THERE was no shortage of drama as the Premier League returned to our screens.
Although it finished goalless at Villa Park there was a backlash against technology within 45 minutes, while David Luiz’s horror show at the Etihad helped our bet of the week to come in with Man City winning and more than three goals.
Now to the real stuff though, as a packed weekend schedule gets underway on Friday night with the Red Devils’ trip to North London.
Tottenham vs Man Utd (Friday, 8.15pm)
Mourinho is on a mission.
There’s nothing the Special One hates more than going down again his former clubs – and you can expect Spurs to be up for this from minute one.
The Top Four might be a stretch too far after a disappointing campaign for the North London side, but it was always going to be tough to follow last season’s heroics.
United restart the season four points better off than Spurs, making this one a six-pointer in the dash for the European places.
It doesn’t take a genius to see where Tottenham’s problems have been this season – only Burnley have lost more games in the top half (10) and they’ve conceded a whopping 40 goals in 29 games.
Not very Mourinho-esque.
United have received a huge boost with Odion Ighalo staying with the club on loan until January, while Bruno Fernandes has been a breath of fresh air since arriving in January – on and off the pitch.
With a big summer rebuild ahead, there are hushed voices suggesting good times might be just be around the corner.
Does it start it here though? We’re definitely not taking United to win this, if that’s what you mean.
From looking at the Bundesliga, home and away records count for little in this post-Covid lockdown form of the game.
Since the Fernandes factor kicked in back in January, United have scored on the road at Man City, Chelsea and Everton.
And we reckon they do here too, making both teams to score at 2/3 very tempting.
In what could be a tight game, with both sides finding their feet in the new normal, backing the draw at HT seems a sensible way to play.
That’s a hefty 21/20 and has won on three of the last four times these sides have met.
If you’re after a goalscorer, look no further than Marcus Rashford.
The England youngster has done more than his fair share for charity over the break and appears ready to prove any doubters wrong – he bagged twice against Spurs at Old Trafford, so don’t miss out out if he does it again.
SunSport’s best bets
- Both teams to score: 2/3
- Draw at half time: 21/20
- Marcus Rashford to score at anytime: 7/5
Brighton vs Arsenal (Saturday, 3pm)
Where do you start with this Arsenal team?
After half an hour at Man City, they’d already lost two starters to injury.
By half time, one of their replacements had gifted Raheem Sterling an opener – and five minutes after half-time, he was back in the dressing room after a calamitous red card.
Naming no names of course, eh David?
Brighton have made the Amex a fortress of sorts this season and it’s always a tough place to go, but it remains to be seen just how affected some teams remain by the lack of noise and drive coming from the stands.
And their form before the lockdown was absolutely atrocious.
Graham Potter’s side last won on December 28, and that’s their single Premier League victory in 14 attempts.
Maybe a break was what they needed, but either way they need to start turning draws into wins if they’re to enjoy top-flight football next term.
Arsenal haven’t beaten the Seagulls in any of their last four meetings and were memorably turned over 2-1 at the Emirates back in December.
So this is hardly the side Mikel Arteta will want to meet with a squad seemingly falling apart at the seams – and we haven’t even got started on Mesut Ozil.
Brighton have lost just four of 14 matches at the Amex this season, drawing six.
We really like the look of a stalemate in this one, with the Gunners coming in decimated with injury and suspension.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang didn’t look like his usual self against City, the Ozil situation is muddy and Lacazette looks to be on his way.
Playing it safe, go for Brighton double chance which covers a Seagulls win and a draw.
While six of the last seven H2H’s have seen both teams score – at 7/10 that’s a no brainer in a strong weekend acca.
We reckon Brighton net and as such we’re chasing value on the goalscorer markets.
Neal Maupay is the chief goal threat for Potter’s men and 2/1 anytime is a massive price on a player who has impressed in his debut Premier League season, while he also bagged against Arsenal back in December.
SunSport’s best bets
- Brighton double chance (home win or a draw): 8/13
- Both teams to score at the Amex: 7/10
- Maupay on the scoresheet: 2/1
Aston Villa vs Chelsea (Sunday, 4.15pm)
Time to see whether Chelsea have any post-lockdown Blues.
It was Villa back in action on Wednesday and went toe-to-toe with a tough, organised Sheffield United.
They might have had a helping hand from HawkEye – or lack of it – but Dean Smith’s side were good value for their point.
Even so, time is running out to get out of this mess and home games are crucial.
There’s a certain amount of guesswork about how Chelsea approach this one, but it’s safe to say they looked sharp when putting seven past QPR in a friendly.
That draw against the Blades ending a run of five-straight defeats in all competitions for Villa, while the Blues haven’t won in four on the road.
Despite that poor sequence, Chelsea have been one of the best teams on their travels in the league this season, third only behind Man City and Liverpool.
They’ve won seven of 14 away from the Bridge and in the new normal, we can see their class cutting through.
8/15 is a big price on a Chelsea win and we’re taking that on Sunday.
Both teams have an average of 3.1 goals per game in the Premier League this season, which is the second joint-highest in the whole division.
Basically, back over 2.5 goals with confidence at 4/7 – but we’d even recommend you have a play at 7/5 on four or more goals.
Eleven of Chelsea’s 29 league games this season have seen that happen, including three of their last five.
Tammy Abraham was a huge hit on loan at Villa and a big part of their rise back to the Premier League.
He knows Villa Park well and is 14/5 to open the scoring against his former club. Take that all day long.
SunSport’s best bets
- Over 3.5 goals at Villa Park: 7/5
- Chelsea to beat Villa: 8/13
- Tammy Abraham to net first: 14/5
Everton vs Liverpool
The title party is on hold – but for how long?
After a season of domination, Liverpool are close to confirming their first top-flight title since 1990.
Jurgen Klopp‘s side have swept aside all comers this term and only fell short of going unbeaten when losing to Watford back in February.
Everton under Carlo Ancelotti are a curious beast – plenty of initial bite, but turns into a bit of a softie when you figure out it’s weaknesses.
The Italian desperately needs a summer to shape the squad in his image and we’re not convinced this Toffees side currently have the weapons to worry the Reds.
How they’d love to spoil the party though – but don’t underestimate the lack of a Goodison crowd in this one.
With a full house behind them, perhaps the Blues could up their game enough to give Liverpool something to really think about. But with just stewards and subs watching on? We don’t see it.
Klopp’s side have shown themselves to be thoroughly professional all season and the value here is with a low-scoring Liverpool win.
Three of the last five meetings here have ended 0-0, while the other two featured just three goals between them.
We can see a similar, cagey encounter as the Reds so just enough to take the points – back them with confidence at 4/7 while under 2.5 goals in a huge 23/20.
For a team which has 12 of 14 on the road this term, that odds-on price isn’t too small to turn down.
And we have a strange feeling it will be Roberto Firmino to fire the winner – the Brazilian loves it on the road despite not netting at Anfield this term.
He’s 5/2 to net at anytime, while you can get the same price on Divock Origi who likely won’t start. Get on.
SunSport best bets
- Under 2.5 goals at Goodison: 23/20
- Liverpool to win: 4/7
- Roberto Firmino to net: 5/2
*All odds from Ladbrokes and correct at time of publication.