Saturday Premier League 3pm Tips: Expect Foxes to continue winning streak
With the last international break of 2019 behind us it's back to the Premier League this weekend, and Mike Norman has another trio of bets for you to consider...
Foxes to extend winning run
Brighton3.85 v Leicester 2.10; Draw 3.65
The Premier League table makes for fascinating reading. After just 12 games played Liverpool have sailed into the distance and are 17 points ahead of the fifth-placed team, and the top four have already cut themselves away from the rest.
But below the Reds, Leicester, Chelsea and Manchester City, the next 12 teams are separated by just four points. Everton, 15th in the table, could move level on points with the team in fifth place with a win on Saturday. Those 5th-15th positions are about as congested as you'll ever see a league table at this level.
I think what we have to be careful of then is viewing teams as performing better or worse than we expected based on their league position.
Brighton in 11th are a good example. Many people, including myself, would have expected the Seagulls to be in and around the relegation zone, yet a win on Saturday could take them up to fifth. Lose however, and Graham Potter's men could be no more than a point above the team that finishes the weekend 17th in the table.
There's no doubt that the Seagulls have done well of late, especially at the Amex Stadium, but a three or four game winless run and they'll be exactly where most people expect them to be. I'm not sure they're about to go on a longish winless run, but I can't see them taking anything from Saturday's home game with Leicester.
The Foxes have been in superb form of late, winning eight of their last nine matches in all competitions and scoring a very impressive 29 goals in the process. Brendan Rodgers' men are arguably a better team now than they were when winning the title a few seasons ago, and star striker Jamie Vardy is at the top of his game having scored eight goals in his last six starts.
But it's the youth behind Vardy that is so exciting. The likes of Youri Tielemans (22), Onyinye Ndidi (22), James Maddison (22) and Harvey Barnes (21), together with 26-year-old Ayoze Perez, are starting to form a formidable and fearless attacking unit, and it's no surprise at all to see Vardy presented with so many goalscoring chances.
Leicester currently sit second in the table, and deservedly so, and I fully expect them to extend their winning run to five league games and consolidate that superb league position.
Improving Hornets can win again
Watford2.44 v Burnley 3.35; Draw 3.45
Watford are still in the relegation zone but there's no doubt that they're improving and it's not difficult to envisage them recording their first home win of the season by beating a Burnley team starting to struggle themselves.
The Hornets have lost just one of their last five Premier League games, that being a narrow defeat to bang-in-form Chelsea, so confidence should be rising as Quique Sánchez Flores puts his stamp on the team in his second spell in charge at Vicarage Road.
From the few games I've seen of Watford - especially in the 2-2 draw at Arsenal - the Hornets create plenty of chances and play some decent attacking football. Keeping the goals out was always going to be key to any improvement in form and that's exactly what has happened. From their last four unbeaten league games Flores' men have conceded just a single goal, that coming away at Tottenham.
Burnley beat an out-of-form West Ham side just before the international break but prior to that Sean Dyche's men had lost three straight league games, and away from home they're yet to win any of their six matches on the road.
The worrying aspect about the Clarets' away form is that they're yet to keep a clean sheet, conceding an average of almost two goals per game in fact. That's very unlike the Burnley we've witnessed in recent seasons, so given this, and the fact that Watford are improving as well as keeping clean sheets of late, then a home win has to be the recommended bet.
Toffees to win easy against Norwich
Everton1.42 v Norwich 8.80; Draw 5.40
I've been against Everton a number of times already this season, but that has always been away from home and being 100% honest it's simply impossible to be against them at Goodison Park against hapless Norwich.
We'll get to the Canaries shortly, but for the Toffees it's been a decent little spell they've been on, losing just one of their five games played before the latest international break. Home wins over West Ham and Watford, a draw against Tottenham, and finally recording an away win at Southampton suggests the Toffees are moving in the right direction.
Incredibly Marco Silva's men can move up from 15th to level on points with the team in fifth should results go their way on Saturday. Okay, that's very unlikely to happen but it just shows how congested the table is below the top four and that the Toffees are just a few wins away from being where they want to be.
As for Norwich, well I'm afraid it's been all so predictable. I said immediately after their opening-day 4-1 defeat to Liverpool that if they play in that attacking style then they'll concede bucket loads of goals and almost certainly be relegated.
I looked like having a bit of egg on my face after Daniel Farke's men beat Newcastle 3-1, scored two and performed so well against Chelsea, and then beat Manchester City 3-2, but since then Norwich have been woeful.
The Canaries have taken just a single point away from home from the 18 available to them this season, they've scored just a solitary goal - in their first match away at Liveprool meaning they haven't scored a goal in five consecutive league away games - and all five of their away defeats have been by a margin of at least two clear goals.
The recommended bet then almost jumps off the page. Improving Everton to win by at least two goals at odds of 2.18 looks very appealing indeed.