English Premier League Preview - Fixture 20th
It's winter break, but the English Premier League is now the most interesting. The dense schedule didn't disrupt the plans of Liverpool who now have more than 95% chance to win the title. They will meet Wolves in this game week, the Citizens are looking for consolation against Sheffield, and the main match is definitely the London derby between Arsenal and Chelsea. You can check the previews for these games, as well as for all the other games of this game week in this article, with English Premier League betting predictions as an addition.
BRIGHTON – BOURNEMOUTH
It might look that Brighton play much better under Graham Potter, but the truth is that the Seagulls have only two points more than the best-ranked team in the relegation zone. In their last game against Tottenham they had the lead, they were also totally even opponents, but once again, the lack of luck played the main role. In the end, they left London without a single point. After this game against Bournemouth, Brighton will play two more games at home in a row and that is maybe their chance to improve the points count. Potter played with three players behind against the Spurs, but it is expected he is going to turn to back four for Bournemouth. The guest had better Boxing Day, but they can still feel a little bit bad because they had a lead against Arsenal, and also had some more serious chance. We shouldn't forget that the Cherries are playing without a lot of first-team players lately. The good news for them is the return of the left-back Diego Rico, so the weakest position in the last game will be safer now. There should be some changes due to fatigue, but the options for Eddie Howe are more than limited. In the last head to head game, Bournemouth destroyed Brighton 5:0 in the away game, but it's almost impossible to see the same scenario again. Brighton coach has more options on the bench, and in such a dense schedule, the Cherries become a big underdog.
Prediction: Brighton to win @ 1.83
NEWCASTLE UNITED – EVERTON
Newcastle were heavily thrashed on Boxing Day against Manchester United, mostly thanks to their own errors. The Magpies will be glad to come back home because there they look like a totally different team. After losing in the home opener, they didn't record a single defeat in the next eight games, which makes them one of the best hosts in the league. The coach Steve Bruce made some changes in the last game, but this one has bigger importance for him so we can expect Hayden and Shelvey back in the midfield, while the biggest concern is left-back Paul Dummet. On the other side, Everton won the first game under the new coach Carlo Ancelotti, at Goodison Park against Burnley. They were really dominant throughout the whole game, but the only goal was scored in the 80th minute. Dominic Calvert-Lewin has finally ended the agony and now Everton can start with a new chapter. Because of the injuries in the midfield, the Italian was forced to play with three defenders and two wing-backs, so we should expect that formation again in the near future. It is important to note Everton's disastrous away record – they failed to win in 11 of their last 12 games. With a win in this game, Everton could overtake Newcastle in the standings. Considering their away form and Newcastle's good performances at home, it's quite difficult to expect the 2nd win in a row, but we can expect a tough game without a lot of chances.
Prediction: Under 2.5 goals @ 1.75
SOUTHAMPTON – CRYSTAL PALACE
After getting the important away win against Aston Villa, Southampton created the biggest upset of the last game week. All the pundits gave them only minimum chances at Stamford Bridge, but the Saints escaped with the 2:0 win. With these two great results in a row, they escaped the danger zone and now they can prepare for the next game with some lower level of stress. Of course, there is still a lot of work to do, but Southampton at this moment look like a team which definitely deserve to remain in the Premier League. Danny Ings, the Saints' top scorer, started on the bench against Chelsea, but in this game, we can expect him back in the starting 11. There are some minor injury concerns, but that's nothing compared with the guests. Crystal Palace are still dealing with numerous injuries, but despite all the problems, they are playing their best football of this season. They bounced back with a win against West Ham after losing in Newcastle and they still keep the place in the top half of the standings. The important defender Patrick van Aanholt has passed some test, but he still might not be completely ready. Also, Roy Hodgson still can't count on Joel Ward, Jeffrey Schlupp, Gary Cahill, Andros Townsend and Christian Benteke. There was no a home victory in the last four head to head games, both teams obviously enjoy playing on the road, so we can expect one careful game without a lot of goals, just like three of the mentioned four games.
Prediction: Under 2.5 goals @ 1.80
WATFORD – ASTON VILLA
Watford managed to get an impressive win against Manchester United, and in the last game, they continued without a defeat. One point in Sheffield is very important in their battle for life, especially because of morale in the locker room. The midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure is getting back after serving his suspension and he will surely be a reinforcement, considering the difficult situation with injuries. Daryl Janmaat and Tom Cleverley are still injured, as well as Sebastian Prodl, Jose Holebas and Danny Welbeck. This game is a classical six-pointer, but it has bigger importance for the hosts than for the guests. With a defeat, Watford would be almost hopeless, but the other outcome would definitely boost them. Aston Villa disappointed their fans in the game against Southampton, and in the last one against Norwich, they had no right to make a wrong step. Norwich were a better team, to be honest, but the Villains won with the result 1:0. That was their 4th clean sheet in this season, coach Dean Smith played with four players in the defensive line and we can expect the same here. This will be the first clash of these two teams after season 2015/16 when they played in the Premier League. Watford was more successful, they won two games with the identic 3:2 result. Now the Hornets are in a big danger, they remained under 2.5 goals in the last five games and they should apply a similar approach. The margin is quite high, so on three goals scored you can get a return.
Prediction: Under 3 goals @ 1.76
NORWICH – TOTTENHAM
Norwich didn't score in the last game, what was the first time after five games in a row in which they were able to find the opponents' net. But, all those games have one thing in common – Norwich didn't record a win, no matter of scoring all the time. The worst defence of the league simply has no enough strength to cope with the demands of the Premier League. They had some better chances than Aston Villa in the last game and still lost once again. With only 12 points after 19 games played, they look like a team which will surely be relegated. Tottenham were shocked against Chelsea at home, things didn't go well against Brighton again, but they turned everything around in the 2nd half. Harry Kane and Dele Alli got their names on the scoresheet, but Tottenham were fortunate to get all three points. It is obvious Mourinho still didn't do what was expected of them and he will need some more time to lift this team to another level. Harry Winks are Moussa Sissoko are both suspended after collecting their fifth yellow cards, and Heung-Min Son still has two games to serve. The good thing for the Spurs are really difficult fixtures for Chelsea and Wolves, so they could find themselves in the top four at the end of the weekend. Of course, they must make the first step, and Norwich, as they look in this moment, shouldn't be a serious obstacle.
Prediction: Tottenham to win @ 1.75
WEST HAM – LEICESTER
West Ham have lost for the 3rd time in their last four games. With a game in hand, but against Liverpool, they are only one point above the relegation zone. This time had much higher goals and it is quite probably Manuel Pellegrini might end this year without a job. His first choice between the posts Lukasz Fabianski should be back, and the defender Ryan Fredericks will be back after the suspension, but now Aaron Creswell will be unavailable. Leicester are currently in the worst form of this season. In the last three games, they collected only one point, and no one could expect such demolition against Liverpool. It had to be the most interesting game of the last game week, and all the Premier League fans were cheering for the Foxes to keep the title race interesting, but Klopp's troops had no mercy. Leicester couldn't get a single shot on goal, and they must sort this out. They are still in the 2nd place, but with such performances, they won't be able to keep it for some long time. The game against Norwich was a bad day, against Manchester City and Liverpool they simply lost against a better team, but now they must prove they are able to win in series again. Brendan Rodgers will surely make some changes after suffering two straight defeats, especially in the wide areas. In the last season, both head to head games ended without a winner, but now Leicester look much closer, despite conceding seven goals in the last two games.
Prediction: Leicester to win @ 1.95
BURNLEY – MANCHESTER UNITED
Burnley played a game with the same result for the third time in a row. This time, after two minimum wins, they lost at Goodison Park 1:0. We didn't see the goal until 80th minute, but Everton were a much better team, and Burnley didn't have a shot on target in the whole game. The good news for Sean Dyche is the return of Ashley Barnes, with whom the Clarets will be much dangerous in the attack. On the other side, Manchester United are still looking for consistency. Losing against a team like Watford is something typical for them lately, but in the next game, they had no problems against Newcastle. Paul Pogba entered the game in the second half and this time he could be the starter. Since Burnley started to play in the Premier League, we consider them as one of the teams who base their success on home performances. But, in the last three games at Turf Moor, Manchester United won all three times without conceding a goal. Of course, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team can't be trusted that much, but they are definitely favourites. The bookies give them more than 50% chances to win, but we think that's a little bit too much so you should look for value with bets in favour of the home team. With this handicap, even a one-goal difference defeat could get your half stake returned.
Prediction: Burnley +0.75 AH Goals @ 1.85
ARSENAL – CHELSEA
Arsenal have only one win and eight draws in their last 16 matches, what is something that not even the most pessimistic fans could imagine. Mikel Arteta came to do some changes, but his debut was unsuccessful – his team didn't show enough to beat one of the worst teams in the league at the moment, and actually, in the end, they must be satisfied with getting one point. Mesut Ozil has recovered, but the injury list is still really long, and the players who are doubtful like Ceballos, Bellerin and Sokratis probably won't be ready. The Gunners are still in the bottom half of the table and it seems they will remain there for some time. The funny thing is that the only good thing for Arsenal prior to this game is that Chelsea are also in poor form. The great game against Tottenham is totally in the shadow of home defeats against Bournemouth and Southampton. Mateo Kovacic will return after the suspension and Chelsea will look much dangerous with him in the field. This is the first game between these teams after Europa League final in which Chelsea won 4:1, but that game simply isn't relevant because of too many changes since then. None of the teams look reliable defensively, so in this London derby, we can expect many goals.
Prediction: Over 3 Goals @ 1.93
LIVERPOOL – WOLVES
Liverpool returned from Qatar where they won World Club Championship, and after playing the extra time, everyone thought they should be tired. Leicester looked like an ideal contender to finally stop the Reds' incredible run, and that was probably the last chance to keep the title race alive. But, Liverpool won't let anything slip away in this season, they totally outplayed the Foxes, 4:0 in the away game is something we didn't see that often. Also, they didn't allow the opponent to have a shot on goal, while Trent Alexander Arnold played probably the best game in his career, scoring one goal an adding three assists. The good news for the Reds came last night when Wolves turned around the game against Manchester City. They were 2:0 down, but they had one player more in the field from the 12th minute and that was probably the decisive factor. With that result, Liverpool are now 14 points clear from their biggest title rivals Manchester City, with a game in hand too. All the sites now give them 95% to win the title or even more, but Liverpool are probably setting a new goal for themselves. After a long period of waiting and mocking, they have a serious chance to win the Premier League and set the new points record. Manchester City had 100 points two years ago, Liverpool are now on 52 after only 18 games. Despite the Reds' are playing against the 5th team of the league, we should expect some changes in the starting 11, while the guests will probably use their best players. No matter of the lineup, this Liverpool look just like a steam roller which will destroy everyone on their way.
Prediction: Liverpool -1.5 AH Goals @ 1.91
MANCHESTER CITY – SHEFFIELD UNITED
Manchester City managed to win four straight games with a convincing result, but in the very last game, they dropped points again. In the away game against Wolves, they were down to 10 men in the 12th minute, but they still got two goals lead. Wolves didn't surrender, with one man more in the field they played till the end and won 3:2. Now the chances of Manchester City to defend the title are only theoretical because they are 14 points behind Liverpool, actually, maybe even 17, because Liverpool have to play a quite easy game against West Ham. After two incredible seasons at Etihad, Pep Guardiola admits that Champions League is something that he would rather choose this time. He still has some problem with injuries, but they are definitely not the reason for this underperforming. If we exclude Liverpool who are unstoppable, Sheffield are the only team who didn't lose away so far, and their streak will now be put to a test. In the last game, they played only 1:1 against Watford, but they were a better team and they deserved much more. Of course, we find their away record impressive, but when Manchester City play a bad game, after that they are thrashing next opponents just to „prove“ some things. A great run of newcomers in the league and currently the 7th team in the standings is probably coming to an end.
Prediction: Manchester City -1.5 AH Goals @ 1.71
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