Last week served up exactly the kind of excitement that soccer fans had hoped for. Manchester City already look like champions, Liverpool ground out a result, Chelsea and Arsenal both look shaky in defence. And the promoted teams aren't making anywhere near the impact they might have wanted.
So where does that leave us for the third round of games? Read on for our betting guide to week three of the EPL.
The Underdog Victory: Back Newcastle United to beat Chelsea (5.48)
After initially struggling to win points against the Premier League's top six Newcastle United beat Manchester United, Arsenal, and Chelsea at St. James' Park in the final three months of the 2017/18 season. Rafael Benitez conceded possession, set up a low block, and frustrated all three clubs with aggressive and direct football. Newcastle may not have started the new campaign too brightly, but a rugged, backs-to-the-wall performance against a Chelsea team in transition is just what they need to get their first win.
|Chelsea Key Player||Newcastle Key Player|
|Eden Hazard||Jonjo Shelvey|
The Magpies held just 28% possession in a 2-1 win against Arsenal last April, and across these three wins completed just six out of a total 45 interceptions in the opposition half; they will stay deep and narrow against Maurizio Sarri's expansive possession side, happily absorbing pressure. Chelsea, still adapting in midfield and with Eden Hazard still unfit, will most likely struggle to prise the defence apart.
And Newcastle could strike on the counter-attack. Chelsea look vulnerable in a back four with both full-backs leaving too much space behind them (expecting a non-existent third centre-back to come across and cover) and the centre-backs struggling with the new high line. The intimidating St James' Park atmosphere could prove daunting for Jorginho. Keep an eye out for searching Jonjo Shelvey passes in behind Chelsea's high line as they chase a smash-and-grab win.
The End-to-End Match: Back BTTS in Arsenal v West Ham (1.68)
Manuel Pellegrini's wide-open 4-4-2 formation was disastrous last weekend against Bournemouth, resembling Manchester City's strangely vacant central midfield during the Chilean's final year in Manchester when Fernando and Fernandinho were left completely exposed. When coupled with Felipe Anderson's failure to track back and the sluggishness of Mark Noble and Jack Wilshere, Bournemouth's victory felt inevitable.
|Arsenal Key Player||West Ham Key Player|
|Henrikh Mkhitaryan||Arthur Masuaku|
West Ham will no doubt tighten up at the Emirates but nevertheless are too meak in midfield to prevent Unai Emery's narrow, high-tempo attacks from working. Expect Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan to easily ghost into the number ten space and dominate, slipping passes through a shaky back line for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, likely to start together for the first time in the Premier League. Emery's bunched attacking patterns – he likes compressed lines both vertically and horizontally – will target West Ham's soft centre, just as Bournemouth did on Saturday by instructing David Brooks and Ryan Fraser to cut inside.
However, West Ham should be able to get on the score sheet. They are powerful and direct on the left flank thanks to the blossoming partnership between Arthur Masuaku and Anderson, which will cause problems for Hector Bellerin – persistently caught out against Chelsea because Mkhitaryan didn't track back. Still working out how to marry a high line and a high press, Arsenal are vulnerable to the speed of West Ham's counter-attacks.
The Goal Fest: Back over 3.25 goals in Wolves v Manchester City (2.08)
What is most worrying for Manchester City's rivals is the sheer variety of their attacks this season. Pep Guardiola historically uses the first few matches of the season to trial new systems and bank them for use later in the season, a strategy that has clearly continued. In week one we saw the full-backs overlap and the wingers cut inside – the reverse of their main tactic in 2017/18 – and in week two we saw a 3-5-2 formation that focused on crosses from out wide.
|Wolverhampton Key Player||Manchester City Key Player|
|Joao Moutinho||Sergio Aguero|
There is no way of predicting quite how City will line up at Molineux, although goals are surely coming. Not only can they score in a multitude of ways, but Nuno Espirito Santo wants to a play in an expansive 3-4-3 formation and looks unlikely to change that for anyone. Wolves have been far too open in their first two matches of the season, looking too stretched for just two central midfielders, especially when neither Joao Moutinho nor Ruben Neves are defensively strong.
Any attempt to match City at their own game will end disastrously, and yet it would be a huge surprise to see Wolves tighten up and play on the counter-attack. Over 3.5 goals looks a safe bet.
The Goal Scorer: Back Harry Kane to score against Manchester United (2.1)
Jose Mourinho's side are on the brink of crisis, or at least that's how it looks after their 3-2 defeat to Brighton on Sunday. There are obvious parallels between the shambolic defending and directionless attacks at United and at Chelsea during the autumn of 2015, which is why Tottenham Hotspur should be considered clear favourites here.
|Tottenham Hotspur Key Player||Manchester United Key Player|
|Harry Kane||Paul Pogba|
Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof look bereft of confidence, no doubt because of Mourinho's public attempts to sign new centre-backs, which should help Harry Kane get on the score sheet at Old Trafford. His goal against Fulham will restore his confidence, while the penetrative movement of Lucas Moura alongside Kane – up against an overawed Fred – should create numerous opportunities in the box.
Predict the results
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