Saturday Premier League Tipsheet: Arsenal to pile the pressure on McClaren

Mesut Ozil has been in stunning form for Arsenal this season
Mesut Ozil has been in stunning form for Arsenal this season

Mike Norman enjoyed a great Bank Holiday with four winners from five selections at some very rewarding prices, and our man is hoping to maintain his winning run with his preview of Saturday's six Premier League 3pm kick-offs...

"With Mesut Ozil in such blistering form, and Olivier Giroud regularly hitting the target, Arsenal are capable of beating anyone in front of their own fans, and beating them comfortably too."

Back Arsenal -1 to @ 1.910/11 to beat Newcastle

Arsenal 1.3130/100 v Newcastle 12.5; The Draw 6.25/1

Following wins over Liverpool and Tottenham just before Christmas Newcastle have been brought firmly back down to earth with 'just' a home draw with hapless Aston Villa and back-to-back defeats to Everton and West Brom.

Steve McClaren's men are third bottom in the table, two points from safety, so they're not in the greatest frame of mind as they travel to an Arsenal side that has recorded eight consecutive victories over them. The Magpies probably won't want reminding either that on their last three visits to the Emirates Stadium they've conceded a massive 14 goals (4-1, 3-0, and 7-3 defeats).

So it's easy to fancy the Gunners here after they returned to the top of the table on Monday night with a routine 2-0 win over Bournemouth.

Arsene Wenger is steadily starting to get some of his more influential players back to fitness too, though no-one in the Premier League is in better form than the brilliant Mesut Ozil at present. With him in such blistering form, and Olivier Giroud regularly hitting the target, Arsenal are capable of beating anyone in front of their own fans, and beating them comfortably too.

So that's what we'll wager on here, another routine victory for the home side. Arsenal have won by at least a two-goal margin at the Emirates on six occasions already this term. Back them to make it seven against struggling Newcastle.

Recommended Bet
Back Arsenal -1 to Win @ 1.910/11
(best bet)

Leicester 2.021/1 v Bournemouth 4.1; The Draw 3.711/4

There have been definite signs in the last few games that Claudio Ranieri, and his Leicester players, are starting to realise just what a fantastic league position they are in, and perhaps that has brought about a bit of tension into their play.

The Foxes were way below their best at Liverpool on Boxing Day and Ranieri reacted by playing three in the centre of midfield for the home game against Manchester City on Tuesday night. I found that quite surprising given Leicester have hosted the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, and Man Utd without playing that more defensive-minded formation, but it worked to a certain extent, holding the title favourites to a goalless draw.

Ranieri may well revert to his trusted 4-4-2 formation for the visit of Bournemouth, but while the goals have seemingly dried up - albeit on the evidence of just two very tough games - there may be some merit in backing 'Unders' while the price is still attractive.

Bournemouth themselves have failed to score in each of their last two games and I believe Eddie Howe will set up his side to try and frustrate the hosts here. It may well turn into a game of cat and mouse with Leicester, rather unusually for them, doing most of the attacking, and if that's the case then I fully expect the match to be a low-scoring affair.

Recommended Bet
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.1211/10

Man Utd 1.584/7 v Swansea 7.26/1; The Draw 4.3100/30

Manchester United produced a much better performance at home to Chelsea on Monday night than they have done in recent weeks though the result was largely the same, no goals and yet another game without a victory - eight in succession now in all competitions.

Louis van Gaal's men probably won't be relishing the prospect of facing a Swansea side that have been hinting at a return back to form of late. The Swans - who are still without a manager at the time of writing - are unbeaten in three over the festive period thanks to a trio of clean sheets.

Old Trafford has been a graveyard for 'Goals' backers in recent months - just one of the last eight games at the Theatre of Dreams in all competitions has gone over the 2.5 goals mark and incredibly the United faithful have witnessed five goalless draws in that time.

Swansea have scored just one away goal in two months, but they're also tough to break down at present, and their last three matches have witnessed just a solitary goal. The market is starting to latch on, but Under 2.5 Goals at 1.824/5 is arguably still a spot of value.

Recommended Bet
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 1.824/5

Norwich 3.412/5 v Southampton 2.47/5; The Draw 3.45

Just to pinpoint how ridiculously unpredictable this season's Premier League has been, Southampton have won just one of their last eight games, that being a stunning 4-0 victory over title-chasing Arsenal.

The Saints followed that win with a 2-1 loss to an injury-hit West Ham side, the Hammers themselves undoubtedly being one of the most unpredictable teams in the first half of this exciting Premier League season.

At least in Norwich we have a side that are far more predictable in the fact that they have defeated the sides that they were relatively fancied to beat - Sunderland, Bournemouth, an out-of-form Swansea, and Aston Villa for example. You could even add Manchester United to that list (he says tongue in cheek).

On that basis then we really ought to be sticking with The Canaries against an out-of-form Southampton side, but it's almost impossible to put Saints' 4-0 Boxing Day win over Arsenal to the back of the mind. They aren't the first, and they won't be the last, team to record a convincing win and then perform below expectations just 48 hours later over the Christmas period.

If Ronald Koeman's men perform to anywhere near the level they did at St Mary's last week then they will go very close to winning this game.

Recommended Bet
Back Southampton to Win @ 2.47/5

Sunderland 2.56/4 v Aston Villa 3.259/4; The Draw 3.412/5

Following Sunderland's 0-1 home loss to Liverpool in midweek Sam Allardyce's men are now seven points from safety and on an awful run of five defeats on the spin, conceding 12 goals in the process.

On Saturday the Black Cats host the only Premier League side below them in the table so you sense that a sixth defeat on the spin would be catastrophic to their survival chances. Fortunately for the Sunderland faithful, that side is Aston Villa, a team that has gone 18 league games without a win.

But this really is a must win game for both sides. Although Villa look doomed a win at the Stadium of Light will at least take them to within one point of Sunderland - albeit at least eight points from safety depending on how other results go - and give them a tiny bit of hope.

But Remi Garde's men have seemingly been drinking at the last chance saloon for a while now, and they keep fluffing their lines. So why should it be any different here?

And in a must-win relegation scrap between the Frenchman and Allardyce, it's hard to back against Big Sam.

Sunderland have at least won three times under Allardyce since his arrival, two of those victories coming in vital games in front of their own fans, and they've managed to find the back of the net at least once against teams like Everton, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Man City in recent weeks. On the balance of all known form, a home win has to be the pick.

Recommended Bet
Back Sunderland to Win @ 2.56/4

West Brom 2.8415/8 v Stoke 2.9215/8; The Draw 3.259/4

A game between two sides that I really fancied to challenge for top 10 honours this term, in fact, I even went as bold as predicting that Stoke could break into the top six when I did my season preview of The Potters.

The Baggies haven't quite reached my expectations yet but are up to 13th following a 1-0 win over Newcastle on Monday , their first victory since beating Arsenal in late November though Tony Pulis' side have subsequently recorded draws with decent sides like Liverpool, Spurs, and West Ham, so we know they have plenty of quality on their day.

But Stoke have been outstanding on their travels this season, and even for allowing a completely out-of-character 3-4 win at Everton on Monday, I have to stick with Mark Hughes' men here.

The reason I say that victory was out of character is because prior to The Potters' trip to Goodison Park they'd kept a very impressive six clean sheets in seven away games, surprisingly only conceding to Sunderland on their travels since they lost to Arsenal at the beginning of September.

Stoke have also won four of their last five on home soil without conceding a goal so Hughes' men really are the clean sheet kings at present, and although many will have this down as a low scoring affair I can't ignore the away form of Stoke here.

Recommended Bet
Back Stoke to Win @ 2.9215/8


*You can follow me on Twitter - @MikkyMo73

**For individual match previews of every single Premier League game visit our dedicated Premier League section here on Betting.Betfair.

Premier League 2015/16 Season P/L

Staked: 116 pts
Returned: 120.37 pts
P/L: +4.37 pts

*based on 1pt each bet, 2pts best bet

**2014/15 P/L = +35.3 pts from 215 staked (ROI = 16.42%)

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