It’s the last round of English Premier League (EPL) fixtures before the season moves into its first international break. Four teams at the top of the table are putting their 100 percent records on the line, while three sides are looking for their first point of the season. The last thing any team wants is a loss to dwell on for the fortnight that follows until the league restarts on October 17. Here’s what stands out to me on DraftKings Sportsbook for this weekend’s slate of games.
Chelsea vs. Crystal Palace:
No team invested more in strengthening their squad in the offseason than Chelsea, so to see them ninth in the standings won’t sit well with owner Roman Abramovich. Frank Lampard will be given time to get their season back on track, but another loss will leave them well off the pace even at this early stage of the season. They are missing the spark they had in the second half of last season and that spark is Christian Pulisic, who remains sidelined with a hamstring injury sustained in the FA Cup final - in which he scored. New signings Timo Werner and Kai Havertz were supposed to bring goals to the team, but they have yet to score a league goal despite sharing four goals in the Carabao Cup. Palace has lost their last five meetings against the Blues, including the last three at Stamford Bridge, and that run should continue on Sunday. Palace should not be underestimated. After all, they went to Old Trafford a couple of weeks ago and won 3-1. Perhaps playing at an empty Bridge will help the Eagles, but Chelsea should have enough in attack to get the job done.
Leeds United vs. Manchester City:
For 16 years, Leeds has had to watch other teams enjoy the experience of playing the best teams in the country. This weekend, they face the side that finished second in last season’s EPL, four weeks after facing the champions Liverpool. And the Yorkshire side has made up for lost time by playing with freedom in their first three games. After two seven-goal thrillers, normality resumed last weekend when a single goal in the 88th minute from Patrick Bamford secured a 1-0 win at Sheffield United. It was the third straight game in which Bamford found the back of the net to silence his critics who said he would struggle to score goals in the EPL. Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa has a lot of faith in Bamford and the boss is being rewarded. Bielsa will know City has leaked three goals in the final 15 minutes of their opening two games and if Leeds can stay in the game until then, then they could snatch a point or three from this home game, especially if City performs the way they did in losing 5-2 at home to Leicester last time out. Both teams to score has paid out in both City’s EPL matches this season and in two of Leeds’ three matches.
Arsenal vs. Sheffield United:
Sheffield United was the surprise package of last season’s EPL campaign, finishing ninth following their promotion from the Championship. However, it’s a very different story this time as the Blades seem to be struggling with second season syndrome. Zero points from their first three games is not what manager Chris Wilder would have expected, and their wait for a first win looks set to continue following their trip to the Emirates on Sunday. Arsenal has scored the opening goal in all three of their games this season while United has given up the first goal in all three of their fixtures. The Gunners have led 1-0 by the 25th minute in all three of their matches and if they can get the first goal in this fixture, then it could be another loss for the visitors. After 270 minutes of action, the blunt Blades are the only EPL team yet to score a goal. Signing Liverpool forward Rhian Brewster for a club record fee should address the lack of scoring for the Blades, but if he struggles to score regularly, then instead of finishing in the top half of the table, it could be a relegation battle for the Yorkshire side.
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Fulham:
Fulham’s return to the top flight has not gone to plan with three straight losses, and on Sunday, they face a Wolves team determined to take their frustration out on somebody after losing 4-0 at West Ham last weekend. Fulham has already given up 10 goals in three games, with seven of them coming in the opening 15 minutes of both halves. A goal inside the opening 15 minutes is available at +235. The Cottagers have found themselves a goal down within the first eight minutes of all three matches which has not helped their cause. Wolves started the season with two early goals in their 2-0 win at Sheffield United and if they can execute a similar game plan to that, then the points should stay at Molineux. Defensively, Wolves have conceded seven goals in their last two games, which is uncharacteristic of Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, but this should be the perfect game to get back to winning ways after successive losses which happened just three times all of last season.
Aston Villa vs. Liverpool:
Not many people would have had Aston Villa as one of the remaining teams to have a 100 percent record in the EPL, but they do. They may only have played two games, and they may have been against two sides who have yet to win (Sheffield United and Fulham), but already there are signs that Villa will perform much better than they did last season. I’d be very surprised if they make it three wins in three games against the defending champions, who have yet to drop a point from their three opening games. Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has scored against every EPL team he has faced, with the exception of two - Swansea and Villa. Salah hasn’t scored since bagging a hat-trick against Leeds on the opening day of the season and this is the sort of game he will relish. And with 20 penalties awarded already this season throughout the EPL, Salah will be hoping his side can draw a penalty from the newly-promoted side at Villa Park. Two of his three goals against Leeds were from the spot. Villa has lost their last five EPL matches against the Reds and that is expected to become six after Sunday’s clash.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is CharliePMullan) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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