Saturday Premier League Tipsheet: Saints to bounce back in style

Ronald Koeman's Southampton look a cracking bet to see off hapless Aston Villa
Ronald Koeman's Southampton look a cracking bet to see off hapless Aston Villa

It's a busy Saturday in the Premier League with eight matches, six of which kick-off at the traditional time of 3pm, and our man Mike Norman has previewed them all in search of a few winners...

"Put simply Villa struggle to keep the goals out, while at the other end they only seem to get on the scoresheet when trailing late in matches and they have a need to 'go for it', like when they conceded three at Liverpool, three at Tottenham, and three at home to Watford last week."

Back Southampton -1 to Win v Villa @ 2.56/4

Arsenal 1.330/100 v Sunderland 14.013/1; The Draw 6.411/2

The good news for Arsenal is we're now into December; Arsene Wenger's men - as they so often do - endured a torrid November, taking just two points in the Premier League while suffering a plethora of injuries to key players.

More good news is the fact that Arsenal are just two points off the top of the table despite those poor results, however with the busy festive period just around the corner they're going to need to get players back to full fitness as soon as possible, and win home games like this one against a struggling side.

Some will argue that Sunderland are only struggling in the sense that they remain in the bottom regions of the table, and that their recent form - two wins on the spin without conceding - suggests that they are on an upward curve. I'm not so sure that's true just yet.

Sam Allardyce's men were quite poor at Crysal Palace last week, but they hung on and snatched a winner at the death thanks to a gift of a goal from the Eagles. And at home to Stoke last Saturday they only grabbed the initiative when the Potters had key defender Ryan Shawcross sent off, yet they still had to wait until late in the game before securing the win.

It may be a bit naive to suggest that whatever side Wenger is able to field on Saturday ought to be good enough to beat the Black Cats, but that's how I see it. Laurent Koscielny's injury isn't as bad as first feared and he should be available, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back, Mesut Ozil is in great form, Aaron Ramsey is looking better with each game, and Olivier Giroud isn't a bad option in attack.

Sunderland might be able to keep this game tight for much of the match, but I fully expect the Gunners to eventually run out comfortable winners.

Recommended Bet
Back Arsenal -1 to Win @ 2.01/1

Man Utd 1.4840/85 v West Ham 8.415/2; The Draw 4.77/2

You don't need me to tell you that Manchester United have become the dullest side on the planet, their recent results confirm what we all know.

Since beating Everton 3-0 at Goodison Park six weeks ago United's nine games in all competitions have witnessed just 10 goals, that's an average of just 1.11 per game. They've had four goalless draws in that time, and all five of their matches at Old Trafford went under the 2.5 goals mark.

So the fact that we can back Under 2.5 Goals in this fixture at even money looks extremely tempting.

Obviously we have to consider the opposition, and for me West Ham have gone slightly off the boil recently, certainly in terms of results, two draws and two defeats from their last four matches. Slaven Bilic's men failed to score at Watford in that spell, scored a late consolation at Spurs, and managed just a single goal in each of their two home games against Everton and West Brom.

So we can come to the conclusion that the goals have started to dry up for the Hammers too.

And if that's the case then we really have to stick with our hunch here and back Under 2.5 Goals. You just don't know where the next goal is coming from with Louis van Gaal's side, but they defend exceptionally well and ought to be able to keep West Ham at bay. Bilic will probably set his side up to defend also, knowing that a point at Old Trafford is more than acceptable.

Recommended Bet
Back Under 2.5 Goals @ 2.01/1

Southampton 1.528/15 v Aston Villa 8.07/1; The Draw 4.57/2

It's been a tough few weeks for Southampton, suffering three defeats on the spin, but it's certainly not a time to panic just yet.

The Saints lost at home to Stoke a fortnight ago, but the Potters have been much improved away from home this term and were keeping their fourth consecutive clean sheet on the road. A loss at Man City was expected, but Ronald Koeman's men played well in that match and certainly didn't disgrace themselves.

And up until Liverpool equalised at St Mary's in the Capital One Cup in midweek Southampton were playing some good football. The worry of course is the way Koeman's men capitulated in that game but I'm certainly willing to forgive that performance.

One of the main reasons for siding with Southampton in this game however is that the opposition is Aston Villa. I said after Remi Garde's men drew 0-0 with Man City that nothing had changed - they could have lost that game 0-5 in all honesty - and that Villa were still an awful side. They then promptly lost back-to-back games, conceding seven goals in the process.

Put simply Villa struggle to keep the goals out, while at the other end they only seem to get on the scoresheet when trailing late in matches and they have a need to 'go for it', like when they conceded three at Liverpool, three at Tottenham, and three at home to Watford last week.

If Southampton don't worry too much about their recent form - as I say, they haven't actually played too badly - then I fully expect them to brush aside an Aston Villa team destined for relegation.

Recommended Bet
Back Southampton -1 to Win @ 2.56/4
(best bet)

Swansea 2.915/8 v Leicester 2.6413/8; The Draw 3.55

When the Match Odds market for this game began to gain liquidity Swansea were trading at around 2.77/4 with Leicester close to 3.02/1, much to a few good judges' surprise I noticed when having my daily glance through Twitter.

Those good judges have obviously filled their boots as the best price you'll get on the in-form Foxes now (at the time of publication) is 2.6413/8, while it's the Swans who are on the drift.

Why Leicester were put in as outsiders to win the game will remain a mystery; effectively the market was saying that Swansea's home advantage counted for far more than current form. Obviously, many of us disagreed.

For the record, Swansea have won just one of their last 11 league and cup games, that coming against the worst side in the Premier League (Aston Villa), while Leicester sit joint top of the table after losing just one of their 14 league games this season.

And to negate the Swansea 'home advantage' angle, Garry Monk's men haven't won on home soil since August, Claudio Ranieri's men haven't lost on the road since they scored three at White Hart Lane in March but conceded four.

It was also surprising to read that Monk doesn't believe that his Swansea side are in a relegation battle. We've got news for him, they are in a relegation battle. How are you supposed to win a fight if you don't even acknowledge that you're in one?

All in all this is a match between two clubs going in completely the opposite directions at the moment, and simply on form we have to be with the away side.

Recommended Bet
Back Leicester to Win @ 2.6413/8

Watford 2.26/5 v Norwich 3.814/5; The Draw 3.613/5

Watford's win at Villa Park last Saturday, their third win in five matches, took them up to 11th in the table, nine points above the relegation zone. A victory here could move Quique Flores' men into the top half of the table, and it will definitely move them nine points above Norwich who currently sit just outside of the drop zone.

So for the Hornets this is a huge game; to move upwards into the top half of the table when most people expect newly-promoted clubs to be heading downwards at this stage of the season would act as a huge boost going into the festive period.

It's been quite evident in recent games that Watford have discovered a way to hit the back of the net, almost two per game since they lost 3-0 to Arsenal. Troy Deeney has four to his name in his last five games while strike partner Odion Ighalo has scored three. As anyone will tell you, having a successful strike partnership at this level, at any level in fact, will usually bring about success.

Success for Flores' men is simply to stay in the league, and that is something I believe Watford will comfortably achieve, unlike Norwich.

Alex Neil's men are doing nothing more than okay at the moment, though perhaps they'll take a lot of confidence from their decent performance against Arsenal in a 1-1 draw last Sunday. But you sense it will be one step forward, two steps back if they follow a point against the Gunners with a defeat at Watford, and therefore there's a lot of pressure on the Canaries to take something from this match.

Watford thoroughly deserve to be favourites to win this encounter however, and given that Norwich have kept just one clean sheet all season I'd make the home side close to even money here, so the 2.26/5 about a home victory makes plenty of appeal.

Recommended Bet
Back Watford to Win @ 2.26/5

West Brom 4.84/1 v Tottenham 1.9420/21; The Draw 3.65

West Brom beat Arsenal 2-1 in their last home game but I'm not so sure they'll have it all their own way against another north London side.

Tottenham are on the longest unbeaten run in the Premier League - 13 games currently - and sit just two points behind the top four, and just four point off top spot.

What has been very impressive is the fact that once again Spurs are mixing domestic football with the Europa League, only this time they seem to have embraced their busy schedule rather than get bogged down by it. They are also beating the teams they ought to beat, like Villa, Bournemouth, and West Ham in recent weeks, while draws against Arsenal and Chelsea show that they are the real deal.

Mauricio Pochettino has assembled one of the most youthful sides in the country, and the high intensity and tremendous work rate he has instilled in them is paying dividends.

So Spurs are in form, and so is Harry Kane. The Lilyhites have won three and drawn one of their last four matches at the Hawthorns, scoring 10 goals in the process, while Kane has scored nine in his last seven matches and scored twice in Tottenham's 0-3 away win over the Baggies last season.

My preference would be to side with a Spurs win in the Match Odds market but West Brom can be very good on their day and have the ability to match most sides at this level. I'm expecting an entertaining affair however, and if that turns out to be the case then I like the chances of Kane maintaining his excellent goalscoring form.

Recommended Bet
Back Harry Kane to Score @ 2.47/5


*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: 85 pts
Returned: 81.16 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%)

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