Stoke was one of the English Premier League success stories last season and the Potters, available at odds of +100 with Betfair’s sportsbook and BetVictor to beat Aston Villa, are the best match bet in the opening round of the competition.
Mark Hughes evolved Stoke’s style of play after succeeding Tony Pulis at the helm of the Potters and the Britannia Stadium squad that will kick off this season is, arguably, slightly stronger than the one that finished last term in ninth place with the division’s sixth-best home record.
Stoke’s English Premier League home numbers of 10 wins, six draws and three losses – the Potters tasted defeat against Liverpool, Norwich and Tottenham – were the foundation on which its campaign was built and there is real optimism in Staffordshire that another top-10 finish is achievable.
As one has argued in other articles, Aston Villa looks like an accident waiting to happen. American businessman Randy Lerner wants to cut his losses and run, the same goes for some of the team’s star players and then there is the Roy Keane angle. Is Keane really happy to be assistant manager to Paul Lambert? Only Keane knows the true answer to that.
Aston Villa’s pre-season results have been inferior to those of Stoke, its most dangerous attacker, Christian Benteke, is out of action for quite a while and it accrued two points from its last nine English Premier League away games last season. To be honest, Aston Villa’s form both at home and away in the final two months of last term was appalling.
English Premier League punters who do not mind backing hot favourites will be interested in Manchester United at odds of -278 with William Hill to beat Swansea at Old Trafford.
Manchester United’s English Premier League preparations have gone as well as Louis van Gaal could have hoped, with its victims including Liverpool, Real Madrid, and Roma. The Old Trafford atmosphere during Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Valencia on Tuesday was a million miles away from the ones associated with the David Moyes era and the Red Devils have a score to settle with Swansea because the Swans pulled down their pants in a huge English FA Cup third round upset.
Leicester beat Everton 1-0 in Bangkok a few weeks ago but one cannot place any trust in the form line because of the oppressive conditions in which the match took place and the make-up of the sides in a game that was reduced to a farce in the second half thanks to mass substitutions. Leicester is available at odds of +225 with Betfair’s sportsbook to make a triumphant return to the English Premier League but one prefers an exotic option for one’s third suggested bet.
Ladbrokes is offering odds of -143 that both Newcastle and Manchester City get on the scoresheet in their English Premier League match at St James’ Park, odds that appeal greatly given that the Magpies have home advantage and the Citizens look likely to score and concede in equal number.
One is willing to bank on Manchester City scoring at least one goal versus Newcastle because, after all, the Citizens rustled the old onion bag in 34 of their 38 English Premier League games last term. But can Manchester City keep a clean sheet against a Newcastle team that lost its way in the second half of last season but seems to have righted.
A lot of rubbish was said and written about Newcastle last term. The bottom line is that Newcastle’s best player, Yohan Cabaye, joined Paris Saint-Germain in January and still the Magpies finished above halfway on the English Premier League ladder. Newcastle fans have unrealistic expectations about what their side should be doing and Magpies manager Alan Pardew keeps copping the flak. Sure, Newcastle is not a championship contender but it is not relegation one, either.
Man Utd to beat Swansea
16th August 12:45 GMT
Where to Bet: Betfair’s sportsbook
Newcastle v Man City BTTS
17th August 16:00 GMT
Where to Bet: Ladbrokes
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