EPL Betting Preview – Week 4 2012/2013

September 15th, 2012 | Posted by in 2012/2013 EPL Season

EPL Week 4 action on the week beginning Sep 15 with some big games on offer . Below we have Sportingbet Australia EPL betting preview of some of these big games this weekend. Click below on the game for this weekend’s EPL Betting odds from leading UK and European bookmakers.

Norwich vs West Ham
Stoke vs Man City
QPR vs Chelsea
Man Utd vs Wigan
Arsenal vs Southampton
Aston Villa vs Swansea
Fulham vs West Brom
Sunderland vs Liverpool
Reading vs Tottenham
Everton vs Newcastle

Manchester United v Wigan Athletic – Old Trafford – Saturday 15th September 2012

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson can be a famously grumpy character at the best of times, but he could be forgiven for not being in the best of moods ahead of Saturday’s home game against Wigan Athletic, with no fewer than eight of his big name players potentially unavailable due to injury.

Wayne Rooney, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are definitely ruled out, while Robin van Persie, Ashley Young, Shinji Kagawa, Darren Fletcher and Jonny Evans have all been competing for attention in the treatment room this week and are facing a race against time to prove their fitness.

And United’s growing injury crisis could hardly have come at a worse time.

Chelsea are already three points clear of the Red Devils who face a testing Champions League clash with Galatasaray next midweek, ahead of tricky league fixtures against Liverpool, Newcastle and Tottenham before the end of the month.

But although the international break served to exacerbate United’s existing injury problems, it also shone the spotlight upon a couple of players who surely have huge futures in front of them, namely Tom Cleverley and 20-year-old winger Robbie Brady.

The former was a stand-out in midfield for England during their 5-0 rout of Moldova, while the latter starred on his full debut for Ireland, scoring once and providing two assists in a friendly victory over Oman.

Cleverley looks certain to start against the side with whom he enjoyed a hugely successful loan spell in the 2010-2011 season, while Brady may earn a spot on the bench. Paul Scholes, or possibly Ryan Giggs, will deputise for Kagawa if he fails to overcome his back problem and Javier Hernandez is likely to come in for van Persie who is struggling with an ankle injury picked up during Holland’s midweek win over Hungary.

Wigan, meanwhile, will make the short trip to Old Trafford in reasonably confident mood having made a solid start to the new campaign.

The Latics’ three league outings to date have yielded one win, one draw and one defeat and they have acquitted themselves pretty well in each of those games.

Boss Roberto Martinez still has a fairly limited squad at his disposal both in terms of quality and depth, but with several of his key men firing on all cylinders, will be hopeful that yet another relegation dogfight can be avoided.

One of Wigan’s main go-to men this term has been previously much-maligned striker Franco Di Santo who has already scored two goals, while Ivorian international Arouna Kone also looks a decent signing, Ali Al Habsi continues to produce heroics on an almost weekly basis in goal and Irishman James McCarthy has again caught the eye in midfield.

The visitors’ main injury concern this week is Jean Beausejour who picked up a knock in the recent 2-2 draw with Stoke and Martinez will be especially keen to see the Chilean midfielder pull up fit as his presence down the left flank adds a nice balance to the 3-4-2-1 formation that has served the club well thus far this term.

Wigan love to attack from wide areas and having caused Chelsea all sorts of problems with this approach in their opening game of the campaign, they will certainly look to test out what will be makeshift United back four in a similar way. Neither Patrice Evra nor Rafael have exactly shone at full-back for the Red Devils this term, compounding the uncertainty stemming from the goalkeeping position which is still being contested by the equally unconvincing David de Gea and Anders Lindegaard.

The last meeting between the two sides came in April when the Latics pulled off a shock 1-0 win at the DW Stadium that massively enhanced their own survival prospects and severely dented United’s title challenge in the process.

That vital victory, however, is Wigan’s only one to date over the Red Devils and in their eight losing appearances at Old Trafford, they have conceded a total of 28 goals.

That kind of statistic make it all but impossible to back the visitors to win on Saturday, although given United’s injury issues and indifferent start to the season, fans of the long shot might consider backing the draw.

Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Wigan Athletic

 Queens Park Rangers v Chelsea – Loftus Road – Saturday 15th September 2012

With the fall-out from the Anton Ferdinand – John Terry court case only serving to deepen the long-standing animosity that already existed between these West London rivals, Loftus Road will not be a place for the faint-hearted when Queens Park Rangers take on Chelsea on Saturday.

Ferdinand’s claims that Terry racially abused him during last season’s corresponding fixture were ultimately rejected in court, but the alleged incident is still the subject of an ongoing FA investigation with a hearing scheduled to take place later this month.

Ironically, both players face a race against time in order to be fit enough to renew hostilities on Saturday, the Chelsea man picking up an ankle injury while on international duty with England last weekend and the Rangers defender battling a shoulder problem he sustained at Manchester City a fortnight ago.

The fact that only three of the QPR players who started last season’s fiery clash are likely to line-up against the Blues again this weekend may lower the temperature a little on the field, but the atmosphere among the fans is likely to remain pretty toxic and the FA may well opt to dispense with the traditional handshakes before the game in order to avoid a potential early flashpoint.

Home boss Mark Hughes has been quick to play down the Terry-Ferdinand factor in the build-up to the game and in fairness to the Welshman, he has more pressing matters to concern him.

Two defeats and a draw from their opening three league games have left Rangers languishing in 19th place and prompted Hughes to add to his frantic summer shopping spree by drafting in Spanish midfielder Esteban Granero from Real Madrid and Brazilian international goalkeeper Julio Cesar from Inter Milan.

Granero looks a decent pick-up, but Cesar’s signing smacks of panic and the lack of anything even resembling a coherent transfer strategy.

Rangers’ current first-choice ‘keeper Rob Green arrived at the club as recently as June and while he has subsequently committed several of the costly howlers that have blighted his career to date, if he is now to be relegated to the bench in favour of Cesar, his signing would have to be viewed as a huge mistake on Hughes’ part.

Such errors of judgement are not likely to go down well with a club board not exactly shy of pulling the trigger when it comes to sacking managers and there is a growing feeling in West London that Hughes will be out on his ear if performances do not improve in the very near future.

In terms of injury news for the hosts, Ferdinand is expected to shake off his shoulder injury in time to feature and Samba Diakite should return to midfield having missed the defeat at Manchester City for personal reasons.

As for Chelsea, their start to the league campaign could hardly have gone any better.

New arrival Eden Hazard has been an absolute revelation, providing six assists and one goal already, Fernando Torres has continued his return to form in front of goal, Frank Lampard looks to have found a new lease of life and Brazilian recruit Oscar has produced some magical cameos off the bench.

Question marks do still surround the Blues’ rearguard, but they defended extremely well in keeping a clean sheet against a dangerous Newcastle side last time out and will fancy their chances of blunting a QPR attack that has managed only two league goals this term.

Boss Roberto Di Matteo will also have been delighted to see the Stamford Bridge treatment room standing virtually empty over the last few days, with Terry and fellow ankle injury-victim Ashley Cole the only senior players struggling to be fit for the short trip to Loftus Road.

The message from Di Matteo to his charges ahead of Saturday’s game will surely be to ensure that they retain their composure far better than they did in last season’s clash when they allowed themselves to be completely unsettled by a combination of a fired-up, combative QPR side and some questionable refereeing decisions.

Last term’s return fixture saw the Blues run out 6-1 winners at the Bridge and while they are unlikely to find the going quite as easy this time round, as long as they can keep their heads, the visitors should have few problems seeing off a new-look Rangers side struggling to find any sort of cohesion.

Prediction: Queens Park Rangers 1-3 Chelsea

Stoke City v Manchester City – Britannia Stadium – Saturday 15th September 2012

Whisper it quietly, but Stoke City are evolving and have been for some time.

While they do still score more than 60% of their goals from set-pieces and aren’t likely to be mistaken for Arsenal or Barcelona any time soon, they continue to move steadily away from their popular image as one-dimensional, long-ball bully boys.

Having initially played to his squad’s strengths to establish the Potters in the top flight, shrewd boss Tony Pulis has begun to invest his increasingly generous transfer funds in players such as Charlie Adam who is all about short passing and skilful creativity rather than aerial ping pong and long throws.

Michael Owen is another new recruit hardly built for route one football and although the Potters do retain plenty of physicality in the form of Peter Crouch, Cameron Jerome, Kenwyne Jones and Ryan Shawcross among others, they also have the likes of Jermaine Pennant, Wilson Palacios, Matthew Etherington and Michael Kightly who are well suited to a neat passing game.

Cynics might argue that the likes of Adam and Kightly have simply been brought in to improve the quality of the aerial service aimed in the general direction of Crouch and co, but there is little doubt that with the squad that has now been assembled at the Britannia Stadium, Stoke are likely to be easier on the eye this season than they have been at any time since Pulis took charge.

Having drawn all three of their league games to date, the Potters will face their sternest test on Saturday as they entertain reigning champions Manchester City, a side against whom they remain unbeaten at home since 1999.

In terms of his team selection, Pulis will give Matthew Etherington until the last minute to prove that he has overcome a hamstring strain, American international Geoff Cameron’s versatility means that he is likely to be handed a start either in midfield or at full-back and deadline-day recruit Steven Nzonzi could make his club debut, probably off the bench.

The visitors, meanwhile, could include three debutants of their own in the form of Maicon, Matija Nastasic and Javi Garcia who arrived at Etihad Stadium on deadline day from Inter Milan, Fiorentina and Benfica respectively.

While it seems unlikely that the trio will all start, they could well feature in the matchday squad as City make the short trip south looking to pick up what would be a third win in four games.

In other team news, Gareth Barry is closing in on a return to action after undergoing a hernia operation but won’t be fit in time to face the Potters, Micah Richards remains sidelined by an ankle problem and Mario Balotelli is still recovering from eye surgery and has only a very slim chance of making the bench.

Sergio Aguero, meanwhile, is well on the comeback trail following his knee injury and could even play some part on Saturday, but with City facing a Champions League trip to Real Madrid and a league clash with Arsenal next week, boss Roberto Mancini is expected to err on the side of caution and retain Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez as his starting strike force.

The travelling fans will be looking to Yaya Toure to continue his hugely impressive start to the season and hoping to see a little more from both David Silva and Samir Nasri who haven’t quite been at their magical best in recent weeks.

Mancini will have been concerned that his side are yet to keep a clean sheet this term, but new arrival Garcia should provide a reassuring screening presence just in front of the back four and the arrival of Maicon and Nastasic should keep the likes of Joleon Lescott, Aleksandar Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta on their toes.

City have shown the priceless ability to grind out results even when not playing at their best in recent weeks and although a talented Stoke side and their vocal supporters will make life difficult for the champions at the Britannia, Mancini is likely to be the man left smiling at the final whistle.

Prediction: Stoke City 1-2 Manchester City

Sunderland v Liverpool – Stadium of Light – Saturday 15th September 2012

If one Premier League club really needed the international break, it was undoubtedly Liverpool. For not only did Brendan Rodgers welcome the opportunity to assess the progress of his Anfield project, the club and its supporters were also able to focus their attentions upon something far more important than football; namely the publication of the Hillsborough Report.

A government apology was forthcoming in the wake of the report’s publication which revealed details of a huge police cover-up and should now set the wheels of justice in motion for the families of the 96 fans who lost their lives in the 1989 tragedy.

There is therefore likely to be a proud if slightly sombre mood among the Reds fans who make the journey to Sunderland on Saturday hoping to see their side pick up what would be their first league win of the season.

And three points would also serve to strengthen Rodgers’ position which has already been undermined by both the early results and the club’s activities, or lack thereof, on transfer deadline day. The Liverpool boss reportedly sanctioned the loan of Andy Carroll to West Ham having been assured that the deal would free up the funds required to secure the signing of Clint Dempsey from Fulham.

The club’s owners, Fenway Sports Group, however, appeared to renege on that deal after the England man had completed his switch to Upton Park, leaving Rodgers fuming over his lack of striking options.

As it stands, Fabio Borini and Luis Suarez are the only recognised senior strikers on the Anfield books and while both are undoubtedly talented performers, it’s hard to envisage either of them scoring the 20-plus goals required to propel Liverpool into top four reckoning.

Both are expected to start at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, as is Joe Allen who has shrugged off the virus that limited his involvement with Wales during the international break. Fellow-midfielder Raheem Sterling, meanwhile, is set to retain his place on the wing and should be brimming with confidence having earned a call-up to the England squad last week despite only making his full league debut for the Reds earlier this season.

Lucas Leiva and Joe Cole, however, remain sidelined by injury and full-back Jose Enrique is regarded as a major doubt due to a knee problem.

Rodgers is not expected to make wholesale changes to the side that was well beaten by Arsenal last time out, although he may be tempted to introduce Sebastian Coates in place of Martin Skrtel at the heart of the defence.

Sunderland, meanwhile, are also looking for their first win of the campaign, but boss Martin O’Neill will have been relatively pleased with the two draws his charges  picked up from their visits to Arsenal and Swansea.

While on the back foot for long periods of both games, the Black Cats showed great defensive resolve to claim valuable points and big money signing Steven Fletcher made an immediate impact by bagging both goals in the 2-2 draw at Swansea.

Fellow new recruit Adam Johnson also caught the eye in that Liberty Stadium clash and should be fit to feature against Liverpool after recovering from a thigh injury, while midfield enforcer Lee Cattermole is also expected to overcome a dead leg in time to come into O’Neill’s selection considerations along with David Vaughan who has regained his match fitness following a hernia operation.

After two solid away performances, the onus will be on the Black Cats to attack Liverpool this weekend and with Fletcher leading the line, Stephane Sessegnon powering through from midfield and Johnson and James McClean flying down the flanks, they have the potential to expose a creaky Reds defence still coming to terms with Rodgers’ insistence on playing out from the back.

And O’Neill will doubtless be urging his to side pile the pressure on visiting goalkeeper Pepe Reina who has made a shocking start to the season and will surely be stripped of the gloves unless his form improves in a hurry.

This is exactly the kind of game each side needs to win if they are to end up in and around the top six rather than languishing in mid-table and that should make for a fascinating contest in front of what should be a bumper crowd on Wearside.

There hasn’t been a draw in this corresponding fixture since back in 2001, but there looks to be every chance that with both sides still at something of a developmental stage, they may well share the spoils this time round.

Prediction: Sunderland 2-2 Liverpool

 

 

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