Our betting expert with tips for Vieira against Benitez, Covid-ravaged Leicester vs Newcastle and West Ham at injury-hit Burnley PLUS the Madrid derby
Image: AFP via Getty Images)
Punters should watch the ball, not the ballyhoo.
The big noise is that Crystal Palace have been transformed under Patrick Vieira. They are sparkier, more front-foot than in the Royball era. They won at the Etihad! Christian Benteke scored against Arsenal!
But the truth is Roy Hodgson won at the Etihad too. And at Old Trafford and the Emirates.
Some Palace outcomes HAVE changed. Benteke scored seven goals in his last 16 Royball games. He has four in 16 for Vieira.
Royball had delivered 18 points and one clean sheet at this stage last season. It’s 16 points now – but four clean sheets.
Both ‘models’ – last year’s trundling Hillman Hodgson and the all-new turbo-charged Vieira Cosworth – produced 19 goals in their opening 15 PL games. Odd.
The Rafa Benitez reboot at Goodison is not getting rave reviews like Vieira, but he’s timed his run for the purse-strings perfectly, and the curve is heading upwards.
What Rafa arguably always delivers is a strong set-piece attack and an initially shambolic set-piece defence.
So try a revved-up Richarlison ‘anytime’ at 13/5 (Unibet), and ’Benteke to score with a header’ at 5/1 (BetVic) – seven of the mighty Belgian’s last 14 PL goals were off his mighty swede.
After Thursday’s defeat in Napoli, Leicester must join the Europa Conference League – the kids table at UEFA’s merry feast of all-you-can-stomach football.
They’ll be fighting over the chicky nug-nugs with the likes of Roma, assuming the Foxes get through the musical-chairs round.
Visitors Newcastle (2pm) have the set-piece game to upset the Covid-ravaged hosts. Take the Toon WIN or DRAW at 23/20 (Hills), and punt Jamaal Lascelles at 20/1 (Paddy) ‘anytime scorer’.
Poor Maxwell Cornet has blown a brisk raspberry at Burnley’s chances of staying up, according to some prematurely gloomy Clarets fans.
The Ivorian ace was looking like a contender for ‘bargain buy of the season’ – but is now a major injury doubt ahead of West Ham’s visit (2pm).
That leaves Burnley very goal-lite even by their standards, and tips the coin-flip our way on NO ‘both teams to score’ at 5/4 (BetVic).
Over in La Liga, the Madrid derby (8pm) will be a war, but the 1X2 value looks to be in the Real Madrid WIN at 11/10 (Fred, Hills), pitting their in-form attack against Atletico’s wobbling rearguard.
Last week: Winners at 11/8 and 5/6