Premier League Preview - Game Week 29Thursday, March 1 2018
Into the final lap now and there are six-pointers all over the place. In the Top Four, in the Bottom Six… Eight… or is it Ten.
Only mid-table obscurities like Burnley, Everton, Leicester and Bournemouth are free from the nerve jangling – and even they are playing each other!
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.
Sabrina, don’t just stare at it… eat it!
12.30pm Burnley v Everton
Burnley were just a minute or so away from breaking their 11-without-a-win hoodoo, until referee Bobby Madley made a key interception in midfield to set up Southampton’s equaliser. But surely nothing can go wrong this time…
Everton have lost their last four on the road and murmurs for Big Sam to be replaced have already started. His abrasive style of play is an acquired taste at the best of times, but when it only produces two wins from 12 and a measly 8pts from a possible 42 away from home it just hurts your eyes.
Burnley’s mid-season slump means they are now only 3pts ahead of Everton. Should be 6pts by Saturday afternoon.
Scorecast: 1-0 at 6/1.
Tap in: Burnley Draw No Bet at 4/6.
Smart Money: Burnley Win & Under 3.5 at 19/10
3pm Leicester City v Bournemouth
Like Burnley above them (for now) Leicester are tucked in the number 10 position. Just behind the big hitters in the Top Six, so no real pressure to deliver on a regular basis. And just ahead of the blood and thunder in mid-table, so they can play with a bit of freedom.
Saturday’s visitors are aspiring to join that club but do have the unfortunate habit of urinating all over their snacks, just when you think have turned a corner. The late two-goal revival at home to Newcastle last time out might have put them on an upswing though, so I don’t see them leaving Leicester with nothing.
Scorecast: 1-1 at 6/1.
Tap in: Both Teams to Score at 4/6.
Long Shot: Draw & Both Teams to Score at 7/2.
3pm Southampton v Stoke City
I think both of these could go down.
Both have got ugly sets of fixtures to contend with in the run-in: six of Southampton’s ten matches are away, Stoke play four of the Top Five. And both are, well, a bit rubbish.
Too much charity from the Saints has meant just one win in the last 16 matches. And that was against the surely already condemned West Brom. But points against Tottenham, Man United and Arsenal hint at more under the bonnet.
Stoke’s resolve has stiffened under new boss Lambert, replacing defeats with draws (three in the last four). But they need to turn those into wins to stay afloat.
Scorecast: 1-1 at 6/1.
Smart Money: Draw & Under 2.5 Goals at 10/3.
3pm Swansea City v West Ham
With a third – perhaps even a half – of the Premier League feeling the rabid threat of relegation nipping at their ankles, there will be six-pointers all over the place from here on in. Ooh, here’s one now.
Swansea’s recent good form would put them in the Top Six over the last six matches, but they were rocked by a four-goal slap at Brighton. They are three from three at home, including Arsenal and Liverpool scalps.
The Hammers are in decent nick too. Top Seven based on the last six, in fact. It’s not so pretty on the road – they’ve lost their last two and only managed one away win all season. Reckon Moyes would take a draw right now, but have an inkling Swansea might edge it.
Scorecast: 2-1 at 9/1.
Tap in: Swansea Draw No Bet at 8/11.
Smart Money: Swansea Win & Both Teams to Score at 9/2.
3pm Tottenham v Huddersfield Town
Spurs are building up a head of steam and you fancy the only thing that can stop the inevitable here is letting minds wander to Wednesday’s big one with Juventus.
We can expect a bit of tinkering, especially as they have a vulnerable centre of defence at the mo – Alderweireld is out and Vertonghen a doubt. But anything less than 3pts would be a blow to Top Four hopes.
Huddersfield will be looking ahead too – to matches v Swansea, Palace, Newcastle, Brighton and Watford. That run will shape their season and determine whether they are back to play this fixture again next year.
Scorecast: 2-0 at 5/1.
Tap in: Home Win at 2/11 (but don’t, just don’t).
Smart Money: Tottenham Win & Under 3.8 Goals at Evens.
3pm Watford v West Brom
If Watford could’ve chosen a fixture this weekend…
In truth, no one would quibble about West Brom at home right now. But Watford’s funny old season looks set to be steered away from disastrous, back towards decent again. Having veered off from exceptional, straight through good and careering headlong into frustrating. Back to back home wins v Chelsea and Everton (and likely here) will set up the Hornets for a tough run-in – they’ve got to go to Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Man United (oooff!). But it looks less of a Dead Man Walking scenario than it might have.
Sadly the same cannot be said for West Brom. The off the pitch chaos tops Watford’s, but only a staying up specialist like Tony Pulis could save them now. Oh, hang on. Didn’t they…
Scorecast: 2-1 at 8/1.
Smart Money: Watford Win & Both Teams to Score at 15/4.
5.30pm Liverpool v Newcastle United
It stands out as the home banker of the week, but things are rarely straightforward with these two…
Liverpool have Champions League business to attend to on Tuesday, but at 5-0 up it should be a cruise. So this will be the tune-up for their possible Runner-up Play-off against Man United next weekend. All of which is bad news for Newcastle.
Toon are on the up, no doubt. Three draws against mid-table bedfellows and a chest-pumping Man United win has given them a bit of momentum. But they have still got to negotiate four of the Top Six before they add up the points and that doesn’t allow for much wriggle room. I can’t see them upsetting Liverpool, but the last five visitors have scored at Anfield. So that’s a line of enquiry for us.
Scorecast: 3-1 at 9/1.
Tap in: Home Win at 2/9.
Smart Money: Liverpool Win & Both Teams to Score at 33/20.
1.30pm Brighton v Arsenal
The Premier League’s 9th best home team plays the 9th best away team.
I know, I know - lies, damn lies and statistics and all that. But while I’m at it… Recent form (last six) also puts Brighton above their visitors. And yet the bookmakers make Arsenal odds-on favourites. Hmmm.
The Seagulls have won their last two at home, scoring seven goals in the process – as many as they managed in the previous eight at home. So their tails are up (Seagulls have tails, right?).
Arsenal have had a bit of a beating in all formats from all angles in recent weeks. Their one away win from the last seven was against Swedish pub team Ostersunds (Nordic for The Red Lion. Probably). The Gunners have form for pulling one out of the bag, but I’m tempted by the stats – and the value.
Scorecast: 2-1 at 12/1.
Tap in: Brighton (+2) Match Handicap at 1/3
Smart Money: Brighton & Under 3.5 at 9/2.
4pm Man City v Chelsea
When Man City went to the Bridge and dismantled the Champions in September, we all had a glimpse of what was to come. Since then predicting Man City matches has been all about judging what their opponents have got in them. And Chelsea haven’t had much in the last couple of months on the road. Just one win in seven (v Brighton) and limp losses to Arsenal, Watford and Man United make it hard to see anything different here.
It’s all about business for Pep and City now, so expect as many clean sheets as 3s, 4s and 5-goal performances between now and the middle of May. Or perhaps end of May.
Anyway, one will probably do here.
Scorecast: 2-0 at 15/2.
Tap in: Home Win at 8/13.
Smart Money: Man City Win & Both Teams to Score at 21/10.
8pm Crystal Palace v Man United
Just 2pts from the last five matches is threatening to tag an unhappy ending onto Woy Hodgson’s wescue fairy tale. Their crippling injury list is ill-timed and a run-in consisting of three Top Five trials and at least five six-pointers is equally cruel. But if you lose nine of your first 11, thems the beats.
United have been functional rather than impressive on the road this season (possibly since Fergie, actually), so we know what to expect. Jose will back up the bus into position, leave inspector De Gea to handle any stray fares. Then rely on his galaxy of oddly lop-side, strangely languid and clearly bored super-duper stars to make the difference in the last half hour.
Scorecast: 0-1 at 5/1.
Tap in: Away Win at 8/15.
Smart Money: Draw/ Man United HT/ FT at 3/1.
Long Shot: 0-2 at 6/1.
Y’know those Coupon Busters I do for you…? Lunchtime tomorrow.
Ben is football’s leading injury specialist. The ‘go-to’ guru for big hitters like Sky Sports, ESPN and NBC Sports when they need data. Or the BBC, talkSPORT and the broadsheets when a quote is required. His unique insight has helped provide a better understanding of what is really happening in the treatment rooms.
Johnny is a respected physiotherapist and sports scientist, specialising in football injuries and rehab. Johnny has headed up the medical departments at Chesterfield, Scunthorpe and Notts County. Overseeing everything from player-specific training loads to pre-signing medicals. He has a proven record working with elite athletes in Private Practice and is regularly called upon throughout Europe to deliver presentations on the latest rehab innovations.
Matt's short, unremarkable football career was ended by his own bad driving. His long, distinguished career as a football tipster was ended by his own good advice. Because bookmakers don’t like a winner. First, they closed his accounts. Then his members’ accounts. Then his tipping service. And now they employ him as a consultant. Funny old game.