The Premier League is back on Saturday and we've got the best bets from the 3pm kick-offs.
Arsenal v Watford
Arsenal will hope the international break has revitalised them having gone into it with just three wins, and as many defeats, from their previous 10 matches. The good news for them is Watford’s league form has disintegrated and after their win here in the FA Cup three weeks ago they might be understandably distracted by thoughts of Wembley. The Hornets have lost without scoring in four of their last five away matches and have lost all five trips to the current top seven this term while netting just once and with four being either 1-0 or 2-0 scores.
However, Arsenal have 10 fewer goals than this stage a year ago and have scored more than twice in just two of their last 19 games so they look unlikely to totally dominate. Injuries are playing a part in that lack of fluency but they should get their revenge for the Cup loss here and have won 19 of 22 matches against promoted teams since 2012/13. That includes 10 out of 10 at home of which five of the last seven have been to nil and four have been by the 2-0 score, which certainly looks worth a punt at 7.5.
Bournemouth v Man City
City trail Leicester by 15 points and are in a scrap just to make the top four now. Their home form has gone into a tail spin but the damage was already being done on the road, where they’ve won just twice in 11 matches – neither of which was particularly convincing. They’ve managed just seven goals in that streak and while they’ll no doubt look to Aguero to lead their attack the Argentinean star could be tired having been away in South America. With De Bruyne, Kompany, Hart and Sterling all out and Otamendi, Demichelis, Zabaleta and Fernandinho also having been away in South America it’s hard to imagine a vintage City performance here. Bournemouth’s form is decent but they tend to be inconsistent, with eight of their last nine defeats coming by more than one goal. However, they can exploit any fatigue in the City ranks and while they have only the 16th best first-half record this season that improves to the 11th best in the second half. Even more impressively, they didn’t win a second 45 until week 14 as their second-half record was W0-D7-L6 till that point but has since gone W9-D5-L4.
Norwich v Newcastle
A huge win for Norwich at West Brom before the break means they come into this game with a three point lead over Newcastle and a win here would made it very difficult for the Toon to recover. The Canaries home record this season against the current bottom nine is W3-D1-L1 with that defeat coming on the opening day against a Palace side in far better form then than their current position suggests. Newcastle’s position doesn’t lie, however, and they’ve lost 18 of their last 21 away games including seven in a row. Against the current bottom eight the Magpies have gone W2-D2-L6 with both teams scoring in seven and six having at least three goals, including their 6-2 win over Norwich earlier in the campaign. Since 2010/11 there have been 46 all-bottom-six clashes between the start of March and the end of the season and 52% have had at least three goals with 33% having four or more. Neither team has been in great scoring form but a goal for either side could really open this and the ‘overs’ price looks good value.
Stoke v Swansea
Both teams went into the international break in good form, with four wins in six for Stoke and three in four for Swansea. Stoke have the worse team news as Butland, Shaqiri and Johnson are all expected to be missing but the good news is that Swansea have kept just one clean sheet on the road all season. Both teams have actually scored in the Swans’ last six away matches, and they’ve failed to score just once in their last 12 games. Meanwhile, Newcastle are the only side to fail to score against Stoke in their last nine games so both sides will fancy their chances of netting here.
Sunderland v West Brom
Sunderland will have been disappointed to settle for a draw in the derby last time out but it’s just one defeat in six for them and their three defeats in their last 11 games have all come against the current top five. The Baggies last 10 matches against bottom-six teams have seen just 10 goals in total but with nothing to play for it might be hoped that they show a bit more adventure. On the road they’ve managed just one win in nine but with just four defeats in 13 trips to bottom-six teams since the start of last season and their well oiled defence there looks little value on Sunderland at close to evens. West Brom’s last away game finished 2-2 at Leicester and, while it’s a slightly contrarian view, if they do open up a bit more they might find some joy against the Black Cats defence, which has not kept a clean sheet in 16 games of which half have had at least four goals.
West Ham v Crystal Palace
Dimitri Payet’s superb form carried over to the internationals as he scored a free-kick for France. The Hammers have been in excellent touch and have an eye on a top four finish after five wins in their last six home games. In stark contrast, Palace have not won in 13 rounds – losing nine of their last 11. They have scored in seven of their last eight matches though, with six having at least three goals as have seven of their last 10 trips to top-half teams. Five of Palace’s last six defeats have come despite scoring and as with a 3-1 defeat when these teams met earlier in the campaign it might well be the case again.