English Premier League Game Week 21 Preview

English Premier League - Football

It’s felt like an eternity since the New Year’s Day fixtures and game week 20but we finally have some Premier League action this weekend. Even with not so much Premier League action taking place, we’ve certainly had plenty of football take place with FA Cup and Capital One Cup fixtures taking place. It seems to be getting worse for Manchester United with 3 losses in a row starting with Tottenham, with Swansea rubbing it in, and then Sunderland finishing them off. It’s somewhat startling their fall from grace having won last year’s title and although we might have expected a bit of a lull after Sir Alex’s retirement, I don’t think anyone would have predicted their predicament halfway through the season. Let’s not dwell on it too much though, we have plenty of football ahead of us this weekend!

Best Bets

Everton versus Norwich – Over 2.5 goals at $1.73

Fulham versus Sunderland – Both teams to score at $1.73

Value Bet

Cardiff to beat West Ham at $2.02

Odds from Betfair as at 10/1/14

Hull ($6.8) versus Chelsea ($1.61), Draw ($4.1)

The first fixtures of the weekend sees Hull take on Chelsea in what the odds suggest is a one way street. Whilst Chelsea are deserved favourites, I don’t think we can overlook Hull too much given their strong record at home this season. Currently sitting in 10th place, Hull have a fantastic home record that most top sides would be happy with. 5 wins, 3 losses and 2 draws at home is a fantastic result for a newly promoted side and they look well on the way to a second successive season. For me the most impressive thing has been their defence at home. They’ve only conceded 6 goals in 10 games of which 3 came against Manchester United not long ago in a tight 3-2 loss. What gives them a little hope is that Chelsea’s frontline options in Torres, Eto’o, and Ba have not been overly prolific with 7 goals between them in the Premier league thus far. The majority of goals have come from midfield from the likes of Hazard, Oscar, Lampard, and Schurrle. It’s always good to get goals from your midfield, but if your midfield is shutdown then it can dry up the goal scoring opportunities for Torres and co. Whilst I think Hull are a genuine chance here at home to cause an upset, I have to go with Chelsea. I can see Chelsea getting frustrated though by this tough Hull side in that we could see a low scoring game in comparison to the Manchester United game a few weeks back with Chelsea more solid defensively.

Predicted result: Chelsea 2-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.89
Best Bet Confidence: 70%

Cardiff ($2.02) versus West Ham ($4.3), Draw ($3.6)

Looking forward to this game with Cardiff under the new management of Manchester United Legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as they prepare to take on a struggling West Ham side. West Ham suffered a demoralising defeat away at Manchester City in their cup encounter and will be desperately hoping for a better performance against Cardiff. It will be a tough ask to back up from that game having to play in front of a rowdy Cardiff crowd. Cardiff also had a good start to life under Solskjaer last weekend with their FA Cup win over Newcastle away which will have boosted their confidence levels immensely. With West Ham suffering defeats of 5-0 to Nottingham Forest and then 6-0 to Manchester City it’s clearly showing their injury depleted defence isn’t coping. The emergency loan signing of Roger Johnson from Wolverhampton is purely a stop gap measure and with a Cardiff side buoyed with a win and a new manager, this game is theirs for the taking. Along with their injury doubts to their defence with Collins, Tomkins, Reid, and O’Brien, they’ll also be without Nolan due to suspension. Too many key outs and doubts for me to see them getting anything from this one.

Predicted result: Cardiff 2-0
Best Bet: Cardiff to win at $2.02
Best Bet Confidence: 85%

Everton ($1.41) versus Norwich ($10.5), Draw ($5)

Everton continue their push for a top 4 place as they take on Norwich this weekend. A win here could earn them that if Liverpool lose or draw to Stoke and it would be well deserved after a fantastic season so far. If not for a sending off of Tim Howard against Sunderland, they’d have an unbeaten record at home as well. It’s a tough ask here for Norwich to get a result away here with Everton incredibly tough to break down at home and even harder to peg back with Lukaku when he’s in form. What should make it interesting though is the injuries to both sides with key personnel out or doubtful. Everton could be without both Jagielka and Distin which would be a big blow as well as Baines who is also under an injury cloud. Norwich also have doubts over Bassong and Turner so they too are depleted in defence. You’d have to still give the win here to Everton though I wouldn’t be surprised to see Norwich notch a goal with a makeshift Everton backline. It’ll be up to Lukaku to kick a winning score as the best form of defence here and my fantasy side will be very thankful as well.

Predicted result: Everton 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.73
Best Bet Confidence: 85%

Fulham ($2.2) versus Sunderland ($3.85), Draw ($3.4)

Big game for both sides here with 16th placed Fulham looking to push their way further from the relegation zone whilst a win for Sunderland would almost certainly push them off the foot of the table. Sunderland had a fantastic morale boosting win over Manchester United in their cup fixture during the week but without taking too much away from them it’s becoming a little too common this Manchester United losing thing. Fulham meanwhile have bounced back from that horrid 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Hull before the New Year with a win over West Ham at home and a 1-1 draw with Norwich in their FA Cup tie. I quite like Fulham in this one at home with Senderos returning to shore up their defence which has had to deal with some key injuries the past month or so. Sunderland have been playing better of late which gives them a chance but I’m not yet convinced of their away form to date. They are undefeated in their last 4 premier league outings away although it has hardly been against notable opposition apart from that Everton win where Howard was sent off. A draw is looking a fair result for both sides in the end.

Predicted result: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score at $1.73
Best Bet Confidence: 85%

Southampton ($1.86) versus West Brom ($5), Draw ($3.75)

Southampton has continued their poor return of results lately still with only the 1 win in their last 9 games. We must however take into consideration the opposition that they’ve played as they’ve faced Everton, Chelsea twice, Tottenham, Newcastle, Manchester City, and Arsenal. Throughout this period though they haven’t played badly it’s just that they’ve been beaten by a better side at the end of the day. As a result they’ll certainly be looking forward to playing West Brom this weekend after that run of games. West Brom themselves haven’t had the best of results over their last 10 games with only the one win, but they have improved being undefeated over their last 4 games with 3 draws and a win. Perhaps the big boost for West Brom here though could be the new manager factor with Pepe Mel taking charge. It’s a tough ask for a manager to come in and get results straight away and especially in a tough away fixture against a Southampton side looking for a much needed win. I think Mel will boost the players and the players will respond with a good performance but I’m not convinced they can get the 3 points away here. Should be a close one.

Predicted result: Southampton 2-1
Best Bet: Southampton to win at $1.86
Best Bet Confidence: 75%

Tottenham ($1.4) versus Crystal Palace ($10.5), Draw ($5.1)

Tottenham become the first London side to play 200 London derbies this weekend when they take on Crystal Palace. Tottenham have bounced back well from the departure of AVB and have won 3 of their last 4 under new boss Tim Sherwood including a win away over Manchester United. There has been a clear tactical change to a more attacking style of play under Sherwood as well with 9 goals scored in their last 4 games which accounts for 37.5% of their goals scored thus far. Crystal Palace will be hoping to end that run though and have had a pretty good run of limiting the goals scored against them in recent times in away fixtures. They’ve conceded only 4 goals in their last 5 away to also grab 2 wins. Their last 8 in home and away games they’ve only conceded 8 times so it’s clear that Pulis has shored up their defence. Palace will make it tough for Tottenham to get all 3 points here and will play a tight game at the back and we could see a similar low scoring result like their first encounter on opening day when Tottenham won 1-0.

Predicted result: Tottenham 2-0
Best Bet: Tottenham half/full time at $2.04 for a bit more value here
Best Bet Confidence: 75%

Manchester United ($1.53) versus Swansea ($7.6), Draw ($4.5)

It just seems to be getting worse for Manchester United with 3 losses in a row in all competitions and it seems there’s no light at the end of the tunnel anytime soon. They take on Swansea at home this weekend in a game where they’ll be looking to atone for that loss at home to Swansea in their FA Cup tie last weekend. Swansea will again be confident of inflicting some pain once again after a narrow 3-2 loss to Manchester City and then their win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. Whilst Manchester United have had plenty of injury issues in particular with Rooney and RVP, we could potentially see RVP back this week at least on the bench. I think his return even on the bench would be a big morale boost to his teammates and could be what they need to get the win here. I’ve liked how Swansea have played lately in particular Bony who looks a beast with 3 goals in his last two games against Manchester clubs. Look for Manchester United to bounce back here.

Predicted result: Manchester United 2-1
Best Bet: Manchester United to win at $1.53
Best Bet Confidence: 75%

Newcastle ($5.5) versus Manchester City ($1.72), Draw ($4.2)

Newcastle takes on Manchester City this weekend looking to reverse that opening day fixture between these two when they lost 4-0 at the Etihad. Newcastle have drastically improved since then and will back themselves at home against the form side of the competition. Manchester City are undefeated over their past 9 fixtures with the one blemish a draw against Southampton. In that time they’ve continued to pile on the goals with 29 scored and although Aguero will still be out injured, Negredo and Dzeko are more than capable themselves to lead the attack once more. Newcastle are coming off two losses and will hope to get a better performance in here. They could be without Cabaye once more as doubt continue over his fitness after injury whilst Debuchy will be a loss at right full-back due to suspension. Defensive injuries are not what any side wants even more so against a top attacking side in Manchester City. Have to go with Manchester City here as they should have just a bit too much class come the final whistle.

Predicted result: Manchester City 3-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.63
Best Bet Confidence: 80%

Stoke ($6) versus Liverpool ($1.67), Draw ($4.1)

Liverpool will be hoping to reverse the trend of their recent trips to the Britannia Stadium when they take on Stoke this weekend. Stoke have won 3 and drawn 2 of Liverpool’s last 5 visits here and are arguably playing well enough to stop Liverpool again from getting 3 points. Stoke impressively have the same record at home this season over their past 5 and have also only conceded 4 goals in that time as well. Liverpool have struggled away recently with their only win coming against Tottenham in their past 5 though it’s important to consider that their other 4 opponents have included Chelsea, Manchester City, Hull, and Everton who are all very tough sides to play away. And despite having another tough opponent in Stoke this weekend they’ll certainly fancy their chances after a tough run of games. It’s also a timely return from injury for Gerrard as well as potentially Sturridge who could take a place on the bench. I’m going to go against the trend here and despite Stoke having a strong recent record and having only lost at home once this season I’m going to go for a Liverpool win here with Suarez back to his menacing best.

Predicted result: Liverpool 2-0
Best Bet: Liverpool to win at $1.67
Best Bet Confidence: 75%

Aston Villa ($6.4) versus Arsenal ($1.62), Draw ($4.3)

The final game of the round sees Aston Villa take on Arsenal where they’ll be hoping to inflict the pain on them again after their opening day 3-1 win. It’s a tough ask though with a couple of players out of sorts form wise and a few injuries to the likes of Kozak who’s led Villa’s attack well through the form and injuries woes of Benteke. Denting Villa’s chances further here will be their terrible home record which is one of the worst in the league. They’ve only taken 8 points from a possible 30 with 6 losses. If they can get Benteke back up and running and scoring freely again we may yet see them trouble a few sides in the final run of games this season but I cannot see it happening against an Arsenal side that haven’t lost here in 14 trips. Arsenal’s striking issues are certainly well known at the moment with Giroud facing injury and illness issues (although he should be back this week) and Walcott now out for the rest of the season which is a big blow. Add to that Bendtner’s injury problems having made a promising return to the first team and it’s very evident they need more strike power at the club. In terms of this fixture though I think they’ll still get the 3 points but I think it’ll be closer than people may expect. Villa should have a stronger defence this week with Clark and Vlaar back in to provide cover for Guzan between the posts. You never know either, if Benteke turns up to play then anything can happen here.

Predicted result: Arsenal 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.84
Best Bet Confidence: 70%

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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