Friday, September 13, 2013

EPL Week 4

This week-end will give a good indication of the impact of the transfer window on the conditions of the teams in the EPL. New acquisitions will need to settle in and some will do it quicker than others. The play and performance of the teams should give some direction as to expectations of them in the months ahead. Here's my view of the week-end matches.

Man Utd v/s Crystal Palace. Home win. This Man Utd team is still a work in progress under Moyes but they cannot afford to lose points at home to the visitors. There is no doubt that the Red Devils had a disappointing transfer window after their setbacks in recruiting some big names, but I think they did very well in getting Fellaini from Everton. He should give a tonic to a placid central midfield. RVP has been banging goals for the Netherlands during the international qualifiers, and there is little doubt that he will be on the score-sheet again on Saturday.

Aston Villa v/s Newcastle. This could be ripe for a draw, although Villa should be able to test the resolve of a suspect Newcastle defence. Cabaye makes his anticipated return for the Magpies after failing to secure a switch to Arsenal and Ben Arfa is always capable of springing a magical moment for the visitors. But this is a match Villains star striker Benteke must look forward to banging goals and if he's on song, the balance could tilt in favour of the hosts. Villa as draw-no-bet is the selection.

Fulham v/s West Brom. The Cottagers dropped their last two games and WBA have yet to record a win. They lost striker Odemwinge during the transfer window and I was surprised that they did not go all out for Chelsea's Lukaku. I give Fulham the edge here and a draw-no-bet on them look safe and value at current odds.

Hull v/s Cardiff. This could very well be a low-scoring affair with possibly a goal deciding this match, should there be a winner. Could go any result.

Stoke v/s Man City. The problem with giving full confidence to Man City these days is due to the absence of their captain and rock at the back, Vincent Kompany. His absence was clearly evident in their loss at Cardiff where they gave up 2 goals on corners. Although Stoke will certainly make life difficult for them, the Citizens have enough quality to settle this tie. They just cannot afford to lose this game after their recent debacle at Cardiff. Man City as draw-no-bet is the selection.

Sunderland v/s Arsenal. Ozil is the main name for the Gunners. I don't know if he's worth the amount of money they paid for him but the German is pure class and looks set to be a major playmaker for them. His arrival will have given confidence to the entire squad that they are a team that can aim high. Arsenal should win this and are a straight Win selection.

Tottenham v/s Norwich. No team has been affected more than Tottenham during this transfer window. They lost their soul in Bale and the main question is how his absence and the arrival of seven new players have affected the quality of the team. The pressure is on Villas-Boas to mould this new team into an equally-good or better team than last year's. Their first 3 matches have been laborious, having won 2 matches by the minimum score on 2 penalties and being blanked out at Arsenal. Norwich could not have found a better time to visit White Hart Lane and will definitely see to snatching at least a point out of this encounter. At current odds, Spurs look a decent draw-no-bet proposal.

Everton v/s Chelsea. If Chelsea play like they did against Bayern in the Super Cup, they should win this match in hand. Everton have yet to win this season and although their manager is saying the contrary, the departure of Fellaini is a blow for them (at least on the field). The fact that the Toffees are still not firing on all cylinders at the presenet means that Chelsea will certainly be looking for the win here. I think they'll succeed and are a Win selection.

Southampton v/s West Ham. The Hammers will do without striker Carroll and playmaker Joe Cole. It looks very much that manager Allardyce will try to park the bus and be content with a point. Southampton should have all its players from international duty in good condition and their good record at home points to either a win or draw in this match. I have them as a good draw-no-bet.

Swansea v/s Liverpool. How much valuable is Sturridge to Liverpool? Well, he scored the only 3 goals in their first 3 games, and all his goals have been match-winners. I think their good form is going to be hit hard when they travel to Swansea. I like the look of Laudrup's team. They play good football and are always a goalscoring threat to any team.  I selected them for an away win at WBA last week and I have confidence in them again to put an end to the Kops' winning record. Swansea is the value draw-no-bet of the week-end.

Win: Man Utd, Arsenal, Chelsea
Draw-no-bet: Southampton, Swansea, Tottenham, Man City, Fulham, Aston Villa

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