Manchester City v Leicester City
How big is this then? Leicester, whose title bid the experts said would die an ignominious death, are currently three points clear in February and know a result here would deal a huge psychological blow to their rivals. The Citizens know a win would take them top on goal difference, just at the time big rivals Arsenal are doing their customary post-Christmas choke. Big Claudio Ranieri was adamant “we are still the underdogs” this week and for this match at least, the bookies agree. Leicester are a whopping 5/1 with the camel coats to spring a surprise at the Etihad. But would it really be a surprise? They rolled Liverpool in midweek and have scalped Spurs, Everton and West Ham (among others) on their travels this season. I am going to take a position on them here. Smash into the hosts at 4/7 if you will but they can’t be trusted at the back without big Vinny Kompany and Jamie Vardy is back on the goal trail. As the man himself might say ‘Back Man City, get banged’.
Betting: Leicester City (+1) to win at 7/5 (Paddy Power)
Aston Villa v Norwich City
Two sides who have been having a mare in recent weeks. It already looks too late for Villa, who shipped five players out during the January transfer window without strengthening. Norwich have been sinking like the proverbial stone (they’ve lost five in a row and conceded 17 goals in that time). You pays your money and takes your choice here. My choice would be Villa, who started brightly against West Ham in midweek before Jordan Ayew went all Chuck Norris in the East End.
Betting: Aston Villa to win 2-1 at 10/1 (bet365)
Liverpool v Sunderland
Liverpool should prevail here but they have thrown in some complete dog sh*te in recent weeks and I just think Sunderland at 8/1 is crying out to be tickled. A glance at the table suggests that the Black Cats are up sh*t creek again but how many times in recent seasons have they pulled it out of the bag? And how many times have they scored improbable wins away from Wearside? Plenty, that’s how many.
Betting: Sunderland to win at 8/1 (Betfred/Paddy Power)
Newcastle v West Brom
The Toon stunk the joint out at Everton the other night, and their failure to bring in a top-class defender in January could come back to haunt them. The Baggies beat the Toon 1-0 in December but it was a close-run thing and they’ve not won in the top flight since January 2. Back Newcastle here to react positively to their Everton debacle and claim a crucial three points.
Betting: Newcastle to win and both teams to score at 4/1 (Coral)
Stoke City v Everton
Ross Barkley crowned his 100th Premier League game with two goals in midweek. Granted they were both pennos but one was a sumptuous ‘Panenka’ and he is looking every inch the emerging world-beater many predicted a few years back. He revealed recently he takes inspiration from watching footage of Mike Tyson on YouTube before games. Ross mate, don’t start taking chunks out of opponents’ ears, try to fornicate with everyone or get yourself a ridiculous tattoo on your cheek. Just score against Stoke at the Britannia. That’ll do for us fella.
Betting: Barkley to score anytime at 100/30 (Betfair Sportsbook)
Swansea v Crystal Palace
Swansea’s recent form has been impressive under new coach Francesco Guidolin and I think their new slick approach will prove too much for Palace, who have been playing with the collective poise of an old cream and black Morphy Richards four-slice toaster in recent weeks.
Betting: Swansea to win 2-0 at 21/2 (Bet Victor)
Tottenham v Watford
Spurs have won their last five and I wouldn’t put off anyone who loves a lumpy odds-on single to steam in here at 1/2. If you want a bit more value Harry Kane (five in his last seven) is a meaty 4/1 to notch twice down the Lane. Chas & Dave would no doubt approve.
Betting: Kane to score 2+ goals at 4/1 (Ladbrokes)
Southampton v West Ham
The Saints are on a bit of a roll at the moment and probably justify slight favouritism but the Hammers have some legitimate threats in attack so I am happy to steam into the odds against here about both teams finding the auld onion bag.
Betting: Both teams to score at 23/20 (Coral)
Bournemouth v Arsenal
Arsenal can go f*ck right off. I was waiting on them for over £600 the other week against Chelsea at home and on Tuesday night had myself a Hail Mary £140 treble consisting of West Ham, Manchester City and, you’ve guessed it, those pesky Gunners. They failed to find the net despite 1037 shots on target and the 0-0 result means that I am genuinely eating Lidl beans and sausages on toast now until payday. Now I’m not going to sit here and call Arsene Wenger. I’m not that uncouth. I’m a gentleman. And a man of peace. I will say though that some people just need a high five. In the face. With a rusty hammer.
Betting: Both teams to score at 10/11 (bet365)
Chelsea v Manchester United
An intriguing fixture here to finish off the weekend as United (who’ve won their last two and scored six in the process) battle a Chelsea side now unbeaten in 10 matches. I think the Red Devils look a different side with Michael Carrick back in and pulling the strings, and Wayne Rooney was absolutely breathtaking the other night. If Wazza can pick up where he left off against Stoke, odds of close to 3/1 about an away win here might look all wrong on Sunday evening. Despite all the nonsense (both on the pitch and in press conferences) LVG may just be developing a siege mentality at Old Trafford and don’t sleep on them going on a long unbeaten run from here. Like most impartial observers, I want Leicester to win the league, but if they don’t I’m all for United sneaking up on the rails. Picture the scene, Louis van Gaal full of Heineken getting his testicles out on the open top bus around Manchester, waving them at the fans and screaming “Look at my big balls. I told you it was proshhesssh”.
Betting: Manchester United to win at 29/10 (Sky Bet)