Friday, May 19, 2017

EPL 2016/2017 - Week 39

Arsenal v/s Everton - Home win
Burnley v/s West Ham - Home win
Chelsea v/s Sunderland - Home win
Hull v/s Tottenham - Away win
Leicester v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Liverpool v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
Man Utd v/s Crystal Palace - Draw
Southampton v/s Stoke - Home win
Swansea v/s WBA - Draw
Watford v/s Man City - Away win

Curtain call for the EPL which Chelsea won in a canter. Their sequence of 13 consecutive wins in the early part of the season just broke the backbone of its pursuers. Although all the talk at the start of the season was about Guardiola, Mourinho and Klopp, it was Conte who impressed in keeping the togetherness and composure of his Blues team. By coming out a solid second again, Spurs' Pochettino proved that their runner-up spot last year was no fluke and that Tottenham are a team to be reckoned with in the next few years.

The 4th final UCL spot is what is left for grabs on the last day. Livepool will beat Middlesbrough, that is a banker. Arsenal and Man City have more difficult matches as the former entertain Everton and the Citizens are on a trip to Watford. City need a point to secure their spot and it is difficult to see them getting out of Vicarage Road without a point. Guardiola has disappointed many in his first season and it will be disastrous if he can't get his team in the UCL. I think with the help of striker Jesus, the Citizens will be firing on all cylinders on Sunday.

This is bad news for Arsenal who must win against the Toffees to have any chance of getting 4th spot. Easier said than done as Koeman's men are no push-overs by any means. Their match could very well be academic as Man City and Liverpool probably won't lose any points. It will be a tale of too little too late for Wenger's men.

Win: Liverpool, Man City

Thursday, May 11, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 38

Everton v/s Watford - Home win
WBA v/s Chelsea - Away win
Man City v/s Leicester - Home win
Bournemouth v/s Burnley - Home win
Middlesbrough v/s Southampton - Away win
Sunderland v/s Swansea - Draw
Stoke v/s Arsenal - Home win
Crystal Palace v/s Hull - Home win
West Ham v/s Liverpool - Draw
Tottenham v/s Man Utd - Home win

Spurs will certainly not be winning the league this year but they over-achieved again for a second year running. They go as clear favourites against visiting Man Utd on Sunday. With the Europa league final being their game of the season, Mourinho will ring the changes big-time in Man Utd's remaining 3 matches. The final is their best hope of securing UCL football next season and might very well be the Portuguese's only chance to keep his job. If Liverpool or Man City were to stumble prior to the Spurs match, Mourinho might include in a stronger team to attempt bagging the 3 points but he definitely will not be fielding his best XI. Tottenham always make it hard against Man Utd and their home form is very strong. I cannot see Pochettino's men lose this and while a draw-no-bet might be the safer option, going all-out with the home team looks a rewarding proposition.

Arsenal have garnered a glimmer of hope of securing UCL football by winning their last couple of matches and getting closer to fourth spot. They will hope for Man City or Liverpool to lose points while they win their remaining matches. Tougher said than done as they travel to Stoke's bet365 Stadium (ex-Brittania) which has so often been a graveyard for the biggest teams. Hughes' team always poses problems for the Gunners and I see this being another struggle for Wenger's team. The problem with the Gunners is managerial and mental. That double whammy means that they rarely win matches where they are not able to express their football; i.e. against teams that focus on just shutting them down. Think Mourinho's teams, Allardyce teams, and Hughes' teams. They have all relished stifling the flair and creativity of Wenger's teams for which the Frenchman has lacked proper response. Arsenal are not the force they once were and their reliance on Sanchez means that they are very exposed once the Chilean is shackled. I see value in siding with Stoke outright or as a safer draw-no-bet.

Win: Stoke, Tottenham

Friday, May 5, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 37

West Ham v/s Tottenham - Away win
Man City v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Bournemouth v/s Stoke - Home win
Burnley v/s WBA - Draw
Hull v/s Sunderland - Home win
Leicester v/s Watford - Home win
Swansea v/s Everton - Home win
Liverpool v/s Southampton - Draw
Arsenal v/s Man Utd - Home win
Chelsea v/s Middlesbrough - Home win

Hull have a great chance to bag full points as they entertain relegated Sunderland. This is a massive opportunity for the Tigers to move away from Swansea and the final relegation spot. I don't think they will squander it. Their form has been relatively good lately and they have shown strong form at home where they have shown to scrap points. They should beat Sunderland.

Arsenal are in disarray but they will benefit from circumstances as they host Man Utd. The Red Devils seem to have put all their eggs in the Europa basket to secure UCL qualification. They already have a leg in the final as they went to beat Celta Vigo yesterday. The injuries to the team will most probably prompt Mourinho not to field his best team at the Emirates in view of next week's Europa return leg. On the other hand, the Gunners need to get to the final fourth spot if they are to play in the UCL next year, however minimal their chances look. Wenger typically does not win against a Mourinho team but I cannot see him lose this encounter either. A draw might be the likelier result but Arsenal could also grab the full points by the smallest margin. So, a draw-no-bet on the hosts could be rewarding in the end.

Win: Hull
Draw-no-bet: Arsenal

Friday, April 28, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 36

Southampton v/s Hull - Home win
Stoke v/s West Ham - Draw
Sunderland v/s Bournemouth - Away win
West Brom v/s Leicester - Draw
Crystal Palace v/s Burnley - Home win
Man Utd v/s Swansea - Home win
Everton v/s Chelsea - Home win
Middlesbrough v/s Man City - Away win
Tottenham v/s Arsenal - Home win
Watford v/s Liverpool - Away win

Although Hull have raised their heads above water lately, they have a tough task going to the St Mary's where the Saints have rock-solid form. The Tigers have some great home form of their own which could very well save them from the drop but they have shown difficulties getting points on the road. Both teams are well managed and organized but Southampton have much more firepower at their disposal. Although they lost their last match against league leaders Chelsea, they still managed to score two at Stamford Bridge to keep the match close for a long while. Hull will probably play for the draw here in order to suck an important point out of this encounter but I think Southampton have enough in them to make the difference in the end.

I cannot see Arsenal getting a win against arch-rivals Totteham at White Hart Lane. The Gunners were arguably lucky to down Leicester in mid-week after a freak Huth own-goal. They were muted for much of the match by the champions. It seems Wenger's team is just running out of steam and ideas for a while now. Spurs were also lucky to bag the full points against Crystal Palace on that day. They are contending for the league and that definitely gives them an extra spring in their step. They have strong form at home and several match-winners with the likes of Kane, Ericksen, Ali, Son to name a few. A draw-no-bet is the safest way to go here but going all-out with a Spurs win might be more rewarding in the end.

Win: Southampton, Tottenham

Monday, April 24, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 35 (Part 2)

Chelsea v/s Southampton - Home win
Arsenal v/s Leicester - Home win
Middlesbrough v/s Sunderland - Home win
Crystal Palace v/s Tottenham - Draw
Man City v/s Man Utd - Draw

After booting Spurs out of the FA Cup over the week-end, Chelsea are bound to land a double blow to their London rivals by distancing themselves further in the race to the league title. Conte's men will certainly have a spring in their step after their qualification to the FA Cup final. Southampton are no slouch and will make their chances to score at Stamford Bridge but it is hard to see the Blues not bagging the 3 all-important points. They have been hit by injuries with the likes of Alonso and Cahill but managed to win without starting their best eleven against Tottenham. That says a lot about their frame of mind for the remaining matches. The result might be close but I see Chelsea edging this encounter.

I also see Boro getting a much-needed win against Sunderland. This is a 6-pointer for 2 teams battling relegation; Sunderland look doomed in my opinion but Boro still has a ray of hope as long as they win these kinds of matches. Much will depend on Negredo and Defoe to make a difference at both ends of the pitch. I give Boro home advantage here and can't see them losing this.

Win: Chelsea, Middlesbrough

Friday, April 21, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 35

Bournemouth v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
Hull v/s Watford - Home win
Swansea v/s Stoke - Home win
West Ham v/s Everton - Draw
Burnley v/s Man Utd - Home win
Liverpool v/s Crystal Palace - Home win

It looks the best way for Man Utd to get a UCL spot next year is by winning the Europa League where it has currently secured a semi-final spot. Their remaining league fixtures look very challenging and their struggles will be compounded by the fact that they seem to have lost leading goal-scorer Ibrahimovic for an extended period of time, if not for the season. I see them losing points at Burnley this week-end for many reasons. The hosts have strong form at home, which is what will probably secure them from relegation. The Red Devils will feel the effects of their hard-fought over-time Europa League win and will be without their top striker as mentioned above. Mourinho will definitely ring the changes and his best XI will definitely not start the match. I see value in going with Burnley as draw-no-bet at current market prices.

I also see Hull overcoming Watford. I mentioned last week that Watford have nothing to play for and will show vulnerability in the remaining fixtures. Hull have the urgency to keep fighting to stay up and they need full points in these types of encounters. It might be worth going for the all-win with the Tigers.

Win: Hull
Draw-no-bet: Burnley

Friday, April 14, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 34

Tottenham v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Crystal Palace v/s Leicester - Home win
Everton v/s Burnley - Home win
Stoke v/s Hull - Home win
Sunderland v/s West Ham - Draw
Watford v/s Swansea - Away win
Southampton v/s Man City - Home win
WBA v/s Liverpool - Home win
Man Utd v/s Chelsea - Home win
Middlesbrough v/s Arsenal - Draw

Spurs have a great opportunity to close the gap with Chelsea this week-end. I see lots of goals in their match against Bournemouth, a team they should over-power to snatch the 3 points. The Cherries can give back a battle of their own and have goal scoring abilities but their weak defence will give Ali, Kane and Son nothing to fret about.

I can see Swansea getting a shocker result at Watford. The Swans are still in the bottom three but they have produced combative matches lately and they have a sense of urgency about them. The same cannot be said of the Hornets who basically have nothing to play for and that has been translated in their recent matches.

Another shocker in the cards could be West Brom against Liverpool. The Kops were oh-so-lucky to come away with a win at Stoke thanks to 2 glorious minutes from their Brazilian superstars. I doubt lightning strikes twice for Klopp's men who are certainly not firing on all cylinders. West Brom are a tough nut to crack at home and it would not surprise me a bit if they overcome the favoured Kops.

Finally, I see Man Utd putting a brake to Chelsea's run to the title on Sunday. It is clear that there is a deep animosity between Mourinho towards Conte and Chelsea. The Red Devils are playing for the 4th UCL spot and although they don't win enough, they are a tough team to beat. If they were less profligate at the net, this team should be in second place right now. Chelsea are not plain-sailing at the moment; they are overly reliant on Hazard to turn matches around while striker Costa seems to be stuck in some lull on and off the field. I don't see the hosts losing this and their odds of a win look very enticing. At the very least, they will get a draw.

Win: Tottenham, Man Utd, West Brom, Swansea

Friday, April 7, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 33

Tottenham v/s Watford - Home win
Man City v/s Hull - Home win
Middlesbrough v/s Burnley - Draw
Stoke v/s Liverpool - Home win
WBA v/s Southampton - Home win
West Ham v/s Swansea - Draw
Bournemouth v/s Chelsea - Home win
Sunderland v/s Man Utd - Away win
Everton v/s Leicester - Home win
Crystal Palace v/s Arsenal - Away win

What Spurs achieved last week against Swansea was not short of spectacular; banging in 3 goals from the 85th minute when a goal down, and reigniting their title hopes in the process. Without Kane, they are less of a goal-scoring threat but the likes of Son, Eriksen and Ali have shown that they have goals in them as well. Spurs' confidence will be sky-high as they host Watford and I can see the three above carrying them again to victory. The visitors are a mid-table team that are safe from relegation and too far for a European spot; in other words, they don't have much to play for and their form has been rather indifferent. Spurs' urgency towards catching Chelsea should give them the necessary boost to bag the important 3 points here.

I like Man Utd's chances as they visit Sunderland. The Red Devils have been draw-match specialists under Mourinho but they have the ability to make the difference by the odd goal on the road. Having Ibrahimovic up front definitely gives them more confidence and chances to score. On the other hand, Sunderland seem to be going on the way down and Moyes' mid-week off-field antics haven't helped with the drama with the Black Cats. The Red Devils are very much in the hunt for a UCL spot and they need full points here. I think they will.

Win: Man Utd, Tottenham

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 32

Burnley v/s Stoke - Home win
Leicester v/s Sunderland - Home win
Watford - WBA - Away win
Man Utd v/s Everton - Home win
Arsenal v/s West Ham - Home win
Hull v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
Southampton v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Swansea v/s Tottenham - Draw
Chelsea v/s Man City - Draw
Liverpool v/s Bournemouth - Home win

Champions Leicester are on fire since Ranieri's sacking. They host a Sunderland team in shambles. Vardy could bang in a few here. Hard to see any result other than a home win.

I also see home wins for Liverpool and Arsenal. The Kops seem to have gotten their swagger back after the derby demolition of Everton on Saturday. They could be missing Mane but the likes of Coutinho, Firmino and Wijnaldum could prove too handy for the likes of Bournemouth's errant defence. Arsenal need to pick up their form one way or another soon and the fact that they managed to come back and tie Man City over the week-end will have them some confidence. Wenger has a bulls-eye on his back right now but the Frenchman has proven before that his team could get results when it looked really down. The coming of West Ham seems an ideal opportunity for the Gunners to gather some much-needed momentum.

Win: Leicester, Liverpool, Arsenal

Friday, March 31, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 31

Liverpool v/s Everton - Away win
Burnley v/s Tottenham - Home win
Chelsea v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Hull v/s West Ham - Home win
Leicester v/s Stoke - Home win
Man Utd v/s West Brom - Home win
Watford v/s Sunderland - Home win
Southampton v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Swansea v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
Arsenal v/s Man City - Draw

Everton hasn't won a derby match at Liverpool for ages and I wonder if this is the year they finally crack their hoodoo. With Koeman at the helm and the team being in fine form, this is possible. Add to this a Liverpool team with recent see-saw results and Brazilian duo Coutinho and Firmino being probably short physically after being rushed from Brazil, I believe a surprise result could very well be in the cards. One thing that strikes out when looking at the managerial history of Ronald Koeman is that he often gets great results with his under-dog team in big matches. He has the knack of making his team deliver on the big occasion and it doesn't get any bigger than the Merseyside derby for the Evertonians. Liverpool are on their tip-toes at the moment and they will be missing Lallana through injury. With Lukaku in fine form, I see the Toffees with some chance of making the difference at Anfield.

Chelsea should reinforce their grip on the title by winning again this week-end and seeing their closest pursuers lose ground. I see Spurs losing points at Burnley; Arsenal and Man City are bound to share spoils. Man Utd should bag full points against West Brom as they try to ascertain the final 4th UCL spot.

Win: Everton, Chelsea, Man Utd

Friday, March 17, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 30

WBA v/s Arsenal - Away win
Crystal Palace v/s Watford - Home win
Everton v/s Hull - Draw
Stoke v/s Chelsea - Home win
Sunderland v/s Burnley - Draw
West Ham v/s Leicester - Home win
Bournemouth v/s Swansea - Draw
Middlesbrough v/s Man Utd - Away win
Tottenham v/s Southampton - Home win
Man City v/s Liverpool - Home win

Most of the matches look even this week and there will probably be more drawn matches than usual. It will be interesting to see the impact of the European matches in mid-week notably on Leicester, Man Utd and Man City.

Leicester will be on a high after overcoming Sevilla and making it to the last 8 of the Champions League. I think they have a tough away trip to West Ham with both teams in need of points to get away from the relegation zone. While the Foxes have excelled in the UCL, their form in the Premier League has been terrible although they seem to have found a new lease of life after the sacking of Ranieri. I still think they are vulnerable on this trip though as they could be feeling the effects of the euphoria of the defeat of Sevilla. It might be worth going all out on a Hammers win or a draw-no-bet on the home team.

Chelsea have the title wrapped up bar accident and if they are ever to fail, I see Spurs as the most competent challengers to pick things up. It's true that they will be missing Kane to injury but the likes of Son and Ali have goals in them. Pochettino's men are a team on the upside and have rock solid form at home. They are difficult to break down. Southampton are no slouches as well and will certainly make it difficult for Spurs but in the end, I see the home team either edging or drawing this.

Win: West Ham
Draw-no-bet: Tottenham

Friday, March 10, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 29

Bournemouth v/s West Ham - Draw
Everton v/s West Brom - Home win
Hull v/s Swansea - Home win
Liverpool v/s Burnley - Home win

A paltry set of matches to contend with this week-end. Liverpool should beat Burnley provided they show the same enthusiasm and urgency they did against Arsenal last Saturday. I also like Everton's chances against visiting West Brom. The Toffees are in good form and nearly nicked a result at White Hart Lane last week-end. They should overcome a Tony Pulis' team that has been having suspect form on the road of late.

Win: Liverpool, Everton

Friday, March 3, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 28

Man Utd v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Leicester v/s Hull - Draw
Stoke v/s Middlesbrough - Home win
Swansea v/s Burnley - Home win
Watford v/s Southampton - Home win
WBA v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Liverpool v/s Arsenal - Away win
Tottenham v/s Everton - Home win
Sunderland v/s Man City - Away win
West Ham v/s Chelsea - Draw

Harry Kane's sparkling form will be of huge benefit to Spurs when they host a rejuvenated Everton on Saturday. The England striker scored a first-half hat trick last week to maintain his team's challenge near the top of the table. The home team will need all to overcome the Toffees who have been enjoying a series of positive results as of late. It seems that Koeman has finally succeeded getting his team into his system after a dry spell. With Barkley and Lukaku full of confidence, the Toffees will have their chances to find the net in this match. However, Tottenham have a strong record at home and will make chances of their own. England midfield Alli has been a little under fire lately after his sending-off in an Europa league match but he is the dynamo in midfield that can turn a match around. Spurs will need him for their title challenge but also to make a difference in this match. I see the home team edging this one, so the punt is for a home win.

Man City should have too much for Sunderland to handle. With Jesus gone for the season, Aguero has regained his role as No 1 striker for the Citizens and the confidence in his play seems to have picked up lately. Sunderland might hold on for a while but in the end, I cannot see anything other than Guardiola's men celebrating.

Win: Tottenham, Man City

Friday, February 24, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 27

Chelsea v/s Swansea - Home win
Crystal Palace v/s Middlesbrough - Draw
Everton v/s Sunderland - Home win
Hull v/s Burnley - Home win
West Brom v/s Bournemouth - Home win
Watford v/s West Ham - Draw
Tottenham v/s Stoke - Home win
Leicester v/s Liverpool - Away win

I like Hull's chances when they host Burnley on Saturday. Marco Silva is bringing a different continental approach to the Tigers and the players seem to be responding well with some honorable performances since his appointment. There is more fight in them and they can find ways to score as well. Burnley are coming into this match on the shock of a defeat to Lincoln at home in the FA Cup. They have an absolutely terrible away form and although I think they will win one of these days on a road trip, I cannot see it happening this week-end. I see it rewarding to go for Hull for the outright win.

Champions Leicester are in turmoil and the sacking of Ranieri in mid-week won't appease things, at least in the short term. This team is terribly missing Kante in the middle and with the likes of Mahrez and Vardy not reproducing last year's irresistible form, they are more a bottom than top-level team this year; however, as a whole, they are surely better than being a relegation team which is why their current standing baffles and has seen their Italian manager sacked. Liverpool will be visiting the Foxes like hungry wolves. The Kops have had their poor run of their own lately but I see them picking things up from now on. Coutinho is too good to remain quiet and once he starts firing, the whole team will dance to his tune. They have a great chance of grabbing full points against a deeply-wounded and manager-less Leicester team.

Win: Hull, Liverpool

Friday, February 10, 2017

EPL 2016/17 - Week 26

Arsenal v/s Hull - Home win
Man Utd v/s Watford - Home win
Middlesbrough v/s Everton - Away win
Stoke v/s Crystal Palace - Home win
Sunderland v/s Southampton - Home win
West Ham v/s West Brom - Away win
Liverpool v/s Tottenham - Home win
Burnley v/s Chelsea - Away win
Swansea v/s Leicester - Home win
Bournemouth v/s Man City - Away win

It seems best to side with the Manchester teams this game week. I will again go against Watford knowing fully well that I was on the wrong side of their last 2 wins. Against Arsenal they were arguably lucky to get 2 quick goals against an uncharacteristically poor opponent. Against Burnley, they played with one extra man for the most part of the match. The problem with Man Utd at the moment is their profligacy in front of goal. Besides Zlatan, everyone else is finding it hard to be clean in front of goal. Once they rectify their shot to goal ratio, they will be more lethal. The Red Devils are on a good run and I just cannot see Watford doing another Arsenal shocker here. Home team win.

I think Man City are also turning the corner. The arrival of Gabriel Jesus has given this team a second life. They should have too much against a Cherries team that are conceding goals by the bucket load. If Man City take their chances, they could be hammering at least 3 goals on this road trip. This should be a comfortable City win.

Win: Man Utd, Man City