We’re back in for some EPL action this weekend as we preview game week 12 having had a week off with the International break. As always it feels like an eternity since we last had EPL action so it’s certainly going to be a big weekend of football.
**Odds from Sportsbet as at 22nd November
Chelsea ($1.25) versus West Brom ($12), Draw ($6)
The league leaders Chelsea host West Brom this weekend as they look to maintain their 4 point lead over second placed Southampton. They already have an incredible 8 point lead over their main rivals for the title Manchester City and it doesn’t look like that gap will close anytime soon. Their top 2 players in Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas have been absolutely huge for them this season with 10 goals and 9 assists respectively already in 11 games and I think their double act will continue this weekend. West Brom have done ok this season with a win over Tottenham the highlight so far but they won’t have enough to topple Chelsea away this weekend.
Predicted score: Chelsea 3-0
Best Bet: Chelsea Half-Time/Full-Time at $1.67 (90%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $1.54
Everton ($1.83) versus West Ham ($4.33), Draw ($3.6)
One of the intriguing matchups this weekend with Everton taking on West Ham. Everton currently sit in 10th position after some poor results early in the season where they only took 6 points from their first 6 games. They’ve improved a little in their last 5 to gain 8 points but it’s still not the Everton we are used to. I think the combination of injuries, increased expectation from a stellar 2013/14, and coping with the demands of the Europa League has seen them slip. West Ham might only be 4 points ahead of Everton but they’ve been flying in contrast to previous seasons as they sit in 4th spot after 11 games. Undefeated in their last 5 games in the top flight with 3 wins and 2 draws, they are certainly high on confidence. Their last two results with draws against Stoke and Aston Villa to me shows that the International break couldn’t have come at a better time to have a rest and assess their position. Everton have a strong record over West Ham having not lost to them in their past 10 games with 7 wins and 3 draws. They do however have some injury concerns with Barry, McCarthy, and Baines all under clouds. Equally West Ham have doubts on Downing and top scorer Sakho which makes things interesting. No doubt West Ham have been the better side but you can’t keep a side like Everton down for too long. Probably a draw here in the end.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Exactly 2 or 3 goals at $2.07 (80%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.62
Leicester ($2.15) versus Sunderland ($3.5), Draw ($3.3)
It’s a battle of 18th versus 14th this weekend with Leicester hosting Sunderland with just the 3 points separating the sides. Leicester have been struggling recently with just the 1 point in their last 6 games and really need to grab some points at home to climb their way out of the relegation zone. Sunderland in contrast have 8 points in their last 6 games with wins over Stoke and Crystal Palace and Draws with Swansea and Everton. I think the International break will have been nothing but good for Leicester as a break is what they needed after a run of bad results since their triumph over Manchester United. Whether it’s enough to get a win over Sunderland is another thing though. I’m expecting to see an improved performance from Leicester at home here but one that perhaps is only good enough for a draw.
Predicted score: Draw 2-2
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.97 (75%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.72
Manchester City ($1.4) versus Swansea ($8.5), Draw ($4.5)
This is a must win game for Manchester City as they try to stay in touch with league leaders Chelsea who now have an 8 point lead in the title race. They take on Swansea at home this week who have been pretty good all season and certainly have the ability to trouble the reigning champions. Man City’s past 3 games have not been what they should be with a shock draw to QPR last time out and a loss to West Ham dropping them from 3 points behind Chelsea to 8 points. There is a long way to go though this season and it starts with Swansea here. Swansea are coming off a strong 2-1 win over Arsenal at home but they have struggled in comparison to their away form. They started the season with a stunning win away over Manchester United, but since then they haven’t been able to gain anymore away wins. I think that will play into Man City’s hands this week despite injuries to key personnel in Kompany, Silva, and Dzeko. Despite these outs, they still have the quality in the squad to get the job done led by Aguero who has 12 goals already this season.
Predicted score: Manchester City 2-1
Best Bet: Manchester City to win at $1.4 (80%)
Next Best: Aguero to score anytime at $1.5
Newcastle ($1.83) versus QPR ($4.33), Draw ($3.6)
Newcastle are in excellent form at the moment winning their past 5 games in all competitions including wins over Liverpool, Tottenham, and Manchester City which has seen them push up to 8th on the table. They take on QPR this weekend who have been struggling all season, although their draw with Manchester City last time out will no doubt boost some confidence levels amongst the squad. Newcastle hold an incredibly strong record over QPR having not been beaten by them since 1995 and I’d expect that to continue this weekend with Newcastle the hosts. This one is simple for me in that Newcastle’s form is just too hard to ignore against the struggling QPR.
Predicted score: Newcastle 2-0
Best Bet: Newcastle to win at $1.83 (85%)
Next Best: Newcastle to win either half at $1.42
Stoke ($1.73) versus Burnley ($5), Draw ($3.6)
The bottom of the table Burnley head to Stoke this weekend as they desperately look for points to avoid relegation. They’re only a win off safety but they have a long way to go to survive this season. They’ll be pretty pleased about their last game with a win over Hull but Stoke look a fair bit tougher here. Stoke have had some indifferent results in recent weeks with their win over Tottenham last time out one of the highlights. Their recent form at home has been solid with 2 wins and a draw and I’d expect another good performance from them this week. Burnley are really just struggling offensively this season and have scored just 6 times in 11 games. it’s not the worst record with Villa struggling as well with just the 5 goals, but they need to find a way to create more opportunities. Stoke aren’t exactly easy to score against either so I think they might struggle to add their 7th goal this season.
Predicted score: Stoke 2-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.73 (75%)
Next Best: Burnley to score no goals at $2.1
Arsenal ($2.2) versus Manchester United ($3.25), Draw ($3.5)
Perhaps the headline game of the weekend with Arsenal taking on Manchester United. Both sides are separated by just the 1 point and both have had their struggles this season with form and injuries combining for some poor results. Arsenal have won just 2 of their last 6 and Man United just 3 of their last 6 so in that respect they are both really in similar form. The key factor for this game for me is the injury list to Manchester United. Injuries to Rojo, Blind, Jones, and Evans has once again decimated their defensive stocks whilst injury doubts over the likes of Shaw and Rafael don’t help things either. It couldn’t come at a worse time as well with the likes of Sanchez and Welbeck looking in top form for Arsenal. I think this one might be closer than people think but I can’t see United keeping Sanchez and co quiet with their decimated defence.
Predicted score: Arsenal 2-1
Best Bet: Arsenal Draw No Bet at $1.51 (85%)
Next Best: Sanchez to score anytime at $2.37
Crystal Palace ($4.2) versus Liverpool ($1.85), Draw ($3.6)
Crystal Palace get ready to take on Liverpool this weekend with both sides struggling to recapture their form from last season. Liverpool sit in 11th position which no doubt intensifies the questioning of their summer transfer dealings. I’ve no doubt questioned it but as a Tottenham fan I know only too well of the impact of losing your best player and then trying to rebuild the side without him. It’s something will take time and they’ll just have to do as well as they can and rebuild towards next season. They’ll need to start with a win here over Palace who they surrendered a 3-0 lead over to draw 3-3 in the same fixture last season. Both sides struggles means it’s entirely possible we could see a similar result. Liverpool have lost their last 2 games and only won 2 of their last 6 with Palace winning only one of their last 6 and losing 4 of their past 5. So in that sense Liverpool are certainly in better tough but they are by no means certainties for this one. Their struggles up front continue with Lambert and Balotelli still searching for their first league goals of the season. Add to this the extended injury blow to Sturridge till the New Year and the struggles up front look likely to continue. It’ll have to click at some point but I’m really just not convinced and am happy to be proven wrong in this one.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Exactly 2 or 3 goals at $2 (80%)
Next Best: A goal scored in both halves – Yes at $1.78
Hull ($3.3) versus Tottenham ($2.2), Draw ($3.4)
Another interesting game with Hull hosting the struggling Tottenham. It just keeps getting worse for Tottenham this season after their home loss to Stoke last time out where they just struggled to defend with any commitment or even attack with any great focus. They’ve won just 2 of their last 6 games of which they have been arguably been lucky to win, especially their win over Aston Villa. The International break would have been good for them to try and rectify a few things but I think they need more than just a quick fix as they really need to overhaul the squad. Perhaps on their side this week though is that Hull have been struggling as well winning just 1 of their past 6 games. They do however look like welcoming back former Tottenham captain Michael Dawson to the line-up having been out with injury and he’ll be pretty determined to get one over his old side. Add to this the likely return of McGregor and Jelavic and Hull will be feeling a little more confident about their chances. I definitely can’t see Tottenham winning this week but they will surely play better away from home without the fans on their back with every mistake they make.
Predicted score: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score – Yes at $1.72 (70%)
Next Best: Double chance Hull at $1.66
Aston Villa ($5) versus Southampton ($1.75), Draw ($3.5)
The final game of the weekend sees struggling Aston Villa take on the flying Southampton. An interesting stat here for me is that Villa have scored just the 5 goals this season whilst Southampton have amazingly only let 5 goals through in what has been an incredible defensive performance in 11 games. Southampton look like a side at the moment that can maintain their position for the majority of the season unlike sides that usually have a strong start in their first 10 games then slowly drift off as the season goes on. I say this mainly because despite not beating some of the bigger sides such as Liverpool or Tottenham, they’ve made sure they don’t drop points against the sides they should beat. If they keep that up they are a red hot shot for a top 4 or 5 finish this season. They’ve kept 5 clean sheets in their past 5 games and I expect that to continue here. Villa will be missing Benteke after his red card against Tottenham a few weeks ago that sees him out for 3 games and considering how good he looked against Spurs, it’s a massive blow against the best defence in the league. I’m not sure if Southampton will have a thumping win but I think they’ll get what seems lately like a regulation 1 or 2 nil win.
Predicted score: Southampton 1-0
Best Bet: Southampton to win at $1.75 (80%)
Next Best: Under 2.5 goals at $1.73
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk.
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