WEEKEND BETTING PREVIEW – MCB’s Premier League Guide

We managed to get five out of 10 best bests over the line last week with our Premier League predictions – but we did nail a juicy 10/1 correct score winner.

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

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.

Wenger 1.jpg

ARSENAL v HULL CITY

Saturday, 12.30pm

Back-to-back Premier League defeats to Watford and leaders Chelsea have put Arsenal (2/7) 12 points behind the Blues, and despite Liverpool’s awful run of form, they are only a point behind the Gunners in the race for fourth place.

There used to be a time when teams actually wanted to win the title, rather than seeing fourth or fifth place as a triumph and we are reminded that fourth place is simply third of the losers. With Arsene Wenger out of contract in the summer, there could be a change at the top, but the probability (in our estimation at least) is that he has already told the board that he will walk away as their most successful manager in the club’s history.

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has been touted as the next man in, but with all the speculation, you can see things starting to unravel. This season is beginning to look like another opportunity missed.
Hull (10/1) have beaten Bournemouth, Manchester United and Liverpool in recent weeks, but remain in the bottom three, having won just once on the road this term. They have only ever beaten Arsenal once and have failed to score at the Emirates in four of their last six visits. This should be a routine win for the Gunners, but with plenty going on behind the scenes, this may spill over onto the pitch, because we know how fragile the psyche of a pampered modern-day pro can be, don’t we?

VERDICT: ARSENAL 3 HULL CITY 0 @ 13/2

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

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MANCHESTER UNITED v WATFORD

Saturday, 3pm

Whilst they have only lost once at Old Trafford in the League, Manchester United (1/4) are off the pace because they have drawn half of their 12 games on their own patch. Even the likes of Burnley and West Brom have picked up more than United’s 21 home points. Watford (11/1) have been toddling along quite nicely and are in the top half of the table, with probably three wins from their last 14 games assuring them of their place in the top flight for next season. They have won three games on the road but have lost their last five at Old Trafford, and four of those defeats were by margins of two goals or more. They are, however, seeking to do the double on Jose Mourinho’s men, having turned them over 3-1 at Vicarage Road in September. Three wins in the last 20 meetings says the odds are against them historically, but their price is ridiculous given that they won at Arsenal two weeks ago and followed up with a home win against Burnley. We see this being a bit of a struggle for United but Mourinho’s side should come through, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic perhaps again providing hope to old men everywhere.

VERDICT: MANCHESTER UNITED 2 WATFORD 0 @ 9/2

BEST BET: WATFORD +3 GOALS @ 4/9

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MIDDLESBROUGH v EVERTON

Saturday, 3pm

Middlesbrough (11/4) are just a point above the relegation zone in a compact bottom half where six teams are separated by just two points. They have the better goal difference than the teams below them but have managed to win the fewest games in the Premier League (4). However, nine draws from 24 games keeps them above the waterline for now.

It is obvious what their biggest issue is – scoring goals. They have netted just 19 times. On the flip side, only Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United have conceded fewer than Boro’s 27 this season, so keeping it tight and nicking the odd goal may be enough to see them remain in the top tier next term.

Everton (11/10) are only six points behind Merseyside rivals Liverpool, who sit fifth, so the prospect of European football is not fanciful and their away form is solid enough, with four wins and three draws from 12. The Toffeemen have won the last four encounters and seek an unprecedented fifth successive win over Boro, who have won just two of the last 15 meetings. We have a sneaky feeling about this one. While they have not posted a victory in the top flight since the middle of December, they are difficult to break down and Everton struggled to win at Crystal Palace a couple of weeks ago. We’ll take Aitor Karanka’s crew to get a little respite.

VERDICT: MIDDLESBROUGH 2 EVERTON 1 @ 12/1

BEST BET: MIDDLESBROUGH OR DRAW @ 7/10

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STOKE CITY v CRYSTAL PALACE

Saturday, 3pm

Stoke (11/10) are severely tempting at these odds, but it looks like a dog, smells like a dog and would not look out of place if cooked in white sauce at an Asian restaurant. So much as it looks a tempting treat, we tend to ignore such howlers when they bark ‘back me’.

Stoke really should be odds on, not odds against, for their clash with a woeful Crystal Palace (11/4) side who have regressed under Sam Allardyce. The results speak for themselves. Defeats to Arsenal (A), Swansea (H), West Ham (A), Everton (H) and Sunderland (H) has only been brightened by a 2-0 win at Bournemouth since the turn of the year. They have failed to score in four of their last five League outings and were dumped out of the FA Cup, 3-0 at home by Manchester City.

The odds are skewed, perhaps for this reason only: history. Palace have won six of the last seven meetings and drew the other. Stoke have won just one of the last 11 meetings with the Eagles and were thrashed 4-1 at Selhurst Park in September, which seems like a lifetime ago. Palace capitulated at home to Barcelona last week… Wait. We got that wrong. It was Sunderland who led 4-0 at half-time at Selhurst Park, the Black Cats not the Catalan giants, to keep Palace in the bottom three. Stoke had put a nice little run together until beaten by James Morrison’s goal at The Hawthorns last week, securing points against Everton and Manchester United, winning at Sunderland and beating Watford. Their home form has not been bad of late, although Mark Hughes would expect a better return than four wins from 12. They have lost just three times on their own patch, however. Stoke look tremendous value to us. Too good, in fact. Allardyce will expect a reaction and may get it.

VERDICT: STOKE CITY 1 CRYSTAL PALACE 2 @ 12/1

BEST BET: CRYSTAL PALACE OR DRAW @ 8/11

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SUNDERLAND v SOUTHAMPTON

Saturday, 3pm

Sunderland (14/5) could not believe their luck to go in 4-0 up at the break at Selhurst Park last weekend, with on-loan Manchester United striker Adnan Januzaj and Jermain Defoe looking like they had played together forever. Saturday’s win was their first in seven, however, and they remain at the bottom of the table, two points adrift of safety. Sunderland did well to keep Defoe at the club in the transfer window (a nonsense regulation) and his 14 goals (Sunderland have only scored 24) means he alone may be able to keep them up. We still maintain they will fall, but it won’t be the fault of manager David Moyes, either.

Southampton (Evens) stunned us last week losing at home to West Ham, who have a terrible record on the South Coast, despite going a goal up after just 12 minutes. The Saints have reached the League Cup final and that is a distraction. Since beating Liverpool over two legs, they have lost to Arsenal (0-5), Swansea (2-1) and West Ham (1-3). They are seven points off the drop zone but could be just five points in front of Sunderland should they lose this. We don’t expect them to. Six draws in the last 14 meetings says the value play is taking the 12/5 for a stalemate, as Saints do not win here very often (victorious twice in the last 11 trips).

VERDICT: SUNDERLAND 0 SOUTHAMPTON 0 @ 8/1

BEST BET: DRAW AT HT @ 21/10

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WEST HAM UNITED v WEST BROMWICH ALBION

Saturday, 3pm

With a form guide of: WDDWDDD in their last seven meetings at Upton Park, the sensible option would be to take on the Baggies in one shape or form. Except this isn’t Upton Park any longer. This is the London Stadium, which is not a football stadium in our opinion.

No surprise that West Ham (6/5) have struggled to adapt to the cavernous arena, a stark contrast to the tight confines of their former home, which always produced a great atmosphere. Just as Sam Allardy… wait. Perhaps not. They have netted just 1 times at home at a ratio of a goal a game and have leaked 20 – not counting the five than Manchester City put past them in the FA Cup. Had it not been for City’s home drubbings, they would be one of the form teams right now, having won by at least two clear goals against Crystal Palace, Middlesbrough and Southampton. Andy Carroll has been a regular on the scoresheet and the Hammers have climbed to relative safety in ninth, 11 points clear of the drop zone.

Albion (12/5) are five points and a place above the Hammers following their 1-0 win over Stoke and they could be boosted by the return of defender Jonny Evans, who has been slow to recover from a calf injury. James Morrison’s winner against Stoke was his 28th in the Premier League for the Baggies and he will cause an oft-shaky West Ham defence a few problems.

West Brom have won three of their 12 road games but have drawn five others, so we would side with them to take at least a point at (23/10). It would be no surprise should they steal all three, however. The 56,980-odd fans will still turn out in force each week; one thing about West Ham – they enjoy fantastic and loyal support.

VERDICT: WEST HAM 2 WEST BROM 3 @ 40/1

BEST BET: WEST BROM OR DRAW @ 8/13

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LIVERPOOL v TOTTENHAM

Saturday, 5.30pm

Neither team are our favourites. We’d like both to lose each week if we could. A draw would be our happiest outcome, but we will still be miserable that these two teams would each pick up a point. Liverpool (5/4) stopped the rot with a home draw against champions-elect Chelsea and then promptly fell 2-0 at Hull last week. Yet they are still only a point behind fourth-placed Arsenal, so the Champions League is still a possibility, even if the title is slipping out of sight fast.
Tottenham (12/5) are still very much in with a shout of winning the Premier League. That is a horrible sentence to write and I will have to now take a few days off sick to get over it.

There was a time when you could trust Spurs not to win at Anfield. In fact they have won three of their last 30 competitive games there since 1986, the last coming in November 2011.

There is every chance that they could take the points, given Liverpool’s recent form which has seen them win once in the last 10 competitive fixtures – a 1-0 FA Cup replay at Plymouth. Of Division Four (as we know it). They have not won at home in their last five, since beating Manchester City 1-0 on New Year’s Eve. And while we are enjoying ourselves, they should jolly well let Daniel Sturridge join West Ham, where he will be appreciated.

Tottenham have been below-par in recent weeks, too, failing to win Manchester City and Sunderland, whilst scraping past Wycombe in the FA Cup and with a penalty against Middlesbrough last weekend.

Not a fixture we care too much about. It will have top-four implications, but unless you win the title, who wants to be first, second or third losers? Yawn.

VERDICT: LIVERPOOL 1 TOTTENHAM 1 @ 5/1

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 7/10

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BURNLEY v CHELSEA

Sunday, 1.30pm

This was always a good fixture until real football stopped. That was around the mid-Eighties in our opinion, when games in the middle of February were either frozen off or played on either bogs or sand-lots. Yes, we remember the Baseball Ground, we hanker for Stamford Bridge’s quagmires. We liked shirts without advertising, proper football, real tackles, and mesmeric wingers who could ghost past full-backs on any surface, skimpy shorts [think you had better stop there – ED].

Then the TV billions brought in the sharks who could afford to buy clubs and take advantage of the endless supply of revenue. ‘Star’ foreign players were bought. The hype was swallowed by a gullible generation who would never have been allowed out of their parents’ sight, never mind experience the pleasure of kicking a ball against a wall hour after hour. We know the truth. The Premier League is bang average, full of ordinary players ready to fall over at every opportunity in the hope of conning a match official. Over-paid, lacking moral fibre, each possessing an agent. Our distain for the exemplifiers of the ‘me-first’ generation runs deep.

Burnley are refreshingly holding their own in the Premier League – an honest club, great fans and a salt-of-the-earth manager in Sean Dyche. He tells it like it is. And we love him for that.

Burnley have not beaten Chelsea since 1973. We don’t see that trend ending, despite their exceptional home form. The lumps come via gold-plated baseball bats these days. Pity.
And don’t get us started on selfie-sticks. Just don’t.

VERDICT: BURNLEY 1 CHELSEA 3 @ 11/1

BEST BET: CHELSEA WIN AND BOTH TEAMS SCORE @ 12/5

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SWANSEA CITY v LEICESTER CITY

Sunday, 4pm

We never quite understood why Swansea (7/5) ditched three good managers in the space of two years. Brendan Rodgers, Michael Laudrup and Garry Monk all had an expansive style and utilising what flair players they had with great effect. Things have become distinctly forgettable in South Wales since their departure. The Swans have had four different managers in one capacity or another since Monk departed in December 2015 and Paul Clement has a job on is hands keeping them in the top tier.

Leicester (21/10) are suffering a torrid time. They scraped past Derby in the FA Cup fourth round in midweek, needing extra time to do so, but Claudio Ranieri’s humiliation was almost complete when the chairman of the Premier League champions, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (remember this name when playing Scrabble), flew in from Thailand to offer his public backing. Hopefully they won’t be the first champions to be relegated the following season – we hope that accomplishment will befall Tottenham or Liverpool – but it is a distinct possibility, as the Foxes sit just a point above the relegation zone, with Swansea a place below and on the same number of points.

Leicester have failed to win away from home this season and have picked up just three points from their 12 road games. This with a player like Jamie Vardy in their team. How does this happen?

Swansea have looked more organised and cohesive in the last couple of weeks and wins over Southampton and Crystal Palace have boosted morale.

As awful as it seems, we can see Leicester’s troubles increasing here in a clash that has yet to see a draw in the last 10 meetings.

VERDICT: SWANSEA 2 LEICESTER 0 @ 10/1

BEST BET: ONE OR OTHER FAILS TO SCORE @ EVENS

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AFC BOURNEMOUTH v MANCHESTER CITY

Monday, 8pm

Manchester City (4/9) can turn it on whenever it suits them. Usually when they are playing West Ham. Does it have something to do with the fact that their precious millionaires don’t like to get too close to the fans? Intimate grounds can make even Jesus look human. Before those good souls from the… ahem… Christian right who elected Donald Trump get on my case, the Jesus referred to is Gabriel Jesus. Yes, an angel and a saviour! City fans who may have thought Sergio Aguero was the king had better start thinking again. He could be on the way out, with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid the front-runners for his signature.

Jesus, 19, arrived from Palmeiras in Brazil after being signed in the summer. He has scored three goals in four appearances, including a double against Swansea last Sunday and is keeping Aguero out of the side. Though he wears gloves and has ruined his arms with tattoos (a definite no-no for us on both counts), he isn’t a bad player. Time will tell, of course.

Let’s see how he handles the cosy confines of Bournemouth (6/1), whose defence will not doubt be generous again. They shipped six goals at Everton last weekend and have leaked 28 goals in their last nine competitive matches since beating Leicester 1-0 in mid-December. This should be a case of whether or not City’s superstars fancy a trip to the cold South Coast on a Monday night. Their mood will determine how many they will win by.

VERDICT: BOURNEMOUTH 1 MANCHESTER CITY 4 @ 16/1

BEST BET: HT/FT = MAN CITY/MAN CITY @ 4/5


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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

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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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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.

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

WEEKEND 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 – see the great benefits your club can receive, such as 20% cash back and free kit and equipment!

We nailed TWO correct FA Cup scores last week at 9/1 and 6/1 and now look to continue our good run with our Premier League selections. Complete with the odds from your club’s betting service, we take a glance at the big matches at both ends of the Premier League this weekend…

WEST HAM v SUNDERLAND

Sam Allardyce goes back to West Ham (1.83). That will be the over-riding sub-plot to a game that has massive implications at both ends of the table.

jermain Defoe
Dangerman: Ex-Hammer Jermain Defoe

Allardyce did what he was asked to do in his tenure at The Boleyn. He got them straight back into the Premier League, winning the 2012 Football League Playoff final. Finishing positions of 10th, 13th and 12th were not good enough for the fans, who ran Allardyce out of town in June 2015, feeling that his supposedly ‘long-ball’ style was not the “West Ham way” of playing.

In fairness, he was never a good fit. The West Ham fans always saw him as the Bolton manager whose side sent them down in 2002/03, despite the Hammers recording 42 points.

And the stats said change was required. Allardyce won three games in charge of West Ham in 2015, before leaving in the summer. Slaven Bilic won three games in 10 days to start 2016.

The Hammers are flying. In 10 games against seven of the top eight contenders in the Premier League, they have the best record, taking 17 points. Arsenal are next best, having taken 16 points from 10 games, while Leicester have 16 points from 11. They currently sit seventh in the table a point behind fifth-placed Manchester United and seven points outside the top four.

Allardyce’s Sunderland (4.50) are second from bottom but only a point away from safety, and have a better goal-difference than Norwich (17th), Newcastle (18th) and Aston Villa (20th).

They have a tricky run upcoming, facing Crystal Palace (H), Southampton (A) and Newcastle (A) in March. They still have to play the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Leicester, although that trio have to go to the Stadium of Light.

While the Hammers are big outsiders to make the top four, they can have a say in the destination of the title. They still have to play Tottenham (H), Chelsea (A), Arsenal (H), Leicester (A) and Man Utd (H). They are also in the FA Cup quarter-finals. The good news is they raise their game against better opposition. The bad news is, Bilic’s side have lacked consistency against lesser sides: they have lost at Newcastle and Southampton, and drawn at Norwich in recent weeks.

West Ham have lost five of the last 20 meetings with Sunderland, who have won three of the last 16 trips to Upton Park.

However, the Black Cats have one statistic going for them – the Hammers have not managed to stay unbeaten against Sunderland for six consecutive meetings. They are on a run of three draws and two wins. If this stat holds true, you can forget the form. In a good season for Hammers’ fans, this may be one of the more sour notes – losing to the long-ball merchant from Bolton.

More salt in the wound? Ex-Hammer Jermain Defoe will probably score, too! [SM]

VERDICT: WEST HAM 1 SUNDERLAND 2 @ 13.00

BEST BET: SUNDERLAND AND DRAW @ 1.91

LEICESTER v NORWICH

Norwich (6.50) are falling like a stone, are giving up leads and leaking goals. They have shipped 15 goals in the last five Premier League games and have twice thrown away two-goal leads in recent weeks to Liverpool and West Ham. They sit just a point above the relegation zone and you would not fancy them to stay up if in the same position with three games remaining, as their run-in is brutal, facing Arsenal (A), Man Utd (H) and Everton (A).

Wes Hoolihan.png
Good record: Wes Hoolihan

Leicester (1.50) are still two points clear of the pack at the top of the table, despite losing in heart-breaking fashion at Arsenal two weeks ago.

Unlike the Gunners, who are in the middle of a two-legged Champions League last-16 clash with Barcelona, the Foxes are fresh. They have had two weeks to recover and manager Claudio Ranieri has given his players a week off to relax.

With title chasers Tottenham and Manchester City also involved in European competition, there will be no excuses if Leicester fail to maintain their title charge. Yes, they have less squad depth and they have also been extremely fortunate with injuries, but they also boast fresh legs.

Norwich have been something of a bogey side to Leicester in the past. Indeed, they have won six of the last 10 meetings, while Leicester have managed just three wins over the Canaries in 12 attempts.

Wes Hoolihan has been something of a thorn in Leicester’s side, having scored in three of the last four meetings and he may be a fair outside bet to get on the scoresheet once again. Don’t forget, on your club’s betting service, you can get DUBBLE-BUBBLE if your selected first goalscorer grabs a second.

However, Leicester have a month of winnable games ahead, facing West Brom (H), Watford (A), Newcastle (H) and Crystal Palace (A) after this clash, and we think Norwich will do well to keep this close. [SM]

VERDICT: LEICESTER 3 NORWICH 1 @ 12.00

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 1.80

SOUTHAMPTON v CHELSEA

After a wretched spell over the November/December period, Southampton (2.88) have recovered, and are now the in-form Premier League side. Ronald Koeman’s men are unbeaten in all of their last six league outings, winning five of those games to climb into sixth position.

FORSTER
Forster: Top keeper

Chelsea (2.50) are also a side in fantastic domestic form. The West Londoners are coming off a stunning 5-1 FA Cup win over Manchester City last weekend, with interim manager Guus Hiddink losing only one game since his return to Stamford Bridge – a far-from-disgraceful away loss at PSG.

It is absolutely no coincidence that Southampton’s form has improved since goalkeeper Fraser Forster returned to the side. The England international missed the first half of this season with the broken knee-cap he suffered against Burnley last March. Forster is yet to concede a single goal since returning to the Southampton side in mid-January, keeping six clean sheets in a row during that time.

Cesc Fabregas pulled the strings against Man City on Sunday, and appears to be enjoying life under Guus Hiddink. The Spanish international was one of the players who reportedly clashed with Jose Mourinho during his final few weeks at Stamford Bridge, which caused sections of the Chelsea faithful to voice negative chats towards the former Arsenal man. However, in the weeks that have followed, Fabregas has managed to shake off the criticism and looks to be back near his best after some fine recent performances.

Despite losing in the reverse fixture, Chelsea have a fine recent record against Southampton. The Blues have won seven of the last 12 meetings between the clubs, losing only twice.

It is also worth noting that both sides have managed to get on the scoresheet in nine of the last 10 meetings, including all of the last three.

With that in mind, we fancy an away win here – with both teams finding the net at some point. [CC]

VERDICT: SOUTHAMPTON 1 CHELSEA 2 @ 10.00

BEST BET: CHELSEA WIN & BTTS @ 5.25

STOKE v ASTON VILLA

Stoke (1.67) were convincing winners against Bournemouth in their last outing, ending a run of four straight league defeats in the process. Consistency has been the main issue for the Potters so far this season. Mark Hughes and his men find themselves in tenth position, despite winning 10 games already this season.

AFELLAY
Affelay: Happy in new role

Relegation is looking like a near certainty for Aston Villa (6.00) after their crushing 6-0 defeat at home to Liverpool in their last league outing. The Midlanders are rooted to the foot of the table, and are now eight points from safety with just 12 games remaining.

Before arriving at Stoke in the summer, Ibrahim Afellay was known solely as an out-and-out winger.

However, the form of Marko Arnautovic and Xherdan Shaqiri in wide areas, and injuries to supporting strikers Jonathan Walters and Bojan have led to the former Barcelona man being used in central areas – either in midfield or as a number ten. This has proved hugely successful, with Afellay’s technique and work rate winning praise from his manager and plaudits alike.

Offensively, Aston Villa have been appalling this season. Remi Garde’s men have scored just 20 goals in 26 league games so far this season, and have failed to score in 11 of those games. Much of this has been down to the form of their strikers, with Rudy Gestede, Gabby Agbonlahor and Jordan Ayew sharing just 10 goals between them.

Stoke have won four of the last five meetings between these clubs, while Villa have only claimed one away victory during this entire league campaign.

Everything points to a convincing home win here. [CC]

VERDICT: STOKE 3 ASTON VILLA 0 @ 11.00

BEST BET: STOKE TO WIN @ 1.67

WATFORD v BOURNEMOUTH

Two of the three sides who came from the Championship are well on the way to preserving their status and it is Watford who look the most secure.

DEENEY & IGHALO
Double trouble: Ighalo and Deeney

Rule of thumb says that 37 points is usually gets a club over the line and Watford (2.30) are just a point shy with 12 games remaining. They currently sit in ninth place in the table and are in the FA Cup quarter-finals, although there has to be a question of whether or not they will be able to replicate this fantastic performance next term once they lose striker Odion Ighalo.

The prolific marksman has pricked the interest of clubs across Europe. Little wonder. The Nigerian striker has netted 15 times in 25 starts for the Hornets and continues to thrive in partnership with Troy Deeney. Ighalo’s partner-in-crime, who arrived from Walsall in 2010, has set up six goals and scored nine himself in 28 League and Cup starts.

What has been most refreshing has been the football both these sides have played. Watford have been expansive under manager Quique Sanchez Flores and they are also keeping plenty of clean sheets (as respective 1-0 FA Cup wins over Newcastle, Nottingham Forest and Leeds attest).

Many expected Bournemouth (3.20) to struggle, especially when they lost Callum Wilson for the season early on with a ruptured cruciate ligament. The former Coventry striker had scored five goals in six games before being injured against Stoke in September, which had some big clubs taking note.

With the club’s two most expensive signings, winger Max Gradel and defender Tyrone Mings, also ruled out with knee ligament damage, the prospects for Eddie Howe’s side looked bleak.

Yet despite a run that has seem then lose the last three games in all competitions, the Cherries are 15th in the table, four points above 18th-placed Newcastle, and have a superior goal difference to all those below them except Swansea. That may be crucial at the season’s end.

Bournemouth have a fair recent record against the Hornets, winning one and drawing three, but their sole win came at home and that was their only victory in the last eight meetings.

Watford are going well after a patchy opening to 2016 when losing four league games on the spin. They have won two of the last nine in the League, losing five of them.

This is not an easy game to weigh up and it may be worth chancing the visitors to take a share of the spoils, although this is not a game to have a fortune on. [SM]

VERDICT: WATFORD 2 BOURNEMOUTH 2 @ 15.00

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 1.83

WEST BROM v CRYSTAL PALACE

You get the impression things are starting to implode at West Brom (2.63).

All it takes is one disgruntled fan and a few who empathise but don’t throw coins.

pulis
Seeking talks: Pulis

West Brom have won one of their last six league games and were dumped out of the FA Cup by lower-league opposition last weekend. They have won two of their last 11 in all competitions.

Baggies’ fans are obviously concerned by the manner of defeat and the slide in the table which leaves them just six points above the relegation zone.

They are by no means out of the woods, but how the squad reacts to the disgraceful and unacceptable behaviour of coin-throwing at their own players going forward is a question many will ponder. There are 12 games remaining and although seemingly just a win or two from safety, already there is a picking of the thread.

Manager Tony Pulis is refusing to commit his future to the club. His contract expires in 2017 and he came under criticism from fans after their 3-1 FA Cup exit at Reading.

The coin-throwing incident, which he deemed “barbaric” (rightly), may have been the final straw.

With Saido Berahino a valuable commodity, will Pulis be given assurances that the bulk of any transfer money go towards strengthening the squad? It may have a large bearing on his decision to stay or leave.

Crystal Palace (2.88) have looked in freefall since Christmas. They have failed to win any of their last nine league games (losing six) since Boxing Day and have scored just four goals in the process. Their FA Cup win at Tottenham was a welcome lancing of the boil and several big-name players have returned to full fitness.

Reaching the FA Cup semi-finals is a realistic possibility as they face Championship Reading – one of Alan Pardew’s former teams – in the next round.

Confidence is everything and the result at White Hart Lane could be catalyst for a strong run, starting at The Hawthorns.

Palace have 32 points, the same as West Brom, but despite their poor run, there is a totally different (positive) vibe at Selhurst Park. Palace, who have won three of the last five meetings with west Brom, have only lost one of their last seven trips to The Hawthorns, and have winnable games at Sunderland and at home to Liverpool upcoming. This game could be a pivotal one for both clubs going forward, and we feel Palace will pick up at least a point. [SM]

VERDICT: WEST BROM 1 CRYSTAL PALACE 3 @ 29.00

BEST BET: CRYSTAL PALACE WIN, DRAW NO BET @ 1.95

MAN UNITED v ARSENAL

Clashes between Wenger, Ferguson, Keane and Vieira first come to mind whenever this fixture is mentioned, and whilst the hostility between the two clubs has decreased of late, a win at Old Trafford is still vital for both teams.

WELBECK VS MAN UTD
Welbeck: Facing former club

Louis van Gaal is on borrowed time. Manchester United (3.10) have won just two of their last six league games, currently finding themselves six points adrift of the Champions League qualification places.

After their dramatic late win over leaders Leicester in their last league outing, Arsenal (2.40) find themselves back in the title race. However, their squad depth will be tested to the max in March, with away games against Tottenham, Barcelona and Everton all on their agenda during the next four weeks.

The lack of fluidity in transition from back-to-front has really hindered Manchester United so far this season. In years gone by, United have focussed on plotting attacks from the middle of midfield, with the likes of Paul Scholes and the above mentioned Roy Keane both taking games by the scruff on a regular basis, providing both front men and wingers with quality delivery, as well as a constant passing option.

In all honesty, their current crop don’t look up to the challenge. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Morgan Schneiderlin and Marouane Fellaini all seem to take an age to move the ball from the centre of midfield, often finding themselves passing sideways or losing possession altogether.

Both sides have managed to find the net in three of the last four meetings between the two.

It is also worth noting that the Gunners have avoided defeat in both of their trips to Old Trafford last season, drawing the league game and winning their FA Cup quarter final after Danny Welbeck scored the winner against his boyhood club.

We are going for a scoring draw here. [CC]

VERDICT: MAN UNITED 1 ARSENAL 1 @ 6.00

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 1.91

TOTTENHAM v SWANSEA

In their last league outing, Tottenham (1.44) well and truly confirmed themselves as title challengers after winning 2-1 away at Manchester City.

DEMBELE
Dembele: In form

However, the North Londoners were really poor in last weekend’s FA Cup exit to Crystal Palace and Mauricio Pochettino will have to ensure that the surprising home defeat doesn’t have a negative effect on the playing staff.

Francesco Guidolin has steadied the ship since taking over at Swansea (7.50) in late January. The experienced Italian guided the Swans to an impressive win away at Everton in his first game in charge, and has only overseen one loss since taking over.

Mousa Dembele has rediscovered his top form this season. The Belgian international appeared unfit and slightly heavy during the previous two campaigns, with many of the Tottenham faithful criticising his work rate on a regular basis. However, the new, slimmed down version of Dembele has been amongst Tottenham’s best performers so far this season. On his day, the Belgian midfielder can be almost unplayable, combining a dominant physical presence with excellent technical ability and vision.

Clashes between these two sides are rarely boring. Six of the last nine meetings between Tottenham and Swansea have ended with more than two goals being scored, while all but two of those nine meetings have ended with both sides getting on the scoresheet.

The reverse meeting ended in a 2-2 draw, with Christian Eriksen grabbing a stunning brace and Harry Kane scoring a spectacular own goal. However, Tottenham haven’t lost to Swansea since 1991, winning eight of the last ten meetings between the clubs.

Everything points to a convincing home win here. [CC]

VERDICT: TOTTENHAM 3 SWANSEA 1 @ 13.00

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 1.95

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.com, 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 http://www.gambleaware.co.uk

 

WEEKEND 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 – see the great benefits your club can receive, such as 20% cash back and free kit and equipment!

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 this weekend…

MAN CITY v LEICESTER

Leicester (6.50) are continuing to surprise everyone, and are amazingly still in the title race with just 14 games to play.

HUTH AND MORGAN
Morgan and Huth: Solid

Manchester City (1.45) have been dominant at home so far this season, only losing two league games at The Etihad during the entire campaign.

They may not be the most mobile pair in the league, but centre backs Wes Morgan and Robert Huth have both been magnificent for the Foxes this season. What they both lack in pace, they more than make up for in aerial ability, which is particularly evident during set pieces at both ends of the field. Leicester rarely look like conceding from such situations and both men are also more than dangerous when attacking corners from inside the opposition penalty area.

On Monday, Manchester City announced that Pep Guardiola would be taking over from Manuel Pellegrini at the end of the season. While many may see this affecting the City squad in a negative manner, we actually feel as though it will have the opposite effect. It is no secret that Pellegrini is hugely popular with the current squad, and we expect them to do their utmost to ensure that the Chilean signs off with a Premier League title at the end of this season.

In truth, Leicester have a wretched recent record against Saturday’s opponents. The Foxes haven’t beaten City since 2003, and have been on the losing side in four of the last five meetings between the sides.

It may be a short price, but everything points to a home win here. [CC]

VERDICT: MAN CITY 3 LEICESTER 1 @ 10.00

BEST BET: MAN CITY TO WIN @ 1.45

LIVERPOOL v SUNDERLAND

Consistency has been a real problem for Liverpool (1.33) since Jürgen Klopp took over as manager. While the Reds have impressively won away at the likes of Chelsea and Man City during the Germans tenure, they have also suffered disappointing home results against the likes of Crystal Palace and West Brom.

EMRE CAN
Emre Can: Flourishing

Sunderland (9.50) are in the middle of an extremely tough period, with Saturday’s game sandwiched between home games against the two Manchester sides. That said, they will be boosted when they analyse their run-in. After their clash with Man United next weekend, the Black Cats only face two of the current top five during the remainder of the season.

Emre Can has gone from strength-to-strength under Jürgen Klopp. The young German found himself playing in defensive roles under previous manager Brendan Rodgers, however, in the period since being re-instated into his favoured central midfield role, Can has looked like Liverpool’s best player.

Jordan Pickford is looking like the answer to Sunderland’s endless goalkeeping problems. The local lad was recalled from a loan spell at Preston earlier this season, before being named in the starting eleven for an FA Cup tie against Arsenal a few days later. Since then, Costel Pantilimon left the club for Watford, leaving Pickford in direct competition with the error prone Vito Mannone.

Three of Liverpool’s last five home league games have ended with under three goals being scored. It is also worth noting that all of the last three meetings between these two sides have ended in 1-0 victories for Liverpool.

With those stats in mind, we are going for a low scoring home win here.

VERDICT: LIVERPOOL 2 SUNDERLAND 0 @ 6.00

BEST BET: UNDER 2.5 GOALS @ 2.05

ASTON VILLA v NORWICH

Aston Villa (2.30) may be rooted to the foot of the Premier League but history would suggest that they can drag Norwich (3.10) further into the mire. For Villa have won six of the last nine meetings with the Canaries and have lost just two of their last 14 clashes.

Jordan Ayew
Ayew: Let down the club, fans and teammates

Villa Park has not been a happy hunting ground for Norwich, who have won on one of their last 11 visits.

Things are becoming desperate for City, who have lost their last four. Defensively, they have looked all over the place, shipping 14 goals in their last four games after their 3-0 home defeat by on Tottenham on Tuesday evening.

Things don’t get any easier for Alex Neil’s side in the next few weeks, with games against West Ham (H), Leicester (A), Chelsea (H), Swansea (A) and Manchester City (H). They will do well to win two of those games.

Villa started to show signs of life under Remi Garde. They were by far and away the better side at Upton Park on Tuesday night until Jordan Ayew stupidly got himself sent off after 17 minutes. West Ham duly rolled to a 2-0 victory and heads were down at the final whistle. All seems lost for the Midlanders.

This game could be do-or-die for Villa, as their upcoming games are against sides in the top half of the table: Liverpool (H), Stoke (A), Everton (H), Manchester City (A) and Tottenham (H).

The Canaries will seek their first league double over the Villains since 1993 and Villa’s record against Norwich cannot be ignored. Therefore, we take them to eke out a welcome home win. [SM]

VERDICT: ASTON VILLA 2 NORWICH 0 @ 10.00

BEST BET: ASTON VILLA TO WIN @ 2.30 

NEWCASTLE v WEST BROM

On balance, Newcastle (1.91) have done well in their dealings before the Transfer Window was closed. Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend, though expensive, are decent players.

Seydou Doumbia
Rolling the dice: Seydou Doumbia

Their loan move for Roma and Ivory Coast striker Seydou Doumbia may look a bit of a gamble but the likelihood is the signing may be a shrewd one. Toon needed someone to convert the chances they have been making and they were thwarted in their bid to sign Saido Berahino from West Brom (4.00).

Transfer business was a little quieter for West Brom, although they bolstered their midfield options with the loan signings of Sandro from QPR and Alex Pritchard from Tottenham.

The latter cold be a steal. Prtichard scored 12 goals in 47 appearances for Brentford last season and has been knocking on the door of Tottenham’s first-team, although an ankle injury has scuppered the chance of more experience.

Newcastle have won four of the last eight meetings with the Baggies but they have only lost once in their last 12 meetings at St James’ Park.

Many are predicting that West Brom will maintain their top-flight status, but they are not out of the woods yet. Their upcoming games are difficult: Everton (A), Crystal Palace (H), Leicester (A), Manchester United (H) and Arsenal (A), and their current 9/1 offer to be relegated might start to look a little big by the end of the month.

Newcastle may be worth backing, given their recent history with the Baggies. [SM]

VERDICT: NEWCASTLE 2 WEST BROM 1 @ 8.00

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 2.00

STOKE v EVERTON

There is no doubting that Stoke (2.50) are a far better side when playing at The Britannia. Mark Hughes and his men have lost just four games at home all season, beating both Manchester clubs and Chelsea along the way.

BUTLAND
Butland: Outstanding

Things haven’t exactly gone to plan for Everton (2.75) and Roberto Martinez this season. The Toffees currently find themselves languishing in mid-table after struggling for consistency throughout the campaign.

Jack Butland has been the best goalkeeper in the Premier League this season. When Asmir Begovic departed for Chelsea in the summer, many questioned whether the young Englishman could adequately step into the number one jersey. However, Butland has looked beyond his years throughout the campaign, and is now beginning to put real pressure on Joe Hart within the England setup.

Everton have really struggled in defence this season. Phil Jagielka has been absent for long periods and in truth, Ramiro Funes Mori has looked out of his depth when deputising next to John Stones. With this in mind, we were very surprised to see Martinez overlook the centre back area during the transfer window.

Stoke have won in all of the last three meetings between these sides, and haven’t lost to Everton since 2013.

That stat, combined with Stoke’s home form means we are more than happy to lay the home side, who look far too short here. [CC]

VERDICT: STOKE 1 EVERTON 1 @ 6.00

BEST BET: STOKE OR DRAW @ 1.40

SWANSEA v CRYSTAL PALACE

Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason why one team will beat another. Inexplicably, form can go out the window. West Ham, for instance, have always struggled with Everton, Bolton and Reading. Arsenal can’t handle Chelsea and neither can Tottenham. Every club has them.

Guidolin
Guidolin: Galvanising effect

Swansea (2.20) have been Kryptonite for Crystal Palace (3.40). The South Wales club have lost just once to the Eagles in their last nine meetings. Furthermore, the Swans have lost just once to them at home.

Palace have not been in sparkling form of late, either. The snuck past a tired Stoke in the FA Cup, but prior to that had lost four consecutive league games, managing just one goal and conceding 11. They were beaten 2-1 at home by Bournemouth on Tuesday as well.

Swansea are encamped in a relegation battle but they have lost two of their last seven outings. Two consecutive wins took them out of the bottom three and to relative safety.

On paper, the sale of Jonjo Shelvey to Newcastle looked a head-scratching move, but the arrival of coach Francesco Guidolin appears to have had a galvanising effect upon the squad.

Swansea are 7/2 to be relegated with My Club Betting but while they will take their lumps in the next two games against Tottenham (A) and Arsenal (H), they have winnable fixtures after that against Norwich (H), Bournemouth (A) and Aston Villa (H).

Their run-in is horrific, however. We still think they are in danger of falling.

A win against Palace will ease the immediate pressure but we are going against the historical grain somewhat by picking Alan Pardew’s men to get back on track. [SM]

VERDICT: SWANSEA 0 CRYSTAL PALACE 2 @ 15.00

BEST BET: CRYSTAL PALACE TO WIN @ 3.40 

TOTTENHAM v WATFORD

Tottenham (1.44) have a very impressive home record during this campaign. The North Londoners have lost just two league games at White Hart Lane this season, picking up a solid 22 points from their 12 home games so far.

Everton v Tottenham Hotspur - Barclays Premier League
Top talent: Alli

Watford (7.00) now look sure of Premier League survival. The Hornets are nearly at the illusive 40 point mark after a fantastic season so far, with a top ten finish now looking far more likely than relegation.

Dele Alli has become a fixture in Tottenham’s first team over the last few months. Alli has impressed many with his high work rate and technical ability, however he also has an eye for a goal. The young midfielder has netted on seven occasions so far this season, with the highlight being a wonder goal at Selhurst Park two weeks ago.

That said, Mauricio Pochettino will be concerned about the youngsters level of discipline. Alli seems to have a petulant streak, often getting himself into needless confrontations and argument, something that will need to be nipped in the bud by his manager before it becomes a real issue.

Mario Suarez was re-united with his former manager when he signed for Watford in the January transfer window. Quique Sanchez Flores worked with Suarez at Atletico Madrid, and will be hoping that the Spanish international can provide the centre of Watford’s midfield some well needed quality.

Watford have a decent goal scoring record away from home this season and whilst we are in no doubt that Tottenham will win this one, we do expect Watford to get on the scoresheet. [CC]

VERDICT: TOTTENHAM 2 WATFORD 1 @ 8.50

BEST BET: BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 2.10

SOUTHAMPTON v WEST HAM

Southampton (1.62) have won two of the last seven home meetings with West Ham (6.00), who have held sway in recent times, losing just twice to the Saints in their last 10 meetings.

Charlie Austin
Slighted: Charlie Austin has a point to make

Four of the last five meetings at St Mary’s have ended in a draw.

Manager Slaven Bilic has a few injury concerns, particularly up front, and with the carrot of a potentially winnable FA Cup fifth round trip to Championship Blackburn on the table, he may feel that next Tuesday’s fourth round replay at home to Liverpool is a priority.

The Hammers sit sixth a point behind Manchester United and five points above seventh-placed Southampton, who earned a good point at Arsenal on Tuesday.

The Saints are on a roll, having won their previous three games to nil before preventing Arsenal from registering, and are looking certain of a top 10 finish.

Throw in the fact that Saints’ striker Charlie Austin has felt slighted by West Ham’s failure to buy him and suggestions from West Ham co-owner David Sullivan that the striker has no ligaments in his right knee, we think he has a point to prove. He may be a great first goalscorer bet, where our great Dubble-Bubble and Hat-Trick Fan-Tastic applies.

We take the Saints to win. [SM]

VERDICT: SOUTHAMPTON 2 WEST HAM 0 @ 6.50

BEST BET: SOUTHAMPTON TO WIN @ 1.62

BOURNEMOUTH v ARSENAL

Bournemouth (3.50) were beaten 2-0 in the first meeting at the Emirates in late December and for all the lauding of young manager Eddie Howe, it was always going to be a struggle for the Cherries to retain their top-flight status.

Alexis Sanchez
Back to fitness: Alexis Sanchez

Though they have lost just two of their last 12, the Cherries are still mired in a relegation scrap and are currently 6/1 to go down, although a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace on Tuesday will have eased the pressure.

Arsenal cannot afford to drop too many more points as they bid for their first Premier League title since 2004. Worryingly, perhaps, no side allowed their opponents more shots on target in January than the Gunners (24, level with Sunderland).

But there are many reasons why Arsenal fans have every reason to think this will be their year, as outlined by Calum Chinchen on his excellent Yahoo.com post.

The Gunners have suffered a blow with the loss of Tomas Rosicky, who only returned after a knee problem before Saturdays FA Cup win over Burnley, he suffered a thigh injury which is expected to keep him out for a couple of weeks at least.

However, Alexis Sanchez looks like he is getting a lot sharper, having been out since November with a hamstring problem and the arrival of Mohamed Elneny can only be a plus.

Bournemouth have only lost four of their first 11 home league games, but they have only won three.

Arsenal are not likely to slip up here and can maintain their title push.

VERDICT: BOURNEMOUTH 1 ARSENAL 2 @ 9.00

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 2.05

CHELSEA v MAN UNITED

In truth, neither of these two sides have performed to expectation so far this season.

ZOUMA
Zouma: Complete defender

Chelsea (1.95) are still in the bottom half after a disastrous start to the campaign, while Manchester United (4.00) have struggled to excite and currently find themselves chasing a top four place rather than challenging for the Premier League crown.

John Terry announced last weekend that he would be leaving Stamford Bridge at the end of the season, and whilst this has been a blow for many fans, the form of a certain young defender at the club has softened the blow.

Kurt Zouma has been Chelsea’s best defender this season. The young Frenchman looks to be the complete defender, combining strength and pace with outstanding technical ability. Zouma has cemented a first team place this season, leaving Terry and his fellow Englishman Gary Cahill to fight for the remaining centre back birth.

Wayne Rooney is starting to rediscover his goal scoring form of late. The England captain has scored braces in recent games against Newcastle and Derby – something that will need to continue if United are going to secure a top four position this season.

Chelsea are unbeaten in all of their last nine meetings with United and it is also worth noting the Blues have kept five clean sheets in the last seven clashes between the two sides.

With that in mind, we see a very low scoring encounter at Stamford Bridge and wouldn’t be surprised if a goalless draw was the outcome here. [CC]

VERDICT: CHELSEA 0 MAN UNITED 0 @ 7.50

BEST BET: CHELSEA CLEAN SHEET @ 2.20

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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

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 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 – see the great benefits your club can receive, such as 20% cash back and free kit and equipment!

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 this weekend…

NORWICH v LIVERPOOL

Norwich (4.00), thumped 3-0 at Bournemouth last weekend, have found life tough adjusting to the Premier League and they may well need a couple of significant signings to galvanise them. Alex Neil has been attempting to sign Everton’s Steven Naismith who will certainly provide guile and hopefully a few goals for the Canaries.

Klopp embarrassing
Celebrating a draw: Klopp and Liverpool

At the time of writing, the deal has yet to be finalised, but he would be a significant arrival as they bid to avid a relegation scrap.

Last week’s poor result was out of character for a team that has done well in recent weeks, with home wins against Aston Villa and Southampton. It will be their home form that keeps them up and they are unbeaten in their last five games at Carrow Road. But their next five at home (Tottenham, West Ham, Chelsea and Manchester City follow) are difficult. We will know a lot more about their status for next season by mid-March.

Liverpool (1.95), ninth in the table and eight points away from a top-four spot, have lost just two of their last 11 trips to Norwich. They have scored at least three goals against the Canaries in five of the last six meetings.

Jurgen Klopp’s sideline antics are already starting to get annoying and his wild celebrations in front of fans after late comeback draws against West Brom and Arsenal were, frankly, laughable. Act like you have been there before, perhaps?

He is taking the attention away from his under-performing side, however, which can only be a good thing. But his act will get pretty old, pretty fast, if the Reds do not address their form. Their last three Premier League wins were all single-goal successes, but two wins and four defeats in their last eight league games makes it difficult to see them playing in the Champions League next season.

Still, Norwich are lacking in confidence after two straight defeats and Liverpool will have the pressure off them following their midweek League Cup semi-final exploits. We see Liverpool taking the points. [SM]

VERDICT: NORWICH 1 LIVERPOOL 3 @ 15.00

BEST BET: LIVERPOOL TO WIN @ 1.95

CRYSTAL PALACE v TOTTENHAM

Crystal Palace (3.50) are not in the greatest form. In their last six games, Alan Pardew’s men have only managed one victory – losing both of the last two without getting on the scoresheet.

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Hennessey: Struggling

Tottenham (2.15) are looking near certainties to finish in the top four this season, with Mauricio Pochettino’s men only losing three league games so far this season. This has been down to their remarkable defensive record, with Spurs conceding just 18 goals thus far – the best of all Premier League clubs.

Wayne Hennessey has had a week to forget. The Welsh international goalkeeper made a terrible mistake in his side’s surprise defeat at Villa Park a week ago, before conceding four at Man City last time out.

Palace are also struggling at the other end of the field. The Eagles have failed to score in five of their last six games and have only scored 23 league goals all season.

Sadly, encounters between these sides rarely excite or produce goals. Of the last five meetings between Palace and Tottenham, only one has finished with more than two goals being scored.

When you consider past meetings, Tottenham’s defensive record and the lack of attacking threat from Palace, you only get one outcome – a low scoring away win. [CC]

VERDICT: C. PALACE 0 TOTTENHAM 1 @ 7.00

BEST BET: UNDER 2.5 GOALS @ 1.70 

LEICESTER v STOKE

Leicester (2.05) may be sitting pretty in the top two, but history would suggest they will face a tough test from a Stoke side looking to push into the top six. For the Foxes have won just three of the last 13 meetings with the Potters and they have won just two of the last 11 home meetings with Stoke.

Vardy celebrates
Plenty to celebrate: Vardy and Leicester

Leicester have drawn three of their last four Premier League games but their sole defeat in their last 15 league games came against Liverpool (1-0 at Anfield on Boxing Day).

For all the lauding of striker Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, it appears that Claudio Ranieri has shored up a previously leaky defence; Leicester have conceded just once in two of their last five league games.

Stoke (3.75) were a little unfortunate not to beat Arsenal last weekend and settled for a goalless draw, but they are still just six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham and Europe is still an achievable goal for Mark Hughes’s entertaining side.

Outside of the top four, Stoke possess the best defensive record in the division, having conceded just 22 times at an average of exactly one goal per game, and while the Foxes have lost just once at home, they have often had trouble breaking sides down at the King Power Stadium. In their last six home league games, they have managed to score more than once on just two occasions and have been held scoreless in their last two.

Stoke created plenty of chances against the Gunners and Leicester’s goal famine is unlikely to continue, so we look for a bit of value. We are going against the obvious for a bit of value, believing there will be a few goals. [SM]

VERDICT: LEICESTER 2 STOKE 2 @ 17.00

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 2.15

MAN UNITED v SOUTHAMPTON

Louis van Gaal will be breathing a huge sigh of relief after his side’s late winner at Anfield last weekend. In truth, Manchester United (1.83) were lucky to beat Liverpool and will be thanking keeper David de Gea after his string of saves during the first half.

Charlton Athletic v Queens Park Rangers - Sky Bet Championship
Austin: Bargain

Southampton (4.50) finally look to be turning things around. Prior to their game last Wednesday, the Saints had lost three in a row. However, consecutive wins and clean sheets against both Watford and West Brom has seen them rise into the top 10.

Wayne Rooney is beginning to find goals again. The England skipper endured a torrid start to the season, but after five goals in his last four appearances, Rooney appears to be re-finding his confidence in front of goal.

Finding the net has been a huge problem for Southampton this season, with strikers Shane Long and Graziano Pelle sharing just 11 goals between them during the campaign. That may have prompted Ronald Koeman to purchase the prolific Charlie Austin, who arrived from QPR for a bargain £4m over the weekend.

In truth, Southampton have a woeful record against Man United, winning just two of the last 18 meetings between the sides.

We are going for a routine home win here. [CC]

VERDICT: MAN UNITED 2 SOTON 0 @ 7.50

BEST BET: MAN UNITED TO WIN @ 1.83

SUNDERLAND v BOURNEMOUTH

Sunderland (3.10) seem to be taking one step forward and two steps back at the moment. The Black Cats have only recorded consecutive league wins on one occasion this season – something that will need to change if they are going to avoid relegation.

AFOBE
Afobe: Prolific

Bournemouth (2.38) are in great form and now look like strong candidates to avoid relegation. Eddie Howe’s men have only lost two of their last 11 games and now find themselves three places clear of the relegation zone.

Conceding goals has been a huge issue for Sunderland, who have by far the worst defensive record in the Premier League. Central defenders John O’Shea, Sebastian Coates and Younes Kaboul all lack pace, which opposition attackers have highlighted and exploited so far this season.

Benik Afobe arrived at Bournemouth last week for a club-record fee. The ex-Arsenal man had a shaky debut against West Ham, but followed that with a goal and solid performance against Norwich last time out.

As good as Bournemouth have been of late, we just feel their price is far too short for this away trip and we are more than happy to lay them here. [CC]

VERDICT: SUNDERLAND 1 BOURNEMOUTH 1 @ 6.00

BEST BET: SUNDERLAND OR DRAW @ 1.57

WATFORD v NEWCASTLE

Newcastle (3.75) finally got their just rewards for a string of decent performances when beating West Ham 2-1 last weekend. Watford lost their fourth successive league game when going down 1-0 at Swansea, having lost successive home games to Tottenham and Manchester City and at Southampton. Both home defeats were a little unfortunate, as they were sunk by late goals.

Troy Deeney
Deeney: Fair price

Their failure to bounce back on Monday night, losing at Swansea, has underpinned what had been a remarkable feat in their first season back in the top flight.

Newcastle have lost seven of their last 10 away games and have only managed a league-low five goals away from St James’ Park in 10 road games and have shipped 21. Clearly, Steve McClaren knows there is still plenty of work to be done.

Watford (2.10) knocked Newcastle out of the FA Cup, with a 1-0 third-round victory earlier this month, having also won 2-1 at Newcastle in September. They have not managed to win three consecutive meetings since they first met in 1984.

Troy Deeney has scored seven goals in his last 14 appearances in all competitions and it was is goal that meant Newcastle’s silverware drought continues. Deeney is 4/1 to score the first goal, but those who bet via their club’s My Club Betting service can take advantage of a great offer – if you successfully back him to score first and he goes on to score a second, your will get double the odds. If he scores a hat-trick, you will receive treble the odds.

Newcastle’s lack of goals away from home means we cannot justifiably back them. Watford are a better side than many give them credit for and we see them getting back on track. [SM]

VERDICT: WATFORD 2 NEWCASTLE 0 @ 9.00

BEST BET: WATFORD TO WIN @ 2.05

WEST BROM v ASTON VILLA

West Brom (2.05) do not have the greatest record against Midlands rivals Aston Villa (3.80). In fact, the Baggies have won just four of the last 22 meetings and just two of the last 10 at home.

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One the scoresheet: Fletcher

Villa are still 10 points adrift of safety, marooned at the bottom of the league with just two wins from 22 games, but they have taken four points from their last two games, beating Crystal Palace and drawing with Leicester.

Both those games were at Villa Park, but their away from has been poor, losing eight of their last 10 road games and picking up two points from a possible 30.

Currently thirteenth in the table, West Brom lost their first game in five when being taken apart 3-0 by a suddenly resurgent Southampton last weekend. That, together with their poor recent history with Villa, is why they are odds against when form suggests they should perhaps be odds-on.

The Baggies have not won away since beating Norwich 1-0 in October, but they are not reliant on one man doing the business up front, which is a good thing. They are getting goals from all manner of positions, with Craig Gardner, James McClean, Jonny Evans, Darren Fletcher, Gareth McAuley, Craig Dawson and Jonas Olsson all on the scoresheet in recent weeks.

Villa are showing signs of life and the odds say they are likely to get something out of this game. But we still believe that West Brom are too big a price to ignore and they should be 4/5 chances at least. Given our view compared to the bookmakers’ line, we would probably swerve this game if we had to. West Brom should win. The odds suggest they won’t. So we will take Villa to get something out of this, even though the selection goes against every fibre in our betting bones. [SM]

VERDICT: WEST BROM 2 ASTON VILLA 2 @ 17.00

BEST BET: ASTON VILLA OR DRAW @ 1.70

WEST HAM v MAN CITY

Slaven Bilic has become a real fans’ favourite at Upton Park. His no-fear approach to games against the bigger sides in the league has won hearts and mind, and this was particularly evident when West Ham (5.00) surprised everyone with a win at The Etihad earlier this season.

SILVA
Silva: Fully fit again

Manchester City (1.70) were wonderful in their 4-0 win over Crystal Palace last week and are now firm favourites for this season’s Premier League crown.

The right-back spot is starting to become a real issue for West Ham, with Carl Jenkinson looking like a shadow of the player he was last season. His dip in form caused Bilic to favour playing centre back James Tomkins out of position which, in truth, has proved unsuccessful. With that in mind, we really wouldn’t be shocked if the Hammers moved for a right back during this transfer window.

David Silva looked back to his best against Palace last weekend. The Spanish playmaker has struggled with injury all season. However, he now looks to be fully fit again. His link-up play with striker Sergio Aguero and winger Kevin De Bruyne was breathtaking against Palace, something that will need to continue if City are going to be crowned Champions in May.

These two sides are among the highest scorers in the league this season – sharing 77 goals between them so far.

With that in mind, we fancy a high-scoring encounter on Saturday evening. [CC]

VERDICT: WEST HAM 1 MAN CITY 2 @ 8.50

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 GOALS @ 1.75

EVERTON v SWANSEA

Swansea (5.25) gave themselves a lifeline with a gritty 1-0 win over Watford on Monday evening – their first win in 18 league games – but they are still just a point above the relegation zone and will hope for an immediate lift as former Udinese boss Francesco Guidolin takes charge.

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Draw frustration: Martinez

The fact remains that they have won just once away from home and only Aston Villa have a worse away record than the Welsh club.

Everton (1.70) are better than their current 11th place in the table would suggest. Roberto Martinez’s side are playing a brand of football that highlights everything that is good about the Premier League. Results have not reflected this, however. The Toffeemen have just six wins but they have drawn half of their 22 games, including their last three outings.

And a stalemate has been the outcome in the last three meetings with Swansea, who seek only their second ever victory over Everton. They have lost four and drawn three of their seven previous trips to Goodison Park.

Everton were very unfortunate not to have come away from Stamford Bridge with all three points last weekend, a blatantly offside John Terry equalised in the sixth minute of added time, to hand Chelsea a 3-3 draw.

Holding leads has been a problem for Everton, who have just one win in the last nine. The tide should soon turn, however, and they have a few winnable games upcoming. They can take the points here. [SM]

VERDICT: EVERTON 2 SWANSEA 0 @ 7.50

BEST BET: EVERTON TO WIN @ 1.70

ARSENAL v CHELSEA

In truth, nobody expected Arsenal (2.05) to be 19 points and 13 places above their bitter London rivals Chelsea (3.75) with less than half the season remaining.

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Giroud: On song

Arsene Wenger will be slightly disappointed after his side failed to win either of their last two away outings. The Gunners conceded late to draw 3-3 at Liverpool, before struggling to break down Stoke at The Britannia, with Sunday’s game eventually finishing goalless.

Interim Manager Gus Hiddink appears to have re-united the playing staff since taking over from Jose Mourinho in late December, with Chelsea unbeaten in all of the seven games he has overseen so far.

Olivier Giroud is a man bang in form. The French striker has turned out some wonderful performances recently, with most notable of these coming against Liverpool last week. Giroud used his physical strength and hold up play to great effect at Anfield, something a Chelsea defence who have conceded five goals in two games will need to be very wary of.

That said, the Gunners have a wretched recent record against the Champions. Arsenal have won just one of the last 10 meetings between the sides and Chelsea haven’t lost at the Emirates since 2010. Both sides are coming off successive Premier League draws and we see both having to settle for a point again on Sunday afternoon. [CC]

VERDICT: ARSENAL 1 CHELSEA 1 @ 6.00

BEST BET: CHELSEA OR DRAW @ 1.73

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