So, 204 days after it all kicked off in the August sunshine, we’re back to where we started.
This weekend the Premier League plays host to the reverse fixtures from the opening day, and our football expert Adrian Clarke runs us through his selections for the live TV games.
Manchester United v Bournemouth, Saturday 4th March 12:30pm
Don’t take your foot off the gas. Don’t assume it’s going to be easy. Don’t get sloppy.
Jose Mourinho will be petrified of an over-confident cup final hangover, so these are the messages he’ll preach ahead of kick off against beleaguered Bournemouth.
The Cherries, and especially their keeper Artur Boruc, are in terrible form. Letting in three goals per game during a winless start to 2017, this bears all of the hallmarks of a certified home banker.
Yet I suspect it will be closer than anticipated.
Under pressure to show fight for manager Eddie Howe, it presents an opportunity to salvage pride, and going forward the South Coast men always offer a threat.
The Evens that’s available for the Cherries to score Over 0.5 goals looks attractive, and in ex-United youngster Josh King they also have a front man that’s among the goals. With five in his last eight games, King has been Price Boosted to 15/1 to score first on his old stomping ground.
I can’t back against Manchester United though.
They are a side that feels like it’s peaking for the business end. No matter how they perform, they seem to get the job done.
With an EFL Cup comedown likely, my tips are for a close run affair Draw/Home (3/1) that ends in a narrow 2-1 home success. That’s an 8/1 shot.
Liverpool v Arsenal, Saturday 4th March 5:30pm
It’s not commonplace to find Arsenal as big as 5/2 in a two-horse race, but recent history suggests that’s a logical price at Anfield.
Believe it or not, the Gunners haven’t won away from home against any members of the current top six in over two years. Big games on the road have not been their forte.
Liverpool’s form is chaotically yo-yoing, but they will expect to score goals.
They won 4-3 at the Emirates, and in this corresponding fixture they’ve netted 10 times in the last three meetings. Their fierce pressing game and speedy attack has a habit of unsettling Arsene Wenger’s men.
Sadio Mane, who tortured Arsenal on match day 1, is the obvious danger man and he’s been Price Boosted to 6/1 to score first.
Given the various inconsistencies both sides are suffering with at the moment, and how important it is for them not to lose this encounter, I like the look of the draw at 13/5.
Tottenham Hotspur v Everton, Sunday 5th March 1:30pm
On-fire Golden Boot chasers Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku come face to face this weekend in what should be a fascinating fixture at White Hart Lane.
If you fancy either hot shot to make the breakthrough, the Spurs star has been Price Boosted to 3/1, and the Belgian brute is a 23/4 alternative to score first.
I’d advise caution with Lukaku. He scored a magnificent solo effort at the Etihad earlier on this season, but that was his ONLY Premier League goal away from Goodison Park at the home of the Big Six since he joined Everton.
You have to go back to February 2013 for the next closest goal contribution, at Liverpool, for West Bromwich Albion.
Looking at the bigger picture, if Ronald Koeman’s Toffees have serious aspirations to gate crash the division’s six-seat VIP table, this is exactly the kind of contest they need to make a statement in – especially with Spurs having injury concerns in defence.
The 9/2 on an away win reflects how hard it will be, but 27/20 on Everton or the Draw could be an avenue worth pursuing.
Give the Under 2.5 Goals market (11/10) consideration too. These clubs may have lively front men, but six of their last seven meetings have featured two goals or less. It’s usually tight.
Sunderland v Manchester City, Sunday 5th March 4:00pm
This used to be Manchester City’s bogey fixture. Between August 2010 and December 2014 they suffered four consecutive 1-0 defeats.
That’s available at a whopping 26/1, but unless you’ve spent most of this season stuck in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, it’s not a bet I’d expect you to touch!
Pep Guardiola’s men are playing some unstoppable attacking football at the moment, with front three Aguero, Sterling and Sane in exceptional form.
Given how iffy Sunderland are at the back, this could be a field day for the visitors.
I believe they will win both halves (8/5), score over 2.5 goals (87/100) and I could also see the razor sharp Aguero bagging at least two goals, which is on offer at a pretty handy 13/4.
Shocks happen in football, but at the Stadium of Light this weekend I suspect it’s extremely unlikely.
You can watch all this weekend’s goals from the Premier League from the comfort of any one of our 53 local casinos in the UK.
Image credits: Wikimedia (Creative Commons – Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0))
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