Manchester City are the star attractions amongst Saturday's five 3pm kick-offs in the Premier League but Mike Norman doesn't believe they'll have an easy time of it against Southampton after a troubled week...
"Bottom of the table with the longest winless run in the division, the fewest goals scored out of all 20 Premier League clubs, the worst goal difference, and just two points taken from the last 36 available to them. Wow! I can't find one reason why they should be favourites to beat Watford on Saturday afternoon."
Aston Villa 2.747/4 v Watford 3.02/1; The Draw 3.39/4
The picture couldn't really look more gloomy for Aston Villa and you have to say that Remi Garde will need to be a miracle worker to guide the club to survival.
Bottom of the table with the longest winless run in the division, the fewest goals scored out of all 20 Premier League clubs, the worst goal difference, and just two points taken from the last 36 available to them. Wow! I can't find one reason why they should be favourites to beat Watford on Saturday afternoon.
For me the Hornets are the best of the three promoted clubs and have a great chance of avoiding the drop. And those chances will be hugely enhanced if they come away from Villa Park with all three points, a result that will take them 14 points ahead of the Midlands club.
Watford may be going into this game on the back of two defeats on the spin but those reversals were by single goal margins to Leicester and Man Utd, the two clubs that sit first and second in the Premier League.
Consider also the fact that Quique Flores' men have scored in each of their last four league games (home and away), their last four matches on the road, and that they've already recorded five clean sheets this season then you have to feel that scoring just once or twice at Villa Park should be good enough to take all three points.
Back Watford to Win @ 3.02/1 (best bet)
Bournemouth 3.02/1 v Everton 2.56/4; The Draw 3.613/5
Everton aren't exactly the most consistent side in the world but they are now unbeaten in four league and cup outings and have scored a very impressive 11 goals in their last three league matches - albeit 10 of those goals came at Goodison Park.
That makes Roberto Martinez's men of much interest at 2.56/4 to win against struggling Bournemouth, especially when you consider the Toffees' impressive record against bottom half sides.
As Andrew Atherley points out in his weekly stats piece, Everton have won four and drawn two of their matches against bottom half sides this term, and in five of those six outings they found the back of the net at least twice. It's difficult to envisage Martinez's men not scoring at least two at Dean Court if I'm being honest.
The Cherries haven't won a league game since the middle of September, and although their injury worries have been well documented it's perhaps time to acknowledge that the squad Eddie Howe has to select from isn't quite up to Premier League standard.
Bournemouth will make me eat my words one day but I don't expect it to be this weekend when a confident, and free-scoring Everton side are the visitors.
Back Everton to Win @ 2.56/4
Crystal Palace 1.784/5 v Newcastle 5.39/2; The Draw 4.03/1
One of the more noticeable aspects of the first third of the season is the number of clubs that are performing much better on the road than they are on home soil.
Stoke and West Ham, two clubs who are usually strong at home, are just two examples, while high-flying Leicester's away record is superb also.
And then there's Crystal Palace. The Eagles are usually a very tough nut to crack at Selhurst Park but this season they have won just two league games in front of their own fans (drew one and lost four) while they've so far won four times away from home including memorable victories at Chelsea and Liverpool.
This is enough for me to ignore Palace's price of 1.784/5 about a home win, especially after their lacklustre performance at home to Sunderland on Monday night.
I can't put Newcastle up as a selection either however. Steve McClaren's men were dreadful at home to Leicester last weekend and before that they were completely outplayed by out of form Bournemouth, but somehow they managed to score the only goal of the game.
The recommended bet therefore has to be Under 2.5 Goals at a generous looking price of 2.0621/20. The last two games at Selhurst Park have finished 0-0 and 0-1, while Newcastle have scored just a solitary goal in their last three matches.
I'd expect another close affair here, and if Palace continue to struggle in front of goal then it might just be a dull affair also.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.0621/20
Man City 1.564/7 v Southampton 6.86/1; The Draw 4.57/2
It's been a very difficult week for Manchester City, and a rather bizarre one too.
Manuel Pellegrini changing his central defensive partnership for the visit of Liverpool was an odd decision, and one that backfired instantly, and then needing a few goals to get back in the game both Yaya Toure and Sergio Aguero were substituted at 1-3 down.
Yes, Aguero was playing his first game for around six weeks while Toure wasn't exactly having a great game, but I just sensed that Pellegrini threw in the towel, if not before the game then certainly during it.
Some say the priority was to get a result at Juventus in midweek so that Man City could put themselves in a position to finish top of their Champions League group. But that didn't go to plan either, another defeat, another below par performance.
It all means that City are impossible to back at such short odds against a very good Southampton side on Saturday. As the odds suggest, Pellegrini's men are by far the most likely winners, but it's hard to have confidence in them right now. That Liverpool defeat was extremely worrying for me.
The Saints surprisingly lost at home to Stoke last weekend but Ronald Koeman's men had been in fine form prior to that defeat, winning six and losing none of their previous eight league and cup outings. They're a very well organised side and I expect Man City to have a tough time in breaking them down. A low scoring affair has to be the call.
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.3211/8
Sunderland 3.39/4 v Stoke 2.447/5; The Draw 3.55/2
As I alluded to in my Crystal Palace preview, there are a number of clubs this season who surprisingly have a much better record away from home than they do in front of their own fans, Stoke perhaps being the best example of such a club.
For years the Potters have built their campaigns around a successful, and mostly formidable, record at the Britannia Stadium, but if the first third of this season is anything to go by then we're in for a change.
Mark Hughes' men have so far collected 12 of their 19 league points away from home this term, winning three and drawing three of their seven road trips. Stoke's only defeat on their travels was at Arsenal, so no shame there, but since that reversal in early September Hughes' men have gone more than 450 minutes - five league and cup games - without conceding a single goal.
You sense the Black Cats are starting to find their feet under new boss Sam Allardyce, and even allowing for that 6-2 thrashing at Everton recently they look to be a side that will be difficult to break down, especially at home.
But Sunderland just don't win at the Stadium of Light (unless they're playing Newcastle of course) and I envisage another hugely frustrating afternoon on the cards for the Wearsiders as a well organised Stoke side shut them out and leave with all three points.
Back Stoke to Win @ 2.447/5
*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: 79 pts
Returned: 75.16 pts
P/L: -3.84 pts
*based on 1pt each bet, 2pts best bet
**2014/15 P/L = +35.3 pts from 215 staked (ROI = 16.42%)