Spur on an away win
Matt Brocklebank previews Sunday's Premier League action, and expects Spurs to enhance their fine away record at Norwich.
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There are three Premier League games on Sunday, with Liverpool and Spurs looking to maintain pursuits of Champions League football while Swansea, Aston Villa and Norwich all look to ease relegation concerns.
Daniel Sturridge is backed to maintain his recent prolific run in front of goal for Liverpool, while away wins are on the cards at St James' Park and Carrow Road.
Check out our match-by-match preview of the action here:
Before a ball was kicked, even optimistic Liverpool fans may not have predicted they would be in with a genuine chance of lifting the Premier League title at the end of February but there's no denying the Reds, just four points adrift of leaders Chelsea heading into this weekend's fixtures, are in there pitching. Their Anfield form has been pivotal to this season's rise up the ranks, a 1-0 defeat to Southampton the only blip on their home record, and there are still signs that Brendan Rodgers' side are improving as the campaign goes on. Impressive recent wins over Everton and Arsenal have sent out a message to fellow title-challengers and although the Gunners gained revenge in the FA Cup at the Emirates a week ago, Liverpool threw down a pretty strong challenge in the second half there and were obviously unlucky with the second penalty call. They'll have fire in their bellies after such a defeat and look good things around the 2/7 mark to see off a Swansea side that played in the Europa League on Thursday night. The Swans were also dumped out of the FA Cup last weekend, but have done well in two league encounters since Garry Monk was handed the reigns following Michael Laudrup's sacking. They turned on the style for the new boss with a 3-0 home victory over rivals Cardiff before earning a point from a trip to Stoke, when all three would not have been unjust based on the possession stats and chances created. However, a trip to Liverpool will pose an altogether more challenging test for Monk's side and even prices of 11/4 for Swansea-draw in the double chance market aren't big enough to make me want to oppose the home team. Luis Suarez was scoring for fun when ploughing a lone furrow up front for Liverpool at the start of the season but Daniel Sturridge is very much the man of the moment now, becoming the first Liverpool player to score in seven successive Barclays Premier League appearances when netting in the 3-2 victory at Fulham. He can be backed at 4/1 to open the scoring, compared to Suarez at 11/4, and the England ace is worth sticking with in his present mood.
Verdict: Liverpool 3 Swansea 1
Daniel Sturridge is the first Liverpool player to score in seven successive Barclays Premier League appearances.
Swansea have won two and lost just one of their last six meetings in all competitions with Liverpool.
Swansea City (33 goals) have scored exactly half the amount of goals in the Premier League this season as Liverpool (66 goals).
Just 25% of Swansea's passes have been in the attacking third of the pitch this season; a lower proportion than any other side.
As the figures below point out, Newcastle have an excellent Premier League record against Aston Villa and haven't lost to this weekend's opponents at St James' Park since 2005. Combined with their respective current league positions, it's perhaps not the biggest shock to see the Magpies favourites to win this match. However, on recent evidence, which strikes me as being far more relevant for punting purposes, there is no way I can recommend Alan Pardew's side at 11/10 as they simply aren't scoring goals. Last week's hapless 4-0 loss at Tottenham was their fourth straight outing without finding the net and it's no coincidence one of their main sources of goals earlier in the season, the highly influential Yohan Cabaye, is now plying his trade at Paris Saint-Germain. The return of Loic Remy following a three-match ban should provide a fillip for Newcastle as the classy French striker already has 11 goals to his name this term. However, it would be a little fanciful to suggest his presence in the line-up will be enough to drag the team out of their current slump, especially given the general unrest at the club at the present moment, and the admittedly hard-to-predict Villa are too tempting at odds of 29/10. Paul Lambert's side picked up more points on the road than at Villa Park last season and that trend has continued this term. They have gone three games without success since beating West Brom 4-3 last month but are very capable of surprising opponents with lightning-quick attacks on the break and I fancy them to pile more pressure on Pardew this weekend.
Verdict: Newcastle 0 Aston Villa 2
The Magpies are unbeaten in the last seven league games against Villa at St James' Park (W4 D3) and in the last five home and away (W3 D2).
Christian Benteke has scored in each of his two Barclays Premier League games against Newcastle United.
Hatem Ben Arfa has scored in both of his Premier League appearances against Aston Villa.
Newcastle United have now failed to score in seven of their last eight games in the Barclays Premier League.
Tottenham are travelling quite sweetly on the heels of the Premier League leading pack and are still being underestimated by the layers. In the 10 league games since Tim Sherwood took over from Andre Villas-Boas, Spurs have found the net on every occasion, averaging over two goals a game, and it's hard to argue that run will come to an end at Carrow Road, a ground where the White Hart Lane outfit are unbeaten in their last six league visits. They have bounced back admirably after being outclassed by Man City at the end of last month and Emmanuel Adebayor has been in unstoppable form, scoring five in his last five appearances and eight in total since being 'brought in from the cold'. Odds of 11/10 for Spurs to beat a struggling Norwich side, who are teetering on the brink of the relegation zone, are not to be sniffed at and make considerable appeal. The powers that be at Norwich have been very open about Chris Hughton's position as manager, suggesting he could be on his way out should they drop into the bottom three, and it's no surprise to see him odds-on favourite to be the next top-flight manager to leave. The Canaries have failed to score more than one goal in their last 11 Premier League games, a run that will surely have to come to an end if they're to get anything out of this match.
Verdict: Norwich 1 Tottenham 3
Tottenham have won six and lost just one of their last 10 Barclays Premier League games against Norwich City.
Spurs have won four and lost none of their six Premier League trips to Carrow Road.
Since Tim Sherwood took charge of his first Premier League game on December 22nd 2013, Spurs have won 23 points - only Chelsea (24) have won more.
Norwich City have scored just five goals in their last 11 Premier League matches and never more than once in a game during this run.