Commodore's EPL Picks

Well now, thank goodness that's out of the way. Opening weekends aren't made for punters – there's too many anomalies lurking out there, waiting to swiftly snap that multiple that you spent hours crafting. Van Gaal showed himself to be Moyes Mach II, while Spurs did the improbable and picked up a victory at West Ham. These are early days yet, so I wouldn't get too caught up in the opening day melee. What is most surprising is that the current top four is the exact four that finished there last season, in name rather than position. Chelsea flexed some muscle to batter Burnley at Turf Moor, while Man City showed themselves a cut above the rest. Liverpool and Arsenal were lucky, but 2-1 wins against tricky opposition represents a good start for the pair of them. As for United, well they're breaking records for all the wrong reasons again, enough to put a smile on my face.

Aston Villa 15/10 draw 22/10 Newcastle 7/4
Aston Villa surprised on the opening day. Not many expected them to challenge Stoke on their home turf but they did, securing a 1-0 win thanks to a monumental rearguard effort. Ron Vlaar was supreme, following on from his World Cup form with the Netherlands. This week it's Newcastle, who showed enough in their loss to Man City to suggest that they'll cause some problems for mid-table sides this season. They have plenty of pace and in Emmanuel Riviere they have a player that will get his fair share of goals. Previous form suggests they'll be strong here – four wins in their last five against Villa. The Villains struggled on their home patch last season, where they were expected to come out and attack from the outset, so I'm backing a Newcastle win at 7/4. For the more conservative among you, the 15/20 on Both Teams to Score looks a decent wager too.

Chelsea 2/9 draw 49/10 Leicester 10/1
Despite falling behind against Burnley, Chelsea looked pretty damn impressive against the new boys. Fabregas and Costa have slotted right in, while Mourinho has finally seen the benefits of selecting Schürrle over the inconsistent Willian. This is a side that has power in every position, even across the bench. Leicester continue their tough start to the season with a visit to Stamford Bridge on Saturday, where they've been given no hope by the bookies. The Foxes secured a point on opening day with a late equaliser from Chris Wood in an entertaining match against Everton. Chelsea struggled at times last season with fixtures like these, but they really should be getting past Leicester here. This is a tough one for the punters, as there's no value on a home win. Perhaps the Draw-Chelsea, HT-FT Double is the way to go at 29/10.

Crystal Palace 14/10 draw 21/10 West Ham 19/10
Two days before the start of the new season, Tony Pulis decided he'd had enough. Not only did he ruin the always interesting 'first manager to go' bet, he also shattered Crystal Palace's hopes of improving on their 11th place finish from last season. A home game against West Ham would've been a guaranteed 3 points in the Pulis era, but right now I'm not so sure. Having secured the double over West Ham last season courtesy of two 1-0 wins, they'll be confident of pulling one over Big Sam's Hammers. Neither side set the league alight on opening day, and despite efforts to strengthen their respective squads they both look set for mid-table mediocrity at best. This one has the makings of a bore draw, available at 21/10.

Southampton 17/20 draw 24/10 West Brom 31/10
Despite losing their manager, half their side and the tea lady, Southampton put up a good fight at Anfield on the opening day. There's life left in them yet. West Brom began life under yet another manager with an entertaining 2-2 draw against Sunderland, with young prospect Saido Berahino grabbing a brace. Last season's meetings were hardly flowing affairs, with both matches ending 1-0 in favour of the Saints. However, with both new managers looking to stamp their authority on the league, I expect this one to be a real hammer and tongs battle. What does that mean for those of us looking to make some money though? Well you could back Both Teams to Score at 7/10, or alternatively over 2.5 goals at 15/20.

Swansea 13/20 draw 5/2 Burnley 41/10
Swansea helped write the headlines on opening day, with their first victory at Old Trafford getting Gary Monk's full-time reign off to the perfect start. It'll be the battle of the gingers this weekend, as Monk pits his wits against the 'Ginger Mourinho' Sean Dyche. First on Monk's agenda will be improving Swansea's form at the Liberty, where they managed just six league wins last season. A visit from Burnley provides them with the perfect opportunity, with the Clarets likely to build their bid for survival around their home form. Burnley should've been on the receiving end of a hiding against Chelsea and given Swansea's impressive start I can't look past a home win. Get on it at 13/20 and throw it into a couple multiples.

Everton 17/10 draw 9/4 Arsenal 15/10
Everton and Arsenal provided us with some wonderful football games last season. Both teams are exponents of the beautiful game, and Saturday's match should be a showcase of everything that is good about the Premier League. Everton won this fixture 3-0 last season to raise the anxiety levels around the Emirates, but in the end, the Gunners had enough about them to secure Champions League football. After torturing Arsenal at the Emirates last season, Ross Barkley will play no part on Saturday, having been ruled out for 2 months with a knee injury. The Toffees were formidable at home last season and Arsenal showed frailties against Palace. Following a midweek trip to Turkey to face Besiktas in a Champions League qualifier, I fancy they're here for the taking. Back the home win at 17/10.

Hull City 27/20 draw 21/10 Stoke City 2/1
Steve Bruce continues to work wonders at Hull City. The Tigers showed defensive solidity to see off QPR on the opening day and they look a side capable of pushing on. For Stoke, the 1-0 home loss to Aston Villa was disappointing, especially as they failed to create any clear cut chances. These sides managed only one goal between them over two meetings last season, so its fair to suggest that we won't be seeing much goalmouth action here. The less said about this match, the better. I'm backing a draw at 21/10, although there might also be some value in backing under 1.5 goals at 15/10.

Tottenham 9/20 draw 32/10 QPR 11/2
'Arry Redknapp goes back to White Hart Lane with QPR, and he'll no doubt have a point to prove here. Cast aside after a 5th place finish, Spurs haven't fared much better since his departure. Mauricio Pochettino is the latest in a long line fresh-faced managers, complete with continental blueprint and a media-friendly personality. It's results that will decide his fate though. He got a good one on the opening day, putting one over near-neighbours West Ham despite playing a majority of the match with a man down. QPR will cause the problems here I suspect, with goals in the offing. I fancy both teams to score here, with Spurs tipped to come out on top.

Sunderland 37/10 draw 5/2 Man United 7/10
The penultimate fixture of the week, and final of the weekend makes for an interesting affair. Louis van Gaal's bullish pre-season bravado caught up with him against Swansea and he's beginning to realise the magnitude of the task at hand. A loss to Sunderland at the Stadium of Light and he'll really be up against it. Ryan Giggs experienced such a fate during his four meagre matches in charge, and Gus Poyet will be gently reminding his troops that the Red Devils are there for the taking. United have prevailed by the odd goal in each of their last three visits to the Stadium of Light, but while they're still adapting to Van Gaal's new system, they are vulnerable. They can't be as feeble as they were last Saturday, although I think the Black Cats will be able to snatch a draw, available at 5/2.

Man City 17/20 draw 24/10 Liverpool 31/10
Monday Night Football at it's finest. Last season's title contenders will slug it out as Manchester City and Liverpool square-off at the Etihad. Last season it was City that prevailed on Boxing Day, with the help of the referees assistant. The return fixture was no less dramatic, with a late Phillippe Coutinho goal securing a 3-2 win and catapulting the Reds to the front of the title race. We all know how that ended, but now they get to go again. City were imperious against Newcastle, with their opening goal showing just why they're the champions of England. Liverpool got the better of them on penalties during pre-season after a 2-2 draw, although to read too much into that would be a foolish game. This will have goals though, plenty of them; bet accordingly. As for a result, I can't look past a City win given the quality on display not only in their starting lineup, but also on their bench.

The Premier League is back, and it's not going anywhere for several months. The close of the transfer window is drawing ever closer, expect itchy trigger fingers and ill-advised deals. The sky over England will soon be filled with private jets and hired helicopters. My eyes are firmly fixed on the fields of play though, for that is where there is money to be made. Remember the league is a marathon, not a sprint. I'd suggest a conservative approach until form has been established, and then we fire. Percentage punting, it's not flashy but it sure is effective. That will be all, enjoy the footy. Good day. 

Written by Commodore Vegas
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Commodore’s Weekend Picks
Newcastle WIN 7/4
Chelsea HT-DRAW FT-WIN 29/10
Crystal Palace DRAW 21/10
Southampton BTTS 7/10
Swansea WIN 13/20
Everton WIN 17/10
Hull City DRAW 21/10
Tottenham WIN 9/20
Man United DRAW 5/2
Man City WIN 17/20