The Premier League circus returned following the international break, with the ringmasters of the top clubs hoping any clowns in their number had the sense to make sure their particular brand of entertainment didn’t spoil the show.
Football betting expert Dan Roebuck gives us a recap of the highs and lows from this weekend.
Kung Fu fighting
Unfortunately for Jurgen Klopp, Sadio Mane’s high-kicking acrobatics only sought to bring his Liverpool team crashing down at the Etihad. The Merseysiders 5-0 loss away to Manchester City – the first time the Sky Blues have netted five goals against Liverpool for over 80 years – has persuaded the bookmakers to send the Scousers’ title odds soaring to a season high 14/1.
Pep Guardiola’s men have been cut to 5/4 to win the top division; a shortening due in no small part to United’s failure to win at Stoke. Jose Mourinho’s technical area duel with Mark Hughes became a bigger talking point than the match itself – which is how the Portuguese likes it when his side doesn’t win.
The league leaders dominated the game, though, and while detractors will say United still haven’t played a club of any real significance, the players are keeping their cards close to their chest. The Red Devils are 11/4 second favourites to shake hands with the Premier League trophy come May – something that Jose will be pining to do.
A frosty welcome
Alexis Sanchez was jeered from the normally forgiving Emirates crowd, as the Chilean returned to action for Arsenal after his alleged move to Manchester City broke down hours before the transfer deadline window rattled shut. The Gunners, 8/5 for a top four finish, still brushed aside Bournemouth, who are now rated as 7/4 shots for the drop.
Chelsea continued to make steady progress with their own high-wire performer Alvaro Morata. The Spaniard netted a third headed goal since switching from Real Madrid, as the champions beat Leicester 2-1.
Wayne Rooney was brought to book again this weekend – the caution this time came on the pitch – as his Everton side lost 3-0 to a Harry Kane inspired Tottenham. The England striker, who recorded his 100th and 101st goals for Spurs on Saturday, is now 3/1 to win the Golden Boot; a fraction bigger than market leader Romelu Lukaku.
Now to those scuttling around in the sawdust at the foot of the table…
Ronald de Boer’s reign at Selhurst Park might have ended by the time you read this, as the Dutchman spent Sunday overseeing a Crystal Palace side that became the first team in 93 years to lose their first four top flight games in England without scoring. At 6/5, the Eagles are favourites to be relegated. A position previously held by Brighton, who made a mockery of West Brom’s supposed defensive obduracy by beating the Baggies 3-1. The Seagulls are still fancied for the drop, though, with the traders offering 6/4 for the south coast club to be in the Championship next term.
Irons Strong Enough In Home Opener
Only the plight of de Boer is preventing the bookmakers chalking up Slaven Bilic as the favourite to be the first Premier League manager to lose their job this season. The Croatian is under real pressure after West Ham’s shocking start to the new campaign.
The Hammers have lost all three of their games so far, conceding 10 goals in the process. However, it’s worth remembering that all three of their fixtures have come away from home. Now, I’m not suggesting for a moment that a return to the London Stadium will solve all their ills, but a shot in the arm is likely against a Huddersfield side that could easily be brought back down to earth following an unbeaten run of three.
The quality of teams they’ve met (Crystal Palace, Newcastle and Southampton) is certainly questionable, and with Andy Carroll and Winston Reid both fit after injury, the capital club might just remind us all that they can offer their supporters some good vibrations that even Sporting Lisbon president Bruno de Carvalho might enjoy. At 19/20, West Ham are a fair bet to post a first league win of the campaign.