English Premier League – Liverpool vs Arsenal

Preview

Sunday sees the first clash of the season between two of the big six teams as Liverpool host Arsenal at Anfield and it already has the feel of a make or break game for Arsenal. Following Arsenal’s shock defeat at the hands of Stoke City last time out, the pressure is already mounting on Arsene Wenger and if he were to lose at Anfield this weekend, his side could conceivably be six points behind the league leaders after just three games. Liverpool also know that if they can beat Arsenal, they can open four point lead over one their Champions League qualification rivals.

Liverpool

Liverpool are unbeaten so far this season in competitive matches, winning three times and drawing once. This week they thrashed TSG Hoffenheim 4-2 at Anfield to seal their qualification for the group stage of the Champions League and Jurgen Klopp will have been delighted with his team’s performance in that match. Liverpool had a superb record against teams in the top six last season and finished atop of that mini league; it was against teams lower down the division where they struggled. Jurgen Klopp could make changes this weekend, with Andrew Robertson in line to replace Alberto Moreno at left back, but Philipe Coutinho is expected to miss out once more as he continues to be linked with a move to Barcelona.

Arsenal

Arsenal were extremely poor last time out against Stoke City as Jese scored the only goal of the game to give The Potters a 1-0 victory. Pressure is already mounting on Arsene Wenger and another defeat at Anfield on Sunday could see a return to the ‘Wenger Out’ banners that we saw so often last season. Arsenal have looked very shaky defensively this season and Wenger has been criticised for playing players out of position, but he is expecting to welcome back star man Alexis Sanchez this weekend. The Chilean will give the team a huge boost and is by far and away their biggest attacking talent.

Talking Points

  1. There have been 20 goals scored in the last four matches between these two sides at Anfield, so expect more goals on Sunday.
  2. Liverpool won both fixtures between these sides last season, but they haven’t won three in a row against Arsenal for almost 20 years.
  3. Arsenal have failed to win any of their last 12 away matches at top six sides, losing seven and drawing 5.

Prediction

This could go either way, but what’s for sure is that there will be goals in this one. Both of these teams have struggled defensively in recent times, with both sides conceding three goals each on the opening weekend of the season. I think we could see a score draw in this one and if I was pushed to pick a correct score line it would be 2-2.

Betting Tips (Bet365)

Liverpool start this game as slight favourites at 23/20, whilst an away win for Arsenal is available at 5/2 and the draw is a tempting 27/10. A bet that looks like decent money to me is the Draw and BTTS at 3/1. Neither side will want to lose this one and I can’t see either team keeping a clean sheet, so that is where my money would be going.Find more odds under www.online-betting.org.

Draw & BTTS (Yes) – 3/1 (Bet365)

English Premier League – Chelsea vs Everton

Preview

Chelsea host Everton on Sunday looking to build upon last weekend’s impressive 2-1 victory away at Tottenham Hotspur. They will come up against a solid looking Everton side who are unbeaten so far this season and caused Manchester City plenty of problems in last weekends 1-1 draw at The Etihad Stadium. This is set up to be a good game and fans of both sides will be watching intently to get a gauge on how their teams fortunes are shaping up this season.

Chelsea

Antonio Conte’s Chelsea side recovered from their humiliating opening day defeat to Burnley with an inspired victory away at a Tottenham Hotspur side who dropped just four points at home in the whole of last season. Even without the suspended Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea still had enough about them to beat Spurs thanks to two goals from left wing back Marcos Alonso. Tiemoue Bakayoko impressed on his debut in central midfield, whilst Alvaro Morata appears to be getting up to speed in attack. Conte will be desperate to send out a message to the rest of the Premier League that last season wasn’t a one off for Chelsea and that they are title challengers again.

Everton

I’ve been impressed by Everton this season, they have looked well organised and tough to break down in all of their games. Ronald Koeman’s side are unbeaten in all six of their competitive games and picked up a 1-1 draw away at Hadjuk Split on Thursday night thanks to a stunning first goal for the club from Gylfi Sigurdsson. Wayne Rooney has scored on both of his Premier League appearances for his boyhood club since his return and he will be hoping to inflict more damage on a Premier League title hopeful this weekend.

Talking Points

  1. Everton are unbeaten this season in six matches; can Chelsea end that run?
  2. Can Wayne Rooney score for a third successive Premier League match after finding the net against Stoke City and Manchester City?
  3. Chelsea must improve upon their performance from the opening day of the season at home and fans will be desperate to see a performance similar in quality to those of last season.

Prediction

Everton look like a tough team to beat this season and in Jordan Pickford, Seamus Coleman, Ashley Williams, Michael Keane and Leighton Baines they have a very solid back five when all are fit. Despite that I fancy Chelsea to just edge this one; they looked very impressive against Spurs last weekend and confidence will be high in the camp heading into this one.

Betting Tips (Bet365)

Chelsea start this game as big favourites at odds of 9/20, whilst an away victory for Everton is 15/2 and the draw is 7/2. Those odds on Chelsea look very short to me and I don’t think there is too much value to be had there. If you fancy Wayne Rooney to continue his goal scoring run, then he is available at 10/3 to score at anytime. Willian has impressed me this season and I’m backing him to score at anytime at odds of 21/10.

Willian to Score at Anytime – 21/10 (Bet365)  

France v Netherlands Betting Tip:

This is one of the biggest fixtures from the next round of World Cup 2018 fixtures in midweek. We should have a tense and thrilling night at the Stade de France on Thursday. France are level on 13 points after six games in Group A with leaders Sweden, just trailing them on goal difference. As for the Netherlands, they are three points back of the duo which means that this is a game which they can ill afford to lose. But after an away defeat already in the group to Bulgaria, their qualification hopes for Russia 2018 would be damaged further if they were to lose this one. It is going to be a bit of a test of mettle for both of them because France will recognise the huge opportunity to take a step towards next summer’s World Cup with a win. France are 8/13 odds on to take the win, with the Netherlands a pretty distant 9/2 shot.

France Form:

France have posted a W4 D1 L1 record in the group so far. Their dropped points came in a disappointing 0-0 draw with Belarus in their opening qualification match, and a defeat in Sweden when it looked as if they had done enough for a solid draw until Ola Toivonen netted in the 94th minute for the Swedes. So France have to put up a response to that and so far on home soil in Group A they have beaten Sweden 2-1 and have taken out Bulgaria 4-1. The worry there for the French is the goals that they have given up at the Stade de France. Olivier Giroud is top scorer in the group for the Les Bleus with three points.

Netherlands Form:

The Dutch are in a spot of bother with just the ten points from their six games played (W3 D1 L2). Worryingly for them in this one, their troubles have been out on the road where they were held to a 1-1 draw with Sweden and then back in March they suffered a shock 2-0 loss against Bulgaria. That has been the game which has done them the most damage in qualification. That and just one point from their two big games against Sweden and France so far. They have kept just the one clean sheet across their four games as well, which was only against Luxembourg on home soil.

Head to Head News:

France have lost just one of their last five games against the Netherlands now (W3 D1 L1) and they have won each of their last three against them. So the form is there from the French and each of their last two wins over the Oranje have been by a one goal margin. France have taken a clean sheet in three of their last five contests with the Dutch.

Top Betting Tips:

The French should be on top in this one. They are a much better side than the Dutch, far stronger, far more competitive and have an abundance of quality and depth. They can take a huge stride towards Russia 2018 with victory in Paris in this one, which could potentially destroy the Dutch’s hopes of making it to Russia at the same time. France are good enough for a home victory but because they haven’t taken a clean sheet on home soil, both teams to score is even money at Sky Bet.

This photo of the bridge at the Old Den brings back some…

This photo of the bridge at the Old Den brings back some memories. Back in March 1986 I went to Millwall to watch the Blades. We travelled down on a very plush double decker coach, it had a television AND a toilet, the height of luxury eh! Unfortunately for us when we got to Millwall it couldn’t fit under the bridge so the police directed us to park up on a council estate about a mile from the ground. Well, when we got off it was like world war three.

There was a bit of previous going on you see. This was the first game between Millwall and the Blades since a coach load of Millwall had visited Sheffield City Centre one Saturday night on their way home after a trip up North. Not surprisingly it had all kicked off and in the ensuing trouble a young Millwall fan fell and hit his head. Sadly he died later in hospital.

The police mindful of trouble for this fixture had diverted United coaches around the M25 and into South-East London via a ‘secret’ route in order to avoid flash points. Of course their plan to avoid trouble got royally cocked up when they parked our coach in the middle of a Millwall housing estate.

We disembarked and set off for the ground, a human convoy of about 50 to 60 Blades, one copper at the front, one at the back. We were getting all sorts pegged at us, bricks, lumps of concrete, old kettles, bags of p|ss, the lot. Millwall fans were running into us and chinning folk left, right and centre, the bobbies thought it was hilarious. Welcome to Millwall they said!

After the game as were were driving through London our coach was attacked by a load of Millwall fans who, if my memory serves, steamed out of a tube station a few miles from the Den. All the windows on the bottom deck were put through and we had to travel back up the M1 with the wind whistling through the coach.

Ten days later United played at Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough. There was trouble during the match including a pitch invasion by both sets of fans at the final whistle with some scrapping on the pitch. After the match our coach, operated by the same company that had taken us down to Millwall, again had it’s windows put through. The coach firm involved were understandly quite upset at this damage to their vehicles and after having two coaches done over in less than two weeks  refused to run travel for Blades fans on future away trips.

The good old days eh? A world away from the match going experience enjoyed by fans today.