There’s now just 12 games left in English Premier League season 2016/17 and it’s still very much looking like a one horse race for the title. Chelsea sit well ahead with a 10 point lead over 2nd placed Spurs. Manchester City are effectively 8 points behind given then have a game in hand and assuming they gain those 3 points when they play that extra game. So whilst the lead right now is significant, there’s still the chance that Chelsea can suddenly have a tricky patch of a few games allowing a Tottenham or Manchester City to close the gap. We’ll just have to wait and see though if they take the foot off the pedal and I’m sure most EPL fans apart from Chelsea’s wouldn’t mind a tighter race for the title and not just for top 4 spots.
**Odds from Sportsbet as at 4th March
Match Day 27 Best Bet: West Brom to beat Crystal Palace at $2.2
Head to Head multi Bet: West Brom Win ($2.2), Tottenham Win ($1.62), Manchester City Win ($1.28), Chelsea Win ($1.6) = $7.3
Manchester United vs Bournemouth
Manchester United have a great opportunity this week to get ahead of 5th placed Liverpool and have a real shot of breaking into the top 4 in the coming weeks. They currently sit 1 point behind their rivals but importantly with a game in hand. Adding to the difficulty for Liverpool is they play Arsenal this week. Back to this match though and it’s difficult to see United giving too much away here. Bournemouth are on a poor run where their last league win came against Swansea at the start of Jan and that’s without looking at their away form where they’ve taken just 8 points this season.
Predicted score: Manchester United 2-0
Best Bet: Manchester United Half-Time/Full-Time at $1.72 (85%)
Next Best: Manchester United -1 handicap at $1.72
Stoke vs Middlesbrough
Both these sides are coming off away losses with Stoke getting smashed 4-0 at Tottenham and Middlesbrough narrowly losing 1-0 at Crystal Palace. Stoke’s loss in some ways was a formality given their opposition with that being their 3rd straight loss to Spurs with the same score line of 4-0 so you can expect a better performance from them this week at home. Their home form has been pretty consistent and lately they are on a 6 game undefeated run with 4 draws and 2 wins. Perhaps a few too many draws but it should make for a test for Middlesbrough who have a pretty poor away record at the moment. Middlesbrough earlier in the season were quite a stubborn side on the road but it’s fallen away a bit with 5 of their away losses coming in their last 6 away matches. The one positive you can get from Middlesbrough though is that they still don’t give away a lot of goals and particularly in their recent away run where despite 5 loss in their last 6, they’ve only conceded 6 times – their issue is more up front where they’ve only scored once in those 6. Might be another narrow loss here.
Predicted score: Stoke 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.5 (90%)
Next Best: Stoke to win at $1.95
Leicester vs Hull
Well it’s always interesting when a manager is sacked and in some ways Leicester’s response with a big win over Liverpool was probably not all that surprising. Perhaps the real test now is what happens here against Hull. There’s always a bit of a honeymoon type period when a manager is cast aside and for Leicester after their last match it seems very much like they are suddenly back to their best from their title winning form of last season. With that win though there now comes a renewed expectation around Leicester finishing off the season strong. Against Hull though it will be interesting this week. Hull have a horrible away record with just 5 points from 13 games but you have to wonder how Leicester will respond this week. Hull will sit back a lot more than what Liverpool did and those are the sides that Leicester have tended to struggle with in their counter attacking style of play at times (they had 30% possession against Liverpool). Hull have had a tough run in their last 3 away but have done well to get a 2-0 loss at Chelsea, a 0-0 draw at Man United and then a 2-0 loss at Arsenal. They aren’t far away, and perhaps they may upset the rejuvenation of Leicester’s win over Liverpool.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.73 (75%)
Next Best: Half-time Draw at $2
Swansea vs Burnley
This is a difficult match for both sides but a great opportunity for Swansea to climb further away from the relegation zone. Their form of late has been fantastic given where they had come from with 3 wins in their last 5. They made Chelsea work for it last week too even though the ending score read 3-1. Facing Burnley this week and given it’s a home match, Swansea will surely be the side to beat. Burnley took just their 2nd point on the road this season in their last match when they had a draw at Hull. Swansea seem like they are in a good place at the moment and that should continue with another 3 points this weekend.
Predicted score: Swansea 2-1
Best Bet: Swansea to win either half at $1.51 (90%)
Next Best: Swansea to win at $2.05
Watford vs Southampton
Another tricky game here with Southampton heading to Watford in what should end up a close encounter. Watford have been a difficult side to beat of late with just the 1 loss in their last 6 matches whilst for Southampton they’ve had a few more struggles with 4 loss in their last 6 to slide down to 13th. Injuries haven’t helped the Saints but the recruitment of Gabbiadini up front has done them no harm with 5 goals in his last 3 appearances. His addition has gone a long way to help with the lack of goals that Southampton had been producing. That will be an interesting test for Watford who have been sketchy at the back at times this season whilst for Southampton it should continue to give those behind their new striker plenty of confidence in driving forward. Southampton haven’t conceded a huge amount of goals overall this season with 31 but 9 of those have come in their last 6 so there will be opportunities for Watford here.
Predicted score: Draw 2-2
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $2.27 (80%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.91
West Brom vs Crystal Palace
The Baggies continue their push towards the top 7 after claiming their 3rd win in their last 5 games beating Bournemouth 2-1 last time out. They take on Palace this week who have a lot to play for but also may need to wait for an opponent not at the level that West Brom are currently at this season. Palace are still stuck in the relegation zone with goal difference the only thing separating them from 17th placed Middlesbrough. Palace will have more chances this season to gain points but West Brom right now looks a bit too much of a test to expect anything from.
Predicted score: West Brom 2-0
Best Bet: West Brom to win at $2.2 (90%)
Next Best: West Brom Draw No Bet at $1.46
Liverpool vs Arsenal
Whilst Liverpool are on a difficult run where they’ve only claimed 1 win in their last 6, it’s perhaps not all doom and gloom when it comes to this weekend’s match against Arsenal. Their only win in their last 6 came at home when they beat Tottenham 2-0 and there’s every chance they could do something similar here. Their loss to Leicester last time out was poor but Liverpool has tended to be a side in recent times that does drop games to the lesser sides. The flipside is that they do tend to perform against the bigger sides and perhaps that’s where there should be some worries for Arsenal. The Gunners have recently slipped to 4th and a loss of draw here leaves them even more vulnerable to eventually slip further. They’ve lost two of their last 5 and 3 of their last 5 when away from home. The number of central midfield injuries hadn’t helped recently but they’ve just also not been playing at their best and Liverpool will be up for this so you can expect plenty of pressure on Arsenal’s back four this week. In the end though, it’s still probably a little tight to call a winner but both can stake a claim for a point here at least.
Predicted score: Draw 2-2
Best Bet: Both teams to score – yes at $1.57 (90%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.67
Tottenham vs Everton
Having lost 2-0 at Liverpool, Tottenham surged back into form against Stoke last time out with a strong 4-0 win with Kane adding to his 17 goals with a hat-trick. Everton presents a really difficult test this weekend but one where you would think Tottenham’s home form says it all. Spurs are still the only side yet to lose at home this season with 11 wins and 2 draws. That’s a difficult record and mentality for Everton to overcome this week who despite sitting comfortably in 7th place, have won just 4 times on the road and added the 4 draws. It’s by no means a bad record but whether it’s one that presents a trend where they can get something out of this games is another question. In saying that, they are undefeated in their last 5 away but they’ve also not really played anyone of significance in those 5 matches so those are results that should be expected. The last 3 times these two have played it has ended in draws and all under 2.5 goals. The under 2.5 goals part is something that should continue here but a Tottenham win looks the likelier result.
On a side note, if the defensive pairing of Alderweireld & Vertonghen are absent through injury this week then the subsequent outcome of this match could become a whole different scenario where perhaps a draw is a higher possibility.
Predicted score: Tottenham 2-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.95 (75%)
Next Best: Tottenham to win at $1.62
Sunderland vs Manchester City
A must win here for Manchester City in their quest to gain on the league leading Chelsea. Besides a true upset, this should be a straight forward win for Manchester City against the bottom placed Sunderland. The Black Cats aren’t far off survival at least so a loss here wouldn’t be the end of the world and perhaps something that may give them a little more freedom in their style of play this weekend. City have been in some good form lately though winning their last 3 with 8 goals scored and if you include their other 3 non-league games recently too then that’s 18 goals in 6 games. It might just be a tough day for Sunderland in this one.
Predicted score: Manchester City 4-1
Best Bet: Manchester City Half-Time/Full-Time at $1.83 (85%)
Next Best: Manchester City -2 Handicap at $3.1
West Ham vs Chelsea
The final match of the week caps off with a London derby between West Ham and Chelsea. A lot of rival fans will be hoping for an upset West Ham win. The Hammer’s form isn’t too bad either though which should lend well in this match. They’ve lost just once in their last 6 but their troubles continue to be defensively where they’ve conceded 9 times in those 6 with 4 of those coming against Manchester City. That 4-0 loss to Manchester City is perhaps the key for this one with Chelsea boasting a brutal attacking force that may just deal out the same sort of result that City did. Interestingly though, Chelsea’s away form has dropped away a little recently with just 1 win in their last 3. Whilst that doesn’t necessarily translate to a West Ham result here, it does present perhaps an opportunity. The problem is that Chelsea don’t look likely to give anything else away this season so another win here looks in order.
Predicted score: Chelsea 2-1
Best Bet: Chelsea to win at $1.6 (85%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.77