ARSENAL v MANCHESTER UNITED – MCB’s Premier League Preview

Arsenal v Manchester United

Saturday, 5:30

The international break has not been kind to Manchester United. The injury crisis at Old Trafford reached new heights with the likes of Angel Di Maria, Michael Carrick, Luke Shaw, Radamel Falcao, Daly Blind and David De Gea all uncertain to start for Saturday’s lunch-time clash.

Angel Di Maria

Injury doubt: Angel Di Maria

Manager Louis van Gaal is notorious for his strict training regimen. Could it be that over-training has meant players such as Phil Jones and Jonny Evans, have been beset with hamstring injuries because of this policy?

Raymond Verheijen, the Dutch coach who is known for bluntly assessing fitness regimes on social media, tweeted recently, “The Man Utd injury crisis was predictable. Double sessions (fatigue) during a US trip (fatigue) with players returning from WC (fatigue)?”

He added: “Accumulation of fatigue due to insufficient recovery time between training & games is main reason for injuries. Slower nerve system.”

Verheijen might have a point but even though they won the title in 2012, United still looked bereft of quality in certain areas well before Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement that summer.

With a quarter of the season gone, Van Gaal is still laying down his system and not having a fully-fit squad to choose from has accentuated the problems at Old Trafford.

If Arsenal are ever to challenge for the title, they must do a better job against the top teams. One win in their last 14 against United underlines the problem. The Gunners have won just three of the last 10 at home to United.

Arsenal’s habit of letting leads slip (3-0 up at half-time against Anderlecht only to draw 3-3, and losing 2-1 at Swansea five days later after being a goal up with 15 minutes left) has to stop.

Their poor recent record against United and this unfortunate habit are factored into the odds.

The Gunners look a big price at 2.18 (59/50) with the draw at 3.45 (49/20), while United are 3.25 (9/4).

It is worth noting that in their last six meetings, the result at Half-Time has been the same as at Full-Time. That’s a neat trend and Arsenal to be in front at HT and FT is offered at 3.40 (12/5).

VERDICT: Arsenal 3 Manchester United 1 (Correct Score odds: 16.0 or 15/1)

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EVERTON v WEST HAM UNITED – MCB’s Premier League Preview

Everton v West Ham United

Saturday, 3pm

If the trends are to be believed, here’s an early Christmas present: Take Everton to see off the Londoners at odds of 1.8 (4/5).

Some teams just do not do well against others. Year after year, decade after decade, it is always the same thing. You can play a team off the park and still come away with nothing. This has consistently been the case with these two.

Lukaku v West Ham

Hammers horror: Lukaku scored winner last term

Even though they have hit the heady heights of fourth place in the Premier League, the Hammers have a woeful record against the Toffeemen. Just look at these stats: Everton scored at least twice in 8 of last 10 meetings, the Hammers have not won in the last 13 meetings (and have won just four times in the last 32 meetings) and have won twice at Goodison Park since 1972.

This has the makings of a banker bet, so you would think.

There is a flip side to the trend, however. Everton have not won five consecutive games against the Hammers since the 1968/71 seasons (they have four successive victories over the Hammers currently) and with Everton looking for only their second home win of the season, the odds of 4.5 (7/2) for a West Ham victory might look tempting. The draw is on offer at 3.70 (27/10).

We are chancing our arm a bit here and though this goes against every sinew in our rippling tipping torsos, we think the Hammers might buck the trend. The odds of 2.02 (50/49) for the Draw or a West Ham Win on the Double Chance market is where our money is going.

VERDICT: Everton 2 West Ham 2 (Correct Score odds: 12.5 or 23/2)

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LEICESTER CITY v SUNDERLAND – MCB’s Premier League Preview

Leicester City v Sunderland

Saturday, 3pm

If it sounds like a game for the tail-end of Match of the Day, it has certainly lived down to those expectations in the past few meetings. No less than seven on the last nine clashes saw less than three goals in total.

nigel pearson

Matter of time: Nigel Pearson

Sunderland lost the last time they met (in a friendly), but were unbeaten in five competitive games against the Foxes prior to that 1-0 reverse at the Walkers Stadium (winning four and drawing the other) and are considered 3.80 (14/5) to win.

Leicester have lost five of their last six EPL games (drawing the other) since beating Manchester United 5-3 in September.

Sunderland are becoming draw specialists, with six of their 11 games thus far ending in stalemate. But if they don’t get something out of this game, they could soon tailspin. Their next four fixtures comprise home games against three of the top four Chelsea, Manchester City and West Ham, with a tough trip to Liverpool in between.

Leicester have not been playing badly, despite their recent indifferent form. It is only a matter of time before Nigel Pearson gets the results he deserves and we look for the Foxes to sneak a win at odds of 2.08 (27/25).

VERDICT: Leicester 2 Sunderland 1 (Correct Score odds: 8.0 or 7/1)

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STOKE CITY v BURNLEY – MCB’s Premier League Preview

Stoke City v Burnley

Saturday, 3pm

Let’s be honest, this is another game that has all the appeal of warm beer. Stoke are unbeaten in their last six meetings with Burnley, but goals have been few and far between when these two meet. In fact, nine of the last 10 meetings saw two or fewer goals scored in total.

Burnley have won four of their last eight trips to the Potteries and the wary hosts have to face Liverpool (A), Manchester United (A), Arsenal (H) and Chelsea (H) in four of their next five games.

Scott Arfield

Fitness battle: Scott Arfield

Stoke have performed admirably in their last two games, drawing against West Ham and then winning at Tottenham, but they have yet to score more than twice in a game (they have managed to net twice just four times in 11 outings).

Burnley’s problem has been injuries, particularly to the strike partnership of Danny Ings and Sam Vokes. While Ings has made a successful return, Vokes, who noteched 21 times last term, has not played for the Clarets since the end of March when he ruptured his anterior cruciate knee ligament.

The Lancashire club ended their long wait for an elusive first win when beating Hull City 1-0 before the two-week international break and while they remain bottom, they could haul themselves out of the relegation zone with a win.

Burnley will check on the fitness of Scott Arfield and Nathaniel Chalobah, who have both picked up knocks, while it remains to be seen if Matt Taylor (Achilles) is available to return.

Stoke have injury problems at the back, with Marc Wilson (hamstring) set to miss out and both Erik Pieters (Achilles) and Phil Bardsley (groin) facing late tests. Robert Huth (calf) and Dionatan Teixeira (broken foot) remain sidelined.

Stoke, on offer at 1.70 (7/10) will be a banker bet for many, but given their injury concerns and given Burnley’s fair record in Staffordshire, the 5.50 (9/2) to gain a second successive victory looks tempting. Stoke could easily find their scoring boots and rattle in three or four. However, there may be an upset or two this weekend, and this could be one of the biggest.

VERDICT: Stoke 1 Burnley 2 (Correct Score odds: 16.0 or 15/1)

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NEWCASTLE UNITED v QUEENS PARK RANGERS – MCB’s Premier League Preview

Newcastle United v Queens Park Rangers

Saturday, 3pm

There are plenty of games this weekend where the historical trends point to a lack of goals, including this one. Five of the last six meetings saw less than 2.5 total goals.

It also points to a home win, as Rangers have managed just one victory in the last 11 meetings and have not won on Tyneside for 21 years.

Alan Pardew

Calm down, pet: Alan Pardew

It seems the talk about Alan Pardew’s demise may have been a little premature, for Newcastle have managed four successive victories and will seek a record fourth consecutive win over Rangers.

Harry Redknapp’s side are yet to win away from home this term, but they have really bucked their ideas up since an abject defeat at West Ham. While they were desperately unlucky to lose at home to Liverpool, Rangers defeated Aston Villa, gave Chelsea a real scare and held the champions Manchester City to a 2-2 draw.

Though Newcastle may be buoyant after surprising a few teams, their defence is a makeshift unit with Fabricio Coloccini ruled out and Steven Taylor rated as doubtful. Mike Williamson and Paul Drummett are hardly household names and Rangers will look to exploit that central partnership.

Pardew will also be without the services of Cheik Tiote and Rolando Aarons.

Charlie Austin’s return after injury has sparked Rangers’ revival and he has formed a good partnership with the vastly experience Bobby Zamora.

They will cause enough problems to warrant taking on Newcastle, who are considered 1.83 (39/47) to win. Rangers are available at 4.60 (18/5), with the draw at 3.50 (5/2).

We like the odds of 1.98 (48/49) for the Draw or QPR to win in the Double Chance market.

VERDICT: Newcastle 1 QPR 1 (Correct Score odds: 6.60 or 28/5)

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CHELSEA v WEST BROMWICH ALBION – MCB’s Premier League Preview

Chelsea v West Bromwich Albion

Saturday, 3pm

Chelsea look head and shoulders above the rest of the Premier League at present, and the runaway train is not expected to be stopped by the Baggies, who have lost 16 of the last 20 meetings with the Blues.

Both of Albion’s wins in that span came at the Hawthorns and they have not won at Stamford Bridge since March 1979.

Berahino

Test for Blues: Berahino

Goals are usually the order of the day when these two meet – nine of the last 14 meetings yielded at least three goals in total, while both sides found the net in five of the last seven meetings. West Brom have netted in eight of the last nine matches, so the odds of 2.18 (59/50) for both sides to score look inviting at first glance.

It was a shame/ridiculous (take your pick, depending on your Roy Hodgson stance) that Saido Berahino was not given an outing against Scotland in midweek. The young England marksman has pillaged seven goals in 11 games for the Baggies and he will prove a handful to John Terry and company.

Chelsea, available at 1.23 (20/87) have dropped four points form a possible 33 this term and it is certainly possible to see them remaining unbeaten before Christmas as, aside from Newcastle and Stoke, they face four other sides in the bottom half of the table.

The league’s top scorers have come away from Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool with five points and only Southampton have conceded fewer goals. While they are four points clear of the Saints, crucially, Chelsea are eight points better off than champions Manchester City, while Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool are all well off the pace.

West Brom have won one of their last six matches in all competitions and are quoted at 15.5 (29/2) to end Chelsea’s unbeaten record. The draw is on offer at 6.40 (27/5).

We look for Chelsea to march on. While things have not come too easily to them in recent weeks, their football has been a delight to behold. Expect this to be another cruise for the Blues.

VERDICT: Chelsea 3 West Bromwich Albion 1 (Correct Score odds: 10.00 or 9/1)

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MANCHESTER CITY v SWANSEA CITY – MCB’s Premier League Preview

Manchester City v Swansea City

Saturday, 3pm

Swansea have made a bright start to the season, recording 18 points and are sitting pretty in the top six. Victory over Arsenal last time out was no fluke and they head to the Etihad Stadium brimming with confidence.

Manager Gary Monk has few injury concerns, hoping to have Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer available, while Leon Britton is edging closer to full fitness. Jonjo Shelvey is back from suspension, so centre-back Federico Fernandez may be the only senior absentee.

Pellegrini

Under pressure: Pellegrini

Wilfried Bony is traveling back from the Ivory Coast after helping his countrymen clinch their place in the African Cup of Nations and he will also feature, although he will miss up to five Premier League games in the New Year when he returns to international duty.

Swansea have lost on their last five visits and while the Champions are finding life tough this term, underlined by a workmanlike point at QPR last time.

Manuel Pellegrini changed the system against Rangers, but it took two incredible goals from Sergio Aguero to drag City out of the mire in a game where they looked slow and pedestrian.

City have not really made a marquee signing since Aguero joined in 2011, so it seems highly possible they will swoop for Dortmund’s inventive, skilful and intelligent striker Marco Reus in the January transfer window – Pellegrini’s job could depend on it.

Reus

Potential target: Reus

City, on offer at 1.38 (19/50), should be too strong for the Swans, who are considered 8.40 (37/5) chances. The draw is available at 5.00 (4/1).

Five of the last six meetings between the pair saw one or other fail to score and that could be the case again.

VERDICT: Manchester City 3 Swansea 0 (Correct Score odds: 10.00 or 9/1)

Get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service. It is completely free and your club will not only receive 20% of the bookmakers’ net profit, it will also receive free kit and equipment. See myclubbetting.com for details.

Please gamble responsibly. You must be 18 years or over to bet.

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