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Dublin: 21 °C Friday 7 August, 2020

Will Paul Pogba end his barren run? Saturday's Premier League talking points

Plus a crucial game for Arsenal, and the latest betting odds.

Man United's Paul Pogba has looked reinvigorated since the Premier League's re-start.
Man United's Paul Pogba has looked reinvigorated since the Premier League's re-start.
Image: Alastair Grant/NMC Pool/PA Wire

THE PREMIER LEAGUE games have been coming thick and fast since the restart and there’s another round of fixtures this weekend. 

We’ve teamed up with William Hill to bring you four big talking points and the latest odds for Saturday’s matches.

1. Can Pogba build on an impressive start?

Given that they paid the then-record for highest football transfer fee at €105 million, Paul Pogba’s Man United career so far has not gone as smoothly as player and club alike would have hoped.

There have been flashes of brilliance and Pogba did manage an impressive tally of 13 goals from 35 appearances last season.

Yet the World Cup winner has had difficult moments too, most notably when he was benched for a spell during the Jose Mourinho era, including for a vital Champions League match against Sevilla in which inexperienced youngster Scott McTominay was preferred to him.

And this season more than any other, there have been question marks over the 27-year-old’s future, with agent Mino Raiola at least partially responsible for fuelling reports that Pogba’s time at Old Trafford was nearing its conclusion.

Prior to the lockdown this season, Pogba had made just seven Premier League appearances, only five of which were starts, owing largely to injury problems.

Yet since the top flight’s return, the French star has looked reinvigorated. He came off the bench and helped rescue a point in the Red Devils’ first game since the re-start against Tottenham, and he started in subsequent wins over Sheffield United and Brighton.

And more significantly, arguably for the first time since he joined the club, United are currently playing exciting and successful attacking football, as evidenced by the way they dismantled their last two Premier League opponents, while the midfield has more of a balanced look, with the deep-lying Nemanja Matic giving Pogba and impressive January signing Bruno Fernandes a license to get forward and do damage in the final third.

The former Juventus star is increasingly looking back to his best. This newfound confidence could see him open his goal account for the season sooner rather than later, and he is 7/1 to score first with William Hill.

Consequently, United should have no problems against relegation-threatened Bournemouth this weekend, and Pogba may well be key to unlocking them.

William Hill odds: Paul Pogba, first goalscorer – 7/1

2. Will Chelsea return to winning ways? 

Chelsea have enjoyed a decent season so far.

They are on the course for a Champions League spot, currently sitting fourth ahead of a chasing pack that includes Wolves, Man United, Arsenal and Tottenham.

They had looked impressive since the re-start and enjoyed a 100% record up until the surprise 3-2 defeat to fellow Londoners West Ham on Wednesday. 

As that result showed, one area where there is scope for improvement is their defence. They have conceded significantly more goals than any other side in the top six.

With that in mind, a win at home to Watford on Saturday while failing to keep a clean sheet looks a decent bet.

The Hornets won’t approach the game with the same levels of confidence given that they are currently mired in a relegation battle, with demotion to the Championship likely to be exacerbated by the toll that the coronavirus is having across football.

As their top scorer, it seems logical to back the Blues’ Tammy Abraham to score.

While Olivier Giroud has been preferred up front at times, particularly since the re-start, Frank Lampard has not been afraid to rotate his squad and so expect the 22-year-old forward to get a chance to impress at some stage this Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

2-1 also seems the most likely outcome, and William Hill are giving 14/1 for that result and Abraham to notch anytime. Since the campaign’s resumption, the Blues have already beaten Aston Villa and Man City by that scoreline, while it was the same result against Tottenham in their last Premier League game prior to the pandemic.

William Hill odds: Chelsea to win 2-1 and Tammy Abraham to score anytime – 14/1

3. Wolves to further derail Arsenal’s season

Wolves face Arsenal this weekend in a game that could prove crucial for both sides.

Nuno Espírito Santo’s men are currently chasing a Champions League place, while an indifferent re-start has left any kind of European football looking unlikely for Arsenal this season — although they earned a comfortable 4-0 win over Norwich in midweek. 

With that in mind, the hosts appear the favourites to prevail against Mikel Arteta’s team, and Raul Jimenez could be vital if they are to secure a much-needed win.

The Mexican international is his side’s top scorer, with 15 goals and six assists.

He has spent the past two seasons at Wolves, yet it’s been just over a year since the club exercised their €38 million option to sign Jimenez on a four-year contract from Benfica, following a successful loan spell.

He was the club’s Players’ Player of the Year last season, and this campaign, their star man has already broken the record for most goals scored by a Wolves player in a single Premier League season.

Given his current level of performance, it is no surprise to see the 29-year-old recently linked with a big-money move to Man UnitedJimenez to score first and Wolves to win is 5/1 with William Hill and it would be less than a shock if he did further damage to the Gunners’ diminishing European hopes.

William Hill odds: Wolves to win and Raul Jimenez to score first – 5/1

4. Brighton to exacerbate Norwich’s woes

Saturday sees an important game in the relegation fight taking place, with Norwich hosting Brighton in the 12.30pm kickoff.

A win for the visitors will enable them to take a big step towards survival, while the Canaries will feel victory is essential to keep their faint hopes of staying in the Premier League alive.

Brighton were outclassed by Man United in midweek, but will expect to fare much better against a lower calibre of opposition.

Daniel Farke’s side have endured a miserable run following the Premier League’s return, losing all of their games, with last Saturday’s extra-time FA Cup defeat to Man United a particularly bitter pill to swallow.

Given they are currently rooted at the bottom of the table, a number of points off safety, it feels like they need a minor miracle survival.

With 11 goals and three assists though, striker Teemu Pukki has been one of the Canaries’ few bright sparks this season.

While Brighton should have too much quality for them ultimately, the Finnish international may get some joy — Pukki to score anytime and a Brighton win is 8/1 with William Hill — against a Seagulls defence that has looked shaky on a regular basis throughout the campaign.

William Hill odds: Teemu Pukki to score anytime and Brighton to win – 8/1

William Hill odds above correct at the time of writing. New online customers get €30 in free bets when they bet €10 with William Hill. Just use the promo code P30. For all the latest prices, visit williamhill.com. 18+, always gamble responsibly. For more information, see BeGambleAware.org

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