George Pitts previews Tuesday's Premier League games, and his focus is on Captain America again impressing as Chelsea host Crystal Palace.
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Crystal Palace v Chelsea
- 1800 BST kick-off on Sky Sports Main Event
- Match Odds: Home - 6/1 | Draw - 16/5 | Away - 4/9
The focus here will be on Chelsea's man of the moment and whether he can continue on a roll. And, at 9/4, surely it is worth backing Christian Pulisic to score.
The American has returned from the enforced break in fine form, looking like he means business. Just in time, too, with Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner due to join up with the squad ahead of next season to bolster Frank Lampard's attack further.
Pulisic, 21, has recently been compared to Eden Hazard, which is big expectation on his shoulders and yet it comes with good reason.
He is direct, fast and with incredible footwork and close control he can carry the ball at pace, making it hard for defenders to retrieve the ball and usually ending up in a foul.
Pulisic v Hazard: How their stats compare after 20 Premier League games
He was the man who won the penalty against Watford on Saturday, duly converted by Willian, and he was unfortunate to be pipped to the man of the match award by Mason Mount. He did not score or assist (technically, although some would argue he did for the spot-kick) in that game, but still stole the show and he is fast becoming a fans' favourite at Stamford Bridge.
He already has five (unofficial) MOTMs to his name in all competitions this season and the 6/1 price with William Hill on him to get another here, based on the Sky Sports decision, is not to be sniffed at, either.
He has two goals since the restart, against Aston Villa and Man City, and has had at least three shots in all four games - 3, 3, 4 and 3 (one a 30-minute cameo). He has been fouled six times in the last two games and made three key passes. He's such a threat, and an opponent's nightmare.
In the reverse fixture at Stamford Bridge, he scored once, had six shots, completed three key passes and six dribbles, which shows what kind of trouble he caused the Eagles.
Defenders are still figuring out how to stop his unpredictability and the best odds available at just over 2/1 for 'Captain America' to find the back of the net in another impressive display looks a good way to go.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 0-2 Chelsea (Sky Bet odds: 11/2)
- None of the last 17 Premier League meetings between Crystal Palace and Chelsea have finished level, with the Blues winning 13 to Palace’s four.
- Only Fulham (19.5%) have a lower win rate in Premier League London derbies than Crystal Palace (23.5% - won 24/102). Meanwhile, Chelsea have the highest win percentage in such matches (51.4% - won 131/255).
- Chelsea have scored exactly twice in nine of their last 10 Premier League London derby matches (W7 D1 L2), failing to score in the other (0-1 v West Ham in November).
- Crystal Palace have lost their last three Premier League games without scoring a single goal. They last lost four in a row without scoring between May-September 2017 – a run of eight under three different managers (Sam Allardyce, Frank de Boer and Roy Hodgson).
- Chelsea have won four of their last five Premier League games (L1) – as many as they had in their previous 13. The Blues have also scored at least twice in nine of their last 10 Premier League matches, losing 0-2 against Man Utd in the other.
- In their four Premier League games since the restart, Gary Cahill has had more shots on target than any other Crystal Palace player, with his three efforts on target accounting for 43% of the Eagles’ total (3/7).
- Against Watford, Willian became just the sixth player in Premier League history to score a penalty in three consecutive appearances in the competition – no player has ever scored from the spot in four successive games.
Watford v Norwich
- 1800 BST kick-off on Sky Sports Premier League
- Match Odds: Home - 8/13 | Draw - 14/5 | Away 17/4
A relegation six-pointer for Watford, less so for Norwich who look like they are all-but down - both Daniel Farke and Kenny McLean's honest, post-match comments on Saturday suggest they too have accepted their fate.
The Hornets have failed to win their last five Premier League games, losing four and drawing one, yet they still remain outside of the bottom three by a point, so they have been riding their luck of late.
It is all in their hands and the next three games will be telling - Norwich on Tuesday, followed by Newcastle (h) and West Ham (a) before finishing against Arsenal and Manchester City.
Goals have been an issue all season for Nigel Pearson's men and that has been a bigger problem in recent matches, with just two in seven, and Troy Deeney seems isolated without a front partner. Danny Welbeck's second-half cameo at Stamford Bridge surely puts him into the reckoning to start here. Against a Norwich side leaking goals, they have to go for it.
But it is no foregone conclusion that they will suddenly still start netting for fun (famous last words) and that is why the more attractive option here is to back a home win with under 2.5 total goals, which covers us for either 1-0 or 2-0 at a best price of 14/5.
The group score betting of the hosts to win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 at 13/8 covers us nicely in case Norwich do get on the scoresheet and is narrowly preferred of the two. In truth, though, there are preferences for the staking plan elsewhere (and when I said that on Saturday and Sunday for the early kick-offs, they both landed in addition to the score prediction, too!).
Prediction: Watford 2-0 Norwich (Sky Bet odds: 13/2)
Best bet: Watford to win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1 at 13/8
- Watford (15) and Norwich (16) have failed to score in more games than any other Premier League sides this season, with Norwich drawing a blank in a league-high 11 away games, while no side has failed more at home than the Hornets (6).
- Norwich City have lost 22 Premier League games this season – in no top-flight campaign have they ever lost more. Their highest number of defeats in a league season is 24, with the Canaries last losing that many in the 2008-09 Championship campaign.
- Watford have scored 29 Premier League goals but have an expected goals (xG) total of 39, meaning they’ve scored 10 goals fewer than expected based on the quality of their chances. It’s the biggest negative such difference in the Premier League this season.
- Watford’s Danny Welbeck is yet to appear on the winning side in a Premier League match since joining the Hornets (D4 L9), though only four of his 13 appearances have been starts. Welbeck has scored three Premier League goals against Norwich, with all of these coming as a substitute – only against Aston Villa and Everton (4 each) has he netted more.
- Norwich’s leading scorer this season Teemu Pukki is without a goal in nine Premier League appearances, with his goalless run standing at 10 hours and 28 minutes.
Arsenal v Leicester
- 2015 BST kick-off on Sky Sports Premier League
- Match Odds: Home - 13/10 | Draw - 5/2 | Away - 19/10
Two sides with European aspirations that earned good wins at the weekend, this could be a tough one to call. They have both got surprise results of late, both wins and defeats, but will be hoping to turn a corner now.
Jamie Vardy has the pressure off his shoulders after being stuck on 99 goals for what seemed an age and Leicester could hit their stride going into the final five games.
Few could have seen Arsenal getting a clean sheet win at Wolves and it shows the progress and good work being put in by Mikel Arteta as they now have three on the bounce. But the Spaniard's defence still remains shaky and Vardy's pace, along with Kelechi Iheanacho and Harvey Barnes, could leave them stretched.
While preference, if pushed, would be to side with an Arsenal win, the 4/6 draw no bet is not too appealing when the Gunners continue to show frailties and, despite their drop off in form in 2020, Leicester remain a quality side.
So the choice is to leave the results market and to focus on goals, with both teams to score at a shade under evens, with the above thinking and the quality and firepower both of these sides could have on show.
Of Arsenal's 33 league games so far this season, both teams have scored in 19. Granted, less so under Arteta but the team still has holes to fill and it is third-place Leicester they are coming up against, who themselves have had both teams scoring in 17 of their 33 games.
A point would be just enough for the Foxes here, but with Man United now on their coattails as well as Chelsea, they need to go for it. Hopefully it makes for a good watch. But with wavering confidence in both sides due to 2020 inconsistencies, we'll also prefer to sit this one out as well.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Leicester (Sky Bet odds: 17/2)
Best bet: Both teams to score at 4/6
- Leicester have won three of their last four league games against Arsenal (L1), as many as they had in their previous 36 against the Gunners (D10 L23). They’re looking to win three consecutive league games against Arsenal for the first time since 1963.
- Arsenal have won three consecutive Premier League games without conceding for the first time since November 2017. They last won four in a row without reply back in May 2014.
- Leicester won their first Premier League game since the restart last time out against Crystal Palace, scoring more goals in that 3-0 victory than they had in their previous three league games combined (2).
- Arsenal have taken maximum points from their last four home Premier League games, having won just four of their previous 14 at the Emirates (D6 L4).
- Leicester striker Jamie Vardy has scored nine goals in his last nine Premier League games against Arsenal, including six in his last five.
- Arsenal’s Emiliano Martinez has kept a clean sheet in six of his eight Premier League starts (75%), the best ratio of any Gunners keeper in the competition (min. 5 starts).
- Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored six goals in his last six Premier League home games, including a brace against Norwich last time out. A goal here will see him become the second player to score 20+ goals in consecutive Premier League seasons for Arsenal (after Thierry Henry, five between 2001-02 and 2005-06).
Odds correct as of 1430 BST on 06/07/20
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