Now the FA Cup is nearly at the Semi-Final stage, we return to the league for what is fast becoming the best and most interesting season yet! Leicester are keeping up the pace, and remain 5 points ahead, while Spurs are just about hanging in their tails. Arsenal are out of it, baring some sort of miracle, while Man City are being hounded by the likes of West Ham and Man Utd for the final Champions League spot.
At the other end, it’s all heating up nicely. Newcastle finally snapped and sacked Steve McClaren, while Norwich and Sunderland continue to struggle. Villa look pretty dead in the water, while the likes of Bournemouth, Swansea and West Brom are far enough away from it all to relax, and I don’t think two of the three above mentioned will get enough points to even catch them in the mid-30’s.
Onto this weekend – and plenty of great games coming up – including 2 of the most fierce Derbies in the country!
Everton vs Arsenal (1245)
This is a season ender, title wise for Arsenal. Anything other than a win and that will be that for another season, and if they are not careful Champions League football may be leaving the Emirates too! With City, Utd and West Ham just a few points behind, it could end on a sour note for Wenger. If they do fail to get into the Champions League – he will be fired, unless he walks first. Onto the game – Everton are in good form, but can be a little inconsistent. They smashed Chelsea last weekend, with the likes of Lennon and Lukaku on-song. Ever since the day’s of Adams. Campbell and Keown – Arsenal have had a dodgy back four. Against some fine attackers today, I think they might struggle to contain them. Both will want this, which for me means there will be goals. BTTS + Over 2.5 Goals @ 1/1 my top bet
Chelsea vs West Ham (1500)
With Chelsea in 10th, and West Ham 5th – there is a lot on offer. Chelsea are still trying to track down a Europa League spot (better than nothing I’d suppose) while West Ham have their eyes on Man City’s current 4th spot. With Payet on-song, and the whole team playing well, a London derby against Chelsea will have no bearing on the minds of players for either side. Chelsea look fragile, and facing a team with attacking verve like West Ham’s, they could come unstuck yet again this season. A bet I like for this one is West Ham or Draw @ 6/5
Crystal Palace vs Leicester (1500)
Palace = out of form. Leicester = in-form.
Ranieri’s men should sew this one up and keep the gap at least for now. Palace have been shocking in the league, and despite their cup run – I see no reason it won’t continue. Kante and Drinkwater will be on cloud-9 after getting their first senior international call-ups, while the usual suspects of Mahrez, Vardy and Okazaki will be a threat. Palace have looked a little more threatening of late, but still have too many issues in the back four to consider anything but a Leicester Win @ 6/4
Watford vs Stoke (1500)
Watford’s manager has come out recently and said they model themselves on Stoke, while Mark Hughes has given praise to the North-Londoners. Pleasantries will not be on show once the whistle blows to start the game. Watford have struggled a bit of late, but demolished Arsenal and impressed against Man Utd. Stoke on the other hand have been very hit and miss, defeating some of the league’s giants but them faltering against others they should be picking up points against. Going for BTTS @ 1/1, despite neither having terrific records (Stoke have 6 in their last 10 away games).
West Brom vs Norwich (1500)
This is a big game for the away side! With their next game against Newcastle, they need a point at least in reality to avoid potentially ending the two game stint back in the bottom 3. WBA have been better of late, with Rondon and Berahino really impressing together. The big problem today is that Norwich have scored in just 3 of their last 10 away games, losing 9! Easy for me, but a WBA win @ 5/4 the best bet!
Swansea vs Aston Villa (1730)
Value is very short on this one – Swans are 4/6 to win, but usually have very close games no matter who they are playing. Villa have a slim chance of getting out of trouble, and have been better away than at home, with 4 draws in their last 10, and BTTS in 5. Nothing to lose, shackles off – I fancy BTTS @ 21/20 in this. Swansea are average at best at the back, conceding in most games – especially at home. I think Villa will see a chink in the armour and go for it!
Newcastle vs Sunderland (1330)
This is role-reversal. Usually it’s Sunderland who change manager just before a derby, and it works! 6 wins on the spin. However, this time it officially is different. Newcastle have taken on Rafa Benitez, and even in the one game he has had the team looked different. With Mbemba and Coloccini back, and at home – I think Newcastle will break this curse and win. With their back four though stronger, I think they will keep Sunderland out long enough to secure a couple of goals and the win. Newcastle Win @ 11/10 the top tip!
Man City vs Man Utd (1600)
In the other Derby of the day – Man Utd travel across the city to play their biggest rivals. The home side will be unaKompany’d (Sorry…couldn’t resist) as the Belgian is once again missing. Away from home though, Man Utd are as useful as Steve McClaren by the looks of things, and up against the likes of Sterling. Aguero and co – I don’t see them putting up much of a fight. If the bookies priced it, I’d back Pellegrini and Van Gaal to have a fistfight, but they won’t. Otherwise, Man City Over 1.5 Team Goals @ 1/1 my top bet.
Southampton vs Liverpool (1330)
This is a toughie to call. Liverpool whopped the Saints at St Mary’s earlier in the season, but since they the home side have improved. Liverpool have also improved, but are hit and miss – mainly because of their inability to take chances. With Benteke useless and lumpent most of the time, and Origi still learning – it means that the likes of Lallana or Firmino end up playing as a false nine, and sometimes because of it they struggle. However, of late Southampton have been great defensively, while Liverpool’s back four has been as reliable as Steve McClaren’s trusty brolly (you can see today’s theme…). I’m going for Southampton Win @ 13/8, and Liverpool to be brought back down to earth with a bump.
Tottenham vs Bournemouth (1600)
The last of the weekends games see’s the re-run of a game earlier in the season described as ‘men vs boys’. Spurs won it 5-1, but since then the boys have come of age. Bournemouth look a much changed side since losing just once in their last 10 away games! Spurs on the other hand come off the back of two defeats to Dortmund, which will have shot their confidence. Kane was rested on Thursday, while Eriksen should return from injury. I don’t think Poch will mess around – with this being a major chance of winning a title. Leicester will have played, so he will know what is required. Spurs Win + Over 2.5 Goals @ 6/5 by best bet.
- WBA Win @ 5/4
- Leicester Win @ 6/4
- Watford-Stoke BTTS @ 1/1
- Spurs Win + Over 2.5 Goals @ 6/5
Pays 25/1 with Bet365!