Manchester City has won each of its first four competitive games under Pep Guardiola and one thinks that the Citizens will complete the heavy lifting against West Ham on Sunday before the interval in the English Premier League season.
Guardiola has a clear vision of what he wants to do with Manchester City’s line-up – see the way in which he has jettisoned Joe Hart because he believes that the England goalkeeper cannot play the ball out of defence – and it appears that his messages are getting through already.
Manchester City did not have to get out of first gear to beat Steaua Bucuresti 1-0 in the second leg of its UEFA Champions League tie, thereby completing a 6-0 aggregate victory over the Romanian title holder. Twenty-four hours later, West Ham lost 0-1 at home to another Romanian side, Astra, in the UEFA Europa League preliminary to miss qualifying for the group stage of that tournament.
West Ham boss Slaven Bilic prioritised his team’s UEFA Europa League game versus Astra over its English Premier League match against Manchester City, picking his strongest side to face the Romanians. That West Ham lost 1-2 over two legs to an Astra team that is clearly inferior to the Steaua Bucuresti side that Manchester City smashed 6-0 over 180 minutes is sufficient for one to fancy the Citizens to hammer the Hammers in their head-to-head encounter.
Marathonbet is quoting odds of -119 about Manchester City covering a handicap of one and a half goals versus West Ham at Etihad Stadium and one rates that as the best wager in the third round of English Premier League fixtures.
The same bookmaker Marathonbet is offering the same odds of -119 about Chelsea covering a one-and-a-half-goal handicap at home to Burnley in one of Saturday’s eight English Premier League games.
Chelsea has carried over its fine pre-season form into the real action, posting English Premier League victories over Watford and West Ham, plus eliminating Bristol Rovers from the English Football League Cup. Burnley crashed out of the English Football League Cup in midweek, losing 0-1 following extra time to fourth-tier local rival Accrington four days after beating Liverpool 2-0 in a remarkable English Premier League match. Burnley had less than 20 per cent possession against Liverpool but the Clarets capitalised on the Reds making defensive errors and being wasteful in attack.
Some early English Premier League statistics make alarming reading for Burnley. No English Premier League team has given up more shots (43) and shots on target (14) than Burnley, while just Watford (11) has has fewer shots than the Clarets (13). Anything other than a Chelsea home win over Burnley would rate as a massive upset and one is willing to back the Blues to win by more than one goal.
Finally, both sides scored when Southampton and Sunderland clashed in the English Premier League at St Mary’s Stadium five months ago and one is keen on backing both the Saints and the Black Cats to rustle the onion bag on Saturday at odds of -118 with attention-seeking Marathonbet.
Southampton may not be looking the part under new coach Claude Puel but the Saints have scored at least one goal in each of their last 12 competitive home games – their last St Mary’s Stadium blank occurred versus Tottenham in December.
One remains of the view that Sunderland will struggle to avoid relegation from the English Premier League but the Black Cats have hit the back of the net in each of their last six divisional away matches. Indeed, Sunderland has scored at least one goal in 15 of its last 16 road games across all competitions, which is a surprising statistic given that the Black Cats are not high achievers.
Manchester City -1.5 to beat West Ham
Sunday 28th August, 16:00 GMT
Chelsea -1.5 to beat Burnley
Saturday 27th August, 15:00 GMT
Southampton v Sunderland – Both Teams to Score
Saturday 27th August, 15:00 GMT