Kevin Palmer's Premier League flutter for the weekend
Upsets, uncertainty and general mayhem have been the order of the day in the first seven rounds of matches this season and predicting the outcome of this weekend’s games is tougher than ever.
Independent.ie have teamed up with Paddy Power to have a weekly bet on the Premier League, with any money we win being donated to Dublin’s Temple Street Children’s hospital.
Here is our guide to the best bets on this weekend’s big games.
CHELSEA v SOUTHAMPTON
You would assume that champions Chelsea will start winning soon, yet we have been saying that for the last seven weeks now and still there seems to be no answers coming from Blues manager Jose Mourinho,
The manager who had tended the master of finding a solution to every problem in his coaching career is running dry of ideas and he knows that another defeat this weekend will not be tolerated.
However, seeing off a Southampton side who have proved they can mix it with the best and picked up two draw against Chelsea last season will be no easy task.
* Southampton have drawn each of their three away games in the Premier League this season.
* Willian has scored with free-kick goals in his last three matches for Chelsea.
* The visitors will be looking to record their first win at Stamford Bridge since January 2002.
VERDICT: A draw may be the best a rattled Chelsea can hope for.
EVERTON v LIVERPOOL
The public trial of Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers will continue at Goodison Park on Sunday and you wonder whether a final verdict will be passed if he fails to pick up the win he needs.
Rodgers may be right when he suggests there are is increasingly vocal group of people who want him out of his job at Anfield, with his critics who are of the opinion that he should have been sacked last summer given little reason to change their views after an uncertain start to the season.
Liverpool may well be in the top four of the Premier League heading into the international break if they win the 225th Merseyside derby, but that fact alone is not taking the heat off Rodgers.
* Everton are seeking to get a first win against Liverpool in 10 Premier League matches.
* Liverpool have record just one victory in their last eight away matches.
* Reds striker Daniel Sturridge has scored six goals in his last eight league and cup games against Everton.
VERDICT: Everton should have the edge against a woeful Liverpool defence.
ARSENAL v MANCHESTER UNITED
A top of the table clash between two sides who have barely impressed their critics this season, so this is a potentially defining fixture for Gunners boss Arsene Wenger and United manager Louis van Gaal.
United’s success in gleaning 16 points from their first seven matches despite their unconvincing displays has taken the heat off Van Gaal, but it is Wenger heading into this fixture with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Last Tuesday’s Champions League defeat against Olympiacos brought his critics out in force and another defeat on Sunday will see the attacks on his reach fever pitch.
* Man Utd have five more points than they had after seven games of last season.
* United are unbeaten in their last four visits to Emirates Stadium, winning two of those matches.
* Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud is looking for his fourth Premier League goal of the season on Sunday, even though he has only started three games so far.
VERDICT: Van Gaal’s men will be strong enough to grind out a draw.
SWANSEA V TOTTENHAM
Spurs have emerged as the form team in the Premier League of late, with their emphatic thumping of Manchester City at White Hart Lane last weekend evidence of their growing confidence.
How they respond after Europa League matches has tended to define their season in recent years and they need to show they can be victorious after their trip to Monaco on Thursday night as they face a tricky trip to Wales.
Swansea picked up just one win in September and need to halt that slide against Spurs. They should be good enough to do just that.
* Spurs have won their last three Premier League matches.
* Tottenham’s £30m midfielder Erik Lamela is finally finding some form, scoring in his last two matches.
* Swansea have failed to beat Tottenham in eight matches since they were promoted to the Premier League.
VERDICT: Swansea to beat a jaded Spurs.
Our Independent.ie bet for this week in association with Paddy Power is as follows:
€50 Juan Mata to score at any time for Manchester United against Arsenal on Sunday at 11/4 (possible returns €187.50).