With just 5 games to go for the 2015/16 season, things are starting to really sink in just how incredible this season has been. Leicester have a massive 7 point lead and it would take a lot for them to drop the title from here. The real battle it seems is going to be who is going to take that 4th spot. That spot currently rests with Manchester City, but Manchester United and West Ham aren’t out of it yet being just 4 and 5 points behind respectively. United have some easy points on offer when they take on Villa at home whilst City face off against a tricky Chelsea and West Ham play at the league leaders in Leicester so the race could be very close after this weekend’s fixtures. It all begins though with a relegation battle between Norwich and Sunderland which in itself should offer a fair bit as a contest.
**Odds from Sportsbet as at 15th April
Norwich ($2.4) versus Sunderland ($3.1), Draw ($3.25)
Wins over West Brom and Newcastle have pushed Norwich to safety at the expense of Sunderland but a loss last time out to Palace gives Sunderland a lot to play for here to close the gap to 1 point. Sunderland had their first loss after 4 straight draws last time out against Leicester but importantly they created chances and were positive in their efforts against the lead leaders. That should do them nicely given Norwich haven’t really been able to keep the goals out at home in recent games. In 5 of their last 6 home games they’ve conceded 2 or more and though that doesn’t necessarily translate to Sunderland being able to score 2 goals, it does give them some motivation. As a contest though this will be a pretty difficult game for both. The pressure will be high on both but in the end a draw might be the most likely outcome.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.68 (75%)
Next Best: Both Teams to score – Yes at $1.83
West Brom ($2.4) versus Watford ($3.2), Draw ($3.1)
Both these sides are safe from a relegation perspective so there’s not a lot riding on this game. Regardless though, each will be keen on a win and no more so than Watford who haven’t won in the league since Mid-February. I think they’ll find it tough though because West Brom have been notoriously difficult to score against at home recently. In their last 6 home games they’ve conceded just 5 times and lost just the once. In contrast, Watford have won just once in their last 6 away from home to go with 5 losses. What’s really hurt them is their lack of goals though. They’ve produced just the 2 goals in their last 6 games home and away and coming up against a defence that doesn’t conceded a lot of goals won’t be an easy task. This will be close but West Brom shouldn’t be losing this.
Predicted score: West Brom 1-0
Best Bet: Half-Time Draw at $1.91 (85%)
Next Best: Under 2.5 goals at $1.52
Newcastle ($2.37) versus Swansea ($3.1), Draw ($3.3)
The formula is simple for Newcastle, they must win. The problem for Newcastle though is that Swansea are in good form. With 4 wins, a draw and just the 1 loss over their last 6 games, Swansea are one of the form sides of the league and will fancy their chances against the struggling Newcastle. A loss here for Newcastle and a potential win for Norwich against Sunderland could almost seal their fate as it would give them 9 point gap to safety. At this time of year though strange things can happen and there’s no better time than for Newcastle to get a win. The players will know that too and will be keen to get a win to try and survive for next season.
Predicted score: Newcastle 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $2.03 (75%)
Next Best: Newcastle to win at $2.37
Manchester United ($1.22) versus Aston Villa ($15), Draw ($6)
There hasn’t been an easier 3 points for Manchester United this season and with Villa already relegated the only way for United to lose this is if they are complacent. Villa will have a freedom about them and the pressure will be gone with their relegation all but confirmed. I think Villa will certainly be competitive here in stages and perhaps early on but you’d expect United to finish this one strongly and bounce back from a lapse in concentration at Tottenham where they conceded 3 goals in less than 6 minutes.
Predicted score: Manchester United 2-0
Best Bet: Manchester United to win to Nil at $1.67 (85%)
Next Best: Manchester United to lead at Half-Time at $1.57
Everton ($2.5) versus Southampton ($2.87), Draw ($3.3)
Everton are struggling for results lately without a win in their last 5 games and they may find it tough getting that next win against a Southampton side in pretty good touch. The Saints have won 3 of their last 4 games with that loss being against a certain league leader which is fair enough. Everton’s problems seem to stem from a lack of goals up front and perhaps an over reliance on Lukaku to score those goals. He’s scored just once in his past 5 league games and the way Everton are playing at the moment it may be a little longer before he gets another. Southampton are a pretty strong side defensively and I think they’ll make it tough for Everton here to score knowing that they in with a chance still of a top 5 position sitting just 3 points behind 5th placed Manchester United.
Predicted score: Southampton 2-1
Best Bet: Southampton Draw No Bet at $2 (85%)
Next Best: Half-time Draw at $2
Chelsea ($2.7) versus Manchester City ($2.62), Draw ($3.4)
There’s little to play for the remainder of this season for Chelsea and their 1-0 loss to Swansea last week isn’t great preparation against a Manchester City side on a high after making it through to the Champions League Semi’s. It will be interesting though to see how Manchester City pull up from the emotion of that breakthrough against PSG. Chelsea seem to just be now keen to play out the season and build into next season under a new manager. With that I think this is Manchester City’s to lose. They have much more to play for still in securing a top 4 spot from some fast finishing rivals and that should be enough to spur them on. The return from injury of De Bruyne has given them some life when their performances were getting a bit flat and I think that will go a long way to some good performances for the rest of the season.
Predicted score: Manchester City 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.91 (75%)
Next Best: Manchester City to win either half at $1.79
Bournemouth ($3.5) versus Liverpool ($2.1), Draw ($3.5)
This game may have more to offer than at first thought. Liverpool will be on a massive high after such an incredible win over Dortmund in the Europa League during the week where they came from 2-0 down to win 4-3. The concern though is how they manage the emotion of that win and refocus quickly on the league against Bournemouth this week. For Bournemouth, they’ll play with a sense of freedom this week safe in the knowledge they have passed the 40 point barrier and won’t be relegated this season. They’ll fancy their chances here too and I think they will have a good shot at getting a point. Liverpool won’t be easy to beat despite some tiredness creeping in after their Europa League fixture but that extra freshness could be a big advantage.
Predicted score: Draw 2-2
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.91 (85%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.72
Leicester ($1.91) versus West Ham ($4), Draw ($3.6)
There seems to be no stopping Leicester in their charge for the most unlikely of titles. With 5 straight wins and just as many clean sheets, they’ve put themselves in prime position though this will still be a testy game. West Ham fought back from 2-0 down against Arsenal last time out to draw 3-3 and in many ways were perhaps unlucky not to have won that game. They’ll need to show that fight if they’re to get past Leicester here though as the league leaders hold no fear of anyone it seems and I think it will remain that way. The only difference this week is Leicester might concede.
Predicted score: Leicester 2-1
Best Bet: Leicester to win at $1.91 (80%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.86
Arsenal ($1.33) versus Crystal Palace ($10), Draw ($5)
After being 2-0 up you would have thought Arsenal would have gone on to beat West Ham last week but they switched off and allowed the Hammers back in. They take on Palace this week and I don’t think they’ll be making the same mistakes again this week. The Draw against West Ham allowed Manchester City to close the gap between 3rd and 4th to just the 2 points. That won’t please Wenger and will create some pressure to ensure they finish in the top 3 to avoid any Champions League qualification games next season. For now at least though they should have little to worry about as they should be beating this Crystal Palace side.
Predicted score: Arsenal 2-0
Best Bet: Arsenal to lead at Half-Time at $1.72 (80%)
Next Best: Arsenal -1 Handicap at $1.91
Stoke ($4.33) versus Tottenham ($1.83), Draw ($3.6)
Tottenham are still going to chase Leicester for the title until it’s mathematically impossible that they can’t win and they’ll be pushing hard for another 3 points here in the hopes that Leicester somehow start to slip up. Tottenham were brilliant last time out against Manchester United and had a magical 6 minutes where they scored 3 goals to completely destroy any chances United had of winning. That will enhance Tottenham’s belief away at Stoke who will be eager to bounce back after a 4-1 thumping at the hands of Liverpool last time out. That made it 10 goals conceded in their last 5 games and with Tottenham the highest scoring side in the league I think there will be a few more goals added this week.
Predicted score: Tottenham 2-0
Best Bet: Tottenham to win at $1.83 (85%)
Next Best: Tottenham to win to Nil at $3
Week 34 Catch-up matches
Newcastle ($6) versus Manchester City ($1.57), Draw ($3.8)
Newcastle kept their survival hopes alive with a strong 3-0 win over Swansea at the weekend and now sit just 3 points off safety. They have a mammoth task ahead though with Manchester City in good form after a 3-0 domination of Chelsea last time out and who will be looking to continue their winning ways to at least ensure a top 3 finish. City have now won their last 3 straight in the league and will likely give Newcastle another dose of reality on their own form. With Aguero firing against Chelsea with a hat-trick making it 5 goals in his last 3 games, he’ll be hard to stop. Newcastle will be competitive but City’s form at the moment is too hard to pass up.
Predicted score: Manchester City 3-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.67 (85%)
Next Best: Manchester City to win at $1.57
West Ham ($1.61) versus Watford ($5.5), Draw ($3.9)
The Hammers had an interesting match against the league leader’s last time out where it finished 2-2. It was a match where a draw was the right result in the end but a silly penalty (that arguably was not a penalty) in the dying seconds gifted Leicester a point. Regardless of the end result, it demonstrated that West Ham are a formidable side and one not to be taken lightly. They take on Watford here who finally broke through for a win having failed to win in their previous 6 league games. They’ll provide a test for West Ham and although West Ham have drawn their last 4 matches, I’d expect them to take the points here at home as they chase a top 5 finish.
Predicted score: West Ham 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.91 (75%)
Next Best: Half-Time Draw at $2.1
Manchester United ($1.53) versus Crystal Palace ($6.5), Draw ($4)
United scrapped past the relegated Aston Villa 1-0 at home on the weekend and although a few more goals would have been nice, a win is a win. That win made it 5 straight at home and they’ll look to make it 6 against Palace this week who have been a little tricky of late on the road. They’ve only lost 5 of 16 away games all season with their last 3 ending in draws. It’s certainly not an impossibility that Palace could do so again at United but on form United are the ones to beat and they still have a lot to play for as they sit just 4 points behind a stuttering Arsenal in 4th spot.
Predicted score: Manchester United 2-0
Best Bet: Manchester United to win at $1.53 (85%)
Next Best: Manchester United to win to Nil at $2.4
Liverpool ($1.8) versus Everton ($4.5), Draw ($3.6)
Liverpool have found some form again with 2 league wins sandwiching that incredible win over Borussia Dortmund. Their win over Bournemouth too was impressive enough given the number of changes Klopp made allowing some of their core players to get a rest ahead of a derby here with Everton. Although they also sit in 8th, Liverpool can push towards the top 5 with a win here with also the added advantage of another game in hand on their rivals for that position. That’s a lot of motivation for a side to take into this match and something that will make it difficult for Everton. Everton have been in poor form without a win in their last 6 league games and currently sit comfortably outside the top 10. The goals have really dried up as well with just 4 in their last 6 where in their previous 27 matches they have averaged 1.81 per game. Their only chance here is to find some form in front of goal and a derby is of course the perfect motivation for them but they may just fall short on current form.
Predicted score: Liverpool 2-1
Best Bet: Liverpool to win at $1.8 (90%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.68
Arsenal ($1.25) versus West Brom ($11), Draw ($6)
The Gunners have now fallen to 4th after drawing their last 2 games against West Ham and Crystal Palace. That’s not a great build up to the visit of West Brom who at times can be pretty difficult to break down. The problem for the Baggies though is they aren’t the greatest side on the road with just the 4 wins for the season and winning at Arsenal looks like too tall an order. A draw wouldn’t be beyond them with Arsenal failing to convince at home lately with just 2 wins at home in their last 6. With that I think this is a game to approach with caution. I’m backing Arsenal for a win but it looks like it’ll be a pretty close fought one. Arsenal have conceded in 4 of their last 6 home games and West Brom aren’t going to shy away when the opportunity presents itself.
Predicted score: Arsenal 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.55 (75%)
Next Best: Half-time Draw at $2.5