English Premier League Game Week 31 Preview

English Premier League - Football

Whilst the season might be nearing the end for 2013/2014, there is still plenty of football to be played. The top 4 looks pretty settled in that it’s unlikely that we’ll see a Tottenham, Everton, or Manchester United break through come the final games in May. So some excitement of a fight for top 4 between 6 or 7 sides has worn off but the top 4 positions are still to be decided with any of the top 4 of Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, and Manchester City capable of winning the title. Chelsea’s loss to Villa last week gives the upper hand to Manchester City as they sit 6 points behind but with 3 games in hand. Chelsea also face a tough match at home when they host Arsenal this weekend whilst Manchester City host relegation strugglers Fulham. Are we in for some straight forward results for these title hopefuls this weekend or will there be another twist in the fight for the title? Let’s jump in and have a look at where we think the results of these games will finish up.

Best looking bets

Norwich versus Sunderland – Under 2.5 goals at $1.74

Everton versus Swansea – Everton to win at $1.67

Odds from Betfair as at 22/3/2014

Chelsea ($1.89) versus Arsenal ($4.9), Draw ($3.65)

Perhaps the game of the weekend which is also fittingly the first game of the weekend with Chelsea hosting Arsenal. Both sides had interesting performances last weekend with Chelsea pretty much going off the boil in their loss to Villa copping two red cards and Mourinho sent to the stands. Arsenal on the other hand managed a 1-0 win in the North London derby with Tottenham thanks to a stunning goal from Rosicky inside the first 2 minutes of the game. Arsenal defended at their best though as Tottenham controlled the game for the most part without being able to break through for that crucial goal. This game sits in the balance for me with Mourniho likely to push for defensive efforts over anything else to ensure they don’t give away points easily. I don’t see the red cards for Ramires and Willian having too much effect on the side with Chelsea’s depth more than able to cover the losses. For Arsenal a win here puts them 1 point behind Chelsea on the table with a game in hand so it’s massive game for them as well seeing as they still have to play Manchester City and Everton in the coming weeks. I don’t think we’ll see a lot of goals here either with Arsenal only scoring 6 times in their last 5 away and Chelsea only conceding once in their 5 past at home and given the importance of the game to both sides it could be a pretty tight affair.

Predicted result: Draw 1-1

Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.87

Best Bet Confidence: 75%

Cardiff ($9.4) versus Liverpool ($1.39), Draw ($5.6)

Liverpool head to Cardiff in 2nd place with a win keeping them within striking distance of top spot considering they are 4 points behind Chelsea with a game in hand. For Cardiff it’s looking like another mission impossible game when they desperately need points sitting 19th on the table. They have a couple of slightly easier opponents in the coming weeks in West Brom and Crystal Palace but they’ll start to believe more if they can get something from Liverpool here. The problem for Cardiff though is they’ve been in terrible form taking only 8 points from a possible 42 in their last 14 games. Perhaps they can take some positives out of their Everton match last weekend where they managed to keep the first half scoreless and were unlucky not to snatch a point with a Coleman goal snatching the win for Everton in the dying minutes. Liverpool should continue their strong form here stretching their undefeated streak to 11 games. My major concern with Liverpool has been their away record this season but their recent run of away games has been as good as their home form winning 4 and drawing 1 over their last 5.

Predicted result: Liverpool 3-1

Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.57

Best Bet Confidence: 90%

Everton ($1.67) versus Swansea ($6.4), Draw ($3.95)

Everton are in strong contention for a Europa League spot for next season with 2 games in hand on Tottenham who are currently only 2 points above them. It’s a massive incentive for this Everton side to continue to perform as they prepare to take on Swansea this weekend. Last week they had a close call against Cardiff winning in the dying minutes but they’ll fancy their chances against Swansea this weekend with Cardiff perhaps more driven by the threat of relegation. Everton still have some injury doubts in the likes of Pienaar and Jagielka but for the most part they should pretty much have a full strength side on the pitch. Likewise for Swansea they’ll be close to full strength with Chico returning from suspension so we should be in for a pretty good game here. It’s hard to go past Everton’s strong home form having lost at home only once this season whilst Swansea haven’t had the best time on the road winning 3 from 14 away this season.

Predicted result: Everton 2-1

Best Bet: Everton to win at $1.67

Best Bet Confidence: 80%

Hull ($2.26) versus West Brom ($3.85), Draw ($3.3)

Hull have been an enjoyable side to watch this season as they’ve shown plenty of fight and it doesn’t look like it’ll stop as they take on West Brom this weekend. The Baggies had a great win away last weekend at Swansea which gave them some breathing space in their fight from relegation as they now sit 3 points above the drop. Hull meanwhile had a tough encounter against Manchester City losing 2-0 and although Man City were down to 10 men they couldn’t capitalise thanks to a stunning goal from Silva. Despite that cracking goal from Silva, Hull were still in the game so I’m sure there’s a lot they can take from that outing. Hull have generally been a pretty good side at home and despite last week’s loss against top opposition I think they’ll bounce back this week. West Brom’s injury list is growing whilst they’ll also be without Olsson after he picked up his 10th yellow card of the season. Should be a tight contest but look for Hull to take advantage through their strike force of Long and Jelavic.

Predicted result: Hull 2-1

Best Bet: Hull to win at $2.26

Best Bet Confidence: 70%

Manchester City ($1.17) versus Fulham ($20), Draw ($9.6)

This is looking like one of the more intriguing fixtures of the weekend with Manchester City hosting relegation battlers Fulham. Kompany will miss the game for Manchester City after he copped a red card last weekend against Hull whilst injury doubts over Nastasic means we’ll likely see Demichelis paired with Lescott in defence. Fulham got a crucial win over Newcastle last time out which will no doubt have brought some relief for the side but they still have plenty of work to do to get themselves out of the relegation zone. I suppose you never know what a side can bring to the table once their backs are right against the wall but Fulham have been in this position for weeks now and for the most part haven’t shown a lot. They showed a bit against Liverpool and in their win over Newcastle but it’s not looking good for them at this stage. Fulham will no doubt go for broke here which could put City on the back foot early on but expect a Man City win here come the final whistle.

Predicted result: Manchester City 3-1

Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.38

Best Bet Confidence: 90%

Newcastle ($1.89) versus Crystal Palace ($5.3), Draw ($3.5)

It was a tough loss for Newcastle last weekend and they face another tricky opponent in Crystal Palace who’ve started to show they belong in the Premier League. Newcastle have plenty of injury concerns over key players with Remy, Debuchy, and Santon all set to miss. Newcastle also have little to play for as they are safe from relegation and won’t be able to get into 5th for a Europa league spot. With Padrew also serving the 2nd of a 3 match stadium ban it certainly adds to the chances of Crystal Palace here. Palace are still facing a threat of relegation so any points here will be gold especially considering they have Chelsea next week and in their last 5 games they’ll face Everton, West Ham, Manchester City, Liverpool, and Fulham. That’s a tough run so I’m sure Pulis will view this as a game they have to perform in. I think Palace can get something from this one as well considering they’re pretty solid defensively and have some good attacking options in Ince, Jerome, and Murray.

Predicted result: Draw 1-1

Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.72

Best Bet Confidence: 70%

Norwich ($1.89) versus Sunderland ($3.8), Draw ($3.35)

The relegation battle continues to heat up here with Norwich sitting in 15th taking on 18th placed Sunderland (although they do have some games in hand). Norwich had a tough encounter with Southampton losing 4-2 last time out so will be hoping to get some points at home this weekend having only picked up 6 from their last 8 games. Sunderland picked up a point in their game against Crystal Palace last time out but they’ll be concerned that they’ve only scored once in their past 3 and although Norwich haven’t been in good form they do have an excellent defensive record at home conceding only 12 goals from 15 games. They’re also undefeated over their last 5 at home with 3 draws and two wins including that 1-0 win over Tottenham. They only conceded once in those 5 games as well and with Sunderland struggling to find the back of the net recently it could be heading for a tight result here. Look for a tight game here with Norwich the most likely to come out on top at this stage with the partnership of Bassong and Yobo key to their chances.

Predicted result: Norwich 1-0

Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals $1.74

Best Bet Confidence: 85%

West Ham ($4.4) versus Manchester United ($1.99), Draw ($3.65)

Big game for both sides here with West Ham hosting a somewhat rejuvenated Manchester United after their Champion’s league success during the week. The fact remains though that Man United have been poor all season and one win in the Champion’s league doesn’t suddenly put their season back on track. It reduces some of the pressure on Moyes but they really need to back it up with a win here at West Ham which in itself is really a tougher opponent than playing Olympiakos at Old Trafford. In saying that though, West Ham have lost their last two against Everton and Stoke so they themselves need to bounce back and would love to do so against Manchester United. Van Persie had a good game against Olympiakos with 3 goals but he was stretchered off and will miss this one. That’s a massive blow along with Vidic being out suspended. I’m not yet convinced that Man United are getting back on track and with Van Persie and Vidic to miss this could be a pretty even game.

Predicted result: Draw 1-1

Best Bet: Both teams to score at $1.83

Best Bet Confidence: 75%

Tottenham ($2.24) versus Southampton ($3.75), Draw ($3.4)

Another tough game for Tottenham here as they prepare to take on Southampton who have been very good for most of the season. Spurs put in a spirited performance against Benfica during the week with a 2-2 draw. It was a good result considering they didn’t have a recognised Centre half in the side and paired Sandro and full-back Fryers together. It was also perhaps a break out game for Chadli as he scored twice in 2 minutes to put Tottenham within a goal of taking the game to extra time. With Vertonghen to return from suspension this weekend along with Kaboul having been rested from an injury niggle we should see another spirited performance from Tottenham here especially if they want to remain in the Europa league for next season. Southampton meanwhile are coming off two wins against Palace and Norwich and although this will be a tougher test, they certainly have the personnel to get some points here. The last time these two met Tottenham ran out 3-2 winners in a pretty exciting game and we could be in for a similarly exciting encounter. Tottenham should be buoyed by their Europa League performance and with a host of senior players to return after not making the trip to Portugal they should be pretty fresh.

Predicted result: Tottenham 2-1

Best Bet: Both teams to score at $1.83

Best Bet Confidence: 75%

Aston Villa ($2.18) versus Stoke ($3.9), Draw ($3.4)

It was a great win for Villa last weekend s they pushed Chelsea to breaking point as they copped two red cards and frustrated Mourinho to no end. They face a Stoke side who again should be a tough test for Villa here having won 2 from their last 3 games though their away record hasn’t been all that flash with still only the one win away this season. Villa will be pushing to finish in the top 10 this season as will Stoke so we should be in for a tight one regardless of Stoke’s poor away record. Games between these two have generally always been pretty tight encounters as well with 4 of the last 6 ending in draws. Villa look to be on the improve though and will be pushing for a 3rd win in a row after a big 4-1 win over Norwich and Chelsea last weekend. Look for a tight one here with Benteke the difference for me.

Predicted result: Aston Villa 1-0

Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.64

Best Bet Confidence: 80%

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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