Eagles to swoop for win

  • By: Nick Hext
  • Last Updated: March 2 2014, 16:47 GMT

Nick Hext previews Sunday's three matches in the Premier League and backs Crystal Palace to win at Swansea.

Crystal Palace: Can win on the road at Swansea
Crystal Palace: Can win on the road at Swansea

The Eagles have a fantastic record against sides in the bottom half of the table and are fancied at 4/1 to boost their survival bid with three points.

Aston Villa v Norwich provides the other tip and it isn't a match to watch for those expecting plenty of entertainment.

Aston Villa v Norwich (1630 GMT)

I've got bad news for those of you expecting a classic game in this televised encounter. All the signs point to a very dull contest. Aston Villa have failed to score in their last three matches and it would have been two 0-0 draws in a row were it not for an injury-time winner from Newcastle striker Loic Remy last weekend. Norwich aren't faring much better with only Robert Snodgrass' winner against Tottenham to show in the goals for column in their previous three games. Snodgrass is the only man to net in the last five Norwich matches - he also struck in the 2-1 defeat at Cardiff - and the Canaries have only scored a measly three goals in their previous eight clashes. This all makes the 8/1 available for no goalscorer very appealing. There is a bit of a spark to this contest with Villa boss Paul Lambert coming up against his old club but the tension of the battle for survival should take hold. A point apiece nears both sides that little bit closer to safety and would end a four-match losing streak for Villa and see Norwich avoid defeat for the first time in four away clashes. Snodgrass is the only player who might make the difference for the visitors and 19/4 for the Scot to score is worth considering if you think a goal will arrive. For me though it's all about the 8/1 for no goalscorer.

Verdict: Aston Villa 0 Norwich 0

Opta stats:

Aston Villa have failed to score in each of their last three Premier League matches.

Aston Villa have scored just one goal from a corner this season, fewer than any other team.

In Norwich's last 12 Premier League games they have failed to score six times and scored exactly one goal in each of the other six.

Only Crystal Palace (7.89%) have a lower shot conversion rate than Norwich in the Premier League this season (7.91%).

Swansea v Crystal Palace (1630)

Swansea exited the Europa League with their heads held high at Napoli and now it's just staying in the Premier League to focus on for the rest of the season. Replacing Michael Laudrup with Garry Monk seems to have given the Swans a little bit more swagger but extra points are needed if top-flight safety is to be attained. Crystal Palace are one of the other plethora of clubs fighting it out at the wrong end of the table and I like the look of them picking up the three points at the Liberty Stadium. Swansea's record after Europa League matches isn't great - just one win in seven matches, coming against Palace in September during the Eagles' wretched start to the season - and there was plenty of effort put in during the trip to Italy. The hosts are also coming up against a Palace side impressing in the vital matches against teams around them in the standings. The only time the Eagles have lost to a side currently in the bottom half under Tony Pulis' management is the 1-0 loss at Norwich back in November. Wins have come against Hull (twice), Cardiff, Aston Villa, Stoke and West Brom, while the return fixture against Norwich at Selhurst Park ended in a 1-1 draw. That's a fantastic return of 19 points out of 21 against the sides they need to be getting results against and there's also a 1-0 victory in December over West Ham - who we all know were in the midst of the relegation battle back then - to look back on. That makes the advice not to worry about defeats in Palace's last three matches to Manchester United and Arsenal. Instead get with the 4/1 for Pulis' men to claim victory in their latest clash against a fellow struggler.

Verdict: Swansea 0 Crystal Palace 1

Opta stats:

Swansea have benefited from a Premier League-high seven own goals this season, accounting for almost a fifth of their goals (19%).

Swansea have scored the highest proportion of second half goals of any team in the Premier League this season (75%).

Crystal Palace have conceded just nine goals in their last nine Premier League games and just one of those came in the first half of a match.

Crystal Palace have conceded the joint-most penalties in the Premier League this season (six, along with Everton).

Tottenham v Cardiff (1630)

The good and bad from Tottenham was shown in the Europa League on Thursday night. The good was the battling comeback that saw them come from 2-0 down on aggregate against Dnipro to progress with a 3-2 success. The bad was getting themselves in that state in the first place and remember it was only when playing against 10 men that a spot in the last 16 was secured. Now relegation candidates Cardiff arrive at White Hart Lane in the Premier League. The Bluebirds have won only once in 11 top-flight matches and have won just one game on their travels this season. All points to a home win then? You have to say yes but last weekend's 1-0 defeat at Norwich showed Spurs are able to throw in a stinker of a performance alongside the class shown in a 4-0 win at Newcastle. That makes the heavy odds-on quote not worth touching for the home win but it would take a massive leap of faith to go with the 21/2 for a shock Cardiff victory. Tim Sherwood should watch his men boost their top-four aspirations with three points but for me it's one to avoid for punters.

Verdict: Tottenham 2 Cardiff 0

Opta stats:

Tottenham have conceded fewer headed goals than any other team in the Premier League this season (1).

Emmanuel Adebayor has scored just once at White Hart Lane in the Premier League this season, with seven (88%) of his eight PL goals this term coming away from home.

Cardiff have failed to score in five of their last six meetings with Tottenham in all competitions.

Cardiff have fired in fewer shots on target than any other team in the top flight this season (84).


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