Premier League Preview - Game Week 30Thursday, March 8 2018
I know what you’re thinking…
After a decent return last week, stand by for more trumpet blowing about my 16/1 Juventus tip to win the Champions League (Feb 13th post)…
Well, you’re bang wrong. Just updating for those Badmen who took the plunge with me.
Juve are now 8/1. And that price will only shorten if they draw Roma or Shakhtar in the quarters, both of whomed I’d fancy them to get past. Then we’ll be in handy trading position. I’ll keep you posted.
Now, to Premier League business…
An ugly set of fixtures to play with this week.
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.
12.30pm Man United v Liverpool
Could be a runner-up play-off at Old Trafford.
Still plenty of points to be played, of course, But these two won’t be dropping many on the run-in. United have the incentive of opening a 5pt gap with a home win, but we all know that Jose would take a 0-0 right now to keep the gap at 2pts. Only two teams have scored at the theatre of increasingly dull dreams this season. But no team has scored more than Liverpool on the road. No… not even Man City.
United have only played in the second half of their last two, coming from behind to beat Chelsea and Palace. They will need to score first in this one, or keep Liverpool out.
Scorecast: 0-0 at 10/1.
Tap in: First Half Draw at 11/10.
Smart Money: Draw & Under 2.5 Goals at 10/3.
3pm Everton v Brighton
Although both teams are locked on 34pts it has been a contrasting few weeks for two managers.
Hughton and Brighton arrive at Goodison unbeaten in five with more goals in the last four matches than their previous 16. But they are homers (stop it). Just 1pt and a single goal from seven matches away to Top Half teams should bring them down to earth a bit. And so will this…
Everton’s home form over the last eight would put them in the Top Five. Wins over Palace, Leicester, Swansea, Huddersfield and West Ham in that run suggest they are equipped to handle Bottom Half teams. Which Brighton were until ten minutes ago.
Scorecast: 1-1 at 5/1.
Tap in: Both Teams to Score at Evens.
Smart Money: Draw & Both Teams to Score at 18/5.
3pm Huddersfield Town v Swansea City
Huddersfield’s dangerous ploy of choosing the matches they think they can get something from, relies on them then doing so. It worked in the two matches (v Bournemouth and West Brom) bookended by covering up and laying on the ropes at Man United and Tottenham. But didn’t in the previous two (at home to West Ham and away to Stoke). This is the first of five matches v teams within a 6pt bracket. Not quite a must-win, but certainly a must-not-lose.
Swansea have their tails up (Swans have tails, right?) after four home wins on the spin, but are still ugly ducklings away from their nest. Their 5pts from six trips to Bottom Half teams needs to be at least 6pts come Sunday. And I reckon it will.
Scorecast: 1-1 at 5/1.
Smart Money: Draw & Both Teams to Score at 7/2.
3pm Newcastle United v Southampton
This is the first of six away games still to be negotiated by Southampton. That’s a tough ask even if you are a decent team in good form. The Saints are neither. Oh and two of their home matches are v Chelsea and Man City. This might not be the last chance saloon, but it’s definitely on the same bus route.
Their 0-0 draw at home to Stoke can’t have been good for confidence and this looks like another six-pointer.
Newcastle will look to carry on from where they left off at St James’ – Man United’s scalp will still be hanging in the home dressing room. And Toon have punched their weight against Bottom Third bedfellows, winning six (D4 L1) of 11. And I can’t keep putting 1-1 draws.
Scorecast: 2-1 at 9/1.
Tap in: Newcastle Draw No Bet at 4/5.
Smart Money: Newcastle Win & Both Teams to Score at 24/5.
3pm West Brom v Leicester City
The wheels have well and truly come off West Brom now. Five defeats on the bounce – six if you include Southampton in the FA Cup – plus the dressing room squabbles and swinging sword above Alan Pardew’s head, make West Brom the most popular opponent in the PL right now. Leicester will welcome the chance to kick a team when they’re down and put an end to a sticky run of form themselves.
Five without a win, including home matches v Swansea, Stoke and Bournemouth is no way to prepare for an FA Cup 6th Round tie with Chelsea. Leicester’s best chances of an away win before the end of the campaign.
Scorecast: 1-2 at 9/1.
Tap in: Leicester Draw No Bet at 8/11.
Smart Money: Leicester Win & Both Teams to Score at 9/2.
3pm West Ham v Burnley
Cripes, this is another one with ‘Draw’ written all over it… This fence is giving me splinters.
West Ham are unbeaten in their last four at home, but will be as disappointed with the points dropped v Palace and Bournemouth as they are chuffed with wins over Watford and West Brom. The Hammers have got three of the Top Four still to play, so this one (plus Southampton and Stoke at home) look the best chance of hitting 39pts. Setting up a twitchy last day hosting his old club Everton. Ooof!
Burnley finally got that 12-without-a-win monkey off their back last weekend and if you had to name a claret and blue winner, it would be them. But six away draws, including four from the last seven on the road tells me…
Scorecast: 1-1 at 5/1.
Tap in: Double Chance Burnley or Draw at 8/13.
Long Shot: Burnley Win & Both Teams to Score at 13/2.
5.30pm Chelsea v Crystal Palace
You have to feel for Palace at the moment. They treatment room looks like the Somme in 1914 and even the fit players looked broken men after their 93rd minute mugging by Man United last Monday. It’s just 2pts from six matches now for Palace, points at home to Newcastle and away to West Ham about as much as they’ve looked capable of.
Chelsea’s last few weeks hasn’t been a lot better – four defeats from five in the PL. Man City and United they could probably take, but Bournemouth and Watford…? Minds will no doubt be wandering to Wednesday and Camp Nou, but this could be positive – with places up for grabs.
Scorecast: 3-0 at 7/1.
Tap in: Chelsea to Win at 3/10.
Smart Money: Chelsea to Win To Nil at Evens.
1.30pm Arsenal v Watford
Arsenal, eh? What do you make of them? Their home stats still make them a decent side. Only 1pt worse off than Liverpool at Anfield, just 2pts less effective than Spurs at Wembley and they’ve scored more goals than both of them. Five defeats from seven is as bad as it has got in the Wenger era, though. And that’s a long time.
Watford have managed to arrest their slide, which started about November time as far as anyone can recall. Three home wins on the bounce has got them back looking up rather than down, but 0pts from six matches to Top Half teams doesn’t support their case here. Looking at their remaining away trips – Liverpool, Tottenham and Man United - it won’t get much easier than this. And they’ll like the fact Arsenal haven’t kept a clean sheet in 11 Premier League matches.
Scorecast: 2-2 at 14/1.
Tap in: Both Teams to Score at 8/13.
Long Shot: Watford Win & Both Teams to Score at 8/1.
4pm Bournemouth v Tottenham
The midweek lesson at the hands of Juventus will have been a body blow for Spurs and takes this from a routine assignment to a tricky one. But Tottenham have momentum and form – Wednesday was the first blip in 18 matches (all comps). It might even galvanise them for the run-in – Top Four and the FA Cup would still be a very good season.
Bournemouth have only lost one in their last ten. But their liking for ‘total football’ usually means they come unstuck against the Top Half. Just three wins from 15 attempts so far (D2 L10). Expect goals at both ends too. There have been in nine of Bournemouth’s last ten and eight of Spurs’ last 11 on the road.
Scorecast: 1-2 at 7/1.
Tap in: Both Teams to Score at 7/10.
Smart Money: Tottenham Win & Both Teams to Score at 19/10.
Long Shot: Tottenham to Win from Behind at 15/2.
8pm Stoke City v Man City
Things have never really been pretty at Stoke. Even when they are winning. Paul Lambert’s stint has been deliberately ugly to rescue the season, but squeezing just 4pts out of five teams – four of which are in jabbing range – isn’t enough. And now it might get gruesome.
The 29 goals conceded in seven matches v the Top Five were under a different manager and under different circumstances, but doesn’t bode well. Especially as they face three of them again after this one. City are picking their punches a bit nowadays, but will want this title in the bag asap. Suspect this will be over by half-time.
Scorecast: 0-2 at 11/2.
Tap in: Man City Win at 2/9.
Smart Money: Man City Win & Under 3.5 Goals at 23/20.
Coupon Busters, y’say? Noon tomorrow.
Now, get to the chopper.
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.