Premier League 3pm Kick-Offs: Goalless draw a big player in early-season relegation battle

Hopefully Redknapp will have little to smile about on Saturday
Hopefully Redknapp will have little to smile about on Saturday

There are half a dozen games kicking off at the traditional time of 3pm on Saturday afternoon and Mike Norman, using a combination of Opta stats, current form, and his own thoughts, has previewed them all...

"The Foxes are without a win in seven matches, and in six of those games they failed to score a single goal, while for QPR it's just one win in nine meaning they sit bottom of the Premier League table currently."

Back 0-0 Correct Score @ 11.521/2


Burnley 2.245/4 v Aston Villa 3.7511/4; The Draw 3.412/5

I never for one moment thought that during this Premier League season I'd be saying that Burnley are strong favourites to make it three wins on the bounce. But that's exactly what we have here, and for me it highlights just how low on quality the Premier League is becoming. But that's a story for another day.

Take nothing away from the Clarets; they took advantage of an out-of-form Hull side and the win they secured over the Tigers obviously provided Sean Dyche's men with a huge lift, enough for them to go to Stoke last Saturday and record their first away win of the season.

Villa meanwhile are now eight league games without a win and they've taken just two points from the last 24 available, scoring a miserly two goals in the process.

Paul Lambert's men have scored just two goals on their travels all season and they continue to be one of the poorest sides in the country when it comes to recording shots on target.

I really don't see any reason to desert Burnley here - and that's something else I didn't think I'd be saying this season - especially as Opta tell us that they've lost none of their last 13 home matches against Villa.

I'm not confident at all, but it's just impossible to make a case for Villa, and rightly so the Under 2.5 Goals option is priced at 1.664/6 which is not my idea of a price I like to recommend.

Recommended Bet
Back Burnley to Win @ 2.245/4


Liverpool 1.758/11 v Stoke 5.59/2; The Draw 4.03/1

Laying Liverpool at odds-on has been a tremendous way to profit this season but repeating that strategy here could lead to burnt fingers.

Admittedly it's hard to be extremely confident about the Reds winning for the first time in five league games but a home match against Stoke offers a great opportunity.

True, Mark Hughes' men have been decent on the road this term, winning at both Manchester City and Tottenham, but they come into this game on the back of a very disappointing loss to Burnley, and what's more, they have a horrendous record at Anfield.

The Potters have failed to win at Liverpool in their last 29 league visits, and they've taken just four points from a possible 87 in that sequence. Suddenly, confidence in a home victory rises dramatically.

But I'm going elsewhere for my wager in this match as Opta tell us that Rickie Lambert has scored in three of his four games against Stoke. Providing he starts - and I see no reason why he won't following goals in his last two starts for the Reds - then he looks a decent bet to get on the scoresheet again.

Recommended Bet
Back Rickie Lambert To Score @ 2.89/5


Manchester United 1.331/3 v Hull 12.011/1; The Draw 5.85/1

Despite United being strong favourites to win this game we're getting a decent price about them to win without conceding because of their defensive frailties, but it was a wager that paid out for us when they beat Crystal Palace 1-0 and it's a bet worth repeating.

In fact, United haven't conceded more than once in a game at Old Trafford since the opening day of the season - they've kept two clean sheets in that time and they restricted in-form West Ham, Everton, and free-scoring Chelsea to just one goal apiece.

So maybe their defence - whoever lines up in it - isn't as bad as we make it out to be.

United certainly defended well for the last 60 minutes at Arsenal last weekend and it's fair to say that Hull should present far less of a goalscoring threat than any side the Red Devils have faced in the last few months.

The Tigers are without a win in five Premier League games, and they've hit the back of the net just once in the last four of those matches. Another clean sheet for Louis van Gaal's men looks a distinct possibility.

Recommended Bet
Back Man Utd Win to Nil @ 2.26/5


QPR 2.447/5 v Leicester 3.39/4; The Draw 3.45

This is a huge game for both clubs involved and I wouldn't be surprised at all if they cancelled each other out. The goalless draw is a massive player in my eyes.

I very nearly went for 0-0 in last weekend's game involving Leicester and Sunderland (instead I went for Under 1.5 Goals at a still rewarding 3.711/4) but much of what I thought ahead of that game still rings true for this encounter.

And by that I mean that we have two poor sides in opposition, two teams that don't score many goals, that are relatively out of form, and above all else, will be petrified of losing this game.

The Foxes are without a win in seven matches, and in six of those games they failed to score a single goal, while for QPR it's just one win in nine meaning they sit bottom of the Premier League table currently.

Many will point to the fact that Harry Redknapp's men score plenty at Loftus Road, but against the likes of Liverpool and Man City it was almost like a free game, they weren't expected to win and they could go out and play with little pressure. This game will be totally different.

Of course, it only takes a sending off, an own goal, a moment of magic etc to spoil the bet, but that's why the 0-0 is priced at 11.521/2 and not much shorter, but if this games goes how I expect it to then I'm expecting a very cagey affair with little goalmouth action.

Recommended Bet
Back 0-0 Correct Score @ 11.521/2
(best bet)


Swansea 1.834/5 v Crystal Palace 5.24/1; The Draw 3.7511/4

This looks like a home banker. Swansea have been terrific at the Liberty Stadium all season with six wins and a draw from their eight league and cup outings.

Even when losing narrowly, and late on, to Southampton - largely due to the fact that they had to play most of the game with 10 men - Garry Monk's side were arguably the better team, and they responded brilliantly to the loss by thrashing Everton 3-0 in their very next home game.

Fresh from a home victory over Arsenal, and with Opta telling us that they have an excellent recent record against Palace (won four and drew two of the last six meetings), Swansea look a decent bet to record another win at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

True, Crystal Palace beat Liverpool last weekend at Selhurst Park but away from home they are yet to record a clean sheet in the league this season, and they've conceded an average of exactly two goals per game on the road.

Recommended Bet
Back Swansea to Win @ 1.834/5


West Ham 2.186/5 v Newcastle 3.7511/4; The Draw 3.613/5

After a terrific run of form West Ham have now gone three games without a win, and on the face of it trailing 2-0 at Stoke (before rescuing a point) given how the Potters are performing on home soil, and failing to beat out-of-form Aston Villa, were perhaps signs that Sam Allardyce's men had just gone off the boil.

Losing narrowly at Everton last weekend was far from a disgrace however given that they had four or five key players absent through injury (Diafra Sakho, Enner Valencia, Stewart Downing, Alex Song and Cheikhou Kouyate), and providing two or three of those return on Saturday then I envisage the Hammers performing well.

In opposition however is one of the Premier League's in-form sides. Newcastle have now racked up six wins on the bounce in all competitions including wins at Tottenham and Manchester City. For a few hours on Saturday, quite remarkably, the Magpies were in a Champions League qualifying position.

Confidence couldn't be higher amongst Alan Pardew's men, and with Opta stating that Newcastle have a good record against the Hammers (lost just two of their last 17 Premier League encounters) I can see them taking at least a point from the Boleyn Ground and wouldn't put anyone off backing them to win.

But I'm expecting this to be an entertaining game between two sides with a lot of belief at present, and being able to back Over 2.5 Goals at a shade over evens looks appealing.

Recommended Bet
Back Over 2.5 Goals @ 2.021/1


Premier League 2014/15 Season P/L

Staked: 64 pts
Returned: 65.48 pts
P/L: + 1.48 pts

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

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