Sam Hendry with the weekend’s best football bets
In the biggest match of the season so far, Chelsea host Liverpool in a tantalising clash between two of the league’s current top three on Saturday evening.
A wonderful solo goal from Eden Hazard helped Chelsea come out on top when these two met in the League Cup during the week.
Jurgen Klopp will do well to heed the warnings of that sparkling Hazard cameo, but it’s unlikely Liverpool will play with the same defensive discipline that West Ham did when they successfully nullified the threat of the Belgian last weekend.
Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah will be reunited in attack after the latter two sat out in midweek and they will provide the sternest test yet for Maurizio Sarri’s newly-shaped back four.
With concerns over the fitness of Virgil van Dijk, Chelsea will also fancy their chances of causing the Liverpool problems of their own in defence, although they could do with strikers Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata re-discovering their scoring touch.
Ultimately, I think there will be goals here but not enough to separate the teams and a score draw is the bet here. 1-1 is 6/1, 2-2 is 11/1 and 3-3 is 40/1.
At odds of 10/11 and given both teams form, Wolves look a decent bet to beat Southampton when they meet at Molineux.
Liverpool didn’t even have to begin to play well to swat aside the Saints last week, and although Southampton wouldn’t have expected to pick up any points at Anfield, their meek surrender is indicative of their long-lasting malaise.
Wolves are beginning to hit their stride and they were unfortunate not to take all three points after outplaying Manchester United at Old Trafford last week.
They haven’t lost at home since January and their draws with both Manchester clubs have helped them to a four-game unbeaten run in the league.
Nuno Santo is doing an excellent job of helping fulfil Wolves’ pre-season promise and they should pick up another win here.
Cardiff are favourites to notch their first three points of the season on Sunday, but I’m not convinced that status is deserved against a Burnley side buoyed after recording a first win of their own last weekend.
The Clarets 4-0 thrashing of Bournemouth will have provided a nice confidence boost after a disappointing start to the campaign which saw their tilt at the Europa League end in the fnal qualifying round, a run which perhaps impacted negatively on their Premier League form.
While another seventh-place finish will probably be beyond them, they have enough quality both on the pitch and in the dugout to climb away from danger and safely into mid-table as the season progresses.
Even at this early stage of the season, Neil Warnock could consider this a must-win for his side.
Unfortunately for him, there has been no indication yet that his squad is cut out to compete with the best teams in the country and with odds of 2/1 available, I’m backing Burnley to bag consecutive wins for the first time since April.