Whilst there’s still a 7 point gap between first and second, there’s a sense of optimism now that Chelsea can be caught. The only catch is that it will depend on Chelsea dropping points in the coming weeks which right now doesn’t look overly likely. There is however 17 matches to go in the title race which starts all over again this weekend headlined by second placed Tottenham taking on 5th placed Manchester City. All eyes will be on that match with a positive result for Tottenham giving them the tag of genuine title contenders. Others around them though such as Liverpool and Arsenal will be hoping more for a draw that would see Tottenham potentially drop back to fourth if Liverpool and Arsenal win. So the stakes are high which should once again make for a great weekend of EPL action.
**Odds from Sportsbet as at 21st Jan
Match Day 22 Best Bet: Arsenal ($1.83 ) or Chelsea ($1.72) to win to Nil
Head to Head multi Bet: West Brom Win ($1.67), Southampton Win ($1.83), Everton Win ($2.37), Liverpool Win ($1.2) = $8.69
Liverpool vs Swansea
Slipping slightly to 3rd on goal difference last week, Liverpool will look to maintain their top 3 spot with a win over Swansea this week. They’ve come off two disappointing results with draws to Sunderland and rivals Manchester United last week. Again their defensive backbone seems to have let them down in matches where they quite easily could have claimed all 3 points and if so would be just 3 points behind Chelsea. There’s little time for what ifs though as Swansea will be eager to get something from this in a match where they really have nothing to lose. They sit at the foot of the table and although they are just 1 point off safety, that gap can grow quickly. They have the makings of a better side than what they are now but this match looks too much for them.
Predicted score: Liverpool 3-1
Best Bet: Liverpool to score 3 or more goals at $1.83 (75%)
Next Best: Liverpool -2 Handicap at $2.7
Bournemouth vs Watford
This looks like a close game on paper but Watford really have no foundations for success here this weekend. On the road this season they’ve won just twice and in more recent away trips have lost their last 5 straight scoring twice and conceding 14 times. Facing Bournemouth though doesn’t look overly daunting given they have won just once in their last 5, but their home record sets them apart from a number of sides. They have lost 3 times at home this season but their 5 wins and 2 draws will give them a level of confidence that should see them to 3 points this weekend. Watford’s chances rest on their frontline performing which so far this season they just haven’t with just 23 goals overall and just 8 goals scored away from home.
Predicted score: Bournemouth 1-0
Best Bet: Half-time draw at $2.1 (75%)
Next Best: Bournemouth to win at $1.8
Crystal Palace vs Everton
Everton look a confident side at the moment particularly after their 4-0 win over Manchester city last time out. They still sit a way off a top 6 spot where they are 7th and 7 points off Manchester United. But on the back of two strong wins they look in a good position to continue the pain for Crystal Palace who are still on the edge of dropping into the relegation zone this weekend. Their task is made even more difficult with the absence of Zaha which perhaps in all honesty doesn’t really matter because Everton just look too strong at the moment in comparison. The addition of Schneiderlin in midfield for Everton adds plenty of solidity to their structure that Palace right now looks unlikely to unsettle.
Predicted score: Everton 2-0
Best Bet: Everton to win either half at $1.68 (80%)
Next Best: Everton to win at $2.37
Middlesbrough vs West Ham
The Hammers have started to play some slightly better football lately but are still off the pace that makes them susceptible to another poor performance this weekend. On the road they haven’t been overly competitive with just the 2 wins this season but this may be a match where an opportunity presents. Middlesbrough have been solid enough for a newly promoted side, particularly defensively where they conceded just the 22 goals. That’s in comparison to Hull who’ve conceded 45 times and Burnley conceding 31. It doesn’t look likely in this one though that there will be a lot of goals. Middlesbrough have kept it particularly tight where they have only conceded 10 times in 10 home games whilst West Ham might look the slightly stronger side, they can’t be trusted in terms of their consistency.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.57 (85%)
Next Best: Middlesbrough to win either half at $1.76
Stoke vs Manchester United
This looks a pretty even contest with Stoke finding some form recently albeit with wins over Watford and Sunderland. United claimed a late equaliser against rivals Liverpool to keep their unbeaten league run of 12 games alive. Although it looks likely that their run will continue this weekend, Stoke do have a pretty strong record at home where they have lost just once in their last 8. Their last league loss at home to United was back in April 2013 where they have a record of 2 wins a draw in their last 3 against United. This is of course a different looking United side compared to recent seasons and it perhaps comes down more so to whether Stoke have the consistency to put 3 good performances together. They should make it difficult for United but a United win looks the more likely result than a draw here.
Predicted score: Manchester United 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.84 (80%)
Next Best: Manchester United to win at $1.57
West Brom vs Sunderland
The Baggies were well and truly outplayed last weekend against Tottenham and if not for Ben Foster in goal, they could have very easily lost 6 or 7 to nil instead of the slightly more flattering 4-0. They now have a good opportunity to bounce back at home to Sunderland this week. The loss to Tottenham in many ways should be seen as an anomaly because other than that, West Brom have been one of the stronger sides this season outside the top 6. Their opponents Sunderland still have a lot of work to do if they are to survive another season and for this weekend that work looks set to continue.
Predicted score: West Brom 2-0
Best Bet: West Brom to win at $1.67 (90%)
Next Best: West Brom to win to Nil at $2.63
Manchester City vs Tottenham
If there was ever a perfect time for Tottenham to impose their title credentials then it would be right now. They may have won their last 6 matches including a stunning 2-0 win over league leaders Chelsea and a 4-0 thumping of West Brom last time out, but there’s still a sense that they need to prove themselves. Facing Manchester City who are a little down at the moment losing 2 of their last 3 gives them an opportunity to get themselves right up there as genuine contenders. On form right now, Tottenham are the form side of the league with their 6 straight wins producing 19 goals whilst conceding just 3 times. It’s also important to note that they have a strong recent record against City where they have won their last 3. Of course Manchester City may get themselves up for this one and try to produce goals in order to get something from this but the question remains whether they can score enough to get a result against the best defence in the league that has conceded just 14 times whilst scoring plenty of their own with 43 goals. Perhaps this may end up being a pretty close contest but Tottenham just look too strong and determined not to get a result here.
Predicted score: Tottenham 2-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.62 (80%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.72
Southampton vs Leicester
It is still a little surprising to note that Leicester have one of the worst away records in the league this season. They are still yet to win on the road and have claimed just 3 away draws. It makes for an interesting contest against Southampton this weekend who look pretty solid at home despite not having the strongest home record in the league with just 3 wins and 3 draws. Their strength at home rests with their strong defensive record where they have conceded just the 11 goals. 6 of those conceded at home have come against the current top two, Chelsea and Tottenham. That along with Leicester’s inability to produce goals, particularly away from home with just 8, should see Southampton to a positive result here. Add in the absences of Mahrez and Slimani and the contest just got tougher for the reigning Champions.
Predicted score: Southampton 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.61 (85%)
Next Best: Southampton to win at $1.83
Arsenal vs Burnley
The Gunners still sit in 4th spot having missed the chance to be in 2nd if they had beaten Bournemouth a few weeks ago when they ended up coming from 3-0 down to draw 3-3. They should be able to produce another 3 points this weekend though with the visit of Burnley. Burnley is an interesting side and one that seems more than able to produce results at home but on the road they seem a lost cause so far. From 9 away games they have just the 1 point and have scored just 3 times. It’s difficult to see how they can turn that form around away to Arsenal this weekend.
Predicted score: Arsenal 3-0
Best Bet: Arsenal to win to Nil at $1.83 (90%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.46
Chelsea vs Hull
Despite their 2-0 loss to their current closest title rivals Tottenham, Chelsea still have a healthy 7 point lead at the top of the table and another prime opportunity to keep that lead with a match against Hull at home this weekend. Hull produced a confidence boosting win over Bournemouth last week but the match against Chelsea this week’s presents a whole host of challenges. in the reverse fixture earlier this season the result ended in a 2-0 win to Chelsea and although it’s highly likely a Chelsea win here it will be interesting to see whether the scoreboard will be similar. Chelsea look to be in the mood for goals lately and despite their 2-0 loss to Tottenham they have produced 3 or more goals in 3 of their last 4 matches. It looks set to be a tough day at the office for Hull.
Predicted score: Chelsea 3-0
Best Bet: Chelsea to win to Nil at $1.72 (90%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.51