Week 35 brings with it a smaller round of fixtures due to FA Cup action but it won’t mean there’s any less to look forward to. Title hopefuls Leicester and Tottenham still play this weekend and another hump in the road for Leicester could makes things even closer than the current 5 point gap they enjoy. The other big talking point for Leicester this week is the absence of star front man Vardy due to that 2nd yellow card for simulation against West Ham. People will always be divided on those sorts of calls but the debate is irrelevant as he still won’t play. It makes this week’s match all the more important in their title bid so the pressure is on and that should make for plenty of entertainment whichever way the result goes.
**Odds from Sportsbet as at 23rd April
Manchester City ($1.33) versus Stoke ($10), Draw ($5)
This is a must win for Manchester City not only to put a tighter grip on their current 4th position but also to ensure that Manchester United don’t overtake them. City would have a bigger lead if not for their stumbling performance at Newcastle last time out when they could only manage a draw. They’re in a strong position to bounce back this weekend though against a Stoke side that were torn apart by Tottenham in their last game. I’m not sure Manchester City are in their best form right at the moment and with Stoke expected to bounce back this should be a bit tighter than the 4-0 that Tottenham handed out. City will have an eye on their Champions League Semi Final next week. From a man management perspective it’ll be interesting to see how Pellegrini manages the team but in the end I’d expect a Manchester City win here still.
Predicted score: Manchester City 2-0
Best Bet: Manchester City to lead at Half-Time at $1.72 (80%)
Next Best: Manchester City -1 Handicap at $1.83
Aston Villa ($6.5) versus Southampton ($1.57), Draw ($3.8)
Villa are relegated now and they should really now try to play some better football at least for the fans. The problem is it’s hard to see who they can beat in their last 4 games. Southampton looks too big a test as they fight for a top 7 finish, Watford are just a better side, Newcastle have a lot to fight for this season still, and Arsenal they surely have no chance. With that I’d expect they at least perform well enough to keep the scores respectable so there should be a little bit of resistance in these final weeks. For this one though it looks to be a solid Southampton win. Some may say their already looking ahead to their summer holidays but with 4 games to go they’ll still want to finish as high as they can and take that momentum into next season.
Predicted score: Southampton 2-0
Best Bet: Southampton -1 Handicap at $2.6 (80%)
Next Best: Southampton to win to Nil at $2.37
Bournemouth ($3) versus Chelsea ($2.4), Draw ($3.3)
The end of the season can’t come quick enough for Chelsea. They currently sit in 10th and have now lost their last 2 games. Their latest loss to Manchester City 3-0 also saw the suspension of Courtois who will miss the next 2 games. It’s going to be an interesting game this as Bournemouth beat Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge earlier in the season and are certainly a side with a lot more belief at the moment. They may have an eye on holidays given they are safe from relegation but I think Bournemouth will be keen to play well to finish off what has been an excellent season for them to stay up on their first attempt. It’s difficult to gauge how Chelsea will play here. Surely they won’t be going out to lose and Bournemouth won’t be either so realistically this could be a pretty entertaining game. Chelsea still have the firepower albeit they haven’t fired of late and Bournemouth have a lot of belief.
Predicted score: Draw 2-2
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.74 (85%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.57
Liverpool ($1.57) versus Newcastle ($5.5), Draw ($4.33)
Everything is going pretty well at Liverpool at the moment having won their last 4 games in all competitions. They may have an eye on Villarreal in the Europa league next week, but they will also be keen to keep winning in the league as they can still finish in the top 5. Newcastle will make this a contest though as they did against Manchester City last time out when they managed a 1-1 draw as they push to finish above the drop zone. It’s somewhat then a bit of a danger game for Liverpool as Newcastle have a lot to play for here. At best though Newcastle may be able to fight it out for a draw but it’s hard to go past this Liverpool side that seems to be gathering momentum under Klopp and there’ll be no better preparation for Villarreal than a win.
Predicted score: Liverpool 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.56 (80%)
Next Best: Half-Time Draw at $2.3
Sunderland ($4.75) versus Arsenal ($1.75), Draw ($3.75)
There’s a lot to play for in this one with Sunderland fighting for survival and Arsenal needing wins t guarantee a top 3 finish. Arsenal had a good win last time out at home when they beat West Brom 2-0 thanks to a fine display from Sanchez but I suspect this may end up being a bit tighter. Their form away from home hasn’t been as convincing with just the 2 wins from their last 6 on the road. That should give Sunderland a chance and they have also been keeping things tight at home recently with just the 6 goals conceded in their last 5 at home. They’ll need that defensive solidity to give them a chance against Arsenal. This should be a fairly tight contest but one which Arsenal might just edge.
Predicted score: Arsenal 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $2.05 (75%)
Next Best: Arsenal to win at $1.75
Leicester ($1.73) versus Swansea ($5), Draw ($3.7)
The league leaders have a big loss to cover in the form of Jamie Vardy after he was sent off for simulation against West Ham last time out. That will force a changeup in what is a very settled starting line-up against Swansea this week. Vardy provides a lot of raw pace up front and suits their setup immensely well with Leicester an excellent counter attacking style. With Ulloa expected to cover for Vardy, they’ll not have that blistering pace up front so I’d expect some of their counter attacking to be slowed a bit which will assist Swansea defensively and given Swansea like to possess the ball I think that will help to make this a pretty low scoring contest and it may just end up being another 1-0 result being all that’s needed to take the 3 points. Leicester are a good side at snatching those 1-0 wins so you have to back them for something similar here.
Predicted score: Leicester 1-0
Best Bet: Leicester to win at $1.73 (80%)
Next Best: Under 2.5 goals at $1.65
Tottenham ($1.22) versus West Brom ($15), Draw ($6)
There’s one thing for certain about Tottenham and that is that they won’t give up chasing Leicester no matter whether their rivals win draw or lose this weekend. Spurs have been in excellent form lately with a 3-0 win over Manchester United and a 4-0 win over Stoke keeping them in the hunt. West Brom have lost their last 3 games and will have little to play for now that they are already safe from relegation. With that and the fact this is at White Hart Lane, it’s safe to expect a strong Tottenham win here as they hope too that Leicester stumble in an effort to close the gap.
Predicted score: Tottenham 3-0
Best Bet: Tottenham Half-Time/Full-Time at $1.72 (85%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.64