Premier League Preview - Game Week 34Thursday, April 12 2018
Matt Nesbitt has had his crystal balls out again to see where the smart money is going this weekend...
The prospect of the quaint old Premier League might seem dull compared to the drama of the Champions League this week. Not least for Michael Oliver – he’s got West Ham v Stoke on Monday night.
Still, there’s money to be made. So let’s make some, shall we?
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.
Channel your inner Cristiano and let’s drill in into the top bin, eh?
12.30pm Southampton v Chelsea
Three defeats on the spin – and just 2pts from the two before that – doesn’t give you any evidence that Southampton can A, get something here, or B, survive the drop. But a win from their game in hand drags Palace, Huddersfield and Swansea back into spitting distance. And this might just be the best time to play Chelsea for a dogs’ life.
Just 7pts from a possible 24pts including three away losses on the spin makes you wonder about Chelsea’s appetite. They haven’t kept a clean sheet in that eight match spell either. It’s now or never for Saints, but I’m not sure either is in any shape to win this.
Scorecast: 1-1 at 11/2.
Tap In: Chelsea Draw No Bet at 4/11.
3pm Burnley v Leicester City
The Manager of the Year needle has swung back toward Sean Dyche in the last couple of weeks, following Pep’s Man City wobble. Burnley’s return to winning ways – four on the spin now – has just about guaranteed a 7th place finish. Unless they lose to 8th place Leicester, of course.
The Foxes have got a taste for away days recording back-to-back wins at West Brom (no great shakes) and Brighton (only equalled by Chelsea, Liverpool and City this season) before losing at home last weekend. Two honest teams who punch their weight, but I fancy Burnley might get a points decision in this one. And they are still the PL’s value team.
Scorecast: 2-1 at 10/1.
Tap In: Burnley Draw No Bet at 4/5.
Long Shot: Burnley Win & BTTS at 5/1.
3pm Crystal Palace v Brighton
Jeepers, the outcome of the Eagles v the Seagulls could set the cat among the pigeons. A home win drags Brighton to within 1pt. An away win probably has Brighton clambering up the embankment for good and pushes Palace back within reach of Southampton and perhaps even Stoke. A draw and I say all this again next week.
Palace’s form hasn’t been bad, but one-goal defeats to four of the Top Five and a late slip at Bournemouth last week has translated into just 4pts from the last six matches. Brighton don’t travel with much threat – their away form would have them in the Bottom Three – but neither can afford a slip here.
Scorecast: 1-1 at 11/2.
Smart Money: Draw & Under 2.5 Goals at 27/10.
3pm Huddersfield Town v Watford
Of all the teams paddling in the relegation pond, Huddersfield look the most likely to miss their step and slip under the surface. They have spurned chances to build up a buffer v bedfellows Swansea, Palace and Brighton and it gets ugly from here on in. After Watford and Everton at home it’s trips to City and Chelsea. And if they are not a bloated corpse by them, a final day visit from Arsenal should just about do it. 4pts should do it – which means at least a draw here.
They will be cheered to learn that Watford have scored just twice in their last ten on the road. But it’s the home team that have more to lose.
Scorecast: 0-0 at 7/1.
Smart Money: Watford Win & Under 3.5 Goals at 12/5.
3pm Swansea City v Everton
Swansea are the division’s form team at home, winning their last four. That run looked like lifting them out of trouble, but failing to win at Huddersfield and West Brom means they are still within reach of at least three of the five teams below them.
Everton have only won one of their last seven away from Goodison – losing the other six – but will be buoyed by share of the spoils in the Merseyside derby. Although they can’t afford to wait until the 75th minute before crossing the half-way line at Swansea. Can’t see either party risking 1pt for 3pts if they get to the dying embers of this match level.
Scorecast: 1-1 at 5/1.
Tap In: Double Chance - Swansea or Draw at 4/11.
Smart Money: Draw & BTTS at 17/5.
5.30pm Liverpool v Bournemouth
It’s all about the Champions League for Liverpool now. Chelsea and Arsenal are at least 10pts off being a threat to a Top Four finish, so keeping the front four as fab as possible from here on in is the priority for Jurgen. That means points will no doubt be dropped here and there – and this could be one of them.
Bournemouth are a kind of Liverpool-lite – playing a similarly open, expansive ‘you get three, we’ll get four’ type of football. Except that more often than not, it’s ‘you get three, we’ll get one’. But this will be a good watch.
Scorecast: 2-1 at 8/1.
Tap In: Bournemouth (+3) Handicap at 4/9.
Smart Money: Liverpool Win & BTTS at 8/5.
7.45pm Tottenham v Man City
Poor old Pep. This is the last fixture City needed after a calamitous week, conceding eight goals to their biggest rivals – three to their closest in geography, the other five to their closest in swagger.
Tottenham have hit their groove, winning their last six in the Premier League. In fact only Juventus have beaten Spurs since City did way back in December (22 games ago). But this meeting has a very different vibe to it.
Expect a bit of muscle-flexing from Tottenham, while City probably could do with resting theirs. They can’t win the league here – that will wait until West Ham away. That wasn’t in the script.
Scorecast: 3-1 at 18/1.
Tap In: Double Chance - Tottenham Win or Draw at 1/2.
Smart Money: Tottenham Win & BTTS at 10/3.
1.30pm Newcastle United v Arsenal
The bookmakers seem more bewitched by Arsenal’s run of five home wins than they do Newcastle’s run of three. Making Arsenal favourites for this makes it the outstanding Coupon Buster of the week. The thing is, Arsenal have been good – excellent, in fact – at home all season. Only the Manchester pair have been better. But away from the Emirates it is a different story. A Bottom Half story. A worse than Palace story. A 1pt better than Southampton and Huddersfield story. And Newcastle have beaten both of those in the last week, so don’t expect a happy ending to that story here – especially after a long Moscow trip.
Scorecast: 2-1 at 10/1.
Tap In: Double Chance - Newcastle or Draw at 8/11.
Long Shot: Newcastle Win & BTTS at 5/1.
4pm Man United v West Brom
It’s difficult to know whether United’s second half heroics at City last week was more a measure of them, or City. What we do know is they are well capable of grinding out To Nil wins over teams outside the Top Six – it’s nine from 11 so far. And that only City have been more efficient at home this season.
West Brom rallied under new (erstwhile) boss Darren Moore last weekend, but don’t look capable of adding to the 3pts gathered from their last ten away trips. Although two of those points were accrued at Tottenham and Liverpool. Funny old game.
Scorecast: 2-0 at 9/2.
Tap In: Man United to Win at 1/5.
Smart Money: Man United/ Man United HT/ FT at 8/11.
8pm West Ham v Stoke City
Despite the five places and 7pts between the teams, this still qualifies as a six-pointer. If West Ham win they will just about secure their PL status and Stoke’s Championship status next term. If Stoke win, they drag a handful of teams back in the pit – and West Ham’s run-in (which includes three of the Top Six) suddenly looks significantly more treacherous.
In their favour, the Hammers have taken points from five of their last six at home (11 in total). And Stoke have lost four of their last six away (D2) and only managed maximum points once on the road all season. Hard to make a case.
Scorecast: 2-0 at 8/1.
Tap In: West Ham Draw No Bet at 4/9.
Smart Money: West Ham & Under 3.5 Goals at 13/8.
Long Shot: Draw/ West Ham at 4/1.
What's that, you say...? You want my winner for the Grand National too...
Aww go on then. I'll include it in my Coupon Busters around midday tomorrow.
Ben is football’s leading injury specialist. The ‘go-to’ guru for big hitters like Sky Sports, ESPN and NBC Sports when they need data. Or the BBC, talkSPORT and the broadsheets when a quote is required. His unique insight has helped provide a better understanding of what is really happening in the treatment rooms.
Johnny is a respected physiotherapist and sports scientist, specialising in football injuries and rehab. Johnny has headed up the medical departments at Chesterfield, Scunthorpe and Notts County. Overseeing everything from player-specific training loads to pre-signing medicals. He has a proven record working with elite athletes in Private Practice and is regularly called upon throughout Europe to deliver presentations on the latest rehab innovations.
Matt's short, unremarkable football career was ended by his own bad driving. His long, distinguished career as a football tipster was ended by his own good advice. Because bookmakers don’t like a winner. First, they closed his accounts. Then his members’ accounts. Then his tipping service. And now they employ him as a consultant. Funny old game.