Week 26 of the English Premier League brings just the 8 league matches given there’s also the side matter of the EFL Cup Final with Manchester United taking on Southampton. It means Arsenal & Manchester City will have the weekend off which may give Liverpool & Tottenham a slight psychological edge if they both win this weekend to move into 2nd & 3rd behind Chelsea. Speaking of Chelsea, they have the advantage of extending their 8 point lead even further with Manchester City ending up with a game in hand but effectively 11 points off the pace if Chelsea beat Swansea.
**Odds from Sportsbet as at 25th Feb
Match Day 26 Best Bet: West Brom to beat Bournemouth at $2.05
Head to Head multi Bet: West Brom win ($2.05), Everton win ($1.44), Tottenham win ($1.36), Liverpool win ($1.62) = $6.5
EFL Cup Final
Manchester United vs Southampton
They can’t win the league this season so perhaps this is the biggest prize for United this season under Mourinho. They’ve taken a little while to gel and still need plenty of improvement if they’re to challenge for the league in seasons to come but at least in this one they look the favourites. Southampton though in this competition have made a habit of keeping clean sheets (5 in 5 starts) and although that doesn’t look a likely trend to continue here, they will be difficult to score against. The Saints will continue to be without injured star Van Dijk which will makes the task of keeping United’s attack quiet all the more difficult. Expect this to be a pretty tight and tense match and one where Southampton will step up but United look to have the slight edge with the number of big name players they possess.
Predicted score: Manchester United 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.64 (90%)
Next Best: Manchester United to win to Nil at $2.7
EPL Week 26 league games
Chelsea vs Swansea
The league leaders still have a comfortable 8 point lead at the top of the table, but it may have been cut shorter if Tottenham had wins against Sunderland & Liverpool in their last 3. Chelsea as a result have been able to take draws at Liverpool and Burnley in their last 3 and still enjoy a healthy lead. They host Swansea this week who have enjoyed a resurgence with 4 wins in their last 6 after being well and truly stuck in the relegation zone. They don’t have a bad record against Chelsea either with their last 3 meetings resulting in 2 draws and a win for Swansea. Expect no fear from this Swansea side here. They have a little more breathing space so should play with a little more freedom than earlier this season. The problem is Chelsea do look very hard to beat so going against them right now is pretty ballsy.
Predicted score: Chelsea 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.53 (85%)
Next Best: Chelsea to win and Both teams to score at $2.8
Crystal Palace vs Middlesbrough
Palace are still in a big hole right now and a home match against Middlesbrough isn’t exactly easy. They sit currently 2 points off the safety zone and 3 points behind Middlesbrough. Whilst Middlesbrough haven’t won that many on the road this season, they’ve certainly made it difficult when they have played away. With 1 win and 6 draws on the road along with just 13 goals conceded in 12 games, Middlesbrough shouldn’t be taken too lightly here. Palace’s problems also stem from the fact that they just don’t score enough goals. At home they’ve scored just 13 times this season compared to 19 times on the road and with Middlesbrough a tough nut to crack on the road, this could be a difficult day for Palace. In saying that, there comes a time when they will wake up and perhaps this is a good opportunity for them to break through for another win under Allardyce in their quest for survival. He is after all a specialist in rescuing times under threat from relegation.
Predicted score: Crystal Palace 1-0
Best Bet: Crystal Palace to win either half at $1.61 (75%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – No at $1.62
Everton vs Sunderland
Tough trip for the Black Cats here with Everton looking a much better side this season and particularly at home. Everton have lost just once at home this season which came against Liverpool 1-0. Home is where they’ve scored strongly too with 25 of their 40 goals coming at Goodison. The trouble for Sunderland here, besides their predicament at the foot of the table, is that they don’t look a much trouble when on the road. They did win their last match away from home which was a resounding 4-0 win at Crystal Palace but that’s a completely different opponent to Everton where Palace too are suffering in a relegation fight.
Predicted score: Everton 3-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $2.18 (85%)
Next Best: Everton to lead at Half-Time at $1.83
Hull vs Burnley
This is going to be an interesting battle. Hull are not far off safety whilst Burnley are a good side but just cannot win on the road. Burnley still have only taken 1 point on the road this season to have the worst away record on the league. That really does open up the door for Hull to take something from this one. Their home form has been pretty good recently with just the 1 loss in their last 6 and winning their last 2 against Bournemouth and Liverpool. There seems to be a bit of fight about them which should suit them well in the fight for survival whilst creating danger signs for the likes of Leicester. Expect an even contest here but Hull look the more likely side to get the 3 points here in what would be a huge boost for them.
Predicted score: Hull 2-1
Best Bet: Hull to win either half at $1.61 (80%)
Next Best: Over 2.5 goals at $2.23
West Brom vs Bournemouth
The Baggies have been impressive this season to sit in 8th position at this stage of the season. They’ve been not just difficult to beat at home but also tricky when they play away from home and for Bournemouth this looks to be a tough ask to get anything out of this. Bournemouth have been on a really poor run with their last 7 matches in all competitions resulting in a run of DLLDLLL. Amongst all of those results they did manage a draw with Arsenal but also managed a loss to Millwall in the FA Cup. They currently just don’t have enough consistency to expect much from this match and if they did manage something here it would be a bit of an upset because West Brom look a really good side.
Predicted score: West Brom 2-0
Best Bet: West Brom to win at $2.05 (90%)
Next Best: West Brom to lead at Half-Time at $2.63
Watford vs West Ham
Both these sides right now look in decent form with 2 wins in their last 4 matches and a few goals to go along with that as well. The Hammers have been a pretty good tough on the road as well winning 3 of their last 4 which includes 10 goals in the process. That’s something that should keep Watford on edge but they’ll have faith in their own scoring power particularly with Deeney in good touch with 3 goals in his last 4 league matches. Neither side has been particularly good at keeping clean sheets so expect this to be a pretty open contest with both sides enjoying plenty of opportunities in front of goal.
Predicted score: Draw 2-2
Best Bet: Both teams to score – yes at $1.72 (85%)
Next Best: West Ham to win either half at $1.91
Tottenham vs Stoke
This is now a must win game for Tottenham as their recent run across all competitions has been really poor. In their last 8 games in all competitions they’ve managed just 3 wins. For a side that has potential to challenge for a league title, they’re starting to unravel a little and need a statement win here against Stoke to get back on track. Stoke don’t have the greatest away record but they will take some confidence in recent meetings with Tottenham at White Hart Lane where they have taken 4 points of a possible 6 in their two most recent trips there. That’s something Spurs will be looking to stop and if they manage to drops points once again then there’s really some difficult signs ahead for Tottenham in their mentality. With Spurs dropping out of the Europa League during the week, they’ll want to get a win here to spring back into form for the remainder of the season. Stoke will make it difficult no doubt but expect a home win here.
Predicted score: Tottenham 3-0
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.63 (85%)
Next Best: Both teams to score – No at $1.83
Leicester vs Liverpool
There’s really not much else to say about Leicester right now except that they are in all sorts. Ranieri has been fired after taking them to glory last season but it’s difficult to criticise that decision because they have just been horrible this season. Sometimes you see a response from sides when the manager goes and it’s usually because the relationship with the players was deteriorating but for me it’s interesting because how they could have a deteriorating relationship with a manager that took them to glory very recently would be quite surprising even in their current predicament. With that decision now made though, it will be interesting to see how this Leicester side responds. Liverpool have been a far from convincing side of late winning just once in their last 6, but right now they do look like the side to beat in this fixture. Leicester are coming off an away match in the Champions League and that may take a little more out of them as they process the departure of their much loved manager from last season. Liverpool should capitalise on this and if they can’t then they really do have plenty of issues of their own.
Predicted score: Liverpool 2-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.99 (80%)
Next Best: Liverpool to win at $1.62