The Premier League is back and it’s great that Jones Knows thinks the withdrawal of the unusual schedule will bring the fullness of injuries this festive period.
Chelsea v Bournemouth, Tuesday 5.30pm
I don’t want Chelsea at 1/3 with Sky Bet with your money, let alone mine.
Even against teams I still think will finish at the bottom of the Premier League come the final day.
There have been some incisive moments of play under Graham Potter, which I’m sure is right once he works to shake up all the parts of this Chelsea machine. However, without the natural width and creativity of Reece James, who could have won this one, and the energy of N’Golo Kante, Chelsea have lost a bit in this transition period.
And, I’m not sure how 12 players away from training for the World Cup for six weeks will help the manager’s ideas across the board. Things may stagnate for a few more weeks.
This will be a fiddly game for them in front of a crowd that is not used to showing patience with their managers. Plus, Bournemouth have won three of their five Premier League visits to Stamford Bridge. This would be another great opportunity.
PRESENTATION NOTE: 1-2
Juventus vs Nottingham Forest, Tuesday 8pm
This is the first meeting between these two legendary football clubs for 23 years. In that match, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – remember him – scored four goals as a substitute in United’s 8-1 Premier League win at the City Ground.
Solskjaer to score those four goals in 19 minutes makes the end of the forest-acquiring journey this season scoring once in 630 minutes of action look quite ridiculous. They are the lowest away scorers in English football this season.
However, the time jump cannot be defined in these games on the road. The City are now five unbeaten at home in all competitions – an impressive run considering they face Liverpool, Tottenham and Crystal Palace. That Steve Cooper showed made them much tougher to beat – and United to find problems in this encounter.
For all their improvements this season is still a transitional one for United and the times are trying to break down a well-trained defence. He has scored just three goals in his last three home games in the league against Newcastle, Tottenham and West Ham, although 59 shots on goal point to a lack of quality chances to create.
With so many unknowns about the players’ fitness and no confidence in their previous form, I anticipate giving the teams odds-on shots trying to deliver for punters through this fixture list.
Manchester United at 2/7 with Sky Bet could be one of those teams that will underperform.
PREDICTION NOTE: 0-0
Leeds v Manchester City, Wednesday 8pm
We haven’t got much evidence to work with, but Leeds’ games against the top six at Elland Road under Jesse Marsch should be fun. His team is playing with a clear identity now although one that has chaos retreat.
It’s a dynamic style of football that has seen them score eight goals in fixtures against Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham, but leaves one woefully exposed if clever and intricate teams break the pressure. That’s the kind of football with risk-reward.
Manchester City are probably the smartest and most prolific attacking outfit in the world, so I fear Leeds a tad here, especially with how sharp City looked against Liverpool for 60 minutes on Thursday. However, as per the market, I completely agree with my strong City view so back them at 1/4 with Sky Bet is one to let slide.
The goal is where the value sits so the leather can play its part in adding to the waistline. Marsch’s team should play with little fear and play their part in a potential goal-fest where both teams will score and over 3.5 goals at 7/4 with Sky Bet is likely to provide a good run for your money.