We had some high-profile skirmishes in the past week in the Premier League, and the forthcoming fixtures will begin to show who is best-prepared for the autumn and winter. If you're checking player and team form carefully, you've probably spotted some great bets. We look at our favorites here in Week 9.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 22
Bournemouth vs. Tottenham Hotspur
Bournemouth had the best game in most of its fans' living memory to beat Hull 6-1 at home last weekend, but there's nothing quite like the visit of Spurs to bring a team back down to Earth. Tottenham has so many options in attack, to compliment an incredibly consistent defence, and even though the team is in Champions League action, this ought to be a result Dele Alli and co can grind out.
Top Bet: 7/4 with BetStars for Vincent Janssen to score anytime
Arsenal vs. Middlesbrough
Middlesbrough continues to struggle in the Premier League, even though a lot of money has been spent on improving the team. it just doesn't seem to have a good enouogh cutting edge up-front, and with Cristhian Struani inconsistent, Alvaro Negredo displaying the same confidence issues he had at Manchester City, and Jordan Rhodes seemingly not fully trusted by manager Aitor Karanka, this is the wrong time for a blunt team to visit Arsenal.
Theo Walcott is flying for the Gunners, and whatever the Champions League result in midweek, this ought to be a game the home side can polish off.
Top Bet: 11/2 with BetVictor for Arsenal to win 2-0
Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace
What has happened to Leicester City? It's not as simple as saying "they've been found out," because the attack is still strong enough to hurt most opposition. It might be that the defence, so solid last season, is being punished for grappling in the box, which is making physical players like Robert Huth nervous.
Palace was going well until last week's 1-0 home defeat to West Ham, but Palace's pace and guile tends to work well away from home, and with Leicester likely not to rotate too heavily after the Champions League encounter with Copenhagen in midweek, Alan Pardew's side might encounter a tired team at the King Power Stadium.
Top Bet: 5/2 with Betfred for a draw
West Ham United vs. Sunderland
This is still a battle at the lower reaches of the table, but it's possible to sense that, after West Ham stuck with Slaven Bilic through the international break, the tide might be turning for what was a very sound team last season. No side finishes seventh without having a lot of class, and West Ham still possesses the attacking options to take the game to most Premier League teams on its day.
It's in defence that the problems lie, especially with Aaron Cresswell suspended for his red card last week, adding to the Hammers' left-back problems. Sunderland hasn't looked particularly sharp, but as long as ex-Hammer Jermain Defoe is playing for the Black Cats, goals are possible. This could be a score draw.
Top Bet: 12/5 with Unibet for Jermain Defoe to score anytime
Hull City vs. Stoke City
Stoke really got its act together against a woeful Sunderland last Saturday, winning 2-0 to bring a different feeling to the dressing room. The Potters' season usually only starts for real in October, and Mark Hughes teams always take an age to get going, for some reason.
There's every reason to suspect that a team with this quality, and with Bruno Martins Indi looking more settled in central defence alongside Ryan Shawcross, can keep the momentum going against a Hull side that is reeling from being thrashed by Bournemouth.
Top Bet: 8/5 with Paddy Power for a Stoke win
Swansea City vs. Watford
Bob Bradley arrived at Swansea with credentials from coaching teams all over the world to be better than the sums of their parts, having managed in MLS, the Norwegian League, France, and also for the US and Egyptian national sides. However, this is a playing group that represents a step up for the redoubtable new Swansea coach, and he's got some adapting to do.
Walter Manzarri seems to have found his feet with Watford, the 1-0 win over Middlesbrough finally bringing the Hornets a clean sheet, but also bring a goal for the excellent Jose Holebas. Troy Deeney is in fine form, and this will be a close game at the Liberty Stadium.
Top Bet: 16/1 with BetVictor for a half-time/full-time result of Watford/draw
Burnley vs. Everton
Burnley has already beaten Everton's city rival Liverpool at home, and while it's fanciful to believe Sean Dyche's team will breach Ronald Koeman's well-marshalled defence too often, there are good odds for a draw, which certainly is possible at Turf Moor, a small ground which is difficult for the so-called "big clubs" to get a result at.
Top Bet: 11/4 with Betway for a draw
Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion
After the diabolical match against Manchester United on Monday, Liverpool's optimistic fans return to Anfield for the visit of West Brom, a side who, like a kind of less-expensive United, like to defend deep and wait for the break. It's exactly the kind of team that Liverpool in its current guise seems to find difficult to break down, and after West Brom got a result against Spurs, who press similarly to Liverpool, it's looking like the points might be shared again here.
Top Bet: 11/2 with Bet365 for a draw
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23
Manchester City vs. Southampton
Claude Puel took a few games to get his first win as Southampton manager, but, inheriting a well-organised team from Ronald Koeman, he has not meddled with the style of football, and a miserly seven goals conceded says that, defensively, this is one of the toughest teams to break down.
The trouble is, City loves playing against smooth, passing-orientated sides like Southampton, and on the wide pitch at the Etihad, there is a dizzying array of players who will be looking for space. Although it would be good for the league to have Southampton grab a point, this looks more like a narrow City win.
Top Bet: 13/8 with Betway for a one-goal victory either way
Chelsea vs. Manchester United
United went to Liverpool and played the kind of spoiling, hard-to-love football that Sit Alex Ferguson never liked when he was in charge at the club. Jose Mourinho is all about getting results at all costs, though. The former Chelsea manager will be aware of the theatre of the occasion, and will bring a team that had to play in the Europa League on Thursday, to play a Chelsea side that has had no European games to worry about, and so could recover in peace.
Diego Costa will be doing his best to wind up the United defence and the fans, Eden Hazard loves these big games, and Chelsea should have enough in the tank to grab the narrowest of home wins over its former title-winning boss and his new team.
Top Bet: 17/2 with BetVictor for Chelsea to win 1-0