Written by Damian Kayat for Hollywoodbets.
At the beginning of last weekend it seemed as if the Premier League may have been ending in something of a damp squib. Leicester were running away with proceedings while any result for Norwich looked set to vanquish both Sunderland and Newcastle United to Championship obscurity.
The top four had also separated themselves from the rest of the field vying for European contention. It shows just how volatile this league can be that all those preconceived certainties have been turned on their head. The title race is heating up as Spurs lay in wait for any mistake from Raneiri’s Foxes.
The absence of Fantastic Mr Fox himself - Jamie Vardy- will leave a massive hole for Leicester to fill; this is a factor that could have the potential to swing the league dramatically in Leicester’s favour. The Geordie contingent also have the opportunity to steal a march on Norwich with the Canaries absent from duty this weekend.
Saturday 23 April
Manchester City 3/10 | Draw 42/10 | Stoke City 87/10
Manchester City opened the door this week for all those clamouring for a potential Champions League spot this season. An unexpected draw with Newcastle has taking away from their momentum, while Stoke have been on a worrying downward spiral. Mark Hughes’ side lacks depth in key areas and needs some fresh legs in the middle of the park. The likes of Whelan and Adam will find it hard to cope with whatever midfield City field. City have the immense distraction of a Champions League semi-final next Tuesday; this will clearly interfere with their preparations going into this weekend’s fixtures. However, Stoke have been really poor in the last two games, conceding eight and growing increasingly lethargic.
Verdict: Manchester City to win 3/10.
Liverpool 6/10 | Draw 3/1 | Newcastle United 4/1
The idea of certainty in this league seems to be one notion that has been systematically debunked this season. But the revolution that has occurred in Liverpool’s form will surely be disconcerting for Rafa Benitez upon another return to the Reds. Liverpool have been sensational of late, embodying the hyper-kinetic pressing game that Klopp espouses. Newcastle have doggedly mounted a late survival bid that may have roused their fans a little pre-emptively considering this fixture. Colback and Anita are going to struggle to contain the movement and more importantly pace of Liverpool. Even without Origi - who was the victim of a horror tackle on Wednesday night - Liverpool will have more than enough to dispose of Newcastle.
Verdict: Liverpool to win at 6/10.
Bournemouth 2/1 | Draw 23/10 | Chelsea 27/20
The manner of Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester City left little room for empty rhetoric of ill fortune befalling the outgoing champions. They were dominated by City, with Diego Costa floating through the game as anonymously as common sense at a Villa board meeting. Antonio Conte is going to have to completely overhaul the makeup of this side. Bournemouth will feel quietly confident that their undeniable athleticism will give this languid Chelsea side some problems. Bournemouth’s survival this season is directly related to that intangible quality that Chelsea so sorely lack: passion.
Verdict: Bournemouth to win at 2/1 - I honestly think that Bournemouth will have the edge against a Chelsea side with nothing to play for.
Aston Villa 52/10 | Draw 29/10 | Southampton 11/20
Aston Villa’s embarrassing season has left them rummaging the annals of Premier League history for their place among the worst sides in Premier League history. Joleon Lescott’s comments that their certain relegation had come as a relief to the players will have done little to elevate the mood at the club. Southampton are playing good football recently and still have European aspirations. Mane and Pelle have rediscovered their form and will look to capitalize on a side in peril.
Verdict: Southampton to win comfortably at 9/2 - Southampton are far too accomplished a side and will easily overpower them.
Sunday 24 April
Sunderland 7/2 | Draw 11/4 | Arsenal 15/20
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Leicester City 8/10 | Draw 5/2 | Swansea City 36/10
Leicester City will be earmarking this as a must win fixture ahead of three tricky final fixtures. Jamie Vardy is set to miss this one - a ban that may indeed be extended if the Englishman is found guilty of improper conduct following his reaction to getting dismissed. Vardy’s ability to stretch defences with his electrifying pace has probably been the single most critical facet to the Foxes inconceivable rise to the summit of the table. Okazaki and Ulloha will likely start up front. I wonder if it will not be more effective to start Demari Grey alongside the effervescent Okazaki. Swansea were shocking against Newcastle and actually play into the Foxes’ strategy with their emphasis on possession football.
Verdict: Both Sides to Score - No at 15/20 - While I think Leicester may just edge the game 1-0, I’m more certain that both sides will not score. Swansea have been woefully short of goals while Leicester are without their top striker.
Monday 24 April
Tottenham Hotspur 2/9 | Draw 47/10 | West Brom 12/1
Spurs were devastating on Monday night. Alli and Kane continued to benefit from a rigorously drilled Pochettino side that is both defensively astute and dynamic in attack. Walker and Rose are allowed the freedom to bomb forward with the safety net that is Eric Dier occupying the abandoned with robotic dedication. West Brom currently enjoy the lowest average possession of any side in the Premier League; they are a side that grind results out and generally play on the counterattack. It will be interesting to see if Pulis plays Berahino against the club that so rigorously pursued him in the last transfer window.
Verdict: Halftime - Fulltime Double - Spurs to win both halves at 13/20 - Spurs are the fittest team in the country and are in amazing form. West Brom played on Thursday night and look to have checked out mentally to some extent.
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