Manchester City look to have a golden opportunity to add to their impressive recent goal tally on Saturday afternoon but all eyes will be on Sergio Aguero to see if he will make history. Mike Norman delivers his 3pm tipsheet...
"Pep Guardiola's men will eventually make the breakthrough, and if it comes early enough then they could run in another big number to add to their recent 5-0, 4-0, and 6-0 victories."
(Significant Opta Stat: Sergio Aguero has scored 14 goals and assisted five more in his 17 Premier League appearances since the start of March 2017.)
As the above Opta stat suggests, Sergio Aguero is arguably in the form of his life right now. His partnership with Gabriel Jesus in attack is devastating - the pair have scored an incredible nine goals between them in their last three games paired together - and with Kevin de Bruyne also in scintillating form, it's impossible to envisage City not scoring three or four at least against goal-shy Crystal Palace.
Aguero is just two goals away from equalling the club's all-time goalscoring record, currently held by Eric Brook on 177 goals. I doubt the brilliant Argentine himself would have hand-picked a better fixture to break that record than Saturday's home game against the Eagles.
Palace are in awful form, and barring an excellent six weeks under Sam Allardyce that helped preserve their Premier League status, they've been in awful form for a very long time.
The Eagles were among the worst professional teams in English football during the whole of 2016 based on points per game, and they've started this season in even worse fashion - five league games played, five defeats, no points, no goals scored. It already appears that Roy Hodgson needs a miracle to save them from the drop.
Man City should be licking their lips at the prospect of facing Palace on Saturday. I just can't see any way that Hodgson can set his men up to try and stifle the Citizens. Pep Guardiola's men will eventually make the breakthrough, and if it comes early enough then they could run in another big number to add to their recent 5-0, 4-0, and 6-0 victories.
There's a ruthlessness about City since the international break. Guardiola appears to have finally settled on a formation, and it's one that is bringing the best out of many of his players, none more so than Aguero.
I'd love the 29-year-old to break the record on Saturday in front of his own fans, but to do that he needs to score at least a hat-trick. I wouldn't bet against it though, he'll be on penalty duty and in this form, City in this form, he's worth a punt at 10/1.
But the main bet has to be City to record another emphatic win. They're 6/5 on the Sportsbook to win by at least three goals, and that's a very fair price.
Back Man City -2 @ to Win @ 6/5 (best bet)
Back Sergio Aguero to Score a Hat-trick @ 10/1
(Significant Opta Stat: Southampton have failed to score in eight of their last 10 Premier League matches at St Mary's.)
The Opta stat above is quite damning. Any team can go through a poor run of form where they can't buy a goal, whether it be either at home, away, or a combination of both. But when it goes on as long as it has for Southampton then there has to be something in it.
My own view is that the Saints are in decline. And by that I mean they're just not as good as they where when they were regularly finishing in the top eight. I believe they'll do extremely well to finish top half of the table this season, especially if their home form doesn't dramatically improve.
Mauricio Pellegrino's men have actually failed to score a single goal in front of their own fans in nine of their last 11 matches in all competitions, and when you consider that among the teams that have shut them out include relegated Hull, Championship outfit Wolves, and the likes of Watford, Swansea, Stoke, and Bournemouth then it doesn't make for great reading.
Manchester United are the visitors to St Mary's on Saturday, a team that has recorded six clean sheets from its last eight matches, so it's a pleasant surprise to see Jose Mourinho's men available to back at 13/10 to record yet another clean sheet, and make it 10 games from 12 matches that Southampton haven't scored on home soil.
United did concede two in their last away game at Stoke of course, so that's a concern, but generally they've been very solid defensively with Phil Jones playing superbly, and Eric Bailly coming on bundles in his second season at the club.
But this basically boils down to the Saints. If they don't raise their game considerably for the visit of one of the title contenders then I don't see them breaking that horrible run of form they are on in front of their home fans, and I'd fancy United to win without conceding.
Back Manchester United Win to Nil @ 15/8 (Sportsbook)
(Significant Opta Stat: Mark Hughes will be facing Chelsea for the 24th time in the Premier League as a manager; he has lost more times (15), and conceded more goals (43) against the Blues than any other club.)
Stoke have started the season well at the Bet365 Stadium, beating Arsenal and drawing with Manchester United, so you'd be forgiven for thinking they have a good record on home soil against the 'big six' clubs.
Don't be fooled. Mark Hughes' men generally pick up their home points by beating clubs other than the big six; in fact that narrow victory over the Gunners last month was the only time Stoke have beaten one of the big boys on home soil in 10 attempts.
And an even more damning statistic is that last season the Potters failed to win at home against Everton (7th), Southampton (8th), Bournemouth (9th), West Brom (10th), West Ham (11th), and Leicester (12th), meaning they didn't record a single home victory over any of the 12 clubs that finished above them.
It just so happens also that Hughes has a dreadful record as a manager against Saturday's visitors Chelsea so there are a lot of pointers towards an away win. But then odds of [1.66] about a Blues victory tell us that's the most likely outcome, and that's not a price that I like to put up in this column.
So let's take a chance on Antonio Conte's men leading at half time before securing all three points, just like they have in all five of their victories this season.
Chelsea have scored 17 goals in winning five matches so far this term, and nine of those goals have been scored in the first half, suggesting Conte's men can often be fast out of the blocks. And with Eden Hazard fit again - he was superb against Nottm Forest on Wednesday night - then I'm confident the Blues can lead at the interval again before claiming the win.
Back Chelsea HT/Chelsea FT @ [2.7]
You can follow me on Twitter - @MikkyMo73
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Premier League 2017/18 Season P/L
Staked: 20 pts
Returned: 20.58 pts
P/L: +0.58 pts
*based on 1pt each bet, 2pts best bet
- 2016/17 P/L = +42.63 pts from 160 pts staked (26.64% ROI)
- 2015/16 P/L = +14.99 pts from 234 pts staked (6.4% ROI)
- 2014/15 P/L = +35.30 pts from 215 pts staked (16.42% ROI)