The international break proved costly for Manchester City, who may be without Stevan Jovetic for the foreseeable future after the striker picked up a hamstring injury whilst on duty with Montenegro.
That leaves the champions with just Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero, who Manuel Pellegrini is nursing back to full fitness, as recognised striking options for this week’s tricky trip to Arsenal.
By contrast, the Gunners are looking in ruder health in attack after their much-maligned new signing Danny Welbeck struck twice in England’s impressive victory against Switzerland and that, coupled with City’s shock home reverse to Stoke last time out, suggests Arsene Wenger’s men are overpriced at 2/1 with Stan James ahead of the Emirates Stadium showdown.
Certainly City appear too skinny at 7/5 via Paddy Power and although a stalemate, priced by William Hill at 13/5, isn’t out of the question, at the odds the hosts look like the value bet.
Nevertheless, it’s hard to envisage anything but a close affair despite Arsenal’s 3-0 Community Shield triumph over the same opponents last month and a case can be made for them to shade it by one at 16/5 (Ladbrokes).
Meanwhile, in a match that’s odds-on at 8/13 courtesy of BetVictor to see both teams get on the scoresheet, bet365’s 11/1 about a 2-1 Gunners triumph might attract speculative cash and Skybet price Danny Welbeck at an enticing 6/1 to follow up Monday’s brace with the opening goal here.
Liverpool suffered their own bad luck during the international lay-off, as Daniel Sturridge was ruled out with a thigh problem but it’s not expected to cause the Reds too many problems at Anfield, where they’re just 1/4 at Stan James to get the better of Aston Villa (12/1, BetVictor).
Brendan Rodgers’ charges should dominate proceedings, bet365 quoting them at 8/11 to be in front at the end of each half and they’re worth considering at 7/10 in betway’s handicaps, when starting a goal in arrears.
The only two teams with maximum points, Chelsea and Swansea, face off at Stamford Bridge but it’s the Blues that should retain their 100 per cent record, Stan James making them 2/7 to send the Swans back to South Wales empty-handed.
More, appealing however, is bet365’s 10/11 for Chelsea’s in-form marksman Diego Costa to notch at any stage.
At Old Trafford on Sunday, Manchester United have the perfect opportunity to register their first victory, Skybet installing them as 2/7 favourites to see off QPR and it’s a generous 21/20 (betway) for Louis van Gaal’s side to prevail ‘to nil’ against goal-shy Rangers.
Tottenham and Everton, meanwhile, are 11/10 (BetVictor) and 23/20 (William Hill) to rack up away wins at Sunderland and West Brom respectively, Paddy Power pricing the pair at 7/2 in a double, and Winner.com go 4/5 about Southampton defeating Newcastle at St Mary’s.
In the three remaining matches, Hull and West Ham are 23/10 at Stan James to share the spoils, it’s 23/10 via bet365 to be inconclusive as Crystal Palace entertain Burnley and 23/10 is also the price, this time with Ladbrokes, for Stoke and Leicester to be inseparable at the Britannia Stadium.
St Helens wasted their chance to clinch the league leader’s shield as they went down to Warrington in Super League last week but they still have a two-point lead at the summit and know that victory in the final round of fixtures will see them claim top spot.
However, they won’t find it easy at Huddersfield and indeed the Giants look good value at 11/10 (bet365) to secure a victory and leave Saints sweating.
That could leave the door open for Castleford, who are 11/8 via Skybet to overcome Catalans Dragons on Saturday. The Tigers also benefit from a four-point start at 10/11 in the same firm’s handicaps.
In the NFL finally, many people’s fancies for the Superbowl, Denver can cover a 13-point spread at odds of 20/21 (BetVictor) as they take on Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday evening.
And in the early hours of Monday, San Francisco 49ers are 21/20 with Paddy Power to defeat Chicago Bears by more than seven.
Bet of the week: Castelford to be regular season winners – 3/1 (BetVictor).
Odds supplied by www.betrescue.com