Premier League Preview - Game Week 26

Friday, February 2 2018


Well thank God that’s over.

Not Transfer Deadline Day, I fucking love it – but having midweek fixtures happening in and around it didn’t only upset Chelsea’s miserable old Conte. I’m blaming a shocking set of result on it too. 

Hopefully I won’t need an excuse for the weekend…

The Tap Ins are included regardless of price, so I’d reserve them for topping up Accas at best. Or even bypass them totally. 

The Smart Money bets are the best way of dredging a bit of value out of the bookies. And any Long Shots are decent priced punts that have some statistical merit. 

All Scorecasts are priced up too. 

Sing it, fellas…

Saturday:
Burnley v Man City

There are only five places but 33pts between these two. And, of course, a million miles. And a zillion pounds.
How Burnley have managed to stay in 7th place despite eight matches without a win - and just one lonely point from the last four, by the way – says more about the Premier League than it does Burnley. But it can’t go on forever.
It will persist at least another 90 minutes though, I suspect. City are on a dodgy run themselves – just one point from their last two away matches. I doubt Pep is sweating, but they will have to work for the win at Burnley. 
Tap in: Burnley (+3) Match Handicap at 4/11.
Scorecast: A steady 0-2 – 11/2.
 
Bournemouth v Stoke City
After a 3-0 win at Chelsea and beating Arsenal in their last home match, this should be a gimme. If only it was that simple. For one, Stoke are under new stewardship and look a different proposition already. Two clean sheets and 4pts against Huddersfield and Watford is nowt to write home about, but a step in the right directions. Getting something at Bournemouth will be another.
Eddie Howe’s liking for attractive football means they ship far too many goals – just two clean sheets at home – but they have been pretty efficient v the Bottom Half. Only two defeats from 12 is solid, but two wins from five at home needs to improve. Starting here.
Smart Money: Bournemouth Win & Both Teams to Score at 14/5.
Scorecast:  A tight 2-1 – 15/2. 

Brighton v West Ham
The Seagulls are one of the most consistent teams in the division, pretty much exactly punching their weight. They’ve taken points from every home match v teams outside the Top Six and only lost twice on the road to Bottom Half teams. Unfortunately for them, West Ham look to have the measure of Bottom Six teams this season, winning five (and drawing one) of their eight matches. 
One of their two defeats was a 0-3 drubbing by Brighton. A bit out of character for both.  
So, factoring all of that in and taking away the number you first though of… I can’t see a winner. Oh and they have played out six draws in their last nine between them.
Smart Money: Draw & Under 2.5 Goals at 5/2.
Scorecast: Looks like a 1-1 – 5/1

Leicester City v Swansea City
After another multi-million pound move has been snatched from out of his wallet, the green-eyed Mahrez might be due for a spell as the incredible sulk again. Shame because Claude had got him looking like… well, a Man City player again. Until their Deadline Day stumble, Leicester were unbeaten in six with just one goal conceded. A home match against the division’s ugly ducklings should be just the tonic…
But Swansea will have other ideas after consecutive wins over Liverpool and Arsenal. They are unbeaten in four on the road too (all comps) and will be boosted by the return of prodigal duckling Andre Ayew. Could be a bit of value on offer here.
Tap in: Both Teams to Score at Evens.
Smart Money: Draw & Both Teams to Score at 4/1.
Scorecast: Has the look of a 2-2 – 16/1.

Man United v Huddersfield Town
Two teams that surrendered meekly in their last outing. The life drained out of United alarmingly quickly once Corporal Jones had lashed in Tottenham’s second. Don’t panic, don’t panic – we’re back at home next. And very effective they have been too, dropping just 4pts all season – both in Christmas week. Anything less than three decisive points here and all of a sudden Top Four starts to look like a scramble. 
Huddersfield rolled over at home to Liverpool as if they were saving themselves for something. But I don’t suppose it was United, even though they have beaten them once already. Twice would be silly.  
Tap in: Home Win at 1/7.
Smart Money: Man United Win to Nil at 4/7.
Long Shot: Correct Score 4-0 – 15/2.
Scorecast: Or maybe 3-0 – 5/1.

West Brom v Southampton
Funny week for the Baggies. They hit their best form of the season – three wins from four (all comps) – win away at Liverpool and help snatch one of their players as they left. But end the week at the Bottom of the Premier League. Things look better for shiz, but they need to get into Swansea’s slipstream if they are going to play their way out of trouble. Their home form hasn’t been the problem – they’ve only lost three times, all to Top Four teams. Although seven of the other nine matches ended level. So with Southampton sitting three points north as things stand, this qualifies as a must win.
Of course, the Saints will be thinking much the same thing. They are 12 without a win but draws with Arsenal, Spurs and Man United in that run suggests they are guilty of picking their games. Both teams love a draw but I have a feeling West Brom will edge it.
Tap in: West Brom Draw No Bet at 7/10.
Long Shot: West Brom & Both Teams to Score at 9/2.
Scorecast: A tight 2-1 – 9/1.

Arsenal v Everton
Real Madrid have BBC, Barcelona had MSN and now Arsenal have a frontline of Lacazette, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang and Ozil and they can boast about LMAO.
They are still too Jekyll and Hyde though. Second only to Man City at home this season, but you can’t help but have doubts about their soft centre. Especially when tough nuts like Everton are in town. They will of course bring Theo Walcott with them, fresh from his match winning brace in midweek. Only two teams have been worse on the road and ten matches v Top Seven teams has yielded just 3pts so far. 
The bookies have loaded into the home win and I’m not going to back against it. But can’t help thinking this will be an ugly one for the home team. So let’s do this…   
Tap In: Arsenal Win at 3/10.
Smart Money: Arsenal Win & Both Teams to Score at 2/1.
Scorecast: A hard fought 2-1.

Sunday:
Crystal Palace v Newcastle United

Only a point separates the teams, but the mood at Palace will be much the better. Only Arsenal have beaten them in the last nine matches and 7pts from their last four at home has them rubbing form shoulders with the likes of Chelsea and Man United. And you’d back them to see off Newcastle.
But hold on… The Geordies’ away form is only a point worse than Man City’s over the last four, because they too have rallied since Christmas. The truth is, they punch their weight – 22pts from 12 matches in the Bottom Eight v 2pts from 13 matches against teams above. Palace are right on the cusp, but will have a little too much for Toon. 
Tap in: Palace Draw No bet at 4/9.
Long Shot: Palace Win & Both Teams to Score at 7/2.
Scorecast: I’m thinking 2-1 – 8/1.

Liverpool v Tottenham 
We all know about Tottenham’s record away to Top Four teams – just four wins in their last 96 attempts. But it wasn’t so long ago that being 2-0 up against Man United at half-time meant they were in for a good hiding. This Spurs team are made of sterner stuff and have already stuck four past Liverpool this season. If they can score first I can’t see them beaten.
Liverpool seem to be over the wobble that saw them beaten by the PL’s bottom two teams in a week. But, like Spurs, sometimes meet their match when trading blows with the big boys. Just one win from five (D2 L2) v the Top Five so far and a draw will keep their noses in front for now. 
Tap In: Both Teams to Score at 1/2.
Smart Money: Draw & Both Teams to Score at 13/4.
Long Shot: Harry Kane Last Goal at 4/1.
Scorecast: An entertaining 1-1 – 13/2.

Monday:
Watford v Chelsea

Hmm, it’s been a funny old season for Watford. Their 15pts from the first eight matches seems a very long time ago. Since then the wheels have come off, although they seem to have got lodged in mid-table – which is no mean feat after just one win in 12. That bubble is starting to fray though – defeat here could have them in the Bottom Three. It’s too early to get a steer on the new man in charge, but their clean sheet at Stoke was their first November.
Chelsea have kicked the Hornets’ nest with a 4-2 win already this term, but are in an odd mood so far in 2018. Five draws, two wins and two defeats suggest something is wrong but only Man City have been better on the road. And while I’m not as bullish as the bookies, you can’t really back against them.  
Smart Money: Chelsea Win & Both Teams to Score at 5/2.
Scorecast: Just enough 1-2 – 7/1.
 

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Matt Nesbitt

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World Cup 2010 Prediction Panel with Ruud Gullit and Sky’s Charlotte Jackson

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