Southampton was excellent for long spells of its first English Premier League match under Ronald Koeman and the rebuilt Saints are the best bet on the weekend coupon at odds of -110 with William Hill to beat West Bromwich.
More top-class players departed Southampton than luxury liners during the summer months, with Liverpool acquiring Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovran and Manchester United securing the services of Luke Shaw. But from what one saw in Southampton’s 1-2 English Premier League loss at Liverpool, Saints manager Koeman has done a good job in finding value-for-money replacements for those stars.
Southampton striker Graziano Pelle is going to prove a huge handful for many English Premier League central defenders, particularly if Saints winger Dusan Tadic delivers on the promise that he showed at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-1 but Southampton was the better side for much of the game and, certainly, the Saints deserved something for their display.
Many English Premier League punters spent the summer months fearing for Southampton but the Saints look as though they will be fine. However, the pre-season pessimism that many punters had for West Bromwich looks warranted after its 2-2 home draw versus Sunderland in the first round of matches.
Even West Bromwich boss Alan Irvine admitted that his team received a soft penalty pick from which Saido Berahino put the Baggies back on level terms at 1-1 just before half time. Struggling to beat Sunderland at home is the mark of an English Premier League side destined for a long, hard campaign. Irvine’s managerial record does not read well and West Bromwich did not offer up much hope during their warm-up games that it is capable of anything great.
Aston Villa against Newcastle at Villa Park is one of those English Premier League matches that does not excite from afar, with neither team looking full of goals. Ladbrokes is offering odds of -125 about under two and a half goals, odds that are well worth taking based on a number of factors.
First, Aston Villa scored from its only effort on target in its surprise 1-0 win at Stoke in the first round of English Premier League games. At least Aston Villa managed to work Stoke goalkeeper Asmir Begovic. Newcastle did not force a save out of Manchester City custodian Joe Hart, failing to get any of its nine St James’ Park attempts on target.
Second, Aston Villa and Newcastle ended last term as the English Premier League’s most out-of-form sides. Aston Villa’s last eight matches produced four points, while Newcastle accrued three points over the same run of games. Naturally, Aston Villa and Newcastle are going to start their respective new campaigns with a degree of caution.
And third, Aston Villa remains shorn of its most potent attacker, Belgium striker Christian Benteke, without whom the Villans were truly dreadful for much of last season.
Finally, Manchester City are more than fair odds to beat Liverpool at Etihad Stadium. In beating Newcastle 2-0 at St James’ Park Manchester City was as impressive as Liverpool was unimpressive in defeating Southampton 2-1 at Anfield. Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill have chalked up odds of -118 about Manchester City registering a home win over Liverpool, something that it achieved in December last term.
One was expecting Manchester City, given its awesome home record and how the first batch of English Premier League matches panned out, to be around the 1.75 mark to pick up three points on Sunday so odds of 1.85 are quite nice.
Southampton to beat West Bromwich
23rd August 15:00 GMT
Where to Bet: William Hill
Aston Villa v Newcastle Under 2.5 goals
23rd August 12:45 GMT
Where to Bet: Ladbrokes
Once or twice per month we will provide you with the latest sports tips and keep you updated about the biggest events.