Manchester City at White Hart Lane a fortnight ago, despite the absence of first-choice striker Harry Kane, and a repeat performance must surely be good enough. Touted as the first high-profile casualty of Spurs’ collapse at the end of last season, revitalised South Korean striker Son Heung-min has scored six goals and assisted two more in his last seven Premier League games and made a major contribution towards the Lilywhites’ best ever start to a Premier League season.
Even if Baggies’ manager Tony Pulis decides to ‘park the bus’, the home defence could be in for a torrid time, so let’s try a sporting wager on Son Heung-min to score two or more goals at 8/1 with William Hill.
Selection: Son Heung-min to score two or more goals (8/1 with William Hill)