Our football writer previews matchday 25 of the 2016/17 English Premier League season.
There’s still 14 rounds to go in the Premier League but at the rate Chelsea are going it’s looking very likely that the title race will be decided long before we get to week 38.
Of course, Antonio Conte’s side still have some work to do but they hold a comfortable nine-point advantage over closest challengers Tottenham. The Blues could extend their lead at the summit should they win at Burnley and Spurs drop points at Anfield this weekend.
Saturday 11 February
3/10 Arsenal | Draw 9/2 | Hull City 8/1
We kick things off with a clash between Arsene Wenger’s out-of-form Arsenal and Marco Silva’s ever-improving Hull City team. The Gunners’ title charge ended as they were outclassed 3-1 by table-toppers Chelsea, their second straight defeat – leaving them 12 points behind Conte’s men. I’m not saying Arsenal can’t put together a winning streak from now till the end of the season, I’m saying Chelsea aren’t going to drop a lot of points. Arsenal have world class talent but they’re not gelling as a team and it doesn’t help not having Wenger on the touchline.
Hull have improved tremendously under Silva in their bid to avoid relegation. Following a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea, they left Old Trafford with a well-deserved point and recorded a shocking 2-0 win at home to Liverpool last weekend. However, the Tigers are winless in their last 11 away matches, suffering nine defeats. Arsenal should bounce back with a win here.
Manchester United outclassed Leicester City at the King Power Stadium last Sunday, strolling to a 3-0 victory. That result extended United’s unbeaten run in the Premier League to 15 matches – their longest unbeaten run since Sir Alex Ferguson retired. Jose Mourinho will be impressed with that feat and he’ll be targeting back-to-back wins following three consecutive draws prior to their win over Leicester.
Watford are unbeaten in their last four league matches with two wins on the bounce, including a notable 2-1 win at the Emirates. The Hornets won the reverse fixture 3-1 at Vicarage Road in September and will fancy their chances of causing an upset. I’m going for Both Teams to Score at 12/10.
26/10 Middlesbrough | Draw 9/4 | Everton 21/20
Middlesbrough’s winless run in the Premier League extended to seven matches as they went down 1-0 at Tottenham, courtesy of a Harry Kane penalty. Although Aitor Karanka can be proud of his team’s defensive solidity, Boro are only a point off the drop zone and will need to improve if they are to extend their stay in the top flight.
Ronald Koeman marked his 100th game as a Premier League manager in style as Romelu Lukaku inspired Everton to a thrilling 6-3 victory over Bournemouth by scoring four times – becoming the league’s top scorer. The Toffees are unbeaten in four matches with three wins, scoring 12 goals in the process. The away win looks a top bet at 21/20.
1/1 Stoke City | Draw 47/20 | Crystal Palace 26/10
Stoke City suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat against West Brom at the Hawthorns last Saturday, extending their winless streak to three matches. Prior to that loss, Mark Hughes’ men had drawn back-to-back games against Man United and Everton. The Potters will seek a return to winning ways when they host 19th-placed Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The Eagles' hopes of avoiding relegation took a major hit as they were thumped 4-0 at home by bottom side Sunderland, suffering their 15th defeat of the campaign. They’ve lost five of their last six matches, shipping 12 goals. The home win is the way to go.
26/10 Sunderland | Draw 47/20 | Southampton 1/1
Sunderland gained three vital points in their efforts to avoid the drop with an astonishing 4-0 win at troubled Crystal Palace, with Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong on the scoresheet before Jermain Defoe's double. David Moyes’ men had held Tottenham to a goalless draw at the Stadium of Light prior to their win over Palace, underlining their recent improvement.
The Black Cats will be brimming with confidence when they entertain an out-of-form Southampton team. The Saints will be desperate to pick up maximum points after losing 3-1 at home to West Ham, their third consecutive loss. I’m backing the home win – my value bet for the weekend.
11/10 West Ham | Draw 23/10 | West Brom 24/10
West Ham fought back from an early deficit to claim an impressive 3-1 win at Southampton. That was the Hammers’ third win from four matches and they’ll be hoping to build on that result. However, they’ll face a stern test on Saturday against West Brom, who beat them 4-2 in the reverse fixture.
Tony Pulis’ men have won four of their last six matches and are riding a three-match unbeaten streak in the Premier League. The Baggies needed an early goal from James Morrison to beat Stoke last Saturday and consolidate their place in the top 10. I’m expecting a tight affair with the teams tipped to cancel each other out.
23/20 Liverpool | Draw 23/10 | Tottenham 23/10
Liverpool will look to pick up their first Premier League victory in 2017 when they host a rock-solid Tottenham side on Saturday. The Reds have won just one of their 10 games in all competitions so far this year – their only win being against League Two side, Plymouth, in the FA Cup.
Spurs are in the opposite sort of form, having gone nine matches without tasting defeat in the Premier League. However, Mauricio Pochettino’s men have failed to beat the Merseyside giants in the last nine attempts, with Liverpool claiming six victories in that run. Jurgen Klopp’s side are also undefeated against the top six sides in the league and will be hoping to continue that run against Spurs who have punched above their weight this season sitting in second place.
Despite Liverpool boasting the best attack in the Premier League (52) – along with Arsenal, it will be tough to beat Spurs, let alone score. Pochettino’s men have suffered just two defeats this campaign – less than any other side.
Alli has been a big-game performer since making his breakthrough into the Tottenham side, and for that reason, I’m tipping him to find the back of the net here. Go with the Matchbet of Alli To Score Anytime & Spurs To Win at a valuable 13/2.
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Sunday 12 February
13/2 Burnley | Draw 7/2 | Chelsea 4/10
Burnley’s impressive home record will be put to great test when table-toppers Chelsea come to town on Sunday. The Clarets have been superb at Turf Moor having won seven matches in a row, keeping five clean sheets in the process. Sean Dyche’s men are tough to beat on their turf but the gulf in class between them and Chelsea could be on show. Burnley look set be without the injured Dean Marney and Steven Defour, while Jeff Hendrick will miss the tie due to suspension.
Conte’s side come into this fixture high on confidence following their 3-1 win over London rivals Arsenal – who are one of three teams to win at Turf Moor this season. The Blues will be looking to do the double over Burnley, having won the reverse fixture 3-0 at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are unbeaten in six matches, winning five times – get on the away win.
27/20 Swansea City | Draw 9/4 | Leicester City 39/20
Swansea may have left the Etihad Stadium empty-handed, but they did enough to suggest they can beat the drop. Paul Clement's arrival has breathed new life into their battle for survival, the fact it took a 92nd-minute winner for Man City shows just how far the Swans have come. Swansea have improved tremendously, winning three in the Premier League – including a famous victory at Liverpool.
While the Swans look capable of avoiding relegation, the same cannot be said for champions Leicester City. The Foxes have lost four of their last five matches and are yet to win away from home this season, losing nine of their 12 travels. The home win is tipped at 27/20.
Monday 13 February
52/10 Bournemouth | Draw 7/2 | Man City 9/20
Bournemouth were beaten 6-3 against Everton at Goodison Park last Saturday and Eddie Howe will desperately need to find a quick solution to his side’s defensive woes or they are at risk of dropping even closer to the bottom three. Their brilliant attacking play has never been in doubt but after their shocking defensive performance against the Toffees, it looks like they are going to need more than their ability to score plenty of goals to stay in the top flight.
The Cherries are winless in six matches, suffering four defeats – including two on the bounce. Brazilian sensation Gabriel Jesus scored twice in a 2-1 win at home to Swansea last Sunday to give Manchester City their third consecutive victory. Pep Guardiola’s side will be confident of extending their winning streak on Monday night. The Citizens thrashed West Ham 4-0 in their last away match – back them to Win & Over 2.5 Goals at 6/10.
TREBLE @ 9/1
Everton Win 21/20
Sunderland Win 26/10
Chelsea Win 4/10
Written by Chadley Nagel