There’s just 12 games left for the season but there’s still a mountain to climb for those sides fighting it out for the title. Still just 6 points separate the top 4 but that’s expected to grow a little this week given Manchester City take on Liverpool in the Capital One Cup final. That should be a pretty good contest as well to round of the weekend’s EPL action with City finding some form in the Champions League during the week whilst Liverpool will look to repeat the dose they dished out earlier in the season when they won 4-1. Given City’s performance during the week and the ambition I’m sure that Pellegrini will want to win some silverware before his time is up, they should be the ones to beat.
**Odds from Sportsbet as at 13th February
Multi option: Leicester win $1.57, Tottenham win $1.4, Stoke win $1.67 = $3.67
Capital One Cup pick: Manchester City to win
West Ham ($1.85) versus Sunderland ($4.33), Draw ($3.6)
The Hammers have been a bit hit and miss lately winning just 2 of their last 6 matches and face a Sunderland side determined to squeeze as many points as they can from every last game in a bid to survive. Sunderland have done just that in recent matches losing just 2 of their last 6 and sit just a point off safety. The problem for me though is that they still just concede too many goals. In their last 6 games they’ve conceded 11 goals as they look to go on the attack more often than not but doing so against a West Ham side could turn out to be a dangerous tactic. One of the keys for Sunderland will be to stop the influence of Payet for West Ham. He has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last 3 games in all competitions and I think is well poised to continue that trend in this one. I do think though that Sunderland will make a real contest of this but I can’t see them doing enough to get anything from this.
Predicted score: West Ham 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.91 (80%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – yes at $1.8
Watford ($2.45) versus Bournemouth ($3), Draw ($3.25)
These two had to settle for a draw in their meeting earlier this season and things should be just as close in this reverse fixture. Watford have found some form in recent games winning their last 2 matches with a 1-0 win over Leeds in the FA up which followed a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace in the league. For Bournemouth, they’ve had to endure 3 straight losses in all competitions after being on a 4 game unbeaten run. I doubt Bournemouth will be easily shut out of this one though as despite those 3 straight losses, they have been great in their recent away form. Their last 6 away games they’ve won 3 and drawn 2 that puts them only behind Tottenham on away form in the league. That should give them some confidence ahead of the trip to Watford and should be enough to secure a point. For me Watford aren’t at the level they were at earlier in the season when they were pushing for European spots so this is a bit of a danger game in terms of their winning ambitions.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.83 (70%)
Next Best: Under 2.5 goals at $1.66
Leicester ($1.57) versus Norwich ($5.5), Draw ($4.33)
The League leaders have a favourable matchup here against Norwich to maintain their top spot and should do so. Norwich have been on a horrible run of late and now see themselves above the relegation zone purely on goal difference. A heavy loss here could see them dip into the bottom 3 and that would be a tough blow to take with 11 games to go after this. A 2-2 draw with West Ham last time out would have restored a little bit of confidence but Leicester at the moment are in top flight even despite that 2-1 loss they sustained at Arsenal last time out. Leicester have the attack and drive to cruise in this one and given Norwich have conceded 18 goals in their last 6 games, they surely don’t have the confidence or form to cause a shock upset here.
Predicted score: Leicester 3-0
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.71 (90%)
Next Best: Leicester to win at $1.57
Southampton ($2.75) versus Chelsea ($2.75), Draw ($3.1)
The Saints are one of the form sides in the league and are in a great position to get something from the visit of Chelsea. Chelsea themselves have been playing ok but they just haven’t been winning enough games to really boost their confidence levels to that of last season. They’re undefeated in their last 10 Premier League games but from those 10 games they’ve only managed 4 wins. That’s the main reason why they still see themselves in the bottom half of the table and probably why they’ll remain there for a little while longer. Southampton have been in excellent form undefeated in their last 6 games with just the 1 draw. The key to that form though has been their defence with 6 clean sheets which will no doubt be tested by Chelsea who at least have some goal scoring form in recent weeks. The problem for Chelsea though is that most of their goals recently have come at home. Their last 6 home games have produced 16 goals whilst their last 6 away games have produced just the 5 which suggests they take a more cautious approach on the road. Southampton have the form but Chelsea have the unpredictability so anything could happen here so for me that anything will be a draw.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.65 (75%)
Next Best: Half-Time Draw at $1.91
Stoke ($1.67) versus Aston Villa ($6), Draw ($3.5)
Suggesting anything other than a Stoke win this weekend feels a little crazy so I’m not going to do it. It’s clear Villa are in all sorts of trouble at the moment and it was heightened in their last contest where they recorded their worst home defeat in their Premier League history with a 6-0 loss to Liverpool. They were torn apart and I’m not sure how they can bounce back from that especially away from home where they have claimed just 6 points from 13 away games this season. This is a Stoke win at home and if it amounts to anything else then it’ll be a massive shock.
Predicted score: Stoke 2-0
Best Bet: Stoke to win at $1.67 (90%)
Next Best: Stoke to win both halves at $5
West Brom ($2.62) versus Crystal Palace ($2.87), Draw ($3.1)
The Baggies will be keen to stitch two wins together after beating Everton last time out. The problem may be though that Palace found some confidence in their last match when they beat Tottenham in the FA Cup away from home. That win could be enough to spark their first Premier League win since they beat Stoke on December 20th. That’s a long time since a league win but I’m sure their FA Cup triumph over a title contender will be a huge boost. The other boost will be the full return of Bolasie who they have missed immensely. His powerful marauding runs in attack will cause a lot of trouble and could be too much for West Brom who have failed to beat Palace in their last 5 meetings in all competitions.
Predicted score: Crystal Palace 1-0
Best Bet: Crystal Palace to win either half at $1.95 (80%)
Next Best: Under 2.5 goals at $1.51
Tottenham ($1.4) versus Swansea ($9), Draw ($4.5)
Back to winning ways after their 3-0 win over Fiorentina in the Europa League during the week, Tottenham will be looking to continue their fine Premier League form where they have won their last 5 games. The incentive is clearly there too as they sit just 2 points behind Leicester in the race for the title so every point counts more than ever. It makes for a bit of an uphill battle here for Swansea who’ve managed just the 2 points in their last 3 after getting two good wins in a row over Watford and Everton. Recent contests between these two have thrown up plenty of goals with the last 4 meetings producing 16. The difference between those results and now is that Tottenham are a much better side defensively these days and haven’t been caught out too often conceding just 20 goals so far this season. Swansea may put up a fight but with the injured Harry Kane to return, the home side should be winning this.
Predicted score: Tottenham 3-0
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.95 (85%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals and Tottenham to win at $2.37
Manchester United ($3.2) versus Arsenal ($2.3), Draw ($3.3)
Arsenal will be eager to bounce back from their last 2 games where they failed to get past Hull in the FA Cup and have to play a replay, whilst in the Champions League they were outclassed against Barcelona at home. Things should swing in their favour in this one though as they are a few levels above what Manchester United has been able to produce this season. The biggest problems for United are now their growing injury list. The likes of Young, Jones, Schweinsteiger, Rooney, and Fellaini will all miss whilst there are doubts over Martial and Darmian. That will test their depth but regardless I don’t see them beating Arsenal here who will refocus on the league to ensure Leicester don’t build on their current 2 point lead.
Predicted score: Arsenal 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $2.23 (80%)
Next Best: Arsenal to win at $2.3