As the dust settles from the aftermath of the Boxing day battles in the EPL we start venturing into the last games of 2012. As always it’s been an incredible season so far and there is no doubt there will be plenty more twists and turns as we enter the second half of the season. There were some stunning results on Boxing day, although upon reflection not surprising, with Sunderland beating Manchester City and Stoke finally showing some brute force in attack in their come from behind win over Liverpool. Two questions we want answers for – When will City start scoring again and will Stoke be impacted by the loss of Ryan Shawcross to suspension this weekend? Let’s find out!
Best Value: Stoke City at $1.85 looks the best value whilst Fulham to beat Michu-less Swansea at $2.24 looks tempting.
Best Multi option: Arsenal to beat Newcastle ($1.46), Man Utd v WBA over 2.5 goals ($1.52), Manchester City to beat Norwich ($1.6), Stoke to beat Southampton ($1.85) – gives odds of $6.57.
Sunderland ($3.95) Versus Tottenham ($2.12), Draw ($3.55)
- Sunderland Last 5:LWLWW
- Only one loss in their last 5 at home to Tottenham
- Tottenham Last 5:WLWDW
- 70.5% of Tottenham’s goals have come in the second half. In addition to this of the goals they have conceded, only 20% have come in the first half.
- Conceded only 3 goals in their last 6 games
Sunderland was impressive against Manchester City and grabbing the 3 points will do wonders for their confidence. They now have 3 wins in their last 4 which is a fantastic turnaround in form. Tottenham had a big win over Villa with Bale on fire with a hat-trick. This should be a tight game again with Sunderland impressive defensively to resist City’s efforts. Danny Rose who has been great for Sunderland this season on loan will be ineligible to play against his parent club Tottenham though we don’t expect his absence to affect Sunderland’s defence too much. If Bale fires, Tottenham wins.
Predicted result: Draw 1-1
Betting Option: none
Arsenal ($1.46) Versus Newcastle ($8.2), Draw ($4.9)
- Arsenal Last 5:DLWWW
- Won 3 of the last 5 at home to Newcastle (1 draw, 1 loss)
- Newcastle Last 5:WLLWL
- Still yet to win an away game this season – 4 draws, 5 losses.
Arsenal have a slight advantage here in that they did not play on Boxing day whilst Newcastle had a thrilling loss to Manchester United in which you can’t help but wonder how much it took out of them – They had the lead on 3 occasions. With 3 wins on the trot and a home fixture against a depleted Newcastle side both physically and mentally, it’s hard to go against Arsenal here in this busy period of fixtures.
Predicted result: Arsenal 2-1
Betting Option: Arsenal to win at $1.52
Aston Villa ($2.44) Versus Wigan ($3.35), Draw ($3.35)
- Aston Villa Last 5:DDWLL
- 12 goals against in their last two games
- Equal last with QPR for Goals For at home (8)
- Wigan Last 5:LDLLL
- Only 6 Goals For in away games whilst conceding 17
- They have let the opposition score first 13 times
Wigan are yet to win in their last 6 games whilst Villa would be somewhat fragile mentally after letting in 12 goals in their last two games. Despite the 4-0 loss to Tottenham, there were times when Villa looked threatening, especially at the start of the second half when some changes only for some quick-fire goals from Defoe and Bale to change the momentum. Wigan are also badly out of form with their last win coming against Reading back on Nov 24th. Villa are capable of bouncing back, it’s just whether their young side have the capacity to do so and provide the ball to Benteke.
Predicted result: Villa 1-0
Betting Option: Under 2.5 goals at $1.83
Fulham ($2.24) Versus Swansea ($3.6), Draw ($3.6)
- Fulham Last 5:LWLLD
- Only conceded 1 goal in the first half in home games this season.
- Swansea Last 5:WLLDD
- Swansea don’t drop a lot of goals away from home, 8 in 9 games is solid and is equal second in the league with Arsenal.
- Have only scored 1 goal in the first half in away games this season.
Fulham were close to grabbing the 3 points against Southampton on Boxing day but couldn’t hold on in the end. Swansea on the other hand will most likely be without Michu due to an injury he sustained in the match against Reading. Being the equal lead scorer in the premier league with RVP it will be interesting to see how this impacts the team. Can Danny Graham step up and fill his boots? He’s certainly capable of doing so, but whether it’s enough to stop Fulham is another question.
Predicted result: Fulham 1-0
Betting Option: Fulham to win at $2.24 is tempting enough
Manchester United ($1.33) Versus West Brom ($11.5), Draw ($5.9)
- Manchester United Last 5:WWWDW
- Averaging 2.88 Goals For at home whilst conceding on average 1.44 – another
- The last 5 games they have played has averaged 5 goals per game.
- West Brom Last 5:LLDWW
- Have not beaten United at Old Trafford in their last 5.
Despite the draw against Swansea, Manchester United are winning everything at the moment and it always looks like they have an answer when the opposition scores first. And it’s when this happens that they look their best. Manchester United have allowed the opposition to score first on 11 occasions in which they have come back to win 8 times – that’s an incredible statistic. West Brom had been a little flat but two wins on the trot and they are starting to get back to their best football. With lots of goals coming in the last 5 games for United and WBA capable of scoring there could be plenty of goals here.
Predicted result: Manchester United 3-1
Betting Option: Over 2.5 goals at $1.52 (Out of interest, over 3.5 goals is $2.26)
Norwich ($6.6) Versus Manchester City ($1.6), Draw ($4.3)
- Norwich Last 5:WWWLL
- Conceded 6 goals the last time they played Manchester City at home – though in their last 5 they have only conceded 3 goals at home.
- At the same point last season City had scored 54 goals – they currently have 34 goals For.
- Manchester City Last 5:DLWWL
- Only scored 5 goals in their last 5 away games
For a side boasting one of the best attacks in the league with the likes of Tevez, Aguero, Dzeko, Silva, and Balotelli among others, City can’t seem to find the back of the net as regularly as they should. They are still attacking and finding scoring opportunities, but they are just lacking the killer finish. Norwich had been fantastic up until their last two losses and are in a bit of a down period whilst City will be focused on getting the 3 points and nothing else here.
Predicted result: Manchester City 2-0
Betting Option: Manchester City at $1.6
Reading ($2.98) Versus West Ham ($2.62), Draw ($3.5)
- Reading Last 5:LLLLD
- Scored first on 5 occasions but have not won a game when doing so
- West Ham Last 5:LWLDL
- Struggled to score away from home – 5 goals in 8 games is a poor return.
- Only 1 loss this season to bottom half teams.
For all their struggles Reading has improved the past two games in letting Manchester City only score 1 late and holding Swansea to a 0-0 draw. To me that’s a sign of improvement in their defence of which has leaked 36 goals before these two games. The Hammer’s were a little unlucky in their game against Everton in which Carlton Cole wrongly received a red card when the game was in the balance – the red card has since been dropped. West Ham have been woeful away but have been much better all season compared to Reading whilst Reading have played their best football at home. Should be an interesting game.
Predicted result: Draw 1-1
Betting Option: none
Stoke ($1.85) Versus Southampton ($5.2), Draw ($3.7)
- Stoke Last 5:WDDDW
- Incredibly they have only conceded 1 goal in the second half in their home games this season
- Southampton Last 5:DLWLD
- Only scored 9 goals away (8 games) this season of which 5 of these came against QPR and Manchester City
What more can you say about Stoke after their huge victory at home over Liverpool. It seems like no one can score against them at home having only conceded 4 goals at home in 9 games. Losing Ryan Shawcross to suspension will hurt a little but their goalkeeper Begovic is in fantastic form. Southampton are expected to still be without star midfielder Lallana who is very important to their creativity. It’s hard to see anything but a Stoke Victory here.
Predicted result: Stoke 1-0
Betting Option: Stoke to win at $1.85
Everton ($3.05) Versus Chelsea ($2.6), Draw ($3.4)
- Everton Last 5:DWDWW
- Have won their last two games without star man Fellaini when many expected them to struggle a little, ourselves included.
- Chelsea Last 5:DLWWW
- Averaging 2.5 goals a game when they score first.
- Only conceded 1 goal in their last 3
Everton have not lost since their encounter with Reading in mid-November and they also hold a good record at home against Chelsea being undefeated in 4 of their last 5 encounters there. For Chelsea the last 3 games will be invaluable for their confidence. It has been interesting to see Luiz play in midfield with his size and presence certainly causing problems for Villa in that 8-0 win and it would have been great to see him go head to head with Fellaini. His size could be telling against Everton with his ability to win the ball a key. There is something about the Chelsea side under Benitez that suggests they are really heading somewhere and they’ll be after Everton here not to mention the rise and rise of Mata, what a star.
Predicted result: Chelsea 1-0
Betting Option: Chelsea is worth a punt at $2.6
QPR ($4.3) Versus Liverpool ($1.95), Draw ($3.8)
- QPR Last 5:DDWLL
- 5 points in their last 5 points to improvement.
- Liverpool Last 5:WWLWL
- Only 2 wins in 9 away games this season
QPR has been unlucky in their past few games after showing such strong improvement under Redknapp. Liverpool on the other hand was stunned by Stoke after they had gone ahead so early on. Despite the fact Liverpool has 3 wins in their last 5 they should at very least be undefeated in their past 5. Perhaps this can be attributed to the fact Suarez has gone a bit missing the past month as he only has 1 goal since their 3-0 win over Wigan on Nov 17th. Before then he had scored 10 goals in 12 games. This just further highlights their need for another quality striker. Suarez will always cause problems and Liverpool should have enough quality to get over the line here but it will be a tight game either way.
Predicted result: Liverpool 1-0
Betting Option: none
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