Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.
What a surprisingly pleasant week it was in the land of European football. Liverpool were dire and exemplified the banality of most English transfer signings during their Champions League campaign (such as it was), but the other English Premiership sides excelled in a season where most only gave Chelsea any hope of further progression. United - bizarrely undeterred by European exigencies - host a Liverpool side rattled by an embarrassing European campaign. This clash of entrenched bastions should provide a death rattle for a Liverpool side struggling to replicate the veracity of their home support. Chelsea are finally a beaten side, but they should find little problem in brushing past a disappointing Hull City. This should be an interesting gauge of the relative power of the European heavyweights, while lowly sides battle to grind out some semblance of consistency in an ever increasing plethora of fixtures.
Burnley have surprised all with their fantastical ascension through the league ranks. They have profited off the ineptitude of various other clubs and managed to discern their very own niche in the top flight market. Southampton have learnt a few hard truths against the big boys in recent weeks: namely; kill your enemy. Their complete lack of goal scoring composure against Manchester United proved crucial in a game where United converted 66% of their chances. This should be an intriguing battle of attrition as Southampton fight to keep their legitimacy as a top force. And for that reason we play it safe with a Southampton/Draw Double Chance at 1/5, which is most certainly one for the multiples.
Chelsea’s domestic supremacy should not undermined by one indifferent away result. Newcastle were fortunate to gain their infamous smash and grab victory and Mourinho should feel far more comfortable in the safe confines of Stamford Bridge this week. Steve Bruce is a fantastic manager and has been unfortunate in inheriting a Hull City squad who have battled with injury setbacks. Diame and Snodgrass are both influential midfielders, but are both sidelined. Take Chelsea on the halftime-fulltime double at 13/20.
Crystal Palace have been thuggish in recent times, indicating a durability that perhaps once seemed unreal. Stoke were manful against Arsenal and have shown a sadomasochistic determination away from home. This is more interesting for who isn’t there; Tony Pulis was a central figure in the emergence of both clubs and has gone a long way in determining their destinies. Bet against Both Teams to Score at 8/10 as both sides are erratic and inconsistent when hitting the back of the net.
Leicester Foxes have been unimpressive of late while Liam Gallagher’s beloved Manchester City are soaring on a perpetual wave of optimism. City’s revival would have left Liberace dumbfounded and Pellegrini’s men seem intent on securing their Championship crown. Man City should have far too much for a Leicester side desperately stuck in a Championship quagmire. Back City at 5/10.
Sunderland host West Ham in what could well be an autobiographical retelling of Big Sam’s life in recent times - but he is on the other side now. West Ham have combined the brutish (Andy Carroll) with the elegant (Sakho), and look well fitted to survive the many travails of the league. Sunderland have dug it out against the top dogs but may battle against the particular combination offered by West Ham. The Hammers to win or draw on the Double Chance is the safe bet at 4/10.
West Brom have been floating precariously close to the drop zone in recent weeks while Aston Villa have been enormously reenergized by the presence of Christian Benteke. He seems to mobilise the entire attack comprising of the seemingly disparate ineffectual pace of both Gabby Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann. This should be a brutal encounter as neither side wants to slump more flirtatiously into the relegation mire. Take Under 2.5 Goals at 6/10 and be done with it.
Arsenal’s resurgence has perhaps obscured the broader indifference towards the managerial reign of Arsene Wenger. Alan Pardew’s resurgence has probably highlighted the flimsy line that exists between job security and termination. Newcastle produced a smash and grab triumph last week against Chelsea and will battle to repeat the feat this week. Aaron Ramsey has rediscovered an aspect of his incredible form last year and should prove too clever in conjunction with Santi Cazorla this weekend. Back Arsenal at 4/10.
Wow. Could there be a more all-encompassing barometer of English football than this one? Liverpool were demoralised by a swift footed Basel side midweek while Manchester United continue to trudge on in their inimitable fashion. Robin Van Persie has seemingly rediscovered the form that saw him dominate the collective subconscious of Premier League defenders everywhere. Liverpool look woeful in the heart of midfield and will battle to deal with both the dexterity of Juan Mata and the pure physicality of Marouane Fellaini. Get on the Red Devils at 8/10.
Swansea have been imperious at home thus far while Spurs continue to battle in their quest for a credible identity. Wilfried Bony remains a most bizarre piece of transfer inactivity on the part of Liverpool Football Club. Spurs are struggling to feed off the talismanic figure of Eriksson and should be outclassed against a Swansea side hopelessly devoted to their aesthetically pleasing football routine. The Spurs defensive line will battle to deal with the pace and precision of Dyer and Routledge. A bold single bet is the Swansea/Draw halftime-fulltime double at 11/1. Swansea could ease into a major comfort zone following a first half exhibition. However, in the interest of safety, Swansea at 29/20 should do the trick.
Everton are in dire need of festive cheer while Harry Redknapp’s QPR side are reveling in the end of year madness. Everton seem to be ideologically confused; determined to play a free flowing tika taka style despite a complete lack of the resources necessary to do so. Let’s be honest, Ross Barkley - as good and determined as he is - is not the man to herald in a new era of free flowing footballing dynamism. QPR should revel in the counterattacking role while the heat starts to intensify for Mr Martinez. QPR to win or draw on the Double Chance is the tip at 29/20.
10-leg English Premier League Multiple - 180/1
The man knows his football, but even he gets it wrong from time to time. Feel free to share your EPL tips and multiples below.
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