WEEKEND BETTING PREVIEW – MCB’s Premier League Guide

There were plenty of FA Cup shocks last week – and a few in the Premier League in midweek. Will results be easier to predict this weekend?

Complete with the odds from your club’s betting service, we take a glance at all the games in England’s top flight.

Remember, all of the links below are directed to a generic MyClubBetting site. Once you login, you will be redirected to the club betting site that you are registered to.

As always, be sure to share your opinions with us over on the @MyClubBetting twitter page…

If you are not affiliated to a club and wish to take advantage of our great offers or simply have a bet, you can sign up to our Bet4Causes site, where 20% of the bookmaker’s net revenue goes to our chosen charities.

Chelsea v FC Porto - UEFA Champions League Group Stage - Group G

CHELSEA v ARSENAL

Saturday, 12.30pm

Draws are few and far between when these two meet – just three stalemates in the last 22 in fact – but that’s what we fancy in this one. We are on a run of nine meetings where either one or the other team failed to score, so we can probably go against the grain on that one as well. That should be a bettor’s philosophy – go against the grain, as in the long run, you may find yourself better off. Trusting our own eyes, Chelsea (10/11) looked as though they would settle for a point at Liverpool in midweek and that is what they got. They would have been un-backable to win the title had they not missed a penalty, and as it is, Arsenal (3/1) are still within sight. Yet unless they win, they can kiss any thoughts of a title goodbye. They will just be happy to remain in the top four after losing at home to Watford, who lost at Millwall in the FA Cup last week. This makes Millwall better than Arsenal in our eyes. Cue complaints from the selfie-stick brigade.

VERDICT: CHELSEA 1 ARSENAL 1 @ 11/2

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS SCORE @ 8/11 

Allardyce twat 2.jpg

CRYSTAL PALACE v SUNDERLAND

Saturday 3pm

A Championship fixture masquerading as a Premier League game. In truth, Sunderland (17/4) have been circling the relegation plug-hole for a while and you have to feel just a bit sorry for David Moyes, who started his tenure with very little to work with on the pitch, and found the cupboard was bare off it. It is a gamble selling Patrick van Aanholt to Crystal Palace (4/6) to fund a mini-recruitment drive. Getting full-back Bryan Oviedo and the oft-injured Darron Gibson from Everton was not a bad piece of business, though. They are only five points adrift of safety but while securing a valuable point against Tottenham, Sunderland could have done without fellow strugglers Hull and Palace picking up points in midweek. Palace secured three points for the first time since Sam Allardyce (above) took over when winning 2-0 at slumping Bournemouth. The Black Cats have won on their last two trips to Selhurst Park and the side playing at home has won just one of the last eight meetings. Palace are leaky, Sunderland are capable of snatching a point, but the odds suggest they won’t.

VERDICT: CRYSTAL PALACE 2 SUNDERLAND 1 @ 15/2

BEST BET: HT/FT = DRAW/CRYSTAL PALACE @ 10/3

Eddie HOWE

EVERTON v BOURNEMOUTH

Saturday 3pm

Things have gone from bad to worse for Bournemouth (4/1), with striker Callum Wilson suffering a serious knee injury. The Cherries have shipped three goals in nine of their last 14 games and conceded twice against Watford and Crystal Palace in the two outings, so it is easy to see where the problem lies. This is a critical stage of the season for the likeable Eddie Howe (above) and they have taken a big step back since beating Liverpool 4-3 at the Vitality Stadium. Everton (8/11) were a little fortunate to win 1-0 at Crystal Palace and a 1-1 draw at Stoke in midweek was commendable. Seventh in the table and one home defeat says all we need to know. It won’t be long before the players go on their holidays, as they have little to play for except mid-table jostling, but for now, the form team are a short price for a reason. We’ll take an odd result here, though. Just because.

VERDICT: EVERTON 2 BOURNEMOUTH 2 @ 14/1

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS SCORE @ 8/11

Jurgen Klopp 1.jpg

HULL v LIVERPOOL

Saturday 3pm

It must come as a relief to Jurgen Klopp’s (above) men to play away from Anfield, where Liverpool (4/9) have lost three of their last four in all competitions, a run only halted by a gritty 1-1 draw with Chelsea in midweek. Then again, Hull (13/2) have won two of the last three meetings at home with Liverpool, drawing the other. The last time the Reds won on Humberside was in April 2009 – and that was when Hull had a player sent off with the score at 1-1 (they went on to lose 3-1). Liverpool are out to 16/1 for the title and we don’t think they will get close to Chelsea (who are as big as 3/10 in that market with MCB, when 1/5 elsewhere). Three of Hull’s four wins have come at home and Liverpool have only lost twice on the road. We can see Klopp’s inconsistent side putting on a rare show of strength to grind out a win.

VERDICT: HULL 0 LIVERPOOL 2 @ 11/2

BEST BET: LIVERPOOL TO WIN @ 4/9

Andy Carroll plane.jpg

SOUTHAMPTON v WEST HAM

Saturday 3pm

Somewhere it is written in tablets of stone that West Ham (15/4) shall not win on the South coast. They win at Southampton (3/4) as often as Andy Carroll is fit – or once in a blue moon. In fact, they have not won at St Mary’s since 2000 and those looking for an historical banker bet may wish to consider this. Four wins in 32 trips. That’s the size of it. Southampton have won the last two meetings, but you have to go back to 1998 to see a run of three successive wins against the Hammers. There have been five draws in the last 11 meetings and given their in-and-out form, a point is probably all Slaven Bilic’s men will be able to muster. However, given their 4-0 home drubbing by Manchester City in midweek, we see the Saints edging this.

VERDICT: SOUTHAMPTON 3 WEST HAM 1 @ 14/1

BEST BET: SOUTHAMPTON TO WIN @ 3/4

Everton v Watford - Premier League

WATFORD v BURNLEY

Saturday 3pm

Let’s just say it probably won’t be the first game we see on Match of the Day. Unless it finishes 5-5, but even then we’d bet against it. This game is as fashionable as your local charity shop sale rail. Yet these two sides have one thing in common – they do try and play attractive football. Five of the last seven meetings have been drawn. It is all about survival for these minnows, possibly more so in Watford’s case since they sold Ighalo (above) to some unpronounceable Chinese team you have never heard of. No less than 13 of the last 16 meetings has seen both sides score and that’s almost as good a stat as this one that we’ll give you for nothing: The New England Patriots are the visitors in Sunday’s Super Bowl, so they get to call the coin toss. They have called ‘heads’ every time in the last two seasons. Can you tell we are not too bothered about this game? Good. We aren’t.

VERDICT: WATFORD 3 BURNLEY 2 @ 33/1

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 13/10

MARK HUGHES

WEST BROM v STOKE

Saturday 3pm

Eighth-placed West Brom (5/4) take on nine-placed Stoke (9/4) in a game only a mother could love. West Brom are enjoying a great season under Tony Pulis, while Mark Hughes’ (above) side have been quietly climbing the table without getting too much attention. The Baggies have scored as many goals as Manchester City at home this season, while Stoke’s three wins and three draws from 11 on the road is not too shabby, either. With respective managers who demand discipline, it is no huge surprise that they have shared just one red card between them all season. Neither side is going anywhere, but it is a ‘Derby’, so the intensity should be ramped up a little. Stoke have not won a game in the last four meetings and the last time they went five in a row without getting one over on West Brom was in 1969. A rare home defeat is the call.

VERDICT: WEST BROM 0 STOKE 1 @ 7/1

BEST BET: STOKE TO WIN @ 9/4

Harry Kane

TOTTENHAM v MIDDLESBROUGH

Saturday 5.30pm

The title door was open a jar when Chelsea were held at Liverpool, but as is invariably the case, Tottenham (1/4) fluffed their lines in failing to beat Sunderland, having previously fluked their way past Wycombe in a 4-3 FA Cup thriller – with a goal in the seventh minute of added time. Even our in-house ref, who played 40 minutes in the first half of his Sunday game (because he forgot it was 45 mins) and added it on in the second half, still didn’t play 97-plus minutes. Some of the refereeing in the EPL is bordering on shambolic. We digress. Tottenham still have the most realistic shot of catching Chelsea, even if they have played below-par in the last couple of weeks. At Sunderland they had one shot in the first half but were better after the break, yet they failed to close the nine-point gap. One of Boro’s (11/1) more creative players Gaston Ramirez has a knee injury and with the want-away midfielder seemingly unhappy, you have to wonder what the mood in the camp is, particularly since they are embroiled in a relegation dogfight. They have collected just three points form their last six games and a trip to a Spurs side keen to put matters right won’t be pretty. No doubt Harry Kane (above) will get on the scoresheet if he plays, but we go for the HT/FT Spurs win instead as our best bet.

VERDICT: TOTTENHAM 4 MIDDLESBROUGH 0

BEST BET: HT/FT = TOTTENHAM/TOTTENHAM @ 4/5

aguero

MAN CITY v SWANSEA

Sunday 1.30pm

A touch of normalcy returned to the sky blue half of Manchester in midweek. A trip to West Ham is as great a tonic as seeing near neighbours United held to a goalless draw with Hull. City’s (1/5) goal difference summarily boosted, they welcome a Swansea (12/1) side that have never managed to take a point on any of the last seven trips to City. And the hosts have a bloke called Jesus playing for them now. Life can be a bit cruel sometimes.

VERDICT: MAN CITY 3 SWANSEA 0 @ 6/1

BEST BET: HT/FT = MAN CITY/MAN CITY @ 4/6

Wayne Rooney1

LEICESTER v MAN UTD

Sunday 4pm

They said Leicester (9/2) could never win the title – until they did. They said a title winner could never be relegated the following season… The sad fact is, one player can, indeed make a team. The loss of Ngolo Kante to Chelsea has produced some horrifying results. Leicester simply don’t do the basis well any more. Kante closed space, harried opponents and gave his teammates time. They defended from the front. They can’t even defend at the back, now. It isn’t difficult. It is basic hard work. But when you are paid that much, why work for it? And that’s the problem with Premier League football. Too much money. Too much lethargy. Or that is the simplistic view, in any case. We could go on about how to defend between the lines etc, but sometimes it really is teaching you lot to suck eggs. You’ve got the talking TV heads for that. United (4/6) have been mid-table ordinary but rarely lose here and have failed to score just once in their last 12 visits. Wayne Rooney (above) is always a viable bet to score at any time but we go for Over 2.5 Goals as our best bet.

VERDICT: LEICESTER 0 MAN UTD 3 @ 10/1

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 21/20

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WEEKEND BETTING GUIDE: FIVE TOP TIPS

The final weekend before Christmas is upon us – and it is packed with sporting action!

Below, we analyse the weekend’s big action, including two Premier League derbies and a colossal clash in Italy’s top division.

As always, be sure to share your opinions with us over on the @MyClubBetting twitter page…

CRYSTAL PALACE v CHELSEA

Saturday – 12:30

Despite two memorable victories against Chelsea in recent years, Crystal Palace have a wretched record against Saturday’s opponents.

Palace have lost nine of their last 13 games against Chelsea, conceding on 26 occasions during that period.

When it comes to the current Premier League campaign, Chelsea have been formidable away from home, dropping points on just two occasions – conceding just seven times.

That won’t be music to the ears of Palace fans, who have watched their side ship 12 league goals at Selhurst Park this season. In fact, the Eagles are the third worst performing side in Premier League home games this season, taking just seven points from a possible 27.

chelsea-palace

Finding the net hasn’t been a problem for either site this season. Between them, the sides have netted over 60 league goals so far.

It is also worth noting that Palace and Chelsea shared six goals during their two league meetings last season.

Chelsea won comfortably at Stamford Bridge last season, and we fancy them to win a high scoring encounter at Selhurst Park.

BEST BET: CHELSEA WIN & OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 6/5

JUVENTUS v ROMA

Saturday – 19:45

Juventus and Roma are the two of the strongest teams in Italy at this present moment – occupying first and second place respectively.

Roma have been the most exciting side in Serie A this season and are the highest scoring side in the division with 36 goals so far.

Much of this has been down to former Premier League players, Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah who have shared 20 Serie A goals so far this season.

Juventus lost Paul Pogba in the summer and used the funds raised to bring in Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli.

While Higuain has netted on nine occasions in the league since joining Juve, he seems to struggle when strike partner and fellow countryman Paulo Dybala isn’t present. Dybala missed five Serie A games through injury recently, in which time Higuain found the net on just one occasion.

higuain-dybale

Games between these two sides are often fiery encounters, with five red cards being shown in the last four meetings.

Juventus have had the better of recent meetings, winning ten of their last 13 against Roma – losing just three times during that period.

We are going for a narrow home win here.

BEST BET: JUVENTUS TO WIN @ 8/11

BOURNEMOUTH v SOUTHAMPTON

Sunday – 13:30

These two South Coast rivals have had fairly similar seasons. Southampton currently site just one place above Bournemouth in the Premier League, with both sides taking 21 points from their 16 games.

Eddie Howe and Claude Puel both like to focus on ball retention – guarding against any route one tactics unless absolutely necessary.

While this may be pleasing on the eye against lesser talented opposition, there is every chance that their similarity in style could lead to a flat game on Sunday.

Bournemouth won 2-0 in this fixture last season, however their record against Southampton isn’t too great.

In fact, prior to that victory, the Cherries had lost four straight games against their South Coast rivals, scoring on just one occasion.

Southampton have struggled for goals on the road this season, scoring just six times in their eight away league games.

Bournemouth aren’t exactly free scoring either. Take away their 6-1 win over a weakened Hull side and the Cherries have scored on just 16 occasions all season.

Everything points to a low scoring draw on Sunday afternoon.

BEST BET: UNDER 2.5 GOALS @ 6/10

MAN CITY v ARSENAL

Saturday – 16:00

Whenever Manchester City and Arsenal meet, goals are always on the agenda.

In fact, the two sides have shared a staggering 27 goals in their last seven meetings – that’s an average of 3.8 goals per game.

We expect Sunday afternoon to be no different, particularly with Pep Guardiola and Arsene Wenger in the two dugouts.

Guardiola and Wenger are among the two most attack minded coaches in world football and both have a reputation of throwing caution to the wind in big games such as this.

pep-wenger

This is proven when you look at this season’s stats. Manchester City and Arsenal are both among the highest scoring clubs in the Premier League this season – netting on 71 occasions between them.

Arsenal’s recent away record against Man City makes for pretty decent reading. The Gunners have taken four points from their last two trips to the Etihad, scoring four times during those ties.

Expect to see the net bulging on numerous occasions come Sunday afternoon.

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 8/15

EVERTON v LIVERPOOL

Monday – 20:00

Everton have had a torrid time of late, winning just one of their last ten league games. That said, much of this has been down to their woes away from home – in fact, their home form has been extremely impressive.

The Toffees haven’t lost at home since March and will be buoyed after their home victory against Arsenal at Goodison Park on Tuesday night.

Liverpool have fallen off the pace in recent weeks, winning just two of their last five Premier League games.

To say that Everton have a bad recent record against Liverpool would be a scandalous understatement.

The Blues are without a win in any of their last 12 Merseyside derbies, with their last victory coming over six years ago.

However, Liverpool have only won on five occasions during that time, meaning the most popular recent result between these sides has been the draw.

In fact, three of the last four games between the sides have ended level.

We are sticking with trend this weekend and going for a draw.

BEST BET: THE DRAW @ 12/5

FEELING LUCKY?

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mcb-acca

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2016/17 PREMIER LEAGUE: THE COMPLETE BETTING GUIDE

Calum Chinchen analyses the 2016/17 Premier League campaign, giving you some top tips and insight along the way!

Defending Champions Leicester City will have to juggle Champions League action with Premier League games, something that will be a million miles from their comfort zone.

It’s fair to say that Leicester have a lack of squad depth at present. Take away their unbelievable commitment and the main reason for the Foxes title success last season was keeping key players fit.

Leicester City v Everton - Barclays Premier League

Riyad Mahrez, N’Golo Kante and Jamie Vardy missed just four Premier League games between them last season, with Mahrez and Vardy sharing a staggering 41 goals along the way.

However, with Kante having already departed, Mahrez reportedly looking for a move and at least an extra six games to be played during the early months – we see it being an uphill battle for Claudio Ranieri’s side, and don’t forecast them finishing inside the top six this season.

Pep Guardiola will manage in the Premier League for the first time this season, after he replaced Manuel Pellegrini as Manchester City boss over the summer.

Guardiola’s new side are the 9/4 favourites in this season’s Premier League winner market, and the Spaniard will be looking to win a league title in his debut season for the third time in his short managerial career.

Despite their disappointing 2015/16 campaign, Guardiola has inherited a hugely talented squad, adding the likes of Nolito and Ilkay Gundogan to that impressive unit since his arrival.

AGUERO

Make no mistakes, Sergio Aguero is still Manchester City’s key man. The Argentine managed an impressive 24 goals in an injury hit last campaign, which saw him miss eight league games. In fact, since arriving in the Premier League, Aguero (above) has only exceeded 30 league appearances in a single season on two occasions.

In our eyes, Guardiola’s side fully deserve their favourites tag, and we see them lifting the famous Premier League trophy come May – particularly if a certain Mr Aguero can stay fit!

Manchester United are the 16/5 second favourites for this season’s Premier League crown.

Winning last season’s FA Cup wasn’t enough to save Louis Van Gaal’s job and he was replaced with the ever controversial Jose Mourinho over the summer.

Mourinho (below) has bought in a wealth of big names since being appointed, and despite paying way over the odds in transfer fees, agent payments and wages, there is no doubting that Zlatan Ibrahimović, Eric Bailly and Henrikh Mkhitaryan will improve United’s squad.

Manchester United Officially Introduce Jose Mourinho as Their New Manager

Like his former manager and verbal sparring partner, Guardiola, this campaign will be Ibrahimović’s first in English football. The Swede is a 8/1 shot to be Premier League top scorer, and he has every chance, especially if Wayne Rooney is employed in his favoured number ten position.

Chelsea will be looking to improve on last year’s horror show in the Premier League. During their dismal title defence, the West Londoners managed just 12 wins en-route to a disappointing tenth place finish.

This prompted Roman Abramovich to appoint former Juventus and Italy boss, Antonio Conte as the club’s new manager. During his five years with Juve, Conte (below) managed to win the Serie A title on an impressive three occasions.

CONTE

Conceding goals was Chelsea’s main issue last season. The Blues conceded a staggering 53 goals, and while many may point the finger at their ageing back four, the more knowledgeable football fan would blame the lack of midfield cover.

Nemanja Matic was nothing short of awful during his little playing time last season, with his mistakes and lack of positional sense often placing his back four under massive pressure. This was obviously common knowledge to the new Chelsea manager, who splashed out over £30m on N’Golo Kante from Leicester City not long after his arrival.

There is no doubt in our minds that Chelsea will be back in title contention this season, especially with the signing of Kante – a player who never seems to leave his defence exposed.

While it seems short, their 4/7 price for a top four finish is looking like free money to us.

In our minds, it is a formality that Arsenal will join Chelsea and the two Manchester clubs in next year’s Champions League, however will that be enough to keep their fans happy?

The answer is a resounding…NO!

While Arsenal supporters have every right to feel aggrieved at not winning a Premier League title for over 10 years, they should remember that it could be a lot worse. Let’s not forget, the Gunners have qualified for the Champions League in each of the last 18 seasons and were FA Cup winners in two of the last three years.

GIROUD

Olivier Giroud (above) is a fine centre forward and there is no doubting his obvious qualities, however he seems to struggle when playing as the lone forward. Giroud prefers to operate alongside a faster, more goal driven front man, which was evident at Euro 2016, where his link-up play with Antoine Griezmann set pulses racing.

However, if Arsene Wenger is going to continue with the same system as in recent years, then Giroud just isn’t the man for the job. In our mind, Wenger either needs to play Alexis Sanchez beside the Frenchman in a 4-4-2 system, or replace him for a more complete and dynamic forward.

The central defensive position has also been a problem for the Gunners, with Laurent Koscielny in real need of a new partner. Per Mertesacker is a leader with great positioning, however he is far too slow for the Premier League these days, and as for Gabriel, he is simply nowhere near good enough.

Granit Xhaka arrived for big money in the summer, and like Kante at Chelsea, we expect his combative style to provide some well needed protection for the Arsenal back four.

SANCHEZ OZIL

There is no doubting that any side containing Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez (above) should be challenging for the title, but until Arsenal address their issues at centre back and centre forward, they will just have to settle for a top four spot.

Liverpool were arguably the most inconsistent side in the Premier League last season.

Despite some fine away victories against the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City, the Mersysiders eventually finished in eighth position after losing 12 games and conceding 50 goals in the Premier League.

With Christian Benteke looking almost certain to leave, and Daniel Sturridge’s constant injury battles, there is no doubting that Jürgen Klopp (below) needs to invest in a top striker if his side are going to challenge for Champions League football this season.

Stoke City v Liverpool - Capital One Cup - Semi Final - First Leg - Britannia Stadium

Liverpool are a 6/4 shot to finish in the top four, and unless consistency levels are increased, we don’t see Champions League qualification being likely.

Tottenham fans will still be reeling after last season’s final game. Mauricio Pochettino’s men were thrashed at already relegated Newcastle – a result that caused them to fall below their bitter rivals Arsenal for yet another season.

Despite his dire Euro 2016 performances, we still fancy Harry Kane to have a successful season at White Hart Lane. Kane (below) is the heartbeat of the current Tottenham side, and his link up play with the likes of Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli always seems to result in clear goal scoring opportunities. Considering Sergio Aguero’s recent injury troubles, Kane’s top scorer price of 7/1 looks like real value.

SOCCER: FEB 14 Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur at Manchester City

When it comes to Tottenham, we just feel as though they missed their chance of success last season. With their Arsenal curse still in place and the likes of Man United and Chelsea adding real quality, we see Spurs struggling for a Champions League qualification spot, and 11/10 for a top four finish looks far from enticing to us.

If anyone is going to challenge the top six this season, then we see it being either Everton or West Ham.

Ronald Koeman made the switch to Goodison Park over the summer, and there is no doubting his managerial capabilities.

Despite a disappointing Euro 2016 campaign, Romelu Lukaku is still vital for the Toffees, and they will need to keep hold of him if they are going to challenge for a European spot.

John Stones looks certain to join Manchester City for a mind blowing fee, and while that won’t bother too many Evertonians, getting an adequate replacement is still going to be vital.

Slaven Bilic has worked wonders since taking over at West Ham, guiding the club to an impressive seventh place finish last season. Bilic hasn’t rested on his laurels since, and has arguably done the best business of any Premier League manager so far this summer.

Havard Nordtveit and Sofiane Feghouli both arrived on free transfers, while Gokhan Tore was bought to the club on an initial season long loan deal.

PAYET

It also looks like Dimitri Payet (above) will be staying at the club, which will delight Hammers fans, particularly after his wonderful Euro 2016 campaign.

Southampton, Stoke and Crystal Palace all look near certainties for a mid-table finish. While all three sides have far too much depth to be considered for relegation, each of the clubs seem to lack the quality required for European qualification.

In terms of the newly promoted sides, Middlesbrough look the most equipped to fight relegation.

Manager Aitor Karanka (below) has worked wonders in the transfer window, adding Alvaro Negredo, Victor Valdes and Antonio Barragan to a squad that in our minds, was already ready for the Premier League.

KARANKA

Hull and Burley were also promoted last season, but we see their fight against relegation being far more difficult.

In truth, neither club have added much Premier League quality to their already paper thin squads, and it would surprise if these two sides were playing in the second tier again next season.

Bournemouth are a side that worry us this season. The Cherries are 16/5 to be relegated from the Premier League, which seems like value, particularly when you mention these fatal three words – second season syndrome.

Eddie Howe (below) may have spent big in the summer, but he has failed to bring in anyone with real Premier League experience. Brad Smith and Jordan Ibe both arrived from Liverpool, however, the two men have less than 50 top flight appearances between them.

HOWE

Matt Ritchie was Bournemouth’s key man last season, however he departed for Newcastle over the summer.

Watford, West Brom and Swansea all had disappointing campaigns last year, and all three sides will need to improve if they are going to avoid relegation and climb the Premier League table.

Sunderland have become the masters of last minute relegation survival over the last few years, with Gus Poyet, Dick Advocaat and Sam Allardyce all rescuing the Black Cats in the previous three campaigns.

As you all will know, Allardyce departed the Stadium of Light to take the England job a few weeks ago, with David Moyes being appointed as his replacement. Moyes will undoubtedly be looking to settle some scores after a wretched spell at Manchester United and if his new side manage to start well, then there is absolutely no reason why they can’t reach mid-table security.

That said, the jury is out on whether Sunderland can avoid another relegation scrap if they are in trouble come May.

OUR SELECTIONS

WINNER: MAN CITY @ 9/4

TOP SCORER: HARRY KANE @ 7/1

RELEGATION: BOURNEMOUTH @ 16/5

As always, be sure to share your views and opinions with us over on the @MyClubBetting Twitter page.

Remember, MyClubBetting and Bet4Causes have this amazing Premier League offer for the upcoming campaign!

MCB_PremierLeagueTopScrorer_1024x512_v2

Get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See myclubbetting.com for details.

If you are not affiliated to a club, you can bet via Bet4Causes, where 20% of net revenue goes to sporting charities, who include Greatwood, World Horse Welfare and StreetGames.

You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly: www.gambleaware.co.uk

MIDWEEK BETTING PREVIEW – MCB’s PREMIER LEAGUE GUIDE

Your improved club betting service has arrived. Check it out! And if your club or team has not yet taken advantage, it is time you did. Get one – it’s completely FREE! Take a look at myclubbetting.com and sign up your club at signup.myclubbetting.com

We look to continue our good run with our Premier League selections and, complete with the odds from your club’s betting service, take a glance at the big matches from a full programme on Tuesday and Wednesday…

CRYSTAL PALACE v BOURNEMOUTH

Crystal Palace (2.30) are struggling for form. The Eagles are without a win in any of their last six league games and are coming off four straight defeats.

ADEBAYOR
Adebayor: Good record

Bournemouth (3.30) splashed the cash in January. Goals were a problem for Eddie Howe’s side in the first half of the season, however the signings of Benik Afobe, Lewis Grabban and Juan Iturbe should change that. The Cherries have scored five times in the three games since the men arrived.

Finding the net has also been a huge problem for Crystal Palace. Alan Pardew’s men have mustered just 24 league goals all season, and have scored only ONCE in their last six Premier League ties.

Emmanuel Adebayor arrived at Selhurst Park in the transfer window, with Alan Pardew seeing the former Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham striker as the man to turn around the clubs fortune in front of goal. Despite his apparent disciplinary and effort issues, Adebayor has a decent Premier League record – scoring 96 times in his 230 appearances.

In their last three league games, these two sides only have one clean sheet between them, leading us to the conclusion that this one will end in a scoring draw. [CC]

VERDICT: PALACE 1 BOUREMOUTH 1 @ 6.00

BEST BET: PALACE CLEAN SHEET – NO @ 1.50 

LEICESTER v LIVERPOOL

Leicester (2.50) had a tough Christmas period, picking up just one point from their three festive fixtures and failing to score a single goal. However, the Foxes have got back on track in the New Year, picking up seven points from a possible nine after crucial wins against Tottenham and Stoke.

FIRMINO
Firmino: in favour

After reaching the League Cup final by the skin of their teeth last Tuesday, Liverpool (3.00) now need to make league form their number one priority until February. The Mersysiders are languishing in mid-table after just one win from their last four Premier League outings.

After a barren spell of seven league games without a goal, Jamie Vardy broke his duck with Leicester’s second against Stoke last time out. After nine days rest, we fully expect the speedy England international to test the sluggish Liverpool defence on Tuesday night.

Roberto Firmino has found a new lease of life under Jürgen Klopp. The young Brazilian was rarely used by Brendan Rodgers, however since his new manager arrived at the club he has been an ever present. Firmino has been used in a ‘false nine’ position – leaving £32m man Christian Benteke rooted to the bench since Klopp’s appointment.

Despite current league standings, Liverpool have a wonderful record over Tuesday’s opponents. The Mersysiders haven’t lost to Leicester in any of their last seven meetings and we are more than happy to lay the hosts again here. [CC]

VERDICT: LEICESTER 1 LIVERPOOL 1 @ 6.00

BEST BET: LIVERPOOL OR DRAW (Double Chance) @ 1.50

WEST HAM v ASTON VILLA

These two sides last met on Boxing Day, where a Jordan Ayew penalty earned Aston Villa (4.30) a much needed point. Despite being rock bottom of the table, Villa aren’t in bad form after taking five points from their three league games.

ANTONIO
Antonio: Finally settling

Slaven Bilic is continuing to impress at Upton Park, guiding West Ham (1.90) to sixth position after a run of just one defeat in their last ten league games.  The Hammers were very unlucky not to take all three points in their last league outing and will feel aggrieved after the referee failed to send Martin Demichelis off after a clear professional foul.

Remi Garde will be concerned about his side’s lack of goals. Villa are the lowest scoring side in the Premier League this season, netting just 18 times in 22 games so far.

Michael Antonio looks to have finally settled in at Upton Park. The tricky winger arrived from Nottingham Forest in the summer, but initially struggled for a run in the team with Victor Moses and Manuel Lanzini in such good form. However, since getting his chance in the first team, Antonio hasn’t looked back and was particularly impressive in recent home fixtures against Liverpool and Man City.

Villa are still without an away league win since the opening day of the season and we see that run continuing on Tuesday. [CC]

VERDICT: WEST HAM 2 ASTON VILLA 0 @ 7.50

BEST BET: WEST HAM TO WIN @ 1.90 

EVERTON v NEWCASTLE

Everton (1.62) are really struggling at present. The Toffees are without a win in any of their last five league games, with their last victory coming on Boxing Day, coincidently against Tuesday’s opponents.

SHELVEY
Shelvey: Big money arrival

Newcastle (5.50) have had a busy transfer window, and will now looking to get clear of the relegation zone as quickly as possible. The Magpies have lost four of their last six league games, with their solitary win in that period coming against West Ham a fortnight ago.

Romelu Lukaku is having a quiet spell by his high standards. The powerful Belgian striker hasn’t netted a league goal in more than a month, going four league games without a goal after scoring 15 goals in the first half of the season.

Jonjo Shelvey arrived at Newcastle for £12m in the January transfer window. Despite many questions about his work rate and attitude, there is absolutely no doubting his ability. The former Liverpool and Swansea man has the ability to take a game by the scruff with his fine technique and wide range of passing.

Everton have won six of their last eight meetings with Newcastle and we see much of the same at Goodison on Wednesday night. [CC]

VERDICT: EVERTON 2 NEWCASTLE 0 @ 8.00

BEST BET: EVERTON TO WIN @ 1.62 

WATFORD v CHELSEA

Quique Sanchez Flores is looking like a real contender for Manager of the Year. Watford (4.00) find themselves in the top half of the Premier League table after a wonderful season so far.

Everton v Watford - Premier League
Ighalo: Prolific

Guus Hiddink has steadied the ship since Jose Mourinho’s departure and is still unbeaten in his second spell at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea (1.95) will be buoyed after their vital away win at Arsenal last weekend.

Odion Ighalo has had quite a debut season in the Premier League. The Nigerian international has scored 14 league goals this season after forming a formidable partnership with fellow front man Troy Deeney.

Eden Hazard is still without a league goal this season. The reigning PFA Player of the Year scored 14 goals from midfield last season, but a spell on the touchlines and playing in unfamiliar positions at times have both contributed to a vast dip in form during this campaign.

In their last three league games, these sides have scored a combined 8 goals, and conceded 9 in that same time. That stat combined with the 2-2 draw in their last meeting between leads us to believe that goals will be on the agenda at Vicarage Road. [CC]

VERDICT: WATFORD 1 CHELSEA 2 @ 9.00

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 2.25

ARSENAL v SOUTHAMPTON

Per Mertersacker’s dismissal after 18 minutes and Diego Costa’s decisive goal in Chelsea’s 1-0 win at the Emirates left Arsenal (1.80) three points adrift of leaders Leicester with 15 games to go.

Charlie Austin
Austin: Instant impact

Searching for their first title since 2004, Arsene Wenger’s men face a stiff test of their credentials in the next couple of weeks, with home matches against Southampton (4.75) on Tuesday and Leicester on Valentine’s Day.

The weight of history was against the Gunners last week – they have not beaten Chelsea in the league since 2011 (nine attempts) and have now not scored a goal against the Blues in over nine and a half hours. It was also the first time the Gunners had failed to score in consecutive league games since August 2012.

Yet the history pendulum is about to swing back in their favour as visitors Southampton have won just two of the last 12 meetings (W2 D4 L6), despite gaining their first back-to-back league win over the Gunners since April 1988 when surprisingly winning the reverse fixture 4-0 on Boxing Day.

Southampton won a League Cup tie here in September 2014 but have not won a league clash at Arsenal since November 1987 and have lost 16 of the last 20 league meetings there subsequently, picking up just four points.

The Gunners have lost twice at home this term and only Manchester United (five) have conceded fewer home goals than Arsenal’s seven in 11 games.

One of the highlights of last week’s matches was the delight on Southampton manager Ronald Koeman’s face in the post-match interviews after Charlie Austin had come off the bench to mark his debut with the only goal at Old Trafford.

Austin’s arrival has already energised a Saints team that has won their last three following a run of one win in eight previous matches. However, we still see Arsenal getting back on track with a routine victory, but we are wary of the 1.75 odds – in our view they should be a little more restrictive. [SM]

VERDICT: ARSENAL 2 SOUTHAMPTON 0 @ 7.50

BEST BET: ARSENAL TO WIN @ 1.80

NORWICH v TOTTENHAM

In their last Premier League game, Norwich (4.20) managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory twice against Liverpool in an extraordinary 4-5 home defeat, notable for the Sunday morning park-team defending.

steven naismith
On target: Steven Naismith

They allowed a 3-1 lead to slip, pulled it back to 4-4 in stoppage time, only for the pantomime to continue, with Liverpool winning and celebrating with such fervour, anyone would think that they had just earned a point at home to West Brom. Big whoop. It left them in seventh place in the table, eight points behind fourth-placed Tottenham.

The Canaries are in serious danger of descending back to the Championship, having lost their last three. Defeat left them two points off the drop zone.

Steven Naismith has arrived at Carrow Road from Everton for a fee of £8.5m, which looks a shrewd piece of business and was immediately on the scoresheet against Liverpool. He makes those around him better players and we expect the Canaries to start climbing the table soon.

Tottenham (1.91) are just five points behind leaders Leicester and are crucially five points ahead of Manchester United for the coveted fourth position, which guarantees Champions League football.

Having flirted with the top four, only to fade away in the past, this Spurs side arguably looks capable of lasting the pace. ‘Arguably’ is the operative word, here, as seeing is believing.

Chasing their first title since 1961, Spurs were dealt a blow with the loss of central defender Jan Vertonghen, an ever-present in Mauricio Pochettino’s side this season, to an MCL injury.

Spurs have won two of the last seven meetings with Norwich, but Norwich have remained unbeaten at home in the last three clashes, winning 1-0 in this fixture in 2014.

Tottenham have only lost once on their travels this season and that was on opening day at Old Trafford, so we see that excellent road form continuing. Norwich’s defending has been suspect at times and we fully expect Harry Kane and company to exploit their weaknesses. [SM]

VERDICT: NORWICH 1 TOTTENHAM 3 @ 15.00

BEST BET: TOTTENHAM WIN AND BOTH TEAMS SCORE @ 4.00

SUNDERLAND v MAN CITY

Second-bottom plays second-top and goals are usually on the agenda when these two sides meet. Sunderland (four points adrift of safety) and Manchester City (three points behind leaders Leicester) have scored at least four goals between them in each of the last six meetings. City have won the last four and five of those last six. They drew the other.

Dame N’Doye
Fire-power: Dame N’Doye

Sunderland’s (6.50) last six wins against City (1.50) have all come by 1-0 margins, with four of those victories coming at home in the last six meetings.

Their relegation plight was boosted by wins over Aston Villa and Swansea, and while they were well beaten at Tottenham, last week’s 1-1 home draw with Bournemouth suggested they have started to grow a backbone, coming from behind, having been comprehensively out-classed in the first half.

Upcoming fixtures look tough, however. After City, they face Liverpool (A), Manchester United (H), West Ham (A), Crystal Palace (H), Southampton (A) and Everton (H). All are battling for a place in Europe.

City’s away from is hardly that of a title-winning team. They have won just four of 11 on their travels and were held by West Ham on their last outing. Their lack of goals away from home (12) is in contract with that Leicester, who have 23 from 12 games and the Foxes have conceded just two more than City’s 11.

While City reached the League Cup final – for which they are quoted at 1.62 (8/13) – the knee injury suffered by midfielder Kevin De Bruyne in thr second leg of the semi-final against Everton is going to be tough to overcome, particularly since they are still battling on all fronts. They are still 2.25 (5/4) to win the title, 12.0 (11/1) to win the Champions League and 5.50 (9/2) to win the FA Cup.

Sunderland are no great shakes. Sam Allardyce knows the spine of the side needs addressing and there will be no quick fixes. The arrival of Senegal striker Dame N’Doye from Trabzonspor means a bit more nous up front, but bringing in central defender Lamine Kone from Lorient could be a major gamble, given his complete lack of Premier League experience.

The Black Cats are 1.20 (1/5) to be relegated with your club’s betting service and with just two home wins all season, it would take a brave man to go against the grain.

We see this as a must-win game for City if they are to prevent falling further behind in the title race and a routine win is anticipated. [SM]

VERDICT: SUNDERLAND 1 MAN CITY 3 @ 11.00

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 1.73

MAN UTD v STOKE

Manchester United (1.70) have won 15 of their last 20 meetings with Stoke (5.25), who seek back-to-back wins over the Red Devils for the first time since February 1953. Mark Hughes’s side seek to remain unbeaten for the third successive meeting, something not achieved since recording five successive draws from 1968-70.

 

Louis Van Gaal 1
Under fire: Van Gaal

While there was no fluke about the Potters’ 2-0 win in the reverse fixture on Boxing Day, traditionally the boot is on the other foot at Old Trafford, where United have won the last 11 meetings.

Though Louis van Gaal remains under intense pressure after their 1-0 home defeat by Southampton, it is worth noting that United have not lost successive home league games since two 3-0 defeats by Liverpool and Manchester City in March 2014.

Stoke have had a draining week, having lost on penalties to Liverpool after extra time in the League Cup semi-final, and then travelled to Crystal Palace, only to be dumped out of the FA Cup. Although they have lost successive league games just once this season, this game may be one too far.

United’s lack of confidence, particularly at home, has been palpable. Wayne Rooney has tried to lead by example, but the lack of service from midfield has been both startling and snooze-enduring. They had just one shot on target against Southampton and going into their FA Cup clash with Derby on Friday, they had won just three of their last 13 games in all competitions.

Ten of their last 11 games at Old Trafford have been 0-0 at half-time – they have scored only two first-half goals in the Premier League since last summer. Over £250m has been spent in the last 18 months and there has been no silverware since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.

No wonder the fans are restless. This sleeping giant shows little sign of waking, and neither do the United faithful. One fan was spotted sleeping in the stands last week.

Aren’t local bed shops are missing a trick? Should they not offer ‘United’ specials: Mata scores the first goal in the first half, you get a free Mattress. Darmian does the same, get a free Duvet. Pereira? Free Pillow etc.

We digress. You want the tip? Other than have an early night, we fancy United to bore their way to a win and put a tired Stoke to sleep. [SM]

VERDICT: MAN UTD 2 STOKE 0 @ 6.50

BEST BET: MAN UTD CLEAN SHEET @ 1.95

WEST BROM v SWANSEA

There has been a nice symmetry with results between these two in recent years. West Brom’s record against the Swans is LWLWLWL. In fact, there has been just one draw in the last 15 meetings, but arguably a point apiece would be acceptable to both, given their respective plight.

Solomon Rondon
Gamble: Solomon Rondon

West Brom (2.50) have won just two of their last 10 league games but are seven points from the drop zone, while Swansea’s (3.00) two successive wins have taken them out of the bottom three and they are four points clear of danger and a place below the Baggies in 15th.

Swansea were good value for their 2-1 win at Everton, with incoming manager Francesco Guidolin emulating Michael Laudrup and Garry Monk by winning his first EPL game in charge of the Swans.

Albion have lost just one of their last six league games at home (to Bournemouth) and Swansea have won just two on the road and are averaging under a goal a game away from home.

Tony Pulis is likely to gamble by resting striker Solomon Rondon, who has looked tired in the last few games. The former Zenit St Petersburg striker made his 19th start of the season in a dull 0-0 draw with Aston Vill last week and the intensity of playing in the Premier League appears to have caught up with him.

That may open the door for Saido Berahino, who failed to get a coveted move away from the Hawthorns, but will surely leave the club in the summer.

Berahino may be just the spark West Brom need. They had four shots against Villa and none of them were on target. That is the fourth time this season they have failed to have a shot on target.

West Brom know they are better than they showed against bogey team Villa and they should be able to prove it. We go for a home win. [SM]

VERDICT: WEST BROM 2 SWANSEA 1 @ 11.00

BEST BET: HT/FT = WEST BROM/WEST BROM @ 4.20

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WEEKEND BETTING PREVIEW – MCB’s Premier League Guide

Your improved club betting service is almost ready. In the meantime, we look to continue our good run with our Premier League selections and, complete with the odds from your club’s betting service, take a glance at the big matches at both ends of the Premier League…

CHELSEA v SUNDERLAND

It is incredible to see Chelsea (1.25) just one point off the relegation zone with 16 games played. Nine defeats and just four wins is certainly not the sort of form champions are expected to show.

Jose Mourinho
Apprehensive: Mourinho in uncharted territory

It can only be a matter of time before Roman Abramovich hits the panic button and Jose Mourinho departs for a big club, such as Manchester United.

They are considered too good to go down but something is inherently wrong behind the scenes and they are in danger of being embroiled in a dog-fight.

They do have the buying power to change things in January, however, and while they have scored just one goal in the last four Premier League games, they will be buoyed by reaching the last 16 of the Champions League.

Sunderland (12.00) have won two of the last 23 meetings with Chelsea – and both of those victories came at Stamford Bridge.

Since Sam Allardyce has taken over, the Black Cats have won three and lost four but are still in the bottom two and are a couple of points from safety.

They have not played badly in their last two games, but have still fallen to defeats at Arsenal (3-1) and at home to Watford (0-1).

Allardyce loves winding up Mourinho but we feel the Blues will finally give their oh-so-quiet fans something to shout about and justify the skinny odds. [SM]

VERDICT: CHELSEA 4 SUNDERLAND 1 @ 21.00

BEST BET: HT/FT = CHELSEA/CHELSEA @ 1.83

EVERTON v LEICESTER

Roberto Martinez will be slightly worried about his team’s inability to turn dominance into victory. Everton (2.10) have drawn their last three games against Bournemouth, Palace and Norwich respectively.

Leicester City v Manchester United - Premier League
Kante: Disciplined

However, they will bitterly disappointed after being clearly the best side in all three games.

Leicester (3.50) have surprised many this season and still find themselves at the right end of the table after 16 games.

While Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have grabbed all the plaudits at the King Power Stadium, it has been a defensive midfielder that has caught the eye of the more knowledgeable football fan.

Little-known N’Golo Kante arrived at the club from Caen over the summer, and has stabilised the Leicester midfield after Esteban Cambiasso’s surprise departure.

Goals are usually on the agenda when Everton and Leicester clash. The two sides have shared a staggering 19 goals in their last five meetings, with both sides scoring in each of those games.

With that in mind, we fancy a scoring draw at Goodison Park. [CC]

VERDICT: EVERTON 2 LEICESTER 2 @ 11.00

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 1.60

MAN UNITED v NORWICH

Louis van Gaal is really starting to feel the pressure. Manchester United (1.45) were woeful in their away defeat to Bournemouth last week, and are now winless in their last five games in all competitions.

MARTIAL
Martial: Lacking confidence

Norwich (7.50) are coming into this off an impressive home draw against Everton. In truth, the Canaries were outplayed, but after weathering a heavy first half storm, Wes Hoolahan grabbed a second half leveller to clinch a point.

Scoring goals is becoming a real problem for the Red Devils. Louis van Gaal’s men have only scored five times in their last five matches, with the likes of Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay looking far from confident in front of goal.

Although van Gaal’s men have looked wretched in attack, they do have the best defensive record in the league, conceding on just 12 occasions so far. The United defence are particularly ruthless at Old Trafford, keeping a clean sheet in all of their last four home league games.

Norwich have a terrible record against Saturday’s opponents, losing all of the last four meetings between the two sides.

Everything points to a low-scoring home win here. [CC]

VERDICT: MAN UTD 2 NORWICH 0 @ 6.00

BEST BET: MAN UTD CLEAN SHEET @ 1.95

 SOUTHAMPTON v TOTTENHAM

One of the more interesting Saturday afternoon encounters sees Southampton (2.60) looking for their first win in seven meetings against a Tottenham (2.80) side who slipped to a last-minute goal at home to Newcastle last weekend.

Ronald Koeman1
Poor run: Koeman

Both teams have been draw specialists this term. While Spurs have lost just twice, they have eight stalemates in 16 games. Saints have drawn six of their 16 and it is no surprise to see the draw at a relatively short 3.20.

Southampton are without a win in their last four games, and Spurs also have just one win in their last five (a 4-1 thumping of West Ham).

Tottenham have won just twice on the road this season – at Sunderland and Bournemouth – and that is hardly top six form. Yet the failings of sides around them means they enter this game in fifth, just three points off the Champions League places.

Southampton have won just one of the last four at home and have lost three of the last four league games (not taking into account their horrific 6-1 home League Cup defeat by Liverpool). They have been behind at half-time in their last five games. It seems a fair bet that manager Ronald Koeman will expect his side to keep things tight in the first half.

Still, Tottenham are due an away win and while this game looks to have draw written all over it, their penchant for late goals means that we side with them against an out-of-form Saints. [SM]

VERDICT: SOUTHAMPTON 1 TOTTENHAM 2

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 2.10

STOKE v CRYSTAL PALACE

Many people consider these two sides as the biggest threat to last season’s top six.

Mark Hughes is doing a fine job at The Britannia. Stoke (2.40) followed up their impressive win against Manchester City with a battling point away at West Ham last week.

BOLASIE
Bolasie: In form

Crystal Palace (3.10) are in brilliant form, occupying sixth position on the Premier League table. Alan Pardew’s men are coming off a vital 1-0 home win against Southampton, in which record signing Yohan Cabaye scored the winner.

Yannick Bolasie had a slow start to the season, with many citing the summer interest from Tottenham as the contributing factor for his dip in form.

However, since early October the DR Congo international has been fantastic. His pace and trickery has caused Premier League full-backs all sorts of problems, while his link-up play with the impressive Cabaye has contributed to a large number of the Eagles’ goals so far this season.

Stoke haven’t beaten Palace in any of the last three meetings between the sides and lost 2-1 in this fixture last season.

We fancy the visitors to get at least a point on Saturday. [CC]

VERDICT: STOKE 1 PALACE 1 @ 6.00

BEST BET: PALACE OR DRAW (DC) @ 1.55

WEST BROM v BOURNEMOUTH

West Brom (2.40) are proving tough to beat. They were a little unfortunate not to have beaten both West Ham and Liverpool in their last two away games, but the lack of quality up front continues to hamper any progress they have made.

Jona Olson
Jonas Olson: Goal earned a point at Anfield

Only Swansea (15) and Aston Villa (13) have scored fewer than West Brom’s tally of 16 this season, yet they have lost as many games as sixth-placed Crystal Palace and sit just six points behind fifth-placed Tottenham.

Bournemouth’s (3.00) successive wins at Chelsea and at home to Manchester United sees them just one place below West Brom in 14th place and they are no six points above the relegation zone. They are unbeaten in their last four games, but their away form is hampering them, with five defeats in their last eight road trips.

In contrast, the Hawthorns hardly offers home comfort to Tony Pulis’s side. They have taken just eight points from a possible 24 and scored just 10 goals in those eight games.

Though West Brom have managed one win in their last six league games, they gained a valuable point at Liverpool last week – and would have had all three had they not conceded with a deflected goal in the sixth minute of injury time.

West Brom have managed two victories in the last three outings against Bournemouth and we feel that a draw would be the best the visitors can hope for. We are happy to take the Cherries on, however. [SM]

VERDICT: WEST BROM 2 BOUNEMOUTH 0 @ 13.00

BEST BET: WEST BROM TO WIN @ 2.40

NEWCASTLE v ASTON VILLA

Newcastle (2.05) are coming off two fine league results. Steve McClaren’s men followed their home win against Liverpool with a magnificent 2-1 away win against Tottenham last weekend, which saw Ayoze Perez net an injury-time winner.

PEREZ.jpg
Perez: Late winner

It has been a different story for Aston Villa (3.75) with Remi Garde still without a win since taking over as manager. Villa are coming off a 2-0 loss to Arsenal where, in truth, they were lucky not to lose by a far wider margin.

Jack Grealish made a substitute appearance last weekend, after a three-week lay-off for his off-field misdemeanours. The talented young playmaker is already vital to Villa and will need to be at his best on and off the field if his side are to avoid relegation this season.

All of the last three meetings between these sides have ended with less than three goals being scored.

With that in mind, we fancy a low scoring encounter at St James Park. [CC]

VERDICT: NEWCASTLE 1 VILLA 0 @ 7.50

BEST BET: UNDER 2.5 GOALS @ 1.85

WATFORD v LIVERPOOL

Watford (4.00) are continuing to surprise everyone. Quique Sanchez Flores was a surprise appointment, but has guided the Hornets to seventh place in the league after 16 games, with many already feeling as though they will avoid relegation comfortably.

DEENEY & IGHALO.jpg
Ighalo and Deeney: Prolific

Liverpool (2.00) got out of jail last weekend. The Reds found themselves 2-1 down at home to West Brom, only for Divock Origi to score a 96th minute leveller to rescue a point for Jürgen Klopp’s side.

The Hornets have won three consecutive league games and have two men to thank for the streak. Odion Ighalo and Troy Deeney are the in-form Premier League strike-force, with at least one of the pair scoring each of Watford’s last seven games.

Liverpool have won all of the last five meetings between the sides and, in truth, The Hornets don’t have a great home record against the ‘bigger’ Premier League teams. Watford have already lost to both Arsenal and Manchester United at Vicarage Road this season.

Therefore, we are going for an away win here. [CC]

VERDICT: WATFORD 1 LIVERPOOL 2 @ 8.50

BEST BET: LIVERPOOL TO WIN @ 2.00

SWANSEA v WEST HAM

Swansea (2.05) have beaten West Ham (3.60) just once in 10 previous meetings but are falling like a stone, with one win in the last 12 Premier League games and have not won at home since August.

Andy Carroll.jpg
Key man: Andy Carroll

Garry Monk has done a good job with limited resources but in this results-driven business, he was asked to find employment elsewhere and the Swans may well have a new man in charge before this fixture. It could give the hosts an immediate lift.

After their good start, an injury crisis appears to have hit the visitors hard. Consequently, West Ham have not won since October 24 and are struggling for goals.

Slaven Bilic’s side have drawn three of their last four, which is commendable considering their ever-lengthening injury list. The boss has brought forward their training ground relocation by six months because of the standard of the training pitches and any team would suffer a dip in form losing quality players like Enner Valencia, Dimitri Payet, Mario Lanzini, Diafra Sakho and Victor Moses.

The onus will be on the oft-injured Andy Carroll to spark a West Ham revival. He has always been a valuable source of goals when required and if it were not for the injury crisis, he would be a cut-price prime target for another club in the January transfer window.

The Swans are unbeaten in their last three home meetings with West Ham, but we will still chance the visitors, who are playing with a little more freedom than the edgy hosts. [SM]

VERDICT: SWANSEA 1 WEST HAM 2 @ 12.00

BEST BET: WEST HAM OR DRAW @ 1.70

ARSENAL v MAN CITY

Arsenal (2.40) went to the top of the table on Sunday, ending a good week, which also saw them make the last 16 of the Champions League.

Kevin De Bruyne.jpg
Making City tick: Kevin De Bruyne

Manchester City are not in the best form, but they are grinding out wins. After being beaten at Stoke, they looked second-best for long periods against Borussia Munchengaldbach in the Champions League and Swansea in the Premier League, but won with late goals in each.

They look nervous in defence without skipper Vincent Kompany and lacking in ideas without Kevin De Bruyne pulling the strings. While they have had more shots on target than any other team in the Premier League, they also miss Sergio Aguero’s cutting edge up front.

It is telling that City have kept seven clean sheets in the eight games Kompany has played, but they have not kept one in the eight he has missed.

The Gunners have won just two of their last eight home meetings with Man City (2.87) but are on a run of four without defeat to the Citizens, their best run of form since 19 without defeat against them from 1992-2006.

Arsene Wenger’s side have lost once in the last 10 Premier League games, while City have picked up just two points from a possible 12 on the road.

These are the types of games that Arsenal have to win to be considered title contenders. A tough call, but we fancy Arsenal to shade it. [SM]

VERDICT: ARSENAL 3 MAN CITY 2 @ 23.00

BEST BET: ARSENAL WIN AND BOTH TEAMS SCORE @ 4.20 

Stay tuned to our WordPress site for Previews and Betting Guides on a variety of Sports….

Get your club, however large or small, its own tailor-made betting service – FREE – and start benefiting now! See myclubbetting.com for details.

You must be 18+ in order to bet. Please gamble responsibly http://www.gambleaware.co.uk

WEEKEND BETTING PREVIEW – MCB’s Premier League Guide

Your improved club betting service will be arriving within days. In the meantime, we look to continue our good run and, complete with industry average odds, take a glance at the big matches at both ends of the Premier League…

MAN UTD v WEST HAM

There is a little more unrest at Old Trafford than there is at the Boleyn Ground. While Manchester United (1.44) may be winning with regularity and are in contention for the title, supporters are bemoaning the lack of attacking football and expected easy-on-the-eye style.

Diafra Sakho3
Big loss: Diafra Sakho

West Ham’s (7.00) bright start has faltered in the last few weeks, as injuries to key players pile up. Diafra Sakho looks likely to miss the next few weeks, along with Dimitri Payet, who is ruled out for three months.

West Ham have won at Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool and Crystal Palace this season, but those wins seem a distant memory.

They have not won in four outings and have won one of the last 16 meetings with the Red Devils, their last win at Old Trafford coming 10 years ago.

Man Utd are unbeaten in the last six and while they are similarly short of strikers, West Ham look toothless at present.

We take the hosts to chisel out a routine win, with over 2.5 goals suggested at evens. [SM]

VERDICT: MAN UTD 3 WEST HAM 0 @ 11.00

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 2.00 

CHELSEA v BOURNEMOUTH

Seven defeats in 14 games. That is the worst start for any defending champions since Ipswich in 1961-62. This is Chelsea’s (1.40) worst start since 1978 – and they were relegated that year.

Diego-Costa
Attitude: Diego Costa

Yet they have managed to pick up four points for their last two outings, despite scoring just once. The frustration was evident in the goalless draw at Tottenham on Sunday with Diego Costa throwing his bib in the direction of manager Jose Mourinho, having been made to sit on the bench.

Bournemouth (9.00) came back from the dead to secure a point at home to in-form Everton last weekend but remain in the relegation zone with just two wins to their name since gaining promotion.

The Cherries have been hit hard by injuries yet at least their no-name team has a togetherness that appears to be sorely lacking from Chelsea’s vastly expensive superstars.

While going well in the Champions League, the Blues’ domestic form needs a lift and they should get it here. We plump for a win by two goals or more on the handicap at evens. [SM]

VERDICT: CHELSEA 2 BOUNEMOUTH 0 @ 7.00

BEST BET: CHELSEA -1 @ 2.00

ARSENAL v SUNDERLAND

Sunderland have moved out of the bottom three following two-back-to-back wins, but their chances of making it three on the bounce are not good if history is a guide.

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal
Injury woes: Wenger has limited options

For the Black Cats have not won at Arsenal since November 1983 – a span of 16 visits without success. In fact, Arsenal have tasted defeat in just two of the last 25 meetings.

The lengthening injury list is a concern for Arsenal boos Arsene Wenger, who will hope his squad comes out of this unscathed with such an important Champions League clash at Olympiakos coming up next Wednesday.

The Gunners were dealt another major blow in their bid for a first Premier League title in 12 years when Laurent Koscielny and Alexis Sanchez both exited from their 1-1 draw at Norwich with what looked to be serious looking muscle injuries.

Santi Cazorla also played the second half ‘on one leg’ according to Wenger.

The depth of the squad has been a major issue over the past few season, but something is out of the ordinary where Arsenal’s amount of injuries is concerned.

They have not won in three, but with the two Manchester clubs and Leicester also dropping points, the Gunners are just two points behind the leaders in fourth place.

Sunderland brought Sam Allardyce in to preserve their Premier League status, but while victories over Crystal Palace and Stoke offered some respite, they have a tricky period upcoming with games against Watford (H), Chelsea (A), Man City (A) and Liverpool (H) before the turn of the year.

Arsenal know what the drill is – try and break down a team that will be happy to park the bus and come away with a point.

If, however, they score early, there should be a little more freedom for the hosts to exploit. We anticipate a comfortable home win, despite the injuries.

VERDICT: ARSENAL 4 SUNDERLAND 0 @ 12.00

BEST BET: ARSENAL WIN TO NIL @ 2.00

SWANSEA v LEICESTER

Leicester (2.63) have played just three teams who currently occupy the top six and have failed to win any of those games, losing once and drawing twice.

Garry-Monk
Garry Monk: On borrowed time

For all the lauding of striker Jamie Vardy, the fact remains that Leicester are in a false position.

With two more winnable games upcoming – Chelsea (H) next week – they should remain in the top four until Christmas at least. Everton (A), Liverpool (A) and Manchester City (H) might make it a less-than-festive Christmas for the Foxes, however.

Swansea (2.63) are on the slide with just one win in 10 (that at bottom club Aston Villa) following their 1-0 defeat at Liverpool last weekend and we can see manager Garry Monk carrying the can should they lose their next three games, which include a trip to Manchester City and the visit of West Ham.

Clashes between these two have always provided a positive result – the last seven meetings saw the home side winning on each occasion. In fact, on their three trips to Swansea, Leicester have failed to score on each occasion.

Leicester are unbeaten on their travels and have scored at least twice on their last five road trips. They are set up to play on the break, with Vardy’s pace proving a key component.

This is a difficult game to call, but the Swans are sinking towards the foot of the table at a rapid rate and a point may be the best they can hope for and the odds of 2.30 for a draw are fair.

VERDICT: SWANSEA 1 LEICESTER 1 @ 12.00

BEST BET: LEICESTER AND DRAW @ 1.44

WATFORD v NORWICH

Both sides have done remarkably well since coming up from the Championship and we expect both to be safe at season’s end.

Troy Deeney
Buzzing: Watford striker Troy Deeney

This may not appear to be the most attractive Premier League game of the weekend, but one thing this fixture has invariably provided is goals. No less than 17 of the last 189 meetings has yielded three goals or more.

It looks an all-too-obvious punt again this weekend and the bookmakers are taking something of a chance by offering evens (2.00) for over 2.5 goals to be scored.

Norwich have taken the last two meetings, doing the double last term with 3-0 wins at home and on the road.

Watford have usually had the better of things at home, losing just two of the last 11 meetings to the Canaries. The visitors have won back-to-back games at Vicarage Road just once in their history – and there was an eight-year gap in between those two wins.

Norwich are just three points off of safety, following their 1-1 draw with Arsenal in which they missed a couple of good opportunities to take all three points.

Watford have won three of their last five, with their two defeats in that run coming at the hands of top-four sides Leicester and Manchester United.

While the Over 2.5 goals looks tempting, we feel both sides to score looks more attractive. Only once has there been three consecutive meetings where one or other has failed to net (1989-95) and we see Watford stealing the points.

VERDICT: WATFORD 2 NORWICH 1 @ 8.50

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 1.67

STOKE v MAN CITY

Mark Hughes did not look a happy man after his side were beaten at Sunderland last weekend. Influential skipper Ryan Shawcross was controversially sent-off with the game at 0-0 and Stoke (5.50) subsequently capitulated, eventually losing by two goals to nil.

MARK HUGHES.jpg
Hughes: Frustrated

It was a completely different story for Manchester City (1.65) who dominated in their 3-1 home win against Southampton. That said, it did come at a cost, as key man Sergio Aguero came off injured late in the game.

Goals aren’t usually on the agenda when these two meet. Six of the last eight meetings between Stoke and Manchester City have resulted in less than three goals being scored. It is also worth noting that Stoke have only conceded seven league goals at the Britannia Stadium all season.

Those statistics, coupled with Sergio Aguero’s probable absence through injury leads us to believe that this one will be a low-scoring affair. [CC]

VERDICT: STOKE 0 MAN CITY 2 @ 8.00

BEST BET: UNDER 2.5 GOALS @ 2.00 

SOUTHAMPTON v ASTON VILLA

Southampton (1.45) are coming off consecutive league defeats and, in truth, they have struggled for consistency all season. Ronald Koeman’s side looked lacklustre in their defeat at Manchester City last week and could have lost by a far heavier score-line on any other day.

PELLE
Pelle: Greatly missed

It has been a baptism of fire for Remi Garde. Aston Villa (8.00) are currently bottom of the league table after their home defeat to Watford and are now favourites to be relegated this season.

Graziano Pelle was most definitely missed by Southampton last week. Pelle was suspended for Southampton’s trip to The Etihad and although his replacement, Shane Long, managed to get on the scoresheet, he was not able to offer the same hold-up play and quality as the imposing Italian.

Jack Grealish was omitted from the first team squad against Watford, due to a breach of ‘club discipline’. While neutrals are applauding Garde for his firm actions towards the young talent, the vast majority of Villa fans feel that Grealish is simply too important to be dropped – especially during the club’s current plight.

Southampton have struggled to dominate the so called ‘weaker’ teams this season and have only managed to win a game by more than a single goal on four occasions so far. With that in mind, we see the home side winning, but only by a narrow margin. [CC]

VERDICT: SOTON 2 ASTON VILLA 1 @ 9.00

BEST BET: ASTON VILLA +2 @ 1.55

WEST BROM v TOTTENHAM

West Brom (4.50) are starting to turn things around after a shaky start to the season, with their last two performances being particularly impressive. The Baggies followed their 2-1 home win against high-flying Arsenal with a battling draw away at West Ham last week.

ALDERWEIRELD
Alderweireld: impressive

Tottenham (1.85) are on quite a run. Mauricio Pochettino’s side got a decent point at home to Chelsea last weekend, and are still without defeat in the league since the opening day of the season.

Tony Pulis has a habit of resorting to defensive tactics against the more attacking sides in the league. This was particularly evident in the 0-0 draw at home to Southampton earlier in the season, when the Baggies seemed happy to sit back and take a point, rather than trying to win the game. Southampton and Tottenham have very similar possession-based styles, so we really wouldn’t be surprised to see the Pulis employing similar tactics on Saturday afternoon.

Much of Tottenham’s success has been down to their solidarity in defence, with Toby Alderweireld being particularly impressive so far this season. The Belgian international was bought into the club over the summer after a fine season at Southampton, immediately slotting into the centre of defence alongside fellow countryman Jan Vertonghen.

Tottenham may have a fine record at The Hawthorns, but we still fancy West Brom to hold Pochettino’s men to a draw here – at the very least. [CC]

VERDICT: WBA 1 TOTTENHAM 1 @ 7.00

BEST BET: WBA AND DRAW @ 1.95 

NEWCASTLE v LIVERPOOL

These two sides are currently at opposite ends of the Premier League form table.

KLOPP
Klopp: Great start

Liverpool (1.70) have lost just once in all competitions since Jürgen Klopp took over as manager, and although many expected them to be more convincing against Swansea last weekend, they still got all three points.

On the other hand, Newcastle (5.25) are in wretched form. The Magpies were beaten 5-1 at Selhurst Park last weekend, and have lost eight league games already this season, conceding a staggering 30 goals in the process.

Liverpool are unbeaten away from home in the league under Klopp, recording impressive victories at Stamford Bridge and The Etihad along the way.

Meanwhile, Newcastle have won just one league game at home all season and have only beaten Liverpool on one occasion in their last six meetings.

Everything points to an away victory here and we are following the stats, even if the price is a little too short. [CC]

VERDICT: NEWCASTLE 1 LIVERPOOL 2 @ 8.00

BEST BET: LIVERPOOL TO WIN @ 1.70

EVERTON v CRYSTAL PALACE

Last week, Everton (2.00) were involved in arguably the game of the season so far. Roberto Martinez watched his side throw away a two-goal lead at Bournemouth, but that wasn’t the end of the drama. After being pegged back, Ross Barkley scored in the 95th minute to make it 3-2, only for Bournemouth to dramatically level again in the 97th minute.

LUKAKU & BARKLEY
Barkley and Lukaku: in form

Crystal Palace (3.75) were dominant in their 5-1 over Newcastle last weekend, in a game that Alan Pardew would have been delighted to win.

Pardew and Martinez both favour attacking football, which makes these two sides among the most exciting to watch in the entire league.

Everton will be hoping that Barkley and teammate Romelu Lukaku can continue their lethal link-up play, with the two being responsible for the vast majority of their team’s goals this season.

Palace have won on both of their last two visits to Goodison Park, and we fancy them to get at least a draw on Monday night. [CC]

VERDICT: EVERTON 2 C. PALACE 2 @ 14.00

BEST BET: C. PALACE AND DRAW @ 1.80

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WEEKEND BETTING PREVIEW – MCB’s Premier League Guide

Your improved club betting service will be arriving within days. In the meantime, we look to continue our good run and, complete with industry average odds, take a glance at the big matches at both ends of the Premier League…

ASTON VILLA v WATFORD

Remi Garde will probably deserve manager of the year honours should he manage to prevent Aston Villa (2.63) from relegation.

Olympique Lyonnais football team?s Head
Remi Garde: Plenty to work on

They are five points adrift of safety after a 4-0 thrashing by Everton, which extended Villa’s winless sequence to 12 games. They have lost 10 times in that span.

Watford’s (2.75) solid start to life in the Premier League has come off the rails a little with three defeats in the last five, albeit to three of the top four in Arsenal, Leicester and Manchester United.

They caused Manchester United plenty of problems last Saturday, before losing to a last-minute goal, but their record against Villa is not a good one – having won just three of the last 14 meetings. They have never won at Villa Park, either.

Despite Villa’s defeat at Everton, it must be remembered that they held Manchester City to a 0-0 draw in Garde’s first game in charge and the Villa faithful invariably make it an intimidating place to go.

Villa simply have to win this to avoid being cut further adrift, particularly with games upcoming against Southampton (A), Arsenal (H), Newcastle (A), West Ham (H) and Norwich (A) before the year is out.

We are not sure how they are going to do it and, given their form, quite how we can justify the selection is bordering on the questionable. Call it whimsy or perhaps it is something dodgy we have eaten, but gut feeling says a home win in on the cards. [SM]

VERDICT: ASTON VILLA 2 WATFORD 1 @ 10.00

BEST BET: ASTON VILLA TO WIN @ 2.63

BOURNEMOUTH v EVERTON

Eddie Howe will still be reeling after Bournemouth (2.75) threw away a two-goal lead at Swansea last weekend. Goals from Josh King and Dan Gosling put the Cherries 2-0 up at the Liberty Stadium.

Matt Ritchie.jpg
Matt Ritchie: Setting up goals

However, they surrendered that lead shortly after, eventually drawing the game 2-2.

It was a completely different story for Roberto Martinez and his Everton (2.55) side, who were totally dominant in their 4-0 win over struggling Aston Villa at Goodison Park.

Matt Ritchie is the key man for Bournemouth. The Scottish international has assisted 19 goals since the start of last season – only Cesc Fabregas has provided more assists in England’s top leagues, with 20 in the same period.

It has been a wonderful start to the season for Ross Barkley. The Everton playmaker endured a tough time last season, but has bounced back with some fine performances during this campaign, netting five times in the league already.

Everton have only lost once away from home all season, while Bournemouth have just one home Premier League win thus far. Everything points to an away win here. [CC]

VERDICT: BOURNEMOUTH 0 EVERTON 2 @ 14.50

BEST BET: EVERTON TO WIN @ 2.55

CRYSTAL PALACE v NEWCASTLE

It is fair to say that Alan Pardew was less than popular with the Geordie faithful during his time as Newcastle (5.00) manager.

SACK PARDEW
Careful what you wish for: Newcastle fans vented

After months of scrutiny and negativity, Pardew eventually chose to leave the Northeast club in January, in order to take the vacant manager’s job at Selhurst Park, with a club close to both his heart and his home.

Crystal Palace (1.70) have come on heaps and bounds since the appointment of Pardew, finishing 10th in the Premier League last season, despite being in the relegation zone when he took over.

It has been a completely different story for the Newcastle. John Carver took the managerial reigns from Pardew and immediately found himself being dragged into a relegation battle.

Carver then left the club in the summer after narrowly avoiding relegation last season, before being replaced by Steve McClaren who, in all honestly, hasn’t fared any better. The Magpies have only won two league games all season and find themselves in a lowly 17th position.

The two sides clashed three times in all competitions last season, sharing a staggering 13 goals during those meetings.

That fact, combined with the poor defensive record possessed by Newcastle this season leads us to believe that Palace will win here, in a game containing more than two goals. [CC]

VERDICT: PALACE 2 NEWCASTLE 1 @ 8.50

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 1.80

MAN CITY v SOUTHAMPTON

Such was their abject display in a 4-1 home defeat, Manchester City (1.53) made an ordinary Liverpool side suddenly look like world-beaters. The fact is, they are far from it.

Nicolas Otamendi3
In-form: Nicolas Otamendi

City were playing without injured captain Vincent Kompany, but leaving in-form Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho on the bench was either a laughable error of judgement by manager Manuel Pellegrini or simply a gamble – resting them after their exertions for South American countries – that back-fired.

Either way, it is unrealistic to expect the defensive partnership of Elaquim Mangala and Martin Demichelis to produce anything other than the result it did.

City have won just one of their last four Premier League games, which is hardly the stuff champions are made of.

Southampton (6.00) suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat by Southampton – their third loss of the season at home. The Saints have yet to be beaten away from home, however, winning twice and drawing four times.

The Saints have not won at The Etihad since 2004, suffering defeat on all five subsequent visits, and all five saw three or more goals scored.

We take City to get back on track with a routine win and hand Southampton their first road defeat of the season. [SM]

VERDICT: MAN CITY 3 SOUTHAMPTON 1 @ 12.00

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 1.62

SUNDERLAND v STOKE

Sam Allardyce will be delighted after picking up his second win as Black Cats manager on Monday night. Jermain Defoe grabbed a vital late winner at Selhurst Park to give Sunderland (3.25) all three points, lifting them above Bournemouth in the table.

Patrick Van Aanholt1
Struggling: Patrick Van Aanholt

Stoke (2.35) are beginning to find form after a shaky start to the season. The Potters are coming off two momentum-building league victories which saw them beat Chelsea at home before getting an impressive three points away at Southampton.

There is no doubt that Sunderland look a far more organised outfit under Allardyce.

However, they do still lack quality. Patrick Van Aanholt is starting to look low on confidence and has had no end of problems so far this season. The former Chelsea full-back was given at torrid time by Wilfried Zaha at Selhurst Park and the Mackem faithful are beginning to lose patience after a string of poor individual performances from the Dutchman.

Bojan is most definitely a man in form. The technically-gifted Spanish striker returned from a long-term injury earlier in the season and has scored vital away winners against Swansea and Southampton in recent weeks.

Stoke haven’t been involved in a game containing more than two goals since their 2-1 win over Bournemouth in September – and we expect that run to continue at the weekend. We are going for a low-scoring draw here. [CC]

VERDICT: SUNDERLAND 1 STOKE 1 @ 7.00

BEST BET: UNDER 2.5 GOALS @ 1.6 

LEICESTER v MAN UNITED

Let’s start with the obvious. Leicester (3.40) are in a false position at the summit of the Premier League table.

Jamie Vardy
Top striker: Jamie Vardy

Take a look at just who they have played. With the exception of Arsenal (to whom they lost), they have not played any of last season’s top four and in their 13 games, nine of them have come against sides in the bottom half of the table. Let us see how much of the current lauding of manager Claudio Ranieri and striker Jamie Vardy there is at the end of the season.

Man Utd (2.10) are a point behind the Foxes in second place and while we are not saying they will win the league, their current price of 5.00 to do just that seems generous.

They look a back-to-lay proposition.

While United have injury problems, particularly up front, they have lost just three of the last 26 meetings with Leicester.

The Foxes are catching United at the right time and the Leicester love-in may well continue a little while yet.

United are the obvious bet, but we would be happy to lay them, with Leicester and Draw on the Double Chance market at 1.57 suggested. [SM]

VERDICT: LEICESTER 1 MAN UNITED 1 @ 6.50

BEST BET: LEICESTER AND DRAW @ 1.57

TOTTENHAM v CHELSEA

At the start of the season, many would have been staggered to hear that Tottenham (2.25) would be going into a game with the champions as clear favourites. Spurs are the in-form side in the Premier League, currently occupying fifth place after going unbeaten since their opening day loss at Manchester United.

Harry Kane
In form at last: Harry Kane

On the other hand, Chelsea (3.00) are in real trouble at the moment. The Blues were less than convincing in their narrow home win against Norwich last time out and find themselves at the bottom end of the league table after a wretched start to the season.

Harry Kane has turned the corner after a slow start to the season and now finds himself in fine form. The England striker has scored seven times in his last four league appearances and will be looking continue that against a Chelsea defence that has already conceded 23 times this season.

That said, the champions have a wonderful record against Spurs, only losing once in the last 12 meetings between the two London sides.

With that in mind, we fancy Chelsea to get at least a point at White Hart Lane. [CC]

VERDICT: TOTTENHAM 1 CHELSEA 2 @ 11.00

BEST BET: CHELSEA AND DRAW @ 1.55 

WEST HAM v WEST BROM

West Ham (1.91) are worthy of their top six place, given they have beaten the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City on the road.

But without talisman Dimiri Payet, West Ham produced a gutless performance at Tottenham last Sunday. In contrast, West Brom (4.00) saw off title aspirants Arsenal.

Diafra Sakho
Welcome return: Diafra Sakho

The Hammers will be out to avenge a spineless 4-0 FA Cup fifth round defeat at The Hawthorns last February, while the visitors will be keen to snap a six-game winless streak at Upton Park, which equals their worst run in trips to East London (from 1961-67).

West Ham’s home form has not been so productive. Despite the return of Pedro Obiang, Diafra Sakho and Alex Song from injury, the loss of Payet and Enner Valencia is immense.

However, we still reckon the Hammers will be in the top 10 at season’s end and odds of 1.83 to do that are fair.

The Throstles are not so much ‘Boing Boing’ as ‘Boring Boring’, but they have won three of their six road games this season.

They have drawn six of the last nine meetings with the Hammers, and while the hosts are a much better side, the visitors are catching them at the right time. Consequently, the Hammers can be laid at 1.83. [SM]

VERDICT: WEST HAM 1 WEST BROM 2 @ 13.00

BEST BET: WEST BROM AND DRAW @ 1.83

LIVERPOOL v SWANSEA

We can’t be the only ones thinking about how ironic it would be should Liverpool (1.50), formerly managed by Brendan Rodgers, defeat a Swansea (7.00) side who could (if speculation is correct) sack Garry Monk and hasten the return of Rodgers as manager.

daniel sturridge
Outstanding talent: Daniel Sturridge

Swansea have won one of their last nine Premier League games and confidence appears to be draining form the side, if their 2-2 home draw with Bournemouth is taken at face value. Their sole win in that span came at struggling Aston Villa and they have tough games upcoming against Leicester (H), Manchester City (A) and West Ham (H).

Readers of this column will have noted that Liverpool’s win at Manchester City was not wholly unexpected. The return of striker Daniel Sturridge should see a further upturn in form, especially given their run of pre-Christmas opponents, all of whom occupy the lower reaches of the division: Newcastle (A), West Brom (H), Watford (A). We can see them encamped in the top four by the end of the year.

While we still feel Liverpool’s defensive frailties will ultimately cost them a trophy, Swansea have not managed a win in the last seven meetings and this looks a routine win for the hosts. [SM]

VERDICT: LIVERPOOL 3 SWANSEA 1 @ 12.00

BEST BET: LIVERPOOL -1 @ 2.38

NORWICH v ARSENAL

In truth, neither of these sides are coming into this game with any real momentum.

Mesut OZil
Record setter: Mezut Ozil

Norwich (6.00) find themselves dangerously close to the foot of the table after losing five of their last six league games.

Arsenal (1.55) suffered a shock defeat at West Brom last weekend and have only managed one win of their last five games in all competitions. The last meeting between these sides was back in May 2014 and ended in a 2-0 Arsenal win at Carrow Road.

Mesut Ozil set a new Premier League assist record last weekend. The German’s cross to Olivier Giroud for Arsenal’s goal at The Hawthorns allowed him to become the first player in Premier League history to record at least one assist in seven consecutive games.

Of the last nine meetings between these sides, only two have ended with less than three goals being shared. It is also worth noting that five of Arsenal’s seven away league games this season have resulted in more than two goals being scored.

Considering those stats, we fancy Arsenal to win in a relatively high scoring encounter. [CC]

VERDICT: NORWICH 1 ARSENAL 3 @ 13.00

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 1.65 

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