Our English Premier League writer previews round 23 of the 2016/17 campaign.
Gameweek 23 of the Premier League sees Chelsea lead the way by eight points after Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham all dropped points. Arsenal are the Blues’ nearest challengers after their last-gasp win at home to Burnley.
Chelsea look incredibly strong at the moment and they’re firm favourites to claim the title. But Antonio Conte’s side face Liverpool on Tuesday before welcoming Arsenal to Stamford Bridge on February 4. There are some exciting matches lined up in midweek as well as Transfer Deadline Day to look forward to.
Tuesday 31 January
Arsenal 2/9 | Draw 5/1 | Watford 10/1
Arsenal beat Burnley 2-1 in dramatic fashion at the Emirates to move up to second in the Premier League table. The Gunners will be looking to extend their unbeaten run in the league to six matches when they host Watford on Tuesday. Granit Xhaka will miss the next four matches after receiving his second red card of the season for a reckless challenge. That will come as a huge blow to Arsene Wenger as Mohamed Elneny is on Africa Cup of Nations duty, while Santi Cazorla remains a long-term injury. However, Wenger could welcome back Theo Walcott who was in good form before he injured his calf five weeks ago.
Walter Mazzarri's struggling Watford side are winless in their last seven matches in the Premier League following their 2-2 draw at Bournemouth, where they gave away the lead twice. Arsenal beat the Hornets 3-1 in the reverse fixture and they’re tipped to pick up a third consecutive victory. For value, take the hosts to Win & Both Teams to Score at 21/20.
Bournemouth 21/20 | Draw 47/20 | Crystal Palace 51/20
Bournemouth twice fought back to draw 2-2 with Watford at the Vitality Stadium last Saturday and Eddie Howe's side will be hoping to record their first victory in 2017. The Cherries are winless in three matches, including back-to-back draws at home. However, they’ve lost just once on their turf in their last five matches, winning twice.
Crystal Palace suffered their fourth consecutive defeat as they lost 1-0 at home to Everton, courtesy of Seamus Coleman’s 87th-minute strike. Sam Allardyce’s men are winless in eight matches, while they’ve lost back-to-back games on the road. When the sides met earlier in the season, Palace needed a last-gasp equaliser from Scott Dann to earn a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park. I’m going for Bournemouth on the Win/Draw Double Chance at 3/10.
Burnley 37/20 | Draw 43/20 | Leicester 15/10
Andre Gray's penalty looked to have earned Burnley what would have been a fully deserved point – and only their second away from home all season – but it was hard luck for Sean Dyche's side. With just seconds remaining on the clock, an offside Laurent Koscielny was taken down in the box and Alexis Sanchez slotted the subsequent penalty. The Clarets will be looking to move on from that result and continue their impressive home form against champions Leicester.
The Foxes' alarming slump continued with a 3-0 defeat at Southampton that left them just five points off the drop zone and firmly embroiled in a relegation fight. Claudio Ranieri’s side, who are on a two-match losing streak, are yet to win on the road this season – losing eight of their 11 matches. Burnley are priced at 37/20 to record a sixth straight home victory. The bookies have got this one wrong – get on.
Middlesbrough 29/20 | Draw 39/20 | West Brom 21/10
Middlesbrough succumbed to a 3-1 loss at home to West Ham, extending their winless run in the league to five matches. In that run, they’ve suffered three defeats and scored only two goals. Aitor Karanka’s side are four points above the relegation zone and have only won one of their last eight games.
West Brom returned to winning ways with a 2-0 home win over bottom side Sunderland thanks to goals from Darren Fletcher and Chris Brunt. Tony Pulis’ men will be hoping to build on that result, but they’ve won just once in their last five travels – suffering three defeats. Those defeats did come against Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham, but they also failed to beat a struggling Hull side. These sides played to a goalless draw in the reverse fixture and they’re tipped to cancel each other out again.
Sunderland 7/1 | Draw 15/4 | Tottenham 7/20
Sunderland dropped to the bottom of the Premier League when they lost 2-0 to West Brom at the Hawthorns following Swansea's win at Liverpool. The Black Cats struggled to create clear opportunities and David Moyes was again left lamenting defensive errors. Their fourth defeat in five league games leaves them on 15 points, three points from safety. To make matters worse, left-back Patrick van Aanholt looks set to join Crystal Palace this month.
Tottenham’s seven-match winning streak came to an end as they earned a 2-2 draw away to Manchester City. Mauricio Pochettino’s side trailed by two goals early in the second half but shocked the Citizens as they bounced back to nick a point. Spurs will be praying the injury to Toby Alderweireld is not a bad one – having just lost Jan Vertonghen for six weeks. Tottenham should return to winning ways – back them to Win & Both Teams to Score at 27/20, the Black Cats have scored in eight of their last nine home games.
Swansea 43/20 | Draw 22/10 | Southampton 5/4
Swansea lifted themselves off the bottom of the Premier League table with a thrilling 3-2 win away to title-chasers Liverpool. Fernando Llorente was the hero in Swansea's first league victory under new manager Paul Clement, toe-poking the ball home two minutes after halftime and heading home another five minutes later. On the evidence of Swansea’s performance, it would be naive of anyone to write them off.
The Swans will be looking to make it two wins on the bounce for only the first time this season when they take on Southampton. First-half goals for James Ward-Prowse and Jay Rodriguez plus a late penalty by Dusan Tadic led the Saints to a comfortable 3-0 win over a struggling Leicester side. Prior to that result, Claude Puel’s side had lost four on the spin. I’m going for the Swans on the Win/Draw Double Chance at 6/10.
Liverpool 15/10 | Draw 22/10 | Chelsea 37/20
The transfer deadline day buzz will be put on hold for 90 minutes when Liverpool host runaway leaders, Chelsea, at Anfield. The Reds come into this game in horrendous form, winning just once in their last six matches across all competitions at the time of writing.
And in the Blue corner; Chelsea currently lead the standings by eight points – 10 clear of Liverpool. Antonio Conte’s Chelsea also come into this game winning 15 of their last 16 games. It’s easy to tell which side come into this encounter better prepared, but the Reds have not tasted defeat in five matches against the Blues, making this game even more enticing.
Despite the fact that Chelsea have not beaten the Reds in five meetings, Conte will have no better chance to break that record with Liverpool going through a mini-crisis without Mane. With Costa in red-hot sizzling form, the Blues should pick up maximum points.
Wednesday 1 February
West Ham 17/4 | Draw 32/10 | Man City 11/20
West Ham made it back-to-back Premier League wins with a 3-1 win over Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium, thanks to a first-half brace from Andy Carroll and a late goal from Jonathan Calleri. Angelo Ogbonna delivered a steady performance in the victory over Boro, but he will miss the rest of the season due to requiring knee surgery. Jose Fonte is expected to make his debut against Man City and will add much needed experience and quality to the West Ham defence which has been faltering this season.
Manchester City threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Tottenham amid some controversial refereeing decisions. New boy Gabriel Jesus almost made the dream start after coming off the bench but his would-be winner was ruled offside. The result left City in fifth place with Pep Guardiola already having conceded the title. City desperately need three points if they are to have any hope of finishing in the top four this season. Guardiola’s side thumped the Hammers 5-0 in the FA Cup at the London Stadium earlier in the month – back them to edge their opponents.
Man United 1/6 | Draw 57/10 | Hull City 14/1
Wayne Rooney salvaged a 1-1 draw for Manchester United with his record-breaking equaliser against Stoke last Saturday, but it was another game in which poor finishing cost them dearly. United had 25 shots, eight on target, but scored just once from a set-piece.
Following back-to-back draws against Liverpool and Stoke, Jose Mourinho’s men will seek a return to winning ways against 19th-placed Hull. Marco Silva’s side battled hard against Chelsea, but the Premier League leaders proved too strong as the Tigers went down 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. Hull are winless in their last 10 matches away from home, suffering nine defeats consecutively. Back the hosts to Win To Nil at 6/10.
Stoke 7/4 | Draw 22/10 | Everton 15/10
Stoke looked set for a third straight Premier League win, clinging to a lead given to them when Juan Mata poked Erik Pieters' cross into his own net. And they were heading into the final minute of stoppage time when Rooney took advantage of a foul by Joe Allen on Marcus Rashford and whipped in a super free-kick from wide left to make 1-1. It was a creditable draw in the end but Mark Hughes will perhaps be frustrated at his side's inability to make more of their possession.
Everton extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to five matches with a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace thanks to Seamus Coleman’s 87th-minute strike. That was their fourth win from five matches and their third on the spin. The Toffees will be looking to build on that performance and complete the double over Stoke, having beaten them 1-0 in August. Back the visitors on the Win/Draw Double Chance at 4/10.
TREBLE @ 5/1
Burnley Win (37/20)
Tottenham Win (7/20)
Man City Win (11/20)
Written by Chadley Nagel for @Hollywoodbets