Weblog: The football punter

Love is in the air

SOMETHING old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Indeed, something for all of us going into the second Premier League weekend of the season.

The old? Well, it’s the same old Arsene Wenger and how Gunners’ fans must be losing patience.

The stubborn old Frenchman went into his opener against Liverpool insisting “we are equipped to do well”, lauding the options he had at centre-back despite injuries.

The option he plumped for at the heart of his defence was a schoolkid from Bolton and a midfielder-turned-fullback and so Liverpool duly filled their boots.

No wonder Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy declined to jump ship from the King Power – they’ll at least wait until they’ve filled their boots against the Arsenal.

There was plenty new to admire in the new-look Premier League – including Antonio Conte’s passion play after Dirty Diego had belted Chelsea’s winner against the Hammers.

Conte, in the rich tradition of blind football managers, also commended the ref for not sending off Costa for a late hack on the Hammers’ cat – despite admitting he hadn’t even seen the incident! A quick learner, Conte.

Chelsea did okay against a surprisingly awful West Ham team but I didn’t see such an improvement to make them worthy of odds-on at Watford. They are a lay for me.

Among the pick of the borrowed players on show last week was Alvaro Negredo, proven class who has wound up at Middlesbrough and got on the scoresheet against Stoke. He’s my first scorer tip at Sunderland where Boro can win.

The blues of Everton are also fancied at West Brom. The Toffees only lost five on the road last season as Roberto Martinez’s enjoyed an away day from the toxic atmosphere at Goodison.

Love and peace seems to have arrived in the shape of Ronald Koeman and Everton should be fun to watch both home and away this term.

The Football Site

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Match in Focus

19:45 Th 25Aug BT2

West Ham v Astra Giurgiu

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Astra’s two goals at West Ham last season came against ten men
Expert verdict
West Ham have made qualifying for the Europa League a priority this season and they can do just that against Astra in the second leg of their playoff tie. The Hammers were held to a 1-1 draw in Giurgiu but the Romanians were hammered 3-0 at Copenhagen on their last European road trip.