Hammers fancied on handicap

  • By: Dale Tempest
  • Last Updated: February 28 2014, 16:46 GMT

In his latest column, Dale Tempest wonders whether a hectic schedule might catch up with some short-priced favourites.

Nikica Jelavic: Looked back to his best last weekend
Nikica Jelavic: Looked back to his best last weekend

Former professional footballer Dale Tempest now makes regular television appearances in his role as Sky Bet's public relations director.

Fulham, Huddersfield and Colchester were among his clubs during a 16-year career so he knows exactly how the game is played.

These days in his role at Sky Bet - you may have seen him on Sky Sports News - he's very much got his finger on the pulse of the markets as both a punter and a bookie.

His regular Friday column explores the mindset of the bookies and highlights the best bets for the weekend's action.

Here is his take, and best bets, for this weekend's action in the Premier League:

West Ham (+1) to beat Everton
Chelsea to beat Fulham by one goal
Yaya Toure to score first v Sunderland
Nikica Jelavic to score Hull's first goal

Once again European football took centre stage during the week and it's impossible to escape the fact we're into a really busy part of the season.

I just wonder whether, with fixtures mounting up, now might be the time to take on a few short-priced favourites and while not involved in Europe, Everton are one side I'm keen to oppose this weekend.

Clearly, having lost just once in 21 games at home, Goodison Park is something of a fortress. But Everton have just one clean sheet in 12 and have failed to score in three of their last four games and maybe their FA Cup run has been a factor.

Against most mid-table sides you'd still be confident Everton can get three points, but perhaps not against in-form West Ham, who've conceded once in five games and have players coming back to full fitness all the time.

The Hammers +1 is on offer at 6/4 and looks the bet. In Everton's last home game, against Aston Villa, it took a late Kevin Mirallas strike from distance for the hosts to win and I rate Sam Allaydyce's side much higher at present.

Another short price which looks worth avoiding is the 4/6 quoted about Arsenal winning at Stoke.

Whilst the Gunners bounced back to form against Sunderland last week, they've not won in their last three trips to the Potteries and this is a real test of their title credentials.

Stoke have taken an incredible 21 of their 27 points at home, only losing twice in 13 games at the Britannia Stadium, so odds-on Arsenal makes zero appeal as it plainly looks too short.

By contrast, Chelsea have got a great record at Fulham with one defeat in 25 against their local rivals. Even so, 2/5 about an away win still looks a bit on the skinny side.

Felix Magath immediately has his team working hard and starting with the principle of not losing, which will be his strategy here. Jose Mourinho will be determined to get the points and get out of Craven Cottage after their trip to Turkey, so Chelsea by one is the play albeit not a confident one.

Incidentally, the pitch at Craven looks to be one of the worst in the Premier League and has really suffered during the wet spell. This has to be a factor when placing any bet, especially when taking prices like 2/5 Chelsea.

Liverpool and Villa are both priced up at around the even-money mark, but with Villa having lost eight from 13 at home and the Norwich players sweating blood for Chris Hughton, I wouldn't be touching the even-money there.

I'm sure most punters will be piling into Liverpool on Saturday evening with Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in such amazing form, but this is a Southampton side who've been impossible to get right for punters - certainly for me!

Saints have won four of their last five against Liverpool and on their day can beat any side in the division. I just wouldn't know when that day is going to be so will tread carefully with this fascinating game.

Certain stats jump off the page and the one for Swansea is that 75 per cent of their goals have come after half-time.

That season-long trend could of course change under Garry Monk, but with Tony Pulis starting games with the mentality of avoiding defeat, draw/Swansea looks a good play at 7/2 in the half-time/full-time betting.

I can't see a great deal of betting opportunity in the Capital One Cup final where the prices in the main look spot-on.

However, I doubt Sergio Aguero will start as he returns from a muscle injury so in his absence perhaps the value is with Yaya Toure opening the scoring, especially as he'll be on set-piece duty.

One popular strategy for punters is to follow in-form strikers. Sturridge has scored in his last eight for Liverpool and will do for many, but the one I want to follow is Nikica Jelavic.

The Hull striker almost went an entire year without finding the net but looked back to his energetic best when bagging a brace last weekend, and that could trigger a run.

He's 11/4 to score Hull's first goal against Newcastle and that looks a standout bet with only Shane Long offering a serious scoring threat otherwise.

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