WEEK one of Premier League 2015-16 threw up plenty of highlights, controversies and surprises.
Arsenal were stunned at home by West Ham United, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saw red in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Swansea City, and Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho is the clubhouse leader for goal of the season after his outrageous winner at Stoke City.
So what will week two of the EPL 15/16 dish up?
Here are out top picks and value bets for the second round, which kicks off with an unusual fixture in the West Midlands.
Friday night lights for Man United at Villa Park
There’s a quirk in the schedule this week as Manchester United ($1.70 to win at Crownbet.com) head to Aston Villa ($6 at Bet365) for a rare dose of Friday night football.
The match was moved ahead from its original Saturday evening slot due to police concerns about a planned march by the right-wing English Defence League (EDL) in nearby Walsall.
Such fixtures are set to become a common occurrence, however, with 10 Friday matches slated for the 2016-17 EPL season.
Both sides come in with 1-0 wins to their names – Villa away at Bournemouth, United at home to Tottenham Hotspur.
The Red Devils are the unsurprising favourites, however, and should have few problems with a Villains outfit which no longer boasts to talismanic presence of Christian Benteke up front.
We fancy Man Utd for a 2-0 win ($7.60 correct score odds at CrownBet) in Birmingham, while new guy Memphis Depay ($6.50 for first goalscorer at Bet365.com) looks good value to open his Premier League account.
Man City and Chelsea fight for title favouritism
Despite the novelty of United and Villa’s Friday fixture, the undisputed glamour game of the weekend is at Eastlands on Sunday afternoon.
Manchester City ($2.15 to win at Sportsbet.com) took top spot and pole position in the Premier League title race with their 3-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion on Monday.
It was a much brighter start than that of Chelsea ($3.60 at Bet365), who were held 2-2 by Swansea City in an uncharacteristically wayward display at Stamford Bridge last Saturday.
Online bookmakers have now installed City as favourites to take out the big prize, with CrownBet bringing their 2015-16 EPL outright odds in to $2.90.
They’re also heavily favoured to down a Chelsea side missing its first-choice goalkeeper this weekend, after Thibaut Courtois was dismissed for a messy challenge on Swansea’s Bafetimbi Gomis.
But the Blues have a very handy replacement in former Stoke shot-stopper Asmir Begovic, while star striker Diego Costa appears to have overcome his hamstring concerns after getting a full match under his belt.
A $2.62 draw no bet on the Londoners at CrownBet.com looks like pretty good money to us, as does $12 for a 1-0 Chelsea full time score at Bet 365.
However, City could be boosted even further by the return of Sergio Aguero – William Hill’s $5.50 frontrunner to score the first goal.
Can Crystal Palace heap more misery on Arsenal?
It’s not one of the more prestigious Premier League derbies, but last week’s results make it one of the most interesting match-ups of round two.
Arsenal ($1.75 to win at Sportsbet) were done 2-0 at home to an effervescent West Ham on day one, taking a big bite out of the Gooners’ preseason optimism.
Crystal Palace ($5 at Bet365.com) got off to a flyer, by contrast, registering a cozy 3-1 victory away to newly promoted Norwich City.
Obviously, Arsene Wenger’s charges are expected to bounce back on Saturday evening and thus reaffirm their title ambitions.
But will Alan Pardew’s Palace be quite so accommodating?
The Eagles have signed well over the summer, and a midfield featuring the class of Yohan Cabaye and the strength of Mile Jedinak looks capable of going toe-to-toe with all comers.
Selhurst Park is a good old-fashioned ground with vocal locals, too, so the Gunners will have to bring everything if they want the three points here.
While it’s tempting to back Palace in for an upset win, one feels that a draw ($3.75 at Luxbet.com) is probably the more realistic value bet.
There’s a good chance of goals either way, with the likes of Alexis Sanchez ($5.50), Theo Walcott ($6), Patrick Bamford ($10) and Cabaye ($13) among the most likely candidates in the first scorer markets at Sportsbet.
More Premier League picks for round two
- Southampton host Everton on Saturday with both seeking a first win after drawing Newcastle and Watford respectively on day one. We like the Saints ($1.95 at WilliamHill.com), who are very tough to score against at home.
- Swansea City and Newcastle United are also chasing a maiden win for 2015/16, although they will be fairly pleased with the draws they achieved last weekend. We aren’t convinced by the Toon at all, so it’s the Swans ($1.95 at Sportsbet) at home for us.
- A Kyle Walker own goal saw Tottenham lose 1-0 to Man United in the season opener, while Stoke succumbed by the same margin to Liverpool after Coutinho’s late stunner. The Potters have got some real class now with the addition of Xherdan Shaqiri from Inter Milan, so at least a draw ($3.65 at Luxbet.com) for the visitors is worth a stab.
- West Ham were the big winners of week one, while Leicester also impressed with a 4-2 thumping of Sunderland. It’s a pretty tight affair on paper, but you’d think the Hammers ($2.30 at CrownBet.com) would have the edge at Upton Park.
- Liverpool will have to wait until Monday to follow up their scratchy 1-0 win over Stoke. Bournemouth remain winless in the top flight after losing 1-0 to Villa, and the Reds ($1.50 at WilliamHill.com) will hope to keep that duck in tact at Anfield.
EPL Matchday 2 fixtures and odds
All times and dates are listed according to British Summer Time (BST).
Friday, August 14
Aston Villa vs Manchester United (7:45pm)
Aston Villa – $6 at Bet365
Man United – $1.70 at CrownBet
Draw – $3.80 at Sportsbet
Saturday, August 15
Southampton vs Everton (12:45pm)
Southampton – $1.95 at William Hill
Everton – $4.20 at Sportsbet
Draw – $3.50 at Bet365
Swansea City vs Newcastle United (3:00pm)
Swansea – $1.95 at Sportsbet
Newcastle – $4 at Luxbet
Draw – $3.50 at CrownBet
Tottenham Hotspur vs Stoke City (3:00pm)
Spurs – $1.75 at William Hill
Stoke – $5 at Sportsbet
Draw – $3.65 at Luxbet
West Ham United vs Leicester City (3:00pm)
West Ham – $2.30 at CrownBet
Leicester – $3.20 at Bet365
Draw – $3.40 at William Hill
Sunderland vs Norwich City (3:00pm)
Sunderland – $2.52 at CrownBet
Norwich – $3 at William Hill
Draw – $3.30 at Bet365
Watford vs West Bromwich Albion (3:00pm)
Watford – $2.30 at Sportsbet
West Brom – $3.20 at Luxbet
Draw – $3.30 at Bet365
Sunday, August 16
Crystal Palace vs Arsenal (1:30pm)
Crystal Palace – $5 at Bet365
Arsenal – $1.75 at Sportsbet
Draw – $3.75 at Luxbet
Manchester City vs Chelsea (4:00pm)
Man City – $2.15 at CrownBet
Chelsea – $3.60 at Bet365
Draw – $3.40 at William Hill
Monday, August 17
Liverpool vs Bournemouth (8:00pm)
Liverpool – $1.50 at William Hill
Bournemouth – $7.50 at Sportsbet
Draw – $4.45 at Luxbet
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