Welcome to the preview of week 34 of the English Premier League where there’s one clear game that everyone will have their eyes on in one way or another. That game of course is Liverpool taking on Manchester City at Anfield. A win for both sides is crucial to their respective title hopes. A win for Liverpool reduces some of the pressure of getting a result when Chelsea visit Anfield whilst a win for City gives them a psychological boost in their quest for the title. Either way there’s a lot to look forward to in the form of Suarez, Sturridge, Aguero, Dzeko etc and it’ll be pretty interesting to see if we get an open goal fest or more of a tight nail-biting contest with neither side looking to give an inch to each other.
Best looking bets
Liverpool versus Manchester City – Both teams to score at $1.48
Southampton versus Cardiff – Over 2.5 goals at $1.66
Everton to beat Sunderland at $1.82
Chelsea to beat Swansea at $1.85
Odds from Betfair as at 12/4/2014
Crystal Palace ($2.18) versus Aston Villa ($4), Draw ($3.35)
Interesting matchup here with Palace hosting Villa this weekend. Palace had a great 3-0 win over Cardiff away last weekend and will look to continue that good form against a Villa side that has lost their last 3 games. It won’t be an easy trip for Villa either given that many sides have struggled at Palace with a solid home record. Whilst Palace have lost 7 games at home they’ve won the same number along with 2 draws to round out their 16 home games but perhaps more importantly they’ve been very solid defensively. Their last 5 home games they’ve conceded just the 4 times in what is starting to become a hallmark of their game under Pulis. With such an extensive injury list at Villa with Benteke, and Kozak to miss along with injury concerns over Delph and Agbonlahor, the favour is certainly with Palace here at home.
Predicted result: Crystal Palace 1-0
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals at $1.62
Best Bet Confidence: 75%
Fulham ($2.16) versus Norwich ($3.75), Draw ($3.55)
Fulham look to be slowly but surely clawing their way out of the relegation zone but they face an interesting test against Norwich side no longer managed by Chris Hughton. For Norwich they’ll either respond here well or succumb to the fight of Fulham in their quest for survival but at this stage I can’t see Norwich’s away form improving here. They’ve still won only twice away this season along with 2 draws which is appalling and I think they’ll get their seventh straight away loss here. Fulham had a good away win over Villa last weekend which I think will boost their confidence immensely heading into this one having come off two tough trips to Everton and Manchester City. This is also a pretty crucial game in that Norwich sit 5 points above Fulham in 17th so it’s a great opportunity for them to bridge the gap there. For Norwich it could be seen that this is really a cup final for them for their survival as well as they face Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Arsenal in their last 4 games but I feel the pressure will get to them here with the expectation to perform under a new manager and the players could be looking ahead rather than just looking at Fulham.
Predicted result: Fulham 2-1
Best Bet: Fulham to win at $2.16
Best Bet Confidence: 70%
Southampton ($1.48) versus Cardiff ($8.2), Draw ($4.8)
The relegation bound Cardiff face a tough ask in travelling to Southampton this weekend and a loss here could seal their relegation with a pretty tough run home in their final 4 games. Last week’s home loss to Palace was probably the killing blow which could really be compounded again here with a loss against a top opponent in Southampton. Stranger things have happened in football though and whilst we can’t rule out an upset, it’s pretty difficult to see where it will come from. Southampton may have little to play for in terms of pushing for a Europa league spot but I doubt they’ll just play out the season with little ambition. Plenty of their players will be looking to impress for World Cup selection in the form of Shaw, Lallana, and Lambert. One blow for Southampton however will be the absence of Rodriguez after his injury at Manchester City last weekend. It’s a loss without him but they should have enough quality to cover him and whilst a spirited Cardiff will no doubt come out firing early I can’t see anything other than a home win here.
Predicted result: Southampton 3-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.66
Best Bet Confidence: 85%
Stoke ($2.12) versus Newcastle ($4), Draw ($3.45)
Both sides have little to play for here so we could be treated to a pretty open game here. Perhaps the problem though for Newcastle is that they are in some pretty bad form losing 4 of their last 5 whilst their last 3 losses they have conceded 11 goals. It seems as though they are just pushing for the end of the season whilst also missing Loci Remy who’s scored 13 from 23 appearances this season. The last time these two played it was a resounding victory for Newcastle as they ran out 5-1 winners with those two red cards for Stoke changing the game for Newcastle. I think Newcastle could struggle for a win here with Stoke in some pretty good form where they suffered their first loss last weekend in 6 games losing to Chelsea. Before that they had 4 wins and a draw conceding only 3 times whilst piling on 10 goals. I can also see Stoke pushing to get some revenge on their 5-1 thumping to Newcastle earlier in the season.
Predicted result: Stoke 2-1
Best Bet: Stoke to win at $2.12
Best Bet Confidence: 75%
Sunderland ($5) versus Everton ($1.82), Draw ($3.9)
Sunderland suffered a humiliating loss to Tottenham last week getting thumped 5-1 and they face a tough opponent in the Champion’s league hunt here in Everton. Sunderland now sit in last place on the table and whilst they have 2 games in hand, those two games are effectively losses as they still have to play Manchester City, Chelsea, and Manchester United all away in their run home. They’ll no doubt put in a fight but I think there comes a point where everyone at the club will know the gap to safety is too big. It could get even tougher here with a loss and with Everton in such fantastic form it won’t be surprising if they lose again. They’ve only picked up 1 point from their past 7 games and the thumping from Tottenham would have been a big dent in their morale. When you also have your manager say stuff like it’s not his fault if they get relegated then I really think they’ve already given up. For Everton it’s mostly business as usual here but they’ll need to still be cautious early as to not give Sunderland a sniff. If they play the way they have over their past 6 wins then they’ll get the 3 points again here.
Predicted result: Everton 2-1
Best Bet: Pretty good value for Everton at $1.82 – Otherwise an Over 2.5 bet at $1.83 looks solid as well
Best Bet Confidence: 85%
West Brom ($3.2) versus Tottenham ($2.4), Draw ($3.6)
West Brom face a battle here against a Tottenham side looking to finish off their tumultuous season in a positive way. They’ll be pretty confident as well after their 5-1 win over Sunderland where Adebayor and Eriksen starred. West Brom have been fairly decent over their past 4 games picking up 2 wins, a draw and a loss so will fancy their chances of getting something from this game. This will however be the toughest matchup of their last 4 games and for the most part I think this will come down to which side wants it more. Tottenham should be up and about for this one as they’ll still fancy a slim chance of a top 4 berth if other result go their way in the run home. Tottenham still have a strong away record with 9 wins and 2 draws from 16 so the away factor will be of little relevance here. If they can defend with confidence here they should get the win.
Predicted result: Tottenham 2-1
Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals at $1.96
Best Bet Confidence: 75%
Liverpool ($2.46) versus Manchester City ($3), Draw ($3.7)
This is perhaps the biggest game of the season for both sides. Liverpool sit on top with 74 points, 4 points ahead of Manchester City who have 2 games in hand. For City this is their toughest of their run home perhaps apart from Everton away in early May. A win here for City puts them in a pretty strong position to stake their claim on the title. The last time these two met earlier in the season it was a pretty tight game and if not for a couple of decisions the outcome could have been different however it ended in a 2-1 win for City. Previous fixtures between the two in all competitions have also been pretty tight with 3 draws and a Liverpool win rounding out their last 5. The end result after this one should be no different – it’ll be a tight and tense contest throughout. Liverpool have the obvious advantage of playing at Anfield where they have played their best football this season. Their record of 14 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss at home is incredible and when you consider they’ve scored 48 times and conceded only 13 times the balance seems to be tilting towards Liverpool even more. Of the top 4 they’ve only played Arsenal at home so far with Manchester City this weekend and Chelsea in a couple of games time. In the past I’ve questioned their home performances against top opposition but when you look at the Arsenal game where they won 5-1 and perhaps you could throw in the 4-0 win over Everton as well as the 4-0 win over Tottenham and you can see they have no fear at home.
Both sides look to be at near full strength with Liverpool enjoying a great injury free run this season whilst City could welcome back Aguero this week. It’s a tough result to call as both sides for me have a great chance of winning and with 3 draws from their past 5 meetings it could well end in a stalemate as well. For me though Liverpool look a side that has plenty of belief. Gerrard is back in excellent form after some injuries held back in recent seasons and along with Suarez and Sturridge up front they have the firepower to keep their sometimes suspect defence protected. City will no doubt come out very strong here but I’m going for a Liverpool win here in their push for a title that at the start of the season was mostly unthinkable.
Predicted result: Liverpool 2-1
Best Bet: Both teams to score at $1.48
Best Bet Confidence: 95%
Swansea ($5.1) versus Chelsea ($1.85), Draw ($3.7)
With Liverpool and Manchester City facing off, Chelsea could fly under the radar a little as they travel to take on Swansea. After some indifferent form with a loss to Villa and Palace over their past 4, Chelsea have perhaps recaptured their strong form with a 3-0 win over Stoke last weekend as well an excellent win over PSG in the Champion’s league during the week to push them through to the Semi-finals. One thing Swansea will be thankful of though is Hazard picking up a calf injury against PSG and he may not be selected here. The bad thing for Swansea though is Chelsea have plenty of attacking midfield depth with the form of Salah, Schurrle, and Willian so I don’t see Chelsea’s performance dropping too much without Hazard. Chelsea has everything to play for here with wins the only acceptable result for Mourinho from here on out if they are to win the title. With Swansea also safe from relegation they have very little to play for here and so that should play well into the hands of Chelsea.
Predicted result: Chelsea 2-0
Best Bet: Chelsea to win at $1.85
Best Bet Confidence: 80%
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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