Toon torment? Your weekend Premier League betting guide

With the top four cast in stone, the focus turns to the relegation battle. Either Hull City or Newcastle United will fall. Both have home games against teams with little to play for except price – and only one of those teams appears to have any at present.

We take a look at the big weekend matches and suggest how to make even some money for your summer holidays…

Remember, you can get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See for details.



Challengers: Arsene Wenger

Arsenal (Odds: 1.39) have clinched third place unless Manchester United can achieve a swing of eight goals with the Gunners – and that is very unlikely to happen.

So with the top four cemented and West Brom (8.60) safe from relegation, there is very little riding on the outcome.

West Brom have won three of the last 35 meetings and the Gunner have scored at least once in the last 21 clashes. Five of the last six meetings yielded under three goals and with the way the Gunners have been miss-firing of late, all three of those trends may well hold true.

The Baggies beat Chelsea 3-0 last week and they may well think it is ‘job done’. We see the Gunners rolling Albion over.

VERDICT: Arsenal 3 West Brom 1 @ 11.00

BEST BET: Arsenal to win & over 2.5 goals @ 1.90



Far from blameless: Redknapp

Leicester (Odds: 1.58) become the second team in as many seasons to be bottom of the Premier League at Christmas yet still survive the drop.

Their sole defeat in their last eight games came at home to champions Chelsea and they have kept a clean sheet at home in three of their last four games.

QPR (5.70) were left in the lurch by Harry Redknapp, who bought badly and walked out after the transfer window. Their prize asset, Charlie Austin, is likely to ply his trade elsewhere next season.

While fortunate that they have a good man at the helm in Chris Ramsey, who has been appointed head coach on a three-year contract, the club appears to be in financial meltdown and it will take a monumental feat to see them bounce back quickly.

Rangers won fewer points in the league (nine) in 2015 than any other team, even after beating Newcastle last week. It is easy to see a confident Leicester side taking their momentum into the close season with a win and there has been a positive result in each of the last eight meetings.

VERDICT: Leicester 2 QPR 1 @ 7.60

BEST BET: Leicester lead at HT @ 2.06



Bounce-back: Mourinho

Sunderland (Odds: 9.80) have managed to keep their Premier League status for another season, though who will be in charge on the opening day of the new season remains open to question.

The Black Cats have won just three of their 17 games on the road this term and have managed just 14 goals. Though they held Arsenal scoreless to secure their survival on Wednesday, it was a physically and psychologically draining game, as interim manager Dick Advocaat’s tears in the press conference afterwards showed.

Chelsea (1.36) clinched the title with three matches remaining so have earned the right to lose some motivation. Yet having been thumped 3-0 by an inferior West Brom side will have hurt Jose Mourinho.

Good managers inspire bounce-back performances and while Sunderland have remained undefeated in the last three meetings, it is unlikely that they will inflict Chelsea’s first home league defeat of the season.

Chelsea have won 17 of the last 21 meetings and 11 of the last 14 have yielded three goals or more. Those are trends that can be your friend. In fact, Sunderland could get a thumping.

VERDICT: Chelsea 5 Sunderland 0 @ 32.00

BEST BET: Both teams score – No @ 1.82


Sam Allardyce

Leaving: Allardyce

West Ham (Odds: 4.60) have seemingly given up. It is bordering on criminal that those who don the famous claret and blue have simply not appeared to put it in at all since the turn of the year.

The Upton Park faithful have been treated to poor performance after poor performance and the board’s refusal to give Sam Allardyce their wholehearted backing has caused nothing but apathy from over-paid, and oft-ordinary players.

The Hammers need to remain in the Premier League next term before they head to the Olympic Stadium. This may well herald the start of an exciting time at the club, but the current crop of players do not seem to be buying into it.

Newcastle (1.74) have suffered an horrendous run of form. They are a ludicrously short price for a team that has taken just one point from their last 30 available. But that says much about the opposition.

It is a straight fight between The Magpies and Hull, who are two points behind but who have a superior goal difference, to see who goes down.

Newcastle have not lost back-to-back games against the Hammers since 2000, but if the West Ham players are still playing for Allardyce, the incentive is there to win. Big Sam was sacked by Newcastle owner Mike Ashley and he would perhaps like a measure of revenge.

It is all hypothetical, of course. West Ham players Kevin Nolan and Andy Carroll are both Newcastle legends and they would not like to see the club go down. They may even return to Tyneside before too long.

Despite nine defeats in 10 matches Newcastle are odds-on to win. West Ham still appear massive value, but you are taking a big chance if backing them, as they appear to have thrown in the towel long ago.

VERDICT: Newcastle United 2 West Ham 0 @ 9.20

BEST BET: Newcastle to win @ 1.74


Sean Dyche2

Top job: Dyche

The remarkable job Shaun Dyche has done with Burnley (Odds: 3.60) and the equally effective job the board have done in sticking to their plan, means the Clarets immediate future will not be a concern.

While they have ultimately paid for their prudence, they will be in excellent financial shape compared to some in the Championship and have refused to mortgage their future on the present.

The loyalty they have shown Dyche, an excellent motivator and fine man-manager, is something every Burnley fan – and every football fan for that matter – can take pride in. Theirs is a blueprint that many clubs can learn from.

Aston Villa (2.08), safe for another season, are looking forward to next week’s F.A. Cup final against Arsenal. Injury will be at the forefront of the players’ minds.

There have been five draws in the last eight meetings but Villa have won just two of the last 10 clashes. Both sides found the net in seven of the last eight meetings and that trend may continue.

As with most of the games, there is nothing hanging on the outcome and we look for an entertaining draw.

VERDICT: Aston Villa 1 Burnley 1 @ 6.40

BEST BET: Burnley to score @ 1.42


Mauricio Pochettino

Thursday’s child: Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham (Odds: 2.98) could still finish fifth and qualify for the Europa League. They are a point behind Liverpool with an inferior goals difference.

Tottenham’s hierarchy probably believe that playing on Thursday nights in the Europa League harms their chances of making the top four and the promise of Champions League football. Perhaps they feel they are above all that?

In fairness, sides traditionally struggle in league matches after a Thursday night jaunt around the more obscure grounds in Europe.

Liverpool have a tough game at Stoke. The Reds may have been unsettled by the talk about Raheem Sterling’s contract and may be drained by the emotion of Steven Gerrard’s last home game. Both are ready-made excuses for not wanting Thursday night football and they were certainly not at the races against Crystal Palace last weekend.

Everton (2.34) have only their final position in the table to play for but should secure tenth place.

We don’t think Spurs will put it all in, to be brutally honest.

VERDICT: Everton 3 Tottenham Hotspur 1 @ 17.00

BEST BET: 3 goals or more @ 1.68


Alan Pardew

Saviour: Pardew

Palace (Odds: 2.20) and Swansea (3.25) have both over-achieved this season. Swansea will finish in eighth place, while Palace can finish in the top 10 if their results go their way.

Alan Padrew’s Palace showed last week that they are something of a bogey side to Liverpool and they spoilt Steven Gerrard’s Anfield send-off with a remarkable 3-1 win. What goes around comes around, however, and Swansea have held the Indian Sign over the Eagles in recent times, remaining unbeaten in the last seven meetings.

Palace have failed to score in five of the last seven meetings, of which the Swans have won four. They also led at half-time in five of the last six clashes.

Throw in the fact that Palace have the worst home record in the Premier League, taking just 18 points from their 18 games and you have the potential for an upset.

VERDICT: Crystal Palace 1 Swansea 2 @ 11.00

BEST BET: HT draw @ 2.12


Ronald Koeman

Remarkable job: Ronald Koeman

Southampton’s (Odds: 6.00) season has been nothing short of tremendous. Many were berating the board for selling a few prize assets at the end of last season, but sound management from Ronald Koeman, combined with a perpetually blossoming youth system, means they continue to reap the benefits.

Clubs such as West Ham, who had a long history of bringing through young talent, but who veered from that path by bringing in mediocre – and often expensive – foreign players, are now looking at the Saints with envy. Or at least they should be.

City (1.55) are all that is bad about the modern game in this country: Throw money at the best foreign players and buy trophies. Gone are the days of the likes of Everton, West Ham or West Brom challenging for the title – or even the top four. Money has made the Premier League, but also killed English football and English talent.

Both sides scored in six of the last seven meetings, seven of the last nine meetings yielded over 2.5 goals and there has been a positive result in 13 of the last 15 meetings.

City have secured second place, but the neutral will want a Saints win. One in the eye. A small token gesture. It probably won’t happen though.

VERDICT: Man City 2 Southampton 0 @ 10.00

BEST BET: Man City win to nil @ 3.20


steve bruce

Fall guy: Steve Bruce

Anyone who has read this blog will know we have fancied Hull (Odds: 3.15) to fall for quite a while.

In order to stay up, they have to beat Manchester United (2.20) and hope that Newcastle do not manage to beat West Ham. That may well be too much to ask.

Hull have not managed a point against United in seven attempts and even an old pals’ act may not be enough to help Steve Bruce’s side.

United will likely be on their holidays after finishing fourth and they have only won a third of their 18 road games. That is by no means title-winning form and the Red Devils will have to improve upon that next term if they are to challenge.

Hull have won just five of 18 league matches at home this season and they have managed just 19 goals. Bruce needs a miracle and while Hull may eke out a victory, ultimately it may not be enough.

VERDICT: Hull City 2 Manchester United 1 @ 10.50

BEST BET: Hull to win @ 3.15



Fond farewell: Gerrard

Steven Gerrad’s Anfield send-off was akin to being at a wake.

Understandable to a degree, for where would Liverpool (Odds: 2.14) be without Stevie G?

He has dragged them to a Champions League success, an F.A. Cup (both won on penalties) and a League Cup, but there has been no silverware for nine years, no title for 25 years.

While the likes of Phillippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge have proven major transfer success stories, the future of this once-great club is filed with doubt.

The treadmill of quality home-grown players who would die for the club may well end with Gerrard. And that is a travesty. A strong Liverpool used to mean a strong national game. No more.

Stoke (3.40) have a fine manager in Mark Hughes, who will soon have the chance of another top job. He may have felt he had something to prove after being ousted at Man City, but he has always been a winner. “He was impossible to play against,” according to Chelsea’s legendary captain Colin Pates, and his teams are proving equally tough to play against now.

Motivation is a factor. Brendan Rodgers may well not tolerate such a below-par display in Gerrard’s final game for Liverpool, but as the Raheem Sterling saga is showing, managers don’t have much of a say. Player-power is king.

While the future Reds manager will wish to head to America with a win – the Legend deserves that at the very least – Liverpool may well not welcome European Thursday night football again. Stoke are simply too big a price to ignore.

VERDICT: Stoke 2 Liverpool 1 @ 11.00

BEST BET: Both teams to score @ 1.67

All odds quoted from Whyteleafe FC’s betting service

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Hull to pay? Your Weekend Premier League betting guide

Our team of experts were on form last week with NINE out of TEN suggested best bets winning. Just for good measure they weighed in with a correct score 11.00 stunner.

This week they take you through the tricky Premier League minefield of games which include Steven Gerrard’s Anfield farewell and Hull’s likely relegation.

Remember, you can get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See for details.


Toby Alderweireld

Saints lay bogey: Toby Alderweireld

Southampton (Odds: 1.76) still have an outside chance of finishing fifth and qualifying for the Europa League, but are five points behind Liverpool with only two matches remaining.

Rumours that Liverpool may avoid the long treks around strange places in Europe on Thursday nights have yet to be confirmed. Cynics will say: Let’s hope so!

In any case, Southampton need two wins and anything less will scupper their chances.

Villa (4.80) are not quite out of the relegation mire but there must be a freakish set of results for them to lose their status.

Saints have won just three of the last 14 meetings, losing six, and they have won just once at home in the last six meetings. Villa have also scored on their last six trips to St Mary’s.

The conclusion should be a home win, but for their historical record against the Villains. We’ll take a draw.

VERDICT: Southampton 1 Aston Villa 1 @ 7.00

BEST BET: Draw at HT @ 2.10


Charlie Austin

Ironic: Charlie Austin to Newcastle?

Rangers (Odds: 2.96) are now relegated and everybody seems to be blaming somebody else. Isn’t that always the case?

Harry Redknapp departed the scene in February making his excuses and Chris Ramsay has carried the can, but is on the verge of signing a new two-year contract. Despite the drop, it will be thoroughly deserved.

Charlie Austin has been one of few bright spots for Rangers and is the second-highest English scorer in the Premier League this season. He could, ironically, be on his way to Newcastle (2.34) at the end of the season.

Even many Toon fans are hoping for relegation to bring about a change of ownership and direction. A massive club, starved of success for so long, they may well be a force should they re-sign Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan from West Ham. They need players who care about the club which has too much negativity swirling around it.

Current and season-long form points to a stalemate, but Rangers have won 1 of the last 12 meetings and, given that 12 of the last 14 meetings were won by the odd goal, we take Newcastle to nick it.

VERDICT: Queens Park Rangers 0 Newcastle United 1 @ 9.00

BEST BET: Newcastle win, draw no bet @ 1.71


Sam Allardyce

Poor run: Sam Allardyce

This is a classic end-of-season match involving two teams with little to play for except the ‘honour’ of finishing tenth in the table.

West Ham (Odds: 2.90) are three points clear of their opponents with a better goal difference of two, but an Everton (2.50) win would totally change the scenario.

Everton are one of the biggest bogey sides for the Hammers. It has been that way for decades. The Hammers have not won any of their last 16 meetings (winning an FA Cup game on penalties does not count).

Both sides have scored in 12 of the last 14 meetings, but West Ham have been largely impotent up front in recent weeks and several players have to take a long, hard look at themselves over the summer.

Sam Allardyce must be tearing his hair out with several of them, who simply have not put a shift in when required. And that isn’t the West Ham way. The loyal fans can take most things, but lack of effort is not one of them.

In a fixture that is difficult to call, backing a side with character is usually the best way forward when you expect two teams to go through the motions. West Ham have not shown much character lately, and while the draw looks the obvious route, Everton invariably give West Ham fits and they may sneak a win by the odd goal.

VERDICT: West Ham 0 Everton 1 @ 8.20

BEST BET: Both teams to score – No @ 2.04


nigel pearson

Staying up: Nigel Pearson and Leicester

In some respects this is a must-win match for both sides but a draw would suit both perfectly.

In no way is there a suggestion of a contrived result, but deep down the players may not put in a proper shift in the knowledge that a point each could take them both to safety.

Sunderland (Odds: 2.70) also have a game in hand of the other four teams still with relegation worries, but won’t have a more winnable match before the end of the season.

Leicester (2.72) have found their best form at a crucial stage of the season and avoiding defeat would land Newcastle and Hull in further trouble.

Leicester have not won any of the last six meetings, but are on a run of five successive wins on a Saturday – something not achieved by any Premier League side since 2007.

Twelve of the last 16 meetings saw less than three goals scored.

Leicester are playing with confidence, but a draw is perhaps all they can hope for.

VERDICT: Sunderland 2 Leicester City 2 @ 13.00

BEST BET: Sunderland score exactly 2 goals @ 3.80


Sean Dyche2

Fall guy: Sean Dyche

Burnley (2.66) are relegated. They will be playing for pride and avoiding the shame of finishing bottom of the table, which would add to the hurt of an immediate return to the Championship.

They have won just six of 36 league matches, scoring 27 goals and conceding 53. Yet they have played attractive football and have been prudent with the wage bill. They may well make an immediate return if they can keep hold of players like Danny Ings. Seann Dyche should be in the running for manager of the year, despite relegation.

Stoke (2.78), managed by another top coach in Mark Hughes, cannot finish higher than 9th or lower than 11th, which is the epitome of mid-table mediocrity.

Stoke have won two of their last eight trips to Turf Moor and there have been four draws in the last 11 meetings.

Nine of the last 10 meetings saw less than three goals scored and another low-scoring encounter is on the cards.

Hunger and desire could be the key to the outcome of this fixture and Stoke have only won five of 18 road matches this season.

Burnley could send their fans home with some joy by winning their last home game of the season.

VERDICT: Burnley 2 Stoke City 1 @ 9.20

BEST BET: Both teams to score @ 1.87


steve bruce

Tough run-in: Steve Bruce and Hull

The Boomtown Rats did not like Mondays. Who can blame them?

Hull (Odds: 4.60) have a bigger problem. They don’t like May. Not one little bit. For the Tigers have never won a Premier League game in the month, losing eight and drawing three of their last 11.

In their final game next week, Hull face a Manchester United side with the incentive to finish higher than fourth.

Two points adrift of safety, now would be a good time to lay the bogey.

Spurs (1.78) have won seven of the last 12 meetings, drawing two and losing two, and can finish in the Europa League spot. The question is whether they want to or not.

Unless Harry Kane bags a couple of hat-tricks, he won’t be overhauling Sergio Aguero as the league’s top scorer. Spurs can do without Thursday night football.

VERDICT: Tottenham 1 Hull City 1 @ 7.40

BEST BET: Hull to score @ 1.51



Farewell: Steven Gerrard

The painfully long goodbye continues and there are sure to be tears before bedtime as Steven Gerrard takes a final bow at Anfield.

The Liverpool (1.45) captain will no doubt return to manage the club one day, should he so wish.

But for now, he’s off to ply his trade in America. So will there be one last Anfield hurrah? A penalty to be awarded may appear a feasible bet, as the S-Words (sentiment and simulation) may come into play.

Liverpool have won just five of the last 18 meetings, but they have won five of the last six clashes at Anfield. Palace (7.60) have scored at least once in the last eight meetings and 10 of the last 13 meetings saw three goals or more. We will ride those trends and waves of sickly sweet emotion. Thanks for the memories, Stevie G. It’s been emotional.

VERDICT: Liverpool 4 Crystal Palace 1 @ 21/1

BEST BET: Most goals in second half @ 2.04


Bafétimbi Gomis

Marksman: Bafétimbi Gomis

Manchester City (1.71) can finish up as first of the losers should they win both of their final two games. That may be good enough for Manuel Pellegrini to keep his job managing the oldest team in the Premier League.

Swansea (4.90) won their third successive Premier League game when defeating an Arsenal side whom they invariably have matched up well with over the years.

The Swans have lost four of the last five meetings and there are usually a few goals when these two clash – seven of the last 11 has seen at least three goals scored.

Bafetimbi Gomis has now scored four goals in his last four Premier League appearances for the Swans, who don’t appear to have missed Wilfied Bony since he moved to City.

This should be a routine win, possibly by the odd goal. City have too much at stake to fluff their lines.

VERDICT: Swansea 0 Man City 2 @ 8.80

BEST BET: Man City score first @ 1.50


Van Gaal

Not the right man: Louis Van Gaal

It appears likely that one of these two will have to play in the UEFA Champions League qualifying playoffs, rather than heading straight to the Group stage.

That is the fate awaiting the fourth-place finisher.

Arsenal’s 2-1 FA Cup win at Old Trafford was their first in the last 17 visits and United have not lost successive meetings since 2007.

The Gunners (Odds: 2.94) have a poor overall record and they have had a few problems in front of goal in recent games. Perhaps Olivier Giroud is not the answer up front that Arsene Wenger had hoped he would become.

United (2.42) have been very in and out over the past few weeks themselves. Neither side is water-tight at the back. We like the trend of goals in this fixture: 13 of the last 21 meetings has seen three or more goals scored.

Take United to steal the points and mask the on-going problem of a manager who still does not appear to know his best formation. A draw is perhaps the best the Gunners can hope for on this occasion, even if no team has managed to score against them in the first half since Southampton did so on New Year’s Day. Still, they will probably lose.

VERDICT: Man Utd 3 Arsenal 1 @ 17.50

BEST BET: Man Utd lead at HT @ 2.90


Inspector George Gently

Watch your step: Inspector George Gently

Monday Night Mogadon? Baggies Before Bedtime? We are sure Sky will come up with something a little catchier.

This could not be more of an end-of-season game if it tried. West Brom (4.00) are safe from relegation and Chelsea (1.99) wrapped up the title weeks ago.

We could ply you with stats, could tell you that Chelsea have won 17 of the last 21 meetings (drew two, lost two), but we have that end of season ‘meh’ feeling as well. So we won’t.

Never mind. At the same time as this likely snooze-fest, Inspector George Gently is on BBC1. Apparently, he “suspects murder when a man supposedly throws himself off the Tyne Bridge”.

Let’s hope it isn’t art imitating life. Because if QPR get a win…

And because we think it will be a boring after-thought of a game, it probably will be a goal-fest!

VERDICT: West Brom 2 Chelsea 3 @ 28.00

BEST BET: BBC1. Oh, all right, Both teams to score @ 1.83

All odds quoted from Whyteleafe FC’s betting service

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Sunderland on the brink? Your Weekend Premier League betting guide

With Chelsea crowned champions, the focus is on the scrap to dine at the top table. Both Burnley and QPR could effectively be relegated this weekend, but who will fill the remaining spot?

Newcastle are in free-fall but their record against West Brom is good, Hull will be in serious trouble should they lose to Burnley, while Sunderland face a tough trip to in-form Everton.

We take a look at the big matches at both ends of the table, and suggest where to put your money…

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Better form: Everton and Roberto Martinez

Little is resting on this match as far as Everton (Odds: 1.77) are concerned.

Sunderland (4.80) have a more pressing need and that is getting out of the bottom three.

A win could take them as high as 14th place if all the teams immediately above them drop points. But Sunderland have won just two of the last 23 meetings and have won just one of their last 14 trips to Goodison Park.

Given that there has been five draws in the last 13 meetings (the draw is on offer at (3.60), a likely scenario is a stalemate, as Everton have drawn seven of 17 home fixtures this season while Sunderland have only lost half of their road fixtures, scoring 12 goals and conceding 23.

Eleven of the last 14 meetings saw under three goals scored and that may well be the case again.

VERDICT: Everton 0 Sunderland 0 @ 8.20

BEST BET: HT draw @ 2.10



Hit-man: Christian Benteke

There is a precedent for a team to win the FA Cup and lose their Premier League status in the same season.

Wigan beat Manchester City in the Cup Final in 2013 and dropped out of the division.

Villa (Odds: 1.91) are 14th in the table but only two points above Sunderland, who are in the relegation places, so they have little room for error.

A home win would help tremendously in the quest to avoid emulating Wigan.

West Ham (4.10) are in the comfort zone of mid-table safety and have only won three of 17 matches on their travels this season. But they have won just one of their last seven trips to Villa Park, and the Villains have a decent record against the Hammers, losing just three of the last 15 meetings. One or other has failed to score in six of the last eight meetings and while the Hammers have scored just four goals in their last eight Premier League games,

It must be counter-balanced by Villa having the second-worst home record in the league.

Christian Benteke has netted 10 goals in his last eight EPL games and he may have the force to unlock the West Ham defence.

VERDICT: Aston Villa 2 West Ham 0 @ 9.20

BEST BET: West Ham not to score @ 2.58


steve bruce

Worried: Hull boss Steve Bruce

This is being talked up as a six-pointer but the reality is Burnley (Odds: 4.30) will be relegated even if they avoid defeat.

The away side have the smallest wage bill in the Premier League and there is often a link between financial clout and league position.

Hull (1.92) could still be playing in the Premier League next season but with games against Tottenham and Manchester United to follow, they simply have to pick up points in this match.

Burnley have won 8 of the last nine meetings and there has been just one draw in the last 19 meetings.

Burnley have won just five league matches this season, scoring 26 goals and conceding 53, which equates to the worst goal difference in the division.

Five of the last six meetings yielded less than three goals in total, but the most telling stat that has to be bucked is Burnley’s recent scoring record – they have managed a total of one goals in the last nine EPL games.

Hull have lost four of 18 home matches and their home record is all that is keeping them in the division. It is, however, desperation time for the Clarets.

VERDICT: Hull City 0 Burnley 1 @ 11.00

BEST BET: Burnley or draw @ 1.81


nigel pearson

Staying up: Leicester boss Nigel Pearson

Leicester (Odds: 2.56) have found their best form at a crucial part of the season but the value of the form in beating Newcastle is questionable. That club are in total disarray and are well and truly in the relegation mire.

The Foxes have only lost to Chelsea in their last six matches and are on a roll.

Southampton (2.82) have dropped off the pace for qualifying for Europe and look booked for seventh place.

There has been no draw in the last 10 meetings and five of the last seven meetings have been won to nil.

Seven wins on the road is a decent record, and while Leicester are a hungry outfit with the need and the desire to win this match, Southampton’s defensive strength means we will chance the visitors.

Nine of the last 12 meetings yielded under three goals and that seems another fair percentage call.

VERDICT: Leicester City 0 Southampton 2 @ 14.00

BEST BET: 2 or 3 goals @ 1.99


Kane Dive

On fire: Spurs hit-man Harry Kane

In theory, Tottenham (Odds: 2.90) could still finish fourth and qualify for the Champions League but require a freakish set of results for that to happen, including Manchester United dropping eight points in three matches.

The more likely scenario is a race for fifth place with Liverpool and the reward of Europa League matches on Thursdays.

The lure of that competition might not be attractive enough for Tottenham to find total commitment at Stoke, as they do not yet look capable of breaking into the top four and have fluked a couple of late wins, luck which rarely holds from season to season.

Stoke (2.90) are safe from the drop and can’t qualify for Europe, but rarely leave any effort in the dressing room for home matches. They have won just five of the last 25 meetings with Spurs, however, and the visitors have not lost successive EPL games since October.

Stoke have lost six times in the Premier League this season and Spurs have won four of their last five trips to the Potteries, so will may add to their tally, but we look to an entertaining draw.

VERDICT: Stoke City 2 Tottenham Hotspur 2 @ 13.00

BEST BET: 3 goals or more @ 1.90


John Carver

Speaking out: John Carver

Newcastle (Odds: 2.48) have lost their last eight Premier League games and are two points off the relegation zone with three games to play.

John Carver has shown his inexperience by effectively accusing one of his own players of cheating and you’d pay good money to be a fly on the wall in the ‘clear-the-air’ meeting that followed.

The good news, from a trends perspective, is that Newcastle have scored at least twice against West Brom (2.96) in the last 10 meetings at St James’ Park. The Baggies have won just once in their last 11 trips there.

West Brom, seven points clear of the drop zone, are unbeaten in 10 of their 17 road games, but have won just four. Things are desperate for Newcastle, but the Baggies may be on their holidays now.

VERDICT: Newcastle 2 West Brom 1 @ 8.80

BEST BET: Both teams to score @ 1.83


Louis Van Gaal

Zero goals: Van Gaal

Another trend that is likely to end this week is an unwelcome one from Manchester United’s perspective: They have lost their last three games and failed to score in any of them. That is the first time this has happened since April 1989.

What looked assured Champions League football next season is now in jeopardy, with Liverpool just four points behind with three to play.

United (Odds: 1.87) are unbeaten in the last 15 meetings with Palace (4.30), however, with 12 of those yielding victories.

Louis van Gaal may have issues with his strikers but, in this up and down season, it is the defence that has been problematic and this is likely to be addressed in the summer.

United have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last six league games and they have lost three in a row for the first time since December 2001.

Palace have a better road record than they do at Selhurst Park. Indeed, on their home form alone, they would be relegated as they have picked up 18 points from a possible 51, and have netted 19 goals in those home games.

Palace are safely in mid table, Alan Pardew should be in the running for manager of the year, but United should get back on track.

VERDICT: Crystal Palace 0 Man Utd 2 @ 8.00

BEST BET: Man Utd to win @ 1.87


Because of their inferior goal difference, QPR (Odds: 13.50) will be condemned to the Championship should they gain anything other than a victory at the Etihad on Sunday.

City (1.23) can still finish as runners-up to newly-crowned champions Chelsea, although Arsenal have a game in hand, but there are sure to be changes in personnel in the summer and Manuel Pellegrini could already be a dead man walking.

City have scored at least twice in four of the last five meetings and eight of the last 11 clashes have seen three or more goals scored. So we stick with that trend.

QPR will do well to achieve a fifth draw in nine meetings and the Hoops will be finally be put out of their misery.

VERDICT: Man City 3 QPR 0 @ 8.00

BEST BET: Man City lead at HT @ 1.55



Blues hex: Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard

Chelsea (Odds: 2.06) have every right to have a party hangover after securing their first Premier League title in five years – their fifth in total – with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Liverpool (3.70) are looking to get in the Champions League back door thanks to Manchester United’s three-game losing streak, but the Reds are four points behind and have an inferior goal difference in the fight for fourth place.

The stats are against Liverpool, who could just as easily miss out on European football, as Spurs are just three points behind them.

And Liverpool have to overcome this telling stat: Jose Mourinho-managed Chelsea side have lost just one of the last 95 Premier League games at Stamford Bridge.

Furthermore, Liverpool have managed to win just one of the last nine meetings, although both sides found the net in seven of those contests.

There have been four draws in the last seven meetings (the draw is on offer at 3.35), but hangover or not, we see Chelsea as a class above Liverpool, who have won just two of their last six, and they can take the spoils.

VERDICT: Chelsea 2 Liverpool 0 @ 9.80

BEST BET: HT draw @ 2.06


Arsenal (Odds: 1.32) have secured Champions League football next season and top the form charts with 31 points from the last 33. They have lost just once at home this season: to Manchester United back in November.

Swansea (10.50) also beat the Gunners this term and Arsenal have a chance to avenge both those defeats in their next two games.

Clashes between these two are often initially tepid affairs that spark to life after the break. Six of the last seven meetings saw a goalless first half, but seven of the last 11 meetings yielded three goals or more.

The Gunners have won just three of the last eight meetings but are only a signing or two away from being genuine title challengers once again.

Swansea’s lack of firepower, thanks to injuries, may see them struggle and the Gunners can win with a late flurry.

VERDICT: Arsenal 2 Swansea 0 @ 6.20

BEST BET: Over 1.5 goals in second half @ 1.73

All odds quoted from Whyteleafe FC’s betting service

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Guardiola’s unhappy homecoming? Your Champions League betting guide

We have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and the second semi-final takes place on Wednesday night.

The My Club Betting prognosticators offered a trio of bets last night – and all of them won! We gave you winners at odds of 1.40, 1.91 and 2.82 – and also weighed in with a 9.20 correct score winner!

Our guys cast their eyes over the second semi-final and pick out a trio of bets to whet your appetite…

Remember, you can get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See for details.


Luis Suarez

Danger man: Luis Suarez

A lot has been made of the injuries that Bayern Munich have to overcome in order to reach the Champions League final.

It is true that they will miss the pace of Arjen Robben, who can unlock the tightest of defences.

But even though they have kept five clean sheets in their last five games, this Barcelona side is far from solid at the back.

Bayern will certainly be weakened by the loss of Franck Ribery, David Alaba and Holger Badstuber.

However, it is likely that the influential Poland international striker Robert Lewandowski will play, albeit with a face mask.

Lewandowski has contributed five goals two assists in 10 Champions League games this season and Pep Guardiola, who won 14 trophies in four years at Barcelona, will know his Bayern side are unlikely to progress unless they grab an away goal.

BET: Draw or Bayern Munich @ 1.99

Guardiola returns to face the club that made him and the Bayern Munich manager knows it won’t be an easy homecoming.

Bayern have not fared particularly well on their travels in Europe this season and had to overcome a 3-1 first-leg quarter-final deficit against Porto, winning the second-leg 6-1.

But they have won three of their previous four encounters with Barcelona at the Camp Nou, including a 3-0 success in the 2012-13 semi-finals. That was part of a 7-0 aggregate win.

BET: Half-Time Draw @ 2.22 

Barcelona, who seek their eighth European Cup final appearance, have won 13 of their 18 two-legged ties with German opposition and they are scoring goals for fun. They have bagged 14 in the last two matches and have kept five straight clean sheets.

While that 2012-13 semi-final thumping is unlikely to have been forgotten, Guardiola knows the Barcelona players and the system. He hopes to negate perhaps the most effective strike-force ever assembled in Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Likewise, the Barcelona players know his systems and how he thinks.

BET: Home Yellow Cards – Over 1.5 @ 1.57

Italian whistle-blower Nicola Rizzoli is potentially a bad omen for the Blaugrana. He took charge of the 2014 World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. In that game Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer escaped any sanction for his diabolical attack on Argentina forward Gonzalo Higuain.

This season he took charge in Barcelona’s 3-2 defeat to PSG at the Parc des Princes and was also in the middle for Barca’s 2-1 defeat by Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium a couple of seasons ago. In that game he disallowed what looked a perfectly good goal from Lionel Messi.

Bayern have won five of their seven European Cup semi-finals against Spanish teams and while they are injury-hit, this might be a more difficult test for Barcelona than many pundits are anticipating.

VERDICT: Barcelona 0 Bayern Munich 0 @ 7.20

All odds quoted from Shoreham FC’s betting service

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Can the Old Lady of Turin upset Real Madrid? Your Champions League betting guide

We have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and there are two cracking ties in prospect this week.

The My Club Betting prognosticators cast their eyes over the first match and pick out a trio of bets to whet your appetite…

Remember, you can get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See for details.


Juve key: Carlos Tevez


Let’s keep this simple: If you are looking for a bet on tonight’s Champions League semi-final, you are spoilt for choice.

Historically, we are looking at a trend that favours the hosts, who have played Real Madrid seven times. Juventus have won five of those, drawn one and lost one.

Real do not like travelling to Italy. They have failed to win any of their last seven matches on Italian soil, and while they have not conceded an away goal in 444 minutes in Europe, the feeling is the Old Lady of Turin will take a slender lead to the Santiago Bernabéu for the second leg next week.

Juventus are 2.82 to win and given they have played 17 times in Europe in their new stadium and have lost just once (winning 10 matches and drawing six), that seems a fair price to us.

BET: Juventus to win @ 2.82

In those 17 matches at the redeveloped ground, Juventus have conceded 14 goals and the overall standard of opposition has been at a level lower than Real Madrid.

Juventus have conceded at least one goal in nine of those matches, which suggests they are slightly less than even money to concede.

BET: Both teams to score @ 1.91

We also feel that there will be a few yellow cards in what will be a highly competitive affair. Over 3.5 yellow cards is our call and at least two will be shown in the first half as the referee will hope to stamp his authority.

Martin Atkinson is the man in charge and while he likes to let the game flow, he is not one for taking any nonsense.

Although the appointment is logical considering that there are no English teams left in the tournament, it is still a little surprising considering the problems he encountered in the Bayern Munich v Porto quarter-final clash. He also arguably got it wrong when sending off Villarreal defender Eric Bailly in the last-16 return leg against Sevilla.

BET: Over 3.5 Yellow Cards @ 1.40

VERDICT: Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1 @ 9.2

All odds quoted from Shoreham FC’s betting service

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Your WEEKEND BETTING GUIDE – MCB’s Premier League Preview


Title in sight: Mourinho

Chelsea can be crowned champions against Crystal Palace this weekend, but it is the scrap at the foot of the table that has captured the interest.

Leicester gained their fourth consecutive top-flight victory last week before going down 3-1 at home to Chelsea in midweek and they face a Newcastle team who are in a tailspin. With Hull beating Liverpool in midweek, Burnley and QPR are almost at the entrance to the Last Chance Saloon and both have tough away games.

We take a look at the big matches at both ends of the table, and suggest where to put your money…

All odds quoted from Shoreham FC’s betting service

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John Carver

Under pressure: Carver

Leicester’s (Odds: 1.93) victory at Burnley edged them a point above the relegation zone and sent Sunderland into the bottom three.

It meant the Foxes had won four successive games in a single season in the top flight for the first time since 1966.

Newcastle (4.10), five points clear of the drop zone, also created a little history when losing 2-3 at home to Swansea. It was their seventh consecutive league defeat – a woeful run that had happened just once before in their history. No Premier League team has conceded more home goals than Newcastle this season.

And since John Carver took charge of the Magpies, only QPR (eight) have won fewer points than Newcastle (nine, level with Sunderland).

Leicester have won just one of the last 10 meetings with Newcastle and it is a percentage call that one or other fails to register – 11 of the last 15 meetings saw one or other fail to net.

The Foxes have their tails up, Newcastle may feel less pressure playing on the road, so it is an awkward call. We think there’s a bit of value in a shock result, but the draw seems a logical outcome.

VERDICT: Leicester 1 Newcastle 1 @ 6.60

BEST BET: Newcastle to score @ 1.47


Tim Sherwood

Safety goal: Villa boos Tim Sherwood

Hull’s stunning victory over Liverpool in midweek will not have been welcomed by Aston Villa (Odds: 2.74), who are just two points off of safety.

Villa dropped to 16th place and while they have an FA Cup final to look forward to, they are not out of the mire just yet.

The good news is that they have scored the same number of league goals under Tim Sherwood this season as they managed under Paul Lambert. They are averaging a goal every six shots compared to one in 16 under Lambert.

Everton (2.66), who have dropped more points from winning positions than any other team in the league this season, moved into the top half of the table with a 3-0 thumping of Manchester United.

In reality, the Toffees have little to play for, but they are unbeaten in their last six league games and should be good for a goal at least. So should Villa: Christian Benteke is the most likely scorer – he has nine goals in his last seven games.

No less than 13 of the last 15 meetings saw both sides score but Villa have won just one of the last 13 meetings. Seven on the last 12 meetings were drawn and while we gravitate towards that outcome, the Toffeemen are on something of a roll and they may well be able to keep Villa in the mire.

VERDICT: Aston Villa 0 Everton 1 @ 8.00

BEST BET: Under 2.5 goals @ 1.83


Brendan Rodgers

Rodgers: Fit strikers required

While Brendan Rodgers had little say in the matter, the deal to sell Luis Suarez to Barcelona for £75 million last July is beginning to look short-sighted.

Liverpool (Odds: 1.36) have scored 47 goals this season – 46 fewer than they had managed after 34 games last season. And they look set to miss out on Champions League football next term, following their 1-0 defeat at Hull on Tuesday.

They are seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester United with four games remaining and they have a vastly inferior goal differential.

QPR (9.20), who have won just two of the last 15 meetings, will hope they can get their noses in front before the interval, as Liverpool have lost all seven Premier League games when they’ve been losing at half-time this season.

Seven of the last 11 meetings saw three goals or more scored but draws are rare – just two of the last 28 clashes ended in a stalemate.

A routine home win is anticipated, although little has come easy for the Anfield club this term.

VERDICT: Liverpool 2 QPR 0 @ 6.60

BEST BET: HT/FT Liverpool/Liverpool @ 1.92


Southampton (Odds: 1.99) have allowed fewer shots on target against them than any other team in the Barclays Premier League.

So it comes as little surprise that their 2-1 defeat at Stoke two weeks ago was the first time on the road since the opening weekend of the season that they had conceded more than once.

The Saints are still in with a good chance of playing in Europe next season, although they will likely have to settle for the Europa League, should they secure fifth spot at the expense of Tottenham and Liverpool.

Sunderland (4.20) have looked very edgy at home, winning just one of their last five – and that against club-in-crisis Newcastle. They suffered embarrassing losses to QPR, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace – each by two goals or more – and now find themselves in the bottom three.

The Saints have not fared well here in recent trips, winning just one of their last eight visits to the Stadium of Light, but they do have a huge psychological advantage, having thumped the Black Cats 8-0 in October.

We have little confidence in the hosts, but history is against the bettor. The draw (3.20) is perhaps the answer.

VERDICT: Sunderland 1 Southampton 1 @ 6.00

BEST BET: Sunderland to score @ 1.63


Bafétimbi Gomis

Ruled out: Gomis

This has the potential to be the last game shown on Match of the Day, with both sides in mid-table and little to play for. While nine of the last 13 meetings saw both sides register, Swansea (Odds: 2.25) have a few injury worries and it is hard to see where the goals will come from.

On the flip side, Stoke (3.35), the only team in the Premier League not to have picked up a red card this season, have never won at Swansea in six previous attempts.

Indeed, they have lost six of the last 13 meetings (winning just four and drawing three).

Swansea have been one of the most unpredictable sides this term. One week they are losing at Leicester, the next winning at Newcastle.

There is no question they will miss Bafetimbi Gomis (hamstring) and Wayne Routledge (ankle). They could also be without winger Jefferson Montero (thigh) and are lacking attacking options.

Still, their record against Stoke is a fair one and we don’t see them coming unstuck at home, so we’ll take a draw (3.20).

VERDICT: Swansea 1 Stoke 1 @ 6.00

BEST BET: HT draw @ 2.00 


Sam Allardyce

Top manager: Sam Allardyce

West Ham (Odds: 2.18) fans have been frustrated of late, but their ire should be directed towards the players rather than manager Sam Allardyce.

The Upton Park faithful have never really taken to Big Sam, largely in part due to his Bolton sides regularly toying with the Hammers.

Allardyce is often maligned – incorrectly – for his long-ball style of play, but the stats will tell you that if you have the right players to move the ball downfield swiftly, success is often the reward. Just look at Manchester United, the biggest purveyors of the direct approach this season.

The only thing West Ham have to play for is the best finishing position possible. Hopefully the Hammers fans will appreciate what Allardyce has achieved since his arrival in June 2011: an immediate return to the Premier League, and finishes of 10th, 13th and at worst 12th place this season.

As we have said week in and week out: West Ham fans should be careful what they wish for. Allardyce has proven time and again that he is one of the best managers and tacticians in the game.

If the Hammers do not renew his contract at the end of the season, they are playing with fire, because they simply cannot afford a relegation battle next season with a move to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Stadium on the horizon.

Burnley (3.40) are now desperate for points to stay in the Premier League. They are now five points from safety but Leicester, Wednesday’s defeat aside, are on a good run of form.

West Ham have won eight of 17 matches played at home in the league this season while Burnley have only won once on the road.

While we have paid a nod to Allardyce, we should also state that Burnley counterpart Shaun Dyche has done a wondrous job in the past couple of years. Burnley have played some of the most expansive football in the top flight and most neutrals will be sorry to see them drop down a tier.

Motivation and incentive might not be enough to negate the class edge enjoyed by the home team.

West Ham have lost three of the last 15 meetings and six of the last seven fixtures produced over 2.5 goals.

Burnley have only won one of their last seven matches at Upton Park and have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 14 away games. This should be a welcome win for Allardyce’s side.

VERDICT:  West Ham 3 Burnley 1 @ 17.00

BEST BET: Both teams to score @ 1.78 


Louis Van Gaal

Hairdrier treatment: Van Gaal

The Manchester United (Odds: 1.37) players rightly got the hairdryer treatment after the disappointing defeat at Everton last Sunday. It was no great shock, however: their record at Goodison is remarkably poor, as we outlined.

The players were second-best in every department as Everton produced a typical type of performance that their fans demanded.

United will want to avoid fourth place as that would mean a qualifying tie in the Champions League before the regular season has started.

West Brom (9.60) are now safe from relegation, but will find it hard to dent the best home record in the league – United have lost just two of 17 games at Old Trafford.

The visitors have won just three of 16 away league matches, scoring 11 goals and conceding 20.

Albion have won one of the last 22 meetings, there have been three draws in the last 24 fixtures – it is 4.90 for an overdue stalemate – and in two of last 14 matches there were less than three goals.

United’s defence was unconvincing at Everton, but Louis van Gaal won’t accept a second such dreadful display.

VERDICT:  Manchester United 3 West Brom 0 @ 9.20

BEST BET: Man Utd win and Over 2.5 goals @ 2.04



Title secured: Mourinho

No would not be the time for Chelsea (Odds: 1.36) to lose their first home game of the season. Following their 3-1 win at Leicester on Wednesday, the Blues can lift their first title since 2010 with victory over a Palace (10.00) side who have little to play for.

Chelsea have the joint-best defensive record in the league and have drawn just three of their 16 games at home.

Palace have really put their foot on the gas since Alan Pardew came ‘home’ and are now looking at a top-half finish.

They have proven hard to beat on the road, losing just five of their 17 away from Selhurst Park and have scored 23 goals in the process, conceding just one less.

Despite improving markedly under Pardew, they should have no right to beat Cheslea at Stamford Bridge, where there is sure to be a party atmosphere.

The Blues have won six of last seven meetings while Palace have won just eight of the last 41.

VERDICT:  Chelsea 2 Crystal Palace 0 @ 6.00

BEST BET: 2 or 3 goals scored in total @ 2.04



European dream: Pochettino

Tottenham (3.60) are now level on points with Liverpool and have played the same number of matches, but have an inferior goal difference.

They need to win this to improve their chances of finishing fifth and qualifying for the Europa League next season.

City (2.00) are now in good shape to finish second behind Chelsea, but must keep winning as Arsenal and United are right there. They will want to avoid finishing as low as fourth and playing a Champions League qualifier.

Despite the emergence of Harry Kane, it has been another average season for Tottenham who are showing no signs of breaking into the top four and playing in the Champions League.

They have also had a few fortunate goals at critical stages and the law of averages says they may not be so lucky next season. The Europa League is the best Mauricio Pochettino’s side can hope for this term.

City have the third-best away record in the league, while Tottenham have won nine of 17 home fixtures this season.

City have scored 26 total goals in the last eight meetings and have won six of the last seven fixtures in which both sides scored all but once.

VERDICT: Tottenham 1 Manchester City 3 @ 14.00

BEST BET: Both teams to score @ 1.53


steve bruce

Tough run-in: Steve Bruce and Hull

Hull (Odds: 5.50) are not quite safe from relegation but the 1-0 win over Liverpool on Tuesday was a massive result in the quest to finish 17th or higher.

They have a difficult run-in with Burnley, Tottenham and Manchester United still to play after this. So picking up three points against one of the better sides was crucial as they try to stay in the division. They are still by no means safe, as they are just four points off the drop zone, but they do have a superior goal difference. One more win should be enough.

Arsenal (1.67) are currently third, on the same points as Manchester City, but have a game in hand.

Finishing third or better and avoiding a qualifying tie for the Champions League is the objective. One win for their last five games will be enough to secure a fourth-place finish and the sooner they do it, the sooner they can look forward to the FA Cup final on May 30, where they face Aston Villa.

Steve Bruce’s Hull have won just five of 16 home matches this season, scoring 18 goals and conceding 20.

Only Chelsea have a better away record than Arsenal this season and that can be enhanced by beating Hull.

The Tigers have won three of last 22 meetings while Arsenal have won 12 of the last 14 meetings.

VERDICT: Hull 0 Arsenal 3 @ 13.00

BEST BET: Arsenal win to nil @ 2.82

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WEEKEND BETTING GUIDE – MCB’s Premier League preview

Now we are now in the final furlong. Who has the bottle to stay the pace in the race for European places? Who has the cojones to get out of relegation trouble?

On Saturday, Liverpool and Tottenham both have awkward away games, while at the bottom, there is a real six-pointer as Burnley face Leicester.

Our punting prognosticator takes a look at this weekend’s big matches and suggest where to put your money…

All odds quoted from Whyteleafe’s betting service

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Ronald Koeman

European dream: Ronald Koeman

The race for the Champions League places is almost over. Manchester City have enough in the tank to ensure they will remain in the top four.

So while Southampton (Odds: 2.08) v Tottenham (3.65) would have impacted upon the race a month or so ago, it is now just a must-win in order for either to have a realistic chance of ‘winning’ fifth place, and the unattractive raffle prize of Thursday nights’ playing in the Europa League.

Tottenham edged another away win at Newcastle last weekend to keep themselves in contention and they have won the last five meetings with the Saints.

Draws (3.35) are rare – just one in the last 16 meetings – but the key factor is Southampton’s home form. They have won five of the last seven meetings at St Mary’s and they should improve their tally to 11 home wins for the campaign.

VERDICT: Southampton 2 Tottenham Hotspur 1 @ 8.20

BEST BET: Southampton win, draw no bet @ 1.51


Alan Pardew

Top job: Alan Pardew

Alan Pardew’s return to his spiritual home in South London sparked a surge in form that has seen Palace (Odds: 2.02) rise from the depths of a relegation battle to the brink of a top-half finish.

Hull (4.00) have had a tough run of fixtures that has seen them fall into the relegation equation. They are only out of the drop zone on goal difference from resurgent Leicester and their run-in is awkward. Steve Bruce’s side still have to face Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United, as well as relegation rivals Burnley. Our money says they fall, regardless of our admiration for Bruce, who did wonders to get them in the top flight in the first place.

Palace have a financial incentive to finish in the top half, but it is arguable that will give over-paid players much incentive. Loyalty to the club seems to be a dirty word these days, so many will be playing for bigger contracts elsewhere. Palace has always been a great shop window and they always will be a selling club.

Last weekend, Palace lost to West Brom, who are in a similar situation to Hull. While we would love to see the Tigers triumph in a must-win game, Pardew’s team will probably issue the death knell, although we offer no strong conclusions and take a chance that they will come through in the second half.

VERDICT: Crystal Palace 2 Hull 0 @ 8.60

TAKE A CHANCE: HT/FT = Draw/Palace @ 4.60


John Carver

Passion play: John Carver

Newcastle (Odds: 2.34) were abysmal in their 3-1 home defeat to Tottenham last weekend and while they are all but safe from relegation, just seven points separates them from those in the bottom three.

Sunderland, Hull and Leicester all have a game in hand on the Magpies, for whom the season’s end cannot come quickly enough.

It seems improbable that John Carver, a Geordie who bleeds black and white, will keep his current role as coach by the end of the campaign and a new broom will quickly be inserted by Mike Ashley. (Rangers – and many Newcastle fans – fans might wish to literally insert a broom somewhere, but that’s for another column).

Swansea (3.15) are another side safe from relegation and unable to qualify for Europe, so motivation – or the lack of it – will decide the outcome of this meeting.

Newcastle can’t play so badly at home again and should have the necessary desire to take all three points from this fairly meaningless fixture. But they probably won’t.

VERDICT: Newcastle 1 Swansea City 1 @ 6.00

BEST BET: Both teams to score @ 1.88


Tony Fernandes

Hammers fan: Tony Fernandes

QPR (Odds: 2.32) are desperate for points due to their perilous position at the bottom of the table, which has not been helped by Leicester’s current three-game winning streak.

Rangers, two points from safety, and with both an inferior goal-difference and having played a game more, have managed to stay in touch thanks to their home form.

And they will need to rely on that, as their next two games are away at Liverpool and Manchester City. They also have to travel to Leicester on the final day.

So their final two home games – against West Ham and Newcastle – teams whom already appear to be on their holidays, are must-win affairs.

Realistically, they have to win three from five to have any chance of survival.

Now for a small conspiracy theorem. QPR owner, Tony Fernandes, is a West Ham (3.15) fan and has made no secret of the fact.

Many West Ham fans are quite happy with their team’s slide, as they believe the board will not renew Sam Allardyce’s contract. They have never taken to his effective style of play. And the current board are well aware of this, as they plan for their move to the Queen Elizabeth Stadium at the end of next season.

In his defence, Allardyce has utilised the funds available to him extremely well, got the Hammers back into the top flight at the first time of asking and has seen them become a force on their day. It may not have been pretty at times, but it is nonetheless effective. Perhaps they should be careful what they wish for.

The Hammers are unbeaten in the last four meetings and seven of the last 14 clashes ended in a draw. One or other failed to net in nine of the last 13 meetings.

West Ham should win. They probably won’t. Bobby Zamora, a West Ham legend, may well score against them – most Hammers fans won’t mind. Some will even celebrate.

For our money, it is a game to swerve for betting purposes, but if you must…

VERDICT: QPR 1 West Ham 1 @ 6.00

TAKE A CHANCE: HT/FT = West Ham/Draw @ 13.50


Stoke (Odds: 1.89) have won eight of their 16 home matches in the Premier League, scoring 22 goals and conceding 20. They generally beat the likes of teams like Sunderland (4.40).

Sunderland have won just two of their 15 matches on the road and have scored just 11 goals in the process. And given that they have won successive meetings with Stoke just once since 2004, history says they will do well to earn three points on this trip to the Potteries.

A home win could see Sunderland drop into the bottom three if Hull and Leicester both win, and Stoke are hard to beat at their own stadium.

This has the makings of being a scrappy, bad-tempered affair but Stoke overturned Southampton in their last home fixture and a repeat of that form can see them take three points.

VERDICT: Stoke City 1 Sunderland 0 @ 5.70

BEST BET: Both teams not to score @ 1.82


Brendan Rodgers

FA Cup exit: Brendan Rodgers

West Brom (Odds: 3.90) are eight points off the relegation places and a point may well be good enough to secure their top-flight status.

Liverpool (2.00) still have an outside chance of making the top four. They currently sit seven points behind Manchester City, although have a game in hand. With Tottenham below them on goals difference and Southampton within a point, securing a Europa League spot is not cut and dried, either.

This clash usually sees a positive outcome, as there have been just two draws in the last 27 meetings and each team has won four of the last nine meetings.

Liverpool have a decent record, winning 21 of the last 27 clashes with West Brom and while they failed to reach the F.A. Cup final, with the Champions League carrot still being dangled in front of them, Brendan Rodgers’ side should be motivated enough to expect a bounce-back.

VERDICT: West Brom 1 Liverpool 3 @ 16.50

BEST BET: Liverpool to win @ 2.00


Sean Dyche2

Fine job: Shaun Dyche

Let’s make this simple: Whomever loses this will be relegated. Or might be. Actually, nothing in this season’s relegation battle is predictable.

They were putting perfume on Leicester’s corpse at the end of March, but successive wins against West Ham, West Brom and Swansea have seen the Foxes rise from the foot of the table to get within a goal of the safety zone.

Burnley (Odds: 2.52) are two points behind and are propping up the rest, but a win could see them rise to 16th place, depending on other results.

Leicester (2.86) have been unbeaten in the last eight meetings with Burnley, who have lost the last three clashes at Turf Moor.

One or other has failed to score in 14 of the last 20 meetings and we see another tight game ensuing. It’s hard to split them. So we won’t.

VERDICT: Burnley 2 Leicester 1 @ 8.80

BEST BET: Burnley win, away no bet @ 1.67



On his way: Manuel Pellegrini

Sunderland, Hull and Leicester are all within four points of Aston Villa (Odds: 11.50), each with a game in hand, so the F.A. Cup finalists cannot afford to take their foot off the gas as they bid to survive the drop.

Villa have been circling the drop zone for the last three seasons and perhaps it is their turn to fall. They have a tough run-in, facing the likes of Everton, West Ham and Southampton, but we suspect they will be safe by the time they host Burnley on the final day of the league season.

Manchester City (1.27) have been lacklustre in their title defence but a welcome win against West Ham last Sunday keeps them encamped in the top four. They are seven points ahead of the chasing pack and have a superior goal difference on those with a game in hand.

We feel they will stay there and it should not have to come down to last game of the season, when they entertain Southampton, who also have designs on Europe.

City have won four of the last five meetings and 49 of the 79 at home against Villa (15 draws and 17 defeats).

There are usually a few goals when these two get together and this game should revert to type.

VERDICT: Man City 4 Aston Villa 0 @ 11.00

BEST BET: Man City -1.5 @ 1.72


Lukaku v West Ham

Everton dangerman: Romelu Lukaku

Incredible as though it may sound given the turbulent start to Louis Van Gall’s Old Trafford reign, in terms of points gained, Manchester United (Odds: 2.14) currently boast the best home record in the top flight (43 points from 17 games).

It is their away form that has been their Achilles heel this this season.

For United have won just five of their 16 road games, drawing seven and losing four. For context, even Crystal Palace have eked out more points on the road than the Red Devils’ 22 from a possible 48.

And Goodison Park is not the happiest hunting ground for United, who have managed just one win in their last six trips to Everton (3.50).

After a tough first half of the season, when their domestic form dipped at the expense of a run to the last 16 of the Europa League, Everton are among the in-form teams, having won four of their last six and three consecutive home wins.

Everton have won three of the last five meetings with United but there hasn’t been much between them – six of the last eight meetings produced fewer than three total goals.

While Everton may well achieve a top-10 finish, with winnable games remaining against Aston Villa, Sunderland, West Ham and Tottenham, United have a much bigger incentive: securing Champions League football next season.

Despite their record at Goodison, we feel United will bounce back from their 1-0 defeat at Chelsea, whom they statistically overwhelmed.

Nine of the last 13 meetings has seen one or other fail to score and while Everton are hardly the most prolific, it is worth chancing that both sides find the net on this occasion. The Toffeemen have fond the net in their last seven games in all competitions, while United scored in their last five road games before doing everything but score at Chelsea last week.

Verdict: Everton 1 Man Utd 2 @ 8.40

Best Bet: Over 2.5 goals @ 2.06



Classy striker: Olivier Giroud

Chelsea (Odds: 3.15) are on the cusp of lifting the title after beating Manchester United last weekend and Arsenal (2.36) are the biggest remaining obstacle on the schedule.

The Gunners are on their best run – winning eight straight league games – since the invincible season of 2003-04. There is competition for places, the squad is better equipped and the FA Cup holders have again reached Wembley.

Arsene Wenger’s side have started to look a formidable challenger and while they won’t win it this year, finishing as runner-up would be considered as progress on last year’s fourth-place finish.

With Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sanchez, they are a side full of flair and full of goals.

Their record against the top four sides last season was not good enough and their recent record against Chelsea is poor.

Indeed, Jose Mourinho will see the Gunners as a mere hurdle rather than Becher’s Brook. He has not lost to Wenger, beating him seven out of 12 times, and last season the Blues beat Arsenal 6-0 at Stamford Bridge in the Chelsea manager’s 1,000th game.

The Gunners have failed to score in the last four meetings and they have managed to beat the Blues just twice in the last 14 clashes.

Yet while Mourinho will know his side hold the Indian Sign over the Gunners, their lead is substantial and their exertions against United were evident.

One or other has failed to score in eight of the last 12 meetings, but we see both sides netting and a few goals in total, as both teams could be mentally drained from last weekend’s matches.

While it would be uncharacteristic of a Mourinho-managed side to suffer from complacency, equally, Arsenal may not suffer the burden of tension.

Arsenal have not managed to win any of their last four meetings at home with Chelsea, who have won five of the last seven meetings.

The last time they failed to win five in a row at home to Chelsea was 1960-65, when they lost six consecutive clashes at Highbury. So history is on the bettor’s side.

Verdict: Arsenal 2 Chelsea 0 @ 10.50

Best Bet: Both teams to score – No @ 1.85

All odds quoted from Whyteleafe’s betting service

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