The international break is over, the Premier League is back and like Ryan Giggs round at his brother’s house, I’ve decided to ‘Play Away’ this weekend and I’m looking at Chelsea, Manchester City and Swansea City to do the business on the road when they visit Queens Park Rangers, Stoke City and Aston Villa respectively. Read on to find out why…
Chelsea to beat Queens Park Rangers @ 3/4
Chelsea were mullered by a Falcao-inspired Atletico Madrid in the Super Cup in Monaco, but a return to Premier League action gives Roberto Di Matteo a chance to get back on track and they can do just that by beating Queens Park Rangers in the west London derby at Loftus Road.
The Blues sit on top of the pile with three wins from three and they can extend their 100% record by beating a QPR side that are playing like strangers, probably because that’s exactly what they are. Both sides added significantly to their squad over the summer but there is being busy and there is being QPR and Mark Hughes’ scattergun approach to the transfer window (buy anyone he can get his hands on regardless of age, cost, compatibility, necessity, re-sale value, wage demands or length of contract) has resulted in a predictably poor start.
No side have conceded more than Rangers’ nine goals so far this term and Chelsea have the attacking players to do even more damage to that sorry record. Led by Eden Hazard, Di Matteo’s men have scored eight league goals already and should be trusted to see off a side they put six goals past just six months ago.
(Read a full betting preview of QPR v Chelsea here)
Manchester City to beat Stoke City @ 7/10
Providing you can drag him away from Kempton, Michael Owen will make his bow for Stoke on Saturday – oh, Michael! – but his debut is likely to be spoiled by Manchester City, who can claim all three points at the Britannia Stadium.
The Potters have given the race horse trainer an extra bit of money for his stables on the proviso that he runs about a bit pretending to be a footballer, but the attention at the end of the game will be on the proper footballers who play for the champions and I don’t see City making any mistakes here.
Stoke have a very good record against the top sides at the Britannia but City look like they are finding their feet and have been among the goals – eight already this term – and look capable of out-shooting their hosts.
Tony Pulis’ men are averaging a goal a game, which has been more or less their standard goal return over their four years in the top flight, and one goal may be enough for the title holders, who have the quality and mental toughness to see off a competitive but limited Stoke.
(Read a full betting preview of Stoke v Man City here)
Swansea City to beat Aston Villa @ 2/1
Aston Villa and Swansea have enjoyed wildly contrasting starts to the Premier League season and the meeting of the two at Villa Park could well go with the form book, piling more misery on the long-suffering home supporters.
Eyebrows were raised when Michael Laudrup was appointed as Swans boss, but seven points and ten goals from three games later, there are few doubting the Dane’s credentials after a wonderful first couple of months in charge.
If only things were going so well at Villa Park. Paul Lambert is also new to his job, but one point from nine, which has included two abject performances that were as bad as anything produced by his predecessor Alex McLeish, has left the former Norwich boss in a spot of early bother.
And Swansea can make that worse by picking up another win. A settled, progressive side, the Welsh outfit look like a team who know exactly what they are doing in a system that suits, unlike Villa, who are relying on youngsters and a clutch of new signings and are now on a run of just one win in the last 19 league games. Swansea won this fixture 2-0 last season, and can do so again.
(Read a full betting preview of Aston Villa v Swansea here)
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