Why Stoke will top Arsenal and Man Utd’s opening-fixture scores

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Arsenal are 17/4 favourites to be the highest scoring Premier League team on the opening weekend when they entertain Crystal Palace, with Man Utd and Liverpool following them in the market at 5/1 apiece at home to Swansea and Southampton.

The Red Devils took this honour last year with a 4-1 win against their next opponents at the Liberty Stadium, so they should be of interest in Louis van Gaal’s top-flight debut, but the other two only managed one each when hosting their opening fixtures, with the Gunners losing 3-1 at home to Aston Villa.

Even United look a risk considering the changes the ‘Iron Tulip’ has rung during his mere month in the Old Trafford hotseat, while a spate of injuries have made the 13-time Premier League title winners’ 1/3 victory odds seem less and less appealing.

At a much tastier 16/1 quote, get behind improving Stoke to top score by taking a dire Villa outfit apart in their seasonal debut at the Britannia.

Mark Hughes’ side have been useful during the summer, with a narrow 2-1 loss at Champions League regulars Schalke and a 2-0 win away to La Liga’s Real Betis the best of their efforts.

Hughes has been busy integrating new strikers Bojan Krkic and Mame Biram Diouf into his Stoke system, with both the ex-Barcelona hotshot and former Man Utd man getting off the mark for their new club in pre-season.

The Potters had multiple goal-threats at their disposal already; Jonathan Walters, Peter Crouch, Marko Arnautovic and Peter Odemwingie all managed at least five in all competitions for Stoke last term, with the latter grabbing said haul in just 15 appearances.

Free signing from Fulham Steve Sidwell was also among the goals, with seven in the 2013/14 top flight his best haul in nine senior campaigns, but the paucity of quality expected from their opponents will be key to this bet coming up.

Villa’s back four at the Britannia is as likely as not to be:

– Alan Hutton (no Premier League appearances in two years)

– Philippe Senderos (not deemed good enough for relegated Fulham last term)

– Aly Cissokho (no Premier League starts after mid-February for Liverpool in 2013/14)

– Ron Vlaar

The Holland World Cup finalist won’t be able to keep Hughes’ boys at bay on his own. Punt accordingly.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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