Sam Hendry with the weekend’s best football bets
After the entertaining, if one-sided first week of Champions League group stage action we now head into the fifth round of Premier League fixtures with the table beginning to flesh itself out a bit.
The three pre-season title favourites Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea occupy the top three spots in the league and I don’t see that changing by the end of the weekend; indeed, it wouldn’t be a huge shock if they stayed there for the remainder of the campaign.
On paper, it’s Chelsea who look to have the toughest test when they take on Arsenal in the 1.30pm kick off on Sunday.
The pressure will all be on Arsene Wenger and the Gunners with the humiliating defeat against Liverpool still fresh in supporters’ minds despite recent confident boosting wins over Bournemouth and Cologne.
A repeat of that day would increase the vitriol level around the Emirates to cataclysmic levels and they simply must perform here.
Having said that, Chelsea have bounced back remarkably well after their early season blip against Burnley where knives with Antonio Conte’s name on were being sharpened already.
They have won every game since then and I expect that to continue here in a competitive contest with the selection being Chelsea to win with both teams to score at 23/10 with Betfair Sport.
All eyes will be on Roy Hodgson on Saturday lunchtime when he returns to a Premier League dugout for the first time since May 2012 at his new Selhurst Park home .
The Crystal Palace board acted swiftly and ruthlessly in dismissing Ronald de Boer after a return of no goals or points from four games and with an upcoming fixture list featuring consecutive outings against Man City, Man United and Chelsea, this game has become an absolute must-win for Palace.
Luckily for them they come up against a Southampton side in similarly bad form.
The Saints have only scored in one of their five games in all competitions this season and slumped to a pitiful 2-0 home defeat to Watford last week.
I would not expect a classic here by any means, but what I do predict is for the energising effect of a new manager to pay off for Palace and for them to eke out their first points of the season with a 1-0 win, available at 15/2 with Bet365
My third bet for the week comes in Saturday’s late game in London where Tottenham Hotspur host Swansea City.
Wednesday’s victory for Spurs over Borussia Dortmund was a big moment for them as they not only won at Wembley for the first time this season, but managed it against a top-class European side.
The further we get away from August the better Harry Kane seems to become and his prolific scoring stats are beginning to rival that of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Another year battling relegation seems to be looming for Swansea and with Spurs recent performances suggesting they are returning to the formidable form of last season a comfortable home win looks to be on the cards.
Odds of for Harry Kane to score first at 2/1 with Bet365 looks like a good bet to me and for the riskier punters an anytime scorecast of Kane to net first and Spurs to win 4-0 at 22/1 with Paddy Power is worth a small speculative punt.