The past week has seen some fantastic EPL action once again and it continued to be a rollercoaster of a season with plenty of upsets in mid-week that keeps Leicester’s fairy-tale title ambitions alive. Leicester had stumbled by dropping points at home to West Brom during the week but with Tottenham, Arsenal, and Manchester City all losing it means they gained a point on all of their title rivals. And to make things more interesting, there’s some huge football matches this week. No doubt Leicester’s remaining games are all going to be huge and their trip to Watford should again test their nerve as they try and maintain that 3 point lead over Tottenham. One of the biggest games of the season thus far is no doubt taking place on Saturday with the North London derby having plenty on the line with both rivals in the fight for the title which hasn’t really happened before. A win for Spurs will give them a massive advantage over Arsenal creating a 6 point gap whilst a loss or draw keeps things real interesting and advantages Leicester if they can take the advantage when they play Watford.
**Odds from Sportsbet as at 5th March
Tottenham ($2.4) versus Arsenal ($3), Draw ($3.3)
Whilst I might be biased, this game is absolutely massive and a North London derby taking place where both are in the title race brings even more importance to this intense rivalry. For Arsenal they have a few issues though that puts them on the back foot early. They’ve lost Cech and Koscielny to injury most recently which is a big blow to their defensive stocks. Add to that a dent to their confidence in that they’re winless in their last 4 in all competitions and they have a lot of ground to make up. For Tottenham they too are on the back foot after that shock loss to West Ham during the week being only their 2nd away loss of the season. It was a scrappy game and one where Spurs didn’t really make an impact. They had won 6 straight in the league prior to that though and their injury list is far less than that of their rivals so overall you’d have to say they are ahead. With the games remaining for the season starting to dwindle, the importance of each match grows and it’ll be interesting to see who can handle the pressure. Tottenham have shown a great mental strength this season that is very unlike the Tottenham sides of seasons past and that should put them in good stead against an Arsenal struggling at the moment.
Predicted score: Tottenham 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.78 (80%)
Next Best: Tottenham Draw No Bet at $1.63
Chelsea ($1.5) versus Stoke ($7), Draw ($4.2)
Suddenly Chelsea have won 3 on the trot and you have to wonder if they can make a late push for the top 5 sitting just 8 points of Manchester United with 10 games to go. It’s a big ask but it’s not impossible. On form they have a tough test here though with Stoke on a good streak themselves with 3 wins straight as well. For me it comes down to whether Stoke have what it takes to make it 4 in a row. They’ve been good this season but making it 4 in a row with the 4th against a Chelsea side seemingly back in some form I think is just a step to far at the moment. This will be a tight game but Chelsea will continue pushing up the table in this one.
Predicted score: Chelsea 2-1
Best Bet: Exactly 2 or 3 goals at $2 (70%)
Next Best: Chelsea to win at $1.5
Everton ($1.75) versus West Ham ($4.5), Draw ($3.9)
Both Everton and West Ham had wins during the week but the hammers depth will be tested with more injuries to their already injury depleted defence. James Collins can be added to the already injured Winston Reid and James Tomkins meaning that Angelo Ogbonna is their real only recognised centre back at the moment. They got away with it against Tottenham who played poorly but against Everton who are not shy in scoring goals (49 – equal 2nd most goals scored with Tottenham). the one thing counting against Everton for me is that their home form recently has been really poor winning just 1 of their last 6 but I’m backing them to return to winning ways at home.
Predicted score: Everton 2-1
Best Bet: Everton to win at $1.75 (75%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.71
Manchester City ($1.22) versus Aston Villa ($15), Draw ($6)
They are still in the hunt for the title but 10 points off the pace with a game in hand is starting to looking like a gap that might be too hard for Man City to overcome. They should be able to gather another 3 points here though against a Villa side that needs a miracle to survive. 8 points off safety is too big a gap to close. They may surprise themselves a little in their remaining games if they play for pride and hence play with a bit of freedom but I think another loss here just puts a nail in the coffin for this season. City were well thumped by Liverpool 3-0 and perhaps that’s in part to their Capital Once Cup success hangover that tends to happen. With that said though, City should switch on here especially in the knowledge that their rivals Manchester United are equal on 47 points. More poor performances will put their top 4 position in doubt but at least for this weekend that shouldn’t be happening.
Predicted score: Manchester City 3-0
Best Bet: Manchester City to win both halves at $2.4 (75%)
Next Best: Manchester City to win & Over 2.5 goals at $1.66
Newcastle ($2.6) versus Bournemouth ($2.75), Draw ($3.3)
Sitting in 19th, Newcastle need points quickly if they’re to ensure safety for another season and a win here will potentially lift them out of the drop zone for the short term with relegation rivals Sunderland and Norwich having tricky tests this week. The test is that Bournemouth have been hard to beat away from home recently with just 1 loss in their last 6 games on the road. The flipside of this of course is that Newcastle have been on a good run of form at home winning their last 2 and losing just 1 of their last 6 at home. The importance of this result for Newcastle is really that of a must win and I think they’ll have just that little bit more of drive in their play to get past a tricky Bournemouth side.
Predicted score: Newcastle 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.82 (75%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.62
Southampton ($1.65) versus Sunderland ($6), Draw ($3.7)
After 6 games undefeated and 6 clean sheets, Southampton have suddenly found themselves on the end of a 2 game losing streak ahead of a tricky visit of Sundrland. They’ll be missing a couple of attacking options too with Austin out injured and Long a doubt after copping a knock. It should mean a hungry Pelle will come in up front and that could be a good thing given he’s been on limited opportunities due to the form of Long and the arrival of Austin so his hunger for a few goals could go a long way here. For Sunderland they’ve been grinding out some results recently in the relegation battle but it’s difficult to see them adding to the abysmal 8 away points this season.
Predicted score: Southampton 2-0
Best Bet: Southampton to win at $1.65 (85%)
Next Best: Southampton to win to Nil at $2.6
Swansea ($1.95) versus Norwich ($4.2), Draw ($3.3)
Norwich are in a dangerous position at the moment sitting in 18th but a win against 16th placed Swansea would be huge in their battle to beat the drop. If that were to eventuate then Swansea themselves would start to feel the pressure again being just a few poor results from being in the drop zone themselves. They did however give themselves some breathing room with a massive win away over Arsenal during the week but I wonder if that result might not necessarily give them much momentum. There’ll have been a lot of emotion from that result but Norwich can still be dangerous and they’ll be switched on so Swansea really need to refocus quickly. Again though, Norwich have been one of those really poor sides on the road this season. They’ve picked up 8 points on the road this season and have lost their last 5 away too. There’s a part of me that thinks Norwich can get something from this but it’d be no more than a point whilst I think Swansea should be able to get back on track to survival after that Arsenal win.
Predicted score: Swansea 2-1
Best Bet: Half-time Draw at $2 (70%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $2.05
Watford ($2.75) versus Leicester ($2.6), Draw ($3.3)
This is another fixture that on paper you’d say Leicester will win but the same was thought of their last 2 fixtures as well. They did get the win last weekend over Norwich but it was a narrow and late win where it could have easily been a draw. During the wee too they were tested and frustrated once again with a draw at home to West Brom where they lead 2-1 at half-time only to let one slip through. I think it’s a sign of how the next few games for Leicester will be and they just won’t be as easy as people think. Watford is another side that won’t make it easy for Leicester either. Defensively solid (5th best defensive record at 29 goals conceded) and relatively difficult to beat at home, they’ll make a game of this. Leicester haven’t had the best run of away form either with 2 losses and a draw in their last 6. It’s certainly not terrible but it’ll be of concern. The loss of Kante to injury too has lost them a bit of bite in midfield and when the games get tougher like they are now then that could really start to hurt them defensively. In saying that though, they seem to be getting the results they need both of their own and of their title rivals and maybe they’ll get some more luck this week for another 3 points though it won’t be as easy as previous games.
Predicted score: Leicester 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.73 (80%)
Next Best: Leicester to win at $2.6
Crystal Palace ($3.7) versus Liverpool ($2.05), Draw ($3.4)
In 2016 Palace have still yet to register a league win and they face a tough test in trying to secure that first win this weekend against Liverpool. Liverpool are suddenly in some form winning their last 2 games against Villa and Man City with 9 goals scored and 2 clean sheets. As has been the issue for Liverpool this season though, consistency could be an issue here. They haven’t won more than 2 games in row this season in the league and I have my doubts to whether they can break through for 3 straight wins against Palace. Palace were close to that break through win during the week only for a 90th minute equaliser leaving them with just the 1 point. They should be confident ahead of this one though against a side they have the advantage over. Palace have won their last 4 meetings in the league against Liverpool and based on Liverpool’s inconsistency this season I just can’t trust them to make it 3 in a row even after a great win over Manchester city during the week.
Predicted score: Crystal Palace 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $2.17 (75%)
Next Best: Palace to win either half at $2.31
West Brom ($4.33) versus Manchester United ($1.95), Draw ($3.3)
It’s quite incredible that we now see Manchester United equal on points with 4th placed Manchester City with 10 games to go. To think they weren’t even in the conversation of a top 4 position a few weeks ago just goes to show how quickly things can change in this league. Some fresh young talent has gotten the results recently for LVG with 2 straight wins over Arsenal and Watford and on form you’d think they’d make it 3 in a row here. The issue for me is that now they have to take that form on the road where they have only won 1 of their last 6 away. West Brom won’t be easy either and their form justifies stiff opposition for United this weekend. The Baggies haven’t lost in their last 5 home games with 3 wins and their recent form overall has been really good with wins over Everton and Palace before hurting Leicester’s title chances during the week with an away draw. There’s a lot of optimism for United at the moment but I can’t discount West Brom and Pulis who will have plenty of plans to stop United in this one.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.64 (75%)
Next Best: Double chance West Brom at $1.8