This is what you’ve been waiting for all week. It’s the Saturday 3pm Premier League previews, all complemented by a betting tip.
Chuck all that together and you get a belting four-fold for this weekend’s top flight fixtures. So, here we go…
Everton vs Crystal Palace
Everton put in one of the worst first half performances of the season away at Arsenal last weekend. Sam Allardyce’s side are yet safe from relegation, and they have taken just six points from their last eight Premier League matches.
Crystal Palace missed a massive opportunity last Sunday, too. They were held at home by Newcastle, which leaves them a mere three points above the drop zone. Fortunately for Roy Hodgson, there are a few teams between them and the daunting 18th place.
Of the two veterans, Hodgson has done by far the better job. Allardyce’s improvements at Everton were very brief, and the Toffees are still shaky at the back. The Eagles are still not finishing enough chances, but they are a better-balanced side than Everton at the moment.
I think both teams will easily be safe in the end. I am sitting on the fence here, though – go for the draw.
TIP: Match to be drawn @ 11/5
Stoke City vs Brighton & Hove Albion
After collapsing from a winning position against Bournemouth last time out, this is an ultimate must-win for Paul Lambert’s Stoke City. The Potters face the toughest remaining schedule of the teams at threat of relegation.
Brighton got a potentially turning-point win over West Ham. That was their first three points in six league matches, and it has them three points clear of Stoke, who currently occupy the final relegation spot.
The early optimism of Lambert’s first win seems a distant memory for Stoke now. That was followed by a tedious draw with Watford and the defeat at Bournemouth to put Stoke back where they started. A lot rests on how new signing Badou Ndiaye settles, and the early signs were good.
Lambert’s pragmatism, perhaps even more so to counteract the goals conceded at Bournemouth, and Brighton’s low-scoring attack makes under 2.5 goals the best pick here. The Seagulls netted three times against Southampton last time out but I expect Lambert to be especially cautious and Chris Hughton will no doubt be happy with a cagey affair.
TIP: Under 2.5 goals @ 4/7
Swansea City vs Burnley
Carlos Carvalhal has taken Swansea from guaranteed Championship football in 2018/19 to genuine contenders for safety. The Swans’ remarkable run under the former Sheffield Wednesday boss has them outside of the bottom three.
It’s been a case of regimented defence and opportunistic finishing. Only time will tell if that is sustainable, but having held off Arsenal and Liverpool, it’s unlikely Burnley will be the team to tear their back line apart.
Sean Dyche’s side have regressed. It was inevitable, but they are now winless in the league since 12th December and are likely to lose their seventh spot to Leicester within the coming weeks.
I don’t think many neutrals will be rushing to watch this one. Both sides would rather relinquish possession and sit deep, so I’m expecting another low-scoring encounter.
TIP: Under 2.5 goals @ 4/9
West Ham United vs Watford
West Ham are in a mess. Yes, again. David Moyes has been crippled by injuries, which has undone a lot of his early positive work. Off-the-field, it’s chaos as usual. Fans are protesting, and scandal is more prominent than the football.
The Hammers have won just one in five in the league. They fell to Brighton last weekend with barely a whimper. It looked like they would pull away from relegation peril easily once Moyes had instilled some defensive resilience, but the absence of Marko Arnautovic and argument with Michail Antonio has left a severely limited attack.
Watford were sensational against Chelsea on Monday night but the Hornets could struggle here. For the most part of the last month, Watford’s front line is not creating at the same rate that it was during their flying start to the campaign.
I think West Ham will avoid defeat, but I’m not convinced they can convert that into a huge three points.
TIP: West Ham to win or draw @ 4/11