Premier League Preview - Game Week 28

Thursday, February 22 2018


Just the nine Premier League matches this weekend, so I’ve chucked in the EFL Cup Final too. You’re welcome.

The Tap Ins are included regardless of price, so I’d reserve them for topping up Accas at best. Or even bypass them totally. 

The Smart Money bets are the best way of dredging a bit of value out of the bookies. And any Long Shots are decent priced punts that have some statistical merit. 

All Scorecasts are priced up too.  

Tuck in…

12.30pm Leicester City v Stoke City

Leicester’s season is over, really. They are comfortably trapped between the ceiling of seventh place and the trap door to relegation quicksand of 11th. But Stoke would swap places right now…
Just 2pts from the last eight away trips has left the Potters up to their pods in Bottom Three bother. Paul Lambert has tightened things up a bit - their two wins and a draw in the last four is their best form of the season (no, really!). But not enough to suggest getting anything out of this one.   
The Foxes have are pretty sly at home v teams outside the Top Four, with six wins from nine (D2 L1) – five of them To Nil. Make that seven and six.
Scorecast: 2-0 – 7/1.
Tap in: Home Win at 7/10.
Smart Money: Leicester & Under 3.5 Goals at 29/20.
3pm Bournemouth v Newcastle United
Scatty lot, these two…
Just when you thought Bournemouth’s total football (on a shoestring) had played them into a nice mid-table cruise-to-the-finish-line mode, they get their pants pulled down and their Huddersfield. (That’s a play on words, by the way. And a bloody good one. You’re welcome).  
Likewise, Newcastle’s outmuscling of Man United last time out forces you to wonder whether some players are picking their matches. So both sets of players are under a bit of character scrutiny here. But both are in the tidy form – just one defeat in eight for Toon and 15pts from a possible 24 for Bournemouth. I reckon both would take a point apiece.
Scorecast: 1-1 – 11/2.
Tap in: Both Teams to Score at 3/4.
3pm Brighton v Swansea City 
A proper six-pointer at the Amex. Brighton punch their weight at home, only losing to Top Four teams so far. But their aversion to scoring goals and keeping clean sheets means they draw too many matches. Well, perhaps it’s too soon to say categorically ‘too many’, but if they fancy Premier League status next season this needs to be a 3-pointer rather than another 1-pointer.
Swansea are a team on the up, but they love a draw. They are five from five on the road, including three FA Cup ties against lower league opposition. Suspect they would take another here though. And I reckon they’ll get one.
Scorecast: 1-1 – 5/1.
Tap in: Brighton Draw No Bet at 4/9.
Smart Money: Draw & Under 2.5 Goals at 5/2.
3pm Burnley v Southampton
Surely Dyche can’t keep a lid on it if Burnley don’t win this one…
Despite a run of 11 without a win, Sean’s gravelly post-match mood has been unfailingly positive. Perhaps he’s in on the dark sorcery that has kept Burnley in 7th spot even though their last win was 12 weeks ago. It puts them ten places above Southampton – and they’ve only lost once at home to a team below them. But you wouldn’t put the farm on them at the moment.
The Saints are unbeaten in five on the road, winning their last two (all comps). Okay, okay, they were both against West Brom but they have only surrendered maximum points once (to Liverpool) in their last eight. But I can’t keep backing draws with 2/1 available on offer for the Home Win… 
Scorecast: 1-0 – 6/1.
Tap in: Double Chance - Burnley or Draw at 1/2.
Long Shot: Burnley & Under 2.5 Goals at 4/1.

3pm Liverpool v West Ham
Before you throw the deeds to your house, the car and the kids over the bookmaker’s counter on the banker of the week Home Win, consider this…
West Ham are unbeaten in their last three trips to Anfield (W1 D2). But have shipped eight in the last two at home, so perhaps just the car and the kids - ‘when the fun stops, stop’ and all that.  
They are already talking new contracts and summer recruitment at West Ham, but Moyes’ rescue mission is not quite complete yet. Like everyone in the Bottom Half they are only two defeats away from the drop zone. And this looks like one of them. And could put Liverpool into second.  
Scorecast: 3-1 – 9/1.
Tap in: Home Win at 2/9.
Smart Money: Liverpool & BTTS at 17/10.

3pm West Brom v Huddersfield Town
Could be Taxi for Pardew this weekend. Or maybe not. Hear me out…
This is the first of six winnable matches for Albion. Leicester, Burnley, Swansea at home, Watford and Burnley away present an opportunity for 18pts which would almost certainly be enough to stay up. But there is no room for error, because they then face Man United, Liverpool and Tottenham in final month. And that lot won’t be mucking about on the run-in. So the meters running…
Huddersfield will have plans for the 3pts on offer too, of course. But a pitiful 5pts from 12 away trips – failing to score in ten of them – says Home Win to me. And the bookies agree.
Scorecast: 2-1 – 8/1.
Tap in: West Brom Draw No Bet at 4/11.
Long Shot: West Brom & BTTS at 4/1.

5.30pm Watford v Everton
Like Burnley, Watford have remained remarkably buoyant this season despite just two wins in 14. They were still clinging to the Top Half until losing to West Ham last time out (and currently sit 11th). Another couple of defeats could see them drop over the edge though, straight into the sticky relegation bog below.   
They will be encouraged by Everton’s away ‘form’ – just 1pt and two goals from the last four, with 11 going the other way. The recent five shipped at Arsenal will cause most concern, particularly as three came just 15 minutes into Big Sam’s experimental back-five defensive system. A worse set up than the one that cost him the England job.       
Scorecast: 1-2 – 10/1.
Smart Money: Draw & BTTS at 17/5.

12pm Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur

Whisper it, but Palace are only a couple of bad results away from getting dragged right back into the dogfight they seemed to have crawled quietly away from. 
Just 2pts from the last four is as bad as it’s been since the Woy’s wescue mission started way back in October. And their cruel injury list is matched by a punishing schedule in the next month. After Spurs, it’s Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool to come in March.  
Tottenham have drawn their last five bizarrely, but the diversity of opposition and agenda make it a tricky form line to read – Rochdale, Juventus, Newport, Liverpool… Pfft!
Scorecast: 0-2 – 13/2.
Smart Money: Draw/ Tottenham HT/FT at 3/1.
Long Shot: Draw & Under 2.5 Goals at 9/2.

2.05pm Man United v Chelsea  
The technical area will be the place to be for this one…
Neither manager, nor their teams have looked particularly convincing recently. Or all season for that matter. But the numbers tell us that it’s the second best home team v the third best away team. Despite the fact that Chelsea’s only away wins in the last seven have been at Brighton and Huddersfield. But they enjoy locking horns with United, winning eight of the last 14 (D5 L1). Not many can match that.    
Of course, Jose will be pumped up even more than usual with Conte in the opposite corner. With the Sevilla trip and a day less to prepare, ready-made excuses. 
Scorecast: 1-1 - 5/1.
Smart Money: Draw & Under 2.5 Goals at 14/5.

4.30pm Arsenal v Man City – EFL Cup Final
With the domestic treble – and possible quadruple – up in smoke, this might take on extra importance. Or maybe just the taste of defeat. Or maybe just the thought of getting their mitts on some silverware. But this looks City’s for the taking. The wide open space of Wembley will be right up De Bruyne and Silva’s alley. 
Arsenal have struggling away from the Emirates, barely matching the likes of Bournemouth, Newcastle and Southampton on the road. I know this isn’t an away match, but City will dominate the ball. And Arsenal’s plan B is more of a D-minus. 
Scorecast: 1-3 – 10/1.
Tap in: Man City to win at 4/7.
Smart Money: Man City & BTTS at 7/4. 

Back on Friday with a look at the weekend's Coupon Busters.

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Matt Nesbitt

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