Dave Tindall looks at the big talking points this weekend and explains why Liverpool face a banana skin at Burnley and discusses Harry Kane’s ‘struggles’ and the Leicester v Arsenal clash.
Jose Mourinho’s impact on Manchester United looks immediate judging by their Community Shield win over Leicester and convincing 3-1 victory at Bournemouth on opening day.
They kick off the weekend with a Friday night showdown against Southampton, Sky’s new slot hosted by ex-Countdown presenters Jeff Stelling and Rachel Riley.
It won’t need spelling out to United fans that Southampton have won the last two Premier League meetings at Old Trafford and if you want to play the numbers game…. Mourinho didn’t lose a home match as Chelsea boss in his first spell, winning 46 and drawing the other 14.
Oh, if you want another stat, United haven’t lost a home league game on a Friday since 1950. Expect Mourinho to make Old Trafford a fortress again. Expect Southampton to be put in their place after daring to return south with all three points on the last two visits.
Opening defeats for Leicester and Arsenal meant it was the first time since 1953/54 that the previous season’s top two had both kicked off with a loss.
The duo meet at the King Power on Saturday evening and, if there’s a loser, expect the word ‘crisis’ to be unveiled.
Yep, it’s only two games in but it’ll be fuel for those who predicted the doomsday scenario of Leicester going from champions to relegation fodder while the anti-Wenger brigade at Arsenal will be apoplectic if they get beaten again after being ripped a new one by Liverpool.
The Gunners did the double over Leicester last season (5-2 at the King Power and 2-1 at the Emirates) but the Foxes took 81 points from their other 36 games to Arsenal’s 65. A draw would stop the overreaction bandwagon going into overdrive but that would be boring, right?
Crash and burn for Liverpool?
Liverpool were sensational at times against Arsenal last week, turning the game on its head in stunning style with four goals in 18 minutes. That’s 46 Premier League goals now for Jurgen Klopp’s men in 2016, eight more than any other top-flight team.
The German has already masterminded convincing wins at Manchester City (4-1) and Chelsea (3-1) in his short tenure but the jury is still out when it comes to beating lesser lights such as Burnley. The game has been switched to Turf Moor due to the ongoing rebuilding at Anfield so will Liverpool fans enjoy another away day goal-blitz or will they see a repeat of those baffling and dispiriting losses at Watford and Newcastle from the previous campaign?
If Liverpool are to be taken seriously, this is a hurdle they need to clear and Klopp may have to prime his players for a gritty afternoon at Turf Moor. It’s all well and good matching (and beating) the Arsenal’s of this world, but the hussle and bustle of matches with the likes of Burnley is where their top-four hopes will be decided.
Kane not able?
Despite Jamie Vardy’s fairytale scoring run and Sergio Aguero’s usual glut of goals, Harry Kane won the Premier League Golden Boot last season. So how come his stock appears to have fallen so quickly?
Firing blanks for England in the summer certainly provided ammunition to the doubters who reckon he’s not all that and Kane looked off the pace in Tottenham’s opener against Everton. But, here’s a stat, if he does find the net at home to Crystal Palace on Saturday, he’ll have reached 50 Premier League goals in just 88 matches.
That would make him the joint 10th quickest of all time alongside a certain Robbie Fowler, who is unanimously perceived as a goal machine.
Interestingly, well sort of, the Spurs man did fail to register in his first six games of last season. Maybe we need to apply a filter when assessing Kane – he’s a top striker but just no good in the summer months.
Rafa’s revolution up and running
Let’s quickly delve into the Championship. Newcastle were installed as massive favourites to come back up as champions after Rafa Benitez decided to stay on and then went about building a squad that other Championship managers could only dream of.
Odds were bandied about on the Magpies surpassing 100pts (10/1), going through the season unbeaten (40/1) and not losing a home game (16/1). That strange noise coming from Newcastle’s betting shops was the sound of thousands of betting slips being torn up as Benitez’s boys lost at Fulham on opening day and fluffed their lines again in a 2-1 home defeat to Huddersfield. However, in midweek, things changed. Newcastle stuffed Reading 4-1 and that might prove to be the cue for a surge through the gears.
While Liverpool took most of the headlines with their thrilling 4-3 win at Arsenal, there was something very ominous about Manchester United’s win at Bournemouth last weekend.
Perhaps it’s too soon to say that a sleeping giant has been awoken but all the early signs suggest this Man Utd side are about to walk tall again under the guiding hand of Jose Mourinho.
I expect them to give Southampton a good gubbing on Friday night and it’s worth having a speculative punt on some big scorelines at fancy prices.
I just have a little more faith in Arsenal than I do Leicester so don’t think the Gunners will lose at the King Power but the other banker bet I like is for Newcastle to win at Bristol City. Sit back and watch the Magpies fly.
Man Utd to beat Southampton 4-0 at 20/1 (bet365, Skybet, Betfred)
Man Utd to beat Southampton 5-0 at 50/1 (Skybet)
Newcastle to win at Bristol City at 27/20 (Sportingbet)
(We kicked off the column in profitable fashion last week after tipping Liverpool at 11/5 to beat Arsenal)
After the excitement of the first weekend of the Premier League last week, we’ve written our latest betting preview for sports bookmaker Betsafe here.