DESPITE plenty of action around the grounds, week six of Premier League 2015-16 was all about the goings on at Stamford Bridge and Eastlands.
Chelsea finally claimed their first home win of the season, downing Arsenal 2-0 in a heated affair which saw the Gunners reduced to nine men.
It came at a price, however, with star striker Diego Costa receiving a three-match ban on charges of violent conduct in the lead-up to Arsenal defender Gabriel’s dismissal.
But the biggest result of the weekend went down at the Etihad, as West Ham United added another flamboyant feather to their cap by ending Manchester City’s undefeated run.
The Hammers have now beaten Arsenal, Liverpool and Man City on the road, but can they notch a second straight home win this weekend when they tackle Norwich City at Upton Park?
Here are our top picks for the upcoming round, including value odds for every fixture in matchday seven of the English Premier League.
Leicester $4 to beat Arsenal at the Emirates
Arsenal vs Leicester City – 3:00pm local time on Saturday, September 26
Six weeks down, who’d have thought Leicester City would be the only undefeated team in the English top-flight?
The Foxes looked set to lose that claim last week when Stoke City went 2-0 up inside 20 minutes, but a second-half resurgence saw them leave the Potteries with a point in tow.
They currently sit fourth, with three wins and three draws, but can Claudio Ranieri and company keep that streak intact when they face fifth-placed Arsenal on Saturday?
Online bookmaker CrownBet.com has Leicester as $4 outsiders for the win, while the draw is also paying $4 at William Hill.
Arsenal ($1.85 at WilliamHill.com) were done in by Chelsea last weekend, and they will have to face the Foxes without midfield star Santi Cazorla following his red card at Stamford Bridge.
Francis Coquelin (swollen knee) is also out of action, which leaves the Gunners without two of their hardest-working players in the middle of the park.
But key defender Per Mertesacker should return after a layoff with illness, while Gabriel may also be available after his three-match ban for kicking out at Diego Costa was overturned upon appeal.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will need more output from the likes of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, who failed to contribute anything of note in the defeat at Chelsea.
We love a fairytale here, and we were filthy we didn’t stick with our gut and pick West Ham to upset Man City last week.
As such, we’re rooting for Leicester to keep the good times rolling.
– Leicester City to win or draw ($2 at Bet365)
– Both teams to score in first half ($4.10 at CrownBet)
– Riyad Mahrez to score anytime ($3.75 at Sportsbet)
Humbled Man City look to bounce back at Spurs
Tottenham Hotspur vs Manchester City – 12:45pm local time on Saturday, September 26
We said last week that Manchester City ($1.94 at www.CrownBet.com) were looking a little bit listless following the international break, and their home defeat to West Ham rather proved our point.
Can Tottenham Hotspur ($4.20 at William Hill) take advantage of this mini-slump when the Citizens come to visit Saturday lunchtime?
Spurs have won their last two fixtures, downing both Sunderland and Crystal Palace by 1-0 margins, but the lack of striking power has to be a concern.
The Lilywhites are averaging less than a goal per game so far this season, with only five successful strikes in six outings.
There’s also the fact that England forward Harry Kane, who bagged 21 Premier League goals last term, has yet to open his account in 2015-16.
On the flip side, Mauricio Pochettino’s men have conceded only four to date, which marks a big improvement on what was one of last season’s leakiest defences.
They will have to maintain those high standards if they wish to trouble a Man City side looking to reassert itself as the team to beat.
The Citizens have had their own issues in front of goal, with Wilfried Bony and Sergio Aguero some ways short of their best in recent outings.
But Manuel Pellegrini’s charges found their shooting boots during the week, defeating Sunderland 4-1 to progress to the next round of the League Cup.
Mega-money arrivals Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne both got on the score sheet in that game, and the two wingers be the ones to watch out for at White Hart Lane.
A brief glance at the recent head-to-head record shows that while Tottenham once dominated this fixture, they have lost eight of their last nine meetings with City.
Even worse, the Mancunians have averaged more than three goals per game in that period.
With Spurs lacking firepower and real superstar quality through the midfield, we’re backing Man City to return to winning ways at the Lane.
– Manchester City to win ($1.94 at CrownBet)
– Correct score 3-1 to Man City ($15 at Bet365)
– Kevin De Bruyne to score first goal ($8 at Sportsbet)
Benteke $4.40 favourite to score first against Aston Villa
Liverpool vs Aston Villa – 3:00pm local time on Saturday, September 26
Christian Benteke’s new life at Liverpool hasn’t exactly gone to plan so far, with only two goals (one dubious, one stunning) and two wins from his first six EPL appearances.
Yet online sportsbook CrownBet.com has pegged the Belgian striker as the $4.40 frontrunner to open the scoring against his old side, Aston Villa, this weekend.
The towering target-man had a handy knack of finding the net against Liverpool during time with the Villains, so Brendan Rodgers and company will be hoping he can now return the favour.
Just behind Benteke in the first goalscorer markets is Daniel Sturridge ($4.60 at CrownBet), who returned from a long-term hip injury in last week’s 1-1 draw with Norwich.
Danny Ings opened his Liverpool account in that game, and Sportsbet.com has the former Burnley man down as a juicy $6 chance to repeat the dose by netting the first at Anfield this Saturday.
The big question is how (or if) they will line up, as there are growing concerns about whether any combination of Benteke, Sturridge and Ings will produce optimal results.
Rodgers had better figure it out soon, as the Liverpool boss is among the favourites to become the first manager to leave his post in 2015-16.
But his opposite number, Tim Sherwood, also needs to pull his finger out, with Aston Villa ($7.50 at www.Sportsbet.com) sitting just one point outside the drop zone after four defeats in their last five games.
That shocker run includes winnable fixtures against the likes of Sunderland and West Brom, so the Villains can hardly blame a tough early draw.
And without Benteke leading the line, it’s hard to see the Birmingham club getting anything out of their trip to Merseyside this time around.
Norwich proved last week that Liverpool ($1.46 at CrownBet) can be held at home, but it’s way past time for the Reds to snap out of their funk and claim a regulation W.
– Liverpool to win 2-0 ($7.50 at Bet365)
– Liverpool to lead at half-time and full-time ($2.24 at CrownBet)
– Philippe Coutinho to score first goal ($6.50 at Sportsbet)
More value odds for EPL Matchday 7
All dates listed according to British Standard Time (BST)
Saturday, September 26
Manchester United – $1.25 (Sportsbet)
Draw – $6.50 (Bet365)
Sunderland – $13 (CrownBet)
Southampton – $2.10 (William Hill)
Draw – $3.50 (Bet365)
Swansea City – $3.80 (CrownBet)
Stoke City – $2.62 (Sportsbet)
Draw – $3.30 (Luxbet)
Bournemouth – $2.80 (William Hill)
West Ham United – $2.20 (William Hill)
Draw – $3.40 (CrownBet)
Norwich City – $3.40 (Bet365)
Newcastle United – $5.50 (Sportsbet)
Draw – $4 (William Hill)
Chelsea – $1.67 (CrownBet)
Sunday, September 27
Watford – $2.50 (Sportsbet)
Draw – $3.30 (Bet365)
Crystal Palace – $3 (William Hill)
Monday, September 28
West Bromwich Albion – $3.20 (William Hill)
Draw – $3.35 (CrownBet)
Everton – $2.40 (Sportsbet)
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