No sooner has the season started (so it seems), than we’re interrupted by a bunch of meaningless friendlies, and qualifiers for a tournament that feels like it might as well be a million years into the future, given that we’ve only just had the World Cup. Proper football returns on 13th September, and for many fans it’ll be a chance to see how their new signings are bedding in. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of that weekend; news and odds are available from major bookmakers like Bet365, William Hill and Ladbrokes and will be updated as we get closer to the games.
Arsenal v. Manchester City
The early game on Saturday should be one of the most exciting, as the Gunners’ last-minute surprise signing Danny Welbeck teams up with Alexis Sanchez to try and stick a few past Manuel Pellegrini’s City. After a poor showing against Arsenal in the Community Shield, City started the seaon brightly, winning away at Newcastle and beating Liverpool 3-1 at the Etihad, but dropped 3 points against Stoke at home before the international break. Arsenal fans might therefore see 2.87 as a decent price at which to back their team; City are 2.40 to win.
Chelsea v. Swansea
Swansea have a challenging visit to Stamford Bridge on Saturday. They did a lot of business over the summer including signing Gambian striker Madou Barrow, and currently sit just behind Chelsea with 3 wins from 3. The odds don’t favor the Swans, who are priced at 10.00 for the win. Chelsea (1.28) have proved more or less unstoppable so far this season; the 9-goal thriller away to Everton must be the highlight in terms of entertainment so far. Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa joined early in the summer, Drogba is back and Loic Remy was snapped up a day before the window closed.
Liverpool v. Aston Villa
Villa finished 15th last season and will do well to get anything from this fixture. Bringing in Man Utd’s Tom Cleverly on loan is unlikely to have raised anyone’s blood pressure, but Paul Lambert’s team have also bought Carlos Sanchez from Spanish side Elche, a Colombian international and a defensive midfielder who should help Villa (10.00) avoid a whitewash. Liverpool (1.25) have spent a lot of money this summer, much it raised through the sale of Luis Suarez in July. Mario Balotelli is their biggest signing in terms of celeb status, but Adam Lallana was even more expensive; the combination of Balotelli and Lallana should prove a handful for Villa.
Manchester Utd v. QPR
It’s all been a bit grim for Man Utd fans recently. Just 2 points from 3 games sees them lying 14th in the table, and many were surprised that Louis van Gaal allowed Danny Welbeck to be sold to Arsenal, despite bringing in Radamel Falcao on loan. A home match against QPR on Sunday 14th September might be just the gentle introduction that the team’s new signings require. QPR sit 2 places above Utd before the game, having beaten Sunderland in their last match, though they took a 4-0 battering at White Hart Lane the week before.
- MUFC win; 1.28 (odds offered by William Hill).
- QPR win; 10.00 (odds offered by Bet365).