English Premier League Game Week 38 Preview

English Premier League - Football

It’s the final day of the 2013/14 Premier League season and it’s certainly been a fantastic season of football full of ups and downs and plenty of surprises. The final day will really focus on two games with that of Manchester City taking on West Ham at home and Liverpool hosting Newcastle. With two points separating the sides in the race for the title it could still yet be Liverpool’s if West Ham can cause an upset and beat Manchester City on their home turf. If Liverpool then beat Newcastle at home then it would certainly make for an exhilarating finish to the season. There’s no doubt that there will be immense pressure on both sides not to slip up which could in turn cause mistakes and lapses in concentration so we should see some pretty exciting contests. No matter what though, whoever ends up at the top will deserve it after a pretty even season all round.

Best looking bets

Norwich versus Arsenal – Over 2.5 goals at $1.67

Southampton versus Manchester United – Both teams to score at $1.65

Liverpool versus Newcastle – Over 3.5 goals at $1.78

Odds from Betfair as at 11/5/2014

Cardiff ($7.8) versus Chelsea ($1.49), Draw ($4.9)

This could have been a match for Chelsea to make it a 3 way battle for the title on the final day but their nil all draw with Norwich last weekend took that chance away and now they can only look towards next season. Cardiff meanwhile will be looking to play a good game in front of their home fans for the last time in the Premier League for next season at least as they have been relegated. It’s been an up and down season for the bluebirds which in some ways many similarities can be made with QPR where they perhaps didn’t spend very wisely in the transfer market whilst off-field issues also hurt them. Cardiff had chances this season to make their home a bit of a fortress but of late and with impending relegation they’ve been pretty leaky at home. They’ve conceded 33 goals at home this season of which 15 have come in their last 5 games which emphasises their poor finish to the season. This match against Chelsea will go one of two ways – they’ll either play with some pride and get a result for their fans, such as in the form of a draw or slightly perhaps an unlikely win, or they’ll be outplayed once more by a top team. Despite some indifferent form of late, Chelsea should be too strong here, though we should expect a spirited Cardiff to give it a crack.

Predicted result: Chelsea 2-1

Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.6

Best Bet Confidence: 80%

Fulham ($2.62) versus Crystal Palace ($2.92), Draw ($3.6)

It’s a bit sad to see Fulham go down this season because for the most part they are a pretty likable club. Palace in contrast have had a fantastic season. Their first 11 games they only mustered up 4 points but from there they started to get a roll on and now sit in 11th spot with 44 points. That’s an incredible turnaround and highlights the work and effect Pulis has had on this side. Palace had a fantastic comeback earlier in the week against Liverpool where they were 3-0 down with 12 minutes of normal time to go but managed to explode their way back into the match with 3 goals to finish with a draw. To me it highlighted that even though they effectively had little to play for, this side has a huge amount of hunger under Pulis and if they buy smart over the summer they could be a top 10 side next season. Fulham, like their fellow relagted sides in Norwich and Cardiff, will be hoping to give the fans a win for their last game in the top flight but I dare say they’ll have a tough task on their hands to get the win. Watching this Palace side against Liverpool in those final minutes I can see Palace coming out pretty determined here.

Predicted result: Crystal Palace 1-0

Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $2.16

Best Bet Confidence: 75%

Hull ($4.4) versus Everton ($1.98), Draw ($3.6)

Hull take on Everton in their final game of 2013/14 with both sides looking to cap off their respectively strong seasons with a win. Hull have shown they belong in the premier league this season with plenty of fine performances to show if they can add a couple more signings in the form of a Huddlestone, Jelavic, or Long, then they can really begin to push towards a top 10 finish for 2014/15. Everton have fallen just short of a 4th spot finish but finishing in 5th is still a great achievement for them with European football next season. Effectively both sides have little to play for but in these sorts of situations there’s a little more for the home side. Everton can only finish in 5th with their superior goal difference meaning Tottenham can’t overtake them if they lose. Hull will be hoping to give the fans a final day win to celebrate a successful season. The flipside of this though will be the distraction for Hull with the upcoming FA Cup. Although I doubt key players will be rested it’d be fair to say some of the players may have one eye on next week in what is a massive game for them. In the end I don’t feel it’ll harm their performance too much but they’ll need to be wary of this Everton side.

Predicted result: Draw 1-1

Best Bet: Both teams to score at $1.81

Best Bet Confidence: 70%

Liverpool ($1.22) versus Newcastle ($15), Draw ($8)

Liverpool play their final game against Newcastle fittingly at Anfield in what will no doubt be a nervous battle perhaps even more so after their concentration lapses against Palace last time out. Newcastle have had a poor 2014 with just the 5 wins from 18 games and at times in the past couple of months it looked like they just wanted the season over as quickly as possible. It’s interesting though, because earlier in the season they were a good shot of a top 6 finish if they kept their performances up but injuries to key players such as Remy and the sale of Cabaye with no replacement hurt them. It would be a huge upset if Newcastle somehow stole a win here from Liverpool and whilst it’s possible if they take advantage of their potential nerves of Liverpool, I don’t think we’ll realistically see anything other than a Liverpool win here. Liverpool have been an immense side at home this season and I think they’ll be switched on from the first minute. If they can concentrate defensively then they’ll finish the job here. Jordan Henderson returning from suspension is a big plus as he’ll provide some drive from midfield.

Predicted result: Liverpool 3-1

Best Bet: Over 3.5 goals looks a good play at $1.78

Best Bet Confidence: 80%

Manchester City ($1.18) versus West Ham ($18.5), Draw ($9.8)

So with Liverpool looking to win their home game against Newcastle, and most likely quite comfortably, it’s up to Manchester City to ensure they win or draw against West Ham to hold the title for 2013/14. The game is looking like it’ll be similar to what Aston Villa dished up during the week with West Ham putting plenty of players behind the ball looking for the counter. That was a tough contest for Manchester City until they were able to find a way through a 6 man defence on 64 minutes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Allardyce employ these tactics either especially when they worked well against Chelsea. As a result I think we’ll see a pretty tight first half and even if City score it’ll be one of those well-earned goals after piling on plenty of shots for little reward. By the final whistle though we should be seeing Manchester City lifting the title once more because I really can’t see them losing at all. Of course anything can happen on the final day and it’d be thrilling as a neutral to see something stunning such as a West Ham win to give the title to Liverpool but at this stage I can’t see that happening.

Predicted result: Manchester City 3-0

Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.33

Best Bet Confidence: 90%

Norwich ($4.6) versus Arsenal ($1.88), Draw ($3.9)

It’s been a tough season for Norwich especially after they seemingly spent pretty well during the summer transfer window. They brought in some quality players such as Fer, Van Wolfswinkel, Hooper and young Redmond, but they didn’t all fire and they’ll have tough season in the championship in 2014/15. They come up against Arsenal on the final day too which rounds off a nightmare finish to the season losing to Liverpool, Manchester United and drawing against Chelsea. The draw against Chelsea was a good result but they needed more of these sorts of results. The tight losses to Fulham and West Brom in April were the crucial games where they could have easily grabbed points. Arsenal on the other hand will be pretty happy with their season having secured 4th spot and yet another season of Champion’s league football. They should finish with a win too with a fit Ozil and Ramsey running the show. Norwich will provide some resistance though especially at home but Arsenal should finish off the season with another win regardless.

Predicted result: Arsenal 2-1

Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.67

Best Bet Confidence: 80%

Southampton ($2.66) versus Manchester United ($2.82), Draw ($3.65)

It’s been a tumultuous season for Manchester United and Southampton alike. Southampton were in with a  fantastic shot of European football for next season after a run of excellent results in their first 11 games where they had just the one loss. It just goes to show though how long the season is and how difficult it is to maintain that sort of form. Of course for Manchester United their season has been well documented with the key figure of David Moyes forever a controversial point. They’ll want to finish off the season well with a win before looking ahead to the unknown of 2014/15 under new management and potential big name signings. Southampton are coming off two god wins albeit not overly convincingly but they’ll take that confidence into this one against a big club. United had a good win over Hull last time out with debutant James Wilson coming from nowhere to score a brace so it’ll be interesting to see if he gets another chance this week. I think we’re in for a pretty even battle here.

Predicted result: Draw 2-2

Best Bet: Both teams to score at $1.65

Best Bet Confidence: 85%

Sunderland ($2.38) versus Swansea ($3.35), Draw ($3.45)

Sunderland have had an incredible turnaround to avoid relegation when all the stats were against them. They currently sit in 14th on the back of a draw then 4 straight wins thanks largely to the goal scoring form of Wickham and Borini who have scored 8 between them in their last 5 games. Swansea could find it very tough to get a win away this week with Sunderland’s survival certainly providing a massive sense of freedom and relief to how they’ll perform here which should provide a pretty open game. A win here could also push them above West Ham into 12th spot depending on other results and I think that’s something that could drive them to finish off well here. They’ve got some exciting young talent this Sunderland side specifically in Connor Wickham and if they can keep hold of the likes of Adam Johnson and buy well over the summer they could have much more competitive season in 2014/15.

Predicted result: Sunderland 2-1

Best Bet: Both teams to score at $1.7

Best Bet Confidence: 80%

Tottenham ($1.52) versus Aston Villa ($7.6), Draw ($4.6)

It’s been a tough season for Spurs and even more so as a Spurs fan. It’s always difficult when you see your best players leave and with the amount of money spent on new talent even more difficult to not enjoy immediate success. But that’s the fault of us as fans demanding immediate impact rather than having a degree of patience. With that I look to next season with a degree of optimism if Tottenham can keep their players fit and get talent such as Lamela up and running then who knows. They still have one game to go though with Aston Villa to provide some competition here. Tottenham’s loss to West Ham last week was a poor one and although the red card didn’t help I don’t think it made much difference to the end result. Villa did well to hold off Manchester City for 64 minutes during the week before they piled on 4 goals. I doubt they’ll employ similar tactics against Tottenham but they’ll still be tough to break down defensively. With this likely to be Sherwood’s last game in charge I dare say the players will be looking to give him and more importantly the fans a win on the final day after a rough season after plenty of expectation as is the norm at White Hart Lane.

Predicted result: Tottenham 2-0

Best Bet: Tottenham to win at $1.52

Best Bet Confidence: 85%

West Brom ($2.18) versus Stoke ($3.7), Draw ($3.6)

We round off the final day fixtures with West Brom taking on Stoke at home. West Brom have been a mixed bag this season whilst Stoke have certainly surprised me under Mark Hughes. Stoke’s home record has been fantastic with 10 wins, 6 draws, and only 3 losses which gives them a great platform to build on for next season especially if they can get their away form on the improve. West Brom are lucky to be escaping relegation with a crucial win over West Ham ultimately securing their survival. I think there will be a big sense of relief amongst the team knowing that Cardiff and Fulham are down whilst Norwich will need a massive number of goals and West Brom to lose if they are to survive. I think Stoke will certainly provide a contest here but I sense that West Brom will be playing with freedom this weekend knowing that they are safe win, loss, or draw.

Predicted result: Draw 1-1

Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $2.06

Best Bet Confidence: 75%

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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