It seemed the International break took its toll on the players more than we envisaged, as we witnessed some ‘funny’ results and an uncharacteristic low goals return this past weekend in the EPL. The most stunning result took place in the Capital, at the home of the league leaders Chelsea, as a relegation threatened Crystal Palace team defied the odds to defeat the high flying Blues, a result that even the most faithful of Eagles’ fans would have only thought possible in their dreams. Thankfully for us, the fans of the EPL, we will not have to wait long for more action as there will be ten mid-week games between today and tomorrow. Four will take place today, while six will kick off tomorrow night and the match of this round will happen at Stamford Bridge, when Chelsea hosts Manchester City in a game that would have huge ramifications as to how the season will pan out. As usual, I will be previewing all ten games with betting tips for you to use on the www.nairabet.com platform and win some cool cash for yourself.
LEICESTER CIY vs. SUNDERLAND
The current goings on at the King Power Stadium are comparable to the kinds of tales that could only be written by William Shakespeare and it’s only fitting that the man at the helm of affairs at Leicester shares the same name with the great wordsmith. Craig Shakespeare has engineered a massive turn around at the KingPower Stadium and the Foxes are beginning to look like the team that stunned everyone on the way to their historic league title last season. He became the first English manager to win his first four Premier League games in charge when his team defeated Stoke at the weekend. They welcome Sunderland tonight on the back of four straight victories in the league and with the way they are playing, it’s difficult to see beyond a fifth straight win for them at the end of proceedings. Meanwhile, Sunderland are a team low on confidence and David Moyes seems to be running out of ideas. The Black Cats are yet to win in five Premier League games, losing four and have also failed to score in that run. Victor Anichebe and Jermaine Defoe will be assessed ahead of kick off for Sunderland, while Marc Albrighton is a doubt for Leicester and skipper Wes Morgan will sit this one out. I will be going for a Leicester City win and over 1.5 goals in this one
BURNLEY vs. STOKE CITY
Burnley suffered a rare home defeat last weekend as they were beaten 2-0 by Tottenham and they will want to purge that losing feeling away from themselves with a victory when they entertain Stoke City at home tonight. The Clarets have not been in the best of forms recently as they are currently on a seven match winless run in the league and are now in the relegation wifi zone. Stoke City have just one win from their last five league games and are on a two game losing skid. They are in the top half of the table but that could quickly change with a defeat at Turf Moor tonight. Phil Bardsley returns from suspension having missed last weekend’s 2-0 loss at Leicester, but Mark Hughes will be sweating over the fitness of Xherdan Shaqiri, Jonathan Walters and Geoff Cameron for this game. Sean Dyche could make a couple of changes to the team that was defeated by Spurs last weekend and the likes of Sam Vokes, Steven Defour and Robbie Brady may all feature from the start tonight. My betting tips for this game will be a double chance bet on Burnley and under 2.5 goals.
WATFORD vs. WEST BROM
West Brom earned an impressive draw away to Manchester United last weekend and their first clean sheet away from home since the opening day of the season. That result was their second remarkable one on the bounce against a top six side after they had beaten Arsenal at the Hawthorns just before the international break. They will visit Watford tonight with the aim of getting another solid result to add to their forty-four point tally. Watford got a win last weekend against Sunderland to snap out of their four game winless streak prior to that game and another home win tonight against West Brom would increase the distance between them and the drop zone significantly and take them closer to the magical forty point mark. This should be an interesting game to watch as the Baggies have failed to win in five games away from the Hawthorns, while Watford have lost just one of their last five at Vicarage Road. Matt Phillips remains Tony Pulis’ only injury concern, though the Scotland midfielder is closing in on a return to fitness, while for the home team, Younes Kaboul was forced off with a hamstring problem in the win over Sunderland, which means that Daryl Janmaat might come into the side at right-back. My betting tips for this game are a double chance on Watford and under 2.5 goals.
MANCHESTER UNITED vs. EVERTON
The Red Devils’ poor home form continued last weekend as they were frustrated to a goalless draw by the Baggies, their eighth draw in fourteen league games at Old Trafford this season. In fact, they have won just once in their last five home matches and that has really cost them this season, in terms of mounting a title challenge and fighting for a Champions League spot. They are, however, unbeaten in nineteen league games and will be confident of making it twenty when they host Everton tonight. The Toffees have failed to win any of their last four away games and have won just once in their last five league visits to Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho will be boosted by the returns of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera following respective bans and both should go straight back into the starting lineup here, while this game might be too soon for Paul Pogba to make a return to the team after his Hamstring injury. Ronald Koeman on the other hand will be battling with a lot of injuries as he will be without Yannick Bolasie, Seamus Coleman, Ramiro Funes Mori, Muhamed Besic, Morgan Schneiderlin and James McCarthy through injury, while Matthew Pennington, who made his first league start of his career in the Merseyside Derby, could drop out of the starting lineup as the Dutchman might switch to a back-four tonight. I will advise on a double chance bet on Manchester United and over 1.5 goals.
SWANSEA vs. TOTTENHAM
The Swans have been dragged right back into the relegation battle with a three game winless run against fellow strugglers and It doesn’t get any easier for them as they host a Spurs team hot on the heels of leaders Chelsea, tomorrow night at the Liberty Stadium. Shambolic defending can be blamed for the Swans’ current demise, as they have conceded a whopping 63 goals this term, which is by far the worst tally in the division. They have managed to keep just five clean sheets all season and adding to that doesn’t seem feasible against this Spurs team. Mauricio Pochettino has kept a calm head in the midst of Chelsea’s surprising loss last weekend, pointing out that the Blues still have a more than healthy seven point advantage at the top, but he can’t dispute the fact that the Chelsea result has triggered a fresh burst of Adrenaline for his team and a victory against Swansea coupled with anything less than a Chelsea win against Manchester City on the same night will definitely boost their slim title hopes. Tottenham are currently on a four game winning streak. Fernando Llorente is a doubt with an ankle issue and could miss out for Swansea, with Jordan Ayew in line to continue in attack, while Harry Winks is out for Spurs and Victor Wanyama will be assessed after being forced off in the the win over Burnley with a back issue. I will advise on a double chance bet for Spurs and over 1.5 goals on www.nairabet.com for this match.
SOUTHAMPTON vs. CRYSTAL PALACE
Crystal Palace will travel to Southampton tomorrow night with the aim of building on their upset victory over Chelsea at the Bridge with another away win. Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha were quite impressive at Stamford Bridge and Sam Allardyce will be hopeful they can replicate such performances at St Mary’s. The Eagles are currently four points clear of the relegation zone but cannot consider themselves safe with a difficult run-in ahead. They will be confident of making it five wins on the bounce to boost their survival hopes even further. The Saints have been in a patchy run of form and we do not know which Southampton side will turn up for this encounter. Manolo Gabbiadini will remain sidelined with a groin injury, while Sofiane Boufal is a doubt after picking up a knock at the weekend. For Crystal Palace, Damien Delaney will come in to partner Mamadou Sakho at the back after injuries to James Tomkins and Scot Dann, while Patrick van Aanholt and Mathieu Flamini are rated as doubtful and James McArthur could recover from a back spasm problem. My betting tips for this game are a double chance bet on Crystal Palace and over 1.5 goals.
ARSENAL vs. WEST HAM
The Gunners have won just once in their last six fixtures and Arsene Wenger knows that he needs to start winning if he still harbors hopes of finishing in the top four this season. They welcome fellow Londoners, West Ham to the Emirates tomorrow night with the aim of taking all three points. The character of Wenger’s team has been questioned this season and they sort of showed that they still have a bit of it as a response to some of Wenger’s critics, with twice battling from behind to earn a point against one of their top-four rivals, yet it says an awful lot about their current predicament that simply not losing is seen as a big positive. The frustrations of the fans reached boiling point last weekend as fights broke out around the Emirates Stadium during the draw with City, with Wenger himself admitting that the angst from the stands was being felt by his players on the field, having seen his side win just three of their last 10 games in all competitions, two of those coming against non-league opposition in the FA Cup. Slaven Bilic is also a manager under pressure as his team is currently on a four game losing streak and is gradually being sucked into the relegation battle. He has also been given the dreaded vote of confidence by the board and the loss of Dimitri Payet seems to be affecting the team more than envisaged as they have won one game since the Frenchman’s departure in January. Mark Noble could return to Bilic’s side at the expense of Andre Ayew to allow Manuel Lanzini to operate closer to Andy Carroll, while Michail Antonio is available following a thigh injury. David Ospina should continue in goal for Arsenal with Petr Cech unlikely to be rushed back into action following a calf injury, while Laurent Koscielny is a major doubt meaning Gabriel could partner Mustafi at the back and the duo of Aaron Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain might still remain sidelined. My betting tips for this game are a double chance bet on Arsenal and over 1.5 goals.
HULL CITY vs. MIDDLESBROUGH
The Tigers achieved a very important victory over West Ham last weekend in their battle for survival and another victory tomorrow night against fellow strugglers Middlesbrough will go a long way for them in the relegation battle. They are now level with Swansea City on twenty seven points and with the Swans facing a more difficult opponent on the same night; a win will see the Tigers move out of the relegation zone. Boro, on the other hand, haven’t scored a single league goal away from home this year and must win here to have any chance of beating the drop this season. They will need to do something that they haven’t all season and throw caution to the wind at some point in this game as the worst attack in the league. Kamil Grosicki was probably the man of the match for Hull against West Ham with two great assists from the bench and should start this game, while Michael Dawson is fit enough to start but may struggle to displace either Ranocchia or Magurie, Michael Dawson is fit enough to start but may struggle to displace either Andrea Ranocchia or Harry Magurie and Evandro still remains a doubt. For Boro, Steve Agnew has real troubles in the full-back areas, particularly on the left, with both George Friend and Fabio doubts for this trip. I will advise on bets of a win for Hull City and over 1.5 goals for this match.
LIVERPOOL vs. BOURNEMOUTH
The last time these two sides met in the league, they produced one of the games of the season as the Cherries twice came back from two goal deficits before scoring an injury time winner in a thrilling 4-3 win over the Reds. Liverpool are in good form following their 3-1 victory over local rivals Everton on Saturday and Jurgen Klopp will be expecting a win to gain revenge over Bournemouth. They have won their two home competitive meetings with Bournemouth and will be confident of making it three from three against the Cherries at Anfield. However, it is important to note that all of Liverpool’s five losses this season have come against smaller sides and Bournemouth could be inspired by that and the chance to do the double over Liverpool. The Cherries are unbeaten in four games another positive result will see them likely move into the top half of the table. Sadio Mane sustained a knee injury in the win over Everton and is unlikely to be fit to start here, while Daniel Sturridge, who is back in training, will probably not to be rushed back into first team action just yet. For Bournemouth, Jack Wilshere could replace Benik Afobe in the starting XI, with Josh King featuring as the lone man upfront, while Tyrone Mings is still suspended. My betting tips for this game are a double chance bet on Liverpool and over 2.5 goals on www.nairabet.com
CHELSEA vs. MANCHESTER CITY
The marquee fixture of this game-week will feature two of the game’s brightest coaching talents as the passionate Italian, Antonio Conte and his Chelsea team welcome Manchester City and their brooding Catalan, Pep Guardiola to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea will be hoping to bounce back from defeat to Crystal Palace and send out a message to their title rivals with a victory over Manchester City, while Guardiola will see this as an opportunity to take points off Chelsea and throw the title race open. Three consecutive draws have all but dashed the visitors chances of catching their hosts, but a win tomorrow night will be a huge morale booster for the Citizens. Conte had to switch from his trusted 3-4-3 formation to 3-5-2 last weekend, due to the absence of Victor Moses, expect the Italian to revert to his trusted formation if the Nigerian passes a late fitness test. Nemanja Matic might drop to the bench, with Fabregas filling in to allow Willian to start in a front three. For City, Raheem Sterling might keep his place after Yaya Toure’s introduction in his place at the half against Arsenal, didn’t have the desired effect, while Jesus Navas may continue at right-back despite Pablo Zabaleta being available or Guardiola could also match up with the Blues with a back three, with Vincent Kompany back available. Chelsea lost this fixture last season and haven’t lost back-to-back home league games against the Citizens since December 1983 and they also haven’t lost back to back Premier League games at Stamford Bridge since November 2011 under Andre Villas-Boas, while Conte hasn’t suffered consecutive home league defeats as a manager since November 2009 while in charge of Atalanta, so a Chelsea loss is highly improbable. It is also important to state that no opponent has ever done the double over Pep Guardiola in his managerial career so far, so it seems this one is well shaped to end in a draw. My betting tips for this game are a draw, both teams to score and over 1.5 goals.