Fulham v Manchester United
Seven wins from their last eight in the league has put Manchester United firmly back in the top four frame. And United at better than 4/7 to beat Fulham is surely like finding loot in the street? It feels like I’ve waited at least a couple of lifetimes for a solid odds-on shot like this to smash into (actually nine days), and now it’s here, it’s quenching the Cheeky Punt thirst flawlessly. If 7/11 is too short for you though, have yourself a bit of Ole’s mob to win by more than a goal.
Betting: Manchester United (-1) to win at 8/5 (Betfair)
Crystal Palace v West HamRoy Hodgson may well be the type of geezer who claps his hands when the plane lands. Who eats sardines out of the tin while wearing white socks and sandals. However, he’s also the type of geezer who has forged a remarkable career in football management over the past 40 years and who has put his stamp on this Palace side, who’ve shipped just 11 goals at home this season. Hodgson is still doing the business at 71 and his team can be trusted to beat West Ham here, who are pretty shit away from home.
Betting: Crystal Palace to win to nil at 11/4 (Betfair)
Huddersfield Town v Arsenal
The Terriers are winless in 12 in the league and while it’s clear Arsenal are simply not good enough defensively, they should be okay in Yorkshire against a team who’ve scored just five goals at home in the league this season. But be warned Arsenal. We see through you. You’re made out of glass.
Betting: Arsenal to win 2-1 at 8/1 (bet365)
Liverpool v Bournemouth
Having dropped seven points in their last five matches, anything other than a resounding win over Bournemouth here would be a disaster for Liverpool. Reports of their demise have been greatly exaggerated of course. You don’t ‘bottle’ the league in early February. While joint top with a game in hand? Spare my aching ribs. On Nathaniel Clyne however, Jurgen Klopp’s decision to loan him out to the Cherries may come back to haunt them. Clyne the player is not good enough to win the Reds the title on his own, but in the midst of their current bare bones defensive crisis, surely having an option would have been better than just having James Milner at right-back, right? The good news for Reds fans is that Liverpool have won their last three against the Cherries by an aggregate of 11-0. Bobby Firmino was awful against West Ham, but his intelligence and movement could be the key to unlocking Bournemouth’s less than secure defence here on what is suddenly a big, big game for the hosts.
Betting: Firmino to score first at 9/2 (bet365)
Southampton v Cardiff City
They are flying well under the radar but Southampton are unbeaten in seven matches this year and should continue their climb towards safety under Ralph Hasenhuttl (how has he done it?) with three points in this one. Cardiff’s away form is pretty filthy so despite the best efforts of the irascible Neil Warnock, and his sarcastic eyeballs, this looks a proper home banker.
Betting: Southampton to win at 8/11 (888 Sport)
Watford v Everton
Intriguing clash at Vicarage Road. Marco Silva, privately at least, might be willing to now admit the grass is not always greener on the other side. He was sacked by Watford of course and the rot set in when he basically started making noises, after just eight games in charge of the Hornets, that he wanted the Everton job. He’s now Everton boss and is currently the 5/2 jolly in the ‘Next Premier League Manager To Leave’ market. Oh, and his team cannot defend set-pieces for shit.
Betting: Watford to win at 11/8 (Betfair)
Brighton v Burnley
Tough game to call. An allegory of despair and hope perhaps? If this fixture was a song it would surely be ‘Hurt’ by Nine Inch Nails. A complicated, layered track about failure, disappointment and regret. And the fact the Seagulls have claimed 19 of their 27 points at the Amex.
Betting: Brighton to win and Under 2.5 goals at 13/5 (Betfair)
Tottenham v Leicester City
The Foxes have produced some of their best stuff this season against the ‘Big Six’, having beaten Manchester City and Chelsea, while more recently daring greatly in that 1-1 draw with Liverpool at Anfield. Spurs are still without some of their biggest stars too, so with this in mind it would be easy to make a case for a Leicester win at a shade under 5/1. We won’t though. Tottenham been excellent in the league since that defeat to Manchester United (a defeat that flattered the Red Devils like f**k) and can find a way to grind out another three points here and keep their fragile title hopes alive.
Betting: Tottenham to win by exactly one goal at 13/5 (bet365)
Manchester City v Chelsea
Fact – Each of the last 15 teams who were top of the league on February 1 went on to win the league. Despite this Manchester City are now betting jolly’s again at 4/5 to retain the title. Is this because in the last ten years Liverpool (twice) are the only team to be top on Christmas Day and not win the league? Only the camel coats can answer that one. What’s not up for debate is the fact we are now on course for one of the best finishes to a Premier League season for quite a few years.
Sergio Aguero v Gonzalo Huguain should be tasty, and it’s interesting that in Europe’s major leagues Higuain’s ‘minutes per goal ratio’ is slightly better than that of his fellow countryman. When it all boils down to it though, Chelsea are thoroughly erratic at the back while City have bagged 43 goals in just 13 home league games. How do you like them apples?
Betting: Manchester City to win and both teams to score at 39/20 (888 Sport)