No-one, it seems, can stop themselves from making cast iron calculations based on plaster of Paris performances. Two weeks into the Premier League season and, according to some, Manchester United are nailed on champions, Wayne Rooney’s renaissance is enough to earn an England recall, while West Ham’s woes will see Slaven Bilic shuffling out of Stratford.
I think we should all just take a step back and, in the words of Harry Arter (with apologies to Nathaniel Chalobah), just “leave it”. It’s early doors in this term’s English top flight and none of them need to slam shut on the progress, or otherwise, of any team, player or manager.
Dan Roebuck previews this week’s Premier League fixtures.
Slow progress for under pressure coaches
Speaking of the not-so-happy-Hammers, their trip to Newcastle on Saturday sees two teams still searching for their first win of the campaign. One system that has returned a profit in each of the last six Premier League seasons is to back under 2.5 goals in promoted teams’ home games in the first four months of the term. It might seem counter-intuitive, given West Ham have conceded seven goals in their first two games, but Rafa Benitez’s side have yet to score this football year, suggesting the 19/20 could be a value play.
Mourinho’s men to maintain momentum
After scoring four or more goals in their opening two league fixtures, for the first time in 110 years, Manchester United are now 11/5 to win the Premier League title. In a similar vein, they are 11/1 shots to put a quartet of unanswered strikes past Leicester this weekend. I wouldn’t back against them doing just that, as their well touted attack looks imperious.
However, their defence has hasn’t been tested yet, and the Foxes flurry of goals against Arsenal, and considered display versus Brighton, indicates they will be an upper-mid table team come May (evens for Craig Shakespeare’s team ending as the top Midlands club looks a steal). They could easily nick a goal at Old Trafford, with both teams to score (11/10) and over 2.5 goals (13/20) safe investments.
Champions chomping at the bit
From being near favourite to be the first manager to lose his job, to being lauded as a tactical genius just a week later, Antonio Conte’s opening few weeks of the campaign have been a rollercoaster. Next up for the Blues is an Everton side that lucked out at against Manchester City on Monday night, after most of the crucial decisions went their way. The Toffees didn’t deserve a point at the Etihad and, as Chelsea won this fixture 5-0 last term (and 3-0 away), I can’t help thinking another rout is on the cards. The Londoners have netted 19 goals in their last six league fixtures against the Merseysiders, and another goal glut is predicted – I’m backing 3-0 (8/1) and 4-0 (14/1) to the hosts.
Arsenal to assert Anfield advantage
I was sat in the revamped Anfield press room when Arsenal last travelled to face Liverpool in the league, when it was announced Alexis Sanchez wasn’t on the Gunners teamsheet – an alleged training ground bust up the cause of his absenteeism. Assembled scribes were left bamboozled, to say the least.
Ahead of this term’s renewal, there is again wonder as to whether the Chilean will appear for Arsene Wenger’s side. With or without Sanchez, though, Arsenal have enough talent in their squad to upset a Liverpool outfit who are dealing with their own want-away player. A sapping opening schedule for Jurgen Klopp’s men might just hand Arsenal the upper hand on Sunday, and they should be punted at 47/20 to win at Anfield, for the first time since 2012.