Midweek Premier League football is a rare treat. Okay, treat might be a little strong, but it’s certainly better than trawling through the channels for something vaguely watchable.
Managerial changes are probably done for this campaign, and the transfer window is about to close. Everything is pretty much set for the remainder of the 2017/18 season. This is it, the pressure of each match is increasing by the week as teams chase European places and aim to dodge the 2018/19 Championship term.
There are only three matches on Tuesday night thanks to the schedulers. So, here’s a quick overview of each fixture…
SWANSEA CITY vs ARSENAL
Arsenal had got themselves last weekend off by falling to defeat to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup Third Round. It’s not all so bleak at the Emirates Stadium right now, however, with the Gunners having made it to the Carabao Cup Final thanks to victory over Chelsea last week.
Five points off the top four doesn’t make for such nice reading for Arsene Wenger. Their thumping of Crystal Palace last time out might be the turning of a corner, but qualifying for the Champions League remains improbable.
Swansea have improved markedly under Carlos Carvalhal. Seven points in their last four league matches give the Welsh club a fighting chance of safety.
Carvalhal rotated heavily for the Cup tie with Notts County at the weekend, which should enable him to name a relatively fresh team for this one. I think they will be able to frustrate Arsenal, even if it is not as successful as it was against Liverpool.
TIP: Under 2.5 goals @ 59/50
WEST HAM UNITED vs CRYSTAL PALACE
West Ham were the story of Saturday’s FA Cup action, and not in a good way. David Moyes named a makeshift team to face League One Wigan, which resulted in an embarrassing defeat. The red card for Arthur Masuaku means he will be absent for this one. The versatile left-sided player has been important in the Hammers’ revival.
Crystal Palace, like Arsenal, had the weekend off. The Eagles were dire at the Emirates last Saturday, and need to return to the form that pulled them into mid-table. Roy Hodgson’s side are just three points above the bottom three still.
West Ham’s depleted attack is hardly the same as the mesmerising football of Arsenal last weekend. That’s one upside for Roy. I expect the visitors to be solid in defence just like they were in the 11 league matches prior to the Arsenal disaster when they conceded just nine goals.
Managed by two pragmatists, this London derby could well be a cautious affair. They will both be safe this season, and a draw is far from a disaster for either side.
TIP: Match to be drawn @ 11/5
Huddersfield Town vs LIVERPOOL
Liverpool and Huddersfield get the ‘honour’ of kicking off 15 minutes later and being put on TV. We can only hope that the camera spends some time looking at the football rather than 90 minutes of Jurgen Klopp and David Wagner.
Huddersfield were held to a 1-1 draw by Birmingham in the cup at the weekend. The replay is no more than a distraction for the Terriers, who have not won a Premier League match since 16th December. That was the most recent of three occasions all season when Wagner’s team have scored more than one goal in a league match.
The visitors had an even worse Cup weekend. Their defeat to West Bromwich Albion saw Klopp lose another opportunity for a trophy, completing a torrid week. The 1-0 loss away at Swansea left the Reds just two points ahead of fifth-placed Spurs.
I fancy Liverpool to get back to form here. Huddersfield will make it tough – their defence has been better than their goals against suggests – but I think Liverpool’s front three will do enough to get a win, even if it’s not as emphatic as their fans may hope.
TIP: Liverpool to win @ 33/100
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*