There were two fierce local derbies, a managerial sacking, a hat trick and another defeat for Chelsea. Just another weekend in the Premier League then….
So what are the five key things we’ve learned, and how have they affected the betting?
Sunderland Might Stay Up
As if the pressure of a ferocious local derby wasn’t enough, the Sunderland vs Newcastle clash was billed as an early relegation six-pointer….and it did not disappoint.
There was a suspicion amongst pundits that Sam Allardyce was exactly the kind of character that the Black Cats needed to steady the ship, and if nothing else he will make his charges a tougher side to beat.
The pain will be particularly raw for Newcastle fans today, but in truth the outlook isn’t as gloomy as it may seem. Even with ten men following Fabricio Coloccini’s dismissal, the Magpies enjoyed 61% possession and had eight shots on target and ten corners. If they can find an end product to such dominance they might just be alright.
You could easily make a case for Aston Villa, injury-plagued Bournemouth and Norwich to fall through the trapdoor, so Sunderland – backed by Big Sam’s nous – could yet stay up. Their best price of 15/8 to do just that looks tempting.
Aston Villa Favour a Surprise Candidate as their New Manager
It’s no surprise that Tim Sherwood got the boot at Aston Villa after the Villains lost their sixth match in a row on Saturday, but what is a bit of a shock is the man in the frame to replace him.
Remi Garde, who enjoyed a spell at Arsenal in his playing days, has previously led Lyon to a brace of Ligue 1 titles; although his managerial career has been blighted with spells on the sidelines. He has a reputation for tactical wizardry and developing young players, but is mild mannered and may not be the man that Villa need in their perilous situation. He is still priced as short as 1/3 however.
If they want a strong leader with a track record of keeping teams up they may go for Nigel Pearson (12/1), who worked wonders in lifting Leicester City clear of relegation last season. Other options include Brendan Rodgers (8/1) and David Moyes (6/1), who played for the Midlands club and whose Real Sociedad side sit just three points above the La Liga dropzone.
Mourinho Could Go
The Special One is as short as 23/10 now to be the next Premier League manager to leave their post, after his Chelsea side suffered their fifth league defeat of the season at West Ham on Saturday.
It would seem Jose Mourinho is having a bit of a meltdown at the moment; being sent to the stands at Upton Park and refusing to speak to the media afterwards. Roman Abramovich is clearly a fan of the Portuguese gaffer, and no rash decision will be made. But his inability to fire up his key men, such as Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic, to turn in better performances is a worry.
Elsewhere, this market looks reasonably open with Steve McClaren the 5/4 favourite, although presumably he will be given more time in the Newcastle hot seat. Instead it’s Mark Hughes at Stoke who looks vulnerable; his side are down in 14th in the table, and after such an investment in players that is simply not god enough. His price of 40/1 looks generous.
West Ham Are the Real Deal
West Ham currently occupy a Champions League berth, and that may comes as a surprise to some but is testament to the job that firstly Allardyce and now Slavan Bilic is doing at the Boleyn Ground.
In Dimitri Payet they have a gem of a player, whilst Cheikhou Kouyate is a powerhouse in midfield. If they can get Enner Valencia fit, and keep Andy Carroll injury-free, they have a chance of achieving great things. Their price of 9/2 in the ‘Without the Big Six’ market looks an absolute steal.
Vardy Is a Contender for Gold
Jamie Vardy bagged his tenth goal in ten Premier League appearances in Leicester’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace, and the former Fleetwood Town player has seen his odds shortened to 8/1 to claim the prestigious Golden Boot.
In truth, that still looks a good price: he’s now four clear of Alexis Sanchez (6/1) and Sergio Aguero (5/2), who of course is injured until late November, five clear of Romelu Lukaku (25/1) and Olivier Giroud (28/1), six clear of Harry Kane (16/1) and seven ahead of Diego Costa (25/1).