Match Day 19 brings around the half way point of the season and the end of 2016 with New Year’s Ever action here. It’s clearly no surprise with Chelsea still setting the pace at the top of the table after claiming their 12th straight win during the week maintaining their 6 point lead over Liverpool. That lead could extend this weekend with Chelsea hosting Stoke at home whilst Liverpool host 3rd placed Manchester City. That’s certainly the headline match of the weekend and one which gives the weekend a bit more of an edge.
**Odds from Sportsbet as at 31st December
Match Day 19 Best Bet: Double Chance West Brom against Southampton at $2.1
Head to Head multi Bet: Tottenham win ($1.67), Arsenal win ($1.33), Draw Liverpool/Manchester City ($3.5), Chelsea win ($1.25) = $9.7
Hull vs Everton
The struggles for Hull continue as they remain rooted to the bottom of the table on goal difference. The fixtures don’t get much easier after their latest loss to Manchester City 3-0. Everton beckons this week and although they haven’t been in the greatest of form, they do have 2 wins in their last 3 and look far superior to Hull right now. Confidence is important in any sport and right now Hull just have none of it. There’s no doubt they’ll fight but Everton are building some confidence of their own and a win here will keep them in the hunt for a top 6 finish.
Predicted score: Everton 2-0
Best Bet: Everton to win at $2 (80%)
Next Best: Everton to lead at half-time at $2.5
Leicester vs West Ham
The reigning Champions are not having a great season thus far and whilst it was expected they’d be off the pace this season, sitting just above the relegation zone is perhaps a little lower on the table than many would have expected. They lost for only the 2nd time at home this season during the week to Everton 2-0. They now face a West Ham side on the up who’ve won their last 3 matches whilst only conceding the 1 goal. Not long ago, the Hammers too were struggling but based on their recent form it looks like they are starting to turn their season around. There’s still a sense of uncertainty on West Ham’s reliability but they do look like they are capable of getting something from this. Leicester need to improve but they may have to settle for a draw at best here. The loss of Vardy to suspension hurts but they do have the expected return of Drinkwater to the starting line-up who they’ve missed.
Predicted score: Draw 2-2
Best Bet: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.72 (80%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.89
Burnley vs Sunderland
This match straight away looks likely to be a bit of a dull affair. Sunderland will be pushing hard for at least a point to get something out of this as they scramble their way out of the relegation zone. The hard part is that Burnley have an excellent home record this season. They’ve played 1 extra home match than any other side so far, but after 10 home games they have 19 of a possible 30 points and on form have won 4 of their last 5 at home. Sunderland don’t travel well at all in comparison and have taken just 4 points from a possible 27. Add in the fact Sunderland have scored just 5 goals on the road whilst Burnley have built a pretty strong defensive record with just 10 goals conceded at home. Burnley are on a good thing at home and they should continue that here, even if it’s by the narrowest of margins.
Predicted score: Burnley 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.59 (80%)
Next Best: Burnley Draw no Bet at $1.59
Chelsea vs Stoke
The league leaders are currently on a 12 game winning streak and look set to make it 13 when they host Stoke this weekend. Even more incredibly though is that in that streak they have only conceded twice whilst happily going on to score 28 times. It doesn’t get any easier for Stoke this weekend with Costa returning from suspension to lead the line once again. He already has 13 goals this season and will surely add to his tally this weekend. Stoke haven’t been that bad away from home this season but they are surely going to be outmatched here. That’s not to say Chelsea won’t have any pressure on them, because with every win the pressure will start to build towards when their next loss or draw will be. It will come at some point but looks unlikely to be this weekend.
Predicted score: Chelsea 2-0
Best Bet: Chelsea to win to Nil at $1.91 (85%)
Next Best: Chelsea to lead at half-time at $1.62
Manchester United vs Middlesbrough
The Red Devils are building momentum after 4 straight wins and are well placed to make it 5 in a row when they host Middlesbrough this weekend. Their form has been built off some strong performances from not just the likes of Pogba and Ibrahimovic, but also the much maligned Phil Jones has really stepped up in the absence of Bailly. It is however up front where United will need to make sure they keep playing well. They’ve scored 8 times in their last 4 matches which is reasonable for a side with the talents they have, but they’ll need to be on the money this weekend given Middlesbrough are equal 5th in the league for stingiest defences with just 20 goals conceded. That may make it difficult for United at times, but what’s more difficult is seeing Middlesbrough win this.
Predicted score: Manchester United 2-0
Best Bet: Manchester United -1 handicap at $1.72 (85%)
Next Best: Manchester United to win to Nil at $1.72
Southampton vs West Brom
The Saints had a great start to their match against Tottenham during the week when they went ahead after 69 seconds. But from there it all unravelled and they now face a really tough match against West Brom who have more or less been their equal this season. The Baggies are good at keeping it tight on the road and they were unlucky to not get something from their 1-0 away loss to Arsenal during the week. This should be an interesting match and one where there shouldn’t be a lot of goals. Southampton are not that potent up front at the moment and average just 1 goal a game at home. In some ways West Brom are more than capable of an upset here and perhaps they’ll get one late on.
Predicted score: West Brom 1-0
Best Bet: Double Chance West Brom at $2.1 (95%)
Next Best: West Brom to win either half at $3.04
Swansea vs Bournemouth
Swansea no longer have a manager after their 4-1 defeat to West Ham during the week and it’s probably the right call. Bob Bradley just didn’t look like the right manager to get things right with this side and at least they now have half a season to turn things around. No match in this league is particularly easy, but the visit of Bournemouth who have largely been inconsistent this season presents a prime opportunity for Swansea to provide a response. Bournemouth haven’t been great on the road this season with just 1 win and there’s no evidence to suggest it will turn around anytime soon. Expect a much improved performance from Swansea here to get a win. Defensively their problems won’t improve overnight, but up front they have the tools to get a win.
Predicted score: Swansea 3-2
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.78 (80%)
Next Best: Swansea to win at $2.8
Liverpool vs Manchester City
The marquee match of the weekend here with Liverpool hosting Manchester City in a battle of 2nd versus 3rd. This is a match that’ll go one of two ways – high scoring or a borderline boring low score draw. Given Liverpool are not exactly strong defensively and Manchester City are set to welcome back Aguero from suspension, this is a game that looks like it’ll produce goals. Liverpool are the best offensive side in the league at the moment with 45 goals and although they have only conceded 1 more goal than Manchester City, they look more fragile at the back. To their credit they’ve only conceded 7 times at home but they haven’t really played a strong offensive side at home yet this season. City have scored the most goals on the road this season with 22 and they should cause plenty of problems for Liverpool. Some favour may be there with the home side, but this looks more like ending in a high scoring draw.
Predicted score: Draw 2-2
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.63 (85%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.53
Watford vs Tottenham
Contrasting opponents here this weekend with Tottenham winning their last 3 and 4 of their last 5 in comparison to Watford winning just the once in their last 5 matches. Things could become a little closer given some of the suspension issues that face Tottenham this week after their 4-1 win over Southampton. Walker and Vertonghen will miss after picking up their 5th yellow whilst the continued injury absence of Alderweireld will stretch Tottenham’s depth at the back. That will provide opportunities for Watford to capitalise on the league’s 2nd best defensive team. The main issue for Watford though is that it’s difficult to see them scoring enough goals to get a win or draw here. Tottenham led by Kane, Alli and Eriksen who have all found the back of the net lately may just be too much for Watford to handle in the end.
Predicted score: Tottenham 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.97 (85%)
Next Best: Tottenham to win at $1.67
Arsenal vs Crystal Palace
Arsenal were perhaps a little fortunate to win last time out but it will give them momentum in a match here where a win is crucial to their push to keep in touch with Liverpool & Manchester City. Palace are in a precarious position with just a 2 point gap above 18th placed Sunderland. What would give them a chance here is the fact that Arsenal have a lot of injury issues still but the fact that Palace have just as many won’t help them much. Palace will improve under new manager Sam Allardyce which should see a decent performance here but in the end they just don’t look like they’ll have enough immediate improvement to get an upset result here. Arsenal need a strong win here and they should get it.
Predicted score: Arsenal 2-0
Best Bet: Arsenal -1 Handicap at $1.83 (80%)
Next Best: Arsenal to win at half-time at $1.72