The Premier League returns after an international break this weekend, and Saturday’s live TV offering brings us two excellent matches at lunchtime and teatime.
Last year’s Champions Leicester are having a great time of it in the Champions League, but their domestic form has inevitably suffered. The Foxes travel to Stamford Bridge for the early kick off to face Antonio Conte’s Chelsea. The Blues are doing slightly better than last season but they still sit in 7th place, three points off the top four. Despite being the winners of the Premier League in the last two seasons, few pundits are predicting either of these sides will win the trophy this year, and Saturday’s meeting is a fascinating one.
Later in the evening it’s a rejuvenated Crystal Palace against a lacklustre West Ham. The Eagles have made a similar start to last season and sit in 8th position, in striking distance of a European place. Can they avoid the tailspin they fell into last term and carry on the fight for 38 games this time around? Meanwhile West Ham’s brilliant season last year saw them earn a Europa League place, which they duly threw away by losing in the qualifying stages. Five defeats from seven games has left them in the relegation zone, and this year could be a hell of a lot tougher for manager Slaven Bilic.
Crystal Palace v West Ham
We start with that London derby, where over 2.5 goals is a good price at -115 with 188Bet.
The last four Premier League meetings between the two teams have yielded four goals each, and on this season’s form a repeat does not look out of the question. The Upton Park fixture in April finished 2-2 and was memorable for Dimitri Payet’s superb free kick, while each of the previous three fixtures ended in a 3-1 win to the away side.
Palace have had a solid run of form recently which has seen them gain four wins, two draws and suffer just one defeat in the last seven. That reverse was an EFL Cup loss at Southampton, and their overall Premier League form reads 3-2-2. Wins over Middlesbrough, Stoke and Sunderland have propelled them up the league, and a fightback to draw 1-1 at Everton in their last match shows that they are in fine fettle. Three of their last five have gone over the 2.5 goal mark, and in Christian Benteke they have a genuine goal threat.
The same can’t be said of West Ham, who have struggled to fill the main striking berth this season. The likes of Carroll, Zaza, Calleri, Fletcher and Antonio have all had minutes in the ‘number 9’ role this season, but all have failed to find the net when played in the front man role. Antonio has at least scored five goals with his head from right wing this year, and along with Payet, he looks among the most likely to score for the Hammers.
Defeat this year have come at home to Southampton and Watford, and on the road at West Brom, Manchester City and Chelsea. The bright spot was a 1-0 home win over Bournemouth, but they relied on a Payet wondergoal to draw them level against Middlesbrough in the last home outing, and it appears that they are struggling to adjust to life in their new London Stadium. However, they were very impressive last season and good players don’t turn into bad players overnight. Palace fans might be expecting an easy win here, but West Ham fans are waiting for their side to give someone a backlash.
Five of their seven Premier League games have crossed the 2.5 goal line, and they’ve conceded a divisional high 17 goals this season so far.
Chelsea v Leicester
Chelsea are -163 with Marathonbet to beat Leicester, and it should be worth siding with the Pensioners.
This fixture last season saw Claudio Ranieri given a guard of honour as his Foxes side had already secured the title, before the teams went on to play out a fitting 1-1 draw. It’s a quirk that Raneiri’s third meeting against Chelsea in the Premier League will come against a third different manager, with Conte following Mourinho and Hiddink in taking on the wily Italian.
After last year’s dismal league campaign Chelsea have no European distractions, much as they’d like them. Leicester meanwhile, could be forgiven for having one eye on next week’s Champions League home tie against Copenhagen – a game in which three points will all but guarantee progression to the knockout stages. Raneiri has gone on record about the need to rotate his players to cope with the season’s demands, and it’s possible that he will rest one or two here to focus on the big game in midweek.
Either way, Chelsea are a strong home side, with three wins from four on home soil so far this season. The only defeat came at the hands of an inspired Liverpool. Leicester have lost all three of their away Premier League games, at Hull, Liverpool and Manchester United – conceding four goals in each of the latter two.
Crystal Palace v West Ham – Over 2.5 Goals
Saturday 15th October, 17:30 GMT
Chelsea to beat Leicester
Saturday 15th October, 12:30 GMT