My PL Preview 4th March – 6th March

So this week’s PL preview I have had some feedback suggesting that I should put my own betting tips for each game cheers, James. I’m not very lucky when it comes to betting so if you do end up using these then please don’t blame me if they don’t come in! You have been warned…

Also, I’m going to try and keep each game more streamlined this week, easier to read for you and quicker for me to write.

Saturday 4th March

Manchester United vs Bournemouth

So the day’s early kick-off see’s a Manchester United team that has won 5 games in a row, including a cup final and two legs in the Europa League, come up against a Bournemouth team that hasn’t won in their last 5 matches. Two very polar opposite teams in terms of form.

Bournemouth can’t buy a win in 2017 and are still looking for their first in 2017 and need a good result to help them steady the ship, in a storm that has dragged them into the relegation battle. It’s really hard to write something positive here about a team that I admire highly, I guess the one positive is that their fixture looks reasonably favourable and you’d expect a team blessed with their sort of talent can get themselves out of this hole and survive another season in the Premier League. But even then they are missing club captain Simon Francis and goal scorer, Calum Wilson who is a long term injury concern after having torn his ACL for the second time.

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He’s not bad, is this fella…

United, on the other hand, will have much higher expectations – which is stating the bleeding obvious. But after their league cup triumph last weekend, in order for people to call José’s first season in charge a success I believe that he really needs to get United back into the Champions League – forget the FA cup United need to restore themselves as a club that competes amongst Europe’s elite.

Machester United are looking very good at present and it’s very hard to see them losing here against a team that is so out of form. Bournemouth have conceded at least 2 goals in their last 7 games, lost 6 out of their last 7. Couple that with the fact Manchester United have kept a clean sheet in their last 3 league games it makes for a bleak outlook for Bournemouth. Manchester United to win to nil would be my bet for this game.

Leicester vs Hull

Well, Leicester you proved me wrong against Liverpool but as Martin Keown said on Match of the Day: “Ranieri will have been kicking the television” there was just such a contrast from that performance to their last performance under Ranieri. Saying that, will Hull be as open as Liverpool were on Monday night? Doubt it.

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Back on it

But honestly, Leicester looked like the title winning team that blew away the competition last year and it’s just so strange to see a team flipping the switch that quickly and that dramatically. It’s like when I’m hungry and I eventually eat some food, I become a completely different person. Craig Shakespeare is clearly a very capable man when it comes to managing. I doubt he will make any changes to the team that put Liverpool to the sword but he will have options off the bench if needed in Islam Slimani and Leonardo Ulloa, especially if Hull set out to make themselves extremely difficult to breakdown.

Hull will have obviously seen Monday nights game and will know for a fact that they cannot play in the same way that Liverpool played. But Hull are, clearly, a completely different team to Liverpool. Marco Silva has made them a lot harder to break down which is shown in the fact that Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United have struggled against them. I’m sure he will have them set up to frustrate their opponents and with Hull being just a point from getting themselves out of the relegation zone they need a positive result here. But it’s not looking good for Marco Silva’s gang. They have lost 10 of the last 11 away matches and have lost 77% of the away games this season. Ouch.

Personally, I don’t think that you can judge Leicester on one performance, it’s the next few games which we will see their true character (alright Brendan) and you’d think that with the fans back onside they could win this one, especially being at home. My bet for this week would be Leicester to win and under 2.5 goals.

Stoke vs Middlesbrough

God, I’m glad this one is going to be televised. One team being their usual inconsistent self and the other just cannot find the back of the net.

Stoke to be fair to them have often been very effective against the teams below then in the table but just not as effective against teams above them in the table. So luckily for them then Middlesbrough are up next and they are at home where they haven’t lost for 7 games and have only lost twice all season. The bet365 arena is a tough place to go – trust me I’ve had to endure Arsenal going there for the last 6-7 seasons. They will be looking to get themselves back to winning ways after getting pumped against Spurs 4-0 on Sunday and Middlesbrough are probably the team you’d want to play at this point.

 

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They could do with this man scoring a few more…

Middlesbrough have failed to score a single goal in their last 5 away games and more worryingly they have failed to win their last 12 away games. As was said on the football ramble podcast, it’s like when you play against Middlesbrough: the first goal wins! And I can see this being a Stoke win but by just a one-goal margin. So my bet would be Stoke to win and under 2.5 goals but if you are feeling brave a correct score of 1-0.

 

Swansea vs Burnley

A big game for these two in the bottom half of the table. Although Burnley are in 11th place their away form is left to be desired and Swansea will now want to push on and get themselves clear of the relegation zone.

 

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We can do this!

Swansea were powerless to stop Chelsea last weekend although they could take encouragement and their confidence should not be dented from their performance, as it took Chelsea a while to break them down and Pedro’s goal that got Chelsea back in front, was due to an error from Lukasz Fabianski. But they now have now 4 very winnable games in a row that could propel them to 36 points which would put them in a much more favourable position to stay up this year. It starts here against a Burnley team that has picked up just 2 points on the road this season. They have won their last two home games and I’m sure Paul Clement will have them chomping at the bit to get all 3 points.

 

 

I don’t think anyone really knows why Burnley are such a force at home then become so tame away from home, if you do, I would be sending an email to Sean Dyche right now. They will probably stay up this season which, in itself, is a fantastic achievement considering the size of the club and their budget. It’s even more impressive if you look at teams like Sunderland and Crystal Palace who are far worse off than them with far bigger budgets. They are missing their record signing in Steven Defour which is a big blow for them, although Jeff Hendrick will be returning from suspension and it’s very difficult to see them getting much from this game. For Burnley’s sake that they prove me wrong.

I can only really see the Swans winning this and we all know that any team can beat any team on a given day in the Premier League, I just can’t look past Burnley’s away form. I would have Swansea to win this one with under 2.5 goals.

Watford vs Southampton

Two more mid-table teams go head-to-head, although one of them you would have thought at the beginning of the season would be much further up the table. Yes, Southampton I’m talking about you.

Watford have been in reasonable form recently just 1 defeat in 6, although they have only won 2 of those. Unspectacular at best. But they are most probably safe from the threat of being relegated and will be aiming to finish as high up as possible but need to guard now against any sort of complacency.

Southampton are in the same position really although their form, in the league, is probably even less spectacular than Watford’s. Their EFL Cup final experience, their first in a quite a while, was cruel on a team an injury-hit backline and a team that had managed to get themselves back to 2-2 from 2-0 down in a cup final. But now the player’s need to return their focus to the league and finish the season strongly. No excuses. They should be okay to climb further up the table, especially if Manolo Gabbiadini continues his fantastic form in front of goal.

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Good effort Kone, lad…

This one is tough to call and I think that it will end in a scoring draw. I think a bet on over 2.5 goals would be a good shout with both defences missing key players.

West Brom vs Crystal Palace

One of the inform teams in the league comes up against a team who’s manager says that his team needs to respects the point.

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Forget Zlatan!

West Brom’s fantastic start to 2017 continued against Bournemouth coming back from 1-0 down to take all 3 points last week. They have now just lost 1 league game in 2017. In terms of form over the last 8 games, they are the 5th best team in the Premier League. Baseball caps off to Tony Pullis and his men. Especially 37-year-old Gareth McAuley, who’s got 6 goals this season that’s just one less than big Sally Rondón. That’s an impressive return and shows you also where one of West Brom’s strengths lies: at set-pieces. It is no secret that Pullis is renowned for his teams being good at set-pieces. I still don’t get why there is this negative stigma towards teams being good from dead ball situations. It’s a very good opportunity to score from and yes, it’s not the same sort of football that certain teams like Barcelona and Bayern play but it works and can work effectively.

Palace are not so in form as the hosts. Yes they won last week against Middlesbrough and the performances of big Sam’s side have been slowly getting better each week but that was only their second win in 2017 and they haven’t even picked up any other points from anywhere else that’s just 6 points from a possible 24. It’s not looking so good. I think that they are going to have to catch West Brom on an extremely off day to get anything out of this one.

The only thing you’d say for West Brom now is that they need to keep their eye on the ball, although Everton might seem a long way off, Everton have a very tough away fixture at White Hart Lane on Sunday and a win, which I fully expect for them to do, will mount pressure onto Everton going into their game on Sunday. If this was me I’d be placing a bet on West Brom to continue their form here.

Liverpool vs Arsenal

Surely this will be the first game on Match of the Day on Saturday evening,   4th vs 5th with neither team looking particularly confident. I can’t wait for this game and will be running home from work to watch.

Liverpool are in a run of indifferent form at the moment. A loss to Hull  followed then a brilliant performance against Spurs and then a very poor performance against Leicester. I’m sure Klopp will have had stern words with the squad since then and will definitely have them fired up for this one. You’d think that this the Liverpool team will be glad to be at home this week and will be looking to use that Anfield atmosphere to their advantage which has been shown to prove a difference as Liverpool are undefeated in 19 games in their last 20 home games. Liverpool’s front line scares me slightly, as an Arsenal fan, especially if they all click into gear and if the supporting players behind them in the creative form of  Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana they pose a serious threat to Arsenal’s backline.

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This will be me if we fail to win on Saturday…

The problem with Arsenal is that you just don’t know which team will turn up. It will either be one that has shown they can stick it out at the bigger grounds and get something or it will be like the team that had a meltdown in front of everyone’s eyes two weeks ago in Munich. Liverpool fans might not forgive me for this but Liverpool are not the same threat that Bayern are but they are a team that can really hurt Arsenal. Arsenal have had two weeks off and still managed to pick injury’s, it’s just classic Arsenal. Mohamed Elneny is in a protective boot, Santi Cazorla out for the season and Mesut Özil may not have shrugged off an illness to play. All in all, a great two weeks off for Arsenal. Granit Xhaka will be back after suspension and hopefully, for the love of god, Laurent Koscielny has recovered from his hamstring injury that he suffered against Bayern. Arsenal and Arsène Wenger, need a win here. A win here would keep up the pressure on the teams above them and a loss could see them drop out of the top 4. As much as I would like to see Welbeck and Lucas given a chance to prove themselves I don’t think Wenger will risk it, especially Danny Welbeck and his knee. Iwobi, I believe, is now is in cruise control and just seems not to be at his best and needs to a spell on the bench to remind him that his name is not automatically on the team sheet each week. but I would expect Wenger to keep the faith and start him. Hopefully, Alexis Sanchez continues his brilliant season here and leads

the line to all three points. It will be a tough game for this Arsenal team.

I can see both teams cancelling each other out here, my heart says Arsenal will cruise to victory, just like every game they play, but my head and the form book points towards a draw. I would advise if Granit Xhaka starts, place a bet on him to get booked and I think that you this one you should go for a draw and both teams to score.

Sunday 5th March

Spurs vs Everton

Not a bad game to start your hangover Sunday is it? Two top managers battling out in the early Sunday kick-off.

Spurs got over their European midweek calamity, with a thumping 4-0 win over Stoke and had it all wrapped up by halftime. By all accounts, both teams should have called it at half-time. Although Mauricio Pochettino will be slightly concerned to see whether or not that both Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen both will be fit for this game after came off with knocks. Harry Kane is banging in goals and I would hate to agree but he is up there with some of the world’s best strikers. He’s proved that he isn’t just a one-season wonder, this is his third consecutive season with 20+ goals and although sometimes you might want to question his technique, the man is scoring goals and that’s all that matters for Spurs right now.

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Good effort levels Charlie…

As much Spurs look very much look the favourites for this game having won their last 8 games at home, Everton are in a good form having only dropped 4 points in their last 7 games and will definitely test this Spurs side tactically. Koeman seems like a very shrewd tactician and with the options that he has at his disposal, especially in the centre of midfield, you can understand why this one is becoming so difficult to call. Lukaku has the same amount of goals as Harry Kane this year in the league and will definitely cause Spurs problems, especially if Spurs’s first choice centre-halves are not available. Barkley is looking back to his best, although I’m not a fan of his new lid.

Another tough one to call here, although I think everyone wants this one to be an open, end to end game I think this one could end up being a quite cagey affair. I would say this for this one, will end in a draw and that maybe the best value bet you’ll get. However, I hope both teams prove me wrong.

Sunderland vs Manchester City

Isn’t this the sort of time that Sunderland start their great escape? Because this would be one hell of a way to kick start it into motion.

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Struggling to work out who’s kicked this one…

I don’t think anyone in their right mind expects Sunderland to win this one considering that they have lost their last two including a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Southampton. I do feel sorry in a way for Sunderland, David Moyes will be sweating on the fitness of potentially 7 different players which just is not the ideal situation – the odds this time around seem even more than ever stacked heavily against Sunderland. Really struggling to write anything remotely positive here for Sunderland… If they can keep it tight and frustrate Manchester City and not conceded, there is a small window of opportunity to hit City on the counter and get Jermain Defoe 1 on 1 with the keeper, then you’d back Defoe to score. But that is a big if.

City, on the other hand, have found some rhythm in recent weeks and right so are favourites to win here. They have won 3 games in a row now and are back to scoring freely, they have scored at least 2 goals in their last 4 Premier League games. With their midweek win in the FA cup, they are now undefeated in their last 8 in all competitions. Although this fixture may seem to have already been won, City will need to make sure that they get themselves on the scoresheet in order to stop Sunderland growing in confidence.

History is not looking good for Sunderland. City have won their last 6 matches in all competitions against Sunderland, and in the last 4 of those City have been winning at half time and full time. With that stat, I would not be surprised if that continued and that’s why I would be betting on Manchester City to be winning at both halftime and fulltime.

Monday 6th March

West Ham vs Chelsea

The final game of the weekend and it’s a London derby the first Premier League fixture between these two at the London Stadium.

West ham have been steadily going about their business and are now comfortably sitting mid-table and will be wanting to solidify their league position and build for next season. Andy Carroll is an injury doubt although Andre Ayew is in the wings to fill in. Top goal scorer Michail Antonio will be a big miss following his suspension against Watford.  There’s not a lot you can really say about West Ham at the moment, well I am so I’m just going to leave it there.

Chelsea continue their charge towards the title. They have now won 17 out of their last 20 games in the league which is just, as my boss would say, top banana. Hazard, Pedro and Costa have 33 goals between them in the league which equates to 60% of their goals, so there’s no secret to where the goals are coming from. Conte just seems to have every other manager and team in the league bamboozled with Chelsea’s formation and teams are struggling to cope with this.

It’s just so difficult at the moment to go against Chelsea and you just feel that it’s not going to change this week. Especially if City, Spur’s and Arsenal win they will want to keep that 10 point cushion. But this is the Premier League where any team can beat any other team. But if it was my money I think I’d have a bet on Chelsea with an Asian Handicap of -1.0.

 

Chelsea v Manchester United - Premier League
I don’t think they are listening to you Mr. Conte

 

Thanks if you got this far and I hope if you do fancy a bet this might of helped. But please don’t blame me if nothing comes in.

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