SAM HENDRY highlights the weekend’s best football bets
The biggest game of this weekend takes place at Stamford Bridge where last year’s champions Chelsea take on Pep Guardiola’s pace-setting Manchester City side.
Chelsea were the only Premier League team to beat City home and away last season and a victory for Antonio Conte’s outfit would show that Chelsea are well up for the fight to keep their trophy away from the clutches of the Manchester duo.
Confidence will be high amidst the home camp after Wednesday’s impressive victory over Atletico Madrid and that will have grown after Friday’s news of Sergio Aguero’s car crash, ruling him out of the game.
City fans will lament the loss of their top scorer who had started the campaign in such dazzling form, but given the circumstances it is a blessing that his injuries were not worse.
With marauding left back Benjamin Mendy also ruled out long term, it leaves City looking weaker than this time last week.
That being said, these are still two very evenly matched teams and it is difficult to separate them on current form.
The risk of defeat at this stage of the season is greater than that of going all out for the win so that’s why I’ll be backing a draw at 13/5 with Corals.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Stoke City take on Southampton at the Bet365 stadium in another game between two evenly matched sides on paper.
Despite being away from home, the Saints go into this one as favourites, a tag I’m not sure they are quite deserving of.
Stoke are coming off the back of their 4-0 hammering against Chelsea that week, but given they had been unbeaten at home this season until then – including games against Arsenal and Manchester United – I’d be willing to write that last result off as them simply coming up against a top class side playing some fantastic football.
Southampton were valiant in defeat last week against United, but still they continue to struggle for goals.
Shane Long, Manolo Gabbiadini and Charlie Austin are all good players but no combination of them up front at the moment seems to be getting the desired results.
Mark Hughes will be eager to right the wrongs of last week’s thrashing and I can see them doing just that with Stoke to win at 21/10 (BetVictor) the selection.
Onto Sunday and the early kick-off at the Emirates between Arsenal and Brighton.
After their Anfield humiliation, the Gunners are ticking along nicely now until their next inevitable crisis which I’m sure will be right around the corner.
I can’t see it happening here though and expect Arsene Wenger’s men to be far too strong for their south-coast opponents.
Alexis Sanchez is now back to full fitness and hopefully has got his head in the right place after trying and failing to engineer a move away from Arsenal in the summer.
The Chilean was unlucky not to open his account for the season in last week’s 2-0 win over West Brom with Alexandre Lacazette netting both.
But a quality player such as Sanchez can only be denied for so long and although the odds on him to score anytime look worth getting stuck into 4/5 (generally) and I’m recommending an interest at that price.