Jamie Casey offers a 20/1 treble tip ahead of Saturday's much anticipated return to club football.
1. Back West Brom to hold Manchester City at the Hawthorns
As West Brom lie level on points with Tottenham and Everton heading into this weekend, the Baggies have been somewhat overlooked in terms of their vast improvement under Steve Clarke. With Liverpool, Everton and big spenders Queens Park Rangers among the victims of their 100 per cent Premier League record, Clarke has every reason to be in buoyant mood ahead of the visit from champions Manchester City on Saturday. Possessing an away goal difference of just +1, compared to +6 at the Etihad, Roberto Martinez’s men will require their sharpest shooters to hit form if they’re to avoid making it three draws on the spin away from home. Recent history is against them, though, as City have taken just one victory in their last six visits to this ground, a Mario Balotelli brace securing a 2-0 win at the Hawthorns in November 2010. However, the champions should have too much strength in depth to completely succumb to West Brom’s home comforts, suggesting a draw is the likely outcome here. Of the online retailers, Bwin offer 5/2 for the draw, while you can get between 3/1 and 16/5 on Betfair, but if you’re going electronic choose Sky Bet’s generous odds of 11/4 for the same outcome (new customers will benefit from a free £10 bet after registering, no deposit required).
2. Over 2.5 goals as frontrunners Juventus and Napoli lock horns
If any side can halt Juventus’ incredible 45-game unbeaten run, it’s the current Napoli one. With Serie A’s top scorer Edinson Cavani in Napoli’s ranks, the Old Lady’s defence - which has conceded four goals in seven games despite topping the table - will have their work cut out. Mind you, only one of those goals conceded has come at the Juventus Stadium, and Walter Mazzarri’s men have showed less conviction on the road, with less than a third of their total tally of 14 coming away from home. Round 5 provided Juve’s other big test, which they duly passed with flying colours in a thumping 4-1 defeat of Roma. The stats don’t paint the whole picture, though, as despite Juve’s +13 goal difference and Napoli’s slightly inferior record of +11, both defences have looked uncertain without being punished on many occasions this term. Gianluigi Buffon may be missing for the hosts, having picked up a thigh strain on international duty, a potential absence which could prove significant. Expect the two most offensively powerful teams in the division to push each others’ defences to their limits, but, tempting as Napoli’s widespread odds of 7/2 are, don’t back Juve to lose their record in a home fixture. A draw is generously priced at 13/5 by Betfred, but to ensure you get a bet up go with Sky Bet’s odds of 4/5 that the game will produce at least three goals. The same bet can be obtained with Betfair from between 5/6 to a brave 9/5.
3. Arsenal’s Gervinho to score in an away win at Norwich
As Arsenal’s recurring bad luck on international breaks continued following the injury to Theo Walcott last week, manager Arsene Wenger will have been revealed top scorer Gervinho had no daunting trip to Africa to make. Not a sentence many would have anticipated this time last year, when the Ivory Coast striker was struggling to find his feet at the Emirates Stadium, but the former Lille man has discovered the sort of form which will have Canaries defenders quaking in their boots ahead of Saturday’s late kick-off. With just three points on the board, Norwich are really struggling, and it’s difficult to see any other outcome other than another win for Arsenal, who have quietly and efficiently gone about their business since the heartbreaking sale of Robin Van Persie. Whether Gervinho is the man to replace the Dutchman on a long term basis is an entirely separate issue, but the 25-year-old is certainly the flavour of the month right now, and he’s been sufficiently rested for the trip to Carrow Road. With Santi Cazorla picking out the passes, Chris Hughton’s side are likely to be dissected from start to finish and only an off-day, such as that at the Etihad earlier this season, should prevent Gervinho from bagging. Blue Square offer the best odds of 12/5 for him to score in an Arsenal win, a price suitably matched by 888sport. Irish bookies Paddy Power offer 15/8, as do Betfred, while market leaders Sky Bet and Ladbrokes give weaker value with 5/4 and 6/4 respectively.
Fancy all three as a treble? Go with Betfred, who’ll provide a return of over 20/1 for all three outcomes on the one slip.