EPL betting guide for all this weekend's game - featuring Man Utd v West Ham, Newcastle v Liverpool and Chelsea v BournemouthPosted on 04/12 by Joe Gann
Leicester City's Jamie Vardy is chasing down Sheffield United’s Jimmy Dunne's all-time top flight record of 12 consecutive matches, set in the 1931/32 season
Weekly Expert Betting Tips - Join our free mailing listSandwiched between vital domestic and European fixtures, this weekend’s action may not be the absolute priority for some clubs. With a place in the Semi Finals of the League Cup at stake during the week, followed by crunch Champions League ties coming up, squad rotation may be an important factor for those involved.
Stoke City v Manchester City
Having already qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League, City can concentrate fully on what can always be considered a tricky away fixture at the Britannia Stadium. Back on track with a 3-1 victory over Southampton last week, they currently sit top of the league on goal difference due to the stalemate that unfolded at the King Power Stadium. They welcomed back David Silva midweek against Hull City, who captained the side in the continued absence of Vincent Kompany.
It’s been a good week for City with the announcement of more overseas investment in the club; this time coming in the form of the state backed Chinese Media Capital who have taken a 13% stake, equating to a £265m, in the club’s holding company. On the playing side of things, they are a expecting to see the return of Joe Hart and Sergio Aguero from injury, and will be looking for a repeat of last year’s result here when they strolled to a 1-4 victory.
Stoke booked their place in the next round of the League Cup with a morale boosting win over Arsenal’s conquerors, Sheffield Wednesday in midweek. Captain Ryan Shawcross is in contention to make a return to the starting line- up after missing the cup game on Tuesday, serving his one match ban for his sending off against Sunderland last weekend.
Goalkeeper Jack Butland is having a fantastic season and is a serious challenger to opponent, Joe Hart for the England Number one jersey. Currently topping the chart for most saves this season with 37, Stoke will be hoping his fine form continues.
Arsenal v Sunderland
Arsenal have mounting injury concerns coming into this one, with ten players currently on the casualty list. The grim development yesterday was the news that Santi Carzola is set to miss at least three months with the knee ligament injury he sustained in the 1-1 draw with Norwich City last Saturday. Alexis Sanchez is showing signs of fatigue after playing 30 matches for club and country since the FA Cup final at the end of last season and after limping off with a suspected hamstring injury at Carrow Road last week, the Gunners are expecting to be without his services until the middle of December.
Laurent Koscielny is another doubt after he too picked up a knock in the costly fixture in Norfolk. They are already without Mikel Arteta, Francis Coquelin, Tomas Rosicky, Danny Welbeck and Jack Wilshire and the escalating problems could seriously jeopardise their chances of success this term. With the crucial Champions League tie against Olympiacos on Wednesday night, the option to freshen up the line-up would have been welcomed by Manager Arsene Wenger but that doesn’t look feasible.
One positive for Arsenal is the form of Mesut Ozil who, after his goal at Norwich last week has now played a part in 13 goals scored in his last 12 games.
Sam Allardyce brings his Sunderland team to the Emirates with renewed confidence after picking up 6 points from 3 games played since they suffered a 6-2 drubbing at Goodison Park. With 3 victories from his opening six games since taking the reins at the Stadium of Light, Allardyce has injected some much needed zeal into his side. After climbing out of the relegation zone last week, the mood in the camp will be sky high and with Arsenal’s injury woes, the Mackems may fancy their chances of taking something from this game.
Manchester United v West Ham United
Manchester United will be glad for home comforts on Saturday, in what promises to be a tough encounter. Old Trafford has regained its reputation as a fortress once more this season; only United and Spurs remain unbeaten at home this term although that may be put to the test this week. If West Ham can rediscover the early season form; the hammers enjoyed outstanding victories away at Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool in a wonderful opening period, a shock result could be on the cards.
Outstanding summer signing, Dimitri Payet’s continued absence is going to be a big blow for the hammers however; the Frenchman is currently undergoing rehabilitation on an ankle injury suffered in the game against Everton last month and is not likely to return until well into the new year.
Like Arsenal, United face a make or break fixture in Europe this coming week. They travel to Germany to take on a Wolfsburg team knowing that they need to equal, or better PSV Eindhoven’s result at home to CSKA Moscow if they are to advance to the next stage of Europe’s premier competition.
Van Gaal’s preference to work with a smaller squad number does not give him many options in terms of squad rotation and it could be a similar 11 that take the field here and in the Volkswagen Arena on Wednesday. The reds did not look sharp last week at Leicester in what was another disappointing attacking display, and with Louis Van Gaal admitting that the lack of goals is becoming a concern, the decision to farm out striker James Wilson on loan to Brighton and Hove Albion has caused consternation amongst the red devils support.
Southampton v Aston Villa
It’s not been a good week for Southampton, shipping nine goals and spinning out of the League Cup. They can however, take solace from the fact that this weekend’s opponents have far bigger problems. Villa equalled an unwanted club record of 13 games without a win in the 1-3 defeat to Watford last week.
More disturbing is the fact that no team has ever survived from their current predicament of 5 points won from the first 13 games. The Villains will have to rewrite the history books in they are to be successful in their bid to remain in the Premiership next year. They already run the risk of being cast adrift as they remain 7 points from safety.
Swansea City V Leicester City
All eyes will be on man of the moment Jamie Vardy at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday. After surpassing Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s record of scoring in 10 premier league games in a row, he is now chasing down Sheffield United’s Jimmy Dunne's all-time top flight record of 12 consecutive matches, set in the 1931/32 season.
Liverpool’s fortunate win last week, coming virtue of an extremely soft penalty decision, helped heap more misery on Swans’ boss Garry Monk; who desperately needs to rediscover a winning formula after four defeats from his last six matches. Despite coming away from Anfield empty handed, he will have been encouraged by the improved display from his team.
When results are on a downward spiral as they are at present, it can sometimes point to disharmony behind the scenes. However, the admirable fighting spirit they demonstrated on Merseyside, and at home to Bournemouth recently recovering a two goal deficit, would suggest that is not the case. A return to the kind of home form that saw them become one of only two teams to beat Manchester United this season is vital and a big win against Leicester City this week could go a long way towards turning their fortunes around.
Watford V Norwich City
Watford, sitting comfortably in eleventh, will be aiming to build on last week’s victory over struggling Aston Villa. The Hornets reached an encouraging milestone in that win at Villa Park, amassing 19 points from the first 14 games. Only one team has been relegated in the history of a 20 team Premiership with that haul – Crystal Palace in the 1997/98 season.
That omen is a good one for Quique Sanchez Flores’s men and with Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo providing a regular source of goals, Watford can be optimistic of playing top flight football again in 2016/17.
With the teams around them at the bottom facing difficult fixtures this week, Norwich will sense an opportunity to move away from the danger zone, when they travel to Vicarage Road. With a poor run of five defeats in six before last week, a commendable point earned against Arsenal has helped to arrest that decline.
West Bromwich Albion v Tottenham Hotspur
Since Tony Pulis took charge at the Hawthorns, the Baggies have kept more clean sheets than any other top flight side. But with only 13 goals scored at the other end, the emphasis is on the team’s forwards. Albion’s head of Administration, Richard Garlick this week reiterated the club’s determination to keep striker Saido Berahino at the club during the January transfer window.
Tottenham were one of the interested parties during the summer, seeing 4 formal bids rejected by the Baggies. However, Berahino has been on the bench for the last three games as Tony Pulis opts for summer signing Jose Salomon Rondon up front.
Spurs midweek exertions in Azerbaijan probably played a part last week as they struggled to break down a solid Chelsea outfit. With Europa League progress guaranteed, the Monaco tie next Thursday will give Manager Mauricio Pochettino the chance to hand squad members some valuable playing time.
The lack of rotation this season has been noted by some, and although his players will only be required to play one game a week between now and Christmas, once the frequency of matches increase again at the turn of the year, there is a fear that Spurs’ early season exertions may take its toll. As it is, Spurs are in fine fettle and if last season’s 0-3 win is a barometer, the Hawthorns is a happy hunting ground for them.
Everton v Crystal Palace
Romelu Lukaku is in dazzling form for the Toffees, continuing his scoring streak last week at Dean Court. Although Roberto Martinez will no doubt be disappointed in surrendering the lead in the manner that they did last week at Bournemouth, the Blues bounced back in midweek to cruise into the semi-final of the League Cup, with a 0-2 win at Middlesborough.
The manner of Palace’s dominant display against Newcastle culminated in a morale boosting victory last weekend.
Surprisingly, it was their first win in 11 attempts against the side from the North East. Manager Alan Pardew’s 100th win as a Premier league manager must have been made sweeter by the fact that it came against his former employers. If 2 games can sum up a team, then the Eagles’ most recent fixtures have done just that.
Profligate execution in the final third against Sunderland gave way to clinical efficiency against Newcastle, as Pardew’s men ran riot over the woeful Magpies. The epitome of unpredictability; when the Eagles are in the mood, they look like an extremely dangerous side.
Chelsea v Bournemouth
Buoyed by recent results, Chelsea look more like their old selves at Tottenham last week. Resolute defensively, the hallmark of any Mourinho side, the signs were there that the blues have overcome their disastrous beginning to the campaign. Even without injured skipper John Terry, the visitors looked far more comfortable than they have in recent months, in what was a difficult game against an in-form Spurs.
There was a Man of the Match performance from Hazard, who impressed playing in an unfamiliar role as a lone striker. Chelsea fans will be praying for a return to the form that saw him crowned Footballer of the Year in the last campaign. Even though their home form this season has been dreadful for Jose Mourinho’s standards, Chelsea have to be favourites to continue on the road to recovery at Stamford Bridge.
In Eddie Howe, Bournemouth have one of the game’s most promising managers. His award for Football League Manager of the Decade (2005-2015) is testament to what a special talent he is; added to the fact that he is one of only five managers to take a team from the fourth tier to the top tier of English football. Even more remarkable is the fact that he has achieved this at the age of only 38.
Despite slipping into the bottom three this week, his Bournemouth side showed admirable resolve in mounting a tremendous fightback, twice, against Everton last week. After making it 2-2, recovering from 2-0 down, and then going down 3-2 in the 95th minute, the Cherries fought back again to level at 3-3 in the 8th minute of injury time. The euphoria of a 98th minute equaliser must have felt like a victory for the Cherries and that fighting spirit will stand them in good stead in what is going prove a testing season for the club.
Newcastle United v Liverpool
The pressure mounts on Newcastle boss Steve McClaren as the Toon find themselves deep in relegation trouble after slipping into the bottom three. Currently in the middle of an awful run, the last thing the Magpies needed was a fixture against one of the division’s in-form teams.
After an unconvincing win last time out, courtesy of a James Milner penalty, Liverpool cut loose in midweek, crushing Southampton in the league Cup 1-6, to set up a last four tie against Stoke City. Moving up to sixth, and only 6 points off the top, Jurgen Klopp has transformed the Merseysiders in a very short space of time.
With no clear favourite emerging yet for this year’s title, could Liverpool claim their first Premiership, ending an agonising twenty five year wait, against all expectations?
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