Welcome to the week 23 preview of the English Premier league. There are some fantastic matchups in this round of mid-week games following a weekend of FA Cup fixtures. Two of the most enticing are no doubt the Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton which could be equalled by the rematch of Tottenham and Manchester City with Spurs hoping to reverse that 6-0 thumping earlier in the season. Beyond this we have some new faces at new sides of which the biggest will be Juan Mata when he makes his debut for Manchester United against Cardiff. It’ll be interesting to see how he is utilised by Moyes and the effect he will have on the team as a whole. Either way it’s a fantastic signing for United seeing as he was one of the top players of the 2012/13 season. Let’s have a look at how this week’s games could play out below.
Manchester United versus Cardiff – Over 2.5 goals at $1.72
Liverpool Versus Everton – Over 2.5 goals at $1.68
Chelsea versus West Ham – Over 2.5 goals at $1.55
Manchester City to beat Tottenham at $2.06 isn’t a sure thing but looks good value
Odds from Betfair as at 27/1/14
Manchester United ($1.27) versus Cardiff ($16), Draw ($6.4)
Manchester United begin life with Juan Mata against Cardiff in what is a huge test here for the Welsh side. United’s players will be boosted by the addition of such a class act in Mata and with word of more quality to come, they’ll certainly be looking to get off to winning ways with Mata in the side. Cardiff are now looking rooted to the bottom of the table on goal difference and are looking likely to stay there after this match. Although United have struggled this season and are coming off a heavy loss against Chelsea, they shouldn’t have a huge amount of trouble here against the bottom side. At home with new signing Mata, Rooney looking to sign a new contract and a renewed confidence that quality signings can bring we should see a comfortable United victory here to get the round started.
Predicted result: Manchester United 3-0
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.72
Best Bet Confidence: 85%
Norwich ($3.3) versus Newcastle ($2.42), Draw ($3.45)
Norwich take on Newcastle this week and both sides will be looking for back to back wins having beaten Hull and West Ham respectively in their last matches. Speculation continues to circle Newcastle and Cabaye around a potential transfer so it will be interesting to see if it has any effect on their best player. On a positive though, Debuchy will return from suspension to add to their defensive options and they’ll need it as they haven’t beaten Norwich at Carrow road since 1994. Newcastle’s win at West Ham though should give them plenty of confidence heading into this match especially with Cabaye scoring 2 and Remy the 3rd in a 3-1 away win. I feel Newcastle are in a better position here despite only winning 1 of their last 4 games which included losses to Arsenal and Manchester City.
Predicted result: Newcastle 2-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score at $1.72
Best Bet Confidence: 80%
Southampton ($4.2) versus Arsenal ($1.98), Draw ($3.75)
Big test for the Saint’s here as they take on Arsenal at home this week. Arsenal still hold their slender 1 point lead at the top of the table and need to continue winning to keep Chelsea and Manchester City at bay. They also have a very tough run of games coming up through to March which includes games against Chelsea, Tottenham, and Manchester City. They also have Manchester United and Liverpool coming up in Feb so they need to ensure they make the most of these games against slightly lower opposition. Southampton will be a test though and won’t let Arsenal take all 3 points easily. Southampton’s home form has been far from their early season form when they began undefeated in their first 6 home games. Their last 5 at home they’ve only won 1, drawn 1, and lost 3 so they’ll need a good performance here to get anything. Arsenal have won their last 5 games and I’m expecting more of the same here albeit in a tight contest. With Lovren and Ramirez also sidelined for Southampton, it certainly give the edge to Arsenal.
Predicted result: Arsenal 2-1
Best Bet: Arsenal to win at $1.98
Best Bet Confidence: 70%
Swansea ($1.71) versus Fulham ($6), Draw ($3.95)
The struggling Swansea take on Fulham this week in a game where both sides are in need of a win. Swansea have taken just 3 point from their last 8 games which leaves them dangling in 15th only 3 points off the drop. Fulham meanwhile sit in 17th only 1 point off the drop but have a much better record over Swansea in their last 8 taking 9 points. The downside for Fulham here is firstly they have been very leaky in their past 5 away games conceding 16 goals. Their first 6 away games of the season they had only conceded 10 goals. They’ve also got a poor record against Swansea with the Swans winning 4 of the last 5 meetings. We should be wary of Swansea’s growing injury list with Michu, Shelvey, and Canas out along with doubts over potential returns for Vorm, Dyer and de Guzman. Bony though could be the difference with 6 goals in his last 6 games in all competitions but and with Fulham failing to score in 31.8% of their games a Swansea win isn’t out of the question here. Fulham have only scored in 4 of their 11 away games thus far.
Predicted result: Swansea 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $2.28 looks value
Best Bet Confidence: 70%
Crystal Palace ($2.5) versus Hull ($3.35), Draw ($3.25)
Crystal Palace take on Hull this week in what looks an intriguing encounter between the newly promoted sides. Both sides are out of the relegation zone but a few bad performances and they’ll be closer than they’d prefer to be. Hull at this stage look pretty safe based on their home form whilst Palace have improved under Pulis but still have plenty of work to do with a few new faces also welcome this Jan transfer window I’m sure. The reverse fixture earlier in the season saw Palace run away 1-0 winners and Hull will be looking to reverse that result here whilst improving their away record ever so slightly. Currently Hull have the 1 win from 11 away games with 8 losses a poor return so far. Hull have however done much better in the transfer window so far compared to Palace with key strikers in Jelavic and Long joining up making them far more potent up front. There’s also a little bit of off field rumblings from a frustrated Pulis that he isn’t getting the transfer targets he wants as well as the board reportedly bidding on targets that he is unaware of. With a potential threat of resignation already, it would certainly put Palace in a tricky position here. I’m going for a Hull win here to consolidate their position towards mid table.
Predicted result: Hull 2-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score at $2.12
Best Bet Confidence: 75%
Liverpool ($1.87) versus Everton ($4.6), Draw ($3.95)
One of the big matches of the round with Liverpool hosting Everton in the Merseyside derby. If you remember earlier in the season we had a cracking match of football played between these two with a nail-biting 3-3 draw. What makes this week’s matchup even more tantalising is that there is only 1 point separating these two sides with a victory a very big prize as both sides strive for Champion’s League football. There’s also the added scare factor that Everton could throw into the mix with loan signing Lacina Traore a possibility to make his debut. A Giant of a man, the prospect of him pairing with Lukaku is scary if they can gel for the remainder of the season. Everton have only lost once away this season as well which to me points towards a very tight but open game much like we had earlier in the season. Liverpool will certainly have the edge at home and with an attack boasting Suarez and Sturridge but this Everton side is still a side that is underestimated at times.
Predicted result: Draw 2-2
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.68
Best Bet Confidence: 90%
Aston Villa ($2.62) versus West Brom ($3), Draw ($3.4)
Not one of the most exciting matchups of the week but the result is important to both sides regardless as they look to consolidate their position on the ladder and avoid the drop. Villa have consolidated well after a 4 games losing streak through the majority of December to have only lost 1 of their last 4 games. Importantly as well for Villa has been the return to goal scoring of Benteke with 2 in his last 2 games. West Brom themselves have been solid over their past 6 games only losing once having been on a 4 games losing streak from 30th Nov to Mid Dec. I feel Villa will be up for this one having lost only once to West Brom in their past 5 games at Villa Park and with Benteke finding some form he could be back to his menacing best in this one.
Predicted result: Aston Villa 2-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score at $1.73
Best Bet Confidence: 70%
Chelsea ($1.2) versus West Ham ($22), Draw ($7.8)
The title chasing Chelsea take on West Ham this week in a London derby that looks pretty lopsided. Chelsea have been absolutely flying at home undefeated with the 1 draw and 10 wins from 11 home games. They also beat West Ham 3-0 in the reverse fixture earlier this season so will be confident of repeating that result here. Importantly for West Ham though more than anything is that they have signed some striking reinforcements in Borriello from Roma after their horrid injury run of recently returned Andy Carroll. I’m not sure if he’ll be playing this week but he’ll certainly be a good addition to the squad. Can’t go past Chelsea at home given their almost perfect record at home. Hazard and co are just in too good a form whilst the back pairing of Cahill and Terry continues to look solid conceding less than a goal per game.
Predicted result: Chelsea 3-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.55
Best Bet Confidence: 90%
Sunderland ($2.14) versus Stoke ($4), Draw ($3.4)
Sunderland take on Stoke this week at home in what could be another vital opportunity to push themselves out of the relegation zone. Their last 5 games have been pretty solid with 2 wins, 2 draws and the one loss and it has really put their season back on track. They’ve also scored 9 times when in their 17 games prior to this they had only scored 12 times which is a huge turnaround in front of goal. Stoke meanwhile have struggled lately mainly due to a tough run of fixtures that saw them play Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton, and Newcastle in their past 5 games rounded off with a loss to Palace in their last game. Stoke won’t be easily beaten here but I think they may struggle against a Sunderland side possessing a renewed belief under Poyet. Look for Sunderland to get a tight win here in a low scoring affair.
Predicted result: Sunderland 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.69
Best Bet Confidence: 80%
Tottenham ($3.9) versus Manchester City ($2.06), Draw ($3.8)
The time has now come to see if Tottenham can reverse that horrid match they had against Manchester City earlier in the season when they lost 6-0. Since that thumping though, Spurs have only have won 7, draw 2 and lost once to reignite their season. At times they have looked a little sketchy but their form under Sherwood especially that of Adebayor has certainly reinvigorated the team. Their defence has also been tightened up despite playing a more familiar attacking style with 3 goals conceded in their past 5 whilst piling on 11 goals. Regardless of their improvements though they will have a big test against Manchester City and will hope to have removed those mental scars of earlier in the season. City are rampant at the moment on a 7 game winning streak with every chance of making it 8 this week. Negredo might be absent but Dzeko should cover him nicely here and partner Aguero in a menacing forward line for Spurs to watch carefully. One thing against Manchester City is their record at White Hart Lane. They have only won there once in their past 5 games with Spurs winning 3. Whilst I’m suggesting a Manchester City win here I don’t think it’ll be of similar fashion to their last encounter. Spurs have a number of players returning from injury in the form of Lamela, Vertonghen, and Paulinho which will give them a boost as well. Look for a City win here from a fast finishing Tottenham that will give them a run.
Predicted result: Manchester City 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.66
Best Bet Confidence: 80%
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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