Will the fantastic start to the season continue for Arsenal?
It takes very little at this time of the season to go from zeroes to heroes. Take Arsenal. One game in and it was all doom and gloom after a 3-1 home defeat to Aston Villa. No big new signing, no points, no hope.
One month later and the Gunners, helped by record purchase Mesut Ozil, are lying second in the Premiership after three straight victories and have also made the perfect start to their Champions League campaign. Now, after being virtually written off as no-hopers for the Premiership, they are in to 15/2 with Coral and are rated very serious contenders for the title.
But it’s just as easy to go from heroes to zeroes again in such a volatile period and the trouble with Arsenal is that they have this capacity to disappoint when you least expect it, just as they have such a much happier knack of silencing critics with an against-the-odds victory.
So I will not be tempted by the 4/11 Arsenal to beat Stoke tomorrow. Stoke have been playing some decent stuff under Mark Hughes, winning two of their four games to date, and it would not surprise me at all to see them get something out of their trip to the Emirates. Coral go 8/1 a Stoke victory and, 7/2 the draw.
A 1-1 draw (17/2) makes appeal, as does the 8/1 Aaron Ramsey scoring first or last for the home side (11/4 at any time). The Welsh midfielder has been a revelation this season in front of goal (he was on the mark again in Marseilles on Wednesday) and is great value to carry on the good work.
No doubt about the performance of the week from a British club in Europe. Swansea were sensational in Valencia on Thursday – even their most optimistic fan could not have seen a 3-0 victory coming – and Michael Laudrup’s boys will go to Crystal Palace tomorrow sky high on confidence.
But relegation favourites Palace haven’t been anyone’s pushovers so far and might well give Swansea a much bigger run for their money than the toothless Spanish team managed. This could also end in a 1-1 stalemate (11/2 with Coral).
Spurs, who had little more than a gentle run-out while winning 3-0 against minnows Tromso in their Europa League tie, are also in for a much tougher fight when they visit Cardiff tomorrow. The promoted Welsh outfit served notice on how hard opponents would find a trip to their patch when turning over Manchester City and Andre Villas-Boas’s side will also know they have been in a game.
Even so, Spurs are looking really strong this season, their several new quality signings more than compensating for the sale of Gareth Bale; strong enough maybe to challenge for the Premiership title, never mind just a Champions League place. Christian Eriksen (8/1 to score first or last, 11/4 any time), in particular, looks the bees knees and the visitors might just edge this tricky encounter, perhaps 2-1 (8/1).
Written by Jon Freeman