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Saints to make their point

We preview all of Saturday's games in the Barclays Premier League with goals predicted to be in short supply at Anfield.

Last Updated: 21/09/13 at 14:58 Post Comment

Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton can get a point at Liverpool

Mauricio Pochettino's Southampton can get a point at Liverpool

Norwich v Aston Villa (1245 BST)

A tricky start to the Premier League weekend as two sides bid to bounce back from disappointing displays last time out. In fairness to Norwich, their trip to White Hart Lane was always likely to end in defeat and it's Villa who were the more disappointing, failing to take expose the failings of a Newcastle side lacking in confidence with a particularly poor defensive performance. The loss of Jores Okore to a serious knee injury adds further woe and Villa's prospects here will rely on a top-class display from Christian Benteke, who continues to bang in the goals with the sort of regularity which arguably deserves better accompaniment. The Belgian has found the net in three of his four Premier League starts and if Villa score, it's usually thanks to Benteke. The job for Norwich, then, will be to keep him quiet and there's hope in that regard given that Chris Hughton is a master of defensive organisation and guided his side to a clean sheet against Southampton when last they played at Carrow Road. Villa are actually the only side to win a Premier League game at Norwich in 2013, a fact which can be interpreted in two ways, and I'm inclined to back the hosts here in the hope that they can stifle Villa's chief threat. A repeat of either their Southampton win or draw with Everton could well be enough to beat a side who've lost three times since a surprise win at Arsenal on the opening day.

Verdict: Norwich 2 Aston Villa 1 (BC)

Opta stats:

Norwich City have won just one of the last 11 meetings in all competitions with Aston Villa (W1 D5 L5).

Christian Benteke scored in two of his three meetings in all competitions with Norwich last season.

Gabriel Agbonlahor has scored three goals in four Barclays Premier League appearances against Norwich, including a brace in his last appearance versus them in May.

Liverpool v Southampton

Liverpool received a huge blow in midweek with the news that Phillipe Coutinho is out for the best part of two months with a shoulder injury. He's been key in the early-season form of Daniel Sturridge and with Luis Suarez still banned the Reds are without two of their three main men in attack and arguably their two best creators. The problem for Liverpool is they haven't got the squad to deal with such problems and whoever comes in will be an inadequate replacement. Consequently, the home side could struggle for goals against a solid Southampton team that keeps the ball well on the road. They won 1-0 at West Brom on the opening day before going down 1-0 to Norwich at Carrow Road so goals have been at a premium on their travels. With this in mind no goalscorer is worth a small bet while Southampton in the 'draw no bet' market is also worth consideration. Saints' season hasn't ignited as yet with just one win in their opening four games but they've been creating chances and it's a matter of time before they start winning games more regularly. Against a Liverpool side shorn of their best creativity, they could well emerge victorious from Anfield. However, Liverpool's unbeaten run has been achieved because of their defence as much as their attack so we'll stick with the 'no goalscorer' option for a bet.

Verdict: Liverpool 0 Southampton 0 (BL)

Opta stats:

Daniel Sturridge is the first player in Liverpool's Premier League history to score in the team's opening four games of the season.

Southampton have won four of the last six Barclays Premier League games against Liverpool, but the Reds have won the last two at Anfield by a 1-0 scoreline.

In the last five Premier League meetings between the Saints and Liverpool, the Merseysiders have scored three goals, all between the 43rd and 45th minutes.

Newcastle v Hull

For all the furore over Newcastle's lack of activity in the transfer window, the tension between Alan Pardew and Joe Kinnear and the problems encountered when Arsenal tried to purchase Yohan Cabaye, it's been a very strong start to the season for Newcastle. Forgive them a 4-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium and they've managed seven points from a possible nine and negotiated a potentially tricky Capital One Cup tie at Morecambe. This isn't to say that they're up to the standards of two seasons ago, nor to predict anything great in the long term, but 5/6 about them beating Hull looks a great bit of business. Steve Bruce's Tigers have the look of a side who will struggle on the road, lacking as they are the midfield class to control possession and the attacking pace to sting rivals on the counter. Their sole away goal this season came in extra time against Leyton Orient in the League Cup while in the Premier League only defender Curtis Davies has scored a goal from open play, suggesting a season of real struggle awaits. I just can't see how they'll enjoy enough possession to trouble Newcastle and if there's a weakness to Pardew's defence it's their ability to deal with fast attacks, the type of which doesn't appear to be in Hull's Arsenal. Newcastle have real quality in midfield even if they're lacking depth-wise, and with Cabaye back on terms with the management it's hard to look beyond a home win, probably to nil. The latter option is available at 2/1 and while that's tempting, I'll keep things easy and make them the home banker.

Verdict: Newcastle 2 Hull 0 (BC)

Opta stats:

Hatem Ben Arfa has mustered more attempts from open play than any other Premier League player this season (13).

Hull City have won on three of their last four visits to St James Park in all competitions (one defeat).

Reformed badboy Cheik Tiote has picked up only one yellow card in his last nine Barclays Premier League appearances (after collecting 31 yellows and one red in his previous 67 apps).

West Brom v Sunderland

The bottom two sides in the division go head-to-head here in a game which may have a big say on which of these, if either, gets dragged into the relegation dogfight. On the evidence of the season so far we could see both sides battling to stay alive with West Brom toothless in attack and Sunderland far too easily exposed in defence. West Brom have at least received a boost this week with the news that Stephane Sessegnon is free to play having been granted a work permit, but I'm far from convinced that he's the answer to their problems as too often at Sunderland, from whom he joined the Baggies, he drifted in and out of games. Victor Anichebe is a far more likely threat and was doubtless brought in to fill the void left by Romelu Lukaku, who was very much the star for a West Brom side who enjoyed plenty of success before dropping off alarmingly towards the end of last season. With no disrespect to either club or manager, there's something about Paulo di Canio being in charge at Sunderland which screams disaster and he's been fined £8,000 for misconduct during their clash with Arsenal last weekend. It was a game which once again exposed Sunderland's defensive issues but I'm far from certain that West Brom have the quality or confidence to take advantage and this is a game I just can't bring myself to have a play in.

Verdict: West Brom 1 Sunderland 1 (BC)

Opta stats:Nicolas Anelka has scored seven goals in 10 Barclays Premier League appearances against Sunderland.

Steven Fletcher has scored three goals in four Premier League appearances against West Brom.

The Baggies have won six and lost none of the last seven Premier League meetings with Sunderland.

West Ham v Everton

West Ham haven't scored in the league since their opening day win over Cardiff with the continued absence of Andy Carroll a real concern for Sam Allardyce. He could've really done with the England forward this weekend as Everton, who beat the Hammers twice last season, will be bubbling after their first win of the season over Chelsea. With Romelu Lukaku available for selection for the first time the Toffees are set to name the strongest side they have put out so far this campaign and that spells trouble for the home team. Roberto Martinez's side are understandably favourites for the trip to London and odds of 7/5 will be taken up by many, especially in multiple bets. However, at the bigger price of 15/8 '0-0' looks worth backing in the half-time score market at Sky Bet. Everton's first three league games were goalless at the break and in their last one against Chelsea the first goal came in first-half stoppage time. West Ham's last three league games have been 0-0 at half-time and this match has all the hallmarks of being tight early on too, with Martinez's patient passing game and West Ham's problems up front combining to limit many early chances.

Verdict: West Ham 0 Everton 1 (BL)

Opta stats:

West Ham have managed just six shots on target so far this season, fewer than any other side in the league.

Everton have won six and lost none of the last 10 Barclays Premier League meetings with West Ham.

There have been three red cards in the last three Premier League meetings between the Hammers and the Toffees.

Chelsea v Fulham (1730 BST)

Chelsea are really struggling at present after two defeats in a row, with bad defending costing them as much as profligacy in front of goal. You wouldn't associate the first trait with a typical Jose Mourinho team and he'll be hoping the latter begins to improve after letting Victor Moses and Romelu Lukaku, two potential goalscorers, go out to the Merseyside clubs on loan. However, it's not time to start pressing the panic button just yet and though Fulham have drawn against Chelsea in their last three visits to Stamford Bridge the Cottagers have been distinctly average this campaign. Since their opening day win at Sunderland they've lost to Arsenal and Newcastle while a late equaliser from West Brom earned the Baggies a point at Craven Cottage last Saturday. They will have to improve on all of those performances if they are to get anything at Chelsea as for all the Blues' problems, they need to be pressurised in the first place in order to crumble. Having said that it would be a brave man to trust Chelsea at 3/10, but they should get the job done.

Verdict: Chelsea 2 Fulham 0 (BL)

Opta stats:

Chelsea have won seven and lost none of the last 14 Barclays Premier League derbies with Fulham.

Fulham have conceded more corners than any other Barclays Premier League side so far this season (32).

If goals from strikers were excluded this season then Chelsea would be top of the table.

Jose Mourinho has never lost a Premier League home game (W48 D14).


*All games 1500BST unless stated. Norwich v Aston Villa is live on BT Sport, Chelsea v Fulham is live on Sky Sports.



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