Premier League betting tips & predictions

Ben Coley makes the case for Watford putting a dent in Liverpool's Champions League ambitions on Monday Night Football.

Monday's preview by Ben Coley

Recommended bets: Monday Premier League


2pts Watford to beat Liverpool at 6/1 - home form is sound and Liverpool always vulnerable in this type of fixture

On the modern punting battlefield, genuine surprises are increasingly rare, but I didn't expect to see 6/1 available about Watford beating Liverpool on Monday night.

The Hornets are unmistakably hit and miss, but the prospects of a hit dramatically increase at home, where they've won as many matches as Manchester City and more than Manchester United.

Eight wins and four draws from 17 is a very solid return, the foundations of their bid for a top-half finish which is very much within reach, having all but secured their Premier League status for another season.

While a three-match winning run at Vicarage Road needs qualifying - their opponents have been Sunderland, West Brom and Swansea - three clean sheets across these games is impressive and if you go back further, they have seen off the likes of United, Everton and Leicester on home soil.

All of which is to say they're overpriced in the type of game Liverpool can so often find a way to lose.

Clearly, Jurgen Klopp's men have plenty of incentive as they pursue Champions League football, but last Sunday offered a reminder that they're vulnerable to these in-form, bottom-half outfits having lost 2-1 to Crystal Palace.

All seven league defeats this season have come against sides outside the top seven: they simply are not as effective in these games as they are against their closest rivals.

Liverpool are missing a key man in Sadio Mane, out for the season, and have failed to win over half their away games both with and without him, losing at Hull, Leicester, Bournemouth and Burnley. Again, precisely those in-form, bottom-half sides they were favourites to beat.

When you take on a side like Liverpool, you do so knowing that they could make you feel a little foolish, yet there isn't a single away game this season they've had wrapped up early: only twice half they won by more than one on the road and on both occasions, approaching the hour mark they were just a goal up. What's more, both sides were seriously vulnerable at the time.

As such, it's really difficult to see why Liverpool should be shorter at 8/15 to win the game than Watford are with a two-goal start (8/13), while the hosts also look good value in the double-chance market at 17/10.

Watford are 4/1 draw-no-bet but it's Liverpool's ability to shoot themselves in the foot which makes the case for simply backing the home side easy to make.

Granted, the Reds haven't lost consecutive league games this season, but it would be very much within profile for them to do so now, when points are needed and their run-in appears kind.

That Liverpool could also be without Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana makes this an all the more winnable game for Watford, who might also be inspired by the exploits of fan Anthony Joshua on Saturday night.

Troy Deeney was posing for photos with the world heavyweight champion after his defeat of Wladimir Klitschko and having scored in six of his last 10 league games, including four of his last five appearances at Vicarage Road, is a tempting 3/1 shot to strike again here.

It was interesting to hear Deeney heap praise on manager Walter Mazzarri during a fascinating BBC Radio Five Live interview, in which he described the increased intensity of this week's training sessions which he thinks will guarantee a response to a limp effort at Hull.

In that respect, it's probably a positive that Watford have a big, televised game to get up for and if they do get about Liverpool, as they did when winning this fixture 3-0 last season, there must be every chance they can cause an upset.

Certainly, that chance appears more like 7/2 or 4/1 than the generous 6/1 being quoted, so while there are side markets worth exploring, the best bet here is obvious.

Too much has perhaps been made of Watford's 6-1 defeat at Anfield, the result of meeting Liverpool on a going day and without many first-team players.

This will be a near full-strength Hornets side and the possibility of meeting Liverpool on a bad day makes a home win the only option.

Prediction: Watford 2-1 Liverpool

Opta facts:

o All six of Liverpool’s Premier League defeats this season have come against teams outside of the current top 7.

o In fact, the Reds have won just 40 points from 22 Premier League games against teams outside the top 7 this season (1.82 per game), compared to 26 points from 12 games against the current top 7 (2.17 per game).

o Troy Deeney has scored against 41 different opponents in all competitions during his Watford career, but he’s never scored in his three previous appearances versus Liverpool for the Hornets.

o Liverpool will be looking to win three successive Premier League away games under Jurgen Klopp for only the second time, with the previous occasion coming in October 2016.

Recommended bets: Sunday Premier League


2pts under 2.5 goals in Manchester United v Swansea City at 27/25 – there is a lack of goals in the majority of matches involving these sides in recent months    

2pts Chelsea to beat Everton at 15/14 – the Premier League leaders won’t miss the chance to pull clear of Tottenham before the north London derby  

By Nick Hext

Manchester United v Swansea City (1200 BST, BT Sport 1)  

 

Manchester United should be avoided as the big odds-on favourites to get the better of Swansea in Sunday’s opening Premier League game.   

The Swans are deep in relegation trouble but they will be buoyed by United’s poor return at Old Trafford this season and the quick turnaround facing Jose Mourinho’s men from Thursday night’s 0-0 draw at rivals at Manchester City.   

As Mourinho joked ahead of the Swansea game: “I'm also training hard in the gym so I can be an option also.”   

The stalemate at the was produced in trademark fashion from a Mourinho team but there was nothing to suggest that a convincing win is on the cards against Swansea.   

United impressed in a 2-0 success against leaders Chelsea in their last outing at Old Trafford but that was just a second victory in their previous seven league matches on their own turf.   

Everton, West Brom, Bournemouth, Hull and Liverpool have all left Old Trafford with a point during 2017 and I think Swansea have a good chance to become the latest side to stop United claiming victory.   

Paul Clement’s men hope that they remain two points behind fourth-bottom Hull, who travel to Southampton on Saturday, at kick-off and last weekend’s 2-0 win at home to Stoke has finally given their survival bid some momentum.   

Only four games of the season remain for the Swans so time is running out but they have managed to produce some decent performances against the Premier League’s leading clubs in recent months.   

Injury-time winners for Manchester City and Tottenham denied them draws in 2017, while a 3-2 win at Liverpool back in January is by far the highlight of Clement���s reign to date.   

There should be interest in the 4/1 available for another Old Trafford draw but I will play it a little safer by keeping the Swans onside in the odds-against on offer for under 2.5 goals. 

Only one of Swansea’s last six matches have contained three or more goals and just three of the previous 13 games for United in all competitions have gone over the 2.5 goals mark.   

United could eke out a narrow win but this will be a close contest and it’s hard to see plenty of goals, especially with the attacking options depleted for the hosts as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Juan Mata and Paul Pogba are again ruled out.   

Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Swansea City   

Opta facts:   

o Manchester United have won back-to-back Premier League meetings with Swansea, this after losing the previous three all by a 2-1 scoreline. 

o After failing to win any of their first 10 visits to Old Trafford in all competitions (D2 L8), the Swans have won two of their last four (L2). 

o Wayne Rooney has had a hand in six goals in his last six Premier League appearances against Swansea (two goals, four assists). 

o Swansea’s Gylfi Sigurdsson has scored two and assisted three more in his last five games against Man Utd in the Premier League. Indeed, the Icelandic midfielder has found the net in each of his last two appearances at Old Trafford. 

o Gylfi Sigurdsson could become the first player to score in three consecutive Premier League away appearances at Old Trafford since Sergio Aguero in April 2015. Indeed, Emmanuel Adebayor, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Mark Viduka are the only other players to also achieve this feat. 

o The Swans have picked up just seven points from their last 48 available on the road in the Premier League (W2 D1 L13), and have failed to score in each of their last three away from home. 

o Paul Clement has won six of his 15 Premier League games in charge of the Swans, giving him the best win ratio of any manager for the Welsh side in the competition (40%). 

o No ground as seen more draws in the Premier League this season than Old Trafford (9). The only season that Manchester United drew more home league games was 1980-81 (11). 

o Manchester United haven’t lost any of their last 15 Premier League matches at Old Trafford (W6 D9 L0) – their longest unbeaten run at home in the competition since October 2011 under Sir Alex Ferguson (25 games). 

o Manchester United will break a new club record for the longest unbeaten run within a single top-flight season, should they avoid defeat in this match (25 games).    

Everton v Chelsea (1405 BST, Sky Sports 1)   


Chelsea’s trip to Everton before the north London derby gives Antonio Conte’s men a chance to go seven points clear of Tottenham at the summit.   

The Premier League leaders have bounced back from the 2-0 defeat at Manchester United with back-to-back 4-2 victories, over Spurs in the FA Cup and at home to Southampton in the top-flight.   

Chelsea have only lost two of their last 29 matches so there’s no reason to expect an implosion in the title run-in after getting back on track quickly following the Red Devils loss.   

The Blues have won on the road at Leicester, Wolves (FA Cup), West Ham, Stoke and Bournemouth since the turn of the year so I’m more than happy to have a slice of the odds-against available for the away win at Goodison Park on Sunday.   

Everton are on an impressive seven-match winning run at home but they’ve fallen to convincing defeats at Tottenham and Liverpool in the last couple of months so I think Chelsea will provide too big a step up in class.   

The continuing selection problems for boss Ronald Koeman are also a concern.   

Maarten Stekelenburg and Joel Robles have both failed to impress as a first-choice Premier League goalkeeper and the ever-changing cast of defenders because of injury has been a big issue for the Toffees.   

Everton did manage a clean sheet in the 0-0 draw at West Ham last time out but they won’t be able to keep out Chelsea unless there’s a drastic improvement from that performance.   

Conte has rotated his squad impressively in recent games and 13 goals in their previous five outings show that the Blues are primed to build up their advantage at the top of the table.   

This will definitely be the last chance to back the leaders at odds-against in the Premier League this season, they host Middlesbrough, Watford and Sunderland and travel to West Brom before the campaign concludes.   

I think the price is right to support Chelsea at 15/14 with the goals flowing for the table-toppers.   

Prediction: Everton 1-3 Chelsea   

Opta facts:   

o Everton have won five of their last seven Premier League games against Chelsea at Goodison Park (L2), two more than they recorded in their previous 17 in the competition. o Only against Tottenham (92) have Chelsea scored more Premier League goals than versus Everton (80). 

o Diego Costa has been directly involved in six goals in four Premier League appearances against Everton (four goals, two assists). 

o Following his midweek brace against Southampton, Diego Costa now has 19 Premier League goals in 2016-17. Without these goals, Chelsea would be 15 points worse off than they are and no player has seen their goals win more points for their side than Costa this season. 

o Cesc Fabregas has had a hand in eight goals in his last seven games against the Toffees in the top-flight (four goals, four assists). 

o Romelu Lukaku has failed to score in all five of his previous outings against his former club Chelsea in the Premier League, attempting 12 shots (incl. blocks) in the process. 

o Overall during his Premier League career, Romelu Lukaku has scored against 23 of the 29 different teams he’s faced in the competition. This season alone he’s scored against 13 different teams in the Premier League. 

o Romelu Lukaku has scored in all nine of Everton’s competitive home matches in 2017 so far (14 goals). The only player to go on a longer streak of scoring in consecutive home matches for Everton is Dixie Dean; who scored in 12 successive home games for the Toffees between October 1930 and February 1931. 

o Everton are currently enjoying an eight-game winning run at home – their longest such streak in the Premier League. They last had a longer run in the top flight between December 1986 and April 1987 (10 wins). 

o Chelsea have won 78 points from their 33 Premier League games so far. This is the eighth occasion that a side has won 78+ points from 33 games in the competition and half of those have been by Chelsea (Chelsea – four times, Manchester United – three times, Arsenal – once). 

o Should Chelsea win their remaining five Premier League matches of the season, they will finish the campaign on 93 points. This would be the second-best points tally by a side in a Premier League season, after Chelsea in 2004-05 (95).  

Middlesbrough v Manchester City (1405 BST)   


Manchester City, like rivals United, face a quick turnaround for Sunday’s trip north to Middlesbrough.  

I anticipate a straightforward task for City despite Wednesday night’s 1-0 victory over Sunderland ending a nine-match winless run for Boro.   

The Riverside Stadium outfit are six points adrift of fourth-bottom Hull with only four games of the season remaining.   

It’s simply too little too late for Steve Agnew’s side.   

They face City (H), Chelsea (A), Southampton (H) and Liverpool (A) to finish the campaign and it’s very tough to see them getting the six points required to catch up with Hull, presuming the Tigers manage to lose all of their remaining games.   

City remain one point ahead of Manchester United in the race for a top-four finish after Thursday night’s 0-0 derby draw so there’s no stepping off the gas from Pep Guardiola’s men.   

The Citizens knocked Middlesbrough out of the FA Cup with a 2-0 win at the Riverside six weeks ago and I expect this match to follow a similar story.   

Boro just don’t have the attacking talent to compete in the Premier League and that’s been seen with only four goals netted in their last 10 outings.  

The decision to part company with manager Aitor Karanka was taken far too late in the season and Agnew was always up against it to turn things around despite trying harder than his predecessor to make use of the meagre attacking talent at his disposal.   

Backing City to win to nil is obviously tempting but I’m wary of Boro being forced to use more attacking intent then in their limp displays earlier in the campaign.   

Boro have netted in defeats against Arsenal and Manchester United during Agnew’s reign so I’ll take a swerve on the City clean sheet, although I certainly don’t fancy the hosts’ chances of victory.   

They have only managed to beat Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday, Oxford and Accrington this year. City are certainly a vast step up in quality from that opposition and can push Boro to the brink of relegation.     

Prediction: Middlesbrough 1-2 Manchester City   

Opta facts:   

o Middlesbrough have lost only one of their 10 Premier League matches at home to Manchester City (W7 D2 L1), including an 8-1 demolition of the Citizens in May 2008. 

o Manchester City have won three of their last five meetings with Middlesbrough in all competitions (D1 L1), including in the FA Cup in January (2-0). 

o Sergio Aguero has scored in both games against Middlesbrough in all competitions this season. o Aguero comes in to this game having attempted nine shots without scoring in the midweek Manchester derby – equalling his own personal record for the most without a goal in a Premier League appearance. 

o Manchester City have already won more away games this season (11) than in any previous Premier League season, and a point in this match would set a new away points record in a single PL campaign for the club (currently 34 – the same as in 2011-12, 2013-14 and 2014-15).  

o Middlesbrough won their midweek Premier League game against bottom of the league side Sunderland (1-0) – they haven’t followed up any of their previous 11 wins in the competition with another victory. 

o The last time that Middlesbrough picked up back-to-back Premier League victories within the same season was in May 2008, with the second of those games being an 8-1 win over Manchester City at the Riverside Stadium. 

o The Riverside Stadium has seen the fewest goals scored (33) and the fewest shots on target attempted (109) of any Premier League ground in 2016-17. 

o Manchester City have won just two of their last seven Premier League matches (W2 D4 L1). 

o Manchester City have lost just one of their last 20 Premier League fixtures against a team in the relegation zone on the day of that match (W12 D7 L1).  

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal (1630 BST)   


“Rarely are Premier League matches so difficult to predict.” 

That’s the verdict of Alex Keble in his latest Five-Star Tactics column previewing Tottenham’s clash against Arsenal and I can’t disagree with him.   

Tottenham are odds-on favourites across the board to keep their title bid on track with a three-point haul but I’m wary of Arsenal’s recent spurt of form.   

The Gunners have won all of their last three games, including defeating Manchester City in extra-time last weekend to reach the FA Cup final.  

The performance produced by Arsenal against City was the best by Arsene Wenger's side for some time as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Rob Holding and Nacho Monreal all played rare starring roles.   

Leicester were dispatched 1-0 with a battling display in midweek and finally there is some momentum for the Gunners as they look to claw back the gap to a top-four spot.

However, this still the Arsenal side that lost 3-0 at Crystal Palace only a few weeks ago to follow on from a string of meek performances, including losses on the road against West Brom, Chelsea, Liverpool and Bayern Munich.   

That leaves one simple question: Which Arsenal will turn up?   

We can be confident that Tottenham’s attacking swagger will be out in full force. Even when losing 4-2 to Chelsea in the FA Cup last weekend, it was a display full of intent from Mauricio Pochettino’s side.   

The 1-0 win at Palace in midweek was exactly the kind of victory you need to grind out in the title battle but I just don’t see Chelsea dropping enough points to let Spurs overhaul their advantage.   

Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen have been the two stars for Tottenham in recent months, as Alex Keble talks about in more detail, and don’t be put off having a look at that duo in the anytime goalscorer odds.   

Going high on goals seems an obvious approach for this contest.   

Tottenham have won their previous 15 matches at White Hart Lane and the last six of those victories have all finished with more than 2.5 goals being scored.   

Three or more goals to be netted at White Hart Lane is heavily odds-on with all firms so that helps me decide to keep my points elsewhere on Sunday.   

This is definitely a match for the neutrals to enjoy though and watch out for the team news an hour before kick-off for any late value.    

Arsenal’s defence could be further depleted with Laurent Koscielny a big injury doubt and that could lead to a productive afternoon for Harry Kane and his Spurs team-mates.       

Prediction: Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Arsenal   

Opta facts:   

o Tottenham are unbeaten in each of their last five league encounters with Arsenal (W1 D4); they’ve never gone six consecutive league games without defeat against the Gunners. 

o Arsenal have got on the scoresheet in 22 of their last 23 visits to White Hart Lane in all competitions, only drawing a blank in a 0-0 draw in February 2009. 

o Mauricio Pochettino is the first ever Tottenham manager to remain unbeaten in his first five top-flight north London Premier League derbies. 

o Arsene Wenger has gone five league games without a win against Spurs for the first time in his career. 

o Harry Kane has scored in four consecutive Premier League appearances against Arsenal, netting five goals in the process. No Spurs player has scored more goals versus Arsenal in the Premier League than Kane (5 – level with Gareth Bale). 

o Kane is the first Englishman to score 20+ goals in three consecutive Premier League seasons since Alan Shearer (four seasons between 1993/94 and 1996/97). 

o Only Liverpool v Spurs (140) has seen more Premier League goals than the north London derby (139) – Chelsea v Spurs also 139. 

o This will be Arsene Wenger’s 50th north London derby in charge of Arsenal (W22 D20 L7) – the Gunners have scored more goals against Spurs than they have against any other side under the Frenchman (92). 

o On 24 occasions in this Premier League clash has the team that scored first not gone on to win the game; more than in any other Premier League fixture (eight losses, 16 draws).

o Tottenham have won 74 points in the Premier League this season, their best-ever return in the competition and highest points tally in the top-flight since 1984/85 (77). 

o Mauricio Pochettino’s side have now won eight consecutive league games for the first time since October 1960, when they secured 13 successive victories.     

Posted at 1410 BST on 27/04/17.    

Recommended bets: Saturday Premier League


2pts Bournemouth to beat Sunderland at 29/20 – Cherries have goals in them and that should be the difference

1pt Southampton to beat Hull 1-0 at 7/1 – visitors struggle to score away but Saints often flatter to deceive

1pt Southampton to beat Hull 2-0 at 8/1 - should be a regulation home win but hard to see them running riot

1pt first half most goals in Stoke v West Ham at 12/5 – always worth considering in Stoke games; there being little on the line may also help

Click here for our transparent tipping record.    

By Ben Coley

Southampton v Hull (1500 BST)


With Swansea travelling to Old Trafford on Sunday and Middlesbrough hosting Manchester City, Hull’s tricky trip to St Mary’s is in fact the most straightforward task involving the key players in the Premier League relegation shakedown.

But while their form at home since Marco Silva’s arrival has been outstanding, Hull are winless in six on the road under their new boss and arresting the slide here won’t be easy.

In their favour is the fact that Southampton are safely ensconced in mid-table, but the compact nature of the Premier League’s central chunk means that defeat here would seriously threaten that position. In fact, Hull would close to within four points of Saints.

As such, there should be no let-up with Southampton here and they remain firmly back on track since the EFL Cup took away their attention, even after successive defeats at the hands of Manchester City and Chelsea.

Granted, they were a shade disappointing against City – many had been spying an upset – but met Pep Guardiola’s side on a going day and I would very much expect them to oblige for odds-on backers here having given Chelsea cause for concern at times midweek.

In fact there are far worse 4/6 chances on the coupon, but that match price helps boost the odds of a home win by two or more goals which, at the more punter-friendly price of 15/8, looks a marginally better option if you are keen on the hosts.

Southampton should have too much for Hull in midfield. They’ve dominated against bottom-half sides all year and Dusan Tadic in particular has been in electric form lately. He might’ve scored against both West Brom and Crystal Palace recently and at 2/1 is among the pick of the anytime scorer options.

Nathan Redmond’s end product remains a shade frustrating but he put in a man-of-the-match display against Palace, scoring in a game Southampton won 3-1, and it’s in this type of fixture which he should be causing havoc. Again, 2/1 to find the net is fairly interesting in a game the hosts should win.

It is, however, worth noting that the goal returns of Tadic (3) and Redmond (6) are symptomatic of Southampton’s core issue: turning possession into goals.

Manolo Gabbiadini handed them a welcome boost with his January arrival but so much depends on the supply of Tadic and James Ward-Prowse and Saints have not found a dependable attacking formation, a problem exacerbated by Charlie Austin’s absence.

Austin, Southampton’s leading league scorer with just nine goals, is back in training and was expected to feature for the U23 side on Friday, but this will come too soon for him.

Coupled with Hull’s return of just nine away league goals this season, odds-against about under 2.5 goals begins to appear generous but I would rather split stakes on Southampton winning 1-0 or 2-0.

Hull are well-drilled, fighting for their lives and capable of making things uncomfortable for the hosts, but Southampton are reliable punting material in this sort of game and can get the job done.

Prediction: Southampton 2-0 Hull

Opta facts:

o Southampton have won four of their previous five Premier League matches against Hull City, although did lose last time out in November.

o The Tigers haven’t won away at Southampton in a competitive meeting since February 1951, losing 10 of 15 trips there since that victory (D5).

o Saints have won their last four home games against Hull, scoring two or more in each clash.

o Southampton have lost only one of their last 12 Premier League home games against sides in the bottom half of the table coming into the fixture (W7 D4 L1).

o Since Marco Silva was appointed Hull City manager, the Tigers have won 20 points from 14 Premier League matches. However, only one of these points (5%) have come away from home.

Stoke v West Ham (1500 BST)


It’s 11th versus 14th here and while neither side can count themselves totally safe, it’s highly likely that they will end the season roughly where they enter this round of fixtures.

Stoke’s standard home excellence has been undermined a little by what Burnley (10-2-5) and Leicester (9-3-4) have done this season, but five defeats from 17 at the bet365 Stadium confirms that West Ham have it all to do to record their fifth away win of the campaign.

Then again, there’s some evidence to suggest that the Hammers have found comfort on the road, away from their new home, and they’ve scored as many as the two standout sides in the division, Chelsea and Tottenham.

Only Arsenal, Leicester and Everton – three sides who are very good at home – have kept the Hammers from scoring and, while money continues to come for 23/20 chances Stoke, pick of the short prices has to be both teams to score at a drifting 4/5.

More speculative but also more tempting is the 12/5 being offered about more goals being scored before the break than after it. 

On Wednesday, I made the opposite case for Arsenal v Leicester and got lucky as the Gunners grabbed a late winner, but the basic logic – that the likely cadence of the game supported the suggestion – can be applied in a different way here.

With little on the line, there’s at least a chance that this peters out towards the end and when you throw in the fact that almost 60% of Stoke’s goals have come in the first half – the highest portion of any top-flight side – the stock prices appear to be a little out of line.

West Ham are mid-pack when it comes to goal distribution, but that’s fine and seven of their 12 on the road since the turn of the year have come in the first half. How significant that is, who can say, but I return to the idea that after a nothing-to-lose start to the game, we could see a nothing-to-gain finish.

Prediction: Stoke 2-1 West Ham

Opta facts:

o Stoke are unbeaten against West Ham in the Premier League under Mark Hughes, winning three of their seven clashes (D4).

o West Ham have won only once in their last seven away trips to Stoke in all competitions (D2 L4) – winning 1-0 in March 2013.

o Saido Berahino has scored in three of his four previous starts against West Ham United in the Premier League (three goals).

o However, Berahino hasn’t scored a Premier League goal since February 27th 2016 (for WBA vs Crystal Palace) and has since gone 24 games and 1567 minutes without a goal in the competition.

o The Hammers are winless in five away Premier League games (D2 L3) and have failed to keep a clean sheet in each of the last 13.

Sunderland v Bournemouth (1500 BST)


Prior to Wednesday’s defeat to Middlesbrough, Sunderland boss David Moyes was keen to stress that his side still felt like they had a chance in their survival battle. Come Saturday evening, they could be relegated.

It’s unlikely, but even if it’s another stay of execution for the Black Cats, they are a dire outfit heading to the second division sooner or later and that’s why they look extremely poor value at around 2/1 here.

Two points from nine matches, a distinct lack of goals, a manager whose faith even in himself appears to have disappeared and the further twist of the knife provided by Newcastle’s promotion means that the outlook on Wearside is gloomy and it’d take an exceptionally brave person to back them to win any game of football right now.

Bournemouth are hardly a safe conveyance, but what they do have is goals. Their away form was perfectly solid (2-2 at Liverpool, 1-1 at Old Trafford) prior to a forgivable thumping at White Hart Lane and they got right back on track with a confidence-boosting home win last weekend.

Josh King in particular is in electric form and it’s no surprise Paddy Power’s standout 15/8 about him scoring for the fourth game in five is coming under continued pressure, but should he falter there’s a confident Benik Afobe also to be dealt with.

Sunderland’s only real ray of light here is their victory in the reverse, but that was among the more curious games of the season – Bournemouth dominated from start to finish and gifted their opponents three unlikely points. 

Now handed the opportunity to gain revenge and with a top-half finish within their grasp, Eddie Howe’s side should prove ruthless enough to take advantage of a broken bunch who are no match for them under any measure.

At just a hair under 6/4, the Cherries must be a bet.

Prediction: Sunderland 0-2 Bournemouth

Opta facts:

o Sunderland have lost only one of their nine previous meetings with Bournemouth in all competitions, winning five and drawing three.

o Bournemouth’s solitary victory over the Black Cats came in their first Premier League clash back in September 2015 (2-0), with goals from Callum Wilson and Matt Ritchie securing the points.

o Sunderland have had a player sent off in two of their three Premier League matches against the Cherries - Younes Kaboul in September 2015 and Steven Pienaar in November 2016.

o Eddie Howe’s team have won only two away Premier League games in the last 12 months (W2 D5 L12) – 3-0 vs Swansea in December 2016 and 1-0 vs Stoke in November 2016.

o Josh King (14 goals) needs just one more goal to become only the second Norwegian player in Premier League history to reach 15 goals in a single Premier League season after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (18 goals in 1996-97 and 17 goals in 2001-02).

o Bournemouth striker King has scored five of Bournemouth’s eight away league goals so far in 2017, with no other player netting more than one.

West Brom v Leicester (1500 BST)


Has Craig Shakespeare’s so-called honeymoon period come to an end, or does a tricky run of games combined with an almighty Champions League distraction excuse Leicester’s three-game winless run in the Premier League?

On balance maybe a bit of both, but Leicester can certainly be excused a narrow defeat to Arsenal, throwing away a two-goal lead at Crystal Palace and ultimately coming up short against Everton in a carefree shootout which came on the eve of their trip to Madrid.

It will surely be difficult for the Foxes to summon serious enthusiasm for the final few weeks of the season but their overall trajectory remains positive, and the gap between them and Saturday’s hosts has narrowed significantly of late.

West Brom haven’t scored in four matches – in fact, they’ve found the net in one of their last seven, a damning indictment of an Arsenal side which rolled over and allowed them three back in March.

The Baggies remain eighth but their advantage over Southampton is a narrow one, so while a top-half finish remains very much within sight, two games against Man City and one against Chelsea suggests they will continue to fall having produced such an impressive first half of the season.

All of their success came thanks to Tony Pulis doing what we know he does best: making their home ground something of a fortress, inside which their visitors were made to feel uncomfortable.

Let’s not forget, West Brom still boast one of the best home records in the league. Pound-for-pound, perhaps Burnley’s is the only one which could be labelled superior. West Brom were the lowest-spending club last summer and to be eighth with just five games left is a huge achievement.

However, in the here and now it���s only their relative freshness which can be considered a big advantage over Leicester, but even that isn’t enough to jump on the bandwagon and support them at 6/4 and shortening.

Indeed I’d have been keen to side with Leicester were it not for the nature of their defeat to Arsenal, one Shakespeare admitted had caused serious dejection after so much hard work at the Emirates went to waste.

It would be an impressive boon to his prospects of keeping the job were Shakespeare to conjure another similar effort from his players, but if he can, this game is there for the taking.

Too many ifs and buts for me, though.

Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Leicester

Opta facts:

o West Brom have found the back of the net in each of their last 17 meetings with Leicester City in all competitions, scoring exactly twice in the last four in a row.

o The Foxes have won three of their last four trips to the Hawthorns (L1), winning the last two by a 3-2 scoreline.

o Jamie Vardy has scored in both of his Premier League appearances versus the Baggies at the Hawthorns (two goals).

o Riyad Mahrez has had a hand in four goals in his last three games against West Brom in the Premier League (two goals, two assists).

Crystal Palace v Burnley (1730 BST, BT Sport 1)


With Sam Allardyce having further enhanced his profile as the go-to get-out-of-jail man, it’s Burnley’s whose need is greater here given that they are only five points clear of the relegation zone.

It’s a remarkable thing when you consider that they’ve secured more points at home than fifth-placed Manchester United, but zero wins, four draws and 13 defeats on the road mean that the job is far from done.

That said, while they’ve very much gone off the boil, Sean Dyche could hardly have penned a friendlier run-in himself, with home games against flapping West Ham and West Brom sides and two trips to bottom-half opponents.

Not that this one will be easy. Palace have won six in nine, living up to their manager’s promise that results would come in the spring, and their sole home defeat came on Wednesday only after a stunning goal from Christian Eriksen.

A relatively quick turnaround must represent some kind of concern, particularly given the intensity with which they’ve been playing, and that’s enough to suggest that there are safer odds-on conveyances on the coupon – even if a strictly numbers-led approach makes Palace bankers.

The enforced absence of Joey Barton is an issue for Burnley but they’ve kept a couple of clean sheets on the road lately, where performances have definitely improved right back to an unfortunate 2-1 defeat to Arsenal in January.

There are just two opportunities remaining to bag an away win and I’ve a sneaky feeling they’ll take one of them, whether here or at Bournemouth. At the prices available, however, it’s an easy decision to speculate without an investment.

Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-2 Burnley

Opta facts:

o Crystal Palace have gone 10 league games unbeaten against Burnley on home soil (W4 D6 L0), keeping seven clean sheets in the process.

o Burnley have won just four points from a possible 51 away from home in the Premier League this season (W0 D4 L13).

o Sean Dyche’s side are currently level with their Premier League away record in 2009-10 (four points from 19 away games). The only team to have won fewer points away from home in a complete Premier League season are Derby County in 2007-08 (3).

o The Clarets have only ever gone one season in their history without winning an away league game – in 1902/03 in the second tier. They only have two away games left in 2016-17, including this match.

Posted at 1600 BST on 27/04/17.

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