With the international fixtures over, we return to Premier League action on Saturday with Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton looking to continue their good home records against struggling opposition in Reading, Newcastle United and Stoke City respectively.
The Royals have a new manager but still face a huge task to reverse a shocking away record against a side they have never avoided defeat to, while Stoke won’t be relishing a trip to fortress Goodison Park and the Magpies are up against it when they visit one of the toughest away venues in world football.
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Arsenal to beat Reading @ 11/50
New Reading manager Nigel Adkins could hardly have asked for a tougher start to his career at the Berkshire outfit as he takes his new side to a venue where they have never won, to take on a team that they have never even managed a point against in their history.
Arsenal have won all 11 previous meetings between the sides and have averaged an amazing six goals per game against them this season, winning 7-5 and 5-2 in two meetings at the Madejski Stadium so far.
The visitors have lost 12 of their 15 away games this season, winning just once, and sit six points adrift of safety at the foot of the Premier League table. That gap could be wider after a seemingly inevitable defeat at the Emirates on Saturday.
Man City to beat Newcastle @ 3/10
Man City’s title challenge might have come to an end before the international break but they are still unbeaten on home soil since December’s defeat to Manchester United and that result remains their only home defeat in the Premier League since December 2010.
They have beaten Newcastle for the last six consecutive meetings and haven’t lost to them at any venue since September 2005, 12 games ago. On top of that, they haven’t lost to the Magpies in Manchester since September 2000, meaning that they have never lost at home since the Citizens moved to the City of Manchester Stadium in 2003.
Alan Pardew’s side have lost three in a row on the road, to Tottenham, Swansea and Wigan, and don’t look capable of causing an upset on Saturday.
Expect yet another City win at home.
Everton to beat Stoke @ 1/2
Stoke’s poor form this season has led some fans to question the future of manager Tony Pulis, which seems utterly bizarre given everything he has achieved at the club during his reign.
Nevertheless, stranger things have happened in the Premier League season and Pulis needs to start winning if he is to continue the good work he has done at the club until now.
It will be a difficult task to take anything from Goodison Park on Saturday though.
Everton’s home form this season has been impressive, with the marquee results being victories over Man Utd, Man City and Spurs and draws with Arsenal and Liverpool.
In fact, only Chelsea have triumphed away to David Moyes’ side this season, with the Toffees winning eight and drawing six of their 15 home games so far.
Stoke, on the other hand, have won just once in the whole of 2013, losing four of their last six, and they are without a win on the road in any competition since December 1st.
Their away record is a mirror image of Everton’s home form, winning just once, drawing six and losing eight, and they have won only once at Goodison Park in the last 23 years.
Another home win looks more than likely here.