WE have a new leader atop the 2015-16 English Premier League table, folks.
Matchday seven saw Manchester United scale the summit after their crosstown rivals, Manchester City, suffered a 4-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.
The Citizens now sit second, while West Ham United and Arsenal round out a top four that looks much tighter than it did a few weeks back.
Two of those Champions League placeholders will go head-to-head this weekend, while Merseyside will play host to one of the biggest (and most ferocious) fixtures in club football.
Here’s our EPL betting guide for the key encounters of round eight, complete with Premier League match odds for every clash.
EPL leaders Man United $3.80 to beat Arsenal
Arsenal vs Manchester United – 4:00pm local time on Sunday, October 4 at Emirates Stadium
They may be top of the pops right now, but Manchester United ($3.80 at WilliamHill.com) are the bookmakers’ underdogs ahead of their trip to North London.
That’s despite a marked upswing in form over recent weeks, as Louis van Gaal’s men now have three wins in their last three Premier League outings.
There has also been a notable change in their conversion rate, with those victories over Liverpool, Southampton and Sunderland producing nine Man United goals all told.
At the heart of that newfound prolifically is teenage sensation Anthony Martial, who has transformed the United forward line and bagged three goals in as many games since his £36 million move from AS Monaco.
The young French striker is among the hot favourites to open the scoring at the Emirates this Sunday, with online bookmaker Bet365.com paying $8 for Martial to do just that.
But it’s Arsenal ($2.05 at Sportsbet) who are roundly favoured to claim all three points, even after suffering a 3-2 home defeat to Olympiacos in their midweek UEFA Champions League fixture.
The Gunners have lost only one of their last six Premier League matches (a 2-0 reverse at Chelsea), and they really put their foot down last weekend with a 5-2 thrashing of the previously undefeated Leicester City.
That win also signalled a welcome return to goalscoring form for Chilean forward Alexis Sanchez, who opened his 2015-16 account with a blistering hat-trick.
But Arsenal fans will be somewhat concerned over the fitness of Petr Cech (calf), especially after reserve goalkeeper David Ospina fumbled a corner into his own net on Tuesday night.
Key defender Laurent Koscielny also looks set to miss after being subbed out of the Olympiacos game with an apparent hamstring strain.
There’s also the small matter of Arsenal’s woeful record against United in recent years, as Arsene Wenger’s men have tasted victory in just one of their 13 Premier League encounters with the Red Devils since 2008.
– Manchester United to win ($3.80 at William Hill)
– Correct score 2-1 Man United ($15 at Bet365)
– Juan Mata to score the first goal ($12 at William Hill)
Everton slight favourites in tight Merseyside derby betting
Everton vs Liverpool – 12:45pm local time on Sunday, October 4 at Goodison Park
Derby dates are always tough to call, but this one has the bookies well and truly perched on the fence.
At the time of writing, Premier League betting site www.Sportsbet.com has Everton at best odds of $2.70 to win – the exact same price as Liverpool.
A few other leading sportsbooks have the Toffees as slender favourites, while the Reds are paying as much as $2.80 (Bet365).
Both sides have a little bit of momentum after grabbing a 3-2 win apiece last weekend.
Romelu Lukaku was the hero for Everton, leading the charge with a second-half brace as Roberto Martinez’s men stormed home from 2-0 down against West Bromwich Albion.
Lukaku ($6.50 at Bet365.com) is widely favoured to score the first goal on Sunday afternoon, although there is plenty of love for fit-again Liverpool star Daniel Sturridge ($6 at Sportsbet) after his superb double against Aston Villa.
Sturridge looks to have struck up a solid rapport with Danny Ings, who could well keep £32.5 million man Christian Benteke out of the starting lineup at Goodison Park.
Whoever features up front, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will be eager to get some sort of result in a match-up the Reds haven’t lost since 2010.
Everton haven’t succumbed to their arch rivals at home since 2011, however, while five of the last six Merseyside derbies have ended all square.
It’s also worth mentioning that this has become the most ill-disciplined fixture in the English top-flight, so put your money on a red card being shown at some stage.
– Liverpool to win ($2.80 at William Hill)
– Both teams to score ($1.77 at CrownBet)
– Philippe Coutinho to score the first goal ($10 at Sportsbet)
Newcastle $13 to upset Man City at Eastlands
Manchester City vs Newcastle – 3:00pm local time on Saturday, October 3 at Etihad Stadium
What the heck has happened to Manchester City?
Having started the season like the proverbial house on fire, Manuel Pellegrini’s charges have now lost to West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur in consecutive outings.
Even so, www.WilliamHill.com has Man City as short-priced $1.22 favourites to stop the rot against a somewhat unpredictable Newcastle United ($13 at Bet365.com) this week.
The Toon have lived up to our pre-season prophecies thus far, with no wins from seven attempts putting them firmly in the 2015-16 Premier League relegation battle.
The curious thing is that all of Newcastle’s three points have come against sides which finished in the top seven last year: Southampton (2-2) in round one, Man United (0-0) on matchday three, and Chelsea (2-2) just last week.
That unlikely trend would appear to suggest that Steve McClaren’s men are half a chance to snatch a draw ($7 at Sportsbet.com) at Eastlands this weekend.
They will need another big performance from Georginio Wijnaldum, who has been one of Newcastle’s few shining lights since his summer move from the Dutch Eredivisie.
The Netherlands international midfielder bagged his second strike of the season in the draw with Chelsea, and Sportsbet has him pegged at $6 to add to his tally at Eastlands.
But Wijnaldum and his Tyneside teammates will find it hard going against City’s star-studded midfield – even if it hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders in recent weeks.
They are missing a few key names, with Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, Eliaquim Mangala, Fabian Delph, Wilfried Bony and club captain Vincent Kompany all sidelined.
But David Silva and Joe Hart both returned for the win over ‘Gladbach, while stalwart right-back Pablo Zabaleta is also pushing for selection as he works his way back from a knee injury.
– Manchester City to win ($1.22 at William Hill)
– Correct score 3-0 Man City ($8 at CrownBet)
– Sergio Aguero to score the first goal ($3.50 at Sportsbet)
More English Premier League betting
All dates and times listed according to British Standard Time (BST)
Saturday, October 3
Crystal Palace – $1.80 (William Hill)
West Brom – $5 (Sportsbet)
Draw – $3.60 (Bet365)
Aston Villa – $2.45 (William Hill)
Stoke City – $3 (Bet365)
Draw – $3.30 (Sportsbet)
Bournemouth – $2.10 (Bet365)
Watford – $3.80 (William Hill)
Draw – $3.50 (Sportsbet)
Norwich City – $2.30 (Sportsbet)
Leicester City – $3.25 (CrownBet)
Draw – $3.40 (William Hill)
Sunderland – $3.10 (Bet365)
West Ham – $2.38 (CrownBet)
Draw – $3.40 (William Hill)
Chelsea – $1.75 (CrownBet)
Southampton – $5.25 (Bet365)
Draw – $3.75 (William Hill)
Sunday, October 4
Swansea City – $2.78 (CrownBet)
Tottenham – $2.62 (Sportsbet)
Draw – $3.30 (William Hill)
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