Let’s be honest, Saturday’s EPL fixture list isn’t one that’ll have you fighting your family for the remote control this weekend.
A host of so-so matchups sees a lot of the middle-order clubs going head to head, while the so-called bigger sides have eminently winnable games against sides expected to struggle this season.
Back the Reds to clip the Eagles’ wings
Liverpool kick off their home campaign at Anfield against Crystal Palace.
Liverpool and Crystal Palace will forever be associated as a result of the remarkable games between the pair back in 1989.
The pair met at Anfield in the league, where a rampant Liverpool side put the Eagles to the sword, thrashing them 9-0.
And few gave Palace much of a chance when they met in the FA Cup semi-final later that same season.
But Palace were fired up for the game at Villa Park and produced one of the great FA Cup performances to beat the Reds in a thriller and book themselves into the FA Cup Final.
Somehow I doubt we’ll see scorelines like either of those matchups this weekend, though I do expect to see a Liverpool win.
United to sweep aside depleted Swans
The lunchtime kick-off at the Liberty Stadium sees Swansea City play host to Manchester United in a game that should see the visitors run out comfortable winners.
United are always formidable opposition – even with Chris Smalling in the starting lineup – and now with the sizeable presence of Romelu Lukaku (my pick for the EPL’s top scorer this season) up front, they look more than capable of going all the way, despite question marks over the heart of their defence.
Swansea will have to adjust to life without their best creative player following the departure of Gylfi Sigurdsson to Everton this week, while Spanish hitman Fernando Llorente remains on the treatment table.
United, meanwhile, looked ominously good against West Ham last weekend, and will only improve as the season progresses.
Swansea actually have a decent home record against United, but with their team looking very much like a work-in-progress, a United win looks a solid pick here.
PICK: Manchester United
Gunners have too much firepower for Stoke
And the third game featuring a one of the big boys takes centre stage in the late-afternoon kick-off, as Arsenal travel to the notoriously tricky Britannia Stadium to face Stoke.
In pugilistic terms, Stoke v Arsenal is the classic slugger versus boxer matchup, with Stoke’s ‘wham, bam, thank-you maam’ approach flying in the face of Arsenal’s artistry.
The stereotypical view of “get in Arsenal’s faces and they don’t like it” hasn’t served Stoke too well recent years, however. The Gunners are unbeaten in their last five EPL meetings with the Potters, winning four and drawing one.
They don’t concede many, either, having shipped just two goals to Stoke over the last 450 minutes between the two sides. As with United and Liverpool, I can’t see past an Arsenal win here.
You won’t find too much value in betting singles on these three, but a three-way parlay may be the best option this weekend.
PICK: Manchester United/Liverpool/Arsenal to win
[Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]