The international break proved costly for Liverpool, who are now without Daniel Sturridge for the foreseeable future after the striker picked up an injury while preparing for England’s Euro 2016 qualifier in Switzerland on Monday.
Nevertheless, bookies don’t expect his absence to affect the Reds in the short term as Brendan Rodgers’s troops are strong favourites to bag all three points at the expense of Aston Villa as the Premier League returns on Saturday.
Paddy Power post just 2/7 against a Liverpool triumph at Anfield, where the Villans are as high as 12/1 with BetVictor to cause a major upset and bet365 offer 11/2 about the teams dividing the spoils.
The visitors remain unbeaten after three matches and punters feeling they’re capable of extending that sequence can back them at 15/2 (bet365) to secure a score draw, however, they’ve yet to face any opponents of the standard of Rodgers’s side and it’s hard to see past a home win in this one.
Ladbrokes rate the Reds at 3/1 to overcome Paul Lambert’s stubborn charges by a one-goal margin and it’s 15/2 via BetVictor for Liverpool to register a 1-0 success. Punters expecting a more comfortable evening for the favourites though, might prefer to back them at 4/6, starting a goal in arrears in Stan James’s handicaps and it’s 6/1 courtesy of William Hill for them to net twice without reply.
Elsewhere, dominance for the hosts, in the shape of a lead at the end of each half, is 8/11 (Stan James), BetVictor price Rodgers’s men at 11/10 to prevail ‘to nil’ and in attack, Mario Balotelli is 15/4 at bet365 to fill Sturridge’s boots by breaking the deadlock. The maverick Italian is also available at 5/1, this time with BetVictor, to be named Man of the Match.
The only two teams with maximum points, Chelsea and Swansea, face off at Stamford Bridge but it’s the Blues that should retain their hundred percent 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.
Mario Balotelli to score first – 15/4 (bet365)
Diego Costa to score at any time – 10/11 (bet365)
Man Utd to beat QPR ‘to nil’ – 21/20 (betway)
Tottenham and Everton double – 7/2 (Paddy Power)
Stoke and Leicester to draw – 23/10 (Ladbrokes)