The second half of the season kicks into gear again this weekend after a small delay due to the FA Cup fixtures last weekend. There’s some great contests to be had this weekend too with Spurs hosting West Brom to kick things off – a fixture that has been pretty close in recent meetings. There’s also the matchup of Leicester and Chelsea where revelations of a row between Conte and Costa should make for an interesting fixture with Chelsea coming off a loss to Tottenham. Finally there’s the massive rivalry matchup between Manchester United and Liverpool to close out the weekend. Inbetween of course there’s sure to be spot fires of action, thrills and spills.
**Odds from Sportsbet as at 14th Jan
Match Day 21 Best Bet: West Ham/Crystal Palace Over 2.5 goals at $1.96
Head to Head multi Bet: Tottenham win ($1.3), Bournemouth win ($2.3), Arsenal win ($1.45), Watford/Middlesbrough Draw ($3) = $13
Tottenham vs West Brom
The Baggies have a had a habit lately of unsettling Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Tottenham haven’t beaten West Brom at home since January of 2012 and with West Brom playing some good football this season you could be excused for thinking the same may happen again. There will be some extra motivation for one of their players as well with former Spurs player Nacer Chadli returning to his former club for the first time. The injury absence of Jonny Evans though could be key as it means a change to their back four that has been pretty settled and one that Tottenham will be keen to take advantage of. Tottenham are coming off a big win as well beating Chelsea convincingly 2-0 and although they’ve had hiccups against West Brom in recent times, they look ready to get rid of that monkey.
Predicted score: Tottenham 2-0
Best Bet: Tottenham to win to Nil at $1.83 (80%)
Next Best: Tottenham -1 Handicap at $1.91
Burnley vs Southampton
Burnley continue to present a challenge when they play at home which will make things difficult for Southampton. They’ve only lost 3 home games this season and in recent weeks have lost just once in their last 6. What makes this look like a more even game also is that Southampton on the road have been a mixed bag this season. They’ve only taken 9 points of a possible 30 with just the 2 wins whilst on recent form they are also on a 3 game losing streak. Injuries and transfer speculation haven’t helped either with Fonte handing in a transfer request whilst both Davis and Claise have knocks to deal with. Given Burnley’s clear strengths at home though, this looks like a pretty tight game regardless.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.6 (85%)
Next Best: Burnley Double Chance at $1.57
Hull vs Bournemouth
This is a match-up for Hull where earlier in the season they may have pencilled in as an opportunity to get some points. The problem now is that Bournemouth have been playing some good football and have pushed themselves into the top 10. Every match for Hull now is one where they need to get something from given their position at the bottom of the table. They’re in a tough spot even more this month with injuries and also players such as Mbonkani and Elmohamady off on International duty. Unfortunately for Hull it looks like they’ll be over stretched in this match because they have such a thin squad as it is. They’ll put up a fight but Bournemouth have the opportunity and runs on the board to get a win here.
Predicted score: Bournemouth 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.83 (80%)
Next Best: Bournemouth to win at $2.3
Sunderland vs Stoke
Depending on Crystal Palace’s results, this is a great opportunity for Sunderland to potentially pull themselves out of the relegation zone if they can muster up a win. Stoke haven’t been on a great run either with just the 1 win in their last 6 matches whilst away from home they’ve captured just the 2 wins. Where Sunderland have pushed themselves into positive calculations this weekend is in their recent home form. Over their last 5 home games they’ve lost just once and have scored in 4 of them. Stoke don’t really look like the defensively solid side they used to be in years gone by with 32 goals already conceded this campaign. There is of course the realisation for Stoke that this is a game where they can get some points but Sunderland look hungrier for it given their situation.
Predicted score: Sunderland 2-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score – yes at $1.67 (85%)
Next Best: Sunderland to win either half at $1.91
Swansea vs Arsenal
This looks a really interesting contest for a couple of reasons besides on paper Arsenal looking far superior. It will be the first league game that new manager Paul Clement will be taking charge of for Swansea. His first official game for the club was lost in an FA Cup tie against Hull but in some ways that wasn’t a priority with it being more of a chance of a dress rehearsal for real challenge of keeping them in the top flight. Swansea play a possession based style of football and in the recent past have been a test for Arsenal. In the last 6 meetings between these two, Swansea have only lost twice. Of those meetings, only one has really looked a convincing result for Arsenal where they won 3-0 at Swansea in November 2015. Other than that, the two haven’t been able to separated by more than 1 goal. There’s of course different circumstances here but in those 6 matches, only two have been home matches for Swansea where they’ve matched Arsenal in possession. Of course possession doesn’t always mean a win but it does present opportunities if they can continue that trend. Arsenal haven’t been in the most convincing of form winning just 2 of their last 5 and this could be another interesting result this weekend. Whilst I’m going for an Arsenal win, it’s a prediction that I put down with a decent amount of uncertainty.
Predicted score: Arsenal 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.54 (90%)
Next Best: Half-Time Draw at $2.4
Watford vs Middlesbrough
Neither of these sides have been in great form of late and this does look to have the potential to be a match of little giving way. Middlesbrough in particular have been difficult to beat when they travel. They may have lost their last 3 matches away but they were not big losses on the scoresheet with just a goal separating the sides. They have been also against pretty difficult opponents in those loast 3 who have solid home records (Southampton 3 home losses, Burnley 3 home losses, Manchester United 1 home loss). Watford have been in a bit of a form slump too with just the 1 point in their last 5 matches where they’ve also scored just twice. They just don’t seem to be clicking up front with their leading goal scorer still Defensive midfielder Capoue with 5. This doesn’t look to be a match where there will be a lot of goals so we could be in for a dull affair here.
Predicted score: Draw 0-0
Best Bet: Half-time Draw at $1.83 (90%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – No at $1.67
West Ham vs Crystal Palace
These are two sides which have been equally disappointing this season and perhaps Palace even more so given they have some pretty good talent. The Hammers just can’t seem to get used to their new stadium and they must be wondering now if it was really a good move. They’ve won just 4 times at home this season and perhaps even more disappointing is they’ve only scored 9 goals at home with 16 conceded. Making it tougher for both sides though, is the absences of some key players through involvement in the Africa Cup of nations. Ayew and kouyate for West Ham and Sako & Zaha for Palace. Zaha in particular is a blow for Palace as he’s probably been their best player this season. The loss of Zaha in particular evens this up where previously his presence would have edged Palace ahead in this one. With both defences unable to stop the goals there should be some entertainment in this one too.
Predicted score: Draw 2-2
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.96 (90%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – No at $1.72
Leicester vs Chelsea
The explosive news of a bust up with a Diego Costa and Antonio Conte threatens to derail Chelsea’s stunning campaign thus far. The row has seen Costa dropped from the squad which should make for an interesting match to see if it unsettles anything else. It’s far from ideal timing for Chelsea after coming off a 2-0 loss to Tottenham which would have brought them closer to earth. The flipside is that it’s great timing for Leicester who are in need of another big win to push themselves back up the table. Earlier in the season they lost 3-0 to Chelsea but they do still look like a side that when facing the big teams they can cause some trouble. They showed that earlier this season when facing Manchester City when they won 4-2. They only had 22% possession that match and this match looks headed for a similar amount which will bring their counter attacking style into play. The loss to Tottenham and the Costa news could really unsettle things for this week where Leicester will be eager to grab at least a point here.
Predicted score: Draw 2-2
Best Bet: Half-time Draw at $2.1 (80%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.85
Everton vs Manchester City
Manchester City got back to winning ways last time out with a 2-1 win over Burnley to make it 4 wins in their last 5. They’ve still stumbled enough to be sitting in 4th place and a match away at Everton won’t be easy. Everton have found form of late with 3 wins and a draw in their last 5. At home this season they’ve also only lost once so are in a good position to take something from this. They also have a boost in the signing of Schneiderlin from Manchester United. He looks the sort of player they need and should suit them well. Everton also hold a pretty good record at home over City where they’ve only lost twice in their last 7. Some of the inconsistent performances from City suggest that a home result here wouldn’t be out of the question either.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $2.08 (75%)
Next Best: 1st Half under 0.5 goals at $3.21
Manchester United vs Liverpool
A huge match-up fittingly rounds out what should be a big weekend of EPL action. Both sides have produced good football this season with Liverpool perhaps doing it far more consistently given their 2nd place on the table before this weekend. United have been arguably in better form lately though with 9 straight wins in all competitions and undefeated in their last 15 overall. The same can’t be said of Liverpool though who are without a win in their last 3 in all competitions. That same old issue of their defence just seems to be a sticking point to their title credentials. Yes they can score a lot of goals and have 48 for the season but they have also conceded 23 goals, 8 more than first placed Chelsea and 9 more than 3rd placed Tottenham. This is of course a massive rivalry where sometimes trends and statistics just don’t matter. One that may matter though is the last 4 meetings between these two has produced just 5 goals and no match over 2.5 goals. Given Liverpool’s lapses in defence at times this season, you could expect a bit more of a defensive focus from them and equally from United with neither side looking to give an inch. Right now though if there was to be a winner, it would be United. They’re building form and confidence and have home advantage. If they do win though it will be by the slimmest of margins.
Predicted score: Manchester United 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.82 (80%)
Next Best: Half-time Draw at $2.1