Premier League Betting Pointers: Will Rodgers be counting the cost of rotation?

Can he afford not to play his strongest XI in the league?
Can he afford not to play his strongest XI in the league?

Dan Thomas and Mike Norman review the weekend's Premier League fixtures and provide five betting pointers based on what they've seen...

1) Rotation could prove costly for Liverpool's top four ambitions

After Liverpool's shock home defeat to Aston Villa, manager Brendan Rodgers had this to say when asked why he rested Raheem Sterling: "We have got a big couple of months coming up and, looking at that, I thought this game was one where I could rest him. If he had not played international football for England last week that would not have been the case."

Rodgers added that Sterling will definitely play against Ludogorets in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

With Daniel Sturridge already out through injury, 'resting' Sterling because he had played for England five days previous seemed a bizarre decision and it seems that Rodgers is already falling into the trap of saving his best team for European competition.

Liverpool have a home game against arguably the weakest team in the Champions League in midweek and surely resting Sterling for that game would have been the sensible option. Rodgers will do well to remember that while the hunger to do well in Europe must be huge, they only realistic way of playing Champions League football next season is by finishing in the top four of the Premier League.

If Rodgers doesn't learn from Saturday's loss to Villa and continues to rest players ahead of midweek Champions League games then Liverpool have to be a lay in the Top 4 Finish market at 1.748/11.

2) United will be entertaining - but don't read too much into QPR win

Old Trafford felt like a happy place on Sunday with new boys Angel Di Maria and Danny Blind highly impressive in midfield, fans getting their first sighting of Radamel Falcao - even supposedly 'forgotten man' Juan Mata got on the scoresheet.

Louis van Gaal described the performance as a 'new start' and there might be a temptation to think United are worth backing to win the majority of their games now, but Spurs fans can tell you that beating this QPR side doesn't actually mean much right now - the west Londoners were abject.

But, as Mike Norman said in his match preview, the 'overs' market in United games should be fruitful ground for punters with their attacking talent and continued concerns about the back four.

Over 3.5 Goals in their next Premier League encounter, away at Leicester, should trade at around 3.02/1. as Sunday approaches.

3) Newcastle are in real trouble

Plenty of pundits - including on these pages - felt Southampton would struggle this season after selling off so many of their big players in the summer, but they have made an encouraging start to the season and looked sharp in their 4-0 win over Newcastle on Saturday.

In contrast, there's little to be encouraged about at Newcastle right now and Alan Pardew is surely teetering on the brink after their capitulation at St Mary's, where the away support made their feelings about the manager very clear indeed.

As Michael Linton reports today, Pardew still has the backing of Mike Ashley, for now, but when the players stop playing for the manager - as appears to be the case here - it's hard to recover. Hull City look big at 4.1 to pile on the pressure with a win at St James Park on Saturday.

4) Chelsea look a class apart

We are often told about how it can take around six months for a foreign player to settle into the hustle and bustle of the Premier League. Well, Diego Costa didn't get that memo. The Spaniard has exploded into life with an incredible seven goals in four games, helping Chelsea to a 100% record which has seen their Premier League winner price shorten to just 1.845/6 - in September!

The Blues face their first real test of the season on Sunday when they visit Man City. A price of 3.052/1 on a repeat of last season's win at the Etihad certainly has appeal.

5) Leicester will be no pushovers

After their excellent 1-0 win at Stoke on Saturday, Leicester are now as big as 5.79/2 to be relegated this season, having been matched a low of 2.3211/8 and it's easy to see why the market has confidence in the east Midlanders. Nigel Pearson's men have conceded just five goals so far; some achievement given they have faced the might of Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal as well as the Potters. As alluded to already, it might prove difficult to keep Manchester United out next weekend, but the signs for the season are positive.

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