Premier League news has largely been about off-field activities of late. Whether it’s chatter about Alexis Sanchez or rumours over Newcastle’s potential new owners, the already decided title race has made this a pretty underwhelming season to this point.
We still have plenty to discuss, mind. It’s one of the most open relegation fights we have seen in years, and the top four contest is alive and well with no team consistent enough to cement a place behind Manchester City.
This weekend is like every other Premier League weekend throughout the season. So that means it is time for a 3pm kick-off accumulator…
Arsenal vs Crystal Palace
Arsenal’s defeat to Bournemouth was a final goodbye to their top four hopes. The gap is now eight points, the same as it is to Leicester in eighth.
Anything about the Gunners right now is centred around Alexis Sanchez or Mesut Ozil. That might be fortunate for Arsene Wenger, as it has provided a slight distraction from their one win in five Premier League form.
Crystal Palace continue to impress under Roy Hodgson. It was expected from their early season numbers, but the guidance of Hodgson has certainly aided them. I think the Eagles will be comfortably safe this season.
This is the best chance of a Premier League upset this weekend. I won’t go as far as backing that, but I certainly expect goals.
TIP: Over 2.5 goals @ 4/7
Burnley vs Manchester United
Burnley have taken three points from their last six Premier League matches, all of which were draws. Three goals have been scored in that period. The Clarets’ freakily good start to the season has predictably come tumbling down, albeit in part down to suspensions and injuries.
Manchester United were ruthless against Stoke on Monday night to close the gap to Manchester City to 12 points. Jose Mourinho’s side have put together a run of three clean sheets, and maintained their second-place with back-to-back wins.
Two months ago, Burnley would almost be favourites for me in this one. Right now, though, it could be a case of how many for United.
TIP: Manchester United to win @ 11/20
Everton vs West Bromwich Albion
Sam Allardyce meets Alan Pardew in the ultimate ‘experienced Premier League manager’ clash. The two supposed ‘safe pair of hands’ appointments have hardly worked miracles.
The visitors are stuck in the bottom three still, but can at least take some hope from their win against Brighton last time out. The hosts have two points from their last five league outings. Theo Walcott, recently acquired from Arsenal, may give Everton a boost ahead of this contest though.
Everything makes this match seem like a battle of attrition. Pardew would probably take draw, though a win could take the Baggies out of the bottom three. Allardyce will be keen to tighten up a defence that has conceded eight in three league matches.
In their last nine Premier League matches each, these two teams have scored a combined 14 goals. All of this makes under 2.5 the obvious pick...
TIP: Under 2.5 goals @ 13/25
Leicester vs Watford
Leicester are one of the few surviving mid-table teams this season. Claude Puel’s men progressed past Fleetwood in midweek, and can sit comfortably for the rest of the season far clear of 18th.
Watford might be beginning to look down. Following their stellar start, Marco Silva’s side have taken five points since December 1st. Their attack is not as fierce as it was in the opening weeks of the season, and the defensive instability remains.
The Foxes are seeing the best of Riyad Mahrez at the moment, and I fancy the Algerian to make the difference in this one. His creative edge is exactly what Watford have struggled against.
The hosts have recovered from a poor Christmas period. I reckon they could win this quite easily.
TIP: Leicester to win @ 4/5
Stoke City vs Huddersfield Town
Paul Lambert takes charge of his first Stoke match this weekend and it’s the most important one of their season. The Potters are 18th before a ball is kicked this weekend, their late-season schedule makes points a necessity over the next few weeks.
An improved performance at Old Trafford on Monday has injected some positivity to the club, though an improvement isn’t exactly saying much given recent standards.
Huddersfield, meanwhile, were thumped by West Ham last weekend. They have now not won in five Premier League matches.
Investment is key for both of these teams in the January window, but Lambert and David Wagner will have to make do with what they have for this one. Their meeting a few weeks ago ended in a draw, and I think this one may well go the same way.
TIP: Match to be drawn @ 47/20
West Ham vs Bournemouth
Having both spent time lingering around the bottom three, these two are beginning to build somewhat of a cushion. They are separated by just one point, Bournemouth – who trail West Ham – are four clear of the drop zone.
Both teams notched enormous wins last weekend. West Ham’s thrashing of Huddersfield was another tick in the box for David Moyes, who has brought the best form out of Marko Arnautovic. The Austrian is one of the best players in the league at the moment.
Bournemouth came from behind to beat Arsenal. That’s the sort of result that can turn a season around.
I have really liked what I’ve seen from Moyes’ Hammers. I backed them last weekend and I think they will have enough to win this one, too.
TIP: West Ham to win @ 21/20
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*