Chelsea’s chance to increase gap as City and United face tough tests
Mind the gap. Chelsea (odds-on at 4/7 with Coral to lift the Premier League) will be looking to leave even more distance between themselves and rivals Manchester City and Manchester United, as the trio take part in potentially scintillating Saturday clashes.
The Premier League has been nothing if unpredictable this season, with a raft of unexpected results. So Aston Villa will be bullish about potentially ending the Blues home record, whilst Hull City and West Ham United can hope to steal points from Manuel Pellegrini’s men and United respectively.
Chelsea v Aston Villa
The Blues, odds-on favourites at 2/9 to take all three points, have put 20 past Villa in their last six encounters, making this likely to be a high scoring duel. Chelsea also remain unbeaten in all competitions so far this season, including winning every Premier League home game at fortress Stamford Bridge.
Paul Lambert’s visiting side should not be without hope, though, having silenced naysayers with their sensational start to the season. The Villans have already slain Liverpool at Anfield this term, snatching 1-0 victories on both of their Premier League away days so far.
Villa are 11/1 to complete a memorable smash and grab and leave west London with all three points, having already given Chelsea the blues last season with another 1-0 victory, a scoreline they are 13/2 to repeat.
Premier League top scorer Diego Costa will take to the field again after being rested against Bolton Wanderers midweek, and is 8/1 to hit his second hat-trick of the campaign. This means Aston Villa’s masterfully miserly defence will have to be in fine form again after their wobble against Arsenal last time out.
Hull City v Manchester City
The signs are worrying for Steve Bruce’s battling Hull side, as defending Premier League champions Man City appear to finally be hitting top gear. Pellegrini’s men endured a slow start to the season, picking up just eight points from 15.
After securing a morale-boosting draw against table toppers Chelsea, the Sky Blues earned their first win in four fixtures in all competitions, smashing Sheffield Wednesday 7-0 in the Capital One Cup. The Tigers must now be concerned that they will also face the wrath of a re-energised City side, who are odds-on favourites at 8/15 to beat Bruce’s boys.
After scoring three times in his last two outings, in-form Frank Lampard is 7/4 to add to his tally anytime, whilst in good news for the blue half of Manchester, Pablo Zabaleta will return from suspension.
Hull, meanwhile, are 5/1 to surprise the Sky Blues by claiming all the spoils from their encounter. The home side are backed into a corner, having won just one Premier League match this term, but have shown they have the tenacity to grind out results by grabbing points against Newcastle United, Stoke City and West Ham.
Manchester United v West Ham
The Hammers looked to have a tricky list of September fixtures, but have so far emerged unscathed, holding Hull to a draw and thrilling home fans by dispatching Liverpool 3-1. Now Sam Allardyce’s side face northern foes United, and are 7/1 to commit another giant killing.
West Ham will certainly fancy their chances, after Leicester City put five past the shell-shocked Red Devils last time out. Louis van Gaal’s side have certainly been vulnerable at the back this term, shipping 12 goals. They will now also have to field a makeshift defence, with Tyler Blackett suspended and the trio of Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling all sidelined.
United academy product Tom Thorpe could be thrown into the fray, meaning the Old Trafford outfit may have no choice but to again focus on attacking impetus over balance and solidity.
Van Gaal’s men are odds-on at 2/5 to lift the home crowd’s spirits with a win, and the omens are promising, as United have not been beaten by the Hammers in their last seven encounters.
Captain Wayne Rooney also has a great recent record against the east Londoners, having bagged a brace against them last term, including a sensational strike from the halfway line. He is 5/1 to score two or more again.