Written by Damian Kayat for Hollywoodbets.
F.A Cup considerations see a truncated fixture list this weekend that could prove enormously beneficial to a title seeking Leicester side. They host a struggling Newcastle side whilst both City and Spurs face potentially awkward away fixtures. If there ever was a time to stamp one’s authority on a prospective title, this is that time. Villa’s parodic freefall has not surprised most critics. There have been systemic issues at the club for some time now, not least of which the inability to appoint proving Premier League managers. Their fixture with Spurs should prove a procession for the London club whilst consolidating the Villain’s status as the worst team in England.
Saturday 12 March
Norwich City 9/2 | Draw 3/1 | Manchester City 6/10
Norwich are on a disastrous run, with Cameron Jerome’s inefficiency in front of goal a perfect encapsulation of their deficiencies. Man City have possibly been the most disappointing side in European football this season. It’s clear that the side will probably need a pre-Guardiola clear-out if they wish to attain any of their lofty goals. However, Man City should have far too much quality for a Norwich side that looks destined to be plying their trade in the Championship next season.
Verdict: Man City to win.
Stoke City 31/20 | Draw 21/10 | Southampton 7/4
Stoke city have recently started to benefit from Mark Hughes’ long-term goals for the club. They have experienced a spell where all of their key players have been injury free: a tantalizing prospect when you consider that they have the likes of Shaqiri, Arnautovic and Bojan in their ranks. Southampton are something of an oddity, oscillating between absurd and brilliant with alarming regularity. The combination of Long and Austin has yet to prove too fruitful, while the seemingly reliable Forster has started to spill some routine saves in the last few weeks.
Verdict: Stoke to win- In this battle for European football, I just feel that Stoke will have too much for Southampton.
Bournemouth 9/10 | Draw 23/10 | Swansea City 33/10
Bournemouth are just a fantastic microcosm of what makes the Premier League so compelling. They have navigated major injury concerns with remarkable dexterity, with the likes of King and Daniels evolving into true Premier League players. Swansea will feel relieved that they have created some breathing space between them and the current bottom dwellers of the league. Glyfi Sigurdsson has been instrumental to their success, while stalwart figures like Williams have aided Guidolini in his survival quest.
Verdict: Total goals over 2.5 at 12/10 - I feel that both sides will feel relatively safe and this should necessitate an open game of football.
Sunday 13 March
Aston Villa 57/10 | Draw 33/10 | Tottenham Hotspur 5/10
The demise of Aston Villa has taken on all the dimensions of a Greek tragedy in recent times. Remi Garde has cut an increasingly forlorn figure in the Villa dugout, with his side performing with the appetite of a side seemingly resigned to their fate. Spurs will welcome the prospect of defeated opposition in their bid for an unlikely title. They were definitely left the most disappointed in the wake of last weekend’s North-London derby. How they contrived to draw that game to a dejected Arsenal side is still a mystery to me.
Verdict: Spurs to win - I think this will be a surprisingly tight affair, but nevertheless I expect Spurs to ultimately prevail.
Monday 14th March
Leicester City 11/20 | Draw 3/1 | Newcastle United 47/10
The pivotal game of the weekend in the title race sees Leicester City host a desperate Newcastle United. How Steve McClaren still has his job is an enigma that I will never be able to fully understand. It’s not as if the Magpies haven’t thrown cash at the situation. There’s just a dank, infected aura at the club that is hard to define. Midfielders like Colback and Anita don’t seem cut out for the rigours of Premier League football, while Mitrovic has proving to be a gigantic flop.
Verdict: Leicester have a tile to chase, and will no doubt feel the pressure at some point in the run-in. this weekend, however, will not be that time.
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