Football expert Thomas Henry gives us his Saturday’s Premier League previews and tips for the six games.
Norwich v Aston Villa
This is a tough game to call in Saturday’s early kick-off in the Premier League. Norwich have lost only one of their last 11 home games in the Premier League and it was their home form that kept in the top flight last season. Manager Chris Hughton sets them up defensively and they are a very tough team to beat at Carrow Road. That one loss came at the hands of Aston Villa and they have a good recent record against Norwich, winning their last two meetings. Christian Benteke is in top form and has scored 4 goals in the opening four games of the season. Villa were expected to win at home last weekend against Newcastle but suffered a surprise 2-1 loss and they will be extra motivated to bounce back. However I think Villa by looking to play on the counter attack are now becoming a very one dimensional team and they are over relying on Benteke. I expect Hughton to have a defensive plan in place to cope with Villa’s counter attack style and it wouldn’t surprise if this game is slow to get going. Norwich will be happy to let Villa go all out attacking in the first half and sit back on them before trying to win the game in the second half. I think goals will be at a premium in this game and if they do come then it will be in the 2nd half. Verdict: Under 2.5 goals at 10/11 & the highest scoring half to be in the 2nd half at 11/10.
Liverpool v Southampton
Liverpool lost their 100% winning record to the start of the season when they were held to a 2-2 draw at Swansea on Monday night. The biggest loss though came when Phillipe Coutinho got injured and is now out for two months meaning Liverpool have to do without one of their main attacking threats. Luis Suarez is back for their next Premier League but they could struggle on Saturday against a solid Southampton side. Under Mauricio Pochettino, the Saints have been very tough to beat away from home, conceding only three goals in their last seven away games. Prior to the Swansea result, Liverpool had won each of their opening three games by a scoreline of 1-0 so that tells us they struggle to score yet are very solid defensively. Verdict: Under 2.5 goals at Evens.
Newcastle v Hull
Newcastle will have taken huge confidence from their 2-1 away win at Villa Park last Saturday and there is no reason why they shouldn’t make it three wins in a row against Hull at St James’ Park. Hatem Ben Arfa is in form and has now scored in the last two games but more importantly the Frenchman looks to be clear of the injuries that dogged him last season. Yohan Cabaye was also impressive against Villa and looks to have gotten over his transfer spat with the club. I think it was the home win over Fulham that gave Newcastle the confidence to go and win at Villa Park, and that confidence will only have grown this week ahead of this fixture. Hull will struggle away from home as they simply don’t have enough quality players in their side to cope with an inform opponent. They are well organized and work hard throughout the game but that’s not going to be enough to get you results against the better sides in the Premier League. Alan Pardew has a near full strength squad to choose from and confidence seems to be back amongst the players which should spell trouble for Hull. Verdict: Home win at 5/6
West Brom v Sunderland
The bottom two sides meet in the Premier League and a good opportunity for West Brom to get their first win of the season against Sunderland. The Baggies have been the more impressive of the two sides in the opening four games of the season. They conceded a last minute goal to losing their season opener against Southampton but they showed their character with two good away draws at Everton and Fulham. The problem for West Brom has been scoring goals but they are sure to get chances against an unsettled Sunderland side. I don’t rate Paulo Di Canio as a manager and the Italian is completely out of his depth in the Premier League. He has done so many things wrong it defies belief and his latest managerial master class was to get sent off from the touchline in their 3-1 loss at home to Arsenal. They have conceded eight goals in the opening four games and I expect them to lose again on Saturday to a motivated West Brom. Verdict: Home win at 11/10
West Ham v Everton
I think Everton will have a big season under their new manager Roberto Martinez. They made three very good signings in Gareth Barry, James McCarthy and Romelu Lukaku who will be all suited to Martinez’s style of passing football. They have shown their ability to dominate possession and create a lot of chances but they have been guilty of not converting in their 0-0 draws with West Brom and Cardiff. The arrival of Lukaku will make a big difference as he’s a proven goalscorer and has something to prove to his parent club Chelsea. West Ham has failed to score in any of their last three games and really miss striker Andy Carroll. It’s difficult to see where they will score and I expect them to fire another blank at home to Everton. Verdict: Under 2.5 goals at 4/5 and an away win at 7/5.
Chelsea v Fulham
Chelsea has suffered two losses in a week but I expect a big response in their Saturday evening game against Fulham. They deserved to lose against Everton but their midweek loss to Basel was the real shock and Mourinho’s comments after the game were very notable where he accepted responsibility for the defeat. This is classic Mourinho, take the pressure of the players and motivate them to bounce back immediately. Fulham is the perfect opponent for them to face as the Cottagers don’t have the midfield quality to compete. Mourinho is likely to recall John Terry and he will have a calming presence in the defence against a Fulham side who has managed to score three goals in their opening four games. Verdict: Home win at 3/10
1 pt Norwich v Aston Villa – Under 2.5 goals at 10/11
2 pts Liverpool v Southampton – Under 2.5 goals at 11/10
2 pts Newcastle to beat Hull at 5/6
2 pts West Brom to beat Sunderland at 11/10
2 pts West Ham v Everton – Under 2.5 goals at 4/5
2 pts Everton to beat West Ham at 7/5
2 pts Chelsea Asian Handicap -1.5 over Fulham at 7/8
Record to date (2013/14 season): 14 pts staked, 6 pts Profit