EPL: Midweek Fixtures

EPL-Midweek-Fixtures-POreview

Our football scribe takes runs the rule over the midweek EPL fixtures being played between the 25th and 27th of April.

The FA Cup showstopper between Spurs and Chelsea really flew in the face of most conventional wisdom when trying to anticipate the destination of this year’s Premier League title. When Spurs scored to make it 2-2, I would have bet anything that they would be the side to go on and win that game. It says something about the resilience of this Chelsea side that they managed to hold them at bay. Spurs travel to Palace - fresh off herculean victories against both Arsenal and Liverpool - knowing that they will likely be trailing by seven points before kickoff, with Chelsea hosting a stuttering Southampton on Tuesday night. This could be a defining week in a title race that was defined by that Cup match. Elsewhere, a thoroughly depressing evening awaits as Middlesborough host Sunderland. In what is basically going to be a large group therapy session, both sides from the North-East have the opportunity to at least avoid the indignity of finishing stone last. And there’s the small matter of a crucial Manchester derby to contend with. So all in all, this is a veritable feast of midweek action.

Middlesborough 23/20 | Draw 23/10 | Sunderland 23/10
The less said about that performance at Bournemouth the better for Boro. In reality, Boro have not quite capitulated in that manner the entire season. Their general issue has been scoring goals while they have remained relatively resolute at the back. Bournemouth’s speed and urgency showed Steve Agnew exactly what it is that they have lacked this season. Sunderland’s postponed game only delayed the inevitable, as they seem almost certain to drop. They will find it difficult to hold on to Defoe this year and one anticipates that they may find it hard to bounce right back should a mass exodus occur.

Verdict: Double Chance - Sunderland + Draw 6/1
I do not think it could be stressed enough just how damaging that defeat to Bournemouth must have been for Boro. They will be low on morale and I can see Sunderland taking advantage of that.

Arsenal 6/10 | Draw 32/10 | Leicester City 38/10
Arsenal’s morale-boosting FA Cup success came at precisely the right time for the Gunners. They will need something miraculous to happen should they qualify for the Champions League this year. They will, however, take heart from the fact that the Manchester Derby which will see some points dropped by their European opponents. For the Foxes, the end of their European odyssey will have sucked the air out of their sails somewhat with nothing really left to play for. In a season full of soul searching, I think it will be understandable should they be undercooked in this game. Arsenal did the double over them last season en route to winning the title last season. They seem to have the perfect game for the Foxes. Their recent transition to a back three seems to have almost accidentally worked, with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Monreal happy to bomb on in more advanced roles.

Verdict: Home to Score in Both Halves 21/20
I think that Arsenal will dominate this game and will likely run up three or four goals. It may take them some time to break down a resolute Leicester side. The Foxes will be without the injured Wes Morgan and will, therefore, lose a large part of that resilience.
  

Crystal Palace 39/10 | Draw 3/1 | Tottenham Hotspurs 6/10
Sam Allardyce took some time to get his point across at Palace, but boy has it paid off in the last few weeks. They have picked up an astonishing 19 points from their last 24, with huge scalps in the form of Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. Spurs have won seven on the bounce in the league and will be looking to quickly exorcise the demons of that cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea.

Verdict: Double Chance Crystal Palace + Draw 23/20
This is one largely based on the fact that Palace seem perfectly suited to playing the big teams. Alan Pardew was probably guilty of trying to get Palace to deviate too far from the counterattacking formula that had been so successful for them. Allardyce has simplified matters and gone back to a more phlegmatic approach. They will sacrifice large amounts of possession and break quickly through the likes of Zaha and Townsend. Spurs could nick a result due to their undeniable quality, but I expect Palace to get something from this match and make Chelsea’s coronation that much more assured.  

Manchester City 8/10 | Draw 26/10 | Manchester United 3/1
The battle for Champions League football takes on extra significance for Pep as his side laboured to defeat against a downtrodden Arsenal side at the weekend. United have a large swathe of injury concerns to absorb, particularly in the defensive areas. The absence of Zlatan introduces more selection dilemmas, though I firmly believe that this could actually prove fruitful to the side in the long-run. Martial has been painfully underutilised and alongside Rashford could prove devastating for United. City have a few injury clouds of their own, with Aguero, Fernandinho and David Silva doubtful for this week’s game.

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Verdict: Both Teams to Score 7/10
City have struggled for clean sheets for some time now while United’ patchwork defensive outfit should present City with hope of victory. While a little gut instinct is pointing me towards the boys in red, these occasions are almost impossible to accurately predict.

Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets

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