Potters and Baggies should be sound bets for Premier League opener
The Premier League returns, and Coral are diving head first into the action with previews on two of the Saturday 3pm (August 16th) kick-offs.
Stoke v Aston Villa
The Potters have lost just one of the last nine meetings with Villa, while Mark Hughes did the double over them last term, so they are worthy odds-on 19/20 favourites. Coral punters can get better value on a Stoke win with both teams scoring at 21/5, as this happened in both of last season’s encounters.
Peter Crouch scored in each of those matches, so odds of 7/4 on him netting anytime against this opposition are worth considering too. Hughes is likely to hand debuts to Spain cap Bojan Krkic up front, and former Villa players Steve Sidwell in midfield and Phil Bardsley at full back.
Bargain buy Bojan is also 7/4 to cap his bow with a goal, with fellow new boy Mame Biram Diouf 5/1 to net last. There is competition for place aplenty in attack for Hughes, but both should be involved. Sidwell, meanwhile, was top scorer at relegated Fulham last term, and is 11/2 to be on target here.
Villa, who are 11/4 for the drop this season and 16/5 outsiders for three points here, will be without injured strikers Christian Benteke and Libor Kozak, but Paul Lambert looks set to bring Darren Bent in from the cold. The ex-England frontman spent last season on loan at Fulham, playing with now opponent Sidwell, and is 2/1 to score on his return to the fold.
Scotland right back Alan Hutton is also set to end his exile, while Ivorian-born Denmark defender Jores Okore could figure after shaking off injury. Lambert has kept hold of in-demand Netherlands centre half Ron Vlaar so far, and summer signings Aly Cissokho, Kieran Richardson or Philippe Senderos could also complete the back four. It’s 14/5 that Villa keep a clean sheet at the Britannia.
Forgotten man Charles N’Zogbia could return from a lengthy lay-off, and is a 6/1 shot to get back on the scoresheet here. Joe Cole may make his Villa debut at Stoke, so is also worth considering at 5/1. Gabriel Agbonlahor (10/3 in the anytime market) and Andreas Weimann (11/4) both have goals against this opposition on their CVs, and should continue in wide berths.
West Brom v Sunderland
Alan Irvine makes his Premier League debut in the dugout here, and his Baggies are 12/5 chance for relegation, but 5/4 favourites to beat the Black Cats because they have won four of the last five Premier League meetings. There will be several new faces on show at The Hawthorns for both sides, with right back Billy Jones and midfielder Craig Gardner trading these clubs over the summer.
It’s not these names that will excite punters, however. For West Brom, the goal burden is expected to fall on record buy Brown Ideye. The Nigerian frontman missed out on World Cup selection, but could cap his bow by scoring at 5/4.
Young forward Saido Berahino looks set for even more playing time this term, and is a better-priced 6/4 in the anytime market. Support striker Stephane Sessegnon, who is set to be retained in that role, netted the opener in this fixture against his former club last term, and is an 11/2 chance to score first again, but is a slight doubt.
Other Albion activity in the transfer market this summer has concerned rebuilding defence. Irvine’s most exciting arrival here is Costa Rica’s World Cup wing back Cristian Gamboa, and odds of 12/1 say he will grab a debut goal here. Loan capture Andre Wisdom could play centrally in the Baggies backline because Joleon Lescott is out with a knee problem and Gareth McAuley rated doubtful.
Burnley target Craig Dawson is an alternative for the heart of defence alongside Jonas Olsson. A repeat of the win to nil from last September is a tempting 5/2. Australia’s Jason Davidson could get the nod over Belgian Sebastien Pocognoil at left back.
Sunderland have had to overhaul their midfield and full back options over the summer, and Gus Poyet has pulled off a coup by landing Jack Rodwell. Keeping the England hopeful fit will be a challenge, and he should complement the forward-thinking Jordi Gomez (11/2 for a debut goal) well in Poyet’s engine room.
Winger Will Buckley has also been brought in from Brighton and Hove Albion, and it’s 4/1 he caps his bow by scoring anytime for the Black Cats. Steven Fletcher and contract rebel Connor Wickham look like staring up front, with both at 7/4 for goals here.