FIVE rounds in, the 2015-16 English Premier League is starting to take a more conventional shape.
The exception is second-placed Leicester City, who maintained their unbeaten record with a 3-2 victory over Aston Villa last weekend.
But Manchester United and Arsenal have jumped into the top four, with Crystal Palace and Swansea City sliding out after 1-0 defeats to Manchester City and Watford respectively.
There’s no such joy for Chelsea and Liverpool, however, both of whom find themselves in the bottom half and struggling for any kind of form.
Can they turn it around this weekend?
Will Arsenal heap more woe on struggling Chelsea?
What on earth has happened to the Blues?
A 3-1 defeat at Everton last week has left Chelsea just two points out of the relegation spots, and the pressure is mounting on manager Jose Mourinho as he prepares for Arsenal’s visit on Saturday.
The title holders have yet to win at home in the league this season, although they may be buoyed by their 4-0 stroll over Maccabi Tel Aviv in the Champions League on Wednesday.
They will also take heart from their head-to-head record with Arsenal, who haven’t beaten their London rivals in league play since 2011.
Arsene Wenger clearly had an eye on this fixture as he rested several players for the midweek 2-1 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia.
The Gunners look the far better bet on EPL form alone, with three wins and a draw since their opening-day stumble against West Ham United.
The bookies are offering good odds on both Chelsea ($2.40 at WilliamHill.com) and Arsenal ($3.05 at CrownBet.com), with the draw paying $3.50 at Will Hill.
It feels wrong to bet against Mourinho’s mob at Stamford Bridge, but the visitors look a far better side right now.
- Arsenal to win or draw ($1.61 at Bet365)
- Theo Walcott to score the first goal ($8.50 at Bet365)
West Ham $12 to halt Man City’s title charge
The Hammers have already taken two big scalps this season, downing Arsenal on day one before ending their 53-year drought at Liverpool with a shock 3-0 win.
They will look to slay a third giant this weekend when they return to the North West to face an unbeaten Manchester City side.
The Citizens have five wins from five, although they left it late to secure a 1-0 result against Crystal Palace last time out.
Throw in a home defeat to Juventus in the Champions League, and it’s fair to say City haven’t quite recaptured the form they displayed before the international break.
There are also a couple of injury concerns, with Sergio Aguero and captain Vincent Kompany fighting for fitness.
Regardless of whether or not those two start, City will need to find their fire this weekend if they wish to deny a visiting side which looks tailor-made for taking down the big guns.
But the top online bookmakers aren’t expecting lightning to strike three times for West Ham ($12 at Sportsbet.com), with City the short-priced $1.26 favourites at CrownBet.
And while it’s hard to argue against those odds, there’s a part of us (and probably every Premier League punter) that fancies a sneaky tenner on Slaven Bilic’s men to pull off another stunner.
- Manchester City to win 2-0 ($8 at William Hill)
- Raheem Sterling to score the first goal ($7 at Bet365)
Undefeated Leicester $2.90 to beat Stoke
Fresh off one of the greatest escapes in Premier League history, Leicester City and their new management have blasted out of the blocks in EPL 2015-16.
Claudio Ranieri’s men sit second on the table, with three wins and two draws from their five fixtures thus far.
Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez has been a revelation for the Midlands club, with four goals in a hugely impressive start to the campaign.
And while they have yet to face any of the division’s powerhouse clubs, the Foxes ($2.90 at www.CrownBet.com) would have to fancy themselves against a somewhat sluggish Stoke City side.
The Potters ($2.40 at Sportsbet) have been so consistent since their return to the top flight in 2008, but two points from five outings sees them currently plugging up the drop zone.
Mark Hughes has imported plenty of star talent in the last two years, but the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Marco van Ginkel and Ibrahim Afellay have yet to really gel at the Britannia.
Stoke should improve as the season progresses and the new boys find their feet, but right at this moment they may struggle to keep a fired-up Leicester side at bay.
- Leicester to win ($2.90 at CrownBet)
- Riyad Mahrez to score the first goal ($9.50 at Bet365)
More 2015-16 Premier League match odds
All dates listed according to British Standard Time (BST)
Saturday, September 19
Aston Villa – $2.30 at Sportsbet
Draw – $3.30 at Sportsbet
West Brom – $3.50 at Bet365
Bournemouth – $1.70 at William Hill
Draw – $3.70 at CrownBet
Sunderland – $5.50 at Sportsbet
Newcastle United – $2.50 at Bet365
Draw – $3.40 at Sportsbet
Watford – $3 at Sportsbet
Swansea City – $2.30 at Sportsbet
Draw – $3.35 at CrownBet
Everton – $3.30 at William Hill
Sunday, September 20
Tottenham Hotspur – $1.97 at CrownBet
Draw – $3.50 at Sportsbet
Crystal Palace – $4 at William Hill
Liverpool – $1.63 at CrownBet
Draw – $4 at Bet365
Norwich City – $6 at Sportsbet
Southampton – $3.20 at William Hill
Draw – $3.30 at Sportsbet
Manchester United – $2.40 at CrownBet
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