The Premier League’s opening weekend continues on Sunday where six teams are aiming to make a splash in their inaugural fixtures of the campaign.
Manchester United vs Brighton
Over 2.5 Goals – 10/11 (1.91)
A new era dawns at Old Trafford when Manchester United host Brighton in Erik ten Hag’s first Premier League assignment on Sunday and the Dutchman will probably feel a degree of relief to get stuck into some action following a tumultuous summer.
While controversial headlines, driven largely by the behaviour of Cristiano Ronaldo, continue to be spun off the pitch, United have shown signs of improvement on it and ten Hag’s more attack-minded philosophy seems to have been accepted enthusiastically by most of his new charges.
United enjoyed a productive pre-season programme and their notable wins over Liverpool (4-0) and Crystal Palace (3-1) in particular featured lots of vertical running from waves of players pushing forward to join the attack. However, the club’s lethargy in the transfer market is rumoured to have created friction behind the scenes and things aren’t anywhere near as rosy as they might have been.
One of the stars of the summer, Anthony Martial, has also been sidelined on the eve of the season with a hamstring complaint, a development that could thrust the divisive figure of Ronaldo front and centre again. With the Portuguese veteran short of match fitness, Anthony Elanga could be favoured however, and the Swedes’ inclusion would allow ten Hag to keep his frontline full of energy.
Keen to get fans onside quickly, ten Hag will want United to drive forward from the first whistle against Brighton on Sunday, though the Seagulls – who famously tore the Red Devils to shreds in a 4-0 drubbing in May – have the technical and tactical nous to pick passes around the home team’s new-fangled press.
Indeed, Albion boss Graham Potter will be quietly confident that his team can cause an upset on Sunday against a side forming a fresh identity and United look way over-priced to deliver the goods at 8/13.
Instead, we expect Brighton’s pursuit of points to really open things up at Old Trafford. Eight of the last nine meetings between Manchester United and Brighton have pushed through the over 2.5 goals ceiling and more of the same is on the agenda here.
West Ham vs Manchester City
Over 6.5 Man City Team Corners – 4/6 (1.67)
Champions Manchester City begin their title defence in the capital on Sunday where an awkward task against West Ham awaits in the weekend’s final fixture.
Pep Guardiola’s side stumbled when they last visited the London Stadium in May, though they eventually clawed their way to parity from a two-goal deficit in a second-half charge led by Jack Grealish.
David Moyes was happy for the Irons to sit deep and concede possession that afternoon. West Ham posted a remarkably low 21.8% possession figure against City, though their conservative approach almost paid off and the Scottish coach will likely plump for the same gameplan this weekend in the hope of a repeat result.
With so much of the ball in May, City’s match stats made for impressive reading. They racked up 31 shots, attempted 39 crosses and won nine corners against West Ham, beating their corner count by one from the teams’ previous encounter.
Indeed, Guardiola’s possession-hungry champions won more corners than any other team over the course of the 2021/22 campaign, pinging in 316 of them in total, which works out at a hefty 8.31 per 90 minutes on average.
It’s in that corner niche where you can often find the best value for fixtures involving the Manchester giants. City are as short as 4/11 to win on Sunday, while over 2.5 goals is equally unappealing at 8/15, though there is plenty of wiggle room at 4/6 if you back City to win over 6.5 corners.
While the buzz around Erling Haaland’s first Premier League appearance is generating the most noise, the corners markets are more worthy of bettors’ attentions this weekend.