The Premier League is back to continue the exciting football we saw throughout the International break for World Cup Qualifiers. There are plenty of big games this weekend as the fight for European spots heat up and the relegation battle gets tighter and tighter. From this point it’s hard to see Reading and QPR surviving except for a phenomenal string of wins to take place and for teams above them to falter. Can new Reading manager Nigel Adkins inspire his team to an unlikely victory over Arsenal? Has Redknapp’s survival mission failed, or is it too early to call? One things for sure is that it makes for exciting football given that the title race is all but over assuming Manchester United don’t go on a losing streak.
Best Value Bet: Manchester United half time/Full time double at $2.74
Safe Multi: Manchester United to win $1.67, Wigan/Norwich both to score at $1.76, Arsenal/Reading over 2.5 goals at $1.47 = $4.32
Value Multi: Manchester United half/full time double at $2.74, Chelsea to win at $2.22, Stoke double chance at $2.38 = $14.47
Sunderland ($6.4) Versus Manchester United ($1.67), Draw ($4)
- Sunderland Last 5:LLDLD
- Haven’t won since January
- Manchester United Last 5:WWWWW
- Conceded only 3 times in their last 8
It would be easy to suggest Manchester United will put the brakes on given that they lead the title race by 15 points with 8 games to go but that’s not the Manchester United way. They’ll be playing out every game as if the title race was still on and travelling to Sunderland they’ll be looking for another 3 points to all but assure that title win. Sunderland has been in pretty poor form lately and although they did have a high point in beating Manchester City earlier this season the fact remains that they have only 2 wins against top half sides this season which is a poor return given the amount of money they splash in the transfer windows. Hard to go past anything but a Manchester United win here and at those odds of $1.67, that’s great value.
Predicted result: Manchester United 2-0
Best Bet: Manchester United to win at $1.67 whilst the value is the half time/full time double for Manchester United at $2.74
Wigan ($1.97) Versus Norwich ($4.4), Draw ($3.7)
- Wigan Last 5:DLWLW
- Conceded 14 goals in their last 5 home games
- Norwich Last 5:DWLDD
- 49% of their shots on goal come from outside the penalty box, the 4th highest % in the Premier League.
Norwich has certainly shown a lot of ambition by agreeing a deal to sign Van Wolfswinkel in the summer and really shows they are here to stay in the top flight. They have a tough assignment in playing Wigan away this week with Wigan’s late season fight really coming into play as they strive to stay up for another season in the top flight. Norwich has had a poor run of away games with 3 losses and 2 draws in their last 5 whilst Wigan will be buoyed by their big (and perhaps lucky) win over Newcastle in their last game at home. Norwich should be shorter odds than the $4.4 on offer here but Wigan should consolidate their last home victory with another 3 points here to continue their survival fight.
Predicted result: Wigan 2-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score at $1.76
West Ham ($2.24) Versus West Brom ($3.65), Draw ($3.45)
- West Ham Last 5:WLLWL
- Concede 14.2 shots on average per home game
- West Brom Last 5:WWLWD
- Equal second for goals scored from a counter attack in away games this season with 3
West Ham will be after strong result this week now that they have a new stadium on the way once the Olympic stadium is converted and ready for use in 2016. They face a West Brom side this week in some pretty good form with 3 wins in their last 5. Upton Park is by no means an easy place to play but the Baggies have a pretty good recent record here with 2 draws and a win in their last 4. Although Kevin Nolan will be back from injury for the Hammers, it remains to be seen whether he’ll have an immediate impact on this game. West Brom are good enough for a draw here with the likes of Lukaku up front and given that the last 4 meetings between these two have resulted in draws, it’s hard to not see the same happening here again.
Predicted result: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Double chance West Brom at $1.74 looks good value here.
Swansea ($3.35) Versus Tottenham ($2.36), Draw ($3.5)
- Swansea Last 5:WLWLL
- Only one loss in their last 5 at home
- Tottenham Last 5:WWWLL
- Average 6.7 shots on target per game – Ranked 1st
Swansea host Tottenham this week in what should be a tightly fought contest considering the last time these played it was almost a 0-0 affair only for Vertonghen to steal a win on 75 minutes. Spurs have been a little patchy of late with losses to Liverpool and Fulham and are in danger of dropping out of the top 4 by seasons end. The International break could be just the thing they need to rebound but it’s not going to be easy to get the points at the Liberty Stadium. Spurs have had more players out on International duty which doesn’t always bode well with managers so they could be at risk of returning to where they left off. The positive is that Bale looks to be fit enough to play given his injury/illness issues of late. Look for this one to finish in a tight fought draw with only some late Bale magic capable of saving the day.
Predicted result: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score at $1.69
Manchester City ($1.33) Versus Newcastle ($12), Draw ($5.8)
- Manchester City Last 5:DLWWL
- Undefeated in their last 5 at home whilst only conceding 2 goals.
- Newcastle Last 5:LWLWL
- Average 17.2 shots per game at home but this drops to 11.5 when they play away
- Newcastle Last 5:LWLWL
This is sure to be an interesting matchup given that Manchester City has little to play for whilst Newcastle has been in relatively poor form in away matches all season. City was woeful against Everton in their last fixture and really just looked disinterested. Even when Everton were reduced to 10 men they couldn’t finish them off. In 15 away games this season, Newcastle only have the 1 win and 5 draws which is in complete contrast to their 8 home wins and 1 draw at home. Newcastle is a much better side than the $12 offered for a win but it’s still an away game and playing and winning at Manchester City is not easy. This should be closer than the odds suggest but it’s hard to go past City at home here.
Predicted result: Manchester City 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.62
Arsenal ($1.27) Versus Reading ($15.5), Draw ($6.4)
- Arsenal Last 5:WWWLW
- Knocked 5 past Reading in their last meeting
- Reading Last 5:LLLLL
- 41.6% of their away goals have come from set pieces
Arsenal host the struggling Reading this weekend who are coming off 5 losses in a row compared to a somewhat rampant Arsenal who have 4 wins in their last 5. It’s hard to see how Reading can turn their form around and survive relegation given that there are only 8 games to go and it looks very unlikely they’ll get any points here. Reading’s hopes will rest on any boost they can gain to impress new manager Nigel Adkins and their ability to score in the final minutes. Both teams have equally as much to play for with Arsenal still a good chance of Champion’s league football with Spurs faltering whilst Reading will be desperate to stay in the top flight. Even with that said it’s to see anything but an Arsenal win here.
Predicted result: Arsenal 3-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.47
Southampton ($3.6) Versus Chelsea ($2.22), Draw ($3.6)
- Southampton Last 5:WLLDW
- 2 of their last 3 at home has seen wins over Liverpool and Manchester City
- Chelsea Last 5:LWLWW
- Mixed away form in their last 5 with 2 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses.
Southampton have certainly shown us what they can do against the big clubs at home, it’s really just a matter of consistency against teams that are at their own level as well as mid table. 4 points off the drop, the Saint’s will be looking to consolidate their last win over Liverpool with another big performance against a top club in Chelsea. Despite Southampton’s great recent string of performances, we can’t ignore the effect the International break can have on something called momentum. Chelsea are up and about with some good recent wins and are still in the Europa league so they still have plenty to play for. Look for some fight from Southampton but Chelsea should get the points here to keep Tottenham and Arsenal at bay.
Predicted result: Chelsea 2-1
Best Bet: Chelsea to win at $2.22 is great value
Everton ($1.61) Versus Stoke ($7.4), Draw ($4)
- Everton Last 5:DLLWW
- Only 1 loss at home
- Stoke Last 5:WLLLD
- Only 1 win away from home
Stoke travel to play a weakened Everton side without Pienaar and Fellaini who are both suspended. Does this open the door up for Stoke to at least sneak a point? It could be very likely. There are also hints that Howard and Jagielka will also not play for fitness reasons which surely will open the door up wider for Stoke here. Although they haven’t shown it as much in the second half of this season, Stokes obvious strength is their defence and they’ll be looking to choke Everton’s attacking runs to get away with a point here. If Everton go in without Jagielka and Howard, look for this to be a closely fought draw.
Predicted result: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: Double chance Stoke at $2.38
Aston Villa ($5) Versus Liverpool ($1.8), Draw ($4)
- Aston Villa Last 5:WLLWW
- Starting to find the back of the net with 5 goals in their last 2.
- Liverpool Last 5:LWWWL
- 70.3% of their away goals come from open play.
Villa has found a renewed confidence after wins over QPR and Reading. Liverpool is coming off a poor showing at Southampton after a string of wins against Swansea, Wigan and Tottenham in which they scored 12 goals. Villa shouldn’t be underestimated here as they fight for survival with star man Benteke in some good form. Coutinho looks to have settled in very nicely at Liverpool and looks a star in the making with his imaginative approach to passing just the creative flair they have been searching for. Villa will fight here but Liverpool look likely to get another win on the board with the likes of Suarez, Sturridge and Coutinho causing trouble.
Predicted result: Liverpool 2-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score at $1.71
Fulham ($2.04) Versus QPR ($4), Draw ($3.65)
- Fulham Last 5:LDWDW
- Berbatov is in good form scoring in each of his last 3 games
- QPR Last 5:LLWWL
- Yet to score from a penalty
This is another really tough game to call with Fulham in pretty good nick being undefeated in their last 4 as well as a great win over Spurs in their last game. QPR were perhaps a little unlucky last time out against Villa to not at least pick up a point. It’s no secret that QPR has a lot more to play for with a win an absolute must whilst for Fulham they’ll want to consolidate their derby win over Spurs with another here over QPR. Townsend has been great for QPR on loan from Tottenham and will again play a pivotal role here if QPR are to get any points here. It’ll be tough for QPR to get the 3 points but they should be good enough to at least get a point here.
Predicted result: Draw 1-1
Best Bet: none
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