Lee Davy takes a look at the weekend’s Premier League action involving a title chasing crunch match between Chelsea and Arsenal, and several key games in the fight to avoid relegation.
Here is a preview of the weekend’s fixtures in Week 24 of the English Premier League.
Chelsea v Arsenal
The last time the two London giants faced each other in the Premier League, Arsenal bent them over the knee and spanked them hard. But spankings often provoke a reaction. The 3-0 defeat at Emirates catapulted Chelsea to the top of the Premier League via a record 13 wins on the bounce.
Arsenal tried valiantly to keep pace and didn’t do a bad job. But they seem to have run out of breath in the past month. January has been a disaster for Arsene Wenger’s side. They have drawn with Bournemouth and lost to both Swansea and Watford, casting serious doubts over their desire once again.
Arsenal had to beat Watford if they wanted to win the Premier League for the first time since 2003/04. They lost. It’s Deja Vu. Anything but three points at Stamford Bridge and it’s sayonara Arsenal.
If Arsenal is going to pull off a shock, they will have to do it the hard way. Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud are both expected to miss the match through injury.
Bodog Bets: Chelsea -110, Arsenal +300, Draw +260
Watford v Burnley
Who saw Watford beating Arsenal?
Walter Mazzari can’t even speak English. It boggles my mind. But I think he told the press after that famous win at Arsenal, that his team is coming together after a rough period of injuries.
The game takes place three days after Graham Taylor’s funeral, and I have a feeling that the crowd will be the 12th man when the sides meet on the weekend.
Burnley is flying, but it’s worth remembering they have lost nine of their ten away matches in the Premier League this season. A solitary point, away at Old Trafford, is the only bean they have to show for their excursions on the road.
I don’t think it will be a happy return to Vicarage Road for their former boss.
Bodog Bets: Watford +110, Burnley +265, Draw +215
Southampton v West Ham
Picking a winner in this one is as tough as my Mum’s steak
Both sides oscillate wildly between playing great and galling football.
Southampton comes into the game on the back of two straight defeats since their two-legged victory over Liverpool in the English Football League (EFL) Semi-Final. In fact, they have lost four of their last five Premier League games.
West Ham is a similar club, and I guess the tie depends on what West Ham side shows up. Will we see the team who beat Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough convincingly or the side that conceded 12 in three matches against Man City?
Bodog Bets: Southampton -140, West Ham +390, Draw +270
Everton v Bournemouth
Bournemouth may be six points clear of the bottom three, but make no mistake about it, they are in a relegation battle.
The Cherries travel to Goodison Park having lost five of their last six away games. Since that incredible comeback against Liverpool at the beginning of December, they have only won two of their previous nine Premier League matches, and Millwall dumped them out of the FA Cup. I nearly forgot – they have also conceded 13 goals in January, more than any other side outside of the bottom four.
Everton, on the other hand, has only tasted defeat once in their past eight Premier League games, and only Liverpool have taken three points away from Goodison Park all season. Ronald Koeman seems to have his side firing on all cylinders having won three of their last four and only conceding one goal in the 1-1 draw with Stoke.
There is only one winner in this one.
Bodog Bets: Everton -140, Bournemouth +380, Draw +285
West Brom v Stoke
If there is a tie that I wouldn’t watch for free, this is the one.
Stoke doesn’t like playing against West Brom having failed to beat them in their last four meetings, losing three. But this season Stoke has been performing well against all but the top tier sides, and are unbeaten in the league in January and February
This one has a draw written all over it.
Bodog Bets: West Brom +125, Stoke +235, Draw +215
Hull v Liverpool
The Tigers seem to be growling more often with Marco Silva at the helm. I must admit, I was saying, ‘Marco Who?” When he replaced Mike Phelan at the beginning of January, but I wouldn’t put it past him to achieve the impossible and keep Hull in the Premier League.
Hull’s performances have been good, apart from the 4-1 thrashing away at Fulham in the FA Cup. And it’s no mean feat to come away from Old Trafford with a point and a clean sheet. Let’s not forget that it was also Hull who ended Man United’s long unbeaten run with their victory in the EFL Semi Final.
Liverpool ended the rot of three home defeats (after going over a year without one) with a battling 1-1 draw against the champions-elect in midweek. Failure to beat Chelsea left them 10-points behind the league leaders.
I still think Liverpool is a little fragile around the edges. They are the Premier League top scorers, but have only scored six in their last eight. Unfortunately, only Swansea has conceded more than Hull, and only Middlesbrough has scored less.
Bodog Bets: Hull +550, Liverpool -210, Draw +345
Crystal Palace v Sunderland
Sunderland travels to Selhurst Park knowing a win could drag the Eagles further into the relegation squabble. But I wouldn’t get your hopes up. Sunderland has lost eight of their last nine on the road, and are on a run of eight without a win in the league home or away, only scoring once in five games in all competitions.
Luckily for Sunderland, Crystal Palace is also garbage losing four of their last five Premier League games, including a defeat to fellow strugglers Swansea. But Palace has some outstanding players supplemented by the return of Wilfried Zaha from African Nations duty.
Both teams enter this game on the back of excellent results, with Palace beating Bournemouth, and Sunderland holding Spurs to a goalless draw. But Palace will win this one. They have the firepower, and Sunderland doesn’t.
Bodog Bets: Crystal Palace -155, Sunderland +425, Draw +280
Spurs v Middlesborough
Some games don’t need any analysis, and this is one of them.
Middlesbrough can’t score and has only won once away all season, against Sunderland way back in August. Aitor Karanka’s side hasn’t won a Premier League game since December.
Spurs, on the other hand, are sitting second in the league, and are unbeaten in ten games in all competitions, with the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli, and Son Heung-min scoring at will.
There can be only one.
Bodog Bets: Spurs -375, Middlesbrough +1000, Draw +450
Man City v Swansea City
When Man City was mauled 4-0 by Everton Pep Guardiola said his side’s Premier League chances were as dead as Roy Orbison. After Wednesday night’s destruction of West Ham at the London Stadium, they are back at 12-1 for the title.
Oh, what a difference a Jesus makes.
The new look front line of Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling, and Gabriel Jesus has scored seven goals between them in the past two games. The Trident is so effective, Sergio Aguero can’t get in the side, and that won’t change for the visit of the Swans.
Paul Clement has breathed new life into the team from the land of the dragon. Since his arrival at the club, Swansea has won three of their four Premier League games, and travel to the Etihad having won their last two away games on the bounce.
And the bookies couldn’t care less.
At +1100, Swansea is the biggest long shot of the weekend.
Bodog Bets: Man City -475, Swansea +1100, Draw +550
Leicester v Man Utd
Leicester is a club in turmoil. It’s sad to see them make everyone believe the unbelievable and then turn into the side we always knew they were before they made us believe in the unbelievable.
Take Jamie Vardy for instance. I remember choking on my Perrier when I heard he had been called up to represent England. Back then, he couldn’t hit a barn door from 12-paces, and then he couldn’t stop scoring. Guess what, he’s back to missing barn doors.
And it’s not just Vardy who is underperforming.
They all are.
Leicester is in a relegation fight, and Claudio Ranieri is the second favourite to get the sack, behind Aitor Karanka.
United need to win this match.
The red half of Manchester is unbeaten in 14 Premier League matches since having their ass handed to them on a platter by the league leaders, but they are drawing far too many games, and are incredibly wasteful in front of goal.
United has drawn their last three Premier League games, and I expect this to be number four.
Bodog Bets: Leicester +425, United -150, Draw +270