This weekend threw all certainties out of the window by potentially blowing up both the fight for the title and the drop. Leicester City’s renowned rear-guard proclivities managed to salvage them what could be a critical point against Slaven Bilic’s West Ham.
Spurs will feel confident ahead of their Monday night clash with Stoke; Spurs can draw within five points of the Foxes with a victory on Monday night. Arsenal’s slim title hopes were effectively dashed with yet another in a series of dominant draws on Sunday. Gunners fans will be hoping that this sickly pattern of disappointment in major competitions can be addressed soon or else their much lauded top four status may come under jeopardy.
Sunderland’s comprehensive win at Norwich - coupled with Newcastle’s victory over the Swans - has reignited belief in the North-East of England that at least one of the Tyne-Wear giants may remain a Premier League fixture next season. And oh yes, there is a Merseyside derby this week.
Five-midweek matches lay ahead as the campaign approaches fever pitch.
Tuesday 19 April
Newcastle United 9/2 | Draw 32/10 | Manchester City 6/10
Rafa Benitez’s side really confounded expectations this weekend with a comfortable win that came from absolutely nowhere. Benitez showed some bravery in starting the big ego that is Jonjo Shelvey on the bench, reminding the players that there will be no passengers in the final push for survival. Mitrovic will need to make a real nuisance of himself this weekend if Newcastle have any chance of upsetting a City beside that is starting to look imperious. Kevin De Bruyne has change the entire dynamic of the City side while Sergio Aguero has thrown his hat into the Golden Boot ring with a predatory hat-trick against Chelsea. The return of Samir Nasri must also not be underestimated; the mercurial French talent has shone upon his return to the side.
Verdict: Halftime-Fulltime Double - City to win both halves at 13/10 - Manchester City are just far too confident and I think they may destroy Newcastle. One game can’t convince me that this is a good Newcastle side, despite their defensive overhaul.
Wednesday 20 April
West Ham United 6/10 | Draw 29/10 | Watford 45/10
West Ham United were left somewhat apoplectic following yet another late Leicester revival. They seemed to put their F.A Cup disappointment behind them and could have quite easily quashed the atmosphere completely at the King Power Stadium. Watford’s surprising away victory over West Brom has allowed them the room to completely focus on their upcoming Cup semi-final. They are likely to completely change the complexion of their starting line-up - which they are more than justified to do with history beckoning this weekend.
Verdict: West Ham will seize the opportunity, at home, to cement their status in the European slots.
Manchester United 5/10 | Draw 3/1 | Crystal Palace 11/2
It will be interesting to see the lineups that both of these sides put up this week. Both sides will be involved in the Cup semi-finals this weekend and will thus feel the need to rest key players this week. United certainly have more to play for in the league context and will far more likely risk key individuals for this game. However, the trepidation that they showed against Villa amplified my belief that there are still gargantuan issues at England’s premier club. Palace are unbeaten in three and go into this game with some momentum and more importantly, confidence.
Verdict: Double Chance - Palace to win or draw at 14/10.
Liverpool 15/20 | Draw 28/10 | Everton 7/2
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Thursday 21 April
Arsenal 5/20 | Draw 47/10 | West Bromwich Albion 22/10
Arsenal’s season seemed to promise so much at the turn of the year. Injury issues and their perennial defensive problems have plagued a side slowly starting to doubt the man at the helm. There is also a distinct possibility - given Liverpool’s continued involvement in the Europa League - that Arsenal may not compete in the Champions Leagues should they finish fourth. West Brom suffered an ignominious home defeat that punctuated a season that is really hard to define. They have often seemed more accomplished on the road or against stronger opposition. In that sense, this game should suit their counterattacking credentials.
Verdict: Double Chance - West Brom to win or draw at 26/10 - I honestly think that there is a bubble imploding at the Emirates and that West Brom’s natural desire to counter through Berahino and Senssengyong will exploit that frailty.
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