Aston Villa vs. Wigan
Back Kone to be first goalscorer (EW) @8-1
Villa are clearly in disarray. While there is little insight to be gained from stating the obvious it is worth pointing out that that their injury list is catastrophic. Paul Lambert will do well to salvage what little confidence his young team has left after two successive maulings at the hands of Chelsea and Tottenham. Wigan are in not much better shape but they can be at least fancied to score at Villa Park this afternoon. Kone has managed to score 5 times in the league thus far and remains Wigan’s most likely route to goal. He was perhaps a little unlucky against Arsenal before Christmas and the way he hangs on the shoulder of the last defender makes him an ever present threat. It can be recalled that he also gave Tottenham a torrid time in the game Wigan won at White Hart Lane. His conversion rate of 1 in 10 is par for the division and Wigan are likely to muster close to their season average of 12 attempts at goal this afternoon.
Fulham vs. Swansea
Back Under 2.5 goals @5-6
Back Senderos to be first goalscorer (EW) @40-1
Both teams approach this game winless in their last three games, with goalscoring being an issue for both sides in that period. The injury to Michu will naturally be of great concern to Swansea. Despite Laudrup’s assertation that they are not a one man side, the Spaniard is responsible for almost half of their league goals this season. With both sides happy to keep possession in their own half, it is reasonable to expect a slow burning affair with few goals. Where opportunities could arise are in set piece situations. Senderos’ reintroduction to the side and consequential aerial presence could be key to this. The each way part of the first goalscorer bet still pays handsomely and is worth some attention.
Manchester United vs. West Brom
Back Over 3.5 goals @11-10
Back Van Persie to be first goalscorer (EW) @3-1
Manchester United face a WBA side that has returned to form following a string of three defeats. Both teams will need to reshuffle at the back; West Brom due to an injury to key defender Jonas Olsson and United as a result of their poor defensive display against Newcastle. From the home and away tables this season it is clear to see that The Baggies remain strongest at home. Away from The Hawthorns they concede an average of 18 goal attempts per game. Considering United are averaging less than 6 attempts per goal at home this season, the potential for scoring at Old Trafford today is high. The epitome of this clinical finishing is no doubt in the form of Van Persie and again the each way part of the first goalscorer bet pays greater than the corresponding anytime price. At the other end, the aforementioned reshuffle in United’s defence could lead to chances for the away side and cement value in the goal market price.
Arsenal vs. Newcastle
Back Walcott to be first goalscorer (EW) @5-1
Game Stats Markets
Back Over 3 match cards @8-5
Arsenal will be at full strength for the visit of an injury ravaged Newcastle side and will be far fresher having not played in midweek. Walcott will hope to resume his preferred position at the head of The Gunners’ attack and his pace could be potentially damaging to any tired legs in the Magpies’ defence. This fixture has a history of high card counts with little love lost between the two sides. Today’s fixture is likely to follow the same pattern with genuine pace at either end and tiredness adding credence to the card market bet. It could prove to be a busy day for referee Chris Foy who has already shown 5 yellow cards in a previous Newcastle league fixture this season.