Week 16 of the English Premier League could be anything if you go by week 15 as an example. Last weekend saw some of the top 4 and title contenders stutter with losses for Manchester City along with draws for Tottenham and Manchester United allowing Arsenal to push into 2nd and Leicester push 2 points clear on top of the table. Speaking of Leicester, they have an interesting battle this week against the struggling Chelsea who once again failed to perform and were ultimately humbled by Bournemouth. On form Leicester should win but sometimes the “should win” games aren’t exactly straight forward. For the other sides at the top end it looks a fairly straight forward weekend with Man City hosting the struggling Swansea, Arsenal take on bottom of the league Aston Villa, Tottenham have a favourable home meeting against Newcastle, and United have a tricky but winnable game away at Bournemouth. With that said though, anything can happen and probably will but we’ll see is more likely than not.
**Odds from Sportsbet as at 12th December
Norwich ($2.9) versus Everton ($2.5), Draw ($)
Everton are on a good run of 7 undefeated in all competitions but the table is so close that they sit in 9th just 4 points on 5th placed Tottenham. They take on Norwich this week who they will fancy taking the 3 points from after they recorded another loss last weekend. Norwich have only lost 3 times at home this season but Everton are a handy away side having only lost the once on the road. One area Norwich do seem to have improved is defensively in their recent games. Having conceded 22 goals in their first 10 games this season, they’ve tightened up over their last 5 by only conceding the 5 goals. They’ll need to continue that run when they come up against the in form Lukaku who’s scored 7 goals in his last 6 games in all competitions. In the end I think this will be relatively close in that we probably won’t see a blow-out or anything but Everton look the better side to take the 3 points.
Predicted score: Everton 2-0
Best Bet: Everton to win at $2.5 (85%)
Next Best: Everton to win to Nil at $4.5
Crystal Palace ($2.5) versus Southampton ($2.9), Draw ($3.25)
Whilst just the 2 points separate these two on the table, Palace sit in 6th whilst Southampton are way down in 12th such is the evenness of the league at the moment. Southampton will be searching for their first win in 3 games whilst Palace will be looking to make it 3 wins from their last 5. Advantage isn’t necessarily with Palace here though despite it being a home game. They have a mixed home record this season where they have lost 4 of 8 whilst the good side that Southampton are have only lost 1 away from home this season. Southampton will also be looking to bounce back from that home draw against bottom placed Villa last time out. It’s almost a must win game here for Southampton if they want to push back towards the top 6. Their upcoming fixtures against Tottenham, Arsenal, and West Ham may not see them gathering too many points on current form. Palace will be really tough to beat here and I think Southampton’s best chance here is a draw.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Crystal Palace to win either half at $1.79 (75%)
Next Best: Under 2.5 goals at $1.68
Manchester City ($1.3) versus Swansea ($10), Draw ($5.5)
Manchester City had a poor day last time out at Stoke and now sit 3 points off the pace of top placed Leicester. The flipside is they have, on paper at least, an easier game this weekend against the struggling Swansea whilst Leicester play a tricky one against Chelsea. I think Man City will be going for it this weekend and will be boosted by the return of Yaya Toure during the week in their Champions League fixture. They still have some big outs with Aguero, Kompany, Nasri, and Zabaleta all set to miss this one. I don’t think they will miss them too much given Swansea have been struggling. Swansea haven’t won a game since their 2-1 win over Aston Villa back on 25th October and their previous win before that was over Manchester United on 31st August. One area they have really been struggling is obviously up front where in their last 5 games they have only scored twice and defensively they haven’t been much better in conceding 10 times. Whilst there’s always a chance of an upset in this league, I doubt Swansea can produce anything like that against Manchester City this week.
Predicted score: Manchester City 3-0
Best Bet: Manchester City HT/FT at $1.83 (80%)
Next Best: Manchester City to win both halves at $2.8
Sunderland ($2.75) versus Watford ($2.62), Draw ($3.25)
The Black Cats have enjoyed a bit of a resurgence recently winning 2 of their last 3 games with their latest loss against Arsenal away from home. They host a difficult side this week though with Watford showing some really good signs to survive this season. They currently sit in 10th with 6 wins to their name and a pretty good defensive record conceding just over a goal a game. It makes for an interesting contest here because Sunderland don’t look as easy to beat compared to earlier in the season. They may only have 3 wins for the season but those 3 wins have come in their last 6 games (against Palace, Stoke, and Newcastle). For me though whilst I think Sunderland won’t lose easy this week, I don’t think I can see Watford losing easily either. Watford have been good away from home picking up 11 of a possible 21 points and I think they’ll add another point to that tally in this one.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.63 (85%)
Next Best: Half-time draw at $1.91
West Ham ($2.62) versus Stoke ($2.75), Draw ($3.2)
The winless run for the hammers continues having not won since their 2-1 win over Chelsea in late October. Like many sides though, they are still in touch with the top 5 just sitting 3 points behind Tottenham in 5th. They also just sit 1 point ahead of their opponents in Stoke this week who look in pretty good form which should make for a good contest. Stoke have won 3 of their last 4 including wins over Chelsea and Manchester City but one problem they have is that they just don’t score enough goals to be a continued threat. Having the 3rd least shots on goal this season probably explains it though where they average just 3.2 on target per game from 9.8 attempts per game. Thankfully for their sake they have been defensively excellent where they haven’t conceded more than 2 goals in a game. With that said though, I think they have a big chance in winning this one this week. West Ham have been struggling for goals lately with just the 5 in their last 6 games so I think the loss of Payet to injury is really hurting them up front. Given Stoke’s ability to keep sides at bay (4 goals conceded in last 6) I think they have a good chance of taking the 3 points this week and especially after such a good display against Man City last week. The added bonus of not having to back up that performance with the perceived pressure at home may help them as well.
Predicted score: Stoke 2-1
Best Bet: Stoke to win either half at $1.94 (85%)
Next Best: Stoke to win at $2.75
Bournemouth ($3.4) versus Manchester United ($2.2), Draw ($3.3)
An incredible win for Bournemouth last time out when they managed an away win over Chelsea in the latter stages of the game. It was a much needed 3 points as well that temporarily at least keeps them out of the relegation zone. It adds to a run of 3 really good competitive efforts from them where they drew 2-2 against Swansea where they probably could have won going 2-0 up, drawing 3-3 against Everton before last weekend’s cherry on top with that win over Chelsea. I’m not sure how carried away we should get though given that was Bournemouth’s first win since September and whilst Manchester United haven’t been winning a lot of games, they haven’t been losing a lot either. United have only scored 3 times in their last 4 in all competitions which will be compounded by their tumbling out of the Champions League during the week. This will be a United side that could be a little scattered as they deal with a lengthy injury list and the result of no more Champions League football this season. What may help United is that Bournemouth don’t keep a lot of goals out conceding 2 per game on average which ranks equal worst with Newcastle so there will be chances for them to score this week. It may be against the run of form but I don’t see United losing and I think the players will want to put on a good performance this week after falling out of the Champions League.
Predicted score: Manchester United 2-1
Best Bet: Manchester United to win either half at $1.67 (80%)
Next Best: Manchester United to win at $2.2
Aston Villa ($6.5) versus Arsenal ($1.57), Draw ($3.8)
Villa still just have the 1 win to their name this season and it doesn’t look like they will add to it this week when they host 2nd placed Arsenal. The Gunners have been a little patchy in their league form lately but their recent 4 games across the league and Champions League has been really good winning 3 and drawing the other. They’ve been in a pretty good goal scoring mood as well with 10 goals across those games with Giroud scoring 4 in his last 2 to find some form. Arsenal will of course still be missing main man Alexis Sanchez but they won’t need him here to secure the 3 points. Villa have a lot of work to do and defensively they haven’t really improved. They’ve conceded 8 in their last 3 games alone and I think Arsenal will have too much up front for them.
Predicted score: Arsenal 3-0
Best Bet: Arsenal to win at $1.57 (95%)
Next Best: Arsenal to win to Nil at $2.5
Liverpool ($1.4) versus West Brom ($9), Draw ($4.5)
Liverpool are another of those sides that are in touching distance of the top 4 by sitting just 6 points off 4th placed Manchester united and just 3 off 5th placed Tottenham. They have a really tough one this week with the visit of West Brom who have been in pretty good form lately. Undefeated in their last 3 games with draws against Tottenham and West Ham as well as a win over Arsenal, they’ll be fancying their chances at Liverpool this week. They have the players and style of play to really frustrate Liverpool here as well and for me I just don’t think there has been enough consistency yet to genuinely push for top 4. Just when they were showing some really good signs under Klopp, they produced a poor display at Newcastle to lose 2-0. Add to that the injured again Sturridge and it hurts their consistency in team line-up as well. West Brom won’t be easy to beat here either and I fancy them for a draw. They’ve lost just 2 games away from home and have only conceded 5 times in 7 away games.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Half-Time Draw at $2.1 (75%)
Next Best: Under 2.5 goals at $1.76
Tottenham ($1.36) versus Newcastle ($8.5), Draw ($5)
The draws are piling up for Tottenham as they added their 8th draw of the season last week at West Brom. That was a tough game in tough conditions against tough opposition but they really need to start getting wins to remain in touch with the top 4. I think they’ll have a good win this week though for a couple of reasons and despite Newcastle’s good win over Liverpool last week. Firstly, Tottenham were able to rest key players in their Europa League win over Monaco. All of Kane, Eriksen, Walker, Rose, Dembele, and Vertonghen didn’t play with Alli playing just the last 10 minutes. These players have been crucial to their success this season so being able to rest them will be a massive bonus for this game against Newcastle. Secondly, Tottenham still managed to rout Monaco 4-1 with a really young side with an average age of just 23 with particular mention to be had of Erik Lamela who was in top form with a hat-trick. Last of all, Tottenham are undefeated in their last 14 games and at home they have only conceded 5 goals in 8 games. That’s an excellent record and one which Newcastle will be doing really well to break that trend. Newcastle can take a lot from their win over Liverpool but they have no proof of any real consistency this season.
Predicted score: Tottenham 3-0
Best Bet: Tottenham to lead at Half-Time at $1.8 (80%)
Next Best: Tottenham to win to Nil at $2.3
Leicester ($3) versus Chelsea ($2.37), Draw ($3.3)
Week 16 wraps up with a really interesting battle between Leicester and Chelsea. The struggles of Chelsea are clear to see and they’ll be lacking a lot of confidence ahead of this one. On the flip side, Leicester will probably be expected to win this one so that will be interesting to see how they handle that pressure. The odds of course don’t suggest anything to do with an expectation that Leicester will win and that’s because it’s going to be a pretty close game. Pressure is an interesting topic for this match because whilst Leicester are top of the table and have building pressure on themselves to stay there, Chelsea has a lot of pressure on them to win games and win them quickly to fight their way in to the top 10. One thing I think we definitely will see in this one is goals given how many Leicester seem to be scoring with ease. They lead the league with 32 goals in 15 games and I think the likes of Vardy and Mahrez will cause Chelsea’s backline a lot of problems. The other problem for Chelsea is that recently Leicester haven’t been conceding a lot of goals like they were earlier in the season. In their last 6 games they’ve only conceded 4 goals compared to 17 in their first 9 games of the season. As for this game I can’t help but feel the bus will be parked for Chelsea in this one as they did against Tottenham. I’m just not sure how effective that will be for Mourinho this time because Leicester are scoring pretty easily so whilst this could easily be an under 2.5 goal game I’m going with a few more goals than that.
Predicted score: Leicester 2-1
Best Bet: Leicester Double Chance $1.57 (90%)
Next Best: Leicester to score 2 or more goals at $2.5