English Premier League Game Week 18 Preview

English Premier League - Football

Welcome to the preview of the Boxing Day fixtures that is Game Week 18. It’s certainly been a turbulent season thus far and there’s sure to be a few more surprises in this game week. The fight for top four is very much on as much as the fight for the title is pretty well wide open. We have 6 points separating the top 7 sides with the top 5 sides only separated by 2 points as we approach the halfway point this weekend. The title fight is certainly well on and after a bit of a dull game between Arsenal and Chelsea earlier in the week it’s certainly given a little boost to Liverpool as they sit on top of the table on goal difference. They do however have a massive task set for them on Boxing Day as they take on Manchester City away whom have been unbeatable at home. Regardless though it’s fitting that the final match of Boxing Day is between these two.

Best Bets this week:

Chelsea half/full time at $1.99 against Swansea

Arsenal to beat West Ham at $1.65

Great Value this week:

Manchester City versus Liverpool over 3.5 goals looks good value with both sides scoring freely.

Betting odds from Betfair as at 25/12/13

Hull ($6.8) Vs Manchester United ($1.6), Draw ($4.3)

We begin week 18 with Hull taking on Manchester United at home having still only lost once at home this season. They’ve certainly been the most impressive of the promoted sides and if they can add to a couple of key areas in January then they are well on the way to avoiding relegation. It hasn’t just been their home form that’s been impressive but also the fact they’ve only conceded 3 goals in their 8 home games is an impressive feat for a newly promoted side. They are however facing a talented, albeit a little out of sorts, Manchester United side that will be no easy task even at home. United are in some rare good form at the moment as well winning their past 4 games in all competitions. I do feel however that this won’t be a walk in the park for United given their rocky season so far. If they can get some consistency and some team spirit back then they could well push for that top 4 by seasons end. Welbeck is an injury doubt ahead of this one which should mean Hernandez will come in for a start given that RVP is also on the sidelines. Despite the injuries there’s still enough quality in this United side to get the 3 points if they fight for it hard enough – They’ll have to fight hard against Hull that’s for sure.

Predicted result: Manchester United 2-1

Best bet: Over 2.5 goals at $2.02

Best Bet Confidence: 75%

Aston Villa ($1.93) Vs Crystal Palace ($4.8), Draw ($3.55)

Massive game here for Aston Villa and in particular Paul Lambert after coming off 3 losses with the pressure mounting game by game. Palace are similarly looking like they are starting to struggle again coming off two losses, albeit against some stiff opposition in Chelsea and Newcastle. They’ll certainly view this as a must win game with Villa wounded and lacking the impact of Christian Benteke with his ongoing form and injury niggles. He’s also a doubt for this one and they so desperately need goals at home having only scored 6 at home so far. They won’t have to worry too much about the goal scoring threat of Palace though as they’ve only scored 4 times away from home and form front man Chamakh is out suspended for a fifth yellow which is a blow as he’s scored 3 goals in his last 4 games. I have to go with the home team here with Villa to bounce back from some poor form and win a low scoring match 1-0 with Palace sure to be frustrating in defence

Predicted result: Aston Villa 1-0

Best bet: Aston Villa to win at $1.93

Best Bet Confidence: 70%

Cardiff ($3.45) Vs Southampton ($2.4), Draw ($3.4)

Both sides suffered losses on the weekend and will be looking to atone for it on Boxing Day. Cardiff were soundly beaten by Liverpool away which was largely expected given the form of Suarez. Southampton meanwhile were beaten 3-2 at home to Tottenham in a game where they had their chances but were beaten by the slightly better side on the day. There is still plenty of politics surrounding Cardiff at the moment with the owner the main disruptor to things happening off the field. They are however playing at home where they’ve had their best success so far this season with the crowd always a big factor for them. Like their fellow promoted sides though, they are struggling for goals with only the 13 scored so far with only Crystal Palace and Sunderland scoring less. Southampton in comparison have scored more goals but they’ve struggled to score in away games with only 6 so far. They’re also on a bit of a bad patch of form with only 2 points from their last 6 games and travelling to Cardiff is no easy trip so they could struggle to capture the 3 points again here with the short turnaround from the weekend. I feel Cardiff will get behind they’re team enough to push them to a draw. Despite the lack of points from Southampton of late, they have too much attacking talent to not take something away here.

Predicted result: Draw 1-1

Best bet:  Both teams to score at $1.94

Best Bet Confidence: 70%

Chelsea ($1.36) Vs Swansea ($11.5), Draw ($5.4)

Well Chelsea have been involved in two quite boring games this season with the first a 0-0 draw against Manchester United and the second a 0-0 draw with Arsenal earlier in the week. They certainly need to bounce back from that result and get the 3 points here against Swansea to continue their stay in the top 4. It doesn’t look like they’ll have a huge amount of trouble against Swansea at home here though. Swansea have been less of a threat through the struggles of injury to Michu and he’ll be missing for this one as well so expect Bony to lead the line. I suspect Chelsea were playing a little safe against Arsenal with a draw far more important than a loss against a title rival so I expect a strong performance here at Stamford Bridge with a few goals to be had as well.

Predicted result: Chelsea 3-0

Best bet:  Chelsea half/full time at $1.99

Best Bet Confidence: 85%

Everton ($1.39) Vs Sunderland ($10.5), Draw ($5.2)

Another tough game for Sunderland on Boxing Day as they prepare to face Everton away who haven’t lost at home this season. There will need to be a drastic turnaround in form as well for Sunderland to get the 3 points here. Their away record is the worst in the league with 3 draws their best result so far. Key to their poor away record has been a lack of goals scored with only 2 goals scored which came in their first two away games of the season back in August. With Everton such a stingy side at home having only conceded the 7 goals it’s hard to see how Sunderland can cause trouble here in their front third. Expect a straightforward win here for Everton with Sunderland after a miracle to get anything out of this game.

Predicted result: Everton 3-0

Best bet:  Over 2.5 goals at $1.75

Best Bet Confidence: 70%

Newcastle ($1.78) Vs Stoke ($5.7), Draw ($3.8)

Newcastle take on Stoke on Boxing Day having come off a solid 3-0 win away to Crystal Palace and look set for another win here if they can keep their form going. Stoke have been in pretty good form though and will be confident of getting something out of this game. They’re unbeaten in their last 4 which also included a win over Chelsea. They’re only major problem has been getting results away from home with only 5 points secured from a possible 24. Newcastle have been very good at home this season and having only lost once at home they’re certainly in the box seat to notch up another 3 points and to add to their 6 wins in their past 8 games. Good opportunity for Remy to find some goal scoring form here having not scored since 23rd of November against Norwich with Stoke susceptible to conceding away (15 goals conceded in 8 away games).

Predicted result: Newcastle 2-1

Best bet:  Liking to value in an over 2.5 goals at $2.16

Best Bet Confidence: 70%

Norwich ($2.1) Vs Fulham ($4.1), Draw ($3.5)

Norwich are on their best run of the season having only lost once in their last 5 with 2 wins and 2 draws. Their opponents in Fulham this round have only won once in their past 9 games and are staring down the relegation barrel if they don’t improve starting this week. I suppose in fairness to Fulham though, they have had an extremely tough run over their past 4 games facing Tottenham, Villa 9win), Everton, and Manchester City. They did show plenty of spirit on the weekend to come from 2 goals down against Man City at half time to be level at 2-2 halfway into the second half. If not for some key injuries I would be leaning towards a draw in this one but Fulham have doubts over Berbatov whilst defender Hangeland will continue to miss whilst other key defender Senderos is a doubt after picking up a knock. Have to go with Norwich’s good recent form here to notch up the 3 points but with both sides susceptible to conceding a both teams to score bet looks a good option.

Predicted result: Norwich 2-1

Best bet:  Bothe teams to score at $1.73

Best Bet Confidence: 80%

Tottenham ($1.55) Vs West Brom ($7.2), Draw ($4.5)

Tottenham take on West Brom in the first of back to back home games in what has come at a good time with new Manager Tim Sherwood announced as permanent until the end of the 2014/15 season. The next two games are a great opportunity for them to push towards to top 4 and reignite their season. They had a great morale boosting win away at Southampton on the weekend with forgotten man Adebayor the star with 2 goals. If he continues his form like this, 3 goals in his last 2 games, he could keep Spurs in the fight for top 4. The tough run continues for West Brom though without a win since 2nd of November and still without a manager after the sacking of Steve Clarke. They’ve also struggled for goals with only the one in their last 3 and 4 in their last 8 so they could find it tough to break down a somewhat rejuvenated Tottenham at home.

Predicted result: Tottenham 2-0

Best bet: Tottenham to win at $1.55

Best Bet Confidence: 75%

West Ham ($6.4) Vs Arsenal ($1.65), Draw ($4.1)

Arsenal have another London derby after their boring draw with Chelsea to now face West Ham away. It should be back to business as usual for Arsenal with West Ham struggling with 1 point from their last 4 games and lingering only 1 point above the relegation zone. They’ve still got plenty of injury issues too which has largely derailed their season. Vaz Te, Reid, Downing, Carroll, and Petric are all out whilst there is a bit of a question mark over James Tomkins as he was charged with assaulting a police officer so could miss this one. Arsenal will also be missing a couple of key players with Wilshere serving the second of his 2 match ban but they have enough quality and depth to cover his absence. Going for an Arsenal win here as they’ll be looking to atone for that draw with Chelsea to get the 3 points as they fight for top spot with Liverpool.

Predicted result: Arsenal 3-0

Best bet: Arsenal to win at $1.65

Best Bet Confidence: 80%

Manchester City ($1.81) Vs Liverpool ($4.7), Draw ($4.1)

The big one is left till last with Manchester City taking on Liverpool at home. It’s no secret that Manchester City have been playing to perfection at home this season. 35 goals scored and only 5 goals conceded in 8 home games is just ridiculous reading and whilst they face a form Liverpool side on Boxing Day there’s sure to be a few more goals here. Man City will have one focus though which will be to stop Suarez. Thus far Suarez has 19 goals from 12 games since returning from suspension and has form has given the rest of his teammate’s tremendous confidence. City will need to stop Suarez as a team though as he’s been damaging from all over the front third with goals and assists and marking him could leave City open to other goal scoring threats in Coutinho and Sterling.

This is a very tough game to try and predict an outright winner with both sides in good touch, especially Manchester City at home. So in trying to predict who I think will win this one I can only look at the following factors. Liverpool have failed to deliver away from home against top opposition. They have played 2 top sides away in Everton and Arsenal. They lost to Arsenal and drew with Everton and whilst I know some people will think “Hang on they smacked Spurs 5-0”, but for me Tottenham has been inconsistent and relatively poor this season in comparison to Everton and Arsenal. The second factor I have is that of Aguero out with injury. It’s no doubt a big loss but not as big to this side as it would be to other sides in the league. City have a pretty even spread of goal contributors and have more than enough to cover his loss in the short term. Suarez unsurprisingly accounts for 45.2% of Liverpool’s goals this season whilst Sturridge who is out injured accounts for 21.4%. In comparison Aguero only accounts for 23.5% of City’s league goals with Toure at 17.6% and Negredo 13.7%. So my point is that this reliance on Suarez could be their undoing if City can successfully shut him down. I have to go with the home team here with 8 wins from 8 home games too hard to look past.

Predicted result: Manchester City 3-2

Best bet:  Both teams to score at $1.53. There’s value in an over 3.5 at $2.28 if these sides have their shooting boots on as usual.

Best Bet Confidence: 90%

Please Note:
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk.
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As an Australian growing up AFL was always my no.1 sport especially given I was lucky enough to grow up a few blocks from Carlton’s home ground, Princes Park, where I was lucky enough to attend many games. That’s where my passion for sport began but it was until the early 2000’s when I discovered a real passion for football with the Socceroos 2002 World Cup qualifiers against Uruguay accelerating my football journey. From there I began to follow the Premier League and haven’t looked back since. These days I’m a massive Tottenham fan where I’ve enjoyed many sleepless nights religiously watching them without missing a game despite many roller coaster feelings. There’s just something magical and glamorous when you watch the EPL and knowing the Profits owners Drew and Euan through studies, I’m now lucky enough to be able to share my thoughts on each game each week of the season.

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